One of the biggest questions I had prior to our Disney Cruise was figuring out what to pack. We were spending six nights on a cruise through the Western Caribbean, and while the scheduled ports promised tropical sunshine and all that that implies, the actual voyage hinted at cold, cloudy days—not to mention dinners of various themes and levels of formality. The suitcases were getting fuller by the minute and we hadn’t even left the house yet.
Basically, I didn’t want to pay a lot of baggage fees flying from L.A. to Houston (we departed from Galveston, TX), nor did I care to drag the entire collective wardrobe of my family through the assorted terminals and other hubs of transportation that such a journey requires. Lazy and cheap? I prefer practical.
It turns out that we overpacked by a suitcase or two. Yes, we needed jackets or hoodies if we were on deck during the coldest parts of the evening (people were sitting by the pool with mittens on), but we didn’t need a dress shirt for every dinner or the slacks to match—shorts and a t-shirt were all the rage. Don’t even get me started on my wife’s dresses.
Also, it seems that people have a different definition of formal. There were people in tuxedos and gowns, and a few that showed up in shorts, which seemed like a very comfortable slap in the face to the other guests. My boys and I wore suits, and my wife wore a lovely dress, as one does. For the semi-formals we went with sports coats and fashionable pants, because we are nothing if not fashion forward. My wife had an assortment of pants and blouses.
In hindsight we probably could have condensed our pant and jacket combinations into various takes on the same set (different shirt, maybe a bow tie because they are cool), and my wife could have multitasked a pair of shoes or two.
Truth is, the only place we went where a dress code was strictly enforced was the very fantastic Palo restaurant, and everything else was left to one’s better judgement and social graces—which some people take more seriously than others. I recommend dressing for the occasion as it makes it more fun for everyone, and that’s what it’s all about.
Funny enough, despite our overpacking we actually forgot a few things, namely outfits for Pirate Night, which some people really got in to (they looked great!). Fortunately we were able to buy some pirate shirts for the boys on Grand Cayman and the Mickey’s Mates store on-board had some fun accessories to get us into full character. It was a swashbuckling good time.
The real secret to packing light for a Disney Cruise is that there are small laundromats on board (we sailed on the Disney Magic, please check with Disney Cruise Line regarding your ship). There was also a laundry special midway through the trip where guests could have a full bag of clothes (a good-sized bag that DCL provided) washed for $30 (prices may vary), which is much cheaper than checking a third suitcase on the airline of your choice.
My advice is to take advantage of the laundry options on the ship, bring clothing befitting the theme night(s), swim suits, a small selection of casual/active wear, something nice for the formal dinner that can be repurposed for the semi-formal evenings, and as few shoes as possible. Don’t forget to account for the weather. Mittens are a nice touch.
Photo Credit: Whit Honea
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My family and I were the very grateful guests of Disney Cruise Lines on the voyage outlined above. All opinions are my own unless otherwise noted.
Read more from Whit Honea at his site Honea Express and the popular group blog DadCentric. You can follow Whit on the Twitter or Pinterest (his opinions are his own and do not reflect those of Babble or most rational people).