As a mom, I know vacations can be stressful despite our best efforts. Between packing, disrupted sleep schedules, longer-than-normal days and more, sometimes it can feel afterwards like we need a vacation from our vacation. After sailing on several Disney cruises with my husband and three daughters, I have discovered a few tips and tricks that lead to less stress and more fun.
Don’t stress too much about packing enough clothes or how wrinkled your formal wear will be when it comes out of your suitcase. All Disney ships have multiple self-serve laundry rooms onboard. Currently, it costs $2 to wash a load and $2 to dry it. Detergent and fabric softener are available for purchase for $1 each. No need to bring quarters either, just swipe your room key and it will be charged to your onboard account. Want a vacation from laundry too? No problem! You can also send your laundry out to be laundered, dry cleaned, or pressed. Prices vary based on how soon you want it returned, but are comparable to dry-cleaning prices on land. There will be a laundry bag and price sheet in your stateroom closet.
For kids who are old enough to enjoy some independence on the ship, you can use the DCL app to communicate onboard at no extra charge. In addition to providing all sorts of information about ship activities, schedules, and menus, there is also a messaging feature. On our last cruise, our daughter sent us a message whenever she changed locations which gave me peace of mind. Beware, however, that the new message alert feature was inconsistent for us and we would often have to open the app to see new messages. Be sure and download the app before you get onboard, where wifi does cost extra.
Pack & Plays, Strollers and Diaper Genies
If you have young children, DCL will provide you with both a Pack & Play and a Diaper Genie for your stateroom. It helps if you request them ahead of time, and that way they will be waiting in your room when you arrive. To request, just call DCL and have them place the request on your reservation, or have your travel agent do it if you are using one. There are also strollers onboard for use, free of charge, on a first come, first served basis if you’d rather not bring your own. You can use them both onboard and in ports. You cannot reserve them ahead of time, but they don’t typically run out. You will only be charged if you don’t return it. The only time we used one, it was a Peg Perego model that seemed brand new.
Mailing a Box to Port Canaveral
If you are anything like me, and you struggle with keeping your family’s luggage to a reasonable amount, then this tip could really help you out. For items like diapers, wipes, or even cheap sand toys that you won’t be bringing home, you have the option of mailing a box to the port prior to your cruise and it will be waiting for you in your stateroom when you arrive. No luggage, chemicals, or food or drinks of ANY kind are allowed and will be rejected at the warehouse and returned to you. There are also very specific requirements for box size and packing labels which you can read about here. Note that this option is only available to those sailing out of DCL’s home port of Port Canaveral.
Before our first cruise I really struggled with what to do about car seats and booster seats for my kids while in ports. I scoured the internet and unfortunately, the most common solution I came across was to hold on tight and pray. Not being comfortable with that, I discovered some products that I have used on every cruise since. For booster seats, there are a couple of compact, portable booster seats that are easy to travel with at a reasonable price. I have personally used the Bubble Bum Booster, but I have also heard great things about the Mifold Grab-and-Go. For those of you with very young children needing a 5 point harness, the Ride Safer Travel Vest meets this requirement and is very small and lightweight. However, it is expensive and probably only worth making the investment if you plan to use it repeatedly. Otherwise, your only options are to bring your own car seat or to not plan excursions that require riding in a car.