So you have decided on a Disney Cruise Line vacation? Congrats! You are in for the vacation of a lifetime! A Disney Cruise is my all-time favorite vacation. It is the ultimate in relaxation; You get to totally unwind, unplug, and throw your cares away. However, if you are like me, packing is stressful enough to cause me to really need the vacation more than ever. So, I thought I would share some recent lessons learned from (over-)packing for my Disney Cruise.
1. Start Early (about a week).
Instead of stressing out the night before you leave, start packing slowly about a week ahead. If you have a spot in your house where you can start gathering items you will need, that works great. I used our guest room and as I started thinking of random things I wanted to bring I would get them and put them in the guest room on the bed. Your travel agent** should give you a comprehensive packing list so start going through that and gathering things like flashlights, magnets, camera batteries etc.
2. Daytime and Evening Wear.
Start with choosing and packing your dinner wardrobe first. Disney cruises are more casual and most nights will be cruise casual for dinner. Basically, no cut-offs, swimwear etc. Your travel agent** can tell you if there are formal nights or other dress up nights (pirate night!) based on your itinerary. Feel free to dress up as much as you like even on cruise casual evenings. Some people go all out but the majority will stick to what is easy and comfortable; cruise casual. I chose to wear a dress each night just because I wanted to. For me it felt nice after wearing a swimsuit and shorts most of the day to dress up a little for dinner and the show. If you are planning to eat at Palo, the adult only restaurant you will want to step it up a notch as it is a bit more formal (even for brunch).
Daytime. I found that this is where I WAY over-packed. I packed at least 5 day time outfits and wore maybe 2. Most mornings I would throw on some yoga pants and a comfy tank or t-shirt for breakfast. Later I would end up in my swimsuit and cover up and then end the day in my dinner outfit. I never wore anything for more than a few hours. So keep that in mind – you can wear most things multiple times. So bring a few of your most favorite things and you will be all set. One tip I heard that helped me a lot was to think of what you normally wear on Saturdays and pack that. Then you will be ready for pretty much anything. Don’t forget a light cardigan or long sleeve as it can get breezy on the deck in the evenings.
* (These tips are geared more for the Bahamian and Caribbean cruises. Talk to your travel agent** if you are doing a Mediterranean or Alaskan cruise. However, most of these tips will work for any itinerary…you just may want to pack more layers and think about the weather.)
3. Swimsuits-2 Per Person.
There is not a lot of room to dry wet things in the Staterooms so I recommend 2 swimsuits per person. That way you aren’t packing too much but you shouldn’t have to put on a wet swimsuit on any day. There is a laundry room on board so you could always throw a few things in the dryer if needed.
4. Carry-on and Carry-off.
These can be the same bag though we definitely carried more off the ship than on. On your first day when you embark you will check your bags at the port and receive them in your Stateroom later that afternoon or evening. So you will want to pack a carry-on that has some important items you may need the first day. Passports, ID’s, swimsuits, sunscreen etc. On your last night you will need to pack your bags and leave them outside your stateroom which means you will need to leave out what you will wear and need the next day. The morning that you disembark will go fairly quickly as you will wake-up, have breakfast, and then walk off the ship. So, you won’t need much that day. However, we carried off our toiletries, souvenirs and a few other things we needed the last evening after we packed up our big bags and the last morning to get ready. So plan accordingly. If you have a waterproof carry-on you can also use it for your beach bag at the ports (especially Castaway Cay).
5. Water Bottles.
Staying hydrated on vacation is important as you will be out of your normal routine and often, drinking water is not on your mind. Bring a large disposable water bottle for each member of your family. We bought a few at a gas station on the way to the port and carried them on. This way you will always have some water with you in your room or on the deck and you won’t have to worry about running back to the fountain to refill since the cups they have onboard for fountain drinks and water are quite small.
6. Lanyard or Wristlet.
This was something I threw in my carry-on at the last minute and was SO happy to have it. I carried a small wristlet with me the whole time. It had my Stateroom Card -which is your key and your “credit card” to charge anything you need to your room, iPhone (to check out the daily schedule on the free Disney Cruise Line app, and to take pictures), lip-gloss, ID, and ginger pills (in case of motion sickness…never needed them!). We saw many people wearing a lanyard and that was a great idea as well. You really do not need your whole wallet and often your swimsuit will not have a pocket so a lanyard works great for holding your stateroom key.
Some people say lay everything out and then pack only half. Others say when it doubt, leave it out. For me, I LOVE having options when I am traveling. The great thing about the staterooms on the Disney Cruise Line is that they were designed with families in mind and have a lot of storage. So, even if you bring too many pairs of shoes or 5 outfits that you don’t end up wearing, you will have plenty of space to store everything out of sight. You can even store your empty bags under the bed to keep them out of the way. So make sure you unpack that first night so you can settle in and enjoy your cruise. You really won’t be in your room much anyway-it’s true!
**Remember all those times I mentioned your travel agent? That’s me! I’d LOVE to help you plan and book your Disney Cruise. It truly is a vacation unlike any other. Read my tips on choosing a cruise and contact me anytime! ~Aleshia Sokoloski, Travel with the Magic~