Disney Cruise Line Planning Tips & Tricks

LAST UPDATE: 7/17/23

On this page we have collected some useful advice, tips and tricks that can help you save time and money when you are planning a Disney Cruise Line vacation.
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Planning a Disney Cruise: Information & Guidebooks

When you’re starting to plan a Disney cruise, the very first thing you should do is watch the FREE Disney Cruise Line Vacation Planning Videos! They’re available to anyone online and have lots of useful info in them.

In addition to viewing the videos, which will give you a good general idea of what the Disney Cruise Line has to offer, you may want to look at a guidebook or two to get more detailed information about it. See our list of suggested guidebooks for cruises and port excursions.

There’s a lot of FREE information about the ships and getting the most from your cruise on this page and the Onboard Advice, Tips and Tricks page here on this site! We also recommend visiting the independent Disney Cruise Line Blog, which has lots of useful information, including scans of menus and daily schedules from recent cruises.

How to Save Money

Unlike most of the other cruise lines, Disney is generally very consistent in only moving its prices one direction over time: up! Disney very rarely runs sales, and as the ship fills they will raise the price of the remaining rooms. Some very popular cruises (usually unique and new itineraries in popular destinations like Europe) can go up in price on the first day of booking! The bottom line is that booking as early as possible is the surest way to save money on a Disney cruise. Occasionally Disney will run a sale at the last minute, but you can’t be sure any particular sailing will have a sale.

Booking way ahead allows you to grab the best staterooms and have a better chance of getting the first seating at dinner (important to many families with young children). Especially for the most popular times of year (spring break, summer and Christmas, and to a lesser extent other holidays like Thanksgiving), you would be well advised to book as early as you can, because those cruises often sell out and rates for those dates will just go up and up. In the rare case the fare drops after you book, Disney is very good about adjusting it. You or your travel agent just need to call and ask for the lower rate.

Keep in mind that your Disney cruise deposit is fully refundable up to the payment-in-full date (75 days before sailing for most 3-4 day cruises, 90 days for most 7 day cruises, longer for holiday cruises, cruises from non-US ports and for concierge-class bookings). If you think you might want to take a cruise next year (or the year after), you’d do well to get it booked right away if you can. Then you can take some time to research and plan. If later you decide it’s not going to work, cancel and get your money back. Or if you need to change the date, you can easily ask Disney or your travel agent to change it. But if you do end up taking the cruise, you’ll be happy you got it booked before the prices went up.

Other tips that can save you money:

Resort Add-On vs. Booking Disney World Separately

If you are considering a Resort Add-on to your cruise, which adds a stay at Walt Disney World onto your Disney cruise, keep in mind that it is almost always a better option to book the two separately.

Basically the only advantage of the Resort Add-on is convenience. With the Resort Add-on, you only check in once. When you arrive at the hotel, you are given your “Key to the World” card for the cruise, but you use your MagicBand (or Disney World RFID ticket) for everything else. That’s nice, but may not be worth hundreds of dollars to you. That’s right, sometimes you can save that much by booking a discounted room separately, and/or buying discounted tickets with the features you want, instead of what Disney dictates.

With the Resort Add-on, you can only add a full-price resort stay in a standard room before or after your cruise. You cannot:

Given the total lack of flexibility and the fact that you can’t get any sort of discount, we really don’t recommend booking a Resort Add-on.

By the way, if you’re debating whether to visit Walt Disney World before or after your cruise: go before the cruise. Disney World is fun, but exhausting. If you do the cruise after your Disney World visit, you’ll have a chance to relax and you can return home rested.

Tips And Tricks For Picking A Stateroom

Disney Cruise Line has several different categories of staterooms with somewhat confusing names and descriptions. Here’s an overview of the various types and the key differences between them, with some notes on our picks for the best value.

How Important is Stateroom Location?

There are two “classic” rules of thumb about stateroom location: higher on the ship is better and closer to the center of the ship is better. In our experience, those rules of thumb are not actually very helpful.

The center of the ship does have a bit less motion when the ship is tipping forward and back in higher seas, since you’re closer to the center of the see-saw, so to speak. But big cruise ships do not as a general rule have a huge amount of motion, at least compared to smaller boats you might be used to. And even if you experience somewhat less motion in a stateroom closer to the center, during your cruise you will be roaming all over the ship to eat, watch shows and participate in activities, so one way or another you will spend a fair amount of time on the far ends of the ship. For much of the time you’re in your room, you’ll be sleeping, and research suggests that people are least bothered by motion when they are lying down. Bottom line: in our experience, most of the time the motion is going to be very minor no matter where you are on the ship. If there are rougher waters you will notice at least a little motion, but your cabin location is not going to be the most important factor in how much the motion bothers you.

Similarly, being higher on the ship doesn’t hugely improve your views or experience. You get a slightly better view from a verandah on deck 8 than on deck 5, but only slightly. In the few cases where you’d like a view from as high as possible (in port, usually), you’ll want to go up to the top deck for the best view anyway. Everything on the ship is a quick elevator ride away no matter which deck you are on.

One thing that can bother some people is vibration from the engines or electric motors. The ship has huge diesel generators on the lowest decks, and the main electric propulsion motors are in the rear, so in general, you will feel more vibration lower on the ship and closer to the rear. But you might feel at least some vibration almost anywhere on the ship. We’ve been on the lowest passenger deck, and certainly noticed mild vibration, but it hasn’t really bothered us. If you’re on a low deck in the front or rear of the ship, you might notice the sound and vibration of the lateral thrusters during early-morning docking, but that doesn’t last long under normal circumstances.

