A couple weeks ago, Disney invited me on a 7-day Caribbean cruise on the Disney Magic — a gorgeous ship sailing out of Texas, stopping at Grand Cayman Island and Mexico along the way. So, naturally, I grabbed my 3-year-old son and my bathing suit, and didn’t look back. HELLO, SUNNY CARIBBEAN IN DECEMBER.
Taking Noah to Disney World has topped my Life List, but we planned on waiting until he was 5 or 6 — until he can actually remember the trip, getting the most out of our expense. The lines, the rides, the walking — I figured it would be best to wait. But Noah has been a gigantic Disney fan since his early toddler days, and he’s now fully immersed in imagination and magic.
And it turns out the perfect solution is a Disney cruise — which has all of the magic, yet none of the exhaustion. In fact, a cruise might be the perfect solution for any family with younger kids, as it’s the best way to have a vacation that satisfies everyone in the family. Yes, even the youngest family members.
Think your child is too young for a Disney cruise? Here are 10 reasons why you might change your mind:
Flounder's Reef Nursery
For kids 3 months to 3 years, the Disney Magic has an adorable Flounder’s Reef Nursery — full of toys, games, and gear for the littlest family members. Whenever I passed by (or popped in for a tour), it was so quiet and clean — definitely somewhere I’d be comfortable leaving my baby (especially if it was for a quick spa service or dip in the adults-only hot tub).
It’s open from 9 am to 11 pm, and the nursery is the only service that costs an additional fee ($6/hour).
It’s not uncommon to have a character drop by the nursery while you’re gone!
If you have an older child (3 years+), the Disney Magic has a Kids’ Club and Kids’ Lab — both free of charge — with frequent character visits.
The people! The people!
The cruise staff was — across the board — some of the nicest, loveliest, most patient people I’ve ever met. It’s like they have some special Disney gene that keeps them smiling around the clock. They’re definitely the type of people you’d trust with your kids.
Activities for all ages
While the nursery has plenty of activities alone — story time, movies, crafts, etc. — they also have cruise-wide activities, even for babies (like Jack Jack’s Incredible Diaper Dash, which was a baby race for infant crawlers).
Check-in excluded (which was actually really easy), this was the longest line we had to stand on, which ended right at the end of the hallway. And we were waiting to take pictures with ALL of the Disney princesses — all of whom stopped and chatted withe each kid before taking multiple photos. This was definitely the highlight of our trip, and the fact that the line was fairly painless? Amazing.
We had a character breakfast, princess photos, a character dance party (where Noah danced around holding Mickey’s hands), and several other character-filled parties. Noah went on a hunt with Goofy. He saw Belle doing a storybook reading. He passed the characters in the hallways, countless times. Perhaps even more than at Disney World, the characters on Disney cruises are very accessible.
Mickey's Splash Zone
For kids in swim diapers, the Disney Magic had this adorable section for water play — where water sprung up from the ground in an infant- and toddler-designed pool area. I think my 3 year old liked this section even better than the pool!
Excursion for All Ages
Even though plenty of the Mexican excursions were adventurous and big-kid/adult-focused, Disney makes sure to have cruises for all ages, which they clearly label by activity level. We went to the beach, which was a low-key excursion that any kid, of any age, can do.
Dining for Kids
Although the food was amazing and up-scale, all of the restaurants had plenty to entertain even the littlest ones — like the Animator’s Palate, which changed colors throughout dinner.
Unlike another cruise, which might also have a daycare service and family-friendly activities, this is DISNEY. It’s meant to be magical for kids — from the artwork to the food to to a giant goofy hanging off the back of the ship. It’s kid-approved, all around, while still giving parents an adult-friendly getaway.
Even more reasons:
- Room service is free, in case you need to skip a meal for a nap.
- The TV on the ship is excellent, which gives you something to do while nursing or hanging out in the room.
- The Disney cruise provides “wave phones” (cell phones), so you can text and call anyone around the ship — without having to pay for roaming and data fees. The kids’ clubs and nursery will even call you when your child is ready to be picked up, or in case anything happens — which is much-needed peace of mind. My son was having a hard time going into the kids’ club while I went and did a work-related activity, and I got a text message 3 minutes later saying, “Noah has fully calmed down and is happily coloring!” That’s a very thoughtful service for parents.
- All of the entertainment on the ship is free — movies, Broadway-style plays, concerts, etc. — so you can leave halfway through without worrying about wasting money.
- Everyone on the ship is very kid-focused and willing to help, no matter what your needs and concerns are.