Disney Cruise Line is the world’s only premium cruise line specifically targeting young families. It is basically Disney World at sea, with some of the most family-friendly cruise ships in the global cruise fleet.
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Disney Cruise Line provides its young passengers with the opportunity to meet princesses, Mickey Mouse and countless other iconic Disney characters.
It also offers adult-friendly experiences, with adults-only dining rooms, pool areas and spas.
Although a premium line, Disney Cruise Lines maintains a casual but elegant ambiance aboard its ships. The décor is a strange mix of ocean liner art deco and over-the-top Disney, that works rather well.
There are etched-in-pewter characters bordering the atrium, hidden mini-Mickeys in the adults-only restaurant’s china pattern, and an extravaganza of colors on-board reflecting the kid-friendly nature of the ships.
The line has worked hard to show that ‘child-friendly’ can go hand-in-hand with ‘elegant’.
Experience aboard Disney Cruise Line
The one way in which Disney Cruise Line ships differ from the rest of the industry, however, is in the amenities offered on-board.
There are no casinos or libraries for example, which is part of the reason why it struggles to attract adult-only cruising couples.
Each of the four cruise ships in the Disney Cruise Line fleet are unique in their own ways, but all share key elements of the Disney experience at sea, such as the elaborate Walt Disney Theatre, which resembles a plush Broadway house, and the Buena Vista Cinema, which shows Disney’s most famous movies.
D Lounge is a family play area with a stage where children and parents can sing karaoke, play games or participating in other activities like trivia.
It also has a bar, but unfortunately its only open during set performances in the evening.
Up top on the pool deck, all four ships have a family-friendly waterpark with pools for children, teens and adults.
There’s also a 200-foot Mickey water slide, and a splash park for toddlers.
Aboard Disney Magic and Disney Wonder there’s a large adult’s only pool with secluded tanning beds and a dedicated bar, but with Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream the line went all out with adults-only areas that span several deck, including suites, dining rooms, lounges and spas.
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Dining aboard Disney Cruise Line
Palo is a boutique eatery on each ship featuring northern Italian cuisine. It’s extremely popular so reserve as soon as you get on-board.
There’s also Remy offering top-of-the-line French fare on Dream and Fantasy, with a US $95 tab – the highest of any specialty restaurant at sea.
Disney Cruise Line spa
While we’re on the topic of adults-only areas aboard Disney Cruise Line, the spa is also largely off-limits to kids (although there is a Chill Teen Spa with specialised services).
One of the highlights is the spa’s adults-only rain forest steam room where one can truly relax. Aboard Disney Fantasy there is also an adults-only stretch of bars, lounges and nightclubs called “After Hours”; among the options are a dance club and sports pub.
Disney Cruise Line attractions and kids programs
Dream and Fantasy both feature the AquaDuck, the very first watercoaster on a cruise ship. The transparent, acrylic tube propels riders on a raft, up and down four decks of the ship, even swinging 15-feet beyond the ship’s side, 150 feet above the ocean.
Disney Fantasy features the AquaLab, where water pours out of buckets, through holes in the wall and from fountain jets on the deck.
The children’s program is run by dozens of caring youth counsellors who manage the scheduled and surprise character greetings that occur throughout the day.
The inclusion of It’s a Small World nurseries aboard the ships in recent years filled a much-maligned void for parents of children younger than three.
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Children are automatically enrolled in the children’s programs on Castaway Cay when guests embark. There are supervised games for the individual age groups, and bike riding.
Disney character appearances are also scheduled several times daily on the private island, but swimming is not part of the organised activities.
On the four ships there are dedicated areas for all age groups. Spanning nearly an entire deck, Disney’s Oceaneer Club is a supervised program for children aged 3 to 7, split into age groups of 3 to 4 and 5 to 7.
For kids aged 8 to 9 and 10 to 12 there is the Oceaneer Lab, offering high-tech interactive programs, hands-on science experiments and shipwide treasure hunts.
Kids 11 to 12 can compete in a marine biology knowledge game show and send digital postcards to friends.
Teenagers are split into two groups, those 11 to 13, who have Edge as their dedicated area, and 14 to 17-year-olds, who can use Vibe, which includes an outdoor area with hot tubs.
Both clubs have comfy furniture for lounging around the state-of-the-art video game equipment.
These children’s facilities are generally open from 9 a.m. until 1 a.m., though times can vary.
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Types of passengers aboard Disney Cruise Line
The majority of passengers aboard Disney Cruise Line ships are young families, especially on its Caribbean itineraries, but multigenerational reunions are also common due to the extensive activities and options available to all age groups.
There are more honeymooners and couples without children on Disney Cruise Line’s Alaska itineraries as they like the oversized staterooms and underutilised adults-only areas.
The vast majority of passengers are from North America, with a few Europeans as well on the Mediterranean sailings.
Cruise ships in the Disney fleet:
Due in 2022: Disney Wish
Categories: Cruise Line Focus
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