(1) Luggage- We went with four carry on size suitcases, one for each of us. Yes, you read that right, we made our 3 and 5 year olds carry their own suitcases... and they loved every minute of it! We did a lot of research when it came to kids luggage and we settled on the Cabin Max because it checked all of our boxes. These were perfect because they were small enough for the kids to handle but still held a ton. These held about 10 outfits each, 3 pairs of pjs, 3 bathing suits, and three pairs of shoes (plus a weeks worth of nighttime pull-ups in our sons suitcase and 2 princess dresses in our daughter's suitcase). One side pocket held their water bottles and the other side pocket held their headphones for their iPad minis. They were also super easy for us grownups to handle if the kids ended up not wanting to roll them. This was a big one as our son still likes to be carried sometimes and we were concerned about how we might have to possibly carry him and roll his suitcase. These are awesome because they have backstraps so we could throw them on our backs like a backpack and they also have a back pocket so they just slipped right over the handle of our suitcases and we could roll two suitcases at a time.
I honestly cannot say enough good things about these suitcases. I don't think we could have done it without them. In addition to our four rolling suitcases my husband carried a backpack that held our kids puddle jumpers (yes we brought these too and they were great for the islands to swim in the ocean), his wallet, and snacks for the kids. And for my personal item I brought a large reversible tote bag that would double as our pool/beach bag and inside it I had my wristlet, camera, the kids ipad minis, more snacks, sunglasses, and my make-up bag. I packed a small cross body purse in my suitcase to use around the boat.
(2) Toiletries- This was our biggest concern when packing carry-ons only. We had two options for this one. For our first Disney trip we ordered all of our toiletries through Amazon Prime Pantry and had a box shipped to our hotel. We could have done this for the cruise as well but we had heard great things about the toiletries on the cruise so we decided we would use those and bring 3oz. sizes of everything else in the quart size ziplock bags. This worked for everything except our sunscreen, so we just had our shuttle driver stop at a Walgreens on the way to our port hotel and we picked up our sunscreen there. Easy peasy.
(3) Shoes- This was a big one. We limited shoes to 3 pairs per person. The kids each wore their crocs and we packed them each a pair of nice sandals, sneaker sandals, and flip flops. My husband and I wore our sneakers, and each packed a pair of flipflops, nice sandals, and dressier shoes for dinners. I made a conscious effort to make sure all of my dresses would go with nude dress sandals so that I only had to bring one pair of heels, which saved a lot of room in my suitcase.
(4) Toys- we really limited these. We brought the kids iPad minis and their headphones and had those loaded up with games and movies. Their suitcases each had a "teddy bear" holder in the front where they were able to bring along their favorite stuffed animal (they appropriately chose Mickey & Minnie!). I also purchased two little drawstring pouches from The Dollar Spot at Target and told the kids they could fill them with anything small they wanted to bring with them on the trip. Our daughter filled hers with some of her magiclip princesses and our son put his Jake action figures and some matchbox cars in his. We also brought along two Melissa & Doug sticker pads and a Spot It game for things to do during any downtime in the room. And that was it! Limiting toys to a few small special things really helped to cut down on our packing.
I know it seems like a difficult task, but if you pack wisely you can definitely make it work! If you have any questions about how we pulled this off, please feel free to comment below and I'll try to answer all questions quickly!
And be sure to check out Part 2 of this post: 5 Things You Never Knew You Needed For a Disney Cruise!