Planning for a cruise can be just as much fun as actually sailing on a cruise! For some, the planning process can be overwhelming, with not knowing what to expect, important dates to remember, and just the fear of forgetting something.
I’ve sailed on 20 Disney Cruise Line (DCL) cruises so far, with more cruises booked, including on the new Disney Wish! Over the years I have sailed on several WDW Radio cruises with Lou Mongello and friends. One of the benefits of sailing with WDW Radio is being in a private Facebook Group for the cruise. One thing I have enjoyed in these groups is providing Tips and Tricks for sailing on Disney Cruise Line. With so many Tips & Tricks compiled, I thought it would be nice to share them with everyone who is considering a cruise, already booked, or even an avid DCL sailor.
Your stateroom, your home away from home. I decided not to talk about which category or location to choose; inside, verandah, forward, midship, aft, etc., instead I want to talk about what to bring with you to make life aboard a Disney cruise more organized, relaxed, and enjoyable.
Decorating Your Door
One of my favorite things to plan is how are we going to decorate our stateroom door for each cruise! It’s a fun way to start your cruise and an even better way to find your stateroom when walking down a long corridor of endless doors that all look alike. Over the years I have seen so many creative door decorations on the ships. This may be due in part to Lou’s WDW Radio Cruises having a door decorating contest, you can read about that here . My favorite door magnets are the cute little country flag Mickey heads I have made for the over 22 countries we have sailed to with DCL. They are easy to make as well as easy to pack. I also love adding a set of Mickey EARs to our door number, and then each day I change out the hat or add a special embellishment based on what we are doing that day. For special cruises like the Marvel Day at Sea, Halloween on the High Seas, and Very Merrytime cruises I have also purchased or made magnets that fit those particular cruises. Oh, and don’t forget to add a magnet if you are celebrating a special occasion. The choices are endless! Not the creative one? Even just family photos with magnets on the back look great. You can even order stateroom door magnets from Etsy and other online selling platforms.
The approximate sizes of the stateroom porthole door number for making Mickey ears:
- Disney Magic & Disney Wonder – 7-1/2″
- Disney Dream & Disney Fantasy – 7″
Disney Cruise Line allows guests to only use magnets to decorate stateroom doors, and if damage occurs you can be charged a fee for repairs – so don’t use tape or adhesives! The Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy Concierge doors are wood, and magnets will not work. I’ve been told that super strong magnets will work on the Concierge door on the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder.
It is important to know what is allowed in your stateroom and what is prohibited, so please always check the DCL website for the most accurate and up-to-date information. Also, DCL has guidelines for decorating your stateroom and does not allow you to put anything on the verandahs.
Bonus Tip: Dry Erase Board – Another fun tip is to bring a magnetic dry erase board to hang on your door (hang one on the inside and the outside too) – it’s a great way to let your stateroom mates know where you are or to make other reminder notes.
A common question asked is regarding how much luggage storage space is available inside the staterooms. Well, Disney being Disney, has thought of that when it came to designing all stateroom categories. The closets, while not huge, do offer space for storing some pieces of luggage. But the nicest place to store your luggage is under the bed! DCL has raised the beds just enough to accommodate luggage while still making it easy to climb into bed after a long day exploring. I’ve also been told that car seats can be stored in the closet, and some will even fit under the bed.
Bonus Tip: Hangers! After you pack on the last day (sorry for bringing this up), lay the hangers on the floor of the closet. This will prevent them from rattling all night, especially when docking early in the morning. Those thrusters can really vibrate the ship! Don’t forget to hang them back up before you head out to breakfast! Plus, it’s a great way to make sure you didn’t forget anything in the closet.
There are plenty of shelves and cubbies inside the closet, bathroom, and desk area to stash those items that can’t be hung in the closet. But, since we all probably overpack for a cruise I wanted to share a few space saving tips for storing things in the bathroom.
One of the magical features of a DCL stateroom is the split bathroom concept! Most of the staterooms have a split bathroom – the full bathroom has a tub-shower combo, vanity, and sink and the half bath has a toilet, vanity, and sink. This makes getting ready so much easier for families. Concierge bathroom configurations can vary by category and ship. While the accessible staterooms only have one oversized bathroom to accommodate a wheelchair.
