Disney cruises are expensive and chock-full of children. The chaos, combined with the fact that you could buy a car for less, make for a less than appealing vacation for some empty nesters traveling on their own. There are ways to save money, but I am not going to sugarcoat the cost. If you are traveling with adults who don’t care about the Disney brand, by all means, save your money and try a different cruise line.
But what if you are traveling with grandkids? Is it worth it for you? Will you enjoy the trip?
Our family recently traveled on the Disney Dream to the Bahamas with our children and their grandparents. We are by no means diehard Disney fans. My dad is less than impressed with children to whom he is not related. We spent a small fortune.
Despite the foregoing, the trip was definitely worth it. It was a perfect vacation for our multi-generational family. We have another cruise booked already.
Note: Disney Cruise Lines is scheduled to resume sailings on July 27, 2020! Book your fall and winter trips now.
Is a multi generational cruise for you? Here are eight reasons I believe a Disney cruise is the perfect family vacation for multiple generations.
If the children in your party require childcare, Disney Cruise Line offers a solution for parents and grandparents to maintain their sanity. Oceaneer Club is the free kids’ club for children ages three through twelve. It is typically open from 9:00 a.m. to midnight. Adults are not allowed outside of open house hours. Since that is a convenient excuse to ditch the kids, drop them off and grab a two thousand calorie cocktail.
Don’t feel too guilty. Oceaneer Club is amazing. It is massive, stretching a good portion of the ship. Each ship is different, but they all have play areas, crafts, and screens as far as the eye can see. Oceaneer Club also offers organized activities throughout the day, some including character appearances.
You might be thinking that most cruise lines offer kids’ clubs for a much cheaper fare. While this is true, the kids’ clubs on other cruise lines are less impressive with tighter hours. If the kids get bored, they won’t want to go. The most expensive vacation is one you don’t enjoy, right?
In addition to Oceaneer Club, Disney Cruise Line offers a nursery for children under three and those who are not potty trained, but that is not free. The cost of a Disney cruise is harder to justify in my mind without the benefit of childcare included in the fare.
For older kids, Disney Cruise Line has Edge and Vibe, clubs for tweens and teens. While kids this age may not need a babysitter, it is a great place for them to hang out with other kids their age. They can strike a nice balance between time with family and spin the bottle with other kids with braces.
Disney Cruise Line has several dining options that work well for multi-generational families. Families can choose to eat together during the day, or not, then meet for dinner each night. Food is included, and there is no shortage of it.
Disney Cruise Line will accommodate dietary restrictions like no other. They will make special food for you that is generally good. I have to eat gluten free. I had gluten free rolls waiting for me each night upon arrival to dinner and several options from which to choose from the menu. They go above and beyond to ensure your food is safe and free from cross contamination. This is the case for all special diets, including low sodium, Kosher, and many others.
Each ship has different main dining restaurants. The restaurants are elegant and well themed. On all ships, you rotate between three different main dining rooms for dinner throughout the cruise. You have the same serving team each night. Your servers learn your preferences and dietary restrictions. Each night, you will have your drink of choice waiting for you when you arrive.
Most cruise lines will seat you with other people if your family doesn’t fill a table. Disney Cruise Line does this, but you can request a private table if you are antisocial (or related to my family). Dinner is a great time to decompress and catch up on everyone’s day. You will appreciate each other’s company much more if you are not together every second.
For breakfast and lunch, Disney Cruise Line offers a buffet. The buffet has a ton of great options. They will accommodate dietary restrictions there as well. A manager can walk you around the buffet, tell you what ingredients certain items contain, and bring you safe food from the back to ensure it wasn’t contaminated with an allergen.
If the buffet is too crazy for you (and it sometimes is), a main dining room will serve breakfast and lunch as well. You will not have the same serving team as you do at dinner, but the servers will still work with you to get what you need.
If you want to slum in a delicious way, there is a quick service on the pool deck that will offer fast food like pizza. There is a self serve ice cream machine located nearby.
Disney Cruise Line also offers adults only dining for an extra fee. This is a perfect option if you want some quiet time with adults only. We tried Palo on our last trip on the Disney Dream. At Palo, you order off a menu, and there is also a buffet with seafood, breads, cheese, meats, and desserts. Best of all, I didn’t hear one person cry the entire time we were there.
Characters may not be that exciting for a baby boomer, but they are the greatest thing ever to a lot of kids. The interaction between children and characters makes for priceless photos you will cherish forever.
