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The ABC’s and D of Packing for Your Disney Cruise

Packing Tips Disney Cruise

Packing for any cruise can be overwhelming. We all know you will remember your clothes, socks, bathing suit, underwear and pj’s. Add in a light jacket or sweatshirt and you’ll be good to go – or will you? There’s no need to bring all sorts of shampoo, soaps, conditioners and hair dryers, since Disney Cruise Line ships are basically sailing Disney resorts and will supply you with all of those incidentals. 

A – Absolutely Positively Must Have – Don’t Leave Home Without It Things

TRAVEL DOCUMENTS – Airline tickets, DCL signature forms (if you’ve check-in on line, print these at home), passports (or birth certificates/depending on cruse), cruise documents received from Disney Cruise Line.

DISNEY CRUISE LINE LUGGAGE TAGS – The tags you receive prior to your cruise will tell all those magical Disney people where to take your luggage. When you arrive at port, the magical porters will be able to get you new ones if necessary but why delay getting on the ship!


EMPTY GIFT CARD – the stateroom light switch is triggered by inserting your Key to the World card (or any other card of the same size) into a slot inside the door. I prefer to use an empty gift card because if you forget it, it doesn’t matter. If you forget your Key to the World card when you leave your cabin, you have no key to get back in or no way to get on and off the ship.

CASH – Your Key to the World card (stateroom key) can be used for all charging on the ship. But you will still want to tip at times for things such as room service. Some shopping off of the ship may require cash as well. Many cruisers opt for the “pre-paid tips” option but you will still need some cash for tipping. The porters that take your luggage from the car to the ship or room service deliveries are two examples. If you opted for “pre-paid tips” this covers your head server, stateroom host, serve and assistant server. Based on your service you may want to include a little extra in the envelope (with pre-paid tear-away strips) you receive on the last night of the cruise.

CARRY-ON that contains your travel documents and one set of clothing. It should contain anything you may need for the day since you have no idea what time your luggage will arrive at your cabin. Suggestions: swimsuits, sunscreen, necessary medications. Be sure to keep it with you when you hand over your luggage when arriving at the port. Your luggage is delivered to your stateroom in the afternoon, but you’ll want to start enjoying your cruise while you wait for it. Be sure to keep your travel documents and anything needed to board the ship in this carry-on.

DECK SHOES/WATER SHOES/FLIP FLOPS are really necessary. Shoes that are easy to get on and off and comfortable. The pool areas on the ship can be HOT and slippery. I prefer water shoes since they can also be worm off the ship when heading to the beach, where the sand can be hot too! 

SEA-SICK PREVENTION – There is no quicker way to ruin your cruise – If you or someone in your group has never cruised before, be sure to have some type of sea-sick prevention ready and with you. There are many over the counter medications, bracelets, etc. With sea-sickness it’s much better to be safe than sorry. I personally get a sea-sick patch prescription from my doctor and use it “just in case.” It easily sticks behind your ear and each patch lasts 3 days. I put it on before getting on-board so there is never a chance of getting sick. It works like a charm! Of course, I have no idea if I would actually get sea-sick, but I’m not willing to take the chance.

B – Be Prepared – Important to Have – But Not the End of the World if You Don’t 

LANYARD – If you have been on a Disney cruise before and are a Castaway Club member, you will receive lanyards when you check into the terminal. If you have never cruised before, you should really have a lanyard (with a wallet-like pouch) to keep your Key to the World card in while on-board. Your cabin key (and charging ability) will be right where you need it at all times.

PORTABLE USB CHARGER capable of charging multiple devices – cell phones, iPads, laptops, etc. all need to be charged while cruising. However, there are a limited number of wall plus in your cabin so the more devices you can plug into one unit, the better. I personally “unplug” on a cruise but I know some of you don’t. Internet access on the ship can be expensive. If you are “unplugging” be sure to put your cell phones in airplane mode so it does not randomly pick up some internet and you get hit with a huge bill.

