Hi - our first DCL cruise is in October! I know we are able to book extras 75 days ahead. But what should I be booking? I know I want brunch but that’s all I know. I assume this is where I book excursions?
RCL rents “cabanas” on the deck for sea days but I don’t think this is an option on DCL. Anything similar?
How exciting to have your first DCL cruise booked! We are doing our second in November so I’m not an expert. I remember there wasn’t brunch available on my last cruise at 75 days but after a lot of days of checking again we did get one. If it’s a 7 day cruise with the disney junior breakfast you can also book that at 75 days. This is also when you can book bibbidi bobbidi boutique, excursions, activities such as mixology, nursery, sports simulator, royal tea or olaf’s picnic. I know people rave about the alcohol tastings and mixology. When DD was 9 she liked the princess meet (i think that one might be at 30 days rather than 75?l). At 9 we found the disney jr breakfast a little young for her.
Also not an expert and will be going on second DCL cruise in Sept. There was not much available to book even at midnight on the 75 mark for our first cruise in April. However, just by checking back on the app a once or twice a day on average, I was able to pick up all the different drink tastings at one point or another…and later dropping most of them. We eneded up dong the martini, champagne and chocolate and liquor tastings, all fun. Also, the most popular excursions were all booked at 75 days but these would occasionally open up a few spots when I was checking back. We ended up doing our own excursions. Don’t fret about anything you aren’t able to book at 75 days or by checking back beforehand like Palo Brunch because pretty much everything has some availability on embarkation day once you are at the port. Good Luck!
Also, Palo brunch and Cabanas on Castaway Cay have the reputation of being the most sought after/hard to get add ons. I did see a Cabana become available for a short time about a week before our spring break cruise. I think if you really want a cabana, focus your app checking efforts on the time period 1-2 weeks before the cruise as these (and excursions) become no refundable 72 hours before embarkation day. For Palo brunch, I would just check for availability at the port on embarkation day (if that is an option—I wasn’t looking for this) or go to Palo as soon as you get on the ship and see what’s available
We recently were able to book activities for our next cruise as Silver at 90 days and that was a heck of a lot easier than the first time at 75 BUT we had a fantastic first cruise with exactly 0 activities booked. And also, our first cruise was a busy spring break sailing that was over the Disney+ subscriber discount so my experience of not finding much availability on anything is probably not always the norm.
On our first cruise I checked for:
Beach excursions in Cozumel
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (was looking for times on sea days at/after lunchtime or any port days at 4-5ish)
Pirate night makeovers (for a time that didn’t conflict with dinner)
Out of the above, I was only able to find beach excursions and 2 (of the 4 I needed) pirate night makeovers at the times I was looking for. I was able to get some BBB at odd times but ended up cancelling all of the Pirate Night & BBB’s when we got on the ship & none of the extended family we were with was particularly excited about dropping $$ on makeovers that would only last as long as we could all keep our kids out of the pool. I did keep checking back for Palo brunch but again the extended we were with was happy with all the included provided food and so we chose to spend our time with them rather than seek out brunch once on the ship. But it is one thing I definitely know I want, one day!
I wasn’t able to get Palo Brunch for this second cruise even at midnight 90 days out but I learned from some frequent cruisers on our sailing’s FB page that it’s hardest to get Palo Brunch for a party of 2, but they did advise to randomly check & also upon boarding ask at the dining reservations and they can at the very least waitlist you for brunch, if not get you a confirmed booking. If you’re doing a sailing that has more than one sea day, then you might have better luck. I don’t think we’ll do Palo on this second cruise either because it’s just 4 nights AND I actually want to get off in Nassau my first time there so it might be tough to fit it all in (they are doing Palo brunch on both our 1 sea day and our Nassau day). And we have a back to back (4 nights + 3 nights) that we will do on the Wish next year so we’ll try for Palo brunch one of those sea or Nassau days.
Sports simulator is only on some of the ships (definitely was on the Dream & I’m guessing the Fantasy too). We didn’t do it but DH thought it sounded fun when I read him the explanation but it was totally sold out anytime we looked for it starting at 75 days and was the 2nd most sought after booking to coordinate drops/pick-ups on our cruise page (first being the dolphin excursion in Cozumel).
