Packing for any vacation can be challenging. Airlines charge for checked bags and limit the size and number of carryon bags. If you have children, you really want to limit the amount of luggage you take on your trip.
Packing for a Disney Cruise is even more challenging. Your Disney Cruise stateroom is larger than many other cruise lines but your storage space is still limited. Luckily your main cabin bed will have room underneath it to store your suitcases (under 12 inches high) however that just makes it more critical that you are organized. That is why we recommend the Packing Cubes for a Disney Cruise since it makes it so easy to organize your clothes however you want; per clothes type or even perhaps per day.
While on a Disney Cruise if you forget an item you just can’t run down to the local Walmart. Disney Cruise ships do have shops that sell basic toiletries, clothes and common over the counter medicines however the choice is limited and it can be pricey.
Our list of the 15 most important items we believe you should take on a Disney Cruise
Packing Cubes are the best invention in the world. Packing Cubes are zippered fabric/nylon/leather container that come in a variety of size. I absolutely love these for ease of packing and unpacking. I use a bag for each type of clothing: shirts, dresses, shorts/slacks, bras, underwear/socks. Others will pack a days set of clothes in one bag. Aside from my dresses I don’t have to unpack. I just toss the bags into drawers and viola, I am unpacked. On a cruise you have limited closet/drawer space and packing cubes make it easy to leave some of your clean clothes in the suitcase until you need them. They are also making it very easy way to keep your dirty clothes separate from your clean clothes for your return. I highly recommend these bags.
We can survive without any of the items on this page but one thing I never travel without is a luggage scale. It is really a balancing act between trying to limit the amount of luggage you must travel with and keeping each suitcase under 50 pounds. And of course, if you are a ‘shopper’ on your Disney Vacations it is very easy to pack a suitcase over the limit.More than once in the past I have been at the ticketing counter shifting contents from suitcase to suitcase to get them all under the 50-pound limit. All that goes away if you have a quality hand-held luggage scale. We had ours for over 10 years and use it religiously when packing.
Foldable Duffel bags that will fold up and fit in a suitcase are perfect in todays world of airline baggage fees. On almost every Disney trip we take these days we bring back significantly more luggage then we take. In the past we’d just bring an extra suitcase to carry back those items. Since almost every airline charges for checked bags you do not want to take an extra suitcase both ways to pack your purchases in. What we do now is pack a duffel bag in one of our suitcases. If we happen to buy a lot of items and we can’t fit all of them in our suitcases we pull out the duffle bagk and pack it with clothes and unbreakables.
The Disney cruise ships have a decent number of electrical outlets however with the number of electronic devices we have these days there is rarely enough to charge everything at once. You ARE NOT allowed to bring power strips or extension cords on board the ship. However, you can bring USB charging hubs on board as long as they are only USB.
You likely will be spending a lot of time up on deck in the pool areas and perhaps on the beaches when you are in port. Castway Cay will be a full day in the sun. Sunscreen is very expensive to buy on the ship. To protect our oceans, Safe Sea sunscreen is important if you are going to be in the ocean snorkeling, swimming and especially excursions with the dolphins or other sea creatures. Most snorkeling excursions prohibit spray sunscreen and request/require Safe Sea sunscreen.
Bottles of water are expensive on a cruise ship and since you will be active and outside a lot during the day it’s important to stay hydrated. You can bring water bottles aboard, but it must be packed in your carryon luggage. Luckily the water on a Disney Cruise ship is filtered and tastes good. We very much recommend Tervis Water Bottles
which have a large selection of Disney water bottles. On a related note… if you are like me and drink a lot of coffee instead of water a Coffee Travel mug is a must. The free coffee, which I enjoy, is up on the top deck at the drink station or in Cabanas. I’ll fill my Nisson (now Thermos)
vacuum mug at breakfast and it’ll last all day.
You are around water a lot on a Disney Cruise. The pool area, the beach, many port excursions; it’s a good idea to have a small waterproof pouch to keep important items dry. They come in all sizes: from very small that holds credit cards/money to phone sized and ones large enough to hold a wallet or two. There are also underwater camera/phone cases
although I’ve never been brave enough to try one out.
Storage space is at a premium on a Disney Cruise ship. One way to cut down on the need to bring a ton of clothes is to count on doing laundry sometime during your cruise. Disney does have a full-service laundry and dry cleaning service where they will pick up and deliver to your stateroom. However, I prefer to do my own laundry at the 24-hour self service laundry rooms. To reduce the cost a little I usually always have a few Tide Pods (stored in a Ziploc bag) in my luggage. One or two Tide To Go Pens are nice to have to remove small stains from cloths without having to wash them; especially if you have kids.
