I can’t tell you how many of my friends have cruised on cruise lines such as P&O, Carnival etc…I would be close in saying most of them. We are from Australia so when we booked our Disney Cruise we were completely in the dark about how to prepare and what to pack for our cruise which departs on the other side of the world. As amazing as our travel agent is…not even she had booked another family from Oz on a Disney Cruise. I had to fend for myself and research everything! So here it is, tried and tested. My….
Best Tips on What to Pack and How to Prepare for Your Disney Cruise!
Install the Disney Cruise Count down app!
Once you’ve finalised your deposit Disney will send you the link for the count down app! Counting down is half the fun….
Organise an Autograph Book
One of our favourite things about our Disney Cruise was the character meet and greets, after all that’s what makes a Disney Cruise stand out from the rest. Collecting autographs became a man hunt, a collectors dream…we had to get them all. I searched online and found these gorgeous little autograph books on Esty. They do sell autograph books on board however I didn’t find them big enough and they weren’t cute like these. I wanted their books to include all the characters they’ve met on all of the journeys we’ve been on….so we’ve managed to fill the book with characters from Disney World, Universal Studios, they even got autographs at Lego land!
Everyone is doing it! All the cool kids stick magnets to their doors. For serial Disney Cruisers it’s a declaration of their returning status. A statement for the birthday girl or boy, for honeymooners or mostly just an announcement for family members. The Americans go all out…everyone had very professional looking magnets. I made mine on the computer, laminated them and attached some adhesive magnets. They looked very much ‘home made’ but they were cheap and did the trick.
This was the coolest thing ever! To explain this fully I will need to devote an entire blog post to ‘fish extenders (FE)’, however I’ll try to briefly explain. Once you have booked your Disney Cruise, you need to jump on Facebook and join a FE group. There are approximately 20 families per FE group. We were in the ‘Pluto’ group. Each member added their cabin number, name, age and gender of each family member to a spreadsheet. These were the families we had to deliver gifts to at some stage during the cruise. Each cabin door has a fish hook (hence the name fish extender), where you hung your fish extender from. Gifts were placed inside the little pouches of the FE. Boy oh boy there were some stunning ones out there, sewn so beautifully with names embroided. Again mine stood out for looking very much ‘hand made’ with plastic pouches…(they were cheap and did the trick lol). We delivered little ozzy koalas to all our group members and we were very much spoiled in return! Every morning we woke to gifts at our door and every time we returned to our cabin we had little surprises waiting for us! So fun!!
This was genius and something I highly recommend doing! From the moment you’re in count down mode…start bribing your kids with a ‘Disney Dollar’. Seriously they’ll do anything for a Disney Dollar! Chores, make coffee…I even scored a couple of back rubs for a bargain price. Disney dollars can only be spent at Disney (they give them to me in exchange for cash…or room charge). Secretly between you and me, I would have bought them those souvenirs and micky cupcakes anyway but my kids are quite tight and picky when it comes to spending their ‘own’ money…so they don’t seem to WANT as much…plus the beautiful behaviour for bonus dollars was priceless.
Pirate Night Attire
Pirate night is huge on the Caribbean cruises. Everyone from the waiters to the Disney characters are dressed for the occasion. There’s a pirate show on deck and night ends with fireworks!!! (yep in the middle of the ocean, so cool). When one is in the Caribbean, one must dress like a pirate so be prepared and purchase costumes from home. There are some available in the gift shops but they’ll cost you and arm or a leg.
Pre-Book Your Shore Excursions
Returning Disney cruisers get priority booking when it comes to shore excursions. The more cruises you have been on the earlier your access is to booking online. (You’re literally given a gold, silver bronze style status). So if you are like me and a first time Disney Cruiser you’re one of the last to have access. This is why it’s important to do your research, and get on line THE DAY your category goes live. If you don’t get in quick they will sell out. Disney shore tours will also cost you an arm or a leg…however when travelling to places like Mexico and Jamaica I felt much safer going with the Disney tours. Plus if something happens and you’re late returning to the ship…unless it was a Disney tour they won’t wait for you. Paying the extra money I think was worth the peace of mind.
