Disclosure: I was provided with this experience from Disney Cruise Lines. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.
Planning a Disney Cruise can feel overwhelming at first – I get that. My husband and I had been researching for a few months when I was given the opportunity to take my daughters on a 3 day cruise thanks to Disney Cruise Lines. This was a total blessing – and I used it to help decide what exactly we wanted out of our 7 day cruise (we ended up booking a trip on the Disney Fantasy which includes the Star Wars Day at Sea – score!). I have put together some tips that will hopefully help make your Disney Cruise planning go quickly – and even included a packing list.
Which Stateroom Is Best For You
I stayed in the Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah – and I will never stay in a different room type again. This is a category 5A and when we went ahead and booked our next Disney Cruise (TIP: Do this on board to save a little money) we made sure to get the exact same room we stayed in. This room was not only gorgeous, but it was extremely spacious. I had been on a cruise before and was dreading trying to fit in a room with my two young daughters, my mother, and our luggage but WOW! I was certainly impressed with how much room there was. My girls loved this room as well – they were thrilled that they got to sleep in bunk beds! Speaking of the bunk beds, I loved how they were handled. The top bunk pulls down from the ceiling and the bottom one is behind the couch. And the best part – our stateroom host switched the bed back and forth for us! Every morning when we left for breakfast, he would turn the bed back into a couch and when we were at dinner, he would convert it back into the bunk bed. I highly recommend getting one of these rooms, especially if your travel party is 3 or 4 people – oh, and if you have a larger family, you can get connecting rooms. This is something we are thinking about doing when we go with my in-laws (yes, we are already thinking about a third cruise, and our second one is still months away!).
The room that we stayed in was on deck 10. For us, this was the perfect deck level. The pools and some of the restaurants were only one deck up, making it easy to walk up to with the kids. We also went with the Aft of the ship because the Oceaneers Club is on Deck 5 Aft. I recommend the starboard side as well, since you will have a better view from your room while at Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island). We did not notice any noise from the pool deck (I had read that if you are on Deck 10 you might be able to hear the chairs being moved around – but that was not the case for us). We were also very close to the elevators, which I actually liked – especially since my girls are so young – 3 and 5. We were not bothered by elevator noise at all and enjoyed the quick walk to them with the kids. I couldn’t feel the ship moving at all either – no matter where I was on board. I imagine this is because the ship is so big. My friend brought sea bands with her and did not even need to put them on once!
The Verandah was amazing to have at night and in the morning. I sat out there with my mom just talking about our day each night we were on the ship. And I enjoyed my coffee on the Verandah every morning. My daughters and I enjoyed sitting on it as we pulled in to the ports as well. They thought it was really cool to watch. Something that the kids (and OK me too) is that the TVs in the rooms have on demand Disney movies and TV Shows – so there is no need to bring items like tablets or gaming devices. We watched A Goof Movie, A Bug’s Life, Frozen, and many Jake and the Neverland Pirates episodes. I love that these are at our fingertips every night. It is a great way to get the kids settled down after a fun (but long) day.
The inside rooms are great for those that are nervous about getting sea sick (although there really is nothing to worry about) or those that have no desire for oceanviews. I love that these rooms have a “porthole” with a screen that shows the ocean – and of course your favorite friends from Finding Nemo might just swim by to say hi!
Walking around the ship, I noticed lots of door decorations. My family is already planning our Disney themed door decorations for our next cruise (Star Wars of course!). I highly recommend creating some of these for your family. My girls really wished that we had done it this trip – and I did too. The most popular decorations seemed to be Mickey Mouse heads themed with different characters and/or colors that had the names of the guests staying in that particular stateroom. I also noticed lots of photos from previous Disney Cruises or Disney Parks trips. We will most likely do a combination of both. You can have decals made or create your own decorations with construction paper and tape (or let your imagination run wild!).
If you are celebrating a special occasion on board, not only can you order door decorations but you can order gifts to be left in the room as well. When we walked in to our room, there was a cheese and cracker plate and a bottle of champagne – and it made my eyes light up. I definitely recommend having something waiting for your kids when you open up that door – it will have them even more excited about their Disney Cruise!
Another thing that I wish we had done for our first Disney Cruise (and we will definitely be doing on our next one) is the Disney fish extender. What is it exactly? Well, next to each stateroom door is a fish or a seahorse (depending on what side of the ship you are on – port or starboard). The fish extender is, simply put, a bag or some sort of gift holder. You can find the link to your cruise on the DIS boards here – and you will be part of a group that will make or buy little gifts to leave in the fish extender bags of others that have signed up. I imagine it is so much fun for kids to go check their holders when they get back to their rooms and see what pixie dust has been left for them. I cannot wait to do this, and will most likely have a post with fish extender gift ideas as we start creating ours.
- Bathing Suit (TIP: Bring at least two with you – one for salt water beaches in port and one for the pools.)
- Over Bathing Suit Cover-up
- Sweatshirt (TIP: It can get chilly on the deck or your verandah at night while at sea so it is nice to have a sweatshirt on hand if needed.)
- Cellphone (TIP: Be sure to download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App before you get on the boat.)
- Autograph Book & Pens
- Small Boat Bag or Backpack to use while on board and off the ship
- Passport and/or Birth Certificate
- Flip Flops
- Your Disney Rewards Visa Card (TIP: Use your card when booking and get a “gift” such as a $50 drink credit on board the ship – and then use your vouchers to book your next Disney Vacation!)
- Cash (Optional) I say this is optional because you will not need it on board the ship or at Castaway Cay. It will, however, come in handy if you want to do some shopping in the ports.
- Theme Night Outfit (the Disney Dream Cruise we went on had a Pirate Night)
- Motion Sickness Medicine and/or Sea Bands
- Formal Outfit (if you intend to eat at one of the adult only restaurants or opt to dress up the final night.)
- Nice Outfits for dinner – somewhere between casual and formal. (TIP: I liked to wear a sundress to dinner, and I noticed that many other women did too.)
- Two outfits per day per child (TIP: Accidents happen. Food, paint, & other things can end up on kid’s clothes – there are washers & dryers on board as well if needed.)
No need to bring:
- Portable Game Devices (TIP: The kid will simply not have time to play them. Opt for the free Disney on Demand instead.)