Noise from the area above, below and around your stateroom can be an issue, especially if you are a light sleeper or sensitive to sound. You should definitely take a look at what is located on the deck just above or just below your stateroom. If you are just underneath the pool deck, you may find yourself awakened very early in the morning by crew sliding deck chairs around as they prepare the pool area for the day. If you are on a lower deck just above or below a nightclub, you may find the thumping bass makes it hard to nod off in the evening. If your room is near the elevators you may hear a bit more noise from people coming and going. We have had rooms that had noise leakage, and it’s not the end of the world, but it can affect some people more than others, so consider what will bother you and what you can ignore.

As a very broad generalization, we prefer to get staterooms in the middle decks, sandwiched between two other decks with staterooms, or above or below an area that isn’t in use early in the morning or late at night. We don’t really worry about being central; if the ends are cheaper and have the room types we like, we book a room on the ends. We often try to get rooms towards the front or back that are just under or over the spa or the main dining rooms, as they don’t typically have a lot of noise in the morning and evening. But if it’s the only good room available, we’re fine with being smack-dab under the pool deck; we pack a set of earplugs just in case.

Category Numbers And Letters

All rooms are designated with a category number and letter, like “4A” or “10C.” The category number tells you the basic type of room, 1 being the fanciest concierge room and 11 being the smallest and least expensive regular room. Lower numbers typically have more amenities and features, like windows or verandahs, or may be bigger than higher-numbered categories.

Within a category number, most staterooms are pretty much identical (with some exceptions mentioned below), with the letters indicating primarily how attractive the location is (according to Disney), with ‘A’ being the best. We generally recommend getting the C, D or E staterooms to save yourself some money, because the higher-lettered staterooms really aren’t significantly better. But there are a few exceptions; read on for more.

Room Sizes

It seems like there are lots of rooms with lots of different layouts, but in reality the vast majority of regular non-concierge rooms fall into three basic interior sizes (not counting the verandah, if any). Disney doesn’t break out the size of the interior area of verandah rooms, so the verandah sizes are estimates based on measurements of room layouts and physical comparison of rooms.

Small: category 11, which are approximately 184 sq. ft. on Magic/Wonder and 169 sq. ft. on Dream/Fantasy/Wish. All sleep at least 3; some sleep 4. The space reduction relative to the next bigger size comes from not having a split bathroom and losing some of the open space in the middle of the room.

Regular: category 10, 9, 7, 6, 5 and Dream/Fantasy/Wish 4E, which have an interior area of approximately 215 sq. ft. on the Magic/Wonder, 205 sq. ft. on Dream/Fantasy, and 218 sq. ft. on Wish. All sleep at least 3; some sleep 4. Category 9 rooms have portholes with a view of the water. Category 7, 6, 5 and Dream/Fantasy 4E rooms have verandahs which vary in size, but are typically about 30-40 additional sq. ft.

Large: category 8 and 4 (except for Dream/Fantasy/Wish 4E), which have an interior area of approximately 245 sq. ft. on Magic/Wonder and 235-240 sq. ft. on Dream/Fantasy/Wish. All sleep at least 4; some sleep 5. These rooms are the same width as the regular-sized rooms, but are deeper, which makes room for an extra pull-down single bed in the ones that sleep 5. Category 8 rooms have one or two portholes with a view of the water. Category 8A rooms are extra-large, but Disney doesn’t give a specific size; we guess that they’re about 320 sq. ft. Category 4 rooms have a verandah, which varies in size, but is typically about 30-40 additional sq. ft.

Certain handicapped-accessible staterooms are also larger, but that’s mostly in the form of empty space to allow a wheelchair to move around. The accessible rooms also typically have a non-split bath (again to allow for a wheelchair) with a variety of different shower/bath combinations to deal with different kinds of physical issues.

Beyond that are the concierge rooms, some of which are larger and are covered more below. But realistically, there isn’t a lot of difference in the actual living space and amenities between a category 10 inside and a category 5 verandah, for example. The rest of the differentiation in category is all about the porthole or verandah, the location on the ship, and small differences in verandah or porthole views, which we’ll go over below.

Inside Staterooms

Inside staterooms have no windows or verandahs, and thus no natural light. They turn pitch black when the lights are off (night or day), which can be a plus or a minus, depending on whether you like sleeping in absolute darkness. The darkness can be a problem if you’re trying to maneuver around at night without waking up the rest of the family; we recommend bringing a small flashlight or nightlight if you book one of these rooms. These rooms are a good value for folks that don’t need a view and don’t plan to spend much time in their room. You get the same food, activities and entertainment as everyone else for much less money, and a view of the ocean is just a short elevator ride away at all times.

On the Dream & Fantasy (but not the Wish), all inside staterooms have Disney’s “virtual porthole” which is a screen with a porthole-shaped frame over it that shows you roughly the view you’d see if there wasn’t a whole bunch of ship in the way. There are four cameras mounted on the ship pointing in the four main directions (fore, aft, port and starboard) and each virtual porthole shows a view in the “correct” direction, given the wall it’s mounted on. The virtual portholes also show some “surprise” Disney characters floating or flying by about every 30 minutes, which is a nice touch. The portholes can be turned on and off. If you leave them on at night, they provide some glow (even though the view is typically black, there’s some residual light from the screen). For some people, it’s still too much light to sleep with, so if you’ve never experienced one it might be good to bring a flashlight or headlamp just in case.