I’ll need to devote an entire post to our shore tours but in a nut shell…we swam with the dolphins and climbed Dunn’s River Waterfall in Jamaica (this by far was the BEST DAY OF MY LIFE), hired beach buggies and did a tour of some beautiful beaches, snorkeled and shopped in Mexico, lazed on a deck chair at Tiki Beach at Grand Cayman Island. We didn’t book any tours for Castaway Cay (Bahamas) we just swam and enjoyed everything the island offered for free….which was practically everything! Lunch, soft drinks, even ice-cream was free on Castaway Cay!
Book in Advance for Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
Again book this well in advance as there’s limited spaces and you DON’T want to miss out. This was the most special experience ever…loved every second of watching her being pampered like a princess. Because we booked early her gorgeous invitation was waiting for her when we boarded the ship. A good tip is to know exactly what shore tours you are doing and when…some leave early and don’t get back till late. You don’t want to have time clashes. I got in early and booked her appointment for an ‘at sea’ day so I didn’t have to worry too much about the time.
Book a cheap room
I would recommend not bothering with a more expensive port hole, ocean view or balcony room on the ship. There are so many amazing things to do on board we literally only used our room to sleep and shower. Coming from Australia we had already spent a fortune for our 7-night West Caribbean Disney Cruise so we picked the cheapest room possible…and it was awesome! The less expensive rooms come with a “magical port hole”. We couldn’t afford the luxury of an ocean view porthole however the magic portholes give a ‘real time’ view of what would be outside our window…. but with Disney magic! It was a real novelty waiting to see which Disney character might pop up next on the screen! Plus the starry nights were better than the real deal!
Let’s face it…cabin rooms are close to the ‘dunny’ (Aussie term for toilet). Pack some car air fresheners from home to keep your room smelling….um fresh? Found this cute little Mickey air freshener in Coles. And yes, our band aids were Micky themed also.. (yes I may have an addiction).
Find your cruise on Facebook
Another great tip is to find your cruise on Facebook. It’s terrific to count down with your fellow passengers and bounce tips and advice off each other. Our Facebook page is still active years later and it’s lovely to reminisce about the ‘best week of our life’.
OTHER TIPS FOR PACKING…
Bibbidi Bobbodi charge a fortune if you include the princess dress in the fee. Save money and pack your princess dresses from home rather than buying on board.
My laptop, his phone, her camera, there iPads, my hair straighter, all take up power points. I packed one, 6 plug power board so all our appliances could fit in the one plug. Genius I say…I do this for every holiday. The power board literally stays in my suitcase.
Perfect for shore days or by the pool during sea days. Don’t forget to pack a beach bag for your hats, sunscreen, magazines and water bottles.
Disney Pillow Pet
Space is limited when packing for kids. I always let them pack a pillow pet. This doubles up as their pillow and teddy/toy. Very handy for naps while on the bus or plane, or for long airport stop overs. Kids are more inclined to carry their own pillow pet rather than a pillow if they have to walk far. (I’m big on my kids carrying and taking care of their own belongings while travelling). Also because it was a ‘Micky’ pillow pet I saved money and didn’t have to buy her a Disney teddy souvenir.
Water Poof Camera
At Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island in the Bahamas) they take snorkelling to a different level with hidden Disney statues underwater. Kids had fun searching for them so an under water camera is very handy. Also great for riding the Aqua Duck….great views by day and disco lights by night. Many of the shore tours involve swimming with dolphins, turtles, sting rays and forget about taking a normal camera on the Dunn’s river waterfall climb…you get drenched.
For hanging up wet gear in every nook and cranny.
Refillable drink bottle
Soft drink is free on Disney Cruise Line however the cups are tiny and it’s only available by the pool. Pack a drink bottle to fill up and then you can take it back to your room! Drink bottles are available in the gift stores but again it will cost you that arm.
That’s it! Hope you found my ‘what to pack and how to prepare guide’ useful. Even better I hope I’ve inspired you to take a Disney Cruise one day! Can’t recommend them enough and wonder if I’d ever be satisfied cruising with anyone else again. Have I forgotten anything? Please feel free to comment below 🙂
Safe travels xoxo