Throw your Disney World packing list out the window, because Disney Cruise Line packing is a lot different. The style of vacation is a lot different as well! There are two types of cruising families – the first: the ship is the vessel that takes them to the unique destinations they want to explore and the second: the ship is the destination and an all inclusive vacation. My family falls into category number 2.
If your family is the first type of family, your Disney World packing list may be helpful – comfortable clothes, closed toed shoes, extra socks, etc. For my family it’s all about the experience, so we pack for every experience – formal, semi formal, pirate night, cruise casual, and more! THREE suitcases later, we’re ready to go! So what’s in our suitcases? Let’s take a look!
Clothes, clothes, and more clothes. A complaint I get from many first time cruisers is that there’s not enough space in their bags for all of the special nights. On longer cruises you’ll have a formal night, semi formal night, some sort of themed night (Frozen, Pirates, etc.) plus “cruise casual”. Disney’s policy on attire at rotational dining is pretty lax. We find that we are more comfortable in skirts and dresses (my husband in khakis and a polo) than in more casual clothing because of our restaurant surroundings. They are just a little bit nicer feeling (I liken them to California Grill or even Cinderella’s Table in Disney World). With extra attire comes extra shoes, jewelry for me, and some cardigans to go over the dresses because those restaurants are CHILLY!
Swimming anyone? For us, our cruise is our destination. We don’t spend a lot of time on port adventures (mainly because I don’t want to chase around a 3 year old OR carry her around when she’s done walking) so outside of Castaway we are on the ship enjoying our experience. That means swimming and relaxing. I, for one, do not like getting into a wet swimsuit, so we bring 2-3 suits per person. Thankfully they don’t take up a lot of space. We leave our beach towels at home. There are plenty of towels on the ship (you can ask your room attendant for more if you need them). On your Castaway Cay day, you are given medium sized towels to bring with you. Take as many as you can comfortably carry as you’ll likely be in and out of the water. We also pack water shoes. Safer for a 3 year old to have a little bit of “grip” on the pool deck and it saves our feet from the hot sand and walking paths at Castaway.
Speaking of carrying... Two more important things – BAGS! On the day of embarkation, I have a bag that rolls/with wheels. We try to have an early check in time to take in an early lunch and get a little swim time in before the Disney resort buses get to port. Staterooms are not available until 1:30 pm, so anything you carry on board, you’ll have to carry. Camera, computer, and other misc. things get heavy in a backpack, so I like an option with wheels. Additionally, if you want to carry on wine or beer (according to Disney’s alcohol policies), it needs to be in carry on luggage and not anything checked.
I also need a bag to carry things around Castaway. An extra change of clothes, a cheap watch to put around the handle, and a place to stash sunscreen. You are welcome to head back to the ship if you want a change of clothes, but that’s a time consuming effort! Since we aren’t getting off the ship at all of the ports, we get our money’s worth out of Castaway and spend the entire day there. A large beach bag is perfect for everything we need!
Hydration, hydration, hydration! We also bring a water bottle per person to stay hydrated on the ship as well as Castaway Cay. Disney has refill stations for both water, soft drinks, and select other options are available. The refill cups available at each station is small. We use the cups to put water and ice in and then transfer it to our bottles. It’s also nice to have a full bottle of water before going to bed so we don’t have to run up several flights of stairs or hit the elevators late at night since the refill station is on the pool deck.
What not to bring. There are a handful of things that you should NOT bring onto your Disney cruise. The obvious things like weapons (or toys that look like weapons) but there are some less obvious things:
- Hard liquor – Disney’s alcohol policy only allows guests to carry on 2 bottles of wine/6 beers per person. No hard alcohol can be carried on. It will be held and returned to you after you disembark.
- Extension cords/power strips. There are some specific requirements for power in each stateroom and having extension cords or power strips can overload the circuits. If you need an extension cord for medical reasons (example: CPAP machine), an approved version can be rented upon boarding the ship. For those of us with lots of electronic devices, consider a multi-USB device charger. We purchased a 4 USB charger and it works well for our using. We try to charge the iPad during the day and phones at night because the iPad takes more power to charge than phones do.
- Homemade or opened food. There is plenty of food on the ship and chefs can accommodate dietary restrictions. Disney does allow pre-packaged and unopened items brought onto the ship if you do need to bring something.
- Irons or bottle warmers (similar to the extension cord/power strip policy). If you need either, guest services can help.
- Recreational pool equipment – pool noodles, large tubes, etc. Floatation devices for safety are allowed (such as wings and floatation devices sewed into swim suits).
- Over the door hanging devices – this can scratch/damage doors and Disney no longer allows them.
The process of booking a Disney cruise can be VERY confusing, so let a professional help you! Please contact me at any time for a free quote.The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation! Plus you won’t have to watch for any possible rate drops, research everything there is to offer, or keep track of milestone dates for any “extras” you want during your voyage. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!) If you already have your cruise planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!