11A, 11B, 11C – These are typically the cheapest rooms available. They are smaller than other staterooms, and they don’t have a split bathroom. All sleep at least 3 and some sleep 4. The A, B, C designation is purely Disney’s assessment of how attractive the location is, with A’s being located on upper decks or closer to midship and C’s being located on lower decks. The actual amenities are identical. 

10A, 10B, 10C – These are larger than the category 11’s, though mostly that’s just open space; they have the same basic furniture. They have a split bathroom, with one half containing a sink and shower and the other half containing a sink and toilet, each with its own door to the room. All sleep at least 3 and some sleep 4. The A, B, C designation is purely Disney’s assessment of how attractive the location is, with A’s being located on upper decks or closer to midship and C’s being located on lower decks. The actual amenities are identical. Frankly we don’t see enough value in these over the 11’s, though the split bath is definitely a convenience and speeds up getting ready in the morning. These rooms are not available on the Disney Wish.

Best bets for inside staterooms:

Oceanview Staterooms

Oceanview staterooms have a porthole window that has a view of the ocean, as the name implies. This means you get natural light coming in, which can make the room feel brighter and cheerier, but can also make it harder to sleep past sunrise. The curtains do shut out most of the light, but some can find its way in. If you like a very dark room, we suggest bringing some clothespins to keep the curtains shut or pack a sleep mask.

9A, 9B, 9C, 9D – These are the same size as the category 10’s, and have roughly the same layout and features, but have a porthole in one wall. All sleep at least 3 and some sleep 4. The A, B, C, D designation is partially about Disney’s assessment of how attractive the location is, but is also about the view.

8A, 8B, 8C, 8D – These stateroom categories are only available on the Dream, Fantasy and Wish (the Wish only has 8B & 8C). They are larger than a category 9 or 10, and all of them sleep at least 4, with some sleeping 5. The ones on the Dream & Fantasy all have at least one ultra-large porthole with a built-in seat, large enough for a child or small adult to relax in and watch the scenery go by. We don’t know yet whether the Wish version will have the porthole seat, but it’s not looking likely. These porthole seats are very appealing to kids, in our experience. The 8A rooms are oversized and have unusual layouts (we have more details and a video below). The B, C and D rooms are essentially identical with B’s located highest on the ship and D’s located lowest.

Best bets for oceanview staterooms:

Verandah Staterooms

Verandah staterooms have a small private outer deck, usually with two chairs and a small low table. Most have a clear plexiglas railing, allowing you to see a mostly unobstructed view of the ocean while seated. Some (mentioned below) have a solid white railing, a half-height white railing, a solid wall with a large hole, or a partial obstruction from something else on the ship. The one thing they have in common is that you can go outside and enjoy the fresh air and some kind of view. Like oceanview rooms, they can have light leakage if you don’t get the curtains closed completely. If you like a very dark room, we suggest bringing some clothespins to keep the curtains shut or pack a sleep mask.

7A – This category has gone through many names over the years, but is now just lumped in with all the other verandah room types, with a note about how 7A’s have limited views. The rooms on the Magic & Wonder with the most severe view limitations have a “navigator’s verandah,” which is an almost fully enclosed deck. A navigator’s verandah has a full floor-to-ceiling solid steel exterior wall with a large round hole in the upper half, through which you can see the ocean if you’re standing up. Not every room actually has that kind of verandah; many of them are just regular verandahs with a partially-obstructed view. All sleep at least 3 and some sleep 4. In either case they are identical in interior room size and amenities to a category 5 or 6.

6A, 6B – These rooms are essentially identical to category 5 and 7 rooms in terms of interior room size and amenities, but have somewhat obstructed verandahs. All sleep at least 3 and some sleep 4. They are located toward the back of the ship on the upper decks.

5A, 5B, 5C, 5D, 4E* (*Dream, Fantasy, & Wish version only) – These rooms are essentially identical in terms of interior room size and amenities to category 6 and 7 rooms, but have an unobstructed verandah (except the Dream/Fantasy/Wish 4E, which is a special case). All sleep at least 3 and some sleep 4. These are the most numerous of the regular-sized verandah cabins and the most commonly-booked verandahs for families of 4 or fewer. Category 5A-D are just on different decks, with 5A’s highest and 5D’s lowest.

4A, 4B, 4C, 4E* (*Magic/Wonder version only) – These rooms are the largest non-concierge verandah rooms on the ship. All sleep at least 4 and some sleep 5. These cabins are the only single-room option for a family of 5 on the Magic and Wonder, and the most commonly booked option for families of 5 on the Dream and Fantasy. The category 4’s have a bit more open floor space than a category 5, but unless you need a room for 5 people, there’s no real reason to book one of these over a category 5; the amenities are identical and the difference in space is pretty trivial. The letter A-E is primarily about the location, with central and higher rooms in a pricier category.

