My family and I depart this week for a 10-night cruise from Port Canaveral to the southern Caribbean and we’re in the midst of packing. This is our second Disney cruise, so I’ve learned to pack a few key items to make everything go more smoothly:
#11: Door Decorations
On our first Disney cruise I was surprised at the extent families decorated their state room doors. Some had magnets with names of every family member and others had blinking lights. Door decorations don’t need to be fancy, but I recommend putting at least one small thing on your door to help your kids find your room (or help you find it after a few cocktails).
#10: Reusable Water Bottles
Disney cruise ships allow guests to bring a few plastic water bottles on board, and they sell water bottle packages you can have delivered to your room. Spare the expense and pack a reusable water bottle instead. There are stations all over the ship where you can fill your bottle up with fresh water, and you won’t get confused as to whose water bottle is whose.
While on the subject of beverages, Disney allows each guest over age 21 to bring two bottles of wine on board. Alcoholic beverages are not included in the cost of a Disney cruise and while Disney sells wine packages, they can be pricey. Bring your own wine and enjoy a glass of wine out on your verandah while watching the sunset, or pour yourself a glass and bring it to dinner(though this is technically not allowed, it is rarely questioned. You will be charged a corkage fee if you bring a full bottle).
#8: Little Black Dress
Disney cruises usually include a “formal” and “semi-formal” night during your cruise. Those descriptions are open to interpretation and you’ll see people in everything from ball gowns to blue jeans. Pack a little black dress that can be dressed up or down with accessories. An LBD works in virtually any scenario and you’ll almost certainly wear it again to a wedding, corporate event or cocktail party. For the male equivalent of an LBD, pack a sport coat, tie, collared shirt and two pairs of slacks. Wear the tie for the formal night and pair the sport coat and shirt with more casual slacks for the semi-formal night.
#7: Workout Clothes
There is so much delicious food on a Disney cruise that it helps to balance things out with a little exercise. I am not much of a runner but Disney ships usually organize group runs/walks around the decks, and if you are visiting Castaway Cay, there is a 5K on the island the morning you arrive. Pilates is more my style and I was surprised to learn that there were pilates classes available onboard on my first cruise. If I would have brought workout clothes, I definitely would have tried a class or two. If nothing else, yoga pants are comfortable and great for lounging around in your room on the evenings you’d rather stay in.
#6: Gift for State Room Host
On a Disney cruise you’ll quickly realize that the state room hosts are some of the hardest working people on the ship. They clean your room every day, and do all the “extras” like leaving folded towels and chocolates on your pillow. While you have the opportunity to tip your state room host at the end of the week, it’s also nice to bring them a little something as a token of appreciation for all their hard work.
When you embark on a Disney cruise, each member of your party receives a “Key to the World” card that not only opens your state room door, but also serves as your identification and virtual credit card. You need to have this card with you at all times so it helps to have a lanyard to wear so you don’t have to worry about leaving it in your pocket or purse. If you’ve been on a Disney cruise before, you’ll probably be issued a lanyard upon arrival as a “thank you” for being a veteran cruiser. If not, pick one up at a dollar store beforehand and make sure it has a sealable pouch to keep your card clean and dry.
#4: Waterproof camera
There are many water activities on a Disney cruise, from the pool and waterslide on deck to the beaches, waterparks and snorkeling excursions available at various destinations. Bring a waterproof camera to capture the special memories at these locations.
#3: Packable Pail
If you have young kids and you’re traveling to a beach destination, consider bringing a Packable Pail that collapses so it doesn’t take up too much room in your suitcase. My 5-year-old had great fun with his pail on our last trip to Castaway Cay and he found a playmate with other beach toys. They shared and created sandcastles together.
#2: Beach Bag
If you’re traveling to any kind of beach, pack a beach bag to carry your sunscreen, Packable Pail (see #3), hats, cover ups and whatever else you might need. This could be as simple as a canvas tote from home, or you could bring a more elaborate bag with a cooler to keep cold drinks. A bonus is that you can also use it for souvenirs or dirty clothes when you disembark from the ship.
#1: Disney Gift Cards
Buy Disney gift cards in advance to pay for port adventures or any other extras during your trip. Not only does this help you budget, but you can also save money if you buy them at Target using a Target credit or debit card because you get a 5% discount. When you are buying hundreds or thousands of dollars gift cards, that adds up.
I hope these suggestions prove helpful on your next Disney cruise adventure! What other things do you recommend packing for a Disney cruise that I may not have listed here? Leave your best tips in the comments.