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What Not to Pack: Lessons Learned from our Disney Cruise

Disney Cruise Line photo
by Mary Augustine, PassPorter Guest Contributor
Last modified 02-16-2012

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Filed in Articles > Disney Cruise Line > Planning  

There are many packing lists for cruising available, both in guidebooks and online.

I referred to a three-page list while packing for our first Disney Cruise Line voyage. We brought four full-sized suitcases and three carry-ons, to supply three adults for just four nights. Thank goodness for luggage porters! Next time, my goal is two medium-sized suitcases for the three of us, along with one small carry-on bag. We won’t be packing or ordering water for the cabin. No shampoos, conditioners, soaps, lotions, or blow dryers will be packed. We won’t be packing beach towels. Snacks will be left behind on our next trip. We’ve also learned that minimal cash is needed. The following are a few suggestions for what not to bring.


We ordered a case of water, based on my husband’s decided preference for water as a beverage (he ordered it exclusively at every meal onboard). We found the (tap) water available at the beverage stations, and that served at meals and with room service, to be adequate. On Castaway Cay, beverages were available at lunch, and were offered on the one excursion we experienced there. At a cost of $35 for the case of water delivered to our cabin, and considering that we consumed only one bottle, that was a rather expensive bottle of water! Not to mention the space that case of water occupied in our stateroom. At least we weren’t hauling the water onboard. Thus, for our family, bottled water in our cabin was totally unnecessary. In the future, I will only bring or order what is needed for any shore excursions. Lesson learned.

Personal care items

I’ll admit it. I’m selective regarding skin care products. As a retired dermatologist, I have opinions on soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotions, and more. I always pack my preferred products on trips, not wanting to rely on hotel brands. My husband and daughter also have their preferences, resulting in multiples of three being packed for most of our personal care products. However, on the Disney Dream, we found the H20+™ products to be entirely adequate. In addition, the Steiner London products available in the fitness center/spa showers were also satisfactory. Thus, for our next cruise, I will happily lighten our luggage by leaving my own and my family member’s soaps, shampoos, conditioners, and lotions at home.

I read that some have found the hair dryers on the Disney Dream to be rather weak and inadequate. I, too, found ours to have little air output, until I read the instructions, stating it should be plugged into the round outlet, found on the right hand panel of the stateroom desk. This made quite a difference in the output, and it worked satisfactorily for us. By now, I should know this - when in doubt, read the instructions! No need to pack a blow dryer for our next Disney Dream cruise.

Article - H2O+ photo
Article - H2O+

Disney Dream Cabin skin/hair products - photo by j316

Beach towels

Living in the mountains of Colorado, we look forward to the beaches and swimming while cruising. I assumed that we should bring beach towels to enjoy these activities. We learned that this was completely unnecessary, as towels were provided at the pools onboard, in the fitness center and spa, and were also available in abundance at the dock on Castaway Cay. Additional items eliminated from the packing list!

Food/ snacks

We brought a cache of snacks and packaged food for our daughter, who is gluten-sensitive. Of course, we contacted the Disney Cruise Line about her food sensitivity in advance (must avoid wheat, oats, rye, and barley), filled out the appropriate forms, and ensured that this was annotated on our reservation. Yet, as our experience with travel elsewhere has been that gluten-sensitive accommodations are often lacking, we arrived prepared for the worst. As soon as we boarded the Disney Dream, we headed to Cabanas for lunch. We asked a passing Cast Member about speaking to the Head Server, and within moments, we were speaking to him, receiving information about the buffet, and offers of specific gluten-free products (such as bread), as well as instructions regarding our evening meal. Every meal onboard went well. This was probably the highlight of the cruise for our daughter, who has experienced restaurants being less than accommodating, occasionally misguided, and sometimes indifferent to gluten-sensitivity. Our wonderful Disney Dream servers made every meal a celebration, which included special items for our daughter. We are unaware of any instances of errors in accommodating her gluten-sensitivity. We were overwhelmed with the special attention to her dietary concerns. For our next sailing, we will eliminate that suitcase of gluten-free packaged food and snacks.


We were aware that the Key to the World Card was the exclusive method of paying for items onboard and at Castaway Cay (except for room service tips, and stamps on Castaway Cay), but just couldn’t resist bringing ample cash onboard, just in case. No, we aren’t serious shoppers, and we didn’t have a list of things to buy in Nassau. We brought home most of the cash, and asked ourselves, why did we bring cash as if we would be paying for meals/drinks/snacks/photos/souvenirs onboard with it? We could have used cash to settle our account before debarking, but, a) Who wants to spend precious onboard time waiting in that long line at Guest Services when, If you use your credit card, it is charged automatically? They place a final bill in your stateroom on the last night of the cruise, and you have nothing to do, unless there is an error). And, b) We use our Disney Visa for nearly everything possible, then pay it in full each month, yielding Disney Rewards which we put to good use.

In sum, we learned that bottled water, certain personal care items, beach towels, snacks, and excessive cash were not needed on the Disney Dream. I can’t wait for that next cruise with our shortened packing list and lighter loads!

Disney Dream - Hairdryer in Stateroom (#7022) photo
Disney Dream - Hairdryer in Stateroom (#7022)

The provided hairdryer in a stateroom on the Disney Dream. Note that it uses a European 220v plug. - photo by Dave Marx

About the Author:
Mary Augustine is retired. She has been a Disney fan since the original Micky Mouse Club was on television!

Related Links:
Disney + Disabilities = Magic! - Enjoying Disney World with Disabilities last updated 11/07/2008
Saving Money for Disney - Tips and Tricks last updated 2/25/2011
Baby Steps - Six Sanity Savers For Baby's First Trip to Walt Disney World last updated 3/7/2011
Disney Dreaming - Book Excerpt from PassPorter's Walt Disney World last updated 1/16/2009
Walt Disney World for Veteran Visitors - Finding New Things To Do last updated 1/16/2009

Reader Comments:

These are great tips. In fact, I took out $200 cash for my 8 day trip to WDW at Christmas and came back with the same $200 cash in my wallet so really you can do DCL and WDW completely without cash. Some people even buy a limited number of Disney dollars upon arrival (using debit/credit card) to give their kids or control their own spending.

     dusten on February 17, 2012 @ 12:18 am
Great article! We, too, overpacked for our first Disney Cruise. We didn't make the towel mistake, but we did bring a portable filtered water pitcher (unneeded - the water tasted fine), too many shampoos, conditioners, lotions, soaps (as you said, the Disney provided ones were wonderful), a clothes line (the Dream has one built in to the shower), an extension cord (never got it out of the suitcase), books (no time to read and relax on a 4 night cruise), and other small miscellaneous things I can't even remember now. We'll know better next time!

     Jane Banks on February 17, 2012 @ 8:54 am
Great article! We too have learned to pack less over the last several cruises! Thanks! smiley for :)

     queenofheartsfan on February 17, 2012 @ 9:17 am
Will they leave extra shampoo and conditioner for no charge if we request it? The bottles seem small and my daughter and I will use half a bottle each time.

     chaviraland on March 8, 2012 @ 1:18 pm
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Updated 02-16-2012 - Article #778 

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