The ship. Photo courtesy of Adriana Proano

Are you a Disney family? This week, contributor Adriana Proano writes about her what she wishes she had known before embarking on a multigenerational Disney Cruise with her elderly parents and young children.

Familiarize yourself with the Disney App

Believe me, it will make your life so much easier before and after you embark on your cruise. Here is where all the magic of planning starts, and once on the cruise, it’s where all the important announcements and activities throughout the day will be displayed. It even has a texting feature that allows you to communicate with other members of your family or friends you make along the way since Wi-Fi is very limited.

The app also provides detailed information about the schedule of daily activities (don’t miss the Broadway-like shows). Honestly, the sheer amount of activities can be overwhelming and the app gives you the opportunity to mark down those you want to participate in, and then send you a reminder 15 minutes in advance with the time and location of the activity. You should also take into account that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other passengers that may choose the same activity, so the elevators can get packed and the lines long, so plan accordingly. 

Don’t wait until the last minute to book

If you are thinking of booking a cruise with Disney, don’t wait until the last minute like I did, hoping the prices would go down. They don’t! In fact, the longer you wait, the harder it becomes to reserve better accommodations and activities. Port and onboard activities sell out really fast, especially those that are free. Reservations open at midnight, and some activities were fully booked by 1 a.m. 

Don’t miss the fireworks

Pirate Night is when the magic of fireworks takes place. However, it’s not displayed on the app. My guess is that they want to surprise you at the end of the Pirate Night party.  Please learn from my mistakes and don’t miss it. Last year we missed it because it was not displayed on the app and our kids were tired, so we took them to our room earlier than most nights. I learned about it the next morning from other travelers. Luckily, this year I was better prepared — it was a great way of creating memories with three generations of the family.

Proano (second from right) and her family aboard their Disney cruise. Photo courtesy of Adriana Proano

Cancel booked activities 72 hours prior to departure

If you were one of the lucky ones that was able to book port or onboard activities, know that you have 72 hours prior to your departure date to cancel them. I did not know this, and had double-booked myself. When I tried to cancel a rum-tasting sunset experience I was no longer able to do it. I called customer service  learned that the system shuts down three days prior to departure and you no longer have access to the app to make any changes. I was now stuck with a full day of very expensive activities, some of which I could no longer participate in. 

Don’t skip travel insurance

 I usually pass on travel insurance, as it adds another expense to an already tight budget, but traveling with my elderly parents made me rethink that. It’s also smart to pack several different medications, even if you might not need them. My mother got a severe cold when we arrived to Bermuda, and luckily I was prepared. 

Overall, this cruise was a magical experience for my entire family. I believe we tested Disney’s theory that they have something for everyone to enjoy — and I couldn’t agree more. 

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