|And we're off on an adventure!|
From the time that we arrived in Orlando and stepped onto the Disney Cruise Line bus transfer, and started to make our journey towards Port Canaveral, my mind started to ease. This was happening! And it was going smoothly! Once we were in the hands of Disney (and thankfully had no airline delays getting there!) I immediately felt like everything was taken care of and caught on to the process of what we need to do for our first ever embarkation on to the Disney Dream!
The girls were in awe of everything being all new, their eyes lit up with surprise as our bus rounded the corner and they saw the ship for the first time. Once inside, they were anxious to get on board and see what it looked like! As we stepped through the Mickey icon and up the ramp to get into the ship, I could feel their excitement building! When you arrive on board, they announce your family to welcome you and crew members clap as you walk into the ship - the girls didn't know quite what to make of it.
Check out the Embarkation Process in this video!
As we stepped into the main atrium area, one of the most magical moments of the trip happened, as they took in the ship for the first time and stood literally turning circles around themselves looking up! It was wondrous! We quickly were able to make ourselves at home and they both wanted to check out the Oceaneer Club quite immediately! (The Oceaneer Club would become one of their favorite parts about the cruise!) We headed to the club to check it out, and we were off on our adventure!!
This was the start to our magical vacation, and now that we are back home and reflecting on our time aboard the Disney Dream - I can say it absolutely went better than I had ever imagined and was a great experience we hope to do again in the future! I have been asked, "What age is a good age to take our kids on their first Disney cruise?", and honestly I can say after seeing and experiencing the ship... When you are ready to take one. It's a very "doable" vacation at all ages, but especially from preschool age on up. They truly have something on board for all ages, whether it be babies or toddlers that can go to It's a Small World Nursery, or ages 3-12, that are able to go to the Oceaneer Club & Lab... and older kids have Edge and Vibe clubs as well. Disney has thought of ways to make the cruise family friendly.
That being said, I think preschool age is a GREAT time to go! Here are a few reasons why!
1. Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab
Age 3 and up (as long as they are potty trained) can use the drop in Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab, as much as they and you want! The children are able to come and go based on your schedule, in this secure and supervised children's activity area. This is a great way for them to participate in kid specific activities while you get some adult time in, catch a show, or just get a quick bite to eat! The kids love the independence, and it gives you a chance to unwind as well! We loved the Youth Team aboard the Disney Dream and all of the actives available in the Oceaneer Club!
Check out my full review of the Oceaneer Club and the process for checking in & out!!
2. Starting a Family Tradition of Cruising!
As we talked to the crew aboard the Disney Dream, one theme stuck out to me that kept coming up in conversation... that some kids that started cruising as young children, and started out going to the Oceaneer Club literally grow with the clubs and look forward to advancing to the new activities and new clubs as they get older and meet the new age brackets. What a neat family tradition to plan a Disney Cruise every year, every other year, or as your schedule allowed... so that your kids could look back on their previous trips and compare how much they had grown, and what they were able to do now that they were "a little bit older"!
3. Where else can you play and interact directly with Disney Characters?!?
One of the coolest surprises aboard the Disney Dream for us, were all of the unique opportunities to interact with characters! At certain times during the day, there were activities in the Oceaneer Club that were open to families, Mickey's Puzzle Playtime for instance was perfectly geared for the preschool aged children, where the kids put together large puzzles on the computer screen and once they "solved" the mystery of the puzzle... the character that it was referencing popped out! And THEN they didn't just wave and go home... they stuck around for a game or song with the kids and they all got to play!! HOW COOL!!
I thought this was a great element and really made the Disney Cruise experience different from anything else we had done on previous Disney vacations. We loved our characters! (Check out the Natalie's Best Character Moments video - if you haven't seen it!!) So this was a huge plus for us!
4. Bunk beds in the Family Staterooms were a neat experience for preschoolers!
So my girls were 4 & 6 on this trip, and they had never slept in bunk beds prior to our cruise. I actually had forgotten to tell them about the bunk beds before we arrived, so when we first got into the stateroom and they saw the couch - they thought that was where they were sleeping!! ;) So it was a magical surprise that first evening when they walked in to the room and that side had transformed into a sleeping area... complete with star formations on the ceiling! They loved having their own individual bunks and the lights in them.
My 4 year old (who is tiny, about the size of an average 3 year old at 38" tall and 32 lbs) slept on the bottom bunk - and my 6 year old slept on the top bunk. They were both able to maneuver the ladder no problem though! This was a neat surprise for them and I think another one of their favorite parts.
5. Making magical family memories that last a lifetime, at the pace that you want!
I loved that this vacation was so relaxed, that it felt so planned out for me, our Key to the World cards told us where to eat dinner, we could visit quick service anytime the girls got hungry, and our Personal Navigator put in our rooms each night helped us to pick and chose what events we felt like doing on each particular day... Above all though, I very much loved that we made magical family memories together, that will last a lifetime, and a relaxed pace! We loved just hanging out by the pool and letting the girls use the splash pad and water slide, or taking a moment to walk down the beach. Castaway Cay was an amazing experience for all of us. All of the R&R time was really great for our family, and the Disney magic immersed in the experience was just right!
All in all, this is very much an experience that I would recommend trying as a family, if it is something you've been curious about. We loved all of the Disney magic aboard the Disney Dream that we've come to expect from a Disney vacation, and just packaged a little bit different from what we had been used to from prior Walt Disney World vacations. After having done it once, it of course isn't as daunting to try it again! I would say go prepared - check out my Cruising with Preschoolers video if you haven't already, for my tips and what I would recommend bringing along just in case - but also be prepared to have a MAGICAL time!
I hope that you've been able to gleam some valuable information here and that my videos help to make a Disney cruise seem less daunting with preschoolers! As always, let me know if you have any questions! And if you've been on a Disney cruise before, let me know what YOUR favorite part about the cruise was in the comments!
** We cruised with Disney as a part of a media event. We received complimentary airfare, cruise stateroom and activities as a part of the event. All opinions are my own.