Cruising with kids – on a Disney Cruise with a toddler

We’re going back on this one. Like, 10 months back. So forgive me if some details are fuzzy. But I couldn’t not write a blog about our Disney cruise. Because I just need to shout it to the rooftops (along with anyone who has ever taken a Disney cruise) about how amazing it was.

magical Disney cruise with a toddler

 Look at the wonder on his face!

And knowing that we’ll be taking another one soon (because, duh), I’ll keep this one quick and just cover the highlights.

For example, did you know that when you board the ship, they announce you? Over the loudspeaker. It’s like you’re royalty. Because, in Disney’s eyes, you are. And the characters are all there waving to you and welcoming you on board. It’s truly magical. (Seriously, I think I squealed)

We went on this cruise with my husband’s family, so the ages ranged from 17 months (our son) to grandparents, including a 12-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy. And I think I can safely say that everyone had the best time of their lives. When Disney says there’s something for all ages, they truly mean it. For the littlest ones, there’s a Nemo-themed splash pad with a teeny little slide, for the pre-teens there’s a kids club with organized games and activities, and for the adults, there was an adults-only area where they’d have (slightly) racy entertainment in the evenings.

Pirate Night on the Disney Dream

Be sure and bring your pirate costumes for Pirate Night

The food. Oh my, the food. It was amazing. We all know that cruises have a reputation as nothing more than floating buffets, but the Disney cruise food was beyond your regular buffet fare. So here’s how it works on a Disney cruise - you rotate between dining rooms each night. On the ship we were on (the Dream), we rotated between the Enchanted Garden, the Art of Animation, and the Royal Palace. My favorite was definitely the Art of Animation - there’s a talking Crush the Turtle who interacts with the crowd. It’s amazing. And it gets better - your wait team travels with you each night. So you have the same head waiter and team taking care of you each night. Why does this matter? Because they learn what you like and don’t like - and they anticipate it. It just adds a different level of magic when you’re greeted by name and your waiter remembers that you have a soft spot for all things chocolate. (True story)

But enough about chocolate (not a thing). I know you guys love hearing about traveling with kids and just-how-the-heck-do-you-do-that. So here are some tips, straight from Paperfinch to you. Just keep in mind - we only have a toddler, so this is pretty much geared towards that age group. If you think I should ask my niece and nephew for their opinions and do a separate post, just let me know in the comments!

Cruising with kids on a Disney Cruise with a toddler

So many cute moments like this

-The cruise ships have an outdoor jogging track. If you have an overactive toddler (like me), use it. We would take C out every day (sometimes more than once) and just let him run. It’s totally safe - there’s plexiglass inside the railings - and he had the freedom to just run and run. And burn off at least a little of that endless energy.

Jogging track on the Disney Dream
Seriously. This jogging track was a life saver. 

–There’s a kid's club. Use it. You guys know we are fans of the kid's clubs on vacation. And C is too - he’d much rather play with some friends and new (to him) toys than sit in a high chair for a super boring (to him) dinner or show. So, from time to time, we would bring him to the Disney nursery and drop him off for a bit. Including one evening where we brought him in his jammies and picked him up later…asleep. We managed to have a little fun adult time (80s trivia, for the win!) and he played hard until he passed out. Win-win.

–Do you have a picky eater? Then there’s no better place to attempt to feed them than a Disney cruise ship. Just tell your head waiter what you need and I promise they’ll make it happen. Is it an absolute MUST that your little one has exactly 3 pieces of broccoli, a PB&J cut into triangles, and heaven-forbid-that-you-put-the-peanut-butter-on-TOP-of-the-jelly….. Your head waiter will take care of it. And most likely with a smile. (Seriously, I feel like Disney puts something in their water. I never see cast members NOT smiling)

–If you’re worried about any accidents happening while you’re at sea, don’t. We (unfortunately) had to visit the ship doctor while we were at sea and it was a wonderful experience. My screaming toddler probably wouldn’t have agreed, but I digress. The doctor was pleasant, we were in and out quickly, and the staff was very caring. We were lucky, it was just an asthma-related issue, but I have no doubt that something more serious would have been handled with as much care and as many smiles.

–Don’t be afraid of going during hurricane season. You might get 2 free days out of it! …. Okay, so that’s not the most solid tip, but it’s totally what happened to us. Hurricane Matthew totally derailed Disney’s regular cruising schedule – Castaway Cay was being pummeled with rain and heavy winds. So Disney rerouted us to Cozumel and Costa Maya…along with keeping us on the ship for 2 extra days. For free. And yes, the Disney cruise staff was STILL smiling. The moral of this story? Disney will do their absolute best to make your cruise 100% magical. I promise.

Minnie Mouse hugging toddler on Disney cruise

It's moments like these that make any stress totally worth it

I could write pages and pages (and pages more) about how wonderful this cruise was. If you want to know more about how the nursery works, what our favorite shows were, the crazy Halloween rave in the lobby, or who got up and sang the entire “Saved by the Bell” theme song at 80s trivia (spoiler: me), let me know in the comments - I can do a lengthier post if there’s interest!

Here's one last Pirate Night photo – just to showcase my awesome Pirate family.

Cruising with kids on a Disney Cruise with a toddler