Preparing for a Disney Cruise with a Baby

As I prepare for my young daughter’s first cruise I thought it might be helpful to talk through some of the ways I’ve tried to get ready for sailing with a baby! Anyone who has traveled with a baby knows it’s not easy, but something tells me all this preparation will be very much worth it in the end.

IMG_3079

  1. Think about the basics: diapers, baby food, cribs. How are you going to secure these things for your trip? First, once you’re paid in full you can call and request (or do it right online from your DCL account!) a pack and play for your stateroom, and a high chair for your dinner table. Older babies will be able to enjoy the wonderful Disney Cruise Line food, but make sure you pack some purees if that’s all your baby will eat. Kitchens on DCL cruise ships will puree vegetables for your baby in the main dining rooms and through room service, but it’s always good to have a backup! If the baby is still on formula you may want to consider carrying on or ordering bottled water for making the baby’s bottles. Diapers are available for purchase on the ship, but they are expensive so consider packing your own. Complimentary diaper disposal units, bottle warmers, and bottle sterilizers are also available through DCL guest services.
  2. Sign up for some time in the nursery. From your DCL account online you can sign your baby up for some time in the nursery under “My Cruise Activities”. This is a great way to ensure you still get to enjoy some of the adults only areas of the ship like Palo or Remy and the adults only pool!
  3. Easier said than done, I know, but try to pack light if you can. I’m still going to bring a stroller for my daughter, but a small one as space in the cabin to store things is limited.
  4. Excursions aren’t just for adults! Many port adventures have a minimum age of 6 months (the same age limit to sail on DCL), meaning the whole family can enjoy these activities together so make sure to plan some of these in advance.
  5. If you’re going to the beach at Castaway Cay there are complimentary wagons available on a first come first served basis. This will  help you contain all those baby necessities, so do pack whatever you need for the beach!

Have fun! If you go into your Disney Cruise knowing there’s no way you can be prepared for all situations your baby is going to throw at you, you’re going to have a great time. What could be better!

Disney Cruise Line Packing Tips

Dear highly intelligent reader, we know that you can choose your clothes with no problem for your cruise.  That part is usually tricky to be general, because you have to dress for your cruise.  We know you wouldn’t dress for an Alaskan sailing the same way you would a Caribbean cruise.  So here are some other items you may want to consider packing, what to leave at home and what you should carry on for your cruise.

What to bring on  your cruise:

USB plug- This is a simple 2 prong plug that can charge multiple USB devices.  A true must have for the modern family especially on vacation with limited wall outlets.

Refillable Mugs- if you are coming from Walt Disney World bring your mug along.  If you aren’t then consider packing an insulated mug or cup for each person.  I found this nice to carry around since mine had handles which made it easy to carry multiple cups at the same time.  Plus I could carry around a hot beverage and it would stay hot longer, same with the iced drinks too.  What else can the cups do?  Well if you have extra glasses or sunglasses these mugs are perfect for transporting the glasses while you are in transit.

mugs

Soapy Sponges- I know, I know.  You will want a dry sponge and coat it in dish soap.  Let it air dry a day or two then cut it into smaller pieces.  The pieces can go in a baggie and you have something to clean those refillable mugs, or sippy cups or whatever else you bring along.  Then when you’ve used it up, go ahead and toss it.  This is a must for me because I switch from coffee in the morning to water later so I need to get the cup washed out.

Sunscreen- You can purchase on the ship but save yourself big bucks and bring your own.

Bug Spray- You will probably not need it on the ship but if you are getting off the ship you will want to make sure you are covered in this area too.

Sweater/Jacket- this applies more to the warm weather cruises, but the temperatures can drop at night and the dining rooms can be downright chilly at dinner.  I like to stick with basic black, navy or white so I can wear it more than once saving room in my luggage.

Beer or Wine- Yep you can bring that too!  Check out the alcohol policy first but it is pretty nice to be able to enjoy a beverage or two while you relax on your verandah.

Dressy Clothes- You may not have a formal night on your cruise, but you can get some great family picture when everyone is relaxed and having a great time.  The dressier clothes just add some classiness to the cruise.

Gum- if you are a gum chewer you will need to bring your own!

