10 Things to Pack in Your Carry-On for Your Disney Cruise

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Let’s talk packing for your Disney Cruise!  When you arrive at the port, you will drop off your big luggage with the porters, and you won’t see it again until it appears outside your stateroom door several hours later.  With your luggage taken care of, you can also hand carry as much as you want onto the ship, it just has to fit on the belt to go through the x-ray scanner.  Don’t carry too much though. Your room won’t be ready until 1:30 pm, so you’re stuck with whatever you carried on until then.  So, what exactly should you carry on?  I have suggestions below.  Ten of them, of course.

1. Proof of Citizenship – This is, hands down, the most important thing on your list. Everything else, as they say, can be purchased. There are no exceptions, you will need proper proof of citizenship to board.  Do not accidentally pack this in your luggage and give it to the porters.  Proof of citizenship requirements vary based on itinerary, and can change, so I’ll take you right to the source:  Disney lists the current requirements here.  Don’t get left behind!

2. Documents – Depending on the cruise, and what document type you select, Disney will mail you documents beforehand. It may be a super cute booklet about your cruise that you will keep forever, for no rational reason whatsoever, or it may be just a few sheets of paper about your cruise. Bring them! It’s not the end of the world if you forget them, we all know you won’t be the first person to forget them, but at many ports, the person admitting you to the building asks to see them.  It will speed things along if you have them.

3. Swim Gear – Put your swimsuit in your carry-on, or at least put your children’s swimsuits in your carry-on. Once your kids lay eyes on those pools and splash zones, they’re going to want to get wet.  That means they probably do not have the patience to wait until your luggage shows up a few hours later.  Bring your swimsuits with you, and voila – no waiting!  There are several bathrooms out on the pool deck where you can change, and there are towels on the pool deck for you to use.  Swimming may also require you to bring a few other things like sunscreen, a waterproof case for your phone, or the usual swimming accoutrements your family uses.

4. Medication – If you have any medications you need on a daily basis, don’t put them in your checked luggage, especially if you are going to need your meds before dinner! There’s a chance you won’t see your checked luggage until close to dinner time.  Even if you don’t need your meds before dinner, keep them in your carry-on bag.  Odds are infinitesimal that your luggage will be lost, but it’s still safer to have your meds with you.

5. Alcohol – Disney has restrictions on how much alcohol you can bring on board, but you can bring some. Each adult can bring two (unopened) bottles of wine or champagne, or a six-pack of beer. If you imbibe, that’s good news for you!  Cheap(er) alcohol!  You cannot pack it in your suitcase, however–it must be in a carry-on.  FYI, you can bring the same amount on at each port of call, so if you want to replenish in port, go for it.

6. Water – If you prefer a certain kind of bottled water that Disney doesn’t carry, or just flat out don’t want to pay Disney’s prices, you can bring on as much as you want. You are only limited by what you can carry around with you (and what fits through the x-ray machine)! You can’t put it in your checked luggage, so you will have to place it in your carry-on or just flat out carry it.  Sometimes porters will offer to slap a room tag on your case of water and deliver it to your room, but you can’t count on it!

7. Lanyards for First Timers – If you’ve ever sailed with Disney before, you will get a lanyard when you check in. If you haven’t sailed with Disney, you may want to bring your own. I find the lanyards super handy to hold my Key to the World card.  I love not having to carry a purse around with me all day, or worry about something falling out of my pockets. (If I even have pockets.  #womanclothingproblem)

8. Door Magnets – It’s never too early to decorate your door. And let’s face it, door magnets don’t take up much room in your suitcase. Well, most don’t.  I’ve seen some crazy door decorations on board!  I do like to put mine in my carry-on and put them up right away.  If you have kids that are roaming the ship, it makes it easier for them to find your stateroom, not to mention, they’re just festive.

9. Valuables – I have never, ever had anything stolen from my bags, but it’s still a good idea to keep valuables with you. Some electronics especially, like laptops, aren’t really made to be thrown around in a suitcase. And my word, the thought of someone dropping a bag with my camera in it gives me heart palpitations.  So, keep them with you!  I keep a small rolling bag with me full of those kinds of things.

10. Dinner Clothes – There’s a chance you won’t have your clothes from your checked luggage before dinner, or before that pre-dinner activity you don’t want to miss. IF you want to change for dinner, make sure you put your clothes in a carry-on. The first night on board will almost certainly be cruise-casual, so you’re safe to wear what you boarded in (assuming it wasn’t a swimsuit or tank top) if you are having dinner in one of the main dining rooms.  If, however, you are dining in Palo or Remy, boarding clothes just won’t do!  Well, unless your boarding clothes are very different than mine…

Bonus – Coke Zero!  Okay, it doesn’t have to be Coke Zero, and most of the ships have Coke Zero on tap now!  Woohoo!  But if Disney doesn’t carry your preferred brand of soda, you are welcome to carry as much as you want on with you (again, you have to get it through the x-ray machine).  And as with other drinks, they must be in your carry-on. Do not put them in your checked bag.  But really, is putting cans of soda in a bag that’s going to be thrown around a good idea anyway?  I’m thinking no.

How about you?  Is there anything else you pack in your carry-on?  Share with us!

Tammy Whiting is the owner of Storybook Destinations. Did you know Storybook Destinations offers a complimentary subscription to TouringPlans with qualified Disney and Universal bookings? Click here for a no-obligation quote on your next vacation!

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Tammy Whiting

Tammy has been a lover of all things Disney for most of her life. There’s nowhere on this Earth she’d rather be than on a Disney cruise with her family. She’s a Space Force wife and proud mom of two wonderful children and one beautiful daughter-in-law . She fulfilled a lifelong dream in 2008 and became a travel agent specializing in Disney vacations. She now owns her own travel agency - Storybook Destinations. You can reach Tammy at Tammy@StorybookDestinations.com.

9 thoughts on “10 Things to Pack in Your Carry-On for Your Disney Cruise

  • April 1, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    Coke Zero. Is it just the Fantasy that doesn’t have it in the soda fountains?

    • April 1, 2019 at 6:51 pm

      The Dream still doesn’t have it on tap either unless it was added very recently! I would LOVE to be wrong on that! 🙂

  • April 1, 2019 at 11:13 pm

    This was my very first cruise with 7 women. When I checked in they told me that1st time cruiser did not get Lanyards. I even told them that I would pay for one. They came back and told me that they could lose their job if they did.

    Very disappointed.

    Just want your company to train your employees the correct way and not to lie to the customers.

  • April 2, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    If you’re swimming before your room is open, does your carry-on luggage just hangout at the pool?

    • April 2, 2019 at 1:47 pm

      Mine would! I would put it in a chair where I could see it and be fine. But your room will be open by 1:30. So dropping off carry-ons there isn’t too hard! The main reason to bring swimsuits in your carry-on, is that your luggage may not be there for a few hours after that.

  • June 20, 2022 at 1:50 pm

    I haven’t been on a Disney cruise yet, but have done a lot of traveling. I would include a small toiletries bag in my carry-on. As you mentioned Tammy, it could be hours before seeing any checked luggage. So a small bag of basic toiletries and preferred skincare products are a must if wanting to freshen up once on board.

  • August 11, 2022 at 1:17 pm

    I may have missed it but I see it keeps saying it must fit in the x-ray machine, do you know the max. size of a carry on that will fit in the x-ray machine at the port? Thank you!

    • August 11, 2022 at 2:31 pm

      Hmm. Good question! I’ve never seen measurements! It’s a pretty big size though! I’ve seen some big things go through!


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