Seven Things to Skip on a Repeat Disney Cruise

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If you are preparing for your first, second, or even third cruise, I highly advise NOT following the suggestions listed here. (Instead, check out my Seven Must-Dos on Your First Disney Cruise here.) Everything that I list in this article is worth doing, especially if you are new to Disney Cruise Line. I recently sailed on my fifth Disney Cruise (three on the Dream, two on the Fantasy), and decided I wanted to mix things up a bit. Although there are several activities, foods, and so on during a Disney Cruise that are “must do” items on my list, I skipped some of those items to change things up a bit. In the end, I found that there are benefits to skipping even very popular activities on board. On upcoming cruises, I won’t likely skip everything that I skipped on this cruise, but there may be some activities that I won’t do every cruise. Here are some suggestions for repeat cruisers on what to skip on a Disney Cruise.

 

1. Skip the Sailaway Party

An air-conditioned window view at Vista Café or a deck chair are far more relaxing (and cooler) than the sailaway party.
A window view at Vista Café or a deck chair are far less crowded than the sailaway party.

I’ve watched many other ships leave port, but the level of excitement on a Disney Cruise is much more tangible than on other cruise lines. I think the reason behind that is the infectious energy of the Sailaway Party. But to mix things up a bit, or if you want to avoid the blistering heat that can happen on some cruise itineraries, grab a drink, and sail away from a more comfortable and quiet location. On our most recent cruise, we sat for a while in the air conditioned comfort of Vista Café on the Dream, and then headed outside to play some shuffleboard so that we could hear the ship horn. On the walking track, there are several places with loungers, if that’s more your speed. And, of course, if you have a verandah room, you can enjoy sailing away from the comfort of your stateroom.

2. Skip Heavy Entrees

To mix things up on my most recent cruise, I decided to go vegetarian for my first night on ship. Due to food allergies, I tend to avoid vegetarian options, which usually have ingredients that I can’t have, but the vegetarian options on the Dream were varied enough that it wasn’t just fifty shades of tofu. I found that not only were lighter entrees (both vegetarian and non-vegetarian) delicious in their own way, it made it easier to justify that third trip to Vanellope’s for more house-made gelato.

Pearl barley cakes in a light saffron broth from Enchanted Garden.
Pearl barley cakes in a light saffron broth from Enchanted Garden.

3. Skip Main Dining for Dinner

Once you’ve gone on your first cruise, you tend to have favorite main dining room meals, but also have some that aren’t your favorite. For me, I’ve found that around the fourth or fifth day of a cruise, I’ve had my fill of “fancy dining”. There are several options aside from main dining to mix things up. If you want to go for a higher-end dining experience that is more quiet than main dining rooms, try a meal at Palo or Remy. You can also order a light meal in from room service. My favorite ways for a quiet meal are either to eat at Cabanas for dinner (a table service meal available on select nights on cruises) or to grab pizza, sandwiches, or burgers and carry it back to the room.

4. Skip a Port

The first time visiting an area, it is worthwhile to go on an excursion or just get off the ship to go shopping or explore on your own. If you are repeating a port, sometimes it is a better idea to stay on the ship. On port days there tend to be fewer activities, but (depending on the port) you may find that certain facilities, such as mini golf, the Rainforest Room at the spa, or some of the swimming pool areas, are less crowded. The major exception to this is Nassau, where many people opt to stay on the ship, possibly due to the number of repeat visits for cruisers, concerns about safety, or lack of desire to see what Nassau has to offer.

One danger if you have late dinner seating is that you'll fall asleep on one of these heated loungers and miss your meal entirely.
If you have late dinner seating, you might fall asleep on one of these heated loungers and miss your meal entirely.

5. Skip the Nighttime Theater Shows

The shows on board are top-notch, high-quality presentations that are fun for the whole family. That said, if you sail the same ship often, the same shows will be playing on your cruise. Because Disney sets it up so that at a given evening time slot half the ship is at dinner and the other half is at the show, if you opt to skip the show, you have large amounts of the ship to yourself. This is a great time to visit the Rainforest Room, the adult pool, or otherwise relax with few people around.

6. Skip Dessert

It is very easy to over-indulge on a cruise. And although I am the first to say that calories don’t count on a cruise, sometimes you can find better dessert options outside of those offered at dinner. On my most recent cruise, I skipped dinner on several occasions and tried other ways to get my sugar fix, from an afternoon sampling of small pastries from Vista or Cove Café to a stop by Vanellope’s Sweets and Treats (a recent addition to the Dream). There’s always self-serve ice cream, too.