Toothbrush Holder & Toiletry Bag with Hook
Both bathrooms have shelves for storing items, but they often get filled up quickly. There are also convenient knobs in the bathroom walls to hang toiletry bags, clothes, or towels. And there is a pull-out clothesline to hang wet clothes on to dry. We have found that hanging our toothbrushes with suction cup holders on the mirror can free up space on the small counters. And a hanging toiletry bag makes getting ready even faster – plus you can easily move the toiletry bag from the bathroom to the room if needed! If your stateroom is filled to capacity, adults can also shower down at the Senses Spa & Salon (pre-COVID, should hopefully be available again soon)!
Also, Disney Cruise Line provides large pump bottles of H2O Shampoo, Conditioner, and Body Wash in each shower, so no need to bring a lot of little bottles unless you need to. On a recent cruise I noticed the addition of a pump bottle of soap and lotion in the bathroom along with a bar of soap, some people also choose to bring a pump bottle of sanitizing soap with them.
Bonus Tip: Bathroom Door – 1. make sure that you actually close the bathroom door, and it latches, otherwise it may open and swing freely while you’re in there or worse, during the night while you are asleep on the open sea. – 2. Be careful if you like to take a hot shower. If you open the door too quickly, you may set off the smoke/heat detector in your stateroom! I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with the bridge on several occasions asking if everything was ok in my stateroom because the alarm went off. And it is loud!
Bonus Tip: Don’t pack too much, I’ve learned over the years to not over pack as I don’t tend to change clothes as much as I think I will. And Google your ship and stateroom number to see if there is a video tour or photos of your stateroom!
Never under-estimate the magic of a magnetic clip! From using it to keep your blinds closed to keeping your towel secure at the pool or beach – check out this article I wrote for the WDW Radio Blog. I also discovered neodymium magnets with hooks work great on the stateroom walls.
Extra Card for Light Switch
Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy only
Back in 2011, when the Disney Dream set sail a new concept to DCL was revealed – having to insert your Key To The World card to turn on your stateroom lights and run the A/C. In 2017 I wrote a blog post on how to solve the problem of accidently forgetting your KTTW card in your stateroom. While we do not know what technology the Disney Wish will utilize when it sails in July 2022, I still recommend bringing an extra card on your cruise.
USB Multi-Port Charger
The new way to access everything from your rotational dining schedule to activities is with the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App which I explained briefly in part 1 of this series. Well, using your phone more requires charging it back up during the night. The Disney Magic and Disney Wonder are the oldest ships in the fleet, from 1998 and 1999, and therefore do not have a lot of USB/charging options in the staterooms. Remember to pack a multi-port USB charging hub no matter which ship you are sailing on. You are allowed to bring these onboard, just not a power strip that you might use for larger items like a computer.
Soap and Sponge
Dish soap is essential to bring on a Disney cruise and I wrote about it in a previous Tip of the Week blog post! Many cruisers bring a refillable mug or bottle with them to use for the duration of the cruise. For sanitary purposes, the 24/7 beverage stations onboard each ship ask you to use a new paper cup each time you fill up and to not fill directly into your own mug/bottle but to fill from the paper cup. To keep our refillable bottles clean, we wash them out with soap each night in our stateroom. We also bring a few paper towels, so we have a designated surface for our bottles to dry on. A friend suggested bringing small sponges, wet them at home and add soap, let dry and them use on the ship.
A fun feature of a Disney ship is that the walls are magnetic! So, bring some extra hooks with magnets to take advantage of this space saving idea. These will come in handy as you cannot use tape or adhesive strips and no over the door hangers are allowed for shoes, etc. as they damage the door, and you may be charged for repairs. Bring a handful of neodymium magnets, with and without hooks, that you can order online.
Launderette & Iron
No one on vacation wants to do laundry, but in case you must, DCL has made it convenient. A launderette is available on most of the stateroom decks. One thing I have noticed over the years is that they tend to be staggered from forward to aft on the different decks. So, the closest one to you might be a quick jaunt up or down a flight of stairs instead of walking to the other end of the ship on the same deck. Be sure to check out the deck plans for your ship and locate the launderette location closest to your stateroom. Not only can you wash and dry clothes for a nominal fee ($3 each for washer and dryer, and charged to your Key To The World card), but an iron is also available free of charge. I like to iron a few days’ worth of clothes at one time as ironing can draw a crowd close to dinner times. And best of all, the washers and dryers communicate with you via text on the DCL Navigator App so you do no need to sit in the launderette while your clothes are washing. You can bring your own detergent and dryer sheets, or they are available for a $1 each. You can also choose to send your clothes out to be laundered and ironed, I personally have never tried this service.
