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disney cruise

Posted on February 1, 2017

The Ultimate Guide to a Halloween Disney Cruise

Disney Halloween Cruise Guide

There are a lot of things to consider when you book a Disney Cruise.  You will need to think about school and/or work schedules, cruise ports and itineraries, transportation options to get to the port, time of year and typical weather.  That’s really just the top of the list as there are many variables to consider before you go ahead and click that “book” button.  One thing that we did last year that we have NEVER done before was to sail on a Disney ship over Halloween.  We booked a “Halloween on the High Seas” 7-night sailing on the Disney Magic out of New York City.  We were pleasantly surprised at how fun it was to celebrate Halloween at sea!  There were many holiday-themed events, activities, parties and treats to enjoy.  I’m putting them all together in this Halloween Disney Cruise Guide in the hopes that it will be helpful to you as you consider booking your own Halloween Disney Cruise!

When does Disney run their Halloween Cruises?  While the itineraries can vary slightly from year to year, the “Halloween on the High Seas” cruises are typically offered on most sailings between mid-September and the end of October.  Halloween cruises occur on all 4 ships in Disney’s fleet.  An itinerary  will be listed as a “Halloween on the High Seas” cruise if it is, indeed, a holiday sailing.

Are the ships decorated for Halloween?  In one word: YES!  There are decorations all over the place!  There is a huge pumpkin tree in the atrium of the ship. Each tree is unique to its ship and they have a backstory which you can learn about in this video:

Our pumpkin tree on the Disney Magic was named “Reap.” Reap had big empty branches when we boarded the ship. The first night of the cruise, there was  a show in the atrium where the “caretaker” told  the tale of the trees. Over the course of the cruise, pumpkins begin to grow on the tree’s branches! Finally, the entire tree is covered in pumpkins. Since our cruise was over the actual holiday, our pumpkin tree sprouted pumpkins at an accelerated rate so that the tree was in full bloom by Halloween day.

Empty Pumpkin Tree Disney Cruise

Disney Cruise Pumpkin Tree Show

Disney Cruise Pumpkin Tree Full Read more..

Posted on January 20, 2017

15 MORE Cool Things to do on Disney Cruises

15 MORE Cool Things to do on Disney Cruises

MORE Cool Things to do on Disney Cruises

Almost 3 years ago, after our very first Disney Cruise, I wrote a post that has gone on to please the Pinterest Gods and is frequently one of my most-read posts in any given month.  That post told you about 8 cool things to do on a Disney Cruise.  It’s a great starter post for the beginner Disney Cruiser (much as we were beginner DCL’ers at that time).  We have now logged 3 Disney Cruises and yes, our deposit is down for a future 4th cruise.  We love Disney Cruise Line that much!

Bob and I brainstormed up a fantastic NEW list of cool things to do on Disney Cruises.  These are completely different than the suggestions in our first list and I am really excited to share them with you!

Without further ado, here are 15 MORE Cool Things to do on Disney Cruises! Read more..

Posted on January 2, 2017

Disney Cruise Line Vacation REVEAL Video – Surprise Scavenger Hunt – Halloween on the High Seas NYC

DCL trip reveal

Every year as the deal season craziness gives way to the January blahs, I find myself with so much time to work on travel pieces, DIY project posts, new recipes and more.  The difference this year is that we JUST completed our most recent Disney trip in November.  It’s still FRESH in my mind and I have SO MUCH to share with you!

This year we managed to keep our vacation a secret from the kids for almost 1.5 YEARS after we booked it.  Think about it: Lily is now in 2nd grade.  We booked this cruise in MAY of her KINDERGARTEN year.  That’s a long time to keep such a huge secret under wraps!!  But somehow we succeeded and just 3 weeks before we set sail, we made up a fun scavenger hunt to reveal our surprise.

Check out the video below, then take a look at all of the Disney tips and tricks that I have posted over the years.  I’d recommend bookmarking or pinning that link – it’s where I will be posting a whole lot of new Disney posts over the coming months!  Oh – and my YouTube Channel has LOTS of Disney videos with more to come!


