Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Packing Tips for a Disney Cruise

Our cruise line of choice is Disney Cruise Line (surprise, surprise) and we are busy preparing to embark on another cruise shortly! We thought we'd share some of our best packing tips for a Disney Cruise vacation.

Cruise packing is unique to other travel packing, and Disney Cruise packing adds one more layer of uniqueness to that. I'm not sure about you, but even though I've been on four cruises, two being Disney, I still need a refresher every time I start to pack. So this is for first-time cruisers or milltionth time cruisers alike! It is important to note that this is for a tropical cruise, as an Alaskan or European cruise would have a different set of tips altogether. Don't worry, I'm doing everything in my power to cruise to all locations, though. =)
(Sidebar: Did you read about the elderly woman who lives on a cruise ship after her husband made her promise to "never stop cruising" before he died? It's a lovely read. Wouldn't that be a beautiful way to spend your golden years?) Let's jump right in! [UPDATE: Oh Hey! We made a short video with our top tips! If you're interested, see it here.]

Cruise Attire 

Daytime on cruise ships are either spent at sea or at port. There is a slightly different set of clothes you'll need for both. However, you'll always need an outfit for warm weather, and a nicer, dressier dinner outfit. 

Daytime (Sea Day)

Sea Days for us are generally spent relaxing. We usually lounge around the adult only pool, reading and napping. We grab breakfast and lunch at the buffet. We sometimes go back to the room to nap. If this is your plan, too, you'll need pool attire + casual/comfortable/cool. That's pretty easy.

However, if you'd rather not lounge at the pool, there are plenty of activities around the ship! There is trivia and games and movies and shows during Sea Days. There is no shortage of things to do. You can wear anything you're comfortable in.

Daytime (In Port)

One important thing to note about days when you're in port: You don't have to get off of the ship if you don't want to. If you're not comfortable with the location, if it's raining, if you just would rather enjoy ship activities- you can absolutely stay on the ship. You can also come and go as you please. If you're not far from the ship and want lunch on the ship- hop back on and leave again after. It's totally up to you. At most destinations other than Castaway Cay there are plenty of activities on board the ship and the pools are open. [When the ship is at port on Castaway Cay, it essentially shuts down. Most of the ship staff are on the island working. Plus, you REALLY want to enjoy Castaway Cay.]

If you are enjoying the port location, note that Disney provides beach towels for you as you get off the ship, so you don't need to bring towels. They're just plain white and not very exciting but they dry you off and you don't have to lug your own in your suitcase. Other things you'll need are below:

Likely a swimsuit if you'll be enjoying the ocean. You'll also need a swimsuit cover up that's easy on and off. Walking and riding in a taxi in the heat in just a bikini isn't super comfortable.

Sunscreen! Sunscreen prices are insane on the ship or at port and you don't want to ruin the rest of your trip with a sunburn. Also- get a good lip balm with sunscreen. Peeling/burned lips aren't fun!

Bring a hat! It helps with sunburns SO MUCH. I had a TERRIBLE experience in 2009 (some photos of that trip here) with a sunburn on my face even with SPF 50 sunscreen, so now I always wear a hat. Even in the water unless I'm snorkeling/doing underwater activities. I just wash it when I get home.

Sunglasses. Please take care of your eyes.

Comfortable walking shoes. Even if you'll just be going to a beach, you'll have a bit of a walk from the ship to a location or to a taxi stand in most locations. Preferably a shoe that won't be ruined if it gets wet. For example, we're packing Teva sandals. (We got them solely for cruise/beach trips. We actually don't wear them otherwise.) They're cool, comfortable, and are fine when wet. (Or, pack some water shoes/flip flops to change into when you're at the beach and put back on your comfy shoes before returning to the ship.)

If you have an excursion, they will likely tell you suggested items to bring- so be sure to check. 