Best bets for verandah staterooms:

Concierge Staterooms

Concierge categories get you access to dedicated concierge staff, both before the cruise and during. As a concierge passenger, you get priority for booking any shore excursion or specialty restaurant, even prior to people who have Platinum status in the Castaway Club. Concierge passengers get priority for embarking and disembarking, as well as priority tendering in ports that require it (though keep in mind Disney visits very few ports that require tendering – Grand Cayman is the only one Disney goes to regularly). Concierge guests can use a private concierge lounge with some free food and drink available at all times, as well as a private sun deck. The rooms themselves are in some cases larger than non-concierge, but not always. All concierge guests get robes in their room, plus some extra products in their bathroom. The concierge staff will also leave special gifts in your room every day, ranging from a nice fruit plate to a limited-edition lithograph.

Whether concierge is worth the extra money is an entirely personal decision. The lounges are very nice and have a good selection of snacks and drinks available all the time, plus concierge staff ready to help you with anything you need. The rooms themselves are quite plush, especially the 1-bedroom and larger ones. The price for concierge used to be a relatively moderate upcharge, but lately a concierge room costs at least double what a similar non-concierge room costs, and often more. If you want to splurge, it’s certainly the way to go, but it’s not in our opinion twice as good an overall experience as staying in a normal verandah room. Mostly it’s about saving time and being less stressed out, because the concierge staff are there to sort out pretty much any request or problem you might have. Want a table for 2? No problem. Want to book a meeting with Anna and Elsa? No problem. Need a Remy reservation? It’s done. Most of these things are available to anyone, concierge or not, but non-concierge guests may have to wait in line or on hold for Guest Services, and concierge staff get priority for certain special events like popular meet-and-greets. You and your kids will still have to wait in line for Mickey or Cinderella; you don’t get priority for everything.

3B (Wish) – These are oceanview concierge staterooms, found only on the Wish. They have no verandah, but they do have floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views, and they’re very large (357 sq. ft.). They’re all on the front of the ship on deck 11, facing forward. All of them sleep 4, and some sleep 5. They have all the same amenities and privileges as any other concierge stateroom.

3A & 3B (Dream, Fantasy, Magic & Wonder) – These are basically just large verandah rooms, essentially identical in size to a category 4, and all of them sleep 5. The decor is slightly different from the category 4’s, with fancier woods and so forth, but otherwise they’re basically the same. 

2A & 2B – These are 1-bedroom staterooms. They all sleep 5. They are very plush and about the size of two category 4 staterooms. They have an extra half-bath off the living room area, a much larger TV in the living room, and a very nice sitting area with a nice-sized table suitable for having dinner in your room. The bedroom can be closed off from the living room area with sliding doors, giving the adult guests some extra privacy. The 2A vs. 2B designation is mostly about location. The 2A’s on the Magic & Wonder are laid out slightly differently and have a longer verandah. The single 2A on the Dream & Fantasy is on the front center of the ship and is sandwiched between the two connecting Royal suites. On the Disney Wish, the 2A’s are on deck 12 and have somewhat deeper verandahs compared to the 2B suites on deck 13.

1C – These are 2-bedroom Royal suites, found only on the Disney Wish, called “1-Story Royal Suites with Verandah.” One of the two suites is accessible. Sleeps up to 6. They have a large living area and dining room, three full bathrooms, and a pantry and wet bar. There is a large private verandah with a whirlpool tub.

1B (Dream, Fantasy, Magic & Wonder) – These are 2-bedroom staterooms, only found on the Magic and Wonder (though on the Dream/Fantasy you can get a connected 3A and 2A that forms a basically equivalent space). They sleep up to 7. They have two full bedrooms, each with its own bath. There is a nice sitting area and a full dining area with large table for 6.

1B (Wish) – These are 2-bedroom, 2-story Royal Suites. They stretch across two decks (12 and 13), with a spiral staircase to take you between the two levels. They sleep 6, and have two large bedrooms, three full bathrooms, a large dining and living area and two large verandahs with a private hot tub.

1A (Dream, Fantasy, Magic & Wonder) – These are the fanciest Royal suites and are priced accordingly. They sleep 7 on the Magic/Wonder and 5 on the Dream/Fantasy. The decor in these suites is luxurious and tasteful. The living area is huge with a formal dining table and sitting area, and they have a massive verandah (with a private hot tub on the Dream/Fantasy). 

1A (Wish) – This is the very exclusive, very pricey Wish Tower Suite on deck 14 & 15 in the forward stack on the ship. This is by far the most deluxe cruise stateroom Disney has ever created. There is a large living and dining area, two main bedrooms, a child’s room with two bunk beds, and a library that can be turned into a bedroom for two more. There are four full bathrooms and a half-bath off the living room. Total capacity is 8 guests. There is no verandah, but there are floor-to-ceiling windows on both decks, providing what is clearly the best stateroom view on the ship.

Best bets for concierge staterooms:

Secret Porthole Staterooms

Want an oceanview stateroom at an inside cabin price? Book a “secret porthole” stateroom!

There are six staterooms on Deck 5 and two staterooms on Deck 6 of the Magic and the Wonder (but not on the Dream, Fantasy or Wish) that are sold as Category 10 inside staterooms, but actually are oceanview cabins with obstructed view portholes. By selecting one of these cabins, you will get some natural light and a bit of a view, while paying the lower price for an inside stateroom!

The obstruction is caused by equipment (mostly canisters that hold inflatable life rafts) in front of the portholes, and the amount by which these portholes is obstructed varies. You can typically see some ocean and some sky, but not a lot of either. Also, be aware that there may be a light on all night outside the porthole, so you’ll have to close your curtains tightly to keep it dark in the cabin.

