When you have children, a cruise can be the best vacation option. No worrying about where to eat, plenty of activities and fun family time are just some of the advantages. If you throw in Disney into the mix, it can be even more special. I would even say it can be magical, especially if you have young kids.
After taking 5 Disney cruises (none of them sponsored, in case you are wondering), I can say it is my favorite cruise line. The cabins (or rooms) have a split bathroom that is pure genius, since you are able to get two washrooms and the toilet is separate from the tub and shower. And when you have a baby or toddler, having a tub, no matter how small, is a true lifesaver.
Aside from the accommodations, the Disney cruise excels at turning your vacation into an unforgettable experience. The shows are so well produced you feel like you’re in Broadway. If your kids love the characters, there are so many opportunities to meet them that it is easy to get pictures with them, even in unexpected places. For example, if you have a pirate fan in the family, don’t miss the photo opp with Captain Jack Sparrow when you’re walking towards the beach in Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island). It is also quite an experience to be in the middle of the ocean and watch the fireworks during Pirates In The Caribbean night.
On the newer ships, don’t miss the Aqua Duck, a water slide or “watercoaster” on the top deck that features a ride of 765 feet long. It is simply amazing! The lines can get quite long but you want to ride it at least once. It is even open at night and lines tend to be much shorter during showtimes or dinner. You cannot take anything with you — not even sunglasses, a waterproof camera or shoes — so you will have to leave all your personal items in the cubbies before your enter the queue.
Top tips for a Disney cruise
For anybody who is considering a Disney cruise, here are my top 7 tips to get the most out of your experience:
- Register and check in online as early as you can. This will allow you to make reservations at the specialty restaurants, excursions, spa or the Bibbidi Bobbidi boutique before you set foot on the ship. By checking in online you will also secure a boarding time that will allow you to enjoy more of your first day.
- Take a shoe organizer that you can hang over the door. Although there is plenty of closet space, space is at a premium. A shoe organizer allows you to organize small items and you can even label each cubby with your children´s names.
- Take advantage of room service. It’s free. All you have to do is tip the server, so make sure to take dollar bills with you and keep them handy. You can even request Mickey ice cream bars. Before you sail away, it’s nice to order the cheese platter. You can even have a continental breakfast delivered each morning if you wish.
- If your kids love Disney characters, get their autographs. You don’t even have to stand in line. Just take a photo mat, white T-shirt, pillowcase or autograph book with permanent markers in a bag to Guest Services and make a request to get your item signed. Just remember to label your bag or include a note with your complete name and cabin number in the bag so they know who to return the signed item to.
- If you are feeling a bit disoriented, look at the carpet. You can tell whether you’re walking towards the front or the aft by looking at the map that’s depicted. If the map is upside down, you are going towards the back (aft).
- Don’t be scared of spending time away from your children while they enjoy all the activities the kids clubs offer. The cast members can page you if needed. Plus, most parents I know could use even an hour on their own to recharge, whether as a couple or individually.
- Strike a pose! The professional photographers on board are great and even if the pictures are pricey, you can get amazing family portraits taken. There is no obligation to buy, so you can pose for as many as you want and then make up your mind whether you want one or many. If you fall in love with all the photos, it can add up, though. Last time, we ended up getting the Photo CD from Shutters (the photo shop on board), and the price varies between $249 to $349 depending on the length of your cruise.
Have fun! If you have any more tips, please share in the comments section below.
All photos: Jeannette Kaplun