After spending months looking over all the Port Adventures and countless other activities available to you on your next Disney Cruise, the time has come where you can reserve those bookmarked activities. This should be a time filled with joy, as you are now one step closer to setting foot on the ship! Then, the stress starts to build as thoughts begin to race through your head…. Ok, this is my 3rd Cruise, I’m a Silver Castaway Club Member, Platinum bookings opened 30 days before me, and Gold 15 days ago. What will be left?!?!?!?! Do not worry. Seriously. If you cannot reserve a Palo reservation, there will be an opportunity once you board the ship to try for a limited amount of seats set aside. (This is also true for Port Adventures; check with the cast members at the Port Adventure desk to see if there have been any cancellations.)
My suggestion is that you prioritize what you want to reserve, and when your time comes, add those activities in order. If you are worried that you will miss out at an opportunity for one of the more popular reservations (like a cabana on Castaway Cay), then I would prepare to burn the midnight oil and log in as soon as your booking window opens. I’ve been guilty of this in the past & it is not fun. However, it is a good feeling to get the reservations you have been planning over the last few months even if there is still ample availability a week later.
Before we get started, this is a great time, if you have not already done so, to create an account on Disney Cruise Line’s website. Even if you do not do it now, do it before your booking window opens to save time. The process is quite simple once you are logged into your Disney Cruise Line account If this is your first cruise, then make sure you have your reservation number available. If you’ve sailed before, login via the Castaway Club page. This will make it much easier to access your reservation, as you can simply click on “View your Cruises,” and then click on the reservation number to launch the “My Reservations” planning center page for your specific cruise.
At first glance, the “My Reservations” page of the Planning Center can seem a bit overwhelming. While it may look that way, most of the items are purely informational. I am going focus on two of the more important sections, My Cruise Activities and My Online Check-in.
My Cruise Activities
The Cruise Activities section allows you to reserve Port Adventures, Adult Dining, Spat & Fitness treatments, Nursery time, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, and Castaway Cay cabanas, as well as whatever else may be offered on you particular sailing. For most, this will be the place where all your pre-cruise planning will pay off.
Quick tip: If you are looking for the Castaway Cay cabana reservations, they are listed under Port Adventures.
There are two ways to go about searching for reservations. The first choice is to search all, while the second lets you select a specific day. Searching all at once is helpful when there are limited openings. Searching “all days” is perfect for finding an opening for Adult Dining or Spa service. For instance, say you really want to eat dinner at Remy, but the time and day you had originally planned is full. Searching “all days” will allow you see all availability for days in a single view.
The first short video tutorial I have will show how to navigate through the various pages to search for available Palo Brunch openings, and then book a reservation for two.
HELP!!! Add Activities is Greyed Out!!!
If Add Activities is greyed out after your booking window opens, try the following work-around. Hover over the” Planning Center” menu item at the top right of the “My Reservation” page. A sub menu will appear with a link to access “My Cruise Activities.” Click on My Cruise Activities under My Reservation, and you should back on track.
If you are still having issues at this point, the best advice I have is to be patient. About a year ago, my reservation was locked due to multiple concurrent login attempts. The reservation remained locked for a few hours, and I was unable to continue on to Online Check-in. This may have been an isolated event, but bear in mind this, or something similar could happen to you.
My Online Check-In
The Online Check-In section is the place where you fill out all the necessary forms, place a credit card on your account & assign charging privileges for each member of your party, as well as selecting a port arrival time. Checking in online is a great way to make embarkation much faster and easier for your whole travel party. Simply complete the online forms, print, sign and bring them to the port. Otherwise, you will need to do all this at the check-in counter which could delaying your boarding. Disney’s site does not require you to complete the check-in process in one sitting, but as long as you have all the necessary information available, it should only take you a few minutes.
When Disney revised the online check-in, they produced a cartoon short featuring Goofy. Checkin’ In With Goofy begins as Goofy arrives at the port only to find out he must complete a mountain of paperwork. Completing the forms delays him to the point he misses the ship. Luckily, for Goofy, this was just a bad dream. Goofy gets out of bed, sits down at this computer, and easily completes his online check-in.
This next video, will give you an idea of what it is like to complete the actual check-in process. I will start by logging into the site via the Castaway Club page. Once logged in, click on Your Cruises, and finally the reservation number. This will bring up the My Reservations page shown above.
Can I Check-In with my iPad or iPhone?
Yes. The site works quite well with an iPad. If you need to access your reservation on the go, you can even use an iPhone (once you scroll to the bottom and click on link to access the Full Site). Will it work on Android tablet? I do not know, but I cannot see why it wouldn’t. Let me know in the comments if it works on your non-Apple smartphone, or tablet.
Random Legal Disclaimers
If you are not laughing after reading the heading, you need to take a few minutes and to listen to Pèpe . Anyway, back on topic. Disney Cruise Line’s website continues to evolve, so be prepared for the unexpected. These videos could become outdated at anytime without any notice. Over the past few years, the online check in process has been slightly different for each cruise. In fact, the booking window normally opens at 12:00 AM EST for reserving activities, and 3:00 AM EST for the online check-in component. However, a few weeks ago when I recorded these videos, the booking window did not open until 3:00 AM EST (even with the work-around). The user interface may also change over time, but the same basics should still apply.
Remember, be prepared, and be patient; the rest is out of your control. If you experience any problems, be nice when you call DCL or send them an email. The cast member you will encounter does not have control over they way the website runs. It will do you no good to berate them or their supervisors. Is the system perfect? No, but it does continue to improve.
Do you feel ready to book your Port Adventures, and secure your Port Arrival time?