The Secret Porthole staterooms on deck 5 are conveniently located near the kids’ activity centers, Flounder’s Reef Nursery and the Buena Vista Theater. There are relatively few passenger staterooms on this deck, so there is less potential for foot traffic and noise. (The majority of Category 10 staterooms without secret portholes can be found on lower decks and may be located under the adult nightclubs with dance floors and live bands.)

Of the eight Secret Porthole rooms, there are two pairs of connecting staterooms. For families of 5, this is an affordable alternative to booking a more pricey Category 4. We have more suggestions below about accommodating larger families on a Disney cruise.

Word has gotten out about these staterooms, so you’ll have to book well in advance to snag one.

Secret Verandah Staterooms

The “secret” here is getting a standard verandah for the price of a “navigator’s verandah.” In the best case you’re getting a rooms pretty much equivalent to a category 5, but are paying for a category 7. That can be a significant savings.

Magic & Wonder

While not as big an upgrade as the secret porthole staterooms, the secret verandah staterooms on Disney’s Magic and Wonder cruise ships give you a little more for your money. Basically these are Category 7A staterooms that have a regular verandah (a private, open-air deck accessed from your cabin), instead of the usual Category 7A “navigator’s verandah,” which is a fully enclosed deck with a large porthole.

The secret verandah staterooms were originally sold as Category 6, but were recategorized to Category 7A after Disney received complaints because they have a slight obstruction of view. The obstruction is due to their location at the very ends of the ship: an overhang curves around on one side of the verandah, obscuring the view a bit in that direction. Overall, the obsctructed view on these rooms is worlds better than on a regular Navigator’s Verandah. They also have a normal railing rather than the white-wall railing of a Category 6.

Here’s our estimate of the amount of obstruction for each of the “secret verandah” 7A rooms on the Magic & Wonder, with our assessment of most desirable on top to least desirable on the bottom (keeping in mind that a true Navigator’s Verandah obstructs about 80% of the view, so all of them are an upgrade from a regular 7A):

Dream, Fantasy & Wish

The Dream and Fantasy & Wish don’t actually have any Navigator’s Verandahs. The 7A rooms are the ends of rows of category 5’s and 6’s, and in fact were originally categorized as 5’s and 6’s on the Dream & Fantasy. However, the outer white panels of the ship impinge on the view from the verandahs of these rooms, in some cases to an almost trivial degree. Mostly they have a view that most people would find nearly identical to the higher-category room next door, and almost always far less obstructed than the navigator’s verandahs or white-wall verandahs on the Magic and Wonder, in the sense that they all have Plexiglas railings and you can see the ocean clearly while seated (with the exception of 5024 and 5524, where the obstruction is mostly on the lower half).

In a few cases, a category 7 has a connecting door to the category 5 or 6 stateroom next door, and if you want two connecting verandah staterooms getting this combo can save you some money, by getting (for example) a 5A and 7A instead of two 5A’s. Even if all the officially connecting rooms are booked, you can still book almost any 7A and the adjacent category 5 or 6, have the stateroom attendant open the verandah barrier between the rooms (see the next section for more) and essentially have the equivalent of two category 5 or 6 staterooms for less. Often these will book up fast, but ask a travel agent to see if a suitable pair is available.

On the Dream & Fantasy, there are two unusual “mini-verandah” rooms: 5188 and 5688. These are mirror-image aft-facing rooms on deck 5 with no view obstructions, but very small triangular verandahs. Their verandahs are too small to fit a chair, but do have a built-in bench that two thin people could fit on. They each can connect inside to a handicapped-accessible 9A stateroom next door (5186/5686), but their verandahs do not connect to the verandahs on either side of them.

On the Wish, there are also two slightly different “mini-verandah” 7A rooms: 7194 and 7690. They’re on the aft port and starboard corners of deck 7. Because of the way the ship curves around, they have a slightly smaller, curved verandah, though not nearly as small as the mini-verandah 7A’s on the Dream & Fantasy. They face port and starboard, rather than aft, though because of the angle they have a pretty decent view aft as well. They have the normal complement of two chairs and a small table.

Here’s our estimate of the amount of obstruction or other issues for each of the 7A rooms on the Dream, Fantasy & Wish, with our assessment of most desirable on top to least desirable on the bottom:

* – Connects (inside) to adjacent category 5 or 6 stateroom

** – Obstruction across lower half; extended verandah next door both blocks view and provides neighbors clear view into your stateroom from their verandah

Secret Connecting Staterooms

A semi-secret stateroom connection exists on all five ships: nearly any two (or more) adjacent verandahs along the straight sides of the ship (and many along the stern) can be connected by folding back the dividing panel. The primary exception is deck 10 on the Dream, Fantasy & Wish, which has some solid steel dividers (roughly every other one) because of structural requirements for the deck above. So about half of the verandah dividers on deck 10 open and half don’t. If it’s important to you to get two rooms with connecting verandahs, either avoid deck 10 or call Disney (or have your travel agent call) and they can tell you if any two specific rooms can connect their verandahs.

There are also a handful of non-connecting verandahs on other decks, on the “corners” of the ship where the space is just too narrow to put an divider that can open. But other than those exceptions, they all open. To connect the verandahs, ask your stateroom attendant; they have a special key that unlocks the divider. Once it’s open, the two rooms share one long verandah, and they become effectively connecting staterooms. If you have a whole bank of adjacent rooms, you can fold back all the dividers and make one really long verandah.

