Disney cruise checklist: Five items we were glad we had (and five we didn’t need)

When you and your family feel safe cruising again, be ready!

On our voyage on the Disney Fantasy, we packed carry-on only for four people to Disney World and the Bahamas, which I felt was a feat in itself. Turns out, we still brought things we didn’t need (and others we were very glad we had). If you’re lucky enough to be packing for a Disney cruise, learn from our triumphs and mistakes using this Disney cruise checklist.

Read also: how to know if a Disney cruise is right for your family!

Disney Cruise Checklist! Five things we were glad we had:

1. Water bottles. Water bottles can be bulky, but with free soda and water refills all day, every day aboard the Disney Fantasy (and all Disney cruise ships), we put them to good use. With drink refill stations located only on the pool deck (and the cups provided not very portable), it’s easy to get dehydrated. Plus, trekking up to refill water after bedtime is a pain! If your kids like water by their beds at night, fill up their bottles before bedtime to ensure everyone has enough until morning.

Disney Fantasy drink station

Cash for tipping. Once onboard a Disney cruise ship, you virtually won’t need any method of pay except your Key to the World card (in fact, good luck even trying to use anything else). The only exception: the cash you’ll want on-hand to tip bell services and bus drivers pre- and post-cruise, and the tip you’ll give to your servers and stateroom staff on the final day of your cruise. While you can ask that these tips be automatically included as a stateroom charge, you’ll want cash-in-hand if you’d rather decide on the tip amount yourself.

Sweaters or sweatshirts. Don’t skip this on your Disney cruise checklist! While irritatingly bulky in our luggage, we were glad we had sweatshirts during our 4-day cruise to the Bahamas. While the temperature was comfortable most of the time, morning and evenings on deck can get windy. And of course, nice weather is never guaranteed (even by Disney).

Disney Fantasy Goofy

Autograph books. If you have children who will want to get autographs from Disney characters, they’ll be in heaven: characters abound on a Disney cruise, and long wait times are the exception rather than the norm. We were so glad we remembered to pack our seven-year-old’s autograph book (and carted it everywhere we went on the ship, as most our sightings were impromptu).

Sneakers for exercise and the sports deck. Even if you don’t anticipate working out on the ship, your kids will! Mine spent hours on the sports deck, playing basketball and miniature golf, and though I expected this, I didn’t anticipate their newly discovered love of shuffleboard and the running track. While we spent 90% of our time in sandals and flip-flops, we were glad we’d packed the sneakers.

Up next, five items we DIDN’T need! Click on the button below to continue!


About the author

Amy Whitley AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.



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  1. Debbie Burgess says:

    Multiple sized ziplock bags. They come in soooooo handy! Especially the gallon sized ones to throw your wet bathing suit in on the last night of your cruise. Also, they work great for carrying your camera onto the beaches. I always feel like I pack way too many clothes. My advice: pack what you think you want then get rid of half of it.

  2. What a great post!

    We are big Disney lovers in my family, but thusfar that has meant trips to WDW. We would love to try a cruise someday… so really appreciate the tips! All made sense, and got me really excited ;-D

  3. We’ve cruised DCL twice now and have another planned. Pack 1/2 the clothes you think you need, bring a few cable ties, zip lock bags and an over the door shoe organizer. We find it easier to put all the little “stuff” like sunglasses, cosmetics, etc that seem to clutter up the counters in 1 of those.

  4. This was a great help because on the 19 we are going on a Disney cruise and I don’t know what to pack this was a very helpful thanks for doing this website and what is that pool it looks very cool.

  5. We’ve been on a couple Disney cruises and are going on our third next month. These are good tips. One though is a little misleading .. “While you can ask that these tips be automatically included as a stateroom charge, you’ll want cash-in-hand if you’d rather decide on the tip amount yourself.”

    You can always pick the tip amount for the staff on your room charge. They give you little tickets to fill out for the last evening dinner, you charge whatever you feel is correct, no need for cash for these.

  6. Great tips! We are embarking soon and have been crossing things off the packing list as things we can leave at home, but I think I’m going to add a light jacket to our list!

  7. Alisinwnderlnd says:

    What about a shoulder bag for carrying a book, camera, sunblock? I imagine I’d want one.

  8. Alisinwnderlnd says:

    What about a shoulder bag for carrying a book, camera, sunblock? I imagine I’d want one. Anything else?

  9. hollyberry says:

    My husband and I took an 10th anniversary cruise this May (2013) WITHOUT our 3 kids…LOL! It was great, but we’ll be cruising again next month WITH the kids:) I love the suggestions, especially water bottles and a sweater or jacket. My husband got so cold indoors that it was distracting.
    This is what I would add:
    to-go coffee mug if you need more than 6 oz of coffee in the morning,
    a case of waters for the room, especially if you don’t want to run up to the pool deck for hydration,
    a small shoulder bag for your key, wave phone, Motion Ease and gum
    a magazine or book
    Stevia 😉
    Smartphone, if you cruise on the Fantasy there’s a virtual Navigator App now with free wifi for the app
    I’ve also heard you can drop off a pillowcase and marker at guest services on the first night, and by the end of the cruise you’ll have a character autographed pillowcase/souvenir for the kids!

  10. Bodyguard Service says:

    . I know some cruisers like dressing up for the dinner meal, but if you’re not one of them, don’t worry: only ‘cruising casual’ is expected. We brought collared short-sleeved shirts for our boys

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