Disney Cruise Surprise Vacation Reveal Video

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Posted on December 27, 2016

25 Dollar Store MUST-BUY Items for a Disney Cruise

Dollar Store Disney Cruise Must Buy Items

When one of your family’s most favorite hobbies is to travel, and you find yourself packing your bags every month or two for the next adventure, you get pretty good at shopping for (and/or stockpiling) supplies.  One of my most popular travel posts of all time is this list of Dollar Store Must-Buy Items for a Disney World vacation.  Ever since I published that post, it had been on my to-do list to write a Disney CRUISE specific shopping list.  And here it is!

As I gather supplies for an upcoming trip, I usually make a mega packing list in my life planner.  If necessary, I place an order for supplies with Amazon and then I usually stop at ALDI for food/snacks and ALWAYS make a trip to the Dollar Tree for random particulars.  The dollar store tends to be overlooked by some for vacation necessities, but I am here to tell you: DON’T OVERLOOK THE DOLLAR STORE.  Whether you’re heading to a beach, a theme park, going by plane or by car or in this case, BY SHIP, the dollar store is a traveler’s best friend.

Check out the 25 items that I always stock up on at the dollar store before we board a Disney Cruise Ship.

1. Pirate Costume Accessories – If you’re heading on a Disney Cruise in the Caribbean, chances of a Pirate Night on your sailing are pretty good!  Before our last cruise (and near Halloween) we found all sorts of pirate accessories (eye patches, bandannas, hooks, etc) at the dollar store.

dollar store pirate costumes

Red Bandana

2.  PonchosBad weather can blow in almost without warning when you’re out on the ocean.  The same holds true if you’re cruise ship is stopping at a tropical port (Florida included!).  We have yet to take a trip to Florida and not get rained out at least one afternoon during our stay.  Rain showers and storms blow up over the theme parks frequently.  Sometimes they literally build on top of the parks and you have little-to-no-warning to take cover.  You can absolutely find ponchos in every theme park gift shop or hotel store.  And I guaranteed you that you will absolutely NOT find them for $1.  Stock up at the dollar store before you leave town.  Get one for every member of your family and also consider picking up extras to throw over strollers, luggage, etc.  We gave ponchos to the adults in our Fish Extender group on our last cruise!

Rain poncho

3. Dry Erase Board – If you have never cruised before, get ready to find dry erase boards on many cabin doors on the ship!  Dry erase boards are a great way to communicate plans and current locations for friends and family on your cruise.  Don’t forget – your cell phones won’t work on board and that includes text messaging.  Slap a dry erase board on your door and enjoy this antiquated-yet-effective communication method (most cabins on Disney ships are magnetic, minus Concierge level cabins on the Dream and Fantasy).

dry erase board

4.  ToothbrushesUnless you’re a couponer and you work the drugstore and/or coupon deals to get free toothbrushes, you know that buying toothbrushes for the whole family can add up.  I tend to replace our travel toothbrushes after most trips because the thought of them rolling around the toiletry bag for months grosses me out.  Pick up toothbrushes on the cheap at the dollar store for trips.  You won’t feel terrible throwing them out at the end of vacation because they didn’t cost much.  Save the costlier toothbrushes for your home bathroom. For a week or so away most of us can settle for a simplistic model.


5. Glow Sticks –  Glow sticks are so much fun for pirate night on the ship!  Stock up for less at the dollar store and let the kids load up on glowing jewelry before you head to the Pirate Deck Party!  We gave glow sticks to the tweens/teens in our Fish Extenders group!

Glow Sticks

6. Cups, Tumblers, Water Bottles – All of your drinks (minus alcohol) on a Disney Cruise are INCLUDED in your cruise fare.  Disposable cups are offered at most beverage stations, but they tend to be small and don’t keep your hot drinks warm for too long.  Throw a cup or two in your luggage – I love the water bottles and plastic tumblers for the kids and Bob and I always bring a travel mug for coffee!

Cups and tumblers

7. Snack Containers and Plastic Snack Bags – These are great for tossing random snacks in for the kids to eat during shows, down time in your cabin, whenever.  Toss some dry cereal or baked goods in snack containers or bags while you’re at the buffet – you never know when you might need a snack to throw at the kids.