Category 8A “Mini-Suites” and Oversized/Open Plan Staterooms

On Disney’s Dream and Fantasy ships, all twelve of the Category 8A Deluxe Family Oceanview Staterooms are oversized, with two large portholes and no split bath. Four of the 8A staterooms could be called “mini-suites” or “junior suites” because they are large and somewhat divided. There are also eight 8A staterooms that offer unique open floor plans.


Four of the 8A staterooms are extra-spacious and have a wall divider between two “rooms.” The “rooms” are not completely separate, because there is a large opening between them that is not closed off with a privacy curtain or door. These “mini-suite” staterooms sleep 3 people and do not have the split bathroom. The bathroom is small, with sink, toilet and standard bathtub/shower. There are two televisions: one facing the bed and one facing the single pull-out sofa. In addition, these are connecting cabins, so if you needed to accommodate up to 6 people, getting the two connecting rooms would provide you with a super-spacious layout.

If you’re having a hard time envisioning these cabins, watch this YouTube video of a Disney Fantasy mini-suite.

Oversized/Open Plan Staterooms

There are eight oversized 8A cabins with open floor plans. They are laid out as one big L-shaped living/sleeping room with no privacy curtain. (The bathroom fills the “L” shape, so the overall shape is square.) All sleep 4. In some cases there is a support pole running from floor to ceiling in the center of the room. They all seem to be handicapped-accessible, although only 6014 is marked HA on the deck plans. None have the split bath: there is no tub and instead there is a large square bathroom with a curtained shower area offering no barrier at floor level, so someone in a wheelchair can roll in.

Thanks to Jo and Cheryl at Small World Vacations for details.

Hump Suites & Concierge Staterooms

On Disney’s Dream and Fantasy ships, a few of the 1-Bedroom Suites and Concierge Family Oceanview Staterooms with Verandah have larger verandahs than the others, due to a “hump” in the shape of the ship on Decks 11 and 12.

Note also that 1-Bedroom Suite 12000 is unique. It is situated between the two Royal Suites. A hallway entrance leads to a hallway/mini-foyer with connecting doors to the two Royal Suites. Then you enter through the actual door of the suite. This suite has the largest verandah of any of the 1-Bedrooms and faces straight forward on the ship. Note that the outer part of the verandah is not private, since guests standing in public areas of Deck 13 can look straight down at it.

Accommodating Larger Families

Accommodating a family of 5 or more on a Disney Cruise without breaking the bank is no easy trick.

Magic & Wonder

If you are cruising with a family of 5 on the Magic or the Wonder, Disney will recommend the 304-square-foot Category 4 Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah, which is the smallest cabin that will sleep 5. That is not the lowest-priced option, in almost all cases.

You could book TWO connecting Category 9 Deluxe Oceanview or Category 10 Deluxe Inside staterooms instead. The combined price of two connecting lower-category staterooms is often about two-thirds to three-quarters the price of a single Family Stateroom, and you end up with more space (typically about 40% more overall), two full bathrooms, and more privacy. However, you won’t have a verandah.

If the verandah on the Category 4 is important to you, consider booking one Category 6 Deluxe Oceanview with Verandah or Category 7 Deluxe Oceanview with Navigator’s Verandah, plus one Category 9, 10 or 11 cabin. It may be cheaper, and you’ll have a lot more space, more privacy and two bathrooms. However, the staterooms will not connect.

You should also price out two connecting Category 5 cabins. It will be more expensive than the single Category 4, but not by as much as you’d think, and you’ll get a huge upgrade in space and bathroom capacity.

Any of the connecting room options are great if you have older kids. Even if your kids are small and you’re worried about them being in the next room, keep in mind that the stateroom attendant can give you a prop for the connecting doors, making the two rooms effectively one large suite. You’ll be able to hear the kids if they wake up in the night, but can close the door if you need some privacy.

For a family of 6 or more, you have a few choices. A 2-Bedroom Suite or Royal Suite will sleep up to 7. However, it will be cheaper (usually much cheaper) to book two staterooms than to book a suite.

Dream, Fantasy & Wish

If you are cruising with a family of 5 on the Dream, Fantasy or Wish, Disney will recommend the approximately 241-square-foot Category 8 Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom, which is the smallest cabin that will sleep 5. Generally this is in fact the cheapest option for 5 people.

However, especially in peak seasons (e.g., summer, spring break), it may be hundreds of dollars cheaper to book TWO connecting Category 11 Standard Inside staterooms instead. Alternatively, the price difference between a Category 8 Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom and TWO connecting Category 9D or 9C Deluxe Oceanview or Category 10A Deluxe Inside cabins (only on the Dream & Fantasy) may be negligible.

So always check prices both ways, and if the price difference is minimal, consider that two Category 9 Deluxe Oceanview cabins or two Category 10 Deluxe Inside cabins would give you a total of 408 square feet and two bathrooms. Two Category 11 Standard Inside cabins would give you about 338 square feet and two (non-split) bathrooms.

For a family of 6 or more, your only choice is two staterooms on the Dream or Fantasy. On the Wish, you can get concierge rooms that sleep 6, though two regular staterooms will be much cheaper.

Thanks to Mike R, Tara H and Cheryl from Small World Vacations for info!

