As hard as I find it to believe, it seems that not everyone wants to visit Walt Disney World for a family vacation.
Take my friend for example. She and her husband have not set foot in a theme park in over 20 years. They do not like crowds. They do not like rides. Up until now, it has never been a problem. They simply went to the Caribbean for their family holidays, taking their sweet little baby girl with them everywhere they went.
And then, their sweet little baby girl turned four. Like many girls her age, one day she watched the movie Frozen.
I think you can guess what happened next.
She immediately memorized all the words to the song “Let it Go”. She can sing the entire song upon request. She wears her Elsa costume all the time. Except of course when she is wearing her Anna costume, or her Anna and Elsa pajamas. You get the idea.
The other day she came home from JK and excitedly announced to her parents that her friend Olivia had met Elsa and Anna at Walt Disney World in Florida this summer and brought pictures in to school to show everyone. Now she wants to meet Elsa too! It’s all she talks about. My friend finds herself in a dilemma. She doesn’t want to disappoint her little girl. She wants to see the joy in her daughter’s eyes when she meets her favourite characters, but her husband cannot stomach the idea of going into a theme park, even for just one day.
So what’s an anti-theme park parent with a little princess obsessed with the Frozen characters to do? I had the perfect solution for her - A Disney Cruise! Here’s why it will make everyone in the family happy:
Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Spiderman, Captain America, Thor, Disney Princesses, Mickey, Minnie and many other characters are all on board the Disney Cruise ships. For some character experiences, such as meeting the characters from the Frozen and Marvel franchise, each family selects a specific time that suits them, which means little or no wait time.
For others, like Mickey and Minnie, the Disney Princesses etc., these characters are available for meet and greets in the Lobby Atrium many times throughout the cruise. While there are still often line-ups, they are significantly shorter than anything typically experienced in the parks. In addition, the princesses often wander through the ship, striking up conversations with the children, like Belle did with us in the Vista Gallery on the Disney Magic last year.
Fantastic Kids Clubs
Fun, dedicated, engaged counselors and a large variety of age appropriate activities keep kids ages 3-12 happily entertained in the Oceaneer Club and Lab. Tinkerbell treasure hunts, volcano building, character drawing lessons, dress up and craft tables – there is so much for your kids to choose from. While your children are happily engaged, you can go watch a movie, or hang out at the adult pool, or even have a nap! This is the ultimate Kid’s Club experience. We had trouble getting our girls to leave the clubs because there was always an upcoming activity they wanted to participate in.
Disney Cruise Line offers rotational dining, which means you are assigned to a different restaurant each evening. The food quality in all of the restaurants is outstanding, but what is even more outstanding is that a pair of servers will be assigned to your family for the entire cruise!
Why is this so great? Because that means they get to know you! Little Ethan needs his food cut up? No problem! The servers will cut it up for him. Madison loves chocolate milk? It will be waiting for her when she arrives. Josh is a picky eater? No worries, there’s sure to be something he will eat on the menu and the servers will ensure they have it ready for him. As the lead parent in our family, I found the entire restaurant experience to be one of the best parts of the cruise, when normally it is the most taxing. Not only did I not have to cook the meal or deal with the clean up, I was able to eat my food while it was still hot!
Another great benefit is the Dine and Play option. Your little ones can receive their meals at the restaurant quickly and then will be escorted by counselors to the Oceaneer Club so that the adults can enjoy their dinner at a leisurely place. You only need to tell your server!
For those of you who want to avoid the whole sit-down restaurant experience completely there’s also a buffet restaurant and several quick service restaurants on board. We’ve had many evenings where we just fed the girls some pizza and dropped them off at the Oceaneer Club on our way to a relaxing childfree dinner.
The Disney Magic and Disney Wonder are relatively small ships that are easily navigated by the entire family. The Oceaneer Club and Lab are located directly above the Lobby Atrium and our children enjoyed the independence of leaving us after dinner to ride up the glass elevator to check into the Club alone. Being on a smaller ship also means that the lines are not too long at the character meets and that you’ll usually find a spot in the theatre, even if you arrive a few minutes late. And if your family is like my family, you’ll especially appreciate that your cabin is only a short walk away when realize you need to go back again to it to retrieve those inevitable forgotten items.
Parents are on vacation too!
We took our first cruise while there was a hurricane occurring in another part of the Caribbean. The weather was terrible. It rained every day and the sea was tumultuous. Despite this, it was still the BEST, MOST RELAXING VACATION we had had since our children were born. Our girls were 4 and 7 at the time and being on a cruise not only provided lots of family time, but just as importantly, my husband and I also had some much needed alone time too. While the girls were happily at the Oceaneer Club, we enjoyed the adult pool, quiet lunches, the spa, leisurely dinners and evening entertainment on our own. It was truly a vacation for the whole family.
It’s as “Disney” as you want to make it!
And for those of you who don’t love Disney as much as your children (or I) do. Yes, you are on a Disney ship. Yes, it is themed with Disney animation and much of the evening entertainment is Disney orientated, but not all of it is. You can avoid a lot of it if you want too. On many sailings there are family friendly magicians and comedians, dance troupes and lecturers. The restaurants are only subtlety themed and the adult pool, spa and fitness centre are barely themed at all.
A family vacation on a Disney Cruise truly does mean that your little princess can meet Anna and Elsa without you setting foot in a theme park. It’s a great way to balance family time and adult time and is a great experience for the whole family. Everyone wins!
Have some questions about which Disney Cruise itinerary is right for you? Contact Monica today for some friendly advice or a non-obligation quote. I look forward to hearing from you!