On Disney cruises, I am pretty sure the character to human ratio is approximately 1:3. I fabricated that statistic, but seriously, there are characters everywhere. The lines to see them are infinitely shorter than those found at the Disney theme parks. There is a schedule posted on the Disney Cruise Line app informing you of their locations throughout the day. They also freely roam the ships. It is not uncommon to see Peter Pan run by without warning.
The characters on the ships have big personalities. There are lots of theater majors in those costumes.
Disney Cruise Line offers something for everyone. Each member of the family can do his or her own thing. There is no need to bring the five year old to the spa. The kids can visit the kids’ clubs, or spend time doing something with the family if you prefer.
There are countless organized activities and games throughout the day to entertain the adults. The cruise director will be more than happy to make you mildly uncomfortable during a game or show.
The ships have pools, water slides, splash pads, and a sports deck offering things like miniature golf, shuffleboard, and basketball.
Caribbean cruises offer Pirate Night. Families have the option to dress like pirates together. Whether or not you dress up, there is a fireworks display and a show wherein some pirates swing around the pool deck on ropes. Pirate Night makes for a fun theme night the family can enjoy together.
Castaway Cay is Disney’s private island in the Bahamas. Most Caribbean cruises stop there. It is clean, beautiful, and blissfully uncrowded. Only Disney cast members live there. It is a slightly different experience than visiting Nassau when five cruise ships are in port. It is the perfect beach day for multi-generational families.
The ship docks right next to the island. You do not have to take a tender to get there. The beach is walking distance from the ship, but they offer a tram to take you around if you can’t or don’t want to walk. The tram runs throughout the day and circles the island. It is very easy for people with limited mobility or a toddler who refuses to walk to get around.
Castaway Cay has water slides and a splash pad to appeal to kids and teens. It offers excursions, including parasailing and snorkeling. If you just want to relax on a beach chair, you can do that as well.
Lunch is served on Castaway Cay. You can pre-order your food to ensure it will meet your dietary restrictions. If you don’t want to eat there, they serve food on the ship as well.
The kids’ club will take the kids on the island. There are servers everywhere to help you spend more money, so your drink is never empty while you are not supervising children. Castaway Cay truly offers something for everyone.
The staterooms on Disney Cruise Line are larger than those found on most other cruise lines. They were clearly designed with families in mind. There is a split bath with a bathtub, a relatively rare find on a cruise ship. A lot of the rooms also come with heavy curtains that can divide the room if everyone does not turn in at 8:00 p.m. The rooms are updated, clean, and nicely decorated. Cute towel animals are left each night. Some of the ships offer free Disney movies on demand in the rooms.
The same stateroom attendant comes twice per day to clean. Like the dining staff, he or she will get to know your needs and ensure you are comfortable. While there is no getting around the fact that the staterooms are small, you feel the squeeze a lot less on a Disney ship.
You can book adjoining rooms, so you can be together, but not too together. This has the added benefit of allowing grandparents to listen to sleeping children while their parents hit the bar with other middle aged people to relive their college glory days.
Disney Cruise Line has the best theatrical productions of any cruise line. Disney goes so far as to boldly label its shows “Broadway-style.” I am a tough critic. I can barely keep my eyes from rolling out of my head at the first sign of sequins or jazz hands. Even with my cynical attitude, I have to say, Disney is not wrong about the quality of its shows.
Each ship puts on different shows. We saw Beauty and the Beast and Believe on the Disney Dream. Both looked like professional theater. The sets were elaborate, the people can sing, and the stories flowed fairly well. The shows were family friendly, but adults can enjoy them too. They are perfect for the whole family to experience together. It is fun to watch the kids get excited.
The service on Disney Cruise Line is top notch. I already touched on the service in the dining rooms and staterooms. That level of service is spread throughout the ship. Every employee we encountered greeted us with a smile and went out of his or her way to help us when we needed it. They can definitely accommodate people with special needs and mobility issues. We are a low maintenance, stick to ourselves kind of people, and even I noticed that the service was special.
Disney cruises are expensive, but they are worth it. People of all ages can enjoy themselves. It offers the perfect opportunity to spend quality time together some of the day and social distance when you have had enough of each other (unrelated to COVID-19). Plan ahead and try to save as much money as possible. Try Disney Cruise Line, you will not regret it!
*This is a guest post by Adriane from the Put On Your Party Pants blog. Be sure to check out the other fun and informative articles she offers!
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