If you’re headed out on a Disney Cruise Line sailing, you’re going to bring some personal belongings with you. Those belongings will have to be packed in some sort of bag, backpack, suitcase, duffle, or other container – in other words, luggage. Here’s everything you need to know about luggage and Disney Cruise Line.
Is there a limit to the number of bags I’m allowed to bring on my Disney Cruise Line sailing?
The limit is theoretically two bags per person (Disney provides each guest with two luggage tags), but in practice this is much more loosey-goosey than bringing bags onto an airplane.
If you try to bring a dozen bags onboard the ship, then someone might notice, but if you brought two checked-bag-size suitcases, plus a carry-on-size roller bag, plus a purse, plus a backpack, no one would particularly know or care. Your real issue with bringing that much stuff would be storing everything in your stateroom, rather than being denied boarding.
Guests with small children will sometimes bring their full allotment of suitcases plus a case of something like diapers and DCL has no problem with this.
Are there size limits to the bags I’m allowed to bring on board?
There are no stated size limits for bags that porters bring onto the ship for you. Again, you should keep in mind the amount of storage space in a DCL stateroom, but the exact dimensions of a checked bag don’t matter too much.
There are size limits for bags that you carry on to the ship yourself. Any bag that you carry on yourself will be x-ray scanned, just like at an airport. The maximum size allowed to fit into the scanner is 22″ high, 14″ wide, and 9″ deep. (I’ve personally found that there is some fudge room on the depth if you have an odd-shaped tote or backpack, but those are DCL’s stated rules so your mileage may vary.)
DCL mailed me luggage tags. What do I do with them?
If you’ve booked your sailing more than about five weeks in advance, DCL will send you a small folder in the mail that includes some basic information about your sailing as well as two luggage tags per person in your sailing party. They look similar to the tag an airline uses to identify your bag when you’re flying, but they will be printed with the DCL logo, your name, your ship’s name, your sail date, your reservation number, and some bar codes.
These tags should be affixed to the handle of your luggage on the morning of your sailing. If you’re flying to your embarkation port, you should avoid putting the DCL tags on your bags prior to your flight. They could unnecessarily confuse your airline.
The tags are used to identify you bags as they make their way from the porters, onto the ship, and as they’re sorted and delivered to your stateroom.
Help! I didn’t get luggage tags in the mail. What do I do?
Don’t worry. Guests who booked their sailing late, who have moved just prior to sailing, or who are traveling in the weeks prior to their cruise may not receive their luggage tags. If you didn’t get luggage tags, or if you’ve lost your luggage tags, simply tell this to the porters near the ship on embarkation day. They have a stash of blank tags and will hand write you a replacement.
Do I have to “check in” my DCL luggage?
It depends on the size of your bags. If you’re on a short 3 or 4 night sailing, you may not be bringing much on board with you. If you only have a small amount of luggage and it all fits in the port scanner, then you’re not required to check anything.
Can I check in all my DCL luggage?
I mean, you could, but I would advise against this. First, you should NEVER have several key items out of your possession when you travel. These include things like boarding documents, ID items such as passports or birth certificates, prescription medications, electronics, jewelry, a child’s main “lovey” or comfort item, and anything else that would difficult or expensive to replace.
For DCL travel, you should also keep with you any item that you might need for your first half day on the ship. You could board as early as 11:00 a.m. and your luggage might not be delivered to your stateroom until 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. Think about what you might need during that period – A change of clothes? A swimsuit? Child care items? Those should be in a bag that you hand-carry onto the ship yourself.
If I bring all that stuff onto the ship with me, will I have to carry it around all day?
Not all day, but depending on what time you board the ship, you might have to tote it around with you for a few hours.
You will have to keep anything you bring on board yourself with you until your staterooms opens. This time varies a bit by port and itinerary, but you can typically expect that you will have access to your cabin between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. So, bring everything on board with you that’s mission critical, but not so much that you couldn’t cart it around yourself for a couple of hours.
I’m only bringing carry-on luggage to the ship, do I need to use the luggage tags?
If you’re on a short cruise and only have, say, a small backpack or purse and a carry-on size roller bag, you’re allowed to keep these with you and bring them aboard the ship yourself. Since the bags will never be out of your possession, you’re not required to tag them. That said, you may want to do it anyway. Let’s say you and your roller bag stop to eat lunch at Cabana’s before your stateroom is ready. You finish your food and head off to explore more of the ship and, oops, you forgot to bring your suitcase with you. (This happens more than you think.) If your bag is tagged with your name and stateroom number, you’ll be able to recover it more quickly than if it is unlabeled.
Anything else I should know about carry-on bags?
I mentioned things that you should carry on yourself, but DCL also has a list of things you must carry on yourself. Chief among these items are any food or beverage. You may bring sealed, packaged food and non-alcoholic drinks, as well a limited quantity of alcoholic beverages, with you onto the ship. These are only allowed as carry-on items. So, yes, you can bring a case of water or soda with you, but you’ll have to tote it around the ship yourself until your stateroom is ready. (It’s fine if you put a case of water, for example, in a roller suitcase, but it has to be a carry-on size bag that you transport onto the ship yourself.)
