Taking A Disney Cruise As Baby's First Vacation
Taking A Disney Cruise As Baby's First Vacation
Posted Friday, January 21, 2011 at 2:55p Pacific Time
On our first Disney Cruise we sailed with friends who had an infant son. Upon returning to Flounder's Nursery after dinner at the adults only Palo restaurant they found him sleepily nestled in Cinderella's arms as she sat in a nursery rocking chair. Mom was clearly tearing up as she recounted the moment. We weren't yet parents and it would be several years until we had the opportunity but when Gideon was about 8 months old we were so excited to take him on his first Disney cruise. It was a marvelous experience. In some ways I wish we'd been able to go even sooner. Cruise guidelines permit infants to travel beginning at 3 months
Gideon poses for photos at 8 months and at 20 months. Be aware the photo staff possesses some magic power to capture images you WILL want to take home with you. We always spend more than we plan for photos.
For our first cruise we had a verandah so while Gideon napped one of us could enjoy the ocean breezes. On later voyages we simply went with indoor staterooms as we found Gideon could often nap in his stroller at various locations around the ship. But most of the time I took advantage of the complete darkness afforded by the interior stateroom and was able to nap myself. A pack and play was setup in our room for him and while the room steward was happy to take it down and put it back up each day, we left it out for naps and to contain our new crawler. Bed rails are also available as your little one gets older. Leave your room in the morning and typically by the time you return bed's made and room refreshed. In the evening your bed sheets are turned down and welcoming you for a night's sleep.
Our room steward made a towel birthday cake for Gideon's 1st birthday
Cruising offers the chance to try new things in a Disney controlled environment. We thoroughly enjoyed a few hours at Castaway Cay beach, splashing in the water and sitting in the sand. Since the Disney ship is docked at the island its a simple stroll between beach and ship. On board ship, Gideon loved the infant splash zone with its warm water fountains specifically intended for cruisers in diapers. Thanks to the family environment we were able to take him to see the stage shows and discovered he really enjoyed them and were quite surprised by how long some held his attention. But when he began to lose interest, we were able to exit easily without creating much distraction.
Enjoying the warm, clear water at Castaway Cay with 8-month old Gideon
In those early months rest for the parents can be a challenge. On the Disney Cruise you work to avoid opportunities for rest and relaxation. For one thing the ship is only so big. So in morning after Giddy had his morning breakfast. Doobie would take him out to begin the day and I'd roll over and go back to sleep or have the chance to take a nice long shower and one time I scheduled a spa appointment. When I was ready to begin the day I’d take a simple stroll around the ship and we'd reconnect. This is even easier now with the new Wave on-ship portable phones. Despite the number of people on board, you can find large areas of the ship with relatively few people so we were often able to let Gideon roam various corridors without being underfoot.
Gideon crawls around the Lobby Atrium, he's near the top of the oval. (Daddy is standing under the staircase nearby so we could capture this moment)
You can also pamper yourself with a wide variety of tasty foods -- whether its your scheduled table dining with early rotation closer to 6p or late dining closer to 8p, grabbing a slice of pizza, burgers or wraps from the top deck locations or stopping by a casual buffet. Of, if none of those work, enjoy free 24 hr room service (gratuity not included). Gideon tried a few new veggies throughout our cruises. We scheduled the late dining and our little guy would drift off shortly after we arrived at the table yet he's awake for the stage show. Other families prefer to have the little ones awake at dinner and ready to drift to sleep during the show. But either way - there's no cooking or dirty dishes for you. You're on vacation.
The crew couldn't have been more helpful. A few of baby's favorite food items (banana, melon or yogurt) were often waiting for us at dinner or appeared shortly after our arrival. We could pick side items from our entrees we thought he might enjoy and he'd be able to sample them rather simply eat from a kids menu.
Gideon at Flounder's Nursery
Prior to our Disney cruise Gideon hadn't been watched by anyone other than grandparents so we were nervous about how he would react to Flounder's Nursery. They provide a pager so they can easily contact you throughout the ship should a need arise. But the ability to stay and watch him through a large one-way mirror shortly after we dropped him off set my mind at ease. He fussed at first but they quickly got him playing with various toys and the tears ended and we made our way to the adult-only Palo for dinner. Midway through our meal Daddy was able to pop back down and peek on him without disruption thanks to that mirror. He seemed to enjoy his time there and happily greeted the ladies who work at Flounder's when we spotted them at other times wandering the ship.
Cruise Director Clayton and Gideon
But the greatest memories we have of the Disney Cruises with our infant son have to be the character encounters and interactions with cruise staff. Aboard a Disney ship you have the opportunity to simply stumble upon the characters as you wander the ship. So be sure to always have your camera ready. And the crew come from all across the the globe ... Philippines, Jamaica, Hungary, Serbia, etc. and are separated from family and friends. We often heard how he reminded them of a brother, or cousin and even their own little ones they missed back home and for our brief cruise they became extended family. Games of peek a boo, hide and seek, and plenty of hugs were just a part of the fun.
Pirates night during our family's 3rd cruise
As you can see a Disney cruise has put a smile on all our faces each time we've have the opportunity to sail as a family. So if you're planning a Disney cruise -or- it’s something you're considering but still wonder if its right for you, I'm happy to answer any questions about a Disney adventure at sea with a little one.
The new mommy greatly enjoyed the complete relaxation found on the Disney Cruise.