I spent so much time trying to figure out how to pack for our family of three for our recent Disney Cruise. We went on a 4 night Bahamian cruise with Disney Cruise Lines as a celebration of our daughter’s 2nd Birthday AND our 4th Wedding Anniversary. This was quite a different experience from our honeymoon cruise, when all we had to worry about was ourselves. It was almost overwhelming trying to prepare for a Disney Cruise with a toddler.
In the months before the cruise, I had so many questions, especially considering S’s milk intolerance and the ship rules about not bringing food on board. I’d like to do an in-depth review of the experience from start to finish, but that would be more like a book. This will be the 1st in a two part series of our Disney Cruise Line (DCL) experience.
As this is the 1st post of 2, I’m concentrating on planning, packing, and contacting customer service. In my second post I will concentrate on reviewing the Disney Cruise experience.
How to Prepare for a Disney Cruise with a Toddler
We ended up purchasing our cruise from Expedia.com while they were running a promotion in concurrence with Disney’s on-board credit promotion. The deal gave us an extra on board credit from Expedia on top of Disney’s $100 on board credit offer.
At the time, it was the best deal we could find. I was glad I didn’t just book through Disney. That said, be sure to check out all the deals and don’t be fooled into thinking there aren’t better deals out there.
The down side to this part of the story is that Expedia did an awesome job of hiding the requirements for receiving the additional on board credit in their terms and conditions, so we missed the requirements to claim them and weren’t eligible for it any longer. Worst part is that we didn’t realize it wasn’t applied until we were already on the ship when we received the note that we only had a $100 on board credit.
If you or your family have allergies or, like in our case, a child with a milk intolerance, be sure to contact Disney. Since S is milk intolerant and possibly soy intolerant, we have had her on Almond Milk versus other milk alternatives. When I contacted Disney about their milk alternatives, they didn’t offer Almond Milk (rice and soy were the alternatives offered) so I asked if I could bring it on board.
The answer is yes – coolers are allowed for baby foods and necessary dietary restrictions. In baby girl’s case, her Almond Milk will be allowed on in an unopened original container. Homemade or opened containers, from my understanding, are not permitted. Please check with Disney about their policies BEFORE boarding!
While we really didn’t pack anything other than some Almond Milk and some extra toddler snacks, part of those snacks weren’t necessarily “baby foods” and we weren’t given any trouble in boarding. So that we didn’t have to carry a cooler, I purchased almond milk in a 4 pack of single servings and packed it into a carry on bag.
CONTACTING DISNEY CRUISE LINE
If you booked through Expedia or some other online portal, I’d recommend contacting DCL’s customer service to make sure you have things set up for your family. I sent a quick email to notify them that our daughter is celebrating her 2nd birthday, we were celebrating our 4th Anniversary, and also included that we would be in need of a high chair at dinner and crib in the cabin. They notated in our account everything that we weren’t able to include when booking with Expedia.
In a later email to them, I had to ask if we could bring our daughter on an excursion that wouldn’t let us add her to in booking online. The answer was YES, but that the system wouldn’t add her because she was FREE for the activity we were booking.
My review of their services prior to boarding the ship was satisfactory. They answered all my questions and were very quick to respond.
Here’s a list of what we packed just for baby girl:
A full sleeve of diapers (out of a box of luvs) – about twice as many as we ended up needing
2 packages of Huggies Swim Diapers – this was more than 1 full bag too many for us
5 bathing suits – again, too many as we didn’t utilize more than 1 a day
2 sets of water shoes
UV Protective Swim Hat
A 4 pack of shelf-stable almond milk (for her milk sensitivity)
A small stroller (we have a Combi folding stroller that has a strap for easy carry) – this is helpful both on and off the ship! Look for more information in the 2nd post.
Plus, check out my friend’s post on 10 items you didn’t know you needed for a disney cruise.
Found on Disney Cruise Line’s Website, here was the suggested dining attire for our cruise:
On 4-night cruises:
First night: cruise casual—no shorts, swimwear or tank tops
One pirate or tropical night (deck party)
One “optional dress-up night”—jacket for men, dress or pantsuit for women
Final night: cruise casual—no shorts, swimwear or tank tops
We ended up packing at least 2 outfits per day (one day time outfit and one dinner outfit worn the remainder of the evening). Hubby packed 2 bathing suits and I packed 3 for myself. I honestly think we all could have packed a little lighter and possibly utilized the laundry service (if you don’t mind wearing the same clothes more than once on your cruise.
Have any questions about how to prepare for Disney Cruise with a toddler? I was kind of lost as a first timer myself, so I’d love to help if I can.