I have some BIG news that I've been aching to share with you guys. Disney has invited Nate, the boys and I on a Disney Cruise! We're headed to Castaway Cay on the Disney Dream for four nights of exploring the Bippity Boppity Boutique, Millennium Falcon, AquaCoaster and more. To prepare, we questioned every cast member and experienced cruise-goer we could find to tell us what to pack for a Disney cruise.
My dear friends Heather and Allison have already been on Disney cruises, so I went to them for advice right off the bat. What to pack for a Disney cruise? They were chock full of tips! Want to know something else crazy exciting!? They're going to be taking trips with Disney at roughly the same time as my family: Heather's going on an Adventures By Disney trip and Allison's headed to Aulani. We had an epic Aulani experience last year, so we shared a ton of our tips with Allison. She, in turn, pointed us to her Printable Disney Cruise Countdown to kick things off.
It's Mickey mania over here. There's so much pixie dust-infused excitement!
Our Disney Cruise Packing List
Aside from counting down the days and re-watching Peter Pan and Pirates of the Caribbean a zillion times, I took stock of our suitcase situation and refreshed our beachwear. If you've never cruised – or never cruised with Disney – there are a few must-pack items to add to the list.
First and foremost, you should know that you may not be able to access your suitcase for a few hours after you board. Checked baggage is scanned and loaded separately from passengers and they're carry-ons, and it'll be waiting in your room later. You'll want to pack a day bag with a swimsuit, sunscreen, and a change of clothes. In ours we have all that plus reading material, a camera and case, medication and passports. Our diapers are packed in a Ju-Ju-Be Be Quick for easy changes. Guests over 21 years old can also carry on two bottles of wine up to 750 ml or six cans of beer up to 12 ounces each.
In the kids' day bags, we have their character stuffed animals, travel journals, and games to keep them occupied if we find ourselves waiting awhile to board.
This is a cool thing to pack for a Disney cruise that's totally unique to Disney. The doors on Disney Cruise Line are magnetic, and it's become a tradition for families to bring all sorts of magnetic decorations. I had the boys paint this little wooden anchor and frame, and then stuck small magnets to the back. The mirrors…well, those were in the craft drawer and the boys insisted that I add some magnets to them to round out the ensemble. It's definitely different, but that's how we roll!
For all the photo opps, obviously.
Something for the Characters to Sign
Our preschooler is in full-grown character fascination phase, and it's amazing to watch his excitement. When we were at Pixar Pier, he almost knocked someone over in a frantic attempt to reach Edna Mode (or “Emma Moe!” as he calls her). Our bigger kids aren't quite as stoked about the character scene, but they love to be given a TASK. This trip, their job is to collect as many character signatures as possible on an anchor sign that I crafted. My hope is to turn it into a wall hanging later. We'll be stalking the Character Greeting times in the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app to try to bring this whole thing to fruition.
What to Pack for a Disney Cruise? Don't Forget the Toiletries
I'm packing a bit more than I pack for the usual hotel trip. In particular, I'm bringing copious amounts of sunscreen, a Lilu lip balm necklace to keep my lips hydrated in the sun, some sea sickness medication and mini detergent packs for hand washing small items in case I spill on myself (inevitable) or even washing full loads in the ship's laundry room (yes!). I'm not packing towels, a hair dryer, shampoo or other stuff that Disney provides as amenities and I'm not too stressed over anything we may have forgotten. Disney has on-board convenience shops. Power strips aren't allowed in the room, and neither are hanging shoe racks – so those should stay at home! Disney also provides life jackets for the pool and Castaway Cay, prohibiting inflatables except for water wings.
I know this is the inevitable follow-up question! Sand toys are allowed on Castaway Cay, Disney's private island paradise. We scrounged around our sand box and gathered a few little knick-knacks and scoops to bring along in a tote bag. I didn't want to take up a bunch of room in our suitcase with buckets, and I know that we're bound to find some fun beach toys being sold on Castaway Cay. That being said, I like to know that we're prepared with a bit of easy entertainment in case gift shop lines are long and the kids aren't feeling patient. We've also booked the “Castaway Cay Getaway Package,” which includes snorkel equipment, float tubes and an hour-long bike rental.
We have a couple of these handy cases that we use for wearing our cell phones around our neck in the water. They're totally waterproof, and we can even get some underwater footage with them! This is high on the list of what to pack for a Disney Cruise.
Obviously, the pool and the beach are big attractions on a Disney cruise to Castaway Cay. Fortunately, there are retractable clotheslines in the bathroom to help dry your suits. A lot of people maximize drying space with clothespins so they can fit more suits on there. We're bringing along the clothesline that we bring to hotels with us, with a plan to clip it onto Disney's own clothesline so we can easily unclip and move our suits all at once if someone wants to shower. I saw this asked on a forum so I'll just put it out there that hanging suits on your cabin's balcony is a bad idea because it can get very windy out there.
What to pack for a Disney Cruise when you have a ton of kids? Diapers and more diapers! We have a tiny kids' suitcase dedicated to diapers. We bring 8 per day for both of our diapered kiddos (ages 1 and 3). I've heard that it's possible to send a box of diapers to the ship, but this works out perfectly because we have space for souvenirs on the way back!
Pirate Night Outfits
This could possibly be the thing I'm MOST excited about! When Heather told me that many Disney Cruise Line sailings have a themed pirate night, she followed up by quickly assuring me that Disney provides bandanas and there's the option of signing up to get a pirate makeover at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. I was like, “Yar, matey, you've clearly never witnessed my Disneybounding skills!”
That's right, our family's going totally off-the-wall with our own spin on the whole Peter Pan cast. This is a bunch of stuff I scrounged up at home and on Amazon to channel Peter, Wendy, John, Michael, Smee and Tic Toc. We'll take some pics and share the final result in a blog post as soon as we get back (edit: DIY Peter Pan Family Costumes are here, and they're AWESOME).
The Babyroues Roll & Go is my pick when I'm staying in hotel rooms or on cruise ships, since space is limited. This one folds down to fit in an overhead bin, but is still sturdy enough to hang my backpack on when I unfold it (note all of the stroller hooks I have on there to hold the copious bags of stuff we inevitably accumulate while traveling).
This isn't exactly top of the list for what to pack for a Disney Cruise because I'm told that there are strollers available on-board along with complimentary diaper disposal units, cribs and other essentials…but I have to get back-and-forth from the airport anyway. I also bring a baby carrier everywhere I go. I'm told there are wagons available at Castaway Cay, too, which is awesome because I'm not sure how these stroller wheels would handle sand.
Do you have any other questions about what to pack for a Disney cruise?