Two Rooms Are (Sometimes) Better Than One

As mentioned earlier, for a family of 5 it’s often cheaper to get two rooms rather than one, but the same logic applies (though less often) to families of 4. It can happen that the only rooms left that can handle 4 people are high-category, expensive ones. If less expensive rooms with fewer beds are available, you may be able to save money by booking two lower category rooms.

Even if you can get a single lower-category room that sleeps 4, it’s almost always worthwhile pricing out the cruise as two staterooms for comparison. Even if you don’t find a cheaper two-room option, you might be surprised to find one that’s only slightly more expensive. Unlike hotel pricing, where a second room always costs the same as the first room, cruise pricing has large supplementary fares for the 3rd and 4th occupant of a room, which makes splitting much more attractive. For example, you might find that a single room costs $3000, broken down into $1000 each for the first two guests and $500 each for the 3rd and 4th. Split into two identical staterooms of the same category you originally picked and your total fare is now $4000, or $1000 each for all 4 guests. That’s only a 33% increase in price for a 100% increase in space (and bathrooms)! Depending on the category and sailing, you’ll generally find that splitting 4 people into two staterooms of the exact same category is only 15%-40% more. And if you’re willing to make the second room a lower category, like an interior room on the same hallway, that reduces the cost even more.

If your children are small, you may want to limit yourself to connecting rooms. That makes this strategy somewhat harder on the Magic and Wonder, which have fewer overall connecting rooms. In addition, finding a set of available connecting rooms is not easy with Disney’s interface. We highly recommend using a travel agent if you want connecting rooms, as good travel agents are adept at finding connecting rooms and it’s exactly the kind of laborious task that you’d rather have someone else do for you.


If you’re willing to take your chances, consider booking a low-priced stateroom and hoping for an upgrade. For example, you could book a Category 11 “guarantee” stateroom, which means you’ll get at least a Category 11 Standard Inside cabin, but you are not immediately assigned a specific cabin. Instead, Disney Cruise Line guarantees you a room at this rate and waits to see how the ship fills up. If you are booking early and/or traveling during the off-season, this may work to your advantage. Since many people want to book the least expensive fare, the lowest fare often sells out. When that happens, Disney Cruise Line will sometimes upgrade some of the people who booked the lower fare first, in order to make cheaper rooms available for new guests.

Another trick is to request an upgrade at the port upon check-in. Depending on how full your cruise is, Disney is sometimes willing to upgrade you for a fee. Usually this fee is much less expensive than if you booked that category originally. If you are interested in trying this, get to the port early and as soon as you are in the terminal, make a beeline for the check-in desk and mention that you’re interested in paying for an upgrade. These upgrades had gotten very rare when the economy has picked back up, but when cruising restarts post-pandemic, there’s a decent chance that upgrades will become available again for at least some cruises in the offseason.

The key thing to keep in mind: upgrades are not in any way guaranteed, so don’t book a room you wouldn’t be happy staying in.

Trip Insurance

It is especially important to buy trip insurance for a cruise, because you have to pay the entire cost in advance and you won’t get a refund if you have to cancel right before your scheduled departure. With thousands of dollars at stake, it’s worth it to protect the investment.

It is absolutely critical to buy insurance if you will be taking a Caribbean cruise during hurricane season (between June 1 and November 30). While cruise ships can easily outrun and sail around hurricanes, ports and airports often close, which can affect your travel plans in a big way. If you don’t have insurance, you will be out of pocket for related expenses, such as renting a car to get to a new port or to get home from a port where you hadn’t expected to disembark. And if you can’t make it to the ship, the cruise line has the right to say “tough luck” and keep your money!

In 2016, hurricane Matthew caused significant damage in the Canaveral area and forced the closure of Port Canaveral. In 2017, Irma passed near Port Canaveral and Disney cut short several cruises and canceled several others. In 2018, hurricane Florence caused cruise ships to divert to alternate ports (not Disney, but primarily because of lucky timing). In 2019, Dorian caused Port Canaveral to be closed again and several cruises to be rescheduled and others to arrive late.

Because of these storms, people had trouble getting to their cruises or getting home afterwards because the airports were closed temporarily. Plenty of other people had to rearrange their flight dates and/or destinations, which often incurred a penalty. Some people ended up having to pay for hotel rooms when their cruises were delayed; others had to rent cars in order to get to the port. The luckiest ones never left for Florida, but still had to pay cancellation or change fees for the airfares they never used. These are exactly the kinds of expenses that trip insurance is designed to cover.

Perhaps the most important coverage included in a trip insurance policy is trip cancellation and interruption insurance, which can protect your investment if you have to cancel your cruise at the last minute (or come home early) due to illness or injury. Depending on the policy, you may also be covered if you cancel for other reasons, such as jury duty, terrorism at your destination, or even unemployment.

Emergency medical coverage and medical evacuation insurance are very important if you become ill or injured during the cruise. A lot of medical insurance policies do not cover you outside of your home country. Plus, evacuation insurance will help to pay for an emergency flight, which would be hugely expensive if you had to pay for it yourself. This can be very worthwhile, especially if you will be visiting developing countries, which is common on cruises. Personally we would not be comfortable with the care provided in most Caribbean hospitals, for instance, and would much prefer to be flown to the US for treatment.

