18 Secrets Disney Cruise Line Employees Won’t Tell You
Keeping the Disney magic going while at sea takes more than a few tricks. These are Disney Cruise Line’s best-kept secrets.
The cast-to-guest ratio is impressive
With 1,250 staterooms, the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream can each accommodate 4,000 guests—and each ship has 1,450 cast members (Disney’s name for its parks’ employees). That means that when the ship is at full capacity, the ratio of cast members to guests is 1 for every 2.76 guests.
Cast members come from all over the world
Just like in the Walt Disney World parks, cast members on the cruise represent almost every nation around the globe. On a recent sailing, there were cast members from 66 different countries, ranging from Poland and Serbia to Indonesia and Jamaica. This is the sweet reason why only “Walt Disney World” has Walt’s name in it.
Your server will speak your language
Those international cast members come in handy when it’s time to order dinner. When you register for the cruise, you’ll be asked which language you speak. You’ll then be paired with a server who speaks the same language. And if you’re American? No worries. All cast members, no matter from which continent they hail, are required to speak English. These are the three words Disney cast members can’t say (in any language).
Your servers will rotate through the restaurants with you
Don’t be surprised to see a familiar face or two each night at dinner. Your head server, server, and assistant server rotate through the three main restaurants—Enchanted Garden, Royal Court, and Animator’s Palate on the Fantasy—with you each night. “That helps us get to know your likes and dislikes,” says a head server. “For example, if you like lemon with your water or your child wants apple slices, we can have it waiting at the table when you arrive.” Heading to the park? These are the 10 new foods at Disney World you must try.
Tipping is optional
Courtesy Anne L. Fritz
On the Disney Cruise Line, tips are automatically added for dinners, beverage purchases that aren’t included with your fare (alcohol, specialty coffee, fresh juices at the spa, and smoothies), room service, and spa treatments. In addition, your stateroom host will be tipped at the end of the cruise. Even though the tips are automatically included, guests can opt to have that amount lowered or raised at guest services at any point during the sailing. Don’t miss these 14 ways to save on your next Disney trip.
Your server is a wealth of information
Because tipping is optional, a good server will go out of his or her way to find helpful tips to share with you. “We know where the best spots on the ship are to view the fireworks on Pirate Night (always on the starboard side) and which of the shows are worth catching (Don’t miss Aladdin on the Fantasy or Frozen on the Wonder)—or skipping,” says a cast member. Here are 15 etiquette rules Disney employees need to follow.
The ship’s décor is a secret code
Courtesy Anne L. Fritz
Not sure if you’re on the starboard or port side, or facing forward or aft? (That’s boat speak for “right,” “left,” “forward,” and “back.”) Look to the doors and the carpet. The staterooms on the port (left) side have fish sculptures as door markers, and those fish are swimming aft (toward the back), while the staterooms on the starboard side has seahorse sculptures that are also facing the rear of the ship. As for the carpet, the point of the star and the North point on the compass are pointing to the ship’s front. Speaking of secrets, discover the hidden spots you never knew existed at Disney.
The kids’ clubs are a hot spot for unique character spotting
Courtesy Anne L. Fritz
If your children are big fans of a Disney movie or show, including Toy Story, Star Wars, or Doc McStuffins, make sure they’re in Disney’s Oceaneer’s Club or Edge during the activity corresponding to the movie, like Space Ranger training or Jedi recruitment. Beloved characters will often make a surprise appearance, so your little one just might get to be face to face with Toy Story‘s Jessie or Star Wars‘s BB-8. Unfortunately, there are no autograph books or cameras allowed, so this is one experience at Disney that will live on only as a happy memory.
You can skip the photo package
At $149 for ten photos, the professional photos the ship’s photographers take are one of the items on the ship with the biggest markup. Instead of shelling out for the official photo of your child meeting Anna and Elsa, stand behind the photographer and take the exact same shot with your camera or smartphone. Learn what else you should skip (or splurge on) during Disney cruises.
We get eight weeks vacation
The majority of crew members are on a four-to-five-month contract, after which they must take a mandatory eight-week vacation. “Let’s face it, it’s hard work being ‘on’ six days out of seven. It’s good to go home and see our families and recharge our batteries,” says one crew member. They do also work on different ships and might be asked to change ships at a moment’s notice.