I also use plastic bags throughout my packing routine.  I use gallon sized bags for packing individual outfits, toiletries that I am worried might leak, etc.  I ALWAYS pack an extra gallon bag into the diaper bag for holding dirty diapers, clothes that diapers have leaked on, wet clothes and bathing suits, emergency barf bags, you get the idea.  Bumps and bruises can be soothed with instant ice packs – just put ice from the beverage station or your cabin steward into a sandwich bag.  I pack individual road trip activities in different sized bags as well – this would come in handy if you’re driving or flying to your port.

I recommend buying a box or two in sandwich, quart and gallon sizes.

snack containers plastic bags

8. Popcorn Containers – Oh!  One of my favorite items from the dollar store that I totally just grabbed on a whim before our last cruise.  I LOVE (like, in an obsessive way) fresh popped popcorn.  I can’t seem to turn it down!  On a Disney Cruise, you can buy a big souvenir popcorn tub and then enjoy really cheap refills throughout your trip.  I bought my souvenir tub on the first day on the ship.  Before each show, we got the tub refilled, then dumped that refill into these cute popcorn containers – one for each kid and another for Bob.  Then I went and got a second refill well, just for me.  I told you – I LOVE POPCORN!!

Mickey Mouse Snack Boxes

Kids with Popcorn

9. Trash Bags – It’s always a great idea to pick up a box or two of trash bags.  They are so helpful for collecting that unavoidable mountain of dirty wash throughout your trip.  Disney Cruise Ships all have coin operated laundry facilities on various decks.  Trash bags make great laundry bags in a pinch.

Trash Bags

10. Plates and Napkins – Room service is FREE on Disney Cruises and is available pretty much around the clock. We found it super handy to have some extra plates and napkins in our cabin so that we could divvy up the food to the kids!

plates and napkins

11.  Tissues, Hand Sanitizer, and Wet WipesBoogers, snot, phlegm, poop, pee.  Add dirt, blood, excess suntan lotion and more to that list.  You can never have enough tissues, wipes or sanitizer!!  Stock up at the dollar store.

For tissues, I like to get a couple big packs of the smaller travel packs.  I stick the smaller packs EVERYWHERE – one in the diaper bag, purse, car, different luggage pieces, etc.

Soap and water are always going to be your best line of defense against germs, including the dreaded norovirus that likes to fly around ships.  In a pinch, hand sanitizer will do the job.

tissues sanitizer wipes

12.  Mesh Laundry Bags While I tend to use trash bags to gather my dirty laundry on vacation, mesh laundry bags work wonderfully too.  ALSO – if you are going on a BEACH trip… grab a mesh bag or two.  Use it to toss the sandy toys in at the end of the day.  Much of the sand will fall off the toys and out of the bag BEFORE you get back on the ship, keeping the majority of the sand OUT of your cabin.

mesh laundry bags

13.  Batteries You probably make sure that you have packed your eleventy billion charging cords for everything from phones to tablets to Kindle Readers.  But don’t forget to throw some extra batteries in your bag for any random electronics that you might want to run and not be near an outlet.


14. Bubbles – Love ’em or hate ’em (and most kids LOVEEEEE them), bubbles make great boredom busters with minimal mess.  They are also lots of fun for Pirate Night Party and your Sail Away Party!


15. Over-The-Door-Hooks – These hooks are sanity savers!  They help give our towels, bathing suits, backpacks, camera bags, WHATEVER, a spot OFF of the floor.  Pick up a few and toss them on the bathroom doors!

Over the Door Hook

16.  Travel Bottles – Always a good idea to grab some of these for trips, even if you’re not flying (and thus bound by airline restrictions).  These bottles make it easy to portion out shampoo, etc in smaller increments.  Most, if not all, Disney Cruise ship cabins have two bathrooms so this is an easy way to split up your toiletries.

Travel Bottles

17. Earplugs Earplugs come in handy for fireworks, loud shows, or even when you end up in a cabin with a very loud SNORER.   At just $1 for a multi-pack it’s smart to grab a pack just in case they are needed.