Highlighters- Ideally you will want one color for each person in your party.  You can use these to highlight activities in your Daily Navigator that you want to do.  The colors can help you all differentiate who wants to do which activity.  Much easier than circling then trying to figure out who want to do that (not that I would know anything about that, ha).

Extra batteries- you will be taking a lot of pictures!  If you are using a camera other than your phone you will want to make sure you have plenty of juice to take those amazing photos.

What to pack in your carry on when getting on the cruise ship:

If is it before the time when stateroom are open you may have some time where you will be unable to access your luggage.  It is always a good idea to have a small bag, backpack or carry on luggage until the time when the staterooms are open.

Swimsuit- The best time to get in the pools and on the water slides right is as you get on the ship.  Or even better wear your swimsuit under your clothes and take extra clothes in your carry on.  Towels are provided by the pools.

IMG_3510

Medication- VERY important, always keep this in your carry on.  You never know when luggage services may be delayed so it is key to keep this with you!

Valuables- Jewelry, electronics and any other thing of value should be in your carry on just to be safe!

Sunscreen- It might be worth packing this into your carry on baggage especially if you are hitting up the pool areas.

Extra clothes- Especially with children it is nice to have a change of clothes available in emergencies. Or if you an adult like me who seems to spill things at the worst possible times.

Chargers- Whether you have an external battery source or plan to plug into the outlet this is something that can be helpful to have.

What to leave at home:

Hard liquor- Sorry friends, Disney no longer allows this.  And we wouldn’t recommend trying to sneak it on.  They will find it!

Power Strips- This is on the banned list from DCL.  Go ahead and bring that USB outlet and leave this one at home.

Hanging Organizers- These can damage doors, so unless you have a large party with a lot of small items in tow, this is something you can leave behind.

Snacks- No reason to bring food unless you are on a special diet.  You can get food at all hours of the day and night in the many dining rooms, quick service areas, and room service.  You will not go hungry!

Beach Towels- Disney provides beach towels at each pool area and they are always plentiful.  Of course if you find you want the really oversized towels then by all means bring one.  But this is definitely a waste of space.

Too many clothes- Disney Cruise Line has washers, dryers, laundry soap, irons and large sinks available for guest use.  I believe I paid $3 to do a load of laundry which is downright cheap for Disney.  Just know that you can do a quick load and not waste any time of your vacation and save you the headache of over packing!

As always we want to hear what you think is important for packing for a Disney Cruise!

IMG_1526

 

Top FIVE Things to have in your carryon for Disney World!

While some Disney fans are close enough to drive to Disney, others like myself must take a plane. Air travel does add an extra layer of planning, as you have to decide what you can pack in a single suitcase instead of your entire trunk! Not only that but you also have to plan what things can go in that suitcase, which you may not see for several hours (but don’t have to lug to your resort, thanks to Magical Express!) and which things you need in your carry on bag. This week we’re going to talk about 5 things you should carry on the plane if you’re on your way to Walt Disney World.

2009.jpg

  1. Your Magic Bands! You’ll use these to scan at the Magical Express check-in, and more importantly you’ll need them if they are linked to your tickets and you plan on heading straight to a park after you check in at your resort!
  2. A change of clothes. For many different reasons a change of clothes is a good idea to have in your carry on. Sometimes luggage is delayed, or what if the weather where you’re coming from is very different from that in Orlando? Bring that change of clothes! Optional: a bathing suit too, if you plan on hopping in the pool at your resort.
  3. Your good camera. The photo worthy memories start right away at Walt Disney World! If you’re going to the Magic Kingdom first thing, you’re definitely going to want to capture that first glimpse of the castle.
  4. A hard copy of your Disney reservations. Your mileage may vary on this one, but I’m old school. The My Disney Experience app and Magic Bands are a fantastic addition to the Disney World resort experience, but I prefer to have a hard copy print out of my confirmation numbers…. just in case!
  5. Some form of entertainment for you and the children. So this is probably a no brainer, but you’re going to need to remain entertained during your flight. Not only that, but keep in mind you’ll also be waiting in line at the airport for Magical Express (hopefully not long!) and then the bus ride to your resort can take a while. More waiting at the resort to check-in (again, hopefully not long!). That’s a lot of waiting for kids and adults! Make sure you have some things in your back pocket to keep everyone busy while they wait for arrival at the most magical place on Earth!

