Disney Cruise Line will soon be setting sail from the United States with paying passengers again, but things won’t be exactly the same as they were before.
Due to the situation with COVID-19 a number of things will be changing for upcoming Disney Cruise Line sailings including specific heath and safety measures, mask requirements, and more. So, just what do you need to know about these changes before you board your next cruise? We’re breaking it down here.
Disney Cruise Line will resume sailing from the US with paying passengers starting August 9th — that’s just a few weeks away! And while you’ll still get some of the same, magical experiences onboard, certain things will be different. Today we’re going to go through the big ones.
Keep in mind that other things may be different about upcoming cruises beyond what we’re sharing here. If you are planning to sail with Disney soon, be sure to check the Disney Cruise Line website to read ALL of the details. Also, keep in mind that these rules and regulations can change, so you’ll want to check back with us for updates and check the cruise website 24 hours before your sail date for any updates.
Alright, put on your life jackets and let’s dive in!
Disney Cruise Line notes that it strongly encourages all eligible guests to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before sailing, but guests are not required to be fully vaccinated to sail.
As part of Disney’s focus on health and wellness, a number of specific COVID-19 testing requirements will need to be met by all guests before they can get on the ship. Specifically, there are COVID-19 test requirements that must be completed before you leave your home and COVID-19 testing requirements for embarkation day. Disney has also now added certain COVID-19 test requirements on select cruises for debarkation day.
Note that fully vaccinated guests may voluntarily provide proof of vaccination to exempt themselves from these tests (with certain exceptions). We won’t go into these requirements in depth here as we’ve written article on them — you can click here or click the link below to learn more.
What if a guest starts to feel sick a few days before their sailing? According to the Disney Cruise Line policy, if a guest has COVID-19 related health concerns (symptoms or exposure) within 14 days of the sailing, the guest can get a full refund or apply the cruise fare toward a future sailing.
Guests may also move the sail date. The information below specifies that scenarios would qualify for this policy.
Be sure to read all of Disney Cruise Line’s cancellation policies carefully if you have an upcoming trip.
For all Disney Cruises departing from Florida through December 31st, 2021, all guests ages 12 and older will need to obtain and provide proof of valid travel insurance that meets certain minimum coverage levels.
Note that guests who are fully vaccinated may choose to voluntarily provide proof of vaccination instead of getting travel insurance.
Face masks will be required for all guests ages 2 and up (including guests who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19) indoors.
Guests will not, however, be required to wear masks in their own staterooms or when actively eating or drinking (when stationary and maintaining an appropriate physical distance from others). Masks will not be required outdoors while on the ship or in Castaway Cay.
UPDATE: Disney has updated its policy to note that masks can also be removed while taking photos when stationary and distanced. Click here to see more.
Note that masks may be required at ports of call depending on local government rules. The Disney Cruise Line website then notes the types of masks that are acceptable. See more details below.
Update: Note that Disney has changed some of the language to allow guests to remove their masks while taking photos when stationary and distanced. See below.
Note that Disney specifies masks are not a substitute for physical distancing.
Other Health & Wellness Matters
In terms of other health and wellness matters, Disney does note that there will be additional hand sanitizers and signs about physical distancing and more. The cruise will also have limited capacity and some experiences may be modified to promote physical distancing. Plexiglass barriers have also been installed in areas where distancing may be difficult.
Disney also shares that they have a plan for managing suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19. There will also be enhanced cleaning with extra attention given to high-touch surfaces. Staterooms will undergo enhanced treatments between trips, and there will be twice-daily housekeeping during each voyage. Note that door-to-door gift exchanges via the fish extenders is not permitted at this time.
Disney has also shared that there will be a new air purification system used to clean air and surface areas using ionization. Cast Members are also set to receive additional training on new health and safety measures, and Disney shares that they’ve enhanced cleaning and adjusted work practices for the health and safety of the crew.
By boarding a Disney Cruise Line ship you’ll need to read and confirm that you meet the requirements specified in Disney’s Health Acknowledgement.
Note that it specifies “You must report to Disney Cruise Line if you experience any COVID-19 symptoms while onboard.”
Before you get on the ship, guests will be asked to complete a health questionnaire on embarkation day about their symptoms. Crew Members will also be screened for symptoms.
What about characters on the ship? Disney has shared that close-up character meet-and-greets will be suspended.
But, there will still be characters around and guests will be able to see and take pictures with them from a distance.
Disney Cruise Line Navigator App
Disney has also updated some features on their Cruise app. The app will now include the ability to chat with a Guest Services Crew Member, sign up for a virtual queue to debark the ship at all ports of call, look at digital menus, and more.
