Top 5 Tips for Stress-Free Cruise Planning

Are your deciding if cruising is right for you? Have you decided you’d like to try cruising, but don’t know where to begin? Do all of your choices look so overly complicated that your head is spinning?

Stop. Breath. Relax.

Cruise planning should not be stressful. Yes, you do need a plan. That it where the DCL Prep School 6-step Planning Guide comes into play. But I want your first cruise – or your first DCL cruise – to be as stress free and relaxing as possible. To that end, these are my top 5 tips for stress free cruise planning.

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Depart from a domestic port.

It only makes sense to begin and end your cruise somewhere you are already comfortable and speak the lauguage. Port Canaveral is the year-round home port for the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. It is one of the easiest ports to access by car, but it is equally easy to book a car service or utilize Disney ground transportation from Orlando International Airport.

Other domestic ports of departure include Miami, Florida; Galveston, Texas; New York, New York; San Diego, California and Seattle, Washington.

Pick a 4-night cruise.

This seems to be the perfect cruise duration for first-time cruisers. It’s just long enough to get a good sense of what it is like to sail with DCL, but it isn’t so long that you may feel overwhelmed by the length of tim you are at sea.

On 4-night Bahamian cruises, the Disney Dream stops in Nassau and Castaway Cay, plus guests get a bonus day at sea. It’s during that day at sea where you will experience the Disney difference at sea.

Now, if you and your family are already avid Disney travelers who routinely spend one week per year (or more) at any of the Disney Parks, I say go ahead and plan a 7-night cruise for your first cruise. You are already familiar with the Disney experience and Disney’s dedication to service… both of which will be evident in spades on a Disney Cruise Line vacation.

Explore ports with DCL Port Adventures.

You have so many ways to explore the over 90 ports of call DCL visits each year. Unless you are already familiar with the port and fluent in the local language, I highly recommend booking excursions directly with Disney Cruise Line. Disney also takes care of all of the logistics and travel to and from your Port Adventure. That means that if for any reason, your excursion is running late, DCL will either hold the ship for you or arrange for you to meet the ship at their expense.

Cruise with friends and family.

First-time (or third-time) cruising jitters can be helped tremendously when you feel like you aren’t alone. This is why it can make sense for some people to travel with close friends or family. Of course, this tactic is only effective if you choose the right sailing companions. Chose close friends who are fun-loving and share a love of travel.

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My extended family on the Disney Magic

For my first Disney Cruise Line voyage, we booked with friends, and I am so glad we did. We planned our Alaskan adventure together for almost a year leading up to our cruise. We’d talk on the phone, discuss our flight choices and which Port Adventures we wanted to do together, and the ones we didn’t.

With DCL, each stateroom is assigned it’s own reservation. We each booked our own rooms, and then we linked our reservations in our DCL profile.

Use a travel agent with experience cruising with Disney.

If cruise terminology seems like a foreign language, you aren’t alone. For true landlubbers, I highly recommend using a travel agent who not only specializes in Disney travel but also has experience with Disney Cruise Line.

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DCL Prep School (and all the Prep School sites) have a professional relationship with the agents at Key to the World Travel. I have met the owners and many of the agents. These folks love Disney! Whenever you request a quote for a Disney cruise though DCL Prep School, your request is routed to an agent who has actually sailed with Disney Cruise Line.

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Key to the World Travel family on the Disney Dream

A Disney-centric agent can address your family’s specific needs and will help take away the stress of planning a family vacation. In addition to booking your cruise, a travel agent will help you arrange travel to and from your port of departure, as well as any ground transportation and any pre- or post-cruise hotel needs. *This post may contain affiliate links.*