18. Sponges and Washcloths – Half of my family prefers bar soap and washcloths… the other half prefers sponges and body wash.  Pick up a couple of each and toss ’em out at the end of the trip.  At just $1 each they will work great during your trip, but they are totally disposable and there’s no lugging anything wet home in your luggage.

sponges and washcloths

19. Nightlights and FlashlightsMaybe you have a kid who is afraid of the dark, maybe you don’t.  If you do, pick up a little nightlight before you head out on vacation so you’re not scrambling at bedtime in your cabin.  If you DON’T have a kid who is afraid of the dark, consider picking up a small flashlight.  These are nice to leave on the nightstand in the event that your kid wakes up and needs to get to the bathroom, etc. in the middle of the night.  Unfamiliar surroundings and furniture can lead to bumps and stubbed toes!

flashlights and nightlights

20. First Aid This and That – Extra thermometer, bandages, triple antibiotic cream… all are good ideas to toss in your toiletry bag.  Pick up many of these standard items at the dollar store at a super low price.

first aid dollar store

21. Chapstick – Keep those lips moisturized!  I hate how dry my lips tend to get when we stay in hotels or cruise cabins thanks to the dry air.  I always take a least one chapstick or lip balm with me!

chapstick dollar store

22.  Reusable Bags – Bags are great for pool and beach bags to carry on and souvenir bags. I found a bunch of Disney branded bags at the Dollar Tree that would be perfect for your cruise.

Disney bags

23. Playing Cards – Hopefully you are able to carve out some time to relax while you’re on board… I know this can actually be tricky at times because there is SO MUCH to do on a Disney Cruise!  Take along a pack or two of cards – always fun to grab a table in the lounge and watch the ocean as you play some card games!

playing cards

24. Pill OrganizerGreat for vitamins and other medications, but think beyond that!  These little boxes are wonderful for things like safety pins, travel sewing kit pieces, etc.  They also come in handy for kids’ crafts you might be packing for boredom busters.  Rainbow loom bands, beads, Shopkins and other little novelties will fit in these compartments.

pill organizer

25. Souvenirs It’s so easy to fall prey to pricey Disney gift shops.  Souvenir prices run steep so I like to bring souvenirs with us that I have gathered at clearance sales, consignment sales, etc in the months leading up to our trip!  Saves at TON of money and the kids are every bit as excited.  I found little figurines at Dollar Tree, along with a bunch of other character-laden merch.

disney toys at dollar tree

Copy this list and take it with you to the dollar store!

1. Pirate Costume Accessories
2. Ponchos
3. Dry Erase Board
4. Toothbrushes
5. Glow Sticks
6. Cups, Tumblers, Water Bottles
7. Snack containers and plastic snack bags
8. Popcorn containers
9. Trash bags
10. Plates and napkins
11. Tissues, hand sanitzier, wet wipes
12. Mesh laundry bags
13. Batteries
14. Bubbles
15. Over-the-Door Hooks
16. Travel bottles
17. Earplugs
18. Sponges and Washcloths
19. Nightlights and flashlights
20. First Aid Supplies
21. Chapstick
22. Reusable bags
23. Playing cards
24. Pill organizer
25. Souvenirs


Dollar Store Disney Cruise Must Buys

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Posted on November 15, 2016

The Ultimate Guide to Disney Cruise Fish Extenders + Lots of Ideas and FREE Printables


Whenever we have a Disney Cruise planned, I find myself fielding a common question from friends: Are you going to participate in the Fish Extenders?!  And during our 3 night Magic sailing and our 3 night Dream sailing, my answer was always, “No, I can’t handle one more thing besides packing for a massive road trip to the ship and several days in the Parks.”

But this year, I was totally ready to give it a try.  And it was a BLAST!

Whether you’re a Fish Extender Pro or a total rookie like we were, I hope that this post gives you some good ideas as you get ready for YOUR Disney Cruise!

What ARE Fish Extenders?  Fish Extender is a gift exchange between fellow cruisers on a Disney Cruise.  On Disney Cruise Ships, every cabin door has a metal fish next to it.  This fish serves as a hook/shelf for crew to leave you your info regarding spa/restaurant/port adventure/etc reservation info.  It also makes the perfect hook to hang a “Fish Extender” to collect little gifts from other cruisers.

