Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line Pirate Night FAQ

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Ahoy mateys! If you’re going a Disney Cruise, then you’re almost certainly going to encounter a “Pirate Night” during your voyage. Here’s what you need to know to keep the scurvy at bay.

There will be a Pirate Night on most Disney Cruise Line sailings.
There will be a Pirate Night on most Disney Cruise Line sailings.

Is there a pirate night on every Disney Cruise?

Not all, but most of them. There are pirate nights on nearly all Caribbean and Mediterranean voyages. In 2013, the Alaskan cruises replaced Pirate Night with a Pixar Night, but they have had Pirate evenings in the past.

What happens during Pirate Night?

There are three main elements to Pirate Night: a themed party, themed food, and costumes.

Party? Did someone say party?

The party is really more of a performance, with a bit of “clap along with me” interactivity to keep you involved. This will happen by the main pool area. Expect to see the Disney pirate version of go-go dancers strategically stationed at points around the deck. I think of them as the saucy wench equivalent of bar mitzvah dance facilitators. Up on stage, you’ll get a show with characters (Mickey, Goofy, and the other usual suspects) trying to thwart Captain Hook’s diabolical plot to take over the ship. And there’s music – loud, loud music.

Typical Pirate Night Menu.
Typical Pirate Night Menu. Click to enlarge.

The highlight of the event is a brief fireworks show off the side of the ship (weather permitting). Disney is the only cruise line allowed to do this, and it really is cool to see fireworks set off in the middle of the ocean.

It’s good silly fun, but if you’re an adult with a character aversion or a child with sensory processing issues, you might want to skip the party.

What does pirate food consist of?

Your pirate dinner will take place in one of the standard three rotational restaurants, whichever one you happen to be scheduled for that night. The servers will wear pirate costumes, say Arrrrrgh a lot, and likely tell some corny pirate jokes (many of which are pretty funny).

Pirate dance facilitator on deck.
Pirate dance facilitator on deck.

The food will be basically the same as the other DCL food, but with cute pirate names. For example, instead of saying “short ribs,” the menu will say “Captain Jack Sparrow’s short ribs.” There will be a Caribbean flavor element to a few of the dishes, such as rum cake or chicken with jerk spice seasoning. This will happen even if you’re not sailing in the Caribbean.

There may also be a pirate-themed late night snack mini-meal available at the ship’s main buffet restaurant. Again, look for Caribbean flavors, and possibly giant turkey legs.

Costumes? What does that mean? Do I have to dress up? Do I have to bring a lot of extra stuff with me?

This was my area of biggest concern when I first learned about Pirate Night, but there’s no need to worry. While the cast members on board will all be wearing some form of pirate costume, there’s no obligation for guests to dress up. However, if you do want to play along, there are many ways to do so.

Your stateroom attendant will give everyone in your party a pirate-themed bandana. For many guests, wearing this is their only nod to the evening’s theme.

During Pirate Night, the on board gift shops will set out more than the usual selection of pirate paraphernalia. This will include Hook hooks, eye patches, faux swords, and the like. Much of this is sized for children, but some can be appropriated by adults as well.

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If you really want to play along, you’re welcome to bring your booty of costume treasure with you. A small subset of guests will wear full pirate regalia, complete with puffy shirts, leather hip boots, and shoulder-sitting stuffed parrots.

I think I’d like to dress up. Any ideas?

You can visit almost any costume store to buy a wide range of pirate garb, from inexpensive plastic hats, to elaborate hand-made outfits worthy of any swashbuckling Renaissance fair.

But if you’re not in the mood to pirate purchase, it’s easy to improvise an outfit from items in your closet. Start with black pants or skirt and a white top. Then tie a red scarf or sash around your waist and you’re good to go. Black vests and boots can add an extra special touch. And don’t forget to go heavy on the eye makeup for that just-pillaged-and-plundered look.

There will be pirate-themed backdrops in the lobby atrium. The photographers on board will be happy to capture your pirate scowl to show the folks back home.

So sassy sailors, what’s your take on Pirate Night? Do you dress up? Do you have any costume tips? Do you have a favorite spot to watch the party or fireworks? Let us know in the comments below.

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Erin Foster

Erin Foster is an original member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel (now PlanDisney), a regular contributor to TouringPlans.com, and co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line. She's been to WDW, DL, DL Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Aulani, DVC Vero Beach, and DVC Hilton Head. She's a Platinum DCL cruiser and veteran of 10 Adventures by Disney trips. Erin lives near New York City, where she can often be found indulging in her other obsession - Broadway theater.

5 thoughts on “Disney Cruise Line Pirate Night FAQ

  • Do people dress in costumes other than pirates??

    • On Pirate night, people generally dress in pirate or pirate-adjacent costumes. On other theme nights there will be other sorts of costumes. For example, on the the Marvel cruises there will be many superhero costumes. On Star Wars cruises you’ll see heroes of other sorts, as well as aliens and intergalactic bad guys. On Frozen cruises, there will be lots of little Annas and Elsas. And of course on Halloween, you’ll see all sorts of costumes.

  • Hate to be the buzz kill, but Disney is NOT the only one allowed to do fireworks at sea any more…the Norwegian Breakaway has been doing them since she came online last year.

  • We’re going on our first Disney cruise this fall. SO excited! Are there any special character meet & greets on the Pirate Night?

    • Yes! On pirate night, you’re likely to run into some of your favorite Disney pirates, such as Captain Hook, Smee, Captain Jack Sparrow and Jake. Mickey and his friends will be wearing pirate garb that as well. Bring some glow-in-the-dark bracelets for the pirate party and don’t fill up too much at dinner if you wish to partake of the post-party feast. Hope you have fun! 🙂


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