Important Disney Cruise Line Terms to Know Before You Set Sail

9 Nights Disney Cruise Lines e1528081743122
9 Nights Disney Cruise Lines e1528081743122

Important Disney Cruise Lines Terms to Know Before You Set Sail

With all of this cold winter weather approaching, I am currently dreaming of warmer climates, which leads me to dream about a Disney Cruise.  Dreaming about a Disney Cruise got me nostalgic about my first cruise ever with the Disney Cruise Line.  There are so many Disney Cruise Line terms I wish I had known before I set sail and I am here to tell you all the terms I wish someone told me.  So, here we go!

Crew Member, Officers, Ship, and Stateroom

Let’s start with the important Disney Cruise Line terms to the crew members onboard a Disney Cruise, which is why we will start with the term crew member.

Onboard a Disney Cruise, Disney employees are not called cast members, they are now called crew members.  However, those who are higher-ups on the ship are called Officers.  Officers are the employees with important jobs on the ship, such as the captain, the cruise director, the chief engineer, etc.

You have already seen me refer to a Disney Cruise Line vessel as a ship, not a boat.  This is a term that is important to the crew members and officers on board the massive ship.  Disney crew members will even lovingly remind you that you are on board a ship, a boat is a tiny vessel that pulls a Disney Cruise Line ship into or out of the ports.  In addition, don’t call it a floor, it’s a deck!  When crew members guide you through the ship they will send you to the mess hall on the 10th deck.

Now that you are finally aboard the ship, it’s time to find your room!  Disney calls all of their cabins, staterooms.  They did this on purpose.  Disney wants you to feel as if you are traveling in luxury and the term stateroom helps you feel that way!  Let’s be honest, even though it’s a cabin, all of Disney property has a luxury feel and I never feel as if I am sleeping in a “cabin”.

Starboard, Port, Bow, Stern, Forward, and Aft

As crew members are directing you to your stateroom or even when you have set sail you will hear these important terms often.  If you have ever set sail before, these terms may not be new to you, however, as a first-timer, I was very confused on which way was which for awhile!

Starboard is the right side of the ship when you are facing forward toward the front of the ship, Port is the left side of the ship, the bow is the front of the ship, and stern is the back of the ship.  To confuse things even more, if you need to go to the front of the ship, toward the bow, the ship’s crew will direct you to go “forward.” Similarly, if you need to go toward the stern of the ship, you will be directed to head “aft.”  Of course, if you forget these terms you can always ask for clarification and crew members will gladly give them to you.

Key to the World Card

Now that we got the logistical Disney Cruise Line terms out of the way.  These next terms will be important for guests to know personally.  For starters, each guest will receive a Key to the World Card.  This card is extremely important!  The term Key to the World is literal in this sense!  While onboard this card is your stateroom key, a method to charge things onboard, contains your dining rotation, informs you which muster station to report to for the lifeboat drill, holds photographs taken by the crew’s professional photographers, plus this card is needed to get on and off the ship in the various ports of call.

Rotational Dining

We mentioned the Key to the World Card contains your dining rotation, but what in the world does that mean?  Rotational Dining is a term used to explain dining aboard the ship.  Disney ships have three main dining rooms onboard which the diners will rotate through on a set rotation throughout their cruise. Each dining room contains a different themed restaurant to enjoy each night!  How cool is that!!  But to top it all off, in true Disney Magic, your wait staff will be the same each night!  Meaning, your servers are your own personal servers during the dining rotations.  We love this special touch!

While dining you will also hear the terms, “Head Server”, “Server”, and “Assistant Server”.  These terms can become confusing.  The Head Server is the manager of the other servers, who will usually stop by your table once per cruise. You’re expected to tip him $1/person/night.   Your Server takes your meal orders and delivers most of your food. Your Assistant Server takes your drink orders and otherwise helps out your Server.

Personal Navigator

A Personal Navigator is a list of all of the day’s activities while onboard a Disney cruise ship. Each day as crew members turn down your room, a paper copy will be left in your stateroom.  This can be quite long as it consists of everything available aboard the cruise ship, such as, what show is playing, information on the next day’s port, what’s happening in the kid’s clubs, movies, classes, sports, etc.  In addition, Disney’s Personal Navigators now has a digital version for Androids and iPhones!

Adult District

This Disney Cruise Line term threw us for a loop at first, until we did more digging!  On each ship, there are adult-only areas, such as clubs, spas, and pools.  Crew members call this area the Adult District and no kids are allowed.


When you dock at a port along your route for the sailing you choose, guests can choose to go on an excursion.  Excursions are the activities that you book as add-ons to your cruise, for an additional fee.


When departing the boat for an excursion it may require the Disney Cruise Line to provide a tender.  Tendering means your cruise ship will anchor offshore and smaller tender boats will transport guests from the ship to shore due to the ship size or the number of ships in a port. Please be aware, if a tender is required it may take you time to get off of the boat due to the limited number of guest space on the small boats.


Speaking of transfers.  Transfers are the official way to get to the port. However, unlike the Disney Magical Express transfers from the Orlando airport to Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line transfers are not free.  DCL’s Orlando transfers will either go between the airport and the port or Walt Disney World and the port.  In other ports, the transfers go between the airport and port, or to hotels booked through Disney.

Castaway Club

Lastly, if you are a lover of the Disney Cruise Line you will want to learn about the term, Castaway Club.  Once you’ve been on a Disney cruise of any length, you become a member of the Castaway Club which consists of three levels.  Guests who have sailed one time become a silver member.   Gold members are guests who have sailed more than 5 times. Lastly, Platinum members have sailed more than 10 times.   Each level has more benefits, but every level will get a welcome gift in their stateroom every time they sail.

Did we miss any Disney Cruise Line terms in our lists?  Let us know!

Important Disney Cruise Line Terms to Know Before You Set Sail 1

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Jessica Jones

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