Preparing for a Disney Cruise

A Disney Cruise is an experience that you will always remember, and preparing to sail an Eastern or Western Caribbean itinerary with Disney Cruise Line is in some ways similar to preparing for other cruises, yet not like any other cruise you will prepare for.

This post will help you get ready for 7-night cruises on these itineraries.

Let’s get started with…

The Basics

The basics are a standard list of items that I bring on every cruise.

For more on what to keep on hand before you travel, read my list of key items to have on hand for easy access when packing.

TIP: To avoid having to remember what you need to pack, keep a list on your phone and review the list before leaving home.

Backpack – A well-constructed backpack stores the essentials that you need for excursions and/or beach days. My backpack includes at least one outer water bottle holder.

Lightweight Jacket or Sweater – Your ship may be heading to a warm Caribbean destination, but if you want to enjoy strolling on deck at night under the starry skies, bring a light jacket or sweater to combat the sometimes chilly temperatures at sea. Interior spaces of a ship are air conditioned and can also get downright cold.

Rain Poncho – Excursions that involve outdoor activities are subject to weather that changes quickly. I’m always prepared with durable, packable rain ponchos.

Hanging Toiletry Bag – Counter space is precious in a stateroom bathroom, and nothing saves space and keeps your things dry like a hanging toiletry bag.

Hanging Toiletry Bag
Hanging toiletry bags can be zipped up and stored in the bathroom during the day.
Hanging Toiletry Bag
When it’s time to get ready, the toiletry bag fits perfectly on the towel rack.

Tissue Packs – You never know when you’ll need tissues, and travel size tissue packs fit neatly into a pocket or a backpack.

Laundry Bags – I bring two washable laundry bags: one for the guys and one for the ladies. If you’ve ever been in a stateroom with kids, you’ll understand that no one wants to waste time figuring out which items are dirty and which are clean.

Laundry Detergent – A small, travel-size bottle of laundry detergent is all I need to do a couple of loads of laundry near the end of a cruise. Disney Cruise Line uses technology and sends a message to your phone via the ship’s app when your load is finished washing and drying.


This list is designed to help treat and prevent minor incidents and illnesses that may occur during your voyage. Of course, any serious illness should be addressed by the ship’s medical staff.

First Aid Kit – Your favorite pharmacy or store should carry travel size tubes and bottles of your preferred brands of first aid products.

  • Gauze pads
  • Gauze wrap
  • Waterproof tape — keeps small wounds dry
  • Bandaids — include a sampling of sizes
  • Ibuprofen or similar pain relieving tablets
  • Blistex
  • Cold sore treatment
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Topical gel for insect bites
  • Hydrocortisone (anti-itch) cream
  • Liquid bandage — contains an antiseptic for small cuts and wounds

TIP: Check expiration dates on the topical ointments in your kit and replace them as necessary.

Insect Repellant – When an excursion involves an environment in or surrounded by water or involves exploration in a rainforest setting, everyone gets sprayed before leaving the ship. Otherwise, I pack the repellant in the backpack for use as needed.

Anti-nausea remedies – One member of my family suffers from sea sickness, and we have been on rough seas that caused others to feel nauseous.

Store these items in your First-Aid kit for easy access:

    1. Motion sickness calming oil – applied prior to boarding the ship.
    2. Sea Bands – Sea Bands can be purchased at almost any drugstore, and are worn throughout the entirety of the cruise. I bring one for each member of my family.
    3. Ginger chewing gum
    4. 100% Pure Peppermint Essential Oil – Apply a couple drops of oil to the palms of the hand, and after rubbing the palms together, cup them to the nose and breath in deeply.

TIP: To help reduce the symptoms of sea sickness, try eliminating fried foods a week before sailing.


Special Occasion & Pirate-y Clothing

The dress code on most nights aboard a Disney Cruise Line ship is cruise casual.

Should you desire to get dressed up for dinner, brunch or Pirate Night on your cruise  you will need to bring clothing for these occasions.

If you plan to dine at one of the adults-only specialty restaurants on board, there is a specific dress code for men and women.

I dish on the details about my dinner at Palo on the Disney Wonder here.

Formal Night:

  1. Gown or special occasion dress – You determine how dressed up you want to be. My personal preference is to go all out and wear a gown.
  2. Tuxedo or suit – My son and husband wear a tuxedo on formal night.
  3. Dress shoes – Pack one pair that can be used for formal night, semi-formal night and dinner at Palo and/or Remy.
  4. Accessories  – Earrings, bracelets, etc. to compliment your outfit

Semi-formal Night:

  1. Cocktail dress or dress pants and blouse
  2. Suit or dress pants and shirt

TIP: Pack dress shoes and accessories that can be used for more than one occasion.

Clothing requirements for dinner at Palo/Remy are similar to the clothing worn on semi-formal night. Guests are asked to “Dress to impress” to preserve the elegant ambience of these restaurants.

The dress code for dining at Palo and Remy for brunch is a bit more relaxed, and a nice dress or shirt and dress pants will do for ladies and a shirt with a collar is fine for men.

Brunch At Palo
Brunch at Palo has a relaxed vibe in both atmosphere and attire.
Dinner at Palo
Dressed to impress for dinner at Palo

Pirate Night:

“Pirates In the Caribbean” night is an event that I really look forward to participating in and enjoying with my family when we cruise the Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.

