If you’ve got kids, a trip with Disney Cruise Line is a no-brainer. The line offers four classically styled ships that recall the grandeur of the great transatlantic ocean liners, but with all of the family-friendly amenities and features that you’d expect of a thoroughly modern vessel.
What you might not know, however, is just how strong Disney’s onboard product is. Disney die-hards — even the ones without kids — flock to the line’s four ships each year. Much like a trip to Disneyland or Walt Disney World, this all comes at a cost that isn’t insignificant. But as the saying goes, you get what you pay for — and with Disney, you’re getting a lot.
For the kids, where to start? The children’s facilities aboard Disney’s four ships — but particularly the newer Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy — are second to none. Age-specific programs and play areas are more fanciful and well thought out than other major cruise lines, and Disney has always managed to keep one step ahead of the game in this area. Disney’s Oceaneer Lab offers up craft studios, an animation studio where kids can create their own animation cells, take part in wacky challenges, and even steer their own pirate ship as part of a computer-controlled navigation simulator. That’s in addition to all of the on-deck activities, pool areas, and evening production shows.
Adults aren’t left out of the action, either. Disney’s entire fleet offers a line of adult-only specialty restaurants (Paolo on Disney Magic and Disney Wonder; and Remy aboard Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy) that are as classy and elegant as anything you’d find on a luxury cruise, while all four ships have some of the best spas at sea. Couple that with adults-only nightclubs and lounges and live music offered nightly, and it’s easy to see why Disney’s ships set out full on nearly every voyage.
While it’s no secret that Disney offers cruises to the Caribbean, including its splendid private island known as Castaway Cay, the line’s most interesting itineraries lie elsewhere.
Disney Wonder returns to Alaska again this summer, sailing five, seven and nine-night voyages out of Vancouver between May and September. Sister ship Disney Magic, meanwhile, will feature four- and seven-night cruises to the Canadian Maritimes and New England that depart from New York in September and October.
You can also take the kids across the pond, either on a transatlantic voyage, or as part of a cruise through Europe. Most of these last a week in duration and sail through the Mediterranean, but some of Disney’s most exciting summer 2018 itineraries can be found in Northern Europe. My favourite — though it’s nearly sold out as of this writing — is the 10 Night Norwegian Fjords & Iceland cruise that sails between Copenhagen, Denmark and Dover, England on Aug. 16. But there is also a very reasonably priced (for Disney) voyage around the British Isles on Sept. 2 aboard Disney Magic that still shows availability. Sure, you have to pull the kids out of school for this one; but it’s tough to replace that kind of hands-on education that travel provides.
Closer to home, Disney also offers voyages to the Mexican Riviera, the Panama Canal, Coastal California cruises, and sailings to Bermuda. If you book early enough, you stand a better chance at grabbing a deal on an affordable stateroom.
Disney offers something else that’s hard to come by on most ships: an intangible whimsy. Maybe it’s the clever use of the “hidden Mickeys” worked into the ship’s decor, or the genuinely friendly staff and crew who make everyone feel welcomed. Or catching a glimpse of Captain Mickey on the Promenade Deck. Or walking into the soaring atrium, down the sweeping staircase, for a grand entrance that’s fit for cinema.
All of this is wrapped up in a package that is kid-friendly, but equally mindful of the adults that are paying the way. I know adults that don’t have kids, and don’t really want kids, that sail with Disney year after year because the line’s adult offerings are so good. And, much like Disneyland, you’re powerless to resist its charms.
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