That’s our list… now what’s on yours!

Shipping Packages to Your Resort

There is a little known way to save some money at Walt Disney World. Did you know that you can send packages ahead of your visit to your resort? It is a simple process but there are a few things you will want to know.

The first is that at any resort that is a considered a conference resort will charge a fee. These resorts are the Contemporary Resort, Beach Club, and Coronado Springs Resort.

You will need to address it correctly. Here is the format you should use:

Your name- Hold for Guest Arrival *date of arrival*
C/O Resort name
Street Address of resort
City, State Zip code

IMG_2555

When you arrive for check in you will want to ask the cast member at the desk if your package has arrived and they will have it delivered to your room. You do not have to be in the room to accept the package delivery so if you have plans to go elsewhere do not worry.

So what would you have delivered ahead of you? The one thing I always order is a case of water. Water costs $2.75 a bottle and when you multiply that by the number of people it really adds up. You can get free cups of ice water but we like to be able to take our water with us on the go. If you don’t drink Coke products and have to have that Pepsi this is a good way to have your drink of choice without having to purchase them one at a time or bring them with you. This is a good way to get snacks to your resort too. Another great item to ship ahead is diapers and wipes. Baggage prices can be expensive so only taking a small number of diapers with you can really save the luggage space. This is especially helpful if you are going for a longer vacation.

Another great reason for shipping to your resort is if you are planning to use only Walt Disney World transportation. This means no stops off to a grocery store or Target to pick up these essentials. So in the end it can save you a lot of money if you plan it out correctly!

5 Things NOT to Pack for Walt Disney World

We talk a lot about our packing lists: things to bring in your luggage, things to bring if you’re driving, carry on only, cruise line specifics… but we haven’t touched on one thing! What should you NOT pack for your Walt Disney World vacation.

 

MAKES

  1. Selfie Sticks. As of the summer of 2015 selfie sticks are banned at Disney parks, so leave yours at home!
  2. Pool towels, especially if you’re staying at a moderate or above. At moderate and deluxe resorts pool towels are available by the pool. At value resorts you can take the towel from the room if you’d like, and request more from mousekeeping the next day. Another option is to purchase a beach towel for the pool from the resort gift shop. It’s a great souvenir!
  3. Costumes, if you’re an adult. In order to avoid confusion with costumed Disney characters they ask that adults not dress up as their favorite character. Consider trying Disneybounding instead!
  4. Some toiletries. From a shampoo/conditioner combo and bar soap at the value resorts to shampoo, conditioner, body gel and lotion at deluxe resorts Disney provides H2O brand toiletries in your hotel room. They’re some of my favorites.
  5. A bad attitude 😉 What, you know we had to sneak something corny in there! Pack your A game, and your patience and you’re sure to have a great vacation.

What do you leave at home that others consider necessities? Are there things you’d like to pack but can’t due to space? Let us know in the comments section!

Podcast Episode 68: Walt Disney World Planning 101

If you think planning a Disney vacation is too stressful and overwhelming, this episode is for you!  We walk you through planning a Walt Disney World vacation from start to finish, in an easy to follow format that will help you make the most of the magic of Disney.

Happy listening!

Listen to Desktop

Listen to iTunes

Podcast Episode 64: The ABCs of a Disney Vacation

After some technical difficulties last week, we’re back with a new episode this week!  In this episode we talk about the ABCs of your Disney vacation.  Lots of hints and tricks in an easy to remember format to make sure you make the most magic possible for your next Disney trip.  Don’t miss it!

Happy listening!

Listen to Desktop

Listen to iTunes

Disney Bounding

aurora

Disney Bounding is a great way to add a lot of fun to your Disney vacation without too much work. It involves dressing in regular clothes but with a Disney twist. For example if you wanted to dress similarly to Mr. Smee, you will need some blue shorts, blue and white large striped shirt, a red cap, and brown sandals.

smee

These outfits can be a simple or elaborate as you would like put together with pieces out of your own closet! Of course if you are like me and want an excuse to go shopping!

Tiana

If you are interested in many more ideas you can check out the Disney Bound tumblr. And there is plenty of inspiration to be found on Pinterest as well.

