When you hear about avid cruisers, who do you picture? I know personally, I used to think of cruising as more of either a college students party kind of vacation, or something that retired people do. I didn’t know of too many people my age with kids who had really embraced the cruising lifestyle, or so I thought.
Q, however, had become completely enamoured with the idea of cruising after seeing a segment on a Disney Cruise while watching his favourite shows. Sure it looked like fun, but without all of the carefully staged shots and editing, what would it really be like? Would a cruise be full of drunken fun time college students on a reading or semester break? Would it be for jet-setting seniors and be full of shuffleboard and cribbage tournaments? Would the food be all fancy or would it be bland? So many what ifs. I just knew that a ship full of puking freshmen or getting-away-from-the-kids-and-grandkids retirees or even worse, both, was not for me.
I also had all of these weird fears, like could you fall overboard if the water got too choppy? Would we be bored? Could a kid somehow ‘escape’ from kids club?
COULD A KID CLIMB OVER THE RAILING AND PLUNGE TO THEIR DEATH?
Did people fall overboard a lot or had I spent too many Friday evenings watching 20/20 crime episodes? What if the ship broke down, the power went out and we ended up looting and rioting to get food and then all end up with food poisoning anyways? Or, once again, had the sensational, and headline worthy, segments of 20/20 implanted themselves into my subconscious?
Then came the Disney Channel contest to win a Disney Cruise vacation. Q saw this and became obsessed. I mean literally, reminding me every day to enter, obsessed. He wanted to win this vacation bad. B-A-D bad. So, being the dutiful mum that I am, I entered every (let’s be real here, it was more like most) day in hopes of making his dream come true. It was became a big dream too. He talked about going on the “Disney Cruise vacation” as his dream trip. If anyone asked him if he could pick any trip to go on, what would he choose, and the answer was always steadfastly “a Disney Cruise vacation.” Even when asked if he’d like to go to Disneyland, he still didn’t sway away from his “Disney cruise vacation”.
So I started researching family cruise travel.
I started to ask around and found out that a number of friends had done cruises with kids and loved them. His good friend Obz and her mom had been on a couple of 3 day repositioning ones out of Vancouver, so I hit my friend A (Obz’s mom) up for any and all tips and tricks she had. I knew that she would listen to my questions without laughing at me (too much), and, knowing my kid, would not think me too crazy for asking if he could potentially climb over the railings.
Still, though, I wasn’t sure. The Disney cruise looked incredible, and looked like it would be a blast for Q, but would there be enough to do for me? Would *I* like the food? Would I feel queasy and miserable from seasickness the whole time? Would I be bored?
Short answers? Yes, YES!!!!!, no and not for one single second.
Right from the moment I booked the trip, I felt more at ease. Friends assured me that the railings were built such that kids couldn’t climb or fall over them.
I researched the snot out of Disney Cruise line and found almost nothing but high praise all around. The kids clubs seemed to be a highlight for many young passengers, and it seemed like there would be enough to do each day without getting bored.
That brings me to my concerns about the cruising crowd. I will be totally honest and say it wasn’t at all what I had pictured in my head. There was a huge range of ages, from babies all the way to senior citizens and although there was shuffleboard on deck, it was mostly the kids and teens I saw playing it. There were no rowdy, drunken adults anywhere that I saw, although in all fairness, I didn’t venture into the nightclubs in the evenings at all either. Everyone was there to have an incredible time, but for the most part, instead of being inappropriate or grouchy, people were pretty friendly all around and not looking to have fun at your expense. I guess my overactive imagination and pre-conceived notions based on movies had gotten to me a bit and the hoards of flashing, hard drinking teens and twenty-somethings I had pictured simply weren’t there.
That’s the thing with stereotypes, though, they probably aren’t even based in reality.
I do know that some cruise lines are more regarded to be “party ships”, but Disney is not one of them.
So, Brandee, I can hear you say, you’ve told me about what you didn’t see, but you still haven’t told me why I should subject, er, plan a whole week confined on a boat with 2996 other people and my kids. Why, oh why, would I want to?
Maybe a better question to ask is this – why wouldn’t you want to cruise as a family? After actually getting to experience it for myself, I can confidently say that yes, you absolutely should cruise with your kids.
In our case, the cruise made a perfect inter-generational holiday choice.
It gave us lots of opportunity to spend time together, without any pressure or expectation to be together 24/7. There were activities that we could do as a family, things directed towards travellers in my mom’s demographic, and activities geared towards mine as well. We got to meet characters, dress up, be silly and just really let loose and enjoy ourselves. There was no worrying about when or where to eat, no need to try and please 3 different people with different requests, no need to buy or stock up on groceries. We could eat when, where, and what we wanted, and there were always enough choices available to keep even the pickiest of eaters happy.
It was a whole week with exactly zero pressure to be anywhere or do anything. If I wanted to take a nap in the middle of the afternoon while my mom and Q played at the pool, I could. If Q and I wanted to stay up late to watch the fireworks or dance our butts off at the deck dance parties but my mom didn’t? No problem! If my mom and I wanted to see a show but Q didn’t? Kids club was the perfect compromise.
Another concern I had was that we might feel a bit too squashed in our cabin, but honestly? I never did. We booked a partial ocean view room, nothing fancy, but it certainly had enough space so that we weren’t tripping over each other all day. We were comfortable, and I felt like the room was big enough that we could all just hang out there without sitting on each other as well.
I love travelling, and don’t get me wrong, a road trip to a theme park is awesome as well, but let’s face it. Those kinds of holidays, especially when you are travelling with kids, can take a TON of planning. Ob the cruise, everything was planned for you, all you had to do was choose and show up. It took so much stress off my shoulders.
The ship was immaculately clean at all times, and although I did have fears of rampant stomach bugs, Disney did an amazing job of trying to keep germs at bay. There were sani-wipes next to all of the food and drink stations, along with reminders to use them before you started touching stuff. There were also cast members waiting at the entrances to the restaurants with wipes, which is awesome, especially for all the little geeky hands that pass through. I mean, use common sense, of course, and wash your hands frequently, but those little touches just make things that much cleaner.
Stay tuned for my next post in this series about our cruise adventure, when I talk about some of the ways that Disney made cruising, with a kid especially, but in general as well, so incredible.