There is plenty of signage to help you find the launderettes.
Bonus Tip: Bring a pop-up hamper! Even if you do not plan to do laundry, the hamper is a great way to keep the stateroom clean and clutter free and should fit in most closets. Some friends have even just packed the full hamper in their luggage to make laundry after the cruise easier.
Infant & Toddler Essentials
As mentioned above, we all tend to over pack, but when it comes to traveling with little sailors there are some things you can request to have in your stateroom to make your cruise more enjoyable. You can request a Pack ’N Play or similar convertible crib, for children under 35 inches tall, by calling Guest Services at (800) 951-3532 once your cruise is paid in full or through Guest Services before you sail, or once you’ve boarded the ship. Please note that cribs and baby items are furnished at no extra charge but are subject to availability. You can also request a bottle warmer, bottle sterilizer, distilled water, a diaper disposal unit by emailing the Special Services Team at SpecialServices@disneycruise.com, or checking with your stateroom host once onboard. Other baby essentials like diapers and wipes are available in the gift shop at a very high price, so make sure to bring as many as you need with you in your luggage.
Over the years I have traveled in various types of staterooms to understand the feel and how they work when traveling. The one category that is a must for me is the stateroom with a verandah! There’s nothing like opening the sliding door and hearing the ocean passing by or enjoying a cup of coffee out there in the morning while you are pulling into a port.
- While there are a limited number of connecting staterooms, most of the verandahs on DCL (especially the newer ships) are able to open between two or three staterooms. Your stateroom host can open the divider between your verandahs and guests you are sailing with, so that you can enjoy a larger space or go between two staterooms that don’t necessarily have a connecting door in the room.
- The sliding doors are pretty much childproof. There is an upper latch that even I have to reach up to unlatch, along with a security lock that only works in a certain direction.
- A hairdryer and styling tool mat are provided in your stateroom.
- A mini refrigerator/cooler is also in the stateroom, great for chilling drinks, fruit, etc.
- Turn lights off (pull gift card up on the light switch on Dream & Fantasy), close verandah door (a/c), close blinds when sun is shining directly in – especially when leaving the stateroom for the day.
- Sometimes your stateroom host will wrap up your phone cords with little Velcro bands – super nice and unexpected
- There is a blue nightlight in the stateroom ceiling (Disney Wonder and Disney Magic) that glows near the bed, so you do not need to turn on the lights in the middle of the night, you just need to play with the switches by the desk/mirror area to find it.
- Bring a battery operated tealight to add a little light in the room in case you don’t have the blue light in your stateroom. This way you don’t have to turn on the overhead lights or bathroom light in the middle of the night.
- CPAP users – can request a gallon of distilled water before or once onboard. And if you need an extension cord for the CPAP machine you can ask your stateroom host for one as extensions cords are on the prohibited list.
- Notebook and pen – Do you like to write notes or jot down reminders? Bring a notebook of paper as these items were not provided on my last cruise in February.
- Prohibited item list: https://disneycruise.disney.go.com/faq/prohibited-items/list/
- Request Special Services form: https://disneycruise.disney.go.com/special-services-information-form/
I could go on and on about your stateroom and I hope these 27 Tips & Tricks will make life easier at sea on your next cruise. Do you have any tips for the stateroom you would like to share? Write them in the comments below.
My Tips & Tricks are based on my own experiences and questions asked by fellow cruisers and on sailing on the Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, and Disney Fantasy as of May 1, 2022 and is subject to change at any time. Of course, you do not need to bring any extra items to make your cruise a wonderful experience.
Next up: Embarkation Day Tips & Tricks
50-ish Tips & Tricks for Sailing with Disney Cruise Line – Series Links:
Are you thinking about sailing on a Disney Cruise? Let me know in the comments below.
(Logo property of Vanessa Prince. Door dimensions taken from Pinterest. Stateroom with crib from Disneycruisemomblog. All other photos from the collection of Vanessa Prince.)