On a Disney Cruise you tend to be on the go from morning until bedtime. In the past you’d put your phone away during a cruise but these days the Navigator (list of days events) is available on the Disney Cruise App and you can message other cruise members using your phone. My 5-year-old phone doesn’t hold a charge for a half a day much less all day. I now carry a portable USB charger power block. I have a large one that will charge my phone over several days… I’ll carry it to dinner, trivia and the bar and let it charge my phone while I’m not using it. The last cruise I had two of them and I’d let one charge during the day while I used the other one. The big ones can be inconvenient, but they do make the power bricks in all sizes. I would recommend at least a smaller one for emergencies when you need your phone but the battery is low.
Princess and Pirate Costumes
There are a lot of meet and great with the characters and the girls love to dress up when they meet the princesses. If you do a Marvel or Star Wars cruise there are also plenty of options for both the boys and girls to dress up. The adults can get involved also. If you go around October many of the Disney Cruises will have a Halloween night where many cruisers dress up. And of course there is Pirates night which is a whole day event on many of the Disney Cruises sailing out of Florida. It’s tough to find a costume outside of Halloween but with a little work and creativity you can put together a great Pirate outfit by browsing the thrift and craft shops.
It’s a boat. And it moves… not always forward. Yes it’s a big boat and Disney will try to steer around bad weather but there will be times when it rocks; sometime in uncomfortable directions. If you are prone to motion sickness, it’s important to be prepared. For people that rarely feel nausea from movement having Dramamine or Bonine usually works. You can get it on the ship in the 1st aid cabin but they are not always open, and it can be inconvenient so it’s best to have your own supply. Some people swear by Sea Bands although the research is inconclusive. Make sure you try it out before relying on it on the ship. If you have severe motion sickness you should talk to your doctor about Transderm Scop. It’s a prescription patch that goes behind your ear and lasts about 3 days. Leanne who gets motion sickness even watching a boat never travels without it.
If you have been researching Disney Cruises on the internet you’ve likely seen that many cruisers like to decorate their stateroom doors. While it’s a fun activity to do it has a practical application. Picture a narrow corridor with 2 rows of 100s of stateroom doors… each looking exactly like the one next to it. Having a personalized decorated door makes finding your room easy. There are some rules about what you can put on your door. Tape, or any adhesive is strictly forbidden as are any item that ‘hangs’ from the door. It has to hang purely by magnet. We’ve found Etsy.com is the best place to buy stateroom magnets.
It is very handy when visiting the pool deck or on excursions to have a smaller backpack to carry items like your sunscreen, water bottle, a cover-up, your charging power brick, or even a light jacket. It is very useful on excursions. We have a small one that easily fits in a suitcase that we have using for over 20 years…typically when traveling to the Disney Parks or on a cruise. It’s as tall as normal backpack but narrow and has a water bottle holder, a couple of small pockets for small items and one big pocket. If you have done a Disney Cruise before they will give you a single strap shoulder small backpack, but we don’t find them very useful except to carry a couple of light items. If you do buy one research and buy a high quality backpack that will last you years.
Pop Up Hampers are very handy to have on a Disney Cruise because you don’t have any other space to put dirty clothes in neatly. They do not take up suitcase space and you can just throw them in the closest when you arrive.
A small thing but still important. Your Key To The World (KTTW) card is used to gain entry to your stateroom, to buy anything on the ship, and is required to enter/exit the ship. Since it is unlikely to want to carry a purse or wallet everywhere on the ship it’s is also handy to keep other ‘card-sized’ items in it like ID or your Beer Token card. If you have been on a Disney Cruise before they will give you one at check-in but if you are a 1st time cruise or you just want a more decorated lanyard bring your own.
The above list is not all-inclusive. Here is another list of items you should consider taking on a Disney Cruise.
Prohibited Items on a Disney Cruise
Almost as important as what you should bring is what you cannot bring. They will be removed from your luggage if found.
- Power Strips
- Hot/Heating Plate
- Tea/Coffee Pots
- Cooked/Perishable Food
- Mug Warmer
- Bottle Warmer
- Sporting Equipment
- Musical Instruments
- Illegal Drugs including Medical Marijuana
- Cooler – Expect for medical, baby food, special dietary concerns.Call Disney 1st.
By planning up front and becoming more organized we’ve pared our luggage down to 3 medium sized suitcases and 3 small carry-on backpacks. We still pack to much clothes but we get better every cruise.