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Cruising with Little Ones: Q&A with a Mom

Jonathan Frontado

by , Public Relations Director, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney and Disney Vacation Club

Over the last few weeks, I’ve shared information about taking a Disney cruise with young kids. A lot of that information has come from chatting with parents who have sailed with children under the age of five. One of my conversations was with Debbie, an avid Disney cruiser from Minneapolis.


Debbie and her husband have three kids who all experienced their first Disney cruise as toddlers. She has cruised three times with kids and three times without, which definitely makes her an expert on all things Disney Cruise Line! Here are her answers to some of my questions about cruising with little ones …


What stood out about the amenities for young children?

Debbie: Everything was catered to the kids. The wait staff and housekeeping staff made my kids feel like royalty every day by adding many extra special touches to their service. My three-year-old twins especially loved the splash pad, and it satisfied their need for water activities, while putting my mind at ease in that it was enclosed. Plus, I didn’t have to worry about their swim abilities. The accessibility to the characters is phenomenal. Some of the characters even recognized my kids by mid-week, which made them feel extra special. Evening activities in the kids’ club (i.e. “pajama party”) allowed for some adult time. I felt the kids were very safe in the Oceaneer Club; check in and check out was efficient, yet thorough, and safety was a priority. Also, you can borrow amazing all-terrain strollers (for free!) so you don’t have to bring your own when you disembark at ports of call.

What are some of the ways Disney Cruise Line made it easy for you to enjoy time for yourself onboard?

Debbie: Bringing our kids to the Oceaneer Club during dinner allowed us to relax and enjoy our meal. We were able to enjoy an evening at Remy while the kids were at the Oceaneer Club. The counselors knew of our plans and promised to only call us if it was an emergency. When we did bring our kids with us to other dining rooms, the wait staff catered to them. Servers could sense if the kids were over tired or amped up and would find ways to entertain and amuse them. It was incredible. Also, you can request kids’ food right away during dinner. This way, when they are done, they can leave with a youth counselor and go to the Oceaneer Club. It allows for a much more pleasant dining experience for parents of children who get bored quickly!

How about in port?

Debbie: There are awesome activities for families and kids at Castaway Cay. We never once heard “I’m bored,” which rarely happens when we’re on a beach with the kids. We even went out on a limb and left the kids on the ship when we went to San Juan. We decided to do an adult excursion (kayaking/hiking/ziplining). Early on I was very nervous about leaving the kids on the ship, but it was INCREDIBLE. We had the most amazing time (I HIGHLY recommend that excursion!!) and the kids had a great time on the ship.

What impressed you most about the youth counselors?

Debbie: They are genuinely excited to be with your kids, seem to really enjoy their role, and are fully engaged and highly interactive with the children (they are kids at heart!) They get to know your kids during the week and cater to their needs. I felt like the counselors truly cared about my children. It was like leaving my children with a room full of magical nannies!

What is your response to parents who question if their children are old enough to truly enjoy and appreciate a Disney cruise?

Debbie: First and foremost – it’s Disney. No matter the age, there’s something for everyone. The service on the cruise is second to none. One of the many benefits of the cruise is that you don’t have to think about a thing and you can leave your worries behind. Kids hungry? There’s always food available. Kids bored? Not possible. There’s always something to do.

A big “thank you” to Debbie for her insights. For more on cruising with little ones, check out these past posts:


  • As a first time cruiser, I was expecting to have more activities for the under-3 crowd when we took our family cruise last year. My daughter was then almost 2, so we had a great time with the characters, at the shows, and of course the splash pad! And maybe it was because I was on one of the first holiday cruises, but we didn’t get to meet Santa as he was only out a few times, once at 10pm. I found that the open houses for the nursery, while a nice thought, happened either during breakfast or during nap time. When I did take my daughter to the nursery to get registered, the staff seemed very disinterested and wouldn’t let us check out the actual nursery area without the reservation, so we didn’t go back. Must’ve been a bad day! It was a good thing I like to wander and explore, because I got quite a workout climbing stairs and checking out the ship! Oh, and also, I think since it was our first cruise, we didn’t really know what was happening when or what the all items on our navigator were, so we didn’t know about activities in time (but I already gave that feedback to the Cruise Line! 😉 ). So if you are reading this and thinking about cruising, just ask the guest services team what to do! They’re great! Regardless, we still loved our family cruise and can’t wait to go on another trip together! Although we might take a Grandma next time…

  • We traveled on the Disney Wonder last year with my then 8-month old. We had a GREAT time and he did too. He really enjoyed playing in the water play area, watching the shows at night, exploring the boat, and of course, nap time in the room! 🙂 We booked several hours for him in the nursery the second day the boat was in Castaway. The sun and heat can be too much for the little ones, and this was great because it allowed him a cool place to play and maintain his usual routine while we could relax and have fun on the island. The nursery staff was absolutely wonderful and he was having so much fun playing with the other kids when we came to pick him up. We had so much fun competing in Jack Jack’s Incredible Diaper Dash as well. The atrium filled with cheering fans and the babies were the center of attention. I was perfectly happy paying a reasonable fee to have him the in the nursery, it only makes sense as there is more care given to individual needs and more staffing required. We thought of this as our “Mommy-Daddy Excursion!”

  • We just returned from my 11th cruise with DCL. We sailed on the Magic for an 11-night Norwegian fjord cruise. It was our best cruise ever, and we traveled with a 12 year old and a 2.5 year old who spent a lot of time in the nursery. It is well worth the extra money for her to be in the nursery, and the extra time and attention they receive while in the nursery. There are many activities for toddlers beyond just going to the splash pad. There are dance parties, character meet and greets, Princess gatherings, and disney jr get togethers just to name a few. Shows! I almost forgot the fabulous shows we attend as a family! In the nursery, they paint, color, dance, play, sleep, cuddle, and even have surprise visits from characters. She will turn 3 in November, and we plan to continue to utilize the nursery until she is 4. We like the structure, and attention they are given. If she goes to the oceaneer club, it will be for short periods of time. We typically eat at the late dinner. We order food immediately for both children. Our son stays at dinner longer, unless a game of gaga ball or dodgeball is calling him, and the 2.5 yr old goes to nursery after about 30 min. I could go on….We love our disney cruises. My daughter is already asking when she can go back on “mickey’s boat”. I believe she has cruised at least 6 times. DCL is the best option for our family!

  • We travelled with a 22 month old last December, and the biggest challenge was they are not allowed to play in the nursery unless you pay for them to be in there. Our daughter saw the toys and desperately wanted to go in and have fun, but we were told that we needed a reservation for her to play. This is also frustrating since kids 3 and over are allowed to roam free, without additional charge, in the kids club areas. The nursery is never free. We still had a fun cruise, but spent A LOT of time at the kids splash area, since it was the only toddler appropriate activity we could do as a family. We are definitely waiting for our daughter to turn 3 before we hop on our next cruise.

  • I agree we will be sailing with our 18 month old and I would love to know more information about the Nursery and late dining, Thanks!

  • This is awesome! We embark on our first cruise this December and our boys are 2 and 5. We know our 2 year old will have to go to Nemo’s Nursery and aren’t sure how they will like being in different places and away from us. Have you heard any feedback from anyone in that situation? Thanks!

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