Going on a Disney Cruise with a baby? Check out these 19 best tips to help you have a stress-free cruise with your little one!
If you’re taking a Disney cruise with a baby soon, I know you have so many questions running through your mind! When our daughter was 7 months old, we took her on her first Disney cruise. I will admit, I was SO nervous, but it was honestly one of the best family vacations we have ever had! She was so happy-go-lucky and was an angel the entire trip. We absolutely cannot wait to book another one soon!
Even though it turned out to be an amazing trip, I was nervous about a lot of things. Would she get seasick? Would we have enough room in our suitcase for everything she needs? Would she hate being on a boat and scream constantly, or we would be stuck in our room the whole cruise? Would she enjoy any of the activities on board? I had so many questions! On the past three cruises we had taken, it was just my husband and I, so I had no idea what to expect going on a Disney cruise with a baby. But I’m so glad we took the leap and just went – it was amazing!
There are a few things I wish someone would have told me about going on a Disney cruise with a baby – and I’m so excited to share those tips with you today! If someone you know is about to go on their Disney cruise, share this with them so they can be prepared!
19 Best Tips for Going on a Disney Cruise with a Baby
1. Know the minimum age
This is technically something you should know before you book your cruise. The minimum age that your baby can cruise is 6 months (and on some itineraries, your baby must be 1 year old). If you’re unsure what the minimum age is for your chosen itinerary, contact us at email@example.com and we would be happy to help!
2. Take it easy on embarkation day
I really underestimated how exhausting embarkation day would be for our daughter. She had just learned to sit up and was not yet crawling so I just thought she’d be hanging out in the stroller all day and would take naps. Nope, that wasn’t the case! There was so much for her to take in and see that she just did not want to sleep. So at the end of the day at dinner she was a wreck. Actually, we all were. We definitely tried to do too much!
So don’t overwhelm your babies on embarkation day! Take time for rest so they aren’t overwhelmed (and let’s face it, to make sure you aren’t either). Don’t try to do everything all at once!
3. Take advantage of the free baby equipment on board
Disney makes it SO easy for parents of babies and toddlers to cruise – it’s actually amazing. They offer so much free baby equipment on board including pack n plays, diaper genies, bottle warmers, strollers, and wagons on Castaway Cay – all you have to do is request them! There are limited amounts of some of these things so it’s important to make your request before you board the ship.
If you choose to bring your own stroller, let me give you a little piece of advice: invest in a small, comfortable umbrella stroller for your baby that they can nap in. On our cruise, we brought our big/bulky (but comfy) stroller and I actually kind of regretted it. It was the only stroller our daughter would sleep in, and we brought it so she would take naps while we were out for the day and we wouldn’t have to go back to the room. That part was great, but the stroller barely fit in our stateroom! Thankfully my mom and grandfather had a handicapped room and we could store it there. If we wouldn’t have had that option, it would have been a real pain to have to keep breaking it down and stepping all over it in our room.
4. Line your suitcase with diapers and baby food
Before our cruise, we invested in the biggest American Tourister rolling suitcase that we could find and used it for just our daughters things. I’m so glad we did! The one packing hack that saved me a ton of room was lining my suitcase with diapers and baby food. I also recommend, if you can, buying the pouch style baby food instead of the cans. I did both for our cruise and I wish I would have just taken pouches – they save a lot of room in your suitcase and are less messy!
Also, don’t forget to pack spoons and bowls for baby food if you want!
5. Bring a refillable water bottle for formula fed babies
This was a huge lifesaver for us! To keep from having to go back and forth to the drink machines every 3 hours to get water for bottles, we brought a Yeti cup with us and filled it up every morning and afternoon. This was also great to have for our Port Adventures.
Pro tip: When you’re off the ship for an excursion and won’t have access to clean water for your baby’s bottles, fill up all your bottles that you’ll need for the day with water in the morning (as well as take a refillable water bottle for backup in case of spills). That way, all you’ll have to do is pour the formula in when baby is hungry and you won’t have to worry about running out of water.
6. Take advantage of the onboard nursery
The “It’s a Small World Nursery” is for babies 6 months – 3 years, and it’s a great way for parents to have some alone time on their cruise. It’s $9 per hour for the first child, and for every child after that it’s $8 per hour. Reservations are required, so it’s important to do this before your cruise. The nursery has cribs for the babies to take naps in and tons of toys for them to play with. The counselors will occasionally do crafts and watch movies with them as well.
7. Travel with grandparents or close friends
If you aren’t comfortable with the idea of leaving your baby in the nursery but still want to have some adult-only time, travel with your parents, in-laws, or someone you trust to watch your baby for a few hours and who will be willing to help when needed. We traveled with my mom, brother, and grandfather and they were an amazing help to Steven and I when it came to our daughter. We got to have a delicious dinner at Palo one night and spent some time at the adult pools because my mom was willing to watch her for us. Plus, she got to spend some one-on-one time with her granddaughter and they loved it! If you’re going with friends who have kids as well, swap nights babysitting each others kids so each of you can have some adult-only time.
8. Get a room with a verandah
This is a must if you’re traveling with a baby! Even though we tried hard to get our daughter to take most of her naps in the stroller, there were days when she needed to go back to the room and sleep in her pack n play. If we hadn’t had our verandah room, I think Steven and I would have gone insane! We couldn’t watch TV or anything while we she was napping, so the only thing to do was sit out on our verandah and we loved it. It was so nice to be able to sit back and watch the waves crash on our balcony, eat some snacks, and spend time with one another. It’s also great if you can get a room on the starboard side because you’ll get to see the amazing view of Castaway Cay straight from your balcony. I absolutely believe the verandah staterooms are worth the extra money when traveling with kids who are still at napping age!
