A Disney Cruise is a vacation unlike any other! If you’ve never cruised, you may not even know where to begin; even if you are a veteran cruiser, there are plenty of things that make a vacation with Disney Cruise Line unique. Wayfinding TravelingMom Jennifer Kaufman has sailed on nearly a dozen DCL itineraries, and has gathered plenty of tips. Check out this Disney Cruise Packing list before you get started – or double check it if you’re about to set sail!
Traveling Mom uses affiliate links that may pay us if you purchase through them. Thank you for your support.
Packing the Essentials for your Disney Cruise
It’s hard to come up with a one-size-fits-all packing list for any vacation, let alone a Disney cruise. No matter which packing style might describe you, there are some things you’ll absolutely need to pack for your Disney Cruise.
DCL-supplied Luggage Tags
A few weeks before you set sail, you’ll receive preprinted luggage tags for every person in your party; they allow your luggage to be delivered to your stateroom while you’re off having fun. While having the bags ready upon arrival allows you to simply throw them out of the car and begin your vacation even more quickly, it’s not a problem if you arrive at the port without them. The porters are willing and able to create tags for you on the spot, and the bags will arrive in your room as planned.
DCL Signature Forms
If you’ve checked in online, you’ll print these before you leave home. If you don’t get a chance to check in online, they’ll arrive with your cruise documentation booklet and luggage tags. Everyone in your stateroom is required to have a signature on file regarding Disney Cruise Line policies. You can fill these out in the terminal if necessary, but it’s a much smoother process if you bring them along, signed in advance.
Just about everything can be charged to your stateroom key, but you’ll still want to bring some cash. Room service gratuities and some shopping opportunities in port will require cash.
Even if you don’t intend to connect to the internet while onboard (we never do!), the DCL Navigator app has a lot of great functions for your party. Add to that the fact that you’ll likely use your device for photos and/or video, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of backup power.
I know there’s a good chance that if you’re taking a Disney Cruise, you’re planning to be in the Caribbean in the middle of summer. Still, you’ll probably want to throw a sweater or lightweight jacket in your suitcase; the dining rooms and theaters are often quite chilly.
Technically, you don’t have to have any formal attire. Disney Cruise Line is much more flexible on dining room dress codes than many other brands; please consider that many fellow guests value the dining location as more upscale experiences than those found on the pool decks and other parts of the ship. Dinner in the buffet (Cabana’s) is always an option in place of visiting the main dining rooms, if you’d rather stay in shorts and tee shirts. If you want to dine in the adults-only restaurants (and you totally should!), you’ll definitely want to check the dress code.
Extra Hair Ties and/or Hats
Even if you don’t usually have a ponytail or a hat, the wind on the upper decks can absolutely wreak havoc on your hair. (On the same note, maybe pack some detangler, too…)
Disney Tee Shirts and Clothes
There are plenty of opportunities for pictures on your Disney Cruise. Head to your local Disney Store or big box store for some character/themed tees to make your photos extra magical! If you’re feeling crafty, you could even make your own!
Sea-Bands or Dramamine
If you’re unsure how being out on the ocean will affect you and those in your party, you may want to pack over-the-counter sea sickness remedies, or talk to your doctor before your travel. If you find yourself feeling queasy on board but unprepared, don’t worry. There are doctors on board that can provide medication as necessary. As with many other things though, you’ll spend less of your vacation time recovering if you come prepared.
The (Oft-Overlooked) Things You Might Want for your Disney Cruise
As we’ve discussed, a Disney Cruise has a lot of unique qualities that require a different approach to packing. Here are some of the things you might consider taking along.
If you don’t want to use the aforementioned DCL Navigator App, there can be something extra special about looking at the Personal Navigators you’ll get in your stateroom each night, and planning the next day. Who knows… you may even want to get crazy and color coordinate everyone’s activities, with one color for each person.
We’ve never done this, but a friend of ours leaves small post-it notes on the stateroom mirror if they have a request for the stateroom attendant. I love the idea of having them available, even if just for a thank you note or pick-me-up throughout the trip.
Magnetic Stateroom Door Signs
On every Disney cruise – especially the longer itineraries – you’ll see lots of decorated stateroom doors. Whether you go all out and cover your door with themed decorations or do something far less extensive, you might consider grabbing a few Disney magnets. Decorations always bring a smile when you return to your stateroom, and it helps kids (and adults!) see just how far down to go as they run ahead of you in the endlessly long hallways.