MAGNETIC STATEROOM DOOR DECORATIONS – This is really a big practice and big deal on Disney cruises. You can go over the top or simply add one or two little decorations but you surely don’t want your kids to be questioning where their door decorations are as they walk down the halls looking at all the different themed doors. You can find lots of cute ideas on Etsy and depending on your creative talents, can make your door look magical too!

BEACH BAG/TOTE – You will want something light weight to take with you to the pool and to the beach when at Castaway Cay.

SPECIAL ATTIRE/COSTUMES – Dressing up is never required, but if your sailing has any special events, (Pirate night, Star Wars Day at Sea, Halloween) many of the cruisers are pros and very well prepared! You can be as extravagant or as simple as you choose.

FISH EXTENDER AND FISH EXTENDER GIFTS – Fish extenders are cool but also time consuming, can be costly and can also be disappointing. If you want to participate in this practice, search on line for the rules, the tips and tricks and best practices. You will most likely be able to spend a full day reading about it all – searching for your extender on Etsy or Pinterest and deciding on what gifts to buy. Many DCL cruisers participate but many more do not. If finances are an issue (let’s face it, a Disney cruise is already expensive) don’t bother. Although a somewhat cool tradition for Disney cruisers, it adds another level of things to get ready and to pay for when you may already be over-stressed and short on time or money. This is only important if you think your kids or family will be disappointed when they see other fish extenders while walking the halls.

C – Can I Get it Cheaper – Things You Don’t Want to Pay an Exhorbitant Price for So Be Sure to Bring

Just about anything you may need is available on the ship, but . . . at about 4 times the cost of buying it and bringing it from home.

SUNSCREEN – I’m sure you have this on your packing list. Be sure to bring more than you think you will need. It is SUPER expensive to buy on the ship and SUPER DUPER expensive on Castaway Cay. The ship gift shops are closed when the ship is docked so you also won’t be able to buy it unless the ship is at sea. Depending on your destination, sunscreen is definitely one thing you don’t want to be without. A bad sun burn can ruin your entire vacation. 

ALCOHOL – If you want a glass of wine or a cocktail while getting ready for the evening, or even a sip or two mid-day, bring your own. Be sure to read all the Disney Cruise Line alcohol policies HERE to know how much and what you can bring. If possible, bring your own travel corkscrew since Disney charges a $25 corking fee if you bring an unopened bottle into the dining room. You will be surprised (and stunned) how much those cute tropical drinks add up to when you get your bill at the end of your cruise!

BABY NEEDS – diapers, wipes, baby creams – all necessary baby items.


REFILLABLE DRINK MUGS – What? Drinks from the free beverage stations are great – all day long! The self-serve drink stations have supplies of paper cups with lids and straws but they are small. Depending on your cabin location or what part of the ship you are heading to, you could finish that cupful before you get back. The cruise line wants you to use their paper cups for filling. You cannot fill the mug from the dispenser at the self-serve beverage station. You are asked to use a fresh glass for each refill (a glass that hasn’t touched anyone’s mouth). You are welcome to take their cup and pour it into your insulated mug. You can fit at least two cupfuls into your insulated mug. The self-serve beverage stations serve soda (Coca-Cola products), coffee, tea, lemonade and more. Keep in mind that the soda from the roaming bar servers at the bars, pool decks or room service are charged (at a highly inflated cost) through to your bill so it’s worth the walk to the self-serve station for your refills.

ZIP LOCK BAGS – in a variety of sizes. There is nothing grosser than packing items that haven’t dried yet back into your luggage when leaving the ship. A zip lock bag can also be used to protect your electronics and/or camera in your day bag when off on a shore excursion.

Do you have any special packing tips for sailing on Disney Cruise Line?

Once you plan your next (or first) Disney cruise or Walt Disney World vacation, be sure to sign up for some Mickey Mail for the kids to let them know Mickey is excited about their plans! Imagine their excitement when they receive some mail right from Walt Disney World.

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