If you are looking for a different kind of Disney vacation, a cruise is a great option! You have your choice of itinerary, length of sailing, and ship. This is your guide to Disney cruising with kids.
A cruise vacation is a vacation like no other! You choose the itinerary and have the opportunity to visit multiple locations all in one trip! If you add in the special touches that come with any Disney destination, you can’t go wrong with a Disney cruise! Here are just a few reasons to consider a Disney cruise as you plan your next trip:
- The Disney touches: whether it’s listening for the special horn that plays “When You Wish Upon A Star” or being greeted by Captain Minnie & Captain Mickey Mouse, there is plenty of Disney Magic all around you from the moment you board the ship.
- See the World: You choose your itinerary when you cruise. Depending on the length of the cruise, you visit multiple destinations (and countries) in one vacation. You don’t have to worry about transportation or waiting to get from one to the other.
- Safety: Cruising was brought to a standstill in 2020 and especially since sailing has resumed, safety is a top priority. There are protocols in place to make sure all guests and crew are safe throughout their entire voyage.
- Personalized Service: Disney is known for the level of service they provide their guests and a cruise is no exception. The staff get to know you throughout your vacation and truly strive to give you the best experience possible.
Getting Ready For Your Cruise
If you have cruised prior to the start of the pandemic, there are still some things that are the same as you prepare for your vacation. Prior to arrival, guests can choose various activities to plan their days on the ship. The Disney Cruise Line Navigator app is a great tool to help you plan your day and find out what is happening on the ship. This has not changed too much. Guests need to complete a check-in process to select port arrival time, get ready for the kids’ clubs, choose excursions, etc.
Since cruising has resumed, the process to get onboard looks a little different. Currently, the requirements to board the ships are as follows:
- Guests who are under 12 years old and not fully vaccinated must take a Covid-19 test within 72 hours prior to arriving at the port. The results need to be uploaded to the Safe Passage website.
- Guests who are 12 years of age and older must be fully vaccinated. Proof of vaccination needs to be uploaded to the Safe Passage website.
- Once at the port, all guests will take another Covid-19 test prior to boarding the ship.
- Once a negative result is received, guests are cleared to board!
**Please note, starting on January 13, 2022, all guests aged 5 years and older will need to upload proof of vaccination.
While this process may seem a little daunting, it generally goes quite smoothly and then the fun can begin! Yes, there is so much fun waiting onboard!
After completing these steps last week, I can tell you that it was a smooth experience. I have cruised before but this was a first for my kids, all of whom are under 12, and they were so excited to go! Furthermore, it was great to be amongst the first people on board the ship! Upon boarding, we were greeted with a dance party and welcomed by our two favorite captains!
From there, it was, literally, smooth sailing!
Activities and the Kids’ Clubs
There is so much for kids to do on a Disney cruise.
The Kids’ Clubs are available for kids aged 3 and older. There are different options available depending on your child’s age.
Disney’s Oceaneer Club & Disney’s Oceaneer Lab
Made for kids ages 3-12, this kids’ club has two components where kids can explore and participate in structured activities. Characters make appearances and everything is designed to keep kids engaged and having fun while meeting other kids their age!
This activity center gives kids ages 11-14 the opportunity to participate in various activities and meet other kids their age from all around the world! Since it was designed specifically for tweens, rest assured that your tween will find plenty to do and stay engaged throughout your cruise.
Built for those between the ages of 14 – 17, the Vibe offers amenities and activities with teens in mind. Teens can connect with others while being chaperoned by Disney Cruise Line counselors. Activities include dance parties, karaoke, and activities designed with teens in mind.
Last week, my kids went to the kids’ club several times throughout the week. Prior to boarding, I completed the online check-in and forms required. I was able to schedule one session per day in advance and I had to select a password to pick them up. The staff asked me for it each time. The kids wear a band, similar to the Magic bands at the Walt Disney World Resort, while they are in the clubs. They have to scan them to get in and to leave.
