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10 Surprising Lessons from a Disney Cruise

We came home from our Disney cruise feeling grateful, relaxed and amazingly accomplished (two countries, a new state, and a slew of other life experiences checked off the Life List!) — but, as we were there, I kept thinking about the surprising lessons my son was learning while on vacation.

It wasn’t all Mickey ears and princess gowns. My 3-year-old son actually got a lot more out of the trip than I ever imagined.

Here are 10 surprising lessons my son learned aboard the Disney Magic ship:

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  • 1. Table Manners 1 of 10
    1. Table Manners
    While all of the restaurants offered typical "kid foods" (chicken tenders, mac and cheese, etc.), they also offered a fresh kids' menu every night, with miniature versions of grown-up food (which I highly appreciate as a parent). The kids also had their chairs pulled out for them, they had a napkin placed on their laps, and they were held to certain dress codes. While the environment was (of course) kid friendly, they didn't dumb down their food quality or environment for children. It was the perfect opportunity to teach real-world table manners in a fancy atmosphere — without the upturned noses and "shhhhs" from neighboring diners.
  • 2. Exposure to Different Nationalities 2 of 10
    2. Exposure to Different Nationalities
    This is a parade of our servers' vast span of native flags. Noah was exposed to a variety of accents — Austrian, Croatian, Indian, etc. — and little tid-bits about their home countries. A crew member (who — by the way — were the friendliest, happiest people I've ever met), told us about his children back in Indonesia, and another crew member told us about Serbia.

    Before going on the trip, he assumed all accents were "Spanish," but his horizon certainly expanded.
  • 3. Social Skills 3 of 10
    3. Social Skills
    My son isn't terribly social, yet he seemed to blossom on the ship. From going to the kids' club to meeting friends on excursions, he was more open to friendship than I've ever seen. (He especially took a liking to mooshinindy's daughter, Addie.)
  • 4. Dance Skills 4 of 10
    4. Dance Skills
    This formerly shy little boy turned into a DANCE MACHINE on this ship. First one on the floor, last one off. Whether he was dancing with Mickey Mouse, a group of kids, or just by his lonesome, he was always on the look-out to bust a move.
  • 5. Science! 5 of 10
    5. Science!
    One of Noah's favorite activities was FLUBBER in the Kids' Lab. Under the direction of a funny mad scientist, Noah participated in science experiments — even making his own batch of Flubber. But through the learning, he belly-laughed from beginning to end.
  • 6. International Customs 6 of 10
    6. International Customs
    During our 45-minute bus ride to Mayan ruins in Mexico, Noah learned Spanish words, Mexican customs, and a history of the Mayan civilization.

    Disney offers a WIDE variety of excursion options — from adventurous to relaxing to educational.
  • 7. Independence 7 of 10
    7. Independence
    Noah experienced a level of independence that he normally wouldn't have if we were on a traditional beach vacation. He had free reign of the kids' clubs (older kids can even check themselves in and out of the clubs), and he explored every inch of the ship.
  • 8. A Love for Live Theater 8 of 10
    8. A Love for Live Theater
    Watching him watch his favorite Disney characters sing and dance mere feet away from him — as bubbles floated into the audience and snow softly fell from the star-filled ceiling — was the most magical experience we've ever had.
  • 9. Creative Crafts 9 of 10
    9. Creative Crafts
    We left the ship with a pile of artwork and crafts that he made throughout our cruise.
  • 10. Unlimited Magic 10 of 10
    10. Unlimited Magic
    That feeling that pixie dust is real and people are good and magic is all around us — for 7 days straight. It was like Christmas times Disney. And it's such a special lesson for a child to get to experience, at least once in his life. Because it isn't the memories that will stay with him as much as the feelings.

Read more about our Disney Magic Cruise here and here and here.

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