WIR

Have you ever dressed as a Disney character for a regular park day?  If so please share below!

Preparing for Baby’s First Trip to Disney World!

With my daughter’s first trip to Walt Disney World rapidly approaching I find myself worrying a bit about how preparing for a trip with a baby will be quite different from planning one for just myself! Here are some tips I’ve found to be helpful so far when thinking about baby’s first trip to Disney World.

Packing

Because we live in Massachusetts my husband and I prefer to fly to Disney rather than drive. This trip we’re taking Southwest Airlines, which is especially great because each ticketed passenger is allowed 2 pieces of checked luggage. This means the baby can have her own luggage for no extra charge! Packing things like diapers and formula will save us money instead of buying while we’re in Florida (no worries though, if you don’t have room for this stuff in your luggage I’ll still tell you how to get it).

Gear

Most Disney hotels will be able to supply a Pack ‘n Play and clean sheets upon request. If this won’t do for your baby there are services where you can rent full size cribs. Baby will only sleep in a bouncer? That’s fine too! Check out A Baby’s Best Friend, they rent both of these things and much more for babies. I’ll personally be ordering an exersaucer and Bumbo seat for our trip, so baby girl has a place to hang out that isn’t mom and dad’s arms!

Photo courtesy of ABBF

Photo courtesy of ABBF

Another major piece of gear is a stroller. With all the walking we do around Disney a sturdy, comfortable stroller is a necessity. We’ll be bringing our Baby Jogger City Mini from home, but if you don’t feel like lugging yours to Florida there are several stroller rental services in Orlando that can help you out. Kingdom Stroller Rentals and Orlando Stroller Rentals are two of the Dole Whipped recommended (simply because we’ve used them before!) companies. One thing you may want to consider purchasing ahead of time is a stroller fan. It can get pretty hot in those strollers, and a fan is a good way to keep baby cool!

81Yo1PUqlfL._SL1500_

Other Necessities

As mentioned above, because we’ll be able to pack an extra bag we’re going to be packing our diapers and formula. If you don’t have the room in your luggage or simply don’t feel like packing it though, no worries. We here at Dole Whipped have recommended Garden Grocer before for groceries, but they also carry many baby necessities. Several brands of diapers, wipes, baby formula, jarred food, and even some medicines are available for delivery straight to your hotel room. We recommend making the order a few days before you leave on your trip because Garden Grocer does fully book for deliveries and you’ll want to make sure these items are there when you arrive!

Have you taken a baby to Disney World before? How was planning different for you and your family?

Jillian’s DCL Trip Report Day 5 and 6

This day was a big one! When I woke up I went to the window to see a giant Christmas tree on the pier at Castaway Cay! Of course after getting ready in a rush we applied sunscreen and headed to Beach Blanket Buffett for a quick breakfast outside on the deck. I was a bit worried as it was pretty windy and not exactly hot and sunny for our beach day. In quick order we had our Key to the World card and were off the ship and on a tram to the family beach. There were a number of character meets on the way to the tram but we bypassed them as the lines were a bit long.


Luckily once we got to the first beach we were able to meet Mickey and Pluto with no line! We continued on to the beach and tried out the water. It was pretty chilly this coming from a northerner. We had brought our own bucket and shovel for Petra to play. You can purchase them there but we decided to bring our own since we had an abundance of space in the suitcases.

After getting comfortable in my beach chair Petra decided she was ready to attempt Pelican Plunge. Apparently I wasn’t thinking because I failed to warn her that the water was salty as well as cold. Well we took our turn and the slide was pretty awesome but when a five year old gets salt water up her nose you are all done. So we dried off and she said she was ready for Scuttle’s Cove. Scuttle’s Cove is the youth club on Castaway Cay. This is a HUGE perk since you can drop your kid off and they have lots of things to play with. I didn’t take pictures but I did explore it, it has a splash pad, toys, soccer nets and other things to keep kids happy while parents can enjoy some adult time. In fact she even was able to eat lunch there in the company with other kids.

Also some other things to do are games, live music, character meets, water slides, Monstro’s Point (whale bone dig), adult drinks, massages, crab races, adults only beach and even a 5K. There is really something for everyone.