What exactly happens with my bags at the port on embarkation day? Talk me through the process.
OK – Let’s assume that you are in possession of all your own luggage when you arrive at the port. This will be the case if you drive yourself to the port or if you arrive via rideshare (Uber/Lyft/taxi) or limo. In this situation:
- Pull up to the port and look for signs that say “Baggage Drop-Off”
- There will be porters there who will make sure your bags have luggage tags and ask you a few basic questions (Are you sure your boarding documents are not in the bag you’re about to drop off, for example.)
- Give the bags you’re checking-in to one of the porters. (In the photo below, the porters are in red shirts.)
- Tip your porter (see below).
- Go park your car (if you have one) and then head toward the port building to show your cruise documents and board the ship.
- The next time you’ll see your checked luggage is when your stateroom host delivers it to the hallway outside your stateroom sometime during the late afternoon.
If you’re arriving at the port via a Disney bus (from the airport or a WDW hotel), DCL staff will take your checked bags from the bus to the ship, allowing you to bypass the steps with the porters.
Do I need to tip the porter who takes my bag at embarkation?
No one is forcing you to do this, but it is customary. If you have one or two bags, a standard tip is about $5.00. If you have three or four bags, tip about $10.00. Anything more merits a $20.00 tip.
Is larger luggage screened at the port?
Yes. All luggage is x-ray scanned at the port. Smaller bags that you bring on board yourself go through a small scanner similar to what you’d see at a TSA checkpoint at the airport. Larger bags are scanned in larger machines behind the scenes.
You and your possessions will also be scanned as you re-embark the ship at every port.
What are they looking for during luggage screening?
The things that you’d think would be prohibited are prohibited – weapons and illegal drugs are not allowed on the ship. If you attempt to bring them on, you run the very real risk of being denied boarding and possibly being referred to legal authorities. Also, anything with the potential to start a fire is not allowed on the ship. In addition to the most obvious prohibited items, there is a large list of otherwise benign items that are not permitted on a cruise ship. For more details, see our post on items you can’t bring on your Disney cruise.
On the other hand, you are able to bring some items onto the ship that would not be allowed on an airplane. For example, you’re able to bring a Costco-sized bottle of shampoo, or even a case of factory-sealed water bottles in your carry-on bag, neither of which would be allowed on an airplane. If you have any questions call DCL directly at (800) 951-3532 (US & CA) or have your travel agent do so on your behalf.
Where can I put my suitcases in my stateroom?
All DCL staterooms have at least two closets plus space under the bed where you can store suitcases. The distance from the stateroom floor to the underside of the bed is approximately 14 inches. meaning the most suitcases will be able to lie flat under the bed. The primary beds in most staterooms are queen-sized and can usually accommodate four suitcases underneath.
The closets in the staterooms vary in size depending on your stateroom type, but even the smallest closets will fit at least a carry-on size suitcase and more will fit at least one checked-size suitcase.
If I don’t want to bring lots of luggage, is there a place where I can do laundry on board the Disney ships?
Yes, every Disney Cruise Line vessel has laundry facilities available for guest use, as well as fee-based dry cleaning and pressing services. On sailings of a week or longer, you’ll find that the onboard laundry rooms are heavily used. See our complete FAQ on DCL Laundry for more information.
I made lots of purchases in port, is there a place on the ship where I can buy an extra suitcase?
The onboard gift shops typically carry one or two styles of suitcase in both carry-on and checked baggage sizes, as well as a few sizes and styles of tote bags. Prices change, but you can expect to pay somewhere in the ballpark of $150 to $200 for a wheeled suitcase.
Be aware that the ships have limited quantities of all merchandise. While this is unusual, they may sell out of suitcases.
Can I get help taking my luggage off the ship on disembarkation day?
Yes, depending on whether you elect to for standard debarkation or express walk-off debarkation. See our tips for debarkation day for more information.
I’m on back-to-back DCL sailings, what do I do with my luggage?
Lucky you! If you’re on two consecutive sailings of the same ship, you’ll be in one of two situations: staying in the same stateroom or moving to a different stateroom.
If you’re staying in the same stateroom, you can leave your belonging on the ship, unpacked, exactly where you want them to be for your second sailing. If you’re moving staterooms, you’ll have to pack your belonging into your suitcases. Your stateroom host can then arrange for them to be moved to your new cabin. You don’t have to take your luggage off the ship. In either case, be sure to communicate with your stateroom host so he or she understands your situation.
Any other tips?
These are not DCL specific, but any time you travel you should take a photo of the exterior (and possibly the interior) of your suitcase. If your bag goes missing, this can help with recovery. I’m also a big fan of placing an Apple AirTag or other similar tracking devices in my suitcase when I travel.
If you’re traveling with several family members you may want to put a few everyone’s items in each suitcase, rather than putting all of one person’s items in a single case. In the unlikely event that one suitcase gets lost, no one would be fully without belongings.