Once onboard, I was able to add additional sessions for them. This was especially convenient because my kids had not been on a cruise before and I was unsure how much time they would want in the kids’ club. Needless to say, they loved it and were excited to have more time there! This is, of course, subject to availability but I recommend going to the kids’ clubs on your first day to see what else is available.
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
If you have a special prince or princess in your life that you would like to pamper, the perfect opportunity awaits on your Disney cruise. The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is available for guests ages 3-12 years old. It is highly recommended that you book this experience when your advance booking window opens. However, if you are not able to get an appointment in advance, check on availability once you are on the ship.
The dining options on a Disney Cruise offer something for all ages and every palate. There is rotational dining throughout your cruise. This means that guests have an assigned dining time and switch to a different restaurant every night. However, your wait staff goes with you to each restaurant. That means they get to know you and your preferences, your likes, and dislikes and those of your kids! It didn’t take long for our wait staff to realize that my 7-year old LOVED his ketchup and they were always waiting there with it for him before he even asked! My kids also won’t forget our server making them 3D animals and encouraging playful interactions. The attention to detail and the service are just outstanding!
The food is also amazing! There are themed meals (e.g. Pirate Night) and different menus each night, but the wait staff tries to accommodate any special requests that you may have too! For example, I love the souffle on the ship and our waiter made it happen our first night! He also overheard my son say that he wanted a Mickey Bar and a few minutes later, it appeared at our table!
If you are looking for other meal options, there are plenty available. Whether it’s room service or quick service, there is something available 24 hours a day! My kids loved being able to walk up to to the deck and grab ice cream just about any time they wanted!
If you are looking for some adult time, make sure you grab a reservation at Remy or Palo. These restaurants are adult-only experiences offering French or Italian cuisine. Remy is found on the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy. Palo is found on all four ships. Reservations are required and can be made online or on the ship.
Since there are many different itineraries available with Disney Cruise Line, you can imagine that there are countless options for excursions as well. These range from options for the whole family, including the youngest cruisers, to adult-only. In addition, there are options for every budget too. Whether you are looking for a private tour of the destination or just a relaxing day at the beach, it’s easy to find something fun to do while at port!
During my recent cruise, we chose to do excursions at each port. Our favorite by far was the Dolphin Swim in Cozumel. This experience was seamless. We chose the experience in advance with help from our friends at Key to the World Travel. Once onboard the ship, I was able to get all of my questions answered by the Port Adventure staff and we met in a designated area on the day of the excursion. We were escorted by staff members for the entire excursion. First, we were led off the ship by Disney Cruise Line staff and we were then met by Dolphinaris staff, who took us to the destination.
It is important to note that at this time, guests who are not fully vaccinated are only permitted to leave the ship on a guided excursion.
For itineraries that include a visit to Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, things work a little different. Guests need to join a virtual queue to leave the ship but are free to enjoy the island at their leisure. There are opportunities for port adventures such as snorkeling, aquatrike rental, and more.
Booking Your Port Adventures
It is highly recommended that guests choose their port excursions in advance. Your advance booking window is determined by your Castaway Club level and is as follows:
- First-Time Guests: 75 days prior to sail date
- Silver Castaway Club Members: 90 days prior to sail date
- Gold Castaway Club Members: 105 days prior to sail date
- Concierge Guests and Platinum Castaway Club Members: 120 days prior to sail date
Planning Your Next Cruise
Once you experience a Disney cruise, you will be ready for another one! Luckily, there are itineraries available right now through May 2023! The best thing is, you can book your next cruise while you are still on the ship! Whether you already know what cruise you want or you are still deciding, you can return again soon! A placeholder allows you to secure a booking in advance at a discounted rate but choose the specific cruise later. You may be sad to disembark but it’s great to have something else to look forward to! Our friends at Key to the World Travel were great about helping us choose the perfect cruise and our future options!
Are you considering a trip? This is a great time to plan your perfect vacation! Having a travel advisor means someone there to have your back in any occurrence. There is no additional cost to you and you have peace of mind knowing that your vacation is in good hands. Contact our friends at Key to the World Travel® for a free, no-obligation quote for your next trip. Click here.
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