Main dining generally has a dress code of "cruise casual" which really just means no swim gear or tanks. Jeans are fine, sandals are fine. It's mostly what you feel comfortable in. I generally wear a casual dress because that's easiest to pack :). Ashley wears jeans and a nice shirt. Sometimes she wears nice bermuda shorts (I wouldn't wear very short ones, its fairly cool. Some fun ones we like are here, here, and here.)

If you eat at Palo or Remy, there is a stricter dress code. No jeans, no sneakers, no tanks, jacket is suggested for men, dress or pantsuit for women. I actually wear mostly the same as I do regular dinner, other than jeans. If you want to dress more formally, you absolutely can at Palo, any night.

On longer cruises, there is generally a formal and/or semi-formal night when you can go all out if you'd like, but it is not required. You might see some formally dressed guests, but you will see an equal or more amount who do not dress any differently than the other nights. You will not stick out either way.

There is also a pirate themed night on pretty much all itineraries. You can go all out, or not at all. Disney will generally provide a small pirate bandanna-type thing in your stateroom if you just want to add that bit of flair.

There is also the option of eating at the quick service locations, or the buffet-turned-sit down restaurant (I think this is only on longer cruises, and it depends on the ship so be sure to check DCL's website to be sure) in which you can wear whatever-the-heck you want.

Clothing Odds & Ends

One thing I always recommend based on my past Disney Cruises is to bring some type of cardigan/sweater. (Example here or here.) Parts of the ship are quite chilly. I never went anywhere on the ship (other than outside) and got warm, even wearing long pants. When we went to watch a movie in the theater aboard the ship on our first cruise, in particular, we were absolutely freezing in our comfortable sweat pants and hoodies. I think that the very cold temperature that evening isn't normally the case, as we went to another movie later in the trip and were fine in our cardigans/zip up hoodies, but you never know! It isn't a bad idea to at least have an option.

Something nice to note is that Disney has laundry rooms with irons for fairly cheap. Even better, they have laundry service for just a bit more that is very easy to use. You just use their form and put it outside your door. They'll return next day, generally, and can request a rush for a fee if you want to wash and re-wear anything.

Another nice thing is that most Disney ships have raised beds that allow you to store luggage underneath. With the tiny rooms, this was a lifesaver for us!

There is a gym and a Castaway Cay 5K so if you like to run, bring your typical running/workout gear.

Beauty Items

I keep my beauty regime to a minimum on a cruise, solely to pack less. It's a nice refresher for me. But I'm not completely barefaced, because I don't feel completely comfortable with that. So here are my beauty essentials.

Disney has great quality shampoo, conditioner, soap, and body lotion in the staterooms. It's H20 brand and most people rave about it. While what they provide won't be enough for a family, you can ask for more. Ashley has her own shampoo and conditioner that she brings in small travel containers, but I use what they provide.

Since my hair will be exposed to damaging elements, I will also bring some type of leave in conditioner to spray in after a wash every day.

Hair dryers are provided in the staterooms, and are of good quality.

I bring a wet brush (a brush that's designed to get tangles out of wet hair without pulling it out,) small dry shampoo, and usually some type of texture spray. I usually let my hair air dry with the texture spray and leave it natural. That is how I wear my hair normally, so I'm completely comfortable with that. If you'd rather bring some type of hot tool, that is totally up to you, but try to limit it to one, if you can.

As far as skincare goes, I bring my full arsenal because I have very picky skin and changing it up for a week would probably make it go crazy. I bring makeup remover, cleanser, moisturizer, eye cream, and acne treatment. But if your skin is better than mine, keeping it simple is preferable for bathroom + suitcase space.

Bring your travel toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, and floss. Disney doesn't provide any of those items. They'll have some on the ship for purchase if you're in a bind but it's overpriced.

Razor + travel shaving oil or cream.

Waterproof mascara and waterproof concealer. If you don't wear makeup regularly, no worries just pack on the sunscreen. If you do and are not comfortable completely bare-faced, get a good waterproof mascara and concealer for days when you'll be in the water. You can forgo the rest of your makeup and make it work just fine with those two. Bring more makeup for the evening, if you like.