Delayed baggage insurance will help you pay for replacement clothing if the airline sends your suitcase to Timbuktu and you need something to wear in the meantime. Supplemental baggage insurance will pay a predetermined amount if an airline or cruise line loses your luggage completely. When you consider the high cost of the formal wear you may be taking on a cruise, and how little airlines and cruise lines tend to pay for lost luggage, supplemental baggage insurance becomes a wise move. (Some higher-end credit cards provide extra baggage insurance, so check with your card issuer before paying extra for this coverage.)

Disney Cruise Line sells trip insurance, but it’s expensive and it has major exclusions: it doesn’t cover pre-existing medical conditions or air travel you arrange yourself. (Air travel arranged through Disney is covered.) You can almost always get better insurance than Disney offers, and at better rates, by buying it elsewhere.

Be aware that in most cases, trip insurance will provide slightly less coverage (usually by adding exclusions on pre-existing medical conditions) unless you buy it within about 14-21 days of paying your deposit on the cruise. So be sure to purchase it right away, once you’ve committed to the cruise.

Where to Buy Trip Insurance

  • A great place to comparison-shop for trip insurance is SquareMouth, where you can see side-by-side policy information and rates for major, reputable insurance companies. We have used SquareMouth ourselves to buy trip insurance and were especially impressed with their straightforward comparison system and robust filters to help you find the specific insurance features you need. We were also impressed with their “Zero Complaint Guarantee,” where they will go to bat with the insurance company on your behalf if you have a problem. Compare policies on SquareMouth.

Passports and Visas

If you are an adult US citizen and plan to take a Disney cruise, we strongly recommend getting a passport. While according to the US State Department a passport card or an enhanced drivers license is acceptable for closed-loop (beginning and ending in same port) sea travel between the US and the Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean, Mexico and Canada, a regular “book” passport is required to fly into or out of the US. If an emergency arises, you won’t be able to fly back to the US from an international port without a passport. Similarly, if you are delayed and miss the ship sailing, you won’t be able to fly to the next port and catch up with the ship.

Kids who are US citizens will also need passports if traveling outside the Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean, Mexico and Canada. Kids under 16 can present a certified birth certificate as their ID when going to the Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean, Mexico and Canada, but we still highly recommend getting your kids a regular passport (NOT a passport card) for those destinations, due to the same restrictions on air travel mentioned above.

Finally, while most destinations in North America and the Caribbean will let you off the ship without a passport, you do need a full passport to get off the ship in Martinique.

About Passports

Each person in your party will need a passport. Some people have asked us about “family passports.” They have not been available for a long time. Children (even infants) must each have their own passport.

In order to get a passport, you will need:

There are additional requirements for children. For more information on passports, including how and where to apply, visit the Department of State website.

Applying for your passports at least 3 months in advance is highly advisable. The processing time can currently take 8 weeks or more. If you need your passport sooner, you can get an expedited passport by mail directly from the Department of State by paying an extra fee of $60 plus the cost of express shipping both ways. An expedited passport takes about 2 weeks.


Most countries visited by Disney Cruise Line do not require US citizens to have a tourist visa.

Guests who purchase an organized tour in St. Petersburg, Russia will not require a Russian Tourist Visa as long as the booking is via a tour company with the appropriate licenses. All Disney shore excursions qualify, and most other excursions marketed to cruise passengers by third parties will as well. If booking a tour on your own, though, check with the tour company to make sure you won’t need a visa. Assuming you have booked with Disney or another licensed company, you will need to present the following items to the Russian Immigration officer when departing the ship:

However, note that without a Russian Tourist Visa, visitation is limited to the period of the excursion and guests will not be permitted to leave the ship outside of the tour hours. Guests who wish to sightsee independently must obtain an individual Russian Tourist Visa before leaving home. Companies such as PassportVisasExpress.com can expedite the visa for you.

Booking Palo/Remy/Enchanté, Excursions, Onboard Activities, Spa Appointments and Kids’ Club Online

Disney Cruise Line has an online system that allows guests to make advance reservations for Palo, Remy or Enchanté (the adults-only restaurants onboard) as well as shore excursions, spa treatments, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, popular character breakfasts and meetings, and babysitting. In addition, you can do advance registration online for the kids’ clubs.

In order to use this service, your cruise must be paid in full.

To start making reservations online, register at DisneyCruise.com. You’ll need your cruise reservation number. Reservations open just after midnight EST, the exact number of days in advance listed above.

If you are not able to book the restaurant, shore excursion, spa treatment, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique appointment and/or babysitting time you want, try to get on the ship as early as possible on embarkation day. There will be locations on the ship where you can go in person and try to get your reservations. Some time slots are held back for onboard booking, so you have a decent chance.

Disney Cruise Line Weddings and Vow Renewals

Disney Cruise Line wedding packages are usually available on all cruises, but only a few weddings are allowed for each sailing: one or two on the ship, one on the island. You can hold a Disney Cruise Line wedding, commitment ceremony or vow renewal that is as small as just the two of you, or as large as 100 guests. A Disney Cruise Line wedding package is an “add-on” on top of your regular cruise fare. Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings offers full details on locations, guest limits and pricing.

The same information applies to a commitment ceremony or vow renewal. As far as Disney is concerned, the planning and costs for these ceremonies are all interchangeable.

Cruising with a Disability

For more information, read Disney Cruise Line’s official information on traveling with a disability.

Need a mobility aide, oxygen, baby crib or other special equipment while cruising? Special Needs at Sea is the preferred accessibility supplier for Cruise Lines International Association. Visit their website for a complete list of equipment and to reserve the items you need.