People want different things from a cruise, and by people I mean my family, and by cruise I mean six wonderful nights in the Western Caribbean aboard Disney Cruise Line’s majestic ship the Magic. That’s a long time to spend together in a lovely, but rather tiny, stateroom (although the veranda provided a welcome escape), and people need their space. My wife and I found said space in comedy shows, a whiskey tasting, and an afternoon in the Vista Spa—our boys found it in the youth clubs, which are included in the price of the cruise, and they absolutely loved it.
There are a plethora of clubs, interactive programs and activities, and lounges for children sailing with Disney Cruise Line, but as we spent our family vacation on the Disney Magic I am going to discuss the options there (other Disney Cruise Line ships may vary in the details, but the overall experience is similar).
Vibe is for teens (ages 14-17), and is a hip (do the kids still say “hip” these days?) activity center full of video games, music, television, and a large variety of social activities.
Edge is a children’s activity center and interactive play space for kids ages 11-14 with virtual ship controls, arts and crafts, and plenty of space to lounge with new friends.
Flounder’s Reef Nursery is for the guppy set (3 months to 3 years), and is a full daycare center decorated in early Little Mermaid.
My boys, being six and nine, respectively, spent their time in the Oceaneer Lab and Club (Note: On some ships the Lab and Club are one space, but on the Disney Magic they are two separate venues that are very close together and children may go back and forth between them throughout their stay when accompanied by a cast member. It is all tracked in the computer system.)
The kids had to wear an electronic bracelet (or anklet for the fashion-forward) and while older kids were allowed to sign in and out on their own (with signed parent permission) we opted to deliver and pick-up our boys in person—this involves the scanning of said bracelet and the whispering of passwords. Also, lots of hand sanitizer.
The Oceaneer Club and Lab opens at 9 a.m. and closes at midnight, which means that there were ample opportunities for the boys to grab an hour here or there between our family activities, dining, shows, and excursions. They seized every moment they could. They enjoyed the experience so much, whether they were making Flubber, cookies, playing games, or going through basic training in Toy Story Boot Camp, that we often had to pull them away—mind you, we weren’t taking them to do something boring—and make solemn promises to return to the Oceaneers as soon as humanly possible.
On the last full day of the cruise all of the children that had visited the Oceaneers during their family vacation got to be part of a live stage show in the Walt Disney Theatre, complete with free t-shirt and special appearances by Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse (no relation). There was singing, dancing, and much in the way of flash photography. You know, show biz.
As far as childcare goes, I don’t know that I have ever seen better, and this from a guy that ran a youth program for a number of years. My wife and I had hoped, best case scenario, that the youth clubs would provide us a breather during our cruise, but thanks to the Oceaneers the breaths were long, deep, and full of fresh air—our Disney cruise was the better for it.
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My family and I were the very grateful guests of Disney Cruise Lines on the voyage outlined above. All opinions are my own unless otherwise noted.