Thursday, September 1, 2016

Disney Dream Cruise Oceaneer Club Review & Process

One of the most asked about activities from our cruise vlogs on our YouTube Channel while aboard the Disney Dream, was the Oceaneer Club!! The kids kept talking about it, the adults loved the idea of it, we kept making plans to go there... but what exactly was this mystical (and very magical!) place we all kept talking about?!?

On the Disney Dream, the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab are located on the 5th deck in the port hallway. They are a supervised kid's activity center that runs kid centric programming throughout the day, and hosts not only open house times open to the entire family - but also has blocks of time where it is "Kids Only!" (as my daughter so cheerfully pointed out), and is a secured center where parents are able to drop off children ages 3 through 12 for different activities.

Piloting the Millennium Falcon? Super cool!

Since this was our first cruise, I wasn't entirely sure how interested the kids would be in going to the club - but I suspected they would be spending at least a little time there. (Which was the understatement of the year.) I preregistered the girls before sailing with Disney's online system and picked out a password to be kept in their system.

Once on board the ship, we planned to attend the Open House the first night that was open to all families, so that we could go in with the girls and check out the space. Can I just say, WOW... I completely understand why kid's LOVE going there! They had different themed rooms, all visible from a central dance floor area. My younger daughter, Natalie, loved Tinkerbell's Pixie Hollow and Andy's Room, a life-size version of this classic set from Toy Story. Isabella who was 6 years old at the time, gravitated towards the Millennium Falcon area in the Oceaneer Club and also spent quite a bit of time in the Oceaneer Lab side, where there was a drawing studio, interactive game areas, and more!

The Personal Navigators that were left in our room each night had not only the ship's itinerary in it, but also a schedule of activities for the Oceaneer Club and Lab as well. Which was great because the girls could pick and chose what events they most wanted to go to and we could work it into our plans. The Personal Navigator also noted whether it was a secured programming time or if it was an Open House event where parents were invited to attend, and the gates were open during non-drop off times.

To keep the kids secure, Disney has a thorough system of checks and balances in place that we felt very comfortable with. As a parent, I'm always concerned about safety - but especially now that we do YouTube regularly and occasionally are recognized in our daily lives, I have to take into account that people may know how to address the girls and I have to keep their security a top priority. Disney Cruise Line had a number of steps to ensure that each child went with the right family, when checked out of the kid's centers.

All children wear an "Oceaneer Band", which looks similar to a MagicBand, and is clipped to remain on permanently during your time aboard the Disney Dream. (The bands are able to get wet, and are fine after a day at the beach or pool!) The band links to all of the child's personal information - what stateroom they are in, allergy or other personal concerns, and possibly most importantly, the unique password & photo that you set up when registering the children for the Club.

When you check in to the club, you give the attendant your "Key to the World" card to scan in to the computer system, and they verify your stateroom. Then the children scan "Mickey to Mickey"as my family tells the kids, just like scanning in for a Fast Pass at Walt Disney World. This registers the child in the system and they are free to go wash their hands, and PLAY!

Even the bathrooms have some Disney magic!

Upon time to pick up, you go through a similar set of checks to make sure you are picking up the right children - with a few additional layers of security built in. You give them your Key to the World card, they verify your stateroom and the photo they took at registration. Then you also must give them a matching verbal password, which you set up at registration as well. After going through those measures, the children may again scan "Mickey to Mickey" again to open up the electronic lock gates, and they are then checked out of the club.

We felt very secure with the pick up and drop off systems, and the kids LOVED going to the Oceaneer Club and Lab to play! It was such a neat added bonus to our trip, and it even surprised me how much Isabella stayed in the club! (As one commenter on YouTube said, "She totally ditched you guys!" LOL!! Why yes, yes she did!!) I believe one night she was in the Oceaneer Club for almost 8 hours!!

Backpack Bella won during a Captain Hook Scavenger Hunt at the Oceaneer Club!

The great thing is, they offer food at meal times so if you have a special adults only dinner planned, there is an option for your kids to be able to eat - OR, if you child is like mine and never wants to leave... At least you know she can have a meal while she's there too!

All in all, we came away from the cruise with a great impression of the Oceaneer Club, Oceaneer Lab, and the GREAT staff there! I can't make a blog post about the clubs without mentioning the great Youth Team! The girls had a great time interacting with the Youth Team, and they seemed to be very in tune with making the kids feel comfortable aboard the ship, so that they had a great time! More than once, Natalie would be walking down a hallway in the ship, and we would hear, "Hi Natalie!!" and it would be one of the Youth Team members that she had met during her time at the Oceaneer Club!

The Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab were truly an added bonus to the trip that the kid's loved and the adults appreciated as well! While the kid's were playing in the supervised play areas, we were able to enjoy dinner at Palo restaurant, visit Senses Spa, and go snorkeling! All events we wouldn't have otherwise been able to go to with the kids! Our entire family loved the cruise atmosphere, and I know the girls can't wait to be able to go to the Oceaneer Club on a future cruise!

Watch my full review on YouTube!

Disclosure: We sailed with Disney Cruise Lines as a part of a media event. All opinions are my own.

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