More on that virtual queue for debarkation in a second! Note also that Disney has indicated the Wave phones you used to find in the rooms have been removed from the staterooms. Guests will, however, be able to use the Navigator app to chat with each other.
If you need to speak with a Cast Member or need assistance with something online, Disney has specified that you’ll be able to use the Live Chat feature on the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app (discussed above), use the phone in your stateroom, or speak with someone from guest services in-person.
Note, however, that appointments are required to meet with select Crew Members, including Guest Services and Dining. You can make an appointment via the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app.
If you’ll be sailing with Disney Cruise Line, you’ll need to complete your online check-in at least 1 day before setting sail. During the online check-in you will be required to select a port arrival time.
Guests will not be allowed to be in the terminal or parking areas before your scheduled arrival time in order to help maintain physical distancing. Disney has also shared that if a guest does not select a port arrival time, they may be turned away and asked to come back at a later time to board the ship.
In terms of the emergency drill, using the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app, everyone assigned to your stateroom will need to go to their assigned Assembly Station and check-in before setting sail. There will also be a Safety Information Video that will be shown on monitors throughout the ship, on stateroom tvs, and in the app.
In terms of cruise activities, you will be able to reserve premium activities (ones that aren’t included in the cruise fare) through the app or through Disney Cruise Line’s website. Live shows will be available in the Walt Disney Theatre and seating will be physically distanced. Each itinerary will offer 1 Broadway-style show which will be performed multiple times with reduced capacity.
The Buena Vista Theater will still show popular movies but seating will be distanced, and movies will be shown on funnel vision but again seating will be distanced. Deck parties have been suspended.
Fireworks will be available on 2 separate nights and guests will be assigned their show date prior to setting sail. There will be physical distancing measures put in place for those watching the show. And Disney has shared that Mickey and Minnie will host the countdown to the show!
As we mentioned, characters will greet guests from a distance and there will be surprise appearances throughout the ship. Waterslides, pools, and more will be open with specific queue locations or limited capacity.
Parents will need to register their kids for activities at places like the Oceaneer Club and Lab, and all activities there will generally be limited to groups of 15. Note that Disney’s website specifies guests can only book one session per day per child for the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab, on a first-come, first-served basis.
Teen and Tween clubs will be available — no reservations required. The “it’s a small world” nursery! will be temporarily unavailable.
Guests will be able to book select spa and salon services (including the rainforest room) but there will be certain modifications in place. The fitness center will be available for guests to use, but again there will be modifications made to encourage physical distancing and more.
Shopping and more will be available with modifications. There will also be backdrops throughout the ship to help you take fun photos and professional photographers will take photos during dinner in the main dining rooms, as well as at other locations and in front of photo backdrops.
Bibiidi Bobbidi Boutique will be open for guests ages 3-12. Some activities like Ping Pong and Shuffleboard, and access to the basketball courts, has been paused.
Note that for dinner guests will be assigned to the same table and service team, but there will only be 1 travel party per table. Dining times will be staggered to promote physical distancing (but Disney notes that “guests can continue to choose first or second seating times when booking their cruise, subject to availability”).
Guests will use the Disney Cruise Line app to see digital menus. Disney Princess Tea Parties will be available but the princesses will appear from a distance.
Disney has noted that “Quick service food and beverage locations, including buffets, still offer all-you-care-to-eat bites and treats, and are served by Crew Members at designated times each day throughout the cruise. All food and beverages that were previously available at self-service stations will now be served by Crew Members.”
Virtual Queue for Debarking
To debark the ship, you’ll need to join a virtual queue through the Disney Cruise Line app. You’ll get a notification when it is your turn to leave the ship.
But, during less busy times this virtual queue may close and guests will be able to leave at their leisure.
UPDATE: The Disney Cruise Line website now notes that debarkation times are based on dining time and guests do not need to join the virtual queue to debark the ship on debarkation day.
Masks will not be required outdoors at Castaway Cay but will be required in some areas (like when traveling on trams, in merchandise locations, in dining pavilions when not actively eating, and in restrooms).
There will be a NEW Party Patrol experience where popular Disney characters will ride around in beach vehicles throughout the island!
At Cookies’ BBQ, items that were available at self-service stations will be served by Crew Members. Certain modifications to other activities have also been made.
The 5K group race has been temporarily paused but guests can complete the race on their own and receive a finishing medallion. Check the website for full details.
And that’s a basic break-down of some of the big things you need to know about going on a Disney Cruise in the near future. Again, there are other modifications that have been made — you can visit the Disney Cruise Line website for more details. We’ll keep an eye out for more updates and let you know what we find!
Are you planning to go on a Disney cruise soon? Tell us in the comments!