Magnetic Dry Erase Board
Especially if you have a group that spans more than one stateroom (or have older kids that go off on their own during your trip), dry erase boards on the outside of your stateroom door are useful. Write a note about where someone is headed and when to meet up, or just leave a fun message if you drop by the room. My kids also use them as a blank canvas to add to our stateroom door decorations!
Clothespins or Suction Hooks
Like most hotel rooms, the DCL showers to have a pull-out line for your laundry. If you have half a dozen swimsuits though, it’s nice to have extra ways to hang them.
Attire for Pirate Night (and Other Special Itinerary Days)
Select cruise itineraries provide even more fun opportunities to get dressed up and enjoy unique atmospheres, activities, and entertainment. Dressing up is never required, but if your sailing has any of these events, know that many guests will have prepared for them – and you may wish you had as well. At the very least, don’t overlook the option to see if it would be something your family would enjoy! You can even just grab a few pirate accessories from Amazon or a party supply store.
Waterproof Camera (or a Waterproof Case for your Existing Phone or Camera)
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but not a good one to forget or ignore. In addition to protecting your device from water, most cases will also protect them from sand – which can be equally brutal on most photo gear.
Travel Booster Seat
We often book our own, non-DCL excursions in ports of call; that usually means we are finding public transportation to another part of the island, and would prefer to have a booster seat for our youngest. Something like the Bubble Bum booster seat takes up very little room in your suitcase, and is a great portable safety option.
Movie Theater Candy
You won’t be lacking for food at any point during your cruise. That said, the snack locations outside the Walt Disney and Buena Vista Theaters are some of very few places where food is not included. The snack bar prices are reasonable, but it’s nice to pack a few “movie candy” boxes if you think you or your kids are going to want something during a show.
If it interests you, Disney Cruise Line has some of the only ships on which you can bring your own alcohol, though the policy did become a bit more restrictive in 2015. Read the details here.
Reusable Cups/Water Bottles
Unlike at the Disney parks and resorts, soft drink refills are unlimited and available 24-hours. However, the refill stations may be very far from your stateroom; the small cups provided have lids that are notoriously easy for kids to pop-off with a little squeeze, thereby spilling sticky soft drinks everywhere. Grab a cup with a lid for everyone before you go, like these Disney Tervis tumblers. It’s like a built-in souvenir, too!
If you have plenty of time to plan still, check out this post for even more fun packing options and Disney Cruise hacks. We’ve got information on Fish Extenders, too (small gift exchanges popular on Disney Cruise Line vacations). If you’re feeling overwhelmed, skip it – your trip will still be great. As Sherry Boswell, TravelingMom of Teens says, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”
Things You Definitely DON’T Need to Pack for Your Disney Cruise
- Even super light packers end up with more luggage for cruises than most other vacations; let me just save you a little bit of room! You don’t need to bring towels, even for the pool or beach. At every pool on board you’ll find plenty of towels, and when you get off the ship at Castaway Cay or any other water-heavy destination, there will be carts full of towels as you disembark – and places to return them upon your arrival back at the ship.
- You may find in your research some outdated packing advice. Over-the-door shoe racks (used for organizing toiletries more often than for shoes), extensions cords, and tape (for door decorations) are commonly recommended – but all three are no longer allowed. Note that shoe racks and shelves that hang on the wardrobe bar or the provided hooks are fine, and you can bring multi-USB chargers in place of power strips. If you absolutely require an extension cord, pick one up from Guest Services for free (deposit required) and return it at the end of your trip.
- Take special note of the other prohibited items on the Disney Cruise Line website. Some of the items are no-brainers, but other things (such as realistic replicas of weapons) may slip your mind, especially if you are bringing costumes for special events.
Other Quick Disney Cruise Line Packing and Planning Tips
For other Disney Cruise Line Packing and Planning Tips, be sure to check out this post. Find out why you should bring a carry-on specific to embarkation day, how to save money on Castaway Cay excursions, and what on earth something called “Mickey Mail” actually is. We also discuss whether you’ll want to do laundry (and the best way to do so) and how to be sure nobody in your party loses their oh-so-important “Key to the World” stateroom key card.
Download this printable packing list to make your planning easier, or pin it for later!
This post is an update, based on one written by Tara Settembre in August 2016.