Nothing beats the magic of a Disney Cruise.
If you have kids, you’re likely excited to take them on a Disney Cruise so they can experience the magic for themselves. However, you’re probably also wondering what’s the best age for this?
All kids and families differ, so there isn’t one perfect age. Still, certain ages will get to have special experiences and may also appreciate some onboard entertainment more than others. Read on to find out more.
Factors To Consider When Determining the Best Age for a Disney Cruise
When choosing the best age for a Disney cruise, you need to start by considering your child. What do they enjoy? What is their maturity level? What needs do they have?
You’ll then consider your cruise options. Consider the destination and duration of your voyage. You should also think about what types of entertainment and activities will be available on board. Will your child be old enough to attend a children’s club? Do you want some free time while on board?
Activities by Age
Below are some activities and clubs available to kids on a Disney cruise. The ages overlap so that kids can attend the right club for them. There is no childcare available for babies under six months.
Six Months to Three Years Old
Starting at six months (12 months for Transatlantic, Hawaii, and Panama Canal destinations), kids can attend the “it’s a small world” nursery. There’s plenty for little ones to do. There’s a free play area with toys and climbing objects, and Disney films playing in the background.
The cast members engage kids in crafts projects, but there is no set schedule. There’s also a quiet area for naps that parents pay for by the half-hour.
Three to 12 Years Old
Kids in this age range can attend the Oceaneer Explorer Club or Lab. Kids can move between these two spaces. The Club is less structured, with several play areas, including climbing structures, film, arts and crafts, toys, games, and more. In the Lab, kids get a chance to learn through hands-on experiments.
Depending on the ship you choose, kids can participate in structured activities like Jedi training, Marvel Super Hero Academy, and Disney Junior. They also get the chance to meet Disney characters.
11 to 14 Years Old
Edge is the perfect club for kids who are too old for the younger kid stuff but too young to join the older kids. The area has video games, computers, and Disney movies.
There are also a lot of fun guided activities. Kids can learn improv skills, participate in arts and crafts lessons, and go on a ship-wide scavenger hunt based on heroes and villains. There is also trivia, other fun challenges, and a DJ dance party.
14 to 17 Years Old
Vibe is Disney’s club for teens. It’s a lounge with opportunities for teens to mix and mingle with others. While Vibe differs slightly from ship to ship, most feature a nightclub with dancing and karaoke, video games, movies, and a coffee bar.
On some ships, teens get a chance to learn the art of filmmaking and participate in a ship-wide game. For cruises to the Bahamas, there’s a unique group excursion just for teens.
18 and Up
Once they turn 18, kids can experience adult activities on the ship. They can eat at adult-only restaurants and go to lounges. For kids who want to mingle with others their age, these activities may not be as fun.
Only Disney Wish provides an experience for guests between 18-20. It’s called The Hideaway and features dancing, karaoke, and areas to hang out. If your kids are in this range, the Wish is the best ship for them.
Experiences by Ship
Each ship offers many of the same features, like swimming pools, water slides, nightly entertainment, fireworks, and kid-friendly dining. The ships also offer some experiences unique to each ship.
All ships feature water play areas for little ones. The shows and dining areas are great for kids of all ages, but kids between seven and 12 will likely get the most out of these experiences.
As Disney’s newest ship, the Wish has some incredible new features. There are two themed dining events based on Frozen and the Avengers. The vessel also boasts Aqua Mouse, a part water slide – part immersive experience.
Guests can also participate in a digital interactive storytelling experience and view Broadway-style productions of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin.
Guests on board the Magic can experience shows like Tangled: The Musical, Disney Dreams, and Twice Charmed (a Cinderella-themed show).
Kids will also enjoy eating at Rapunzel’s Royal Table character dining featuring music.
The AquaDunk is a three-story water slide that older kids and teens will enjoy.
The Wonder features three shows: Frozen: A Musical Spectacular, Disney Dreams, and The Golden Mickeys.
Kids will enjoy the animation-inspired dinner show at the Animator’s Palate or the jazz show at Tiana’s Place (based on The Princess and the Frog).
On board the Dream are musicals like Disney’s Believe, The Golden Mickeys, and Beauty and the Beast.
Kids can dine at the Animator’s Palate and the Royal Palace, inspired by Disney’s princess fairy tales.
Goofy’s Sports Deck features virtual sports simulators that teens will enjoy. The AquaDuck water slide is fun for bigger kids and teens. Little kids will enjoy Nemo’s Reef, an interactive water play area.
The Fantasy offers many of the same dining and entertainment options as the Dream, including the Sports Deck, the AquaDuck, and Nemo’s Reef.
Both ships also feature the Midship Detective Agency, an interactive hunt that takes kids all over the ship looking for clues.
Certain Disney cruises feature special events. Some seven-night Caribbean excursions include Pixar Day at Sea, which features favorite Pixar characters in entertainment, dining, and special meet-and-greets.
Marvel Day at Sea is a similar event on certain cruises to the Bahamas and Western Caribbean. It features some of your kids’ favorite Marvel heroes and villains.
If you sail around Halloween or Christmas, you can also expect special events and parties.
The best age for a Disney cruise will also depend on your destination. Disney cruises go all over the world, including:
- The Caribbean
- The South Pacific
- Australia / New Zealand
- And more
Some destinations only require a three- or four-day itinerary. These would work well for