Long before I had my son, I worked in the travel industry. I have to admit that I was very judgmental at the time. I had colleagues that planned nothing but Disney vacations or cruises (we didn’t have Disney Cruise Line back in that day).
Why would you do that when you have all of Europe and Asia and South America waiting for you?, thought my 26 year old wanderlust-driven mind.
And I did do plenty of exploring. No Amazon jungle treks or hikes up Mt. Kiliminjaro but for a small town girl, I felt like I was finally seeing the world.
By the time I met my husband, who had also been out seeing the world, we were looking forward to adventures together. We’ve done plenty of exploring but we also enjoy the fine art of relaxing. So when we reluctantly tried out first cruise together, we thought it was AMAZING.
We packed once and our hotel floated along with us as we went snorkeling in the Bahamas, swimming with stingrays in Grand Cayman, climbing waterfalls in Jamaica, and driving the worst VW Bug in my life around the island of Cozumel. Each night, we’d return to a delicious meal and a comfortable bed and tons of things to do or absolutely nothing at all. It was our choice. A perfect couples vacation.
BUT WHAT ABOUT KIDS?
We went on a major travel hiatus after Evan was born. We ventured to the New Jersey shore and that was it. As he got older, we decided to try our luck at Walt Disney World and a family love was born. But I still wanted my exotic and relaxing vacations. The idea of combining cruising and Disney appealed to me but I wasn’t sure if it was an option that would work for Evan.
A few weeks ago, we were fortunate enough to attend a Media Sailing of the newly re-imagine Disney Magic and this two-night “cruise to nowhere” was the perfect chance for us to give Evan a taste and see how well it might work for us as a family.
If you’re thinking about cruising with kids, here are some things I can tell you about the Disney Magic and cruising in general that might help your decision.
1. Is there enough room for my family?
Of course! I guess the real question is are the staterooms big enough for your family? The answer is that is depends on the size of your family. The typical stateroom easily accommodates 3 or 4. Our room had a queen-sized bed and a sofa that could convert to a single bed. There was also a bunk available for pull down.
Photo Credit: Matt Stroshane
We were a traveling family of three so the cabin suited us perfectly. And our stateroom attendant set up the third bed for us every evening. Admittedly, the quarters are tight but it’s a ship. And kids don’t mind. It’s an adventure!
2. Will the kids get bored in the room at night?
If you can, I suggest getting a stateroom with a verandah, or balcony. It gives kids something to look at during the day while they’re waiting for mom and dad (because we’re old and slow). And it gives the parents a place to retreat in the evening with some wine while the kids sit in the room, watch TV, and order Mickey ice cream bars from room service.
3. Can my kids fall overboard?
No. In fact, I think it would be really difficult for anyone to actually climb overboard, let alone fall overboard. But I bring it up because I hear it is a real fear. The verandahs in the stateroom are high and the rails are covered with plexiglass. Nothing is going to slip through there.
And most kids are focused more on what’s going on in the ship rather than what’s at sea. That being said, yes, you still have to supervise your children.
4. What kind of activities can we do together on the ship?
Glad you asked! Disney Magic has a little bit of everything for family time. I think we most enjoyed walking around the ship exploring. We found cool porthole window seats at night and loved just squishing in there as a family and watching the water.
We also spent time in the water. The pool water. There is a Goofy pool for swimming and a Donald Duck pool more for splashing around along with the Aqualab.
If you’re a thrill-seeking family, you can even try the Aquadunk, the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life. More on that later.
There’s a basketball court, a foosball table, a ping pong table, a video arcade, a movie theater, and a regular theater where you can watch grand scale Disney musical shows. And if it’s all too much, you can always find a quiet spot to grab an ice cream cone and relax.
In fact, eating was one of our favorite family activities (surprise!) and we loved the food and the show at the new Animator’s Palate.
5. Do I have to be with my kids all the time?
It’s okay. As parents, we all feel like this. We just don’t want to admit it. The answer is absolutely not! The great thing about Disney is that your kids are welcome everywhere (except a few designated ‘grown-up’ spots in the evenings) but there are plenty of places they can go on their own.
Before embarking, I had Evan set up with a RFID bracelet. This made sure that he could never truly get lost and made it secure for me to check him in and out of the kids areas. The Oceaneers Club is geared for kids aged 3 to 12. Parents can tour it during the Open House but after that it’s kids only.
New play areas there included Andy’s Room (from Toy Story), MARVEL’s Avengers Academy, Mickey Mouse Club, and Pixie Hollow. Evan was a big fan of the Avengers Academy which included video game stuff, of course.
Because of our short stay, he was only there for a little while and wasn’t too crazy about staying because he didn’t have a sibling or a friend with him. I feel confident he would have gone back many times had we been on the ship longer.
And if you have younger kids, there is an nursery available (for an additional fee), and spaces for older kids as well (clubs and spa treatments for tweens and teens).
6. Can I feel safe with my kids on the ship?
This wasn’t something that even entered my mind but was definitely a concern of other parents. Disney Magic is on the small side in terms of cruise ships these days. It’s big enough to keep busy but small enough that you never really feel lost. And with the Disney cast members staffing the ship, I felt as safe as I would at any park facility.
7. Will my kids like the food?
You’ll be pleased to know that there is a kids menu for every dinner as well as a full adult menu! Evan was perfectly fine with mac & cheese and cheeseburgers. And special requests were absolutely no problem. Kids could order from the adult menu and adults could order from the kids menu.
During breakfast and lunch, you could choose a sit down option or a buffet. We generally preferred the timing and casualness of the buffet and found the food to be just as good.
And in those in between time, you could always get a burger, some fries, a wrap, some pizza, or an ice cream cone somewhere on the ship. That made us all happy.
I loved their pizza! (A little too much)
8. Will my kids get seasick?
On my very first cruise, I took no chances and took Bonine once a day. It’s a motion sickness medicine that can be used for relief or as a preventative. I took it because I tend to get a little motion sick and it keep everything at bay for me (even when other passengers started to look a little queasy). I expected to give it to Evan too but read that it should only be given to children 12 and older. So I took my chances.
Kids are generally more stable than adults. In other words, he can spin around and around at the playground and think it’s fun. It would make me totally nauseous. So unless he brought it up, I wasn’t going to worry about seasickness. We had no issues but if we were going to be gone longer, I’d probably look into a seasickness band, which is simply a bracelet that applies pressure to a point on the wrist to help alleviate nausea.
P.S. I did have to go on a hunt for Motrin when Evan developed a really bad headache. Guest Services was so helpful but I ended up at the Ship Doctor where I purchased what I needed!
9. Is it expensive?
I say, can you put a price on happiness? OF COURSE YOU CAN. It’s not the cheapest vacation. But you have to consider where you’re visiting, the unlimited food and drinks (non-alcoholic), the Disney quality, and the peace of mind that comes with Disney.
10. Does it feel as magical as other Disney adventures?
It’s tough to say for me. I was there for two nights. That would be like asking someone who went to the Magic Kingdom for one day if they are now Disney fans for life. What I love so much about the Disney is the experience. By the end of our first full day, we were just starting to get into cruise life and we had to disembark the next morning. I think a 5 day cruise would be perfect if you are unsure how your kids might feel about cruising. But if you’re ready, go for 7 days and you’ll wish you never had to leave.
I almost forgot the most important thing of all! Disney invited me on this media sailing for the Disney Magic Re-Imagined and covered all expenses for myself and a guest.