How do I get a Fish Extender?  That’s up to you!  Many people make their own – I have seen everything from pocket organizers from Staples decorated and strung together with ribbon, to fabric versions that people sew.  Other people (us included) purchase fish extenders from the many sellers on sites like Etsy.

How do I find a Fish Extender Group to join?  There seem to be two main ways to find FE Groups to join.  Sometimes you can find them on the thread for your particular DCL sailing on DisBoards.  Almost all DCL sailings also end up with their own private Facebook group.  Search on Facebook using your ship name and sail date to find your group.  This is how I signed up for our FE exchange group.  We had a thread in the Facebook group and a couple group members organized everyone into groups in spreadsheets.

What’s the difference between a Fish Extender Group and “being pixie dusted?”  If you sign up for a FE group, you will receive a number of cabins to bring gifts for.  You are also always welcome to “pixie dust” other cruisers who may not be in your FE group but have FEs hanging off their fish hooks.  We were pixie dusted multiple times throughout our week on the Magic, mostly candy and other little trinkets.

If you do not want to sign up for an FE group, you can still always pixie dust others and hope that you are pixie dusted in return.

How/when do I deliver my Fish Extender gifts?  The “how” is simple – you literally walk around the ship and deliver your gifts to those in your exchange group.  The “when” is entirely up to you, however I recommend avoiding the days that the ship is in port.  Typically when the ship is in port, many people are off the ship for most of the day and your gifts will be sitting there for hours.  I have heard of incidents of theft (not many, but it happens) and obviously the longer the gifts sit outside the cabin, the more attention they might draw.

How much money do I need to spend on Fish Extender gifts?  That is entirely up to you.  We received everything from dollar store candy and trinkets to DIY projects that obviously took people a bit of time.  We went the DIY route and were able to keep our gift cost to $1-2 per person. You also have the option to gift something to each individual in your exchange group OR you can give one gift to the entire cabin.

Fish Extender Ideas!

Ponchos for each adult with a printable poem:  This was our gift to the adults in our FE exchange.  I bought blank red drawstring pouches on clearance after the holidays last year.  I used my Silhouette to cut black Mickey Heads out of heat transfer vinyl.  A poncho from the Dollar Tree went into each bag.  I wrote a little poem and printed it out on cardstock.



Disney Cruise Poncho Gift

Disney Cruise Poncho Poem

Poncho Gift Fish Extender

Personalized Chalkboards:  This was our gift for the little kid crowd.  I bought blank chalkboards and cut their names in vinyl on my Silhouette.  I used the “Waltograph” Disney-inspired font.  Then I cut Mickey Heads out of vinyl and used them to affix 2 pieces of chalk to each board.

Disney Chalkboard

Disney Chalkboard Gift

Glow Sticks for Pirate Night with printable poem:  This was our FE gift for the tween/teen crowd!  I bought blank neoprene popsicle holders and personalized them with my Silhouette.  I picked up glow sticks and gave each kid several sticks.  I tucked a pirate night poem that I wrote inside the bag!

Glow Sticks for Pirate Night

Glow Sticks Fish Extender Gift

Glow Sticks Gift

Glow Sticks Gifts

More fun ideas from the gifts that we received!



Holiday Ornaments


Glowing and Light-Up Toys


DIY Dry Erase Board with Marker


Navigator Tool Kit with handy helpers for the cruise


Drink Tumbler with handy items for trip



CD with Disney Music


Parks Merch


DIY Ice Cream Topping Bowls – just add ice cream!



Vinyl Decals (perfect for fellow Silhouette users!)


Tissues and Hand Sanitizer


And here are some of the things we were pixie dusted with!



Most of our haul (minus a few things the kids grabbed before I could take pictures!):


Overall our experience was great!   We received so many neat little gifts and the kids went bonkers every time we arrived back to our room to find more “Mickey Mail.”  We did run into an issue where 2 cabins on our list were not accurate – the people who originally booked had canceled at some point and didn’t notify our group about their change of plans.  That was a bit crappy, since I took the time to personalize our gifts and couldn’t just re-gift, but it was just a small blip in the road.

Definitely consider participating on a Fish Extender Exchange on your next Disney Cruise!


Want to watch our Disney Vids?  Check out our Disney Cruise Line Playlist on YouTube!



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