After sun lotion. This type of lotion is nice and cooling and really helps seal in moisture after sun exposure.


We are techies and I personally have a lot of gear. Most people will likely need far less :).

I bring my iPhone and leave it in airplane mode but use it for the camera. The iPhone 6 camera is pretty great.

I do bring my DSLR because I can't stand the thought of not having it. But that's me and my photography/videography addiction. In most cases, a smartphone camera or point and shoot works just fine. There are some days I leave it in the stateroom and solely use my phone.

We are bringing a GoPro for the first time (Christmas gift!) for our waterproof camera option. We are also bringing a GoPro stick and headgear. If you don't have a waterproof camera, I'd recommend a disposable one (usually about $10) or some type of waterproof housing for your camera or phone.

Reading material. I always read at least one book, sometimes more, on cruises. If you prefer magazines, be sure to grab some. Or download a book to your preferred e-reader.

Music. If music is something you'll want to listen to, be sure to download any playlists/songs to your device prior to leaving for the cruise. Songs that are on your cloud and not your device won't play when you don't have cell service or WiFi, and it's generally very expensive at port and is definitely very expensive on the ship.

Odds & Ends

Travel Lysol Disinfectant Spray & Wet Ones Antibacterial Wipes & Hand Sanitizer- Not sure if you're aware... but cruise ships are a germ cesspool. Seriously. Disney is really good at giving out disinfecting wipes at every restaurant, but everyone still needs to wash and sanitize just... all the time. I always spray the doorknobs and remote control and light switches in the stateroom as soon as we arrive, just in case.

Febreeze- We always bring a few travel bottles of Febreeze because sometimes suitcases make your clothes smell a little stale. It just gives everything a refresh.

Downy Wrinkle Release- This is a life-changer, but it's not a miracle worker. You lay your clothing item on a flat surface, spray it with the Wrinkle Release, smooth out the item of clothing and let dry. Most wrinkles will come out. This won't work for any seriously creased items, but light wrinkles are easily taken care of. I never travel without this- especially since there aren't irons in your stateroom.

Swimsuit Wash- Washing your swimsuit in the sink without sacrificing color? Yes, thanks! You can hang them up on the shower to dry overnight. I don't take a ton of swimsuits, so this is really handy for me.

Autograph Book & Pen- If you plan on meeting the characters (and why wouldn't you?) you can bring along some type of autograph book or other fun idea. I've seen people bring a t-shirt for everyone to sign, a pillowcase, index cards, etc. I'm considering bringing my disposable camera and having them each sign a picture- but it's pretty large and I'm not sure I want to lug it around. But if you have a smaller one- it's a cute idea!

Backup Medicine- If you get sick easily (like we do!) due to weather changes or airplane travel, you might want to bring a small pack of your favorite medicine. (I'll bring some Mucinex!) Our last trip I was very, very, very sick and the options on board wasn't the best. They have a doctor if you get bad enough but if you know you're prone to allergies/stuffy noses go ahead and bring what you normally take.


I think that covers it! Did I miss anything? Please let me know anything special you bring on a cruise or Disney cruise in the comments!

Disclosure: Some links are affiliate. Disney doesn't know who I am and they don't know that I love them so much so this is in no way sponsored. Darn.



  1. Very random but I love your glasses Magen, where are they from? :)

    1. I got them at my Dr. office, but the name brand is Salt. Their unisex so they might be in the mens section.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Does the Disney cruise provide toilet paper or do we bring our own?
    This is my first time at a Disney cruise everything you mentioned in your blog is very helpful.
    Thank you

    1. Yes, they provide toilet paper and also towels/washcloths that they refresh daily. Shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion are provided as well.

  4. Saving this so I can refer back to it! Great list! We are going on our first Disney cruise in two months and I'm in "what the heck do I need to pack" mode! We are flying, so I am trying to get everything I possibly can in 4 suitcases. Maybe wishful thinking, lol.


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