One of the best parts about cruising is the fact that you potentially get to see more than one country on a single vacation. And when you arrive at each country’s port, you have a multitude of options. You can stay on board and enjoy the ship, get off the boat and explore on your own, or book a Port Adventure and let Disney take care of the details. Should you decide to pre-book an adventure, here’s what you need to know about booking your Disney Cruise Line Port Adventures.
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**Disney Cruise Line is back to sailing all four of its ships in the United States, but restrictions are in place and vacations have been modified for safety. Be sure to visit our reopening guide for Disney Cruise Line for updated information to guide your vacation planning!
Should I book my Disney Cruise Line Port Adventures in advance? And if so, when can I book?
While you can definitely book your Port Adventures once on board, it is highly recommended that you book them before your cruise. Many of the most popular Disney Cruise Line Port Adventures book quickly, and choices can be limited once onboard due to capacity issues.
As far as when you can book, you do need to be within your booking window:
- First-Time Guests: 75 days prior to sail date
- Silver Castaway Club Members: 90 days prior to sail date
- Gold Castaway Club Members: 105 days prior to sail date
- Concierge Guests and Platinum Castaway Club Members: 120 days prior to sail date
*Port Adventures can be booked online once you have completed online check-in and you are paid in full.
How do I pay for my Port Adventures?
You will not be paying for your Disney Cruise Line Port Adventures when you book. Instead, they will be charged to your onboard account. This account is set up when you complete your online check-in. It is not necessarily the card you used to pay for your vacation (unless you decide to use the same card to set up your onboard account.)
You can cancel your Port Adventures up to 3 days prior to your sail date (unless otherwise noted on the specific Port Adventure.) After that time, Port Adventures are non-refundable. The exception to this would be if your Port Adventure is canceled. This happens from time to time, mostly due to poor weather. For example, my husband and I had ours canceled in Cozumel due to a downpour. We were not charged, and we were able to choose a different outing that was mostly indoors and not canceled.
Do I really need to book Port Adventures? Or can I simply Get Off the Ship and explore?
You definitely do NOT need to book anything. We have left the ship on several occasions just to explore. We have also stayed on board. This is actually a great option if you would rather stay on board and enjoy a quiet ship for the afternoon!
Keep in mind that if you don’t have an “official” Disney Cruise Line Port Adventure, you will need to be more careful about getting back to the ship on time. We did leave a couple behind once (on a different cruise line) who rented a car for the day and didn’t make it back to the ship on time. Fortunately, Disney is really good about announcing times and keeping everyone informed of their options.
Do I have to book with Disney? Or can I book something on my own?
No, and yes. You don’t have to book with Disney, and you can certainly book something on your own. It’s also possible that you can save money doing it this way. But there are a few things to consider. How comfortable are you traveling in a foreign country on your own? Will you find yourself worried about getting back to the boat on time? (This is one of the reasons I typically stick with Disney for my excursions. I like knowing that Disney will wait for me if for some reason my Port Adventure is running late!) Another consideration is whether or not you enjoy the process of researching and making a non-Disney excursion work.
If any of this worries you, definitely stick to booking your Port Adventures through Disney.
Another thing to consider is that I like knowing that all of my Port Adventures are “Disney approved.” In other words, Disney works with the touring companies making sure that they follow specific guidelines. (This is likely the reason why Disney Cruise Line doesn’t offer quite as many excursions as the other cruise lines.)
How do I know which Port Adventure is the best for me and my family?
For example, when my family was in Jamaica, we traveled on a bus that had fold-up center aisle seating available with no seat belts. But the bus driver wouldn’t allow anyone to use them. Why? Because Disney wouldn’t allow it due to safety concerns. (They obviously used the seats for their non-Disney tours.) It was then that I realized I was actually safer on an official Disney Cruise Line Port Adventure than I would be on my own. And when you’re traveling with children, this is a pretty big deal.
While the Disney Cruise Line website doesn’t offer much (or anything at this time) in terms of reviews, I was able to find reviews by searching elsewhere online. Most of these excursions are conducted by third parties that have an agreement with Disney. Many also have agreements with other cruise lines making it fairly easy to find reviews of the touring guides themselves.
Be sure to also pay attention to the details of the Port Adventure. Are meals included? How much walking will there be? Are strollers going to be a problem? I remember being on one excursion with a family who had a large double stroller. The description clearly stated there would be lots of stairs, and I remember feeling so badly for them as someone had to constantly stay behind with the stroller (especially since it was a pricier excursion!) So be sure to do your homework!
**Looking to plan your Disney Cruise Line vacation? Be sure to visit my step-by-step guide to get started!
And be sure to visit the official website for Disney Cruise Line for more information about all they have to offer!