Disney Cruise Line

My Favorite Disney Cruise Line Activity: Walking the Ship

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When sailing Disney Cruise Line, there are activities for all ages scheduled throughout the day. On any sailing, you’ll be able to keep completely occupied and entertained with dining, movies, live performances, swimming, sports, trivia games, mixology classes, and on, and on. But one of my favorite DCL activities might be one that I do on every sailing on my own time: walking the ship.

Let’s define terms – Of course you’ll walk around the ship during the regular course of your day, but my walks are more directed. I start at the lowest point of the ship (Deck One) and continue in laps of every deck (Deck 11 or 14, depending on the ship. For me, walking the ship means walking the entire ship. It’s the Disney Cruise Line version of Broad City’s “Tippity Top to the Tippity Bottom” walk (but shorter).

There are several reasons I do this:

  • I get my steps in. Depending on the ship, a full lap of a public deck clocks in somewhere in the .3 to .4 mile range. (The distance will also be slightly different depending on if you’re walking inside hallways or outside decks). Even though you’re on a ship, you can still keep up with your step count goals. If you combine your walk with an audiobook or podcast, you can also multitask with some learning or entertainment.
  • I can see where all the lesser-known amenities of the ship are located. The deck plans posted on your DCL Navigator app show where everything is located, but I’m more of a kinesthetic learner. It’s one thing to see on a map that the Health Center is on Deck One and the laundry room is on Deck 8, but it’s entirely different to feel where these places are and register them in proximity to other parts of the ship. Additionally, I’ve met many guests who sailed on the Wish and had no idea that the lovely, and often empty, Chip & Dale pool existed – I  found it tucked away on Deck 14 because I made a point to traverse every part of the ship. Seeing ship areas in person also helps you better understand the relative size of various spaces.
  • It’s something to do at odd hours. I’m not a great sleeper. Even at sea, I tend to wake up before 6:00 a.m. Rather than bother my husband and kids with the light from my eReader, I like to leave my stateroom and explore. For adults, most activities don’t start until an hour or two later in the morning. Walking the ship gives me something to do when there’s not much else going on. If you’re an early riser or a night owl, walking the ship might be a pleasant diversion when the planned ship activities are light.
  • You learn the idiosyncrasies of each ship. While the current five Disney ships have lots in common (rotational dining, poolside movies), there are hundreds of differences between them, large and small. Walking the ship is a great way to figure out the unique characteristics of each vessel.
  • You can get photos without other guests in the image. If you’re walking the ship before about 8:00 a.m. or after about 11:00 p.m., you’re likely to find many public areas of the ship completely empty of other guests. If you’re a photo hobbyist or if you want background images for your scrapbook, empty-room pictures can be the holy grail. Here’s a pro tip: Many spaces on the ships are left unlocked and untended during their pre-operational morning hours. I’ve been able to walk into spaces like the adult dining venues and the ships’ lounges when they’re totally vacant. I would never force my way into any DCL venue and I would, of course, leave if any ship staff member asked me to, but in dozens of off-hours visits to these spaces, no one ever has.
  • You can linger over the details. When you’re not rushing off to dinner or a show, you can take your time to appreciate the great care and attention Disney’s Imagineers have taken in every aspect of the ship’s design. Even the light fixtures, stairway banisters, and carpeting have detailed themeing.
  • You can learn a bit about other stateroom features. You will obviously not be entering any other guests’ staterooms during your walk, but you can learn much about stateroom verandahs from the public areas of the ships. Glance over the railings when you’re outside at the buffet restaurant or taking a loop on Deck 4, and you’ll see plenty of non-standard verandah configurations. This might give you ideas about where to book a cabin on your next sailing.
  • You can enjoy the personalities of the other guests. DCL guests often festoon their stateroom doors with all manner of magnets and other decor, particularly during Halloween, Christmas, and other themed sailings. Seeing the way your fellow guests express their personalities can be great fun.
  • You can chat with the cruise cast members. When you walk the entire ship, you’re likely to encounter cast members engaged in many ship functions beyond the stateroom hosts and dining room staff that most guests interact with. Particularly during off-hours walks, I’ve had lovely chats with maintenance staff, sound engineers, and other workers while on my treks. Following pleasant chats with spa staff, they’ve often allowed me to visit guest treatment rooms and other spa features, even if I’m not booked for a treatment myself.
  • As an adult, you can explore the kids’ spaces. Keep an eye out for kids’ club open house times during your walks; they often take place in the morning hours. These are more places to admire the creativity of the Imagineers.

A full walk might take you as long as several hours if you’re stopping to take pictures and talk with cast members. Or if you don’t have that long, you could break your walk into smaller chunks.

Also note: Many sailings offer a directed walk around some parts of the ship, often called something like “The Art of the Ship” tour. These walks are guided by a cruise staff member who will explain some details about the ship’s design and construction. They’re a great companion for a self-guided tour, but they won’t take you to many parts of the ship that you can discover on your own.

Below are some of my ship walk discoveries.





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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.

2 thoughts on “My Favorite Disney Cruise Line Activity: Walking the Ship

  • My first Disney cruise was on the Magic. I wanted to get the layout of the ship so on embarkation day I walked all of almost every deck (I skipped most of the staterooms). IIRC, I logged four miles.

  • Thanks for this! I have always enjoyed being up to see the sunrise on cruises and I usually walk the upper decks while I’m at it. I like the quietness of the ship at that time of day. The music in the elevator lobbies gets my day started right. Even though I usually explore the ship thoroughly, I had not thought of doing it more systematically deck by deck like you described. But I’m going to on my upcoming one!


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