Royal Tea & Olaf’s picnic are both an upcharge character experience with tea/snacks done in the “fancy” main dining room (Royal Court/Palace on the Dream/Fantasy; Lumiere’s on the Magic; Triton’s on the Wonder & Arendelle on the Wish). Royal Tea is like $219-ish/kid and $69/adult. I believe Olaf’s picnic is similarly priced. Royal Tea I think is done on all the ships except the Wish. Olaf’s Picnic is exclusive to the Wish. Royal Tea was sold out on the Dream when we looked at 75 days. But on this second cruise at 90 days it was all wide open and available and I thought I was just hitting “Check Availability” to see what time it was but was actually hitting “Confirm” to book it. So I have it, for now, but it will probably be one of the first things I cancel (still have about 50 days to decide before the activities lock and I can’t cancel). It’s such a gigantic cost.
Also, I will most definitely cancel Royal Tea if we can get spots for the included (free) Princess Royal Gathering. But booking for that doesn’t open up until 30 days before so still waiting for that. I believe they usually do this on sea days. It’s simply a princess meet n’ greet where you have just one line to meet 4-5 princesses all around the atrium. On our first cruise one of the sea days it was happening just outside the restaurant where we ate bfast and ALL the girls were so sad we didn’t get it (but remember it was a busy spring break cruise and we were a gigantic party of 14 and only a max of 2 of the 14 would’ve not wanted to meet princesses). If you’re on a character themed cruise (i.e. Marvel, Pixar) then they’ll also have a similar event for Marvel/Pixar related characters on sea days.
Happy booking and I’m excited to hear what you end up getting!!
Well I got absolutely nothing which is pretty much what I expected. I had joined the Facebook group and some of the higher tier folks were posting what was available and I knew pretty much everything had sold out before the dirt tier could book. I’m fine. All I had wanted was Palo Brunch and two Pirate Makeovers. I will be ok if we don’t do either of them but I will try on embarkation day too.
My question is (like too many other Disney things lately) HOW does Disney think this is a good strategy?? Let’s piss off almost every first time cruiser! The Facebook group is filled with people absolutely up in arms about the fact that there was literally nothing left for us. Most were parents of young kids who wanted to do Disney excursions that can’t. Mine are old enough that we will just take a cab but I feel for these people. I will be honest that if I don’t get the brunch at all it will leave a bad taste in my mouth. Is that the mood that Disney wants people have around their first cruise? It certainly isn’t enticing me to book another cruise.
Sorry you weren’t able to reserve what you wanted. People do change their mind about reservations or a few will even have to cancel their cruise, so keep checking back to see whether you can pick up a reservation when someone drops it. We got a Palo brunch on our first cruise that way.
First-time DCL cruisers have a similar status in getting limited availability reservations as off-site guests do when trying to get WDW limited availability reservations.
With DCL, seniority has its privileges. But people do cancel, so you have to take a similar approach as you do with WDW, dogged determination and constant vigil, checking back to jump on those opportunities.
We had a great time on our own cruise without a single extra added on. Dining in the main rooms and the buffet is still a great experience.
I bet you’ll have good luck. And if not, keep trying periodically. I got the champagne tasting that very morning with just a couple of hours notice. People cancel stuff all the time. I think it’s like dining ressies at WDW where there are people who will hoard stuff they don’t really think they’ll use, but “just in case” since there’s no money on the line.
Remind me the duration of this cruise? I never did see a Palo brunch pop up (and my wallet breathed a great sigh of relief) but we had just one sea day on a 4 day sailing. You’ll probably have better luck on a port day (because people want to go into the port, obviously). All this said though, this shouldn’t make or break your experience. Palo is a small space, and with a couple thousand guests it’s not going to be an option for a large percentage.
The excursion thing is different IMO because if they have such high demand they should hire more vendors and create more space.
This too, 100%. Your analogy is a good one. I was a first timer on my sailing and there was almost nothing open when we got to book. But in the end I got to do almost everything I wanted (except Palo brunch) - including Remy (SWOON!)
I promise that it isn’t going to impact my enjoyment. We did exactly zero upcharge opportunities on our RCL cruise and had a blast. And this is only 4 days so I know we won’t get to do everything anyway!
BUT I guess my point is that shouldn’t they be trying to WOW the first time cruisers, not disappoint or piss them off? I guess that is all that I’m saying. This seems easily fixable. If you’ve cruised DCL 15 times then maybe you’ve had a chance to experience Palo and Remy already nor do I feel like at that point early access is incentivizing you. Penalizing me this time isn’t really exciting me to book that second cruise.
But if you were a loyal customer, you’d be ticked off if you couldn’t get your pick of the reservations too (“I’ve spent $$$$ with you and you can’t get me what I want??”). I suppose they could hold some block of reservations for each group, and maybe they do, but they just go fast?