9. Bring a sound machine with a night light and a baby monitor
Since we first brought our daughter home, she has slept with a sound machine so it was a no-brainer for us to bring it. Although, the first night in our stateroom, I was so glad I brought it for many other reasons. Those staterooms can get VERY quiet at night time and if the ship rocked a certain way and made a weird sound, it could very easily wake the baby up. Even if your baby isn’t used to sleeping with a sound machine, I would bring one just in case. I also recommend having a night light as the rooms can also be VERY dark at night.
A baby monitor may seem kind of strange to bring, but trust me it’s worth it if you have a verandah room and want to sit outside on the balcony while the baby is napping. You won’t have to keep going in and out to make sure the baby is still sleeping and risk making noise that will wake him/her up. I recommend a very simple baby monitor that doesn’t need WiFi to work.
10. Pack more than you think you need
When you go on a Disney cruise with a baby, trust me when I say you’ll need more stuff than you think. I have always been an over-packer, but when it comes to packing my daughter’s things I seriously over-pack. For our cruise, I’m convinced that was a good thing. I made sure to pack things that my daughter hadn’t used in months. I just knew that for some reason she would need them on the cruise and if I didn’t pack them, I wouldn’t have them and I’d be stuck with an unhappy baby. For example, she hadn’t taken gas drops in months, but I packed them. And I’m glad I did because she ended up needing them. Go with your mama instinct! Also, make sure you pack plenty of diapers, wipes, and medications because they are so expensive to buy on board.
11. Pack a swimsuit and swim diapers for your baby
While it is true that babies who are not potty trained are not allowed in the pools onboard, Disney has thought of an awesome way to include them and let them have some fun as well. Kids who are still in diapers have their own splash pad area just for them called “Nemo’s Reef.” Our daughter absolutely loved this area! We spent most of our time here just letting her play, and I loved seeing her smile. Daddy had to get in on the fun too of course!
12. Use a backpack for a diaper bag
If you bring a small stroller, there most likely won’t be much storage underneath to hold a bag. I highly recommend using a backpack as a diaper bag so you can carry it around the ship and in port easier.
13. Get personalized shirts for the whole family to wear
I absolutely recommend this no matter how old your kids are. It’s so much fun and makes for great pictures! We got two sets of matching shirts for our family: one for embarkation day and one for pirate night. We got some of the cutest family photos in these shirts and I will always remember them! If you’re celebrating something special, you could even note that on your shirts!
14. Pack a pirate night costume for baby
In addition to cute matching/personalized shirts for the whole family, make sure to bring your pirate night costumes if you’re on an itinerary that includes pirate night! We made this simple by getting personalized shirts. You can get as creative as you want with this – some families go all out!
15. Request a high chair at dinner
Disney Cruise Line made dining with a baby a literal breeze. You can get a high chair at your table for free if requested, which made our dinners a whole lot easier. Our wait staff was excellent, and I will always remember their names because they were so thoughtful and kind to our sweet girl. They asked if she liked anything in particular, so we told them she loved pudding. They had a cup full of pudding waiting for her every night at our table! They talked and laughed with her all throughout the week and she loved them. If you ask, they will also bring baby cut up or pureed fruits, veggies, or meat. Before our cruise, I had read that there was no need to bring baby food because the waiters would puree food, but I didn’t count on it and brought baby food anyway. I’m glad I did because there were some menu items we had that she would not have been able to eat.
16. Get the second seating for dinner
Now this is purely opinion and what works for our family. You’ll probably see many conflicting opinions about this on the internet, but here’s mine: get the seating with the late dinner/early show. I say this because if you’re really interested in seeing the shows (like my husband and I were), but your baby gets tired and ready for bed by the time the late show comes around, the second seating will work perfectly for you. You can go enjoy the early show while your baby is still playful and happy. Then you can attempt to go to dinner after the show if your baby is doing okay, but if not, you can always grab dinner at one of the quick service locations onboard or order room service after the baby is in bed. I wish my husband and I would have done this because we missed a few nights worth of shows because our daughter was just too tired to function after the early dinner. Do whatever works for your family!
17. Get an autograph book or pillow for baby
I’m including this because I really wish we would have done this with our daughter on her first cruise! There are some really cute autograph book options aboard the ship, but if you’re looking to save money, you can buy them on Amazon for a lot cheaper. If you’re looking for an alternative to an autograph book, try a pillow case! This is something they can use every day once they get older that will remind them of their magical family vacation.
We made it our mission to try and meet every character that we could on our cruise. We did the Frozen meet and greet and saw several characters in the atrium as well as on Castaway Cay. Our daughter loved it! I highly recommend taking your baby to see the characters even if you think they won’t be interested. It will provide amazing photo opportunities!
18. Participate in Jack Jack’s Diaper Dash
This is the cutest competition you will ever see! If your baby is crawling (particularly a fast crawler, ha!), put them in Jack Jack’s Diaper Dash! This is an adorable race between babies to see who is the fastest crawler. It’s usually held in the lobby atrium on “at sea” days.
19. Don’t try to “do it all”
Let’s be honest, going on a Disney cruise with a baby can be exhausting. Don’t stress yourself out trying to do it all! Take your time, don’t push it, and just relax. After all, you’re spending time with the ones you love the most and that’s all that matters.