If dressing in pirate attire from head to toe is not your thing, that is fine. Many guests wear normal clothing that looks pirate-y and accessorize with the Pirate Mickey bandana that is delivered to each stateroom before your chosen dinner seating.

If you forget to bring pirate clothing, the gift shops on board each ship carry an assortment of pirate outfits for children and adults. Purchasing clothing on board is a pricer option, but if you have older children that will not quickly outgrow their outfits, and you plan to wear your pirate outfit several times, the cost could work out over time.

There are two cost effective methods that I use to purchase pirate outfits before our cruise:

  1. Shop post-Halloween clearance sales – Stores quickly reduce the price of Halloween clothing to make room for Christmas merchandise. I have found pirate costumes and accessories for 30% – 70% off.
  2. Shop Goodwill – You will be surprised to find how easy it can be to create a pirate outfit for around $15.00 (or less) by browsing through the clothing racks at Goodwill. I even found rings and necklaces that complemented my outfit perfectly.
Goodwill Pirate Outfit
A pirate outfit doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg!


Items Specific to Disney Cruise Line

If you want to spend your cruise decked out in Disney clothing or you desire to decorate your stateroom door, there are ways to save money on these items before you sail.

Savings on Disney clothing and merchandise:

  1. Many department stores sell Disney branded clothing, and like all apparel, these items eventually go on sale at the end of each season. I have purchased Moana, Minnie, Mickey and Marvel clothing (did I cover all the M’s?) in both adult and children’s sizes. If you’re shopping at the end of the summer, remember to include swimwear when you search for sale items.
  2. Disney Outlet Stores – During one non-Disney Cruise Line trip to Orlando, I located Disney Store outlets in the area. You can purchase clothing at significant savings. You can also find pin trading sets on sale.
  3. Disney Store online – Sign up for email from shopDisney and be notified of sales. I purchased my family’s Disney Cruise Line t-shirts during a sale, saving 50% on each tee. Purchases made with a Disney Visa debit card may also give you additional savings on merchandise.

Stateroom door decorations:

  1. Disney themed magnets are sold at craft stores and dollar stores. In the photo below, the large magnets around my stateroom door number are actually jumbo erasers I bought at the dollar store. I added magnets to the back of each eraser.
  2. A magnetic dry erase board is great for leaving messages for members of your family. Remember to bring a dry erase marker.
  3. Inspiration for future door decorations can come by strolling through the stateroom hallways to see how other guests decorated their doors.
Iteasier to find your stateroom when your door is decorated.

Autograph books:

Another Disney Cruise Line specific item that you will want to pack is an autograph book. Character appearances occur daily on each ship, and if you or your kids are interested in collecting autographs, these events are the perfect time to get the signatures you want.

Autograph books can be purchased in the gift store on the ship, or you can make one yourself. Creating your own book allows it to be personalized in a way that makes it a keepsake for years to come.

I found it very easy to find the materials I needed at a craft store:

  1. A small hardcover sketchbook
  2. Stickers to decorate the outer cover of the sketchbook
  3. Sharpie markers – Personally, I like the metallic Sharpie markers that come in gold, bronze and silver, but a black Sharpie will do just fine.

TIP: Purchase a jumbo Sharpie for the characters that have paws (like Pluto) or wear gloves (like Goofy). The larger sized marker makes it much easier for them to hold.

Disney Pins:

My children slowly built their pin collections when we started sailing with Disney Cruise Line.

In 2016, my daughter asked for a large Disney Parks Pin Trading bag while we were in the gift shop on the Disney Wonder. It was obvious that her collection was growing and it was time to upgrade her status as a pin trader. During another sailing, she chose a smaller bag that was easier to carry, making trading a bit easier. 

There is an Officer Pin Trading event on board each ship where pin trading enthusiasts of all ages can meet the ship’s officers and trade pins. My kids loved it!

Disney Gift Cards:

If you happen to have Disney gift cards, bring them with you because they can be used on a Disney Cruise! Upon boarding your cruise, bring the cards to Guest Services and they will be applied to your onboard account. I have earned gift cards with credit card points and late last year, I joined a Twitter party and won a $50 Disney gift card. Every little bit counts!



All Aboard!

It took me a couple years of sailing to become comfortable with preparing for a Disney Cruise, and I’ve become very efficient with packing for Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries. I sailed to Alaska on the Disney Wonder last summer, and the clothing I packed and the events on board were a bit different. (I really missed wearing my pirate outfit!)

Are there any items that you pack for a cruise that you would add to my list of items? Have you taken a Disney Cruise and have something to add to my Disney specific list?

Let me know in the comments below.

12 thoughts on “Preparing for a Disney Cruise

  1. This may seem silly but one thing I always miss if I forget to pack it is my turbie twist hair towel. That isn’t specifically cruise related, more like vacation related… But in small cruise bathroom, it’s so easy and nice to get my wet hair out of the way quickly so I can dry off and get ready for adventures!

  2. Thanks for all of the useful tips and advice. We have yet to go on a cruise, but when we do I will definitely keep in mind all of this information you have shared. 😊👍🏼

  3. What a comprehensive list, Alecia. It’s been years since I’ve taken a cruise and I’ve yet to take a Disney one, but this looks like so much fun! And you make a lovely pirate 🙂

  4. This is been very insightful and a real help. I love your blog you truly are beautiful.

  5. Wow, super practical lists and tips!

    I might not have a cruise trip lined up at the moment, but I will not forget this amazing advice when the time comes.

    Ann-Marie Sent from my iPhone


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