Think you need to wait until your children are “old enough” to enjoy a cruise vacation? Think again. While many cruise line vacations are not a good fit for babies and toddlers, Disney Cruise Line undoubtedly is. My family had the opportunity to cruise aboard the Disney Wonder a few weeks ago with our toddler in tow. We found that the cruise line offers so many features and amenities that make the entire vacation seamless with a little one. Here are 9 things to know about going on a Disney Cruise Line vacation with a baby or toddler.
1. There Are Age Restrictions
While Disney Cruise Line is very welcoming to babies on board, the cruise line does have reasonable age restrictions with health and safety in mind. Before you book, make sure your child is old enough for a particular sailing. Babies must be 6 months old as of the sailing date for most Disney Cruise vacations, but need to be 12 months old for transatlantic or Panama Canal itineraries.
2. Adults Get a Break Thanks to It’s a Small World Nursery
Most cruise lines will not take babies and toddlers in their onboard kids clubs, but Disney Cruise Line has childcare especially tailored to the littlest travelers. Every ship has a nursery that takes babies and toddlers up to age 3 (3 year olds can take part in the regular children’s programming if they are potty trained or opt to stay in the nursery). Nursery fees are a very reasonable $9 an hour as of early 2017. Pre-register your children for childcare online before the cruise to streamline the check-in process. The nursery serves healthy meals and snacks and even sends notifications to parents when their child needs to be picked up using a special complimentary wave phone that is in every cruise cabin. So go ahead and enjoy a grown-ups night out or spa appointment knowing your little one will have fun!
3. Cabins Are Built for for Early Baby Bedtimes
One of the hardest thing about traveling with babies and toddlers is their early bedtimes. Many traveling parents have had to sit in the dark for several hours in a hotel room in order to let their child in the room sleep. Disney Cruise Line has thought about that. Better yet, they have a solution! Cabins on the ships are divided by a very heavy blackout curtain that closes the kids bunk area off from the main bed for adults. Your children can go to sleep while you have access to the rest of the cabin and bathroom.
4. Ships Are Stocked with Supplies and Gear
If you are used to having to pack an extra suitcase just for baby products and supplies, you can leave it at home on a Disney Cruise. While you still may want to bring specific brands your family prefers, the ships have plenty of diapers, wipes, baby medication, food, and formula on board to restock or if you forgot something. Room service will deliver whole milk to your room for older babies and toddlers for a nighttime bottle or sippy. There is a refrigerator in the room to store snacks and milk or formula for any time you might need them too. Pack N Plays are
also available to give baby a safe space to sleep.
5. Even Tots in Swim Diapers Can Get WetWhile all cruise ships prohibit swim diapers in their pools, Disney didn’t want to leave the little ones out of the water fun while on board. Each ship has a splash pad play area where swim diapers are allowed for the pre-potty training set. On the Disney Wonder, Nemo’s Reef offered my son hours of enjoyment.
6. Castaway Cay is a Beach Baby’s Dream
Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay, is a stop on most of the cruise line’s trips out of Port Canaveral, Florida. Just as DCL has thought of everything on the ship to make life easy for parents with young children, it does the same on Castaway Cay. Jogging strollers and wagons with wheels
that can easily navigate sand are available to transport your little ones more easily. The beaches have a very gradual dropoff that allows babies and toddlers to wade safely. Free life jackets in small sizes are stocked on every beach to borrow, just like on the ship. Even the bike rentals are baby-friendly! You can rent adult bikes with baby seats on the back to explore the island with your tyke.
7. Bathing Baby is No Problem
Get a little sandy at Castaway Cay? On most cruise ships, super-small showers are the only place to get clean. On Disney Cruise Line, cabins have a bathtub where you can actually give Baby a bath. Even though these tubs are smaller than standard size, they were still big enough to give both of my kids a bath at the same time for maximum efficiency.
8. Entertainment is a Fit for Little Travelers
Assuming it isn’t too much past baby’s bedtime, the evening shows on Disney Cruise Line are likely to be a hit with little ones. The shows are filled with Disney magic and familiar characters that hold their attention in a way that most live entertainment would not. And your fellow travelers won’t give you a dirty look when your baby makes a little noise in the theater because they likely have young kids with them too.
9. Character Meet and Greets Abound
Seeing a little one’s eyes light up meeting Mickey for the first time is what makes any kind of Disney vacation special, including trips on Disney Cruise Line. There are many opportunities for your babies or toddlers to meet their favorite characters on a Disney cruise. Book character meet-and-greet times in advance online to have the shortest wait times. Or simply seize the moment when pre-dinner photo opportunities present themselves. On Castaway Cay, there are also a number of character meet ups as you disembark the ship, so get those cameras ready.
Some of the information in this post may have changed after this writing. Please visit Guest Services for Disney Cruise Line to confirm current policies.