Disney Cruise Line

Understanding Disney Cruise Line Preference Requests

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Disney Cruise Line has recently made strides to reduce the number of phone calls guests must make in order to tinker with aspects of their booked cruise — many of the tasks that once required a call can now be completed with a few clicks of a button. While this generally terrific news (I say as a person with a both a moderate phone phobia and no love of waiting on hold), there are some aspects of the new system that may confuse some sailors. Here’s the scoop to help you sort it out.

Your first step to making online DCL cruise preference requests is to visit DisneyCruiseLine.com, log into your account, and select My Reservations.

Please note that if you’ve used a travel agent to book your sailing, some of the options discussed below may not be available to you. Your agent may be required to make some requests on your behalf. 

When you access your reservation, you’ll find a page that looks something like the photo below.

Areas that you can tinker with include Dining Time, Vacation Protection Plan (travel insurance), Transportation, Pre-Paid Gratuities, and Special Requests.

Dining Time

Disney Cruise Line sailing have two seatings in the main dining rooms, typically at 5:45 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. (referred to as early and late seating). You will have the same dining time throughout the duration of your cruise.  Note: there may be slight variation to these times depending your departure port. 

You can select which seating time you prefer when you book your cruise and, if there is availability, you can switch your dinner time by clicking on the Change Seating Link in the Dining section. For a full run-down on why you might want to select one seating time or the other, check out our post on Pros and Cons of Early vs. Late DCL Dining.

Vacation Protection Plan

There are risks associated with any kind of travel, but cruises are unique because they’re all-or-nothing propositions. If your flight to Orlando is delayed and you miss the first day of your weeklong Walt Disney World vacation, you’ll be disappointed, but you’ll still be able to have a great time for six of the seven days. Not so with a cruise: if your flight is delayed and you miss boarding the ship, your entire vacation is over before it starts. Similarly, medical or weather issues that might be minor annoyances on land can completely derail a cruise, where there are fewer forms of remediation. Additionally, the cruise lines themselves are becoming increasingly aggressive—and understandably so—about enforcing health and safety precautions, meaning cruisers now face a greater-than-ever chance of being denied boarding for illnesses of any sort.

For all of these reasons, we now strongly recommend that you buy trip insurance for your cruise, even if you wouldn’t normally buy it for a land-based vacation and even if you’re fully vaccinated for COVID-19. DCL offers its own trip insurance, called the Vacation Protection Plan (VPP). If you’d like to buy it, you must do so before you pay in full for your vacation. There are, however,  many other reputable companies offer travel insurance at a variety of price points and coverage levels. You should compare Disney’s VPP with other brands in terms of price, reimbursement limits, kinds of coverage, and other factors to determine which type is best for your needs.

If you want to use Disney’s plan, click the Vacation Protection Plan box or speak with your travel agent.


Transportation refers to Disney-arranged transfers (usually bus rides) from locations such as a major airport or Disney-approved hotel to or from the DCL port.

If you’d like to arrange this service, click in the Transportation box to speak with your travel agent.

Pre-Paid Gratuities

Tipping key crew members is customary on Disney Cruise Line. You can pay these tips once you’re onboard the ship, or you may elect to do this in advance if it helps with your personal budgeting. To arrange for advance payment, click in the Gratuities box or speak with your travel agent.

For more information on this topic, visit our post on all things Disney Cruise Line tipping.

Special Requests

The Special Requests section is where you can add detailed customization to elements of your cruise. Note that some dietary sections require a special order and must be requested at least five weeks prior to your sail date.


Table Requests

There are five possibilities for Table Requests. If you’re making a selection via this online form, you are limited to just one choice. You can also call (or have your travel agent call) and ask for more than one of the items below, but none of the requests are guaranteed.

  • Near a window. Make this selection if you enjoy looking at the sea during dinner or if you find that being near a window helps with motion sickness. Not all DCL dining rooms have windows.
  • In a quieter location. Select this if you prefer to have quiet conversation with your companions.
  • Near a screen for entertainment. Several of the DCL dining rooms include large video screens that are part of the dinner entertainment. These include Worlds of Marvel on the Wish and Animators Palate on the Magic, Wonder, Dream, and Fantasy. Select this option if you want to have a good view of the screens. Pay particular attention to this option if you’re sailing on the Dream. The Animators Palate show on the Dream has an interactive element in which an animated Crush (from Finding Nemo) speaks with guests at dinner. You are unlikely to interact with Crush if you’re not seated near a screen.
  • At a private table. DCL does sometimes seat unrelated parties at the same table. This is particularly common if you’re sailing alone or with with a party of two, three, or four. If you prefer not to sit with strangers, then select this option.
  • Near the center of the dining room. Choose this option if you want to be in the middle of the action. This choice is particularly important if you’re sailing on the Disney Wish. The dinner show at Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure is all but unwatchable from the far corners of the dining room. Other restaurants where this might be important are Rapunzel’s on the Magic and Tiana’s on the Wonder.

You should also be aware that you are in no way required to make any of these sections. If you prefer to show up at the ship and roll with whatever you’re assigned that’s OK too.

Additionally, you can use this space to let DCL know if you’ll need a booster seat or highchair in the main dining rooms.

Dietary Preferences

DCL can accommodate guests with many allergies as well as those needing a lactose-free diet, vegetarian or vegan meals, low-fat meals, low-sodium meals, and Halal or Kosher meals.

If you need any of these dietary modifications, you should check the appropriate box in the Special Request box and ALSO complete the Food Allergy section of the DCL Request Special Services form.


Select here if you’re celebrating an anniversary, engagement, honeymoon, birthday, reunion, graduation, or retirement. If you’re celebrating something else (like beating cancer, or getting a new job) you or your travel agent can call to make a note of this on your file.

You’re welcome to purchase gifts or room decor to enhance your celebration, but be aware that DCL does not allow open flames onboard (they’re a safety hazard), so you won’t be able to have candles on your cake.

Child Amenities

The Child Amenities section allows you to tell DCL if you’ll need a crib or bed rails for a child staying in your stateroom. There are a limited number of these items on each ship, so be sure to let Disney know in advance if you’ll need them.

If you’re looking for additional advice and planning assistance with any Disney Cruise Line sailing, be sure to check out the Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line or ask for a free quote from one of our expert travel agents.

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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.

3 thoughts on “Understanding Disney Cruise Line Preference Requests

  • In your article you mention the Crush show on the Dream. It also is on the Fantasy. Experienced it a month ago on our Pixar day at sea!

  • Hi

    Noticed this recently (particularly special requests). Do you know how DCL treats a private table request if you have a linked booking? We’d clearly like to sit with our companions in the other room but otherwise not be seated with a 3rd group – not sure if selecting private table will indicate this or if they’ll try and seat each cabin separately?


    • This is a situation where I’d call (or have your travel agent call) to clarify exactly what you want. Leaving it up to an electronic request could, as you surmise, lead to confusion.


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