It's okay. You can order Nothing for dessert.
It’s okay. You can order Nothing for dessert.

7. Skip Sleeping In

Yes, you’re on vacation, and sleeping in may be one of those luxurious treats that you don’t get on a typical work day. But if you are so inclined and able, try to get up with the sun at least one morning on your cruise and wander the ship. There’s something very tranquil about walking on the open decks with few people around. If you’re a photographer, a nearly empty ship at dawn offers great opportunities for photos without people crowding in every shot. (But word of advice–don’t write about skipping sleeping in if you have skipped that extra sleep or you might make interesting typos when writing about it! Thanks to reader Ashley for pointing that out!)

 

Got any other ideas of things to skip on repeat cruises? Feel free to add your ideas in the comments!

Julia Mascardo

Freelance writer and editor, living the dream in Central Florida with my husband, cats, and spirited nine-year-old daughter.

11 thoughts on “Seven Things to Skip on a Repeat Disney Cruise

  • June 8, 2016 at 11:39 am
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    I try not to skip in my sleep…hubby wouldn’t like it. Jokes aside, this is a good article. I’ve been on a 7-night W. Caribbean on the Magic, and taking hubby on his first Disney cruise on the Dream later this year. I won’t skip anything for his sake, but I can see the value in it. Of course, it’s a new shop for me too, so some things will be different.

    Reply
  • June 8, 2016 at 11:39 am
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    We’re skipping the Disney part and booked an Oasis of the Seas cruise at less than half price for a similar cabin and itinerary.

    Reply
  • June 8, 2016 at 11:50 am
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    There’s something to be said for frugality. There’s also something to be said for Disney-specific touches and quality, larger staterooms, and ultimately saving money with free drinks, room service, and no upcharges for main dining. Oh, and Castaway Cay. In my opinion, you can’t put a price tag on how awesome Castaway is. But that’s just my opinion, and I don’t expect everyone to feel that way.

    Reply
    • June 8, 2016 at 12:52 pm
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      $8499 on Disney verses $3599 for two rooms on Oasis, I’ll take Oasis. No upcharges for main the main dining room. On Disney you just have many fewer options.

      Disney may be slightly better at some things, but not $4000 better for a week.

      Reply
      • June 8, 2016 at 7:05 pm
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        Disagree. If you don’t mind the chronic foodbourne illnesses, moderate cleaning, and less-than-great service and friendliness, sail the oasis. If you want the cleanest ship, best track record for inspections, highest quality food, and service that never stops…spend the money. If you’ve experienced the Disney cruise, the cast-factor diminishes.

      • June 9, 2016 at 9:13 am
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        Someone’s drunk the Disney Koolaid, which is why Disney can overcharge as much as they do.

        Disney does a lot very well, but it’s not immune to issues. I can Eric’s never sailed anything but DCL.

  • June 8, 2016 at 12:26 pm
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    Would agree with most of these suggestions. We usually get a verandah room and we have taken to ordering a bottle of Prosecco for our arrival which we enjoy drinking from our room as we depart. I was thinking of skipping our first time to Nassau in January 2017 but that was because of the cost of Atlantis rather than anything else.

    Reply
  • June 8, 2016 at 1:21 pm
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    “Sleep Skipping In”? 🙂

    Minor typo aside, great article! I wouldn’t mind seeing this same sort of thing for the parks, either; or, to flip it, things you shouldn’t skip.

    Reply
  • June 8, 2016 at 1:26 pm
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    Most of the things on this list are about avoiding crowds (although I didn’t find crowds to be an issue on the cruise). Applied to the parks, maybe skipping parades or night shows in order to ride with short waits? I have an existential crisis when I skip them, because I love them so much, but it is super effective. 😉 And in general, you know on repeat visits which stuff you don’t care to do again (Stitch – looking at you).

    Reply
  • June 8, 2016 at 6:38 pm
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    Good list. For those who stick to Disney cruises, with so few ships, there can be a lot of repetition. I’ll add to it..

    -Skip the formal photography. If this is your annual chance to get a nice family photo, go for it. But otherwise, it is an overpriced medium quality portrait, and really just a cliche fake cruise background.

    Reply

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