Disney Cruises and Disney mania
Disney Cruises like all things Disney have hordes of devoted fans who obsess about cruising on Disney. You can join facebook pages, disney fan boards, and read countless blogs (like this one) on this to do and/or bring on your cruise. I booked my cruise over a year in advance and was up night nursing quite a bit so I had a chance to read tons of advice. The fan sites also will offer up free art work to make your adventure more special. I am going to review what I agree is worth packing and what I think might be a bit too much.
Things I am glad I brought:
1. Water bottle – this was great advice. I bought a plain water bottle at the dollar store and ordered vinyl mickey stickers from someone on etsy to decorate my bottle and other stuff. I used it for water on day trips and soda while on the ship. In addition, we brought a case of water onto the ship (facilitated by my parents driving to Miami). This was nice to keep in our room and grab when we went around the ship or off the boat. The cruise ship sold water bottles for $1.25/bottle vs $3 for our case of 24 bottles. If you want to pack light, a water bottle should be fine – there are places all over to fill it.
2. Lanyards– Your “key to the world” (basically your room key/on board charge card/ship id card) can be carried in a pocket but its easier to stick it in a plastic holder and hang it around your neck for quick swipes. I bought fancy ones on Amazon for the family and then found great ones at the dollar tree. I ended up wearing my dollar store ones because they were lighter around the neck and very comfortable. Highly recommend. Second time cruisers and Disney Vacation Club members get free lanyards on board but first timers like ourselves have to bring your own or buy them in the gift shop (or do without). Many people also use their lanyards to hold Disney trading pins. I bought a lot of pins on ebay and put some on our lanyards but all they did in my opinion was make our lanyards heavy on the neck. Perhaps when the kids are older they will do a trading night.
3. Sand Toys for Castaway Cay and other beach stops. I brought a small bucket and a few other sand toys from my three year old’s sand table. This saved me from buying a $10 bucket and shovel at the gift shop. I saw other families just give their kids the plastic cups to built sand castles. If nothing else, I would recommend a shovel for each child.
4. Disney outfits. I went a little overboard with Disney outfits before we left but I am glad I did as it helped make our trip more special. Babies r us had 40% off of Disney clothes just before we left so I got my baby a little get up with a hat to be dressed as Mickey and Tigger. The Disney cruise staff (aka cast members) loved my little baby mickey and my three year old loved wearing his favorite character wear. I also ended up buying (after coming close to making) matching Disney inspired tshirts with our names on it. It made for a nice boat boarding photo op. The adults will also be able to reuse the tshirts at the parks in the future. You can always go print your own tshirts using vinyl or tshirt transfer sheets. In the end I ran out of time and just ordered my shirts already done.
5. Disney Goods – I know many people are big fans of buying souvenirs from their trips but I tried to create a fun Disney atmosphere and avoid paying insane prices for Disney goods on the ship. To do that I took advantage of an annual sale that the Disney store offers in November which includes a discount on merchandise and free personalization to buy fleece shirts, personalized Disney baby blankets, and other items. I also bought vinyl (if you look at all the photos of items I made, you will see I just ordered the same shape in two sizes from one seller on etsy) so that I could make my own Disney inspired gear and shopped at the dollar store which offered lots of items for the Disney cruise. These included: little toys that I could gift my three year old in lieu of hitting the gift shop; a mickey mouse watch for my son to tell time on the ship; a mickey mouse and friends journal to be used as an autograph book for characters; stickers and coloring books for the airplane trip. I also got other fun stuff at the dollar store like glow sticks to take out on deck at night. I also made little items like adding vinyl disney inspired stickers to these luggage tags I got in the dollar bins at Michaels to help us find our luggage quicker.
6. Booze – Disney is one of the few cruise lines that allows you to bring alcohol on the ship (as long as it is in your carry on luggage). We brought mini bottles of rum which we added to our coke (free on the cruise) or fruit punch (served free on Castaway Cay). We also brought already made margaritas (mix with alcohol in it) which we drank over ice in the glasses provided in our room. I made these little wine glass to go cups but we didn’t end up using them. It was just nicer to use glass or our aluminum water bottles. In the end I wouldn’t suggest bringing a whole lot of booze because the drink prices (especially on the daily specials) aren’t terrible and depending on your taste, it may be more hassle than its worth.
7. Pirate Costumes – Disney Cruises which go to the Caribbean have a pirate night in which people dress up as pirates. I shopped after Halloween for cheap pirate costumes, eye patches, foam swords and hats for my family. I dressed the baby up as a parrot (which he hated so I swapped him into a pirate t shirt for the rest of the night after extracting an unhappy bird picture). Everyone else – from my three year old to my father – enjoyed dressing up for the evening. It produced one of the best photos of the cruise.
8. Stacks of small bills – There was a lot of tipping on our trip for which we were not prepared. Everything from the porters to room service, etc. Having small bills to give out tips will help you out.
Things that were suggested that I did not find helpful:
1. Nightlight – There was limited access to outlets and certainly not one to spare for a night light.
2. clothes pins – my clothes hung on the line just fine without clothes pins
3. dry erase boards – we used our wave phones to communicate where were.
4. Candy for the movies – I did snack a bit but I would have been better off grabbing some fruit from the breakfast buffet for snacking on in the theaters later on rather than bringing candy.