With my daughter having lots of fun we went to Cookies BBQ for some delicious lunch. And decided to take the tram to Serenity Bay the adult’s only beach. This beach was amazingly quiet. All you hear is the ocean and the occasional conversation from other people. It is perfect and romantic and I highly suggest at least a quick trip that way just to check it out. We explored and laid in hammocks and basically had a very relaxing day.

But like all good things it had to come to an end. Petra had expressed interested in doing a program with the youth club called “Friendship Rocks”. They were doing the prep at 4:15 and then would be on stage at 5. So at 3pm we rounded up our child who did not want to leave Scuttles’ Cove but finally agreed and we left the island after a few stops for pictures along the way.

After cleaning up Petra and I wanted to check out the “secret” deck. On deck 7 aft there is a deck that not many people know about and since I knew it would have a great view of the island we checked it out. Once Petra and I checked out this little secret she went again to the kids club for practice.

We went to the Walt Disney Theatre to watch Friendship Rocks along with Mickey and Minnie. She seemed to enjoy the stage and was having a lovely time in the club so she decided to stay. We had plans for Palo this night so I knew she had to be there for a while longer. She did not seem torn up about it.

We got ourselves gussied up for our Palo reservation at 6. We arrived a bit early and had to wait for it to open along with a few people. This dinner was amazing. I think it is well worth the $25 per person charge. Our server Toni was from Coatia and was very talkative. He spend lots of time answering our questions and did a splendid job! First we had the cheeses, meat and olives, it was delicious! For appetizers we both started with the calamari and it did not disappoint. After our lemon sorbet palate cleanser we were onto the main course. I had the wild mushroom risotto and the Beef Tenderloin “Palo” both were amazing and delicious. Chelsey had the grilled tuna which I was able to try and it was also so so good. When our entrees came out we also ordered the chocolate soufflé as our waiter said it takes some time to make. Chelsey wasn’t sold on the soufflé but decided to order anyway. He did order the Panna cotta with strawberries and while he meant to order this as his only dessert but both were brought out. I gladly finished mine but was too full to help with his. It was really one of the best desserts I’ve ever had.

We rolled ourselves out of Palo and went to get Petra from the kids club where she was participating in Pluto’s Pajama Party. We then went go to see the last stage show, “Disney Dreams: an Enchanted Classic”. This one featured Peter Pan, princesses and lots of amazing singing. This was my favorite show of them all. So if you could only see one show the entire cruise this is the one I would not miss.

Petra got ready for bet but said she was hungry so we thought we would order room service to check it out. She got chicken fingers, grapes and French fries plus a bowl of cereal. She said it was all very tasty. While Petra was served dinner on a silver plate I was working hard to pack our suitcases. The suitcases have to be in the hall by 11pm so I was trying to pack and repack our cases so that we would have the things were needed for the next morning and our luggage would be ready to fly in the morning.

Day 6

Sadly, our breakfast for the next morning was scheduled for 6:45am and we were definitely not getting up for that. We decided to wake up when we would. Since Disney wants you to leave your room empty before breakfast we went over the room a couple times before gathering up our things. We thought we had it all and then get breakfast at Beach Blanket Buffett again for breakfast.

We stopped at the photo kiosks to see if we wanted to purchase anything, but we did not so we made our way to the atrium to get off the ship. On our way we noticed that we could not find our daughter’s Key to the World card. In order to get off the ship you have to show and have your card scanned so I was pretty concerned at this point. I asked a cast member what we should do and she said called over her manager. Her manager said that it would be okay since our photos were all one file. We check out with no issues and went to collect our luggage. It went fairly quickly and were in line for customs. We didn’t have anything to claim so we had a painless experience and went out to grab a taxi. There in lies the end of our Disney Cruise experience but since we still had a good number of hours for our flight we dropped our luggage at the airport and then decided to check out the Miami Children’s Museum and get lunch before heading back home to Michigan.

We had an amazing time and had a wonderful, relaxing vacation. If you are interested in a Disney vacation that is much more relaxing this is the trip for you!   Don’t worry if you are still wanting more about Disney Cruise Line you can check out some of our other trip reports and articles about Disney Cruise Line!  Thanks for joining us on our adventure!

If you missed the beginning here is Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4.