We decided to take Noah on a 3-day cruise on the Disney Dream this November. It happens to be MerryTime Cruise time during November and December so bonus Christmas Cruise, without any additional funds. In fact this is one of the cheaper times to sail. The cruise went from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas with stops in Nassau and Castaway Cay. We weren’t sure what to expect, but since we sailed once before without him we were prepared for possible bumps in the road. Overall it was a huge success. The check in process we were originally concerned about was not an issue, we arrived around 12:30 and the line moved so quickly, it must have been less than 10 minutes. We also found we all did not have to attend the safety drill, just my husband went and we waited in the cabin. The first day still full of transitions, meant we would skip the first broadway-style show.
He seemed to really like the fact he could explore a little on his own. Considering the cruise ship is self-contained and there are about 1500 employees on board, it seemed ok to let him go to the kid’s club on his own, or down to fill up our cups from the drink fountains. He also took to shuffle board.
There are numerous things to do on a cruise, and you can’t expect to do them all, just like all of Disney World. Repeated trips then can be fresh visits in a lot of ways with different activities and experiences. Besides the dining, clubs and loungers there are other places for recreation. There are pools, the Aqua Duck-a water coaster that actually takes you off the boat, well the edge of the ship (don’t worry its self-contained inside a clear water slide tube). Movies every day at the pool, in the movie theater (new stuff that is out in theaters). And you have Disney On-Demand in your cabin to watch a large collection of Disney movies for free. We saw Wreck it Ralph, Pinocchio, The Jungle Book and Monsters University. There is also a sports deck, various tours, and a cruise ship “Detective Agency” which is similar to the Sorcerers of the Kingdom in Magic Kingdom, just on a smaller scale and no cards (just one). Kids get to tour the boat and find hidden magic.
Disney Cruise Line does have a separate department for special needs, and I would recommend talking to them before your cruise, especially if you are concerned about the clubs. There is a strict age policy. The Oceaneers Club and Oceaneers lab is for 3-12, Edge is for 11-13 and Vibe is for 14-17. He was fine for Edge, but we weren’t sure if it was going to be a good fit or not. However, the people who work in these clubs are friendly and he really enjoyed spending time with them. They are a small group so they get to know your child.
Since he is a picky eater we weren’t sure how that would go, but the buffet breakfasts were packed with his favorite foods, there was pizza served each day from 12-5 and they did have a kids menu at the fine dining restaurants at night. (Pizza or Mac-N-cheese for him and on the last night they brought him both) Which incidentally you can order as much food as you like.
I asked him what he liked most and what he didn’t like, he liked “the ship” most, and what he didn’t like? Well that the cruise wasn’t long enough. People pay good money for that type of advertising, but in this case it was true. Hopefully next year we will journey for a longer cruise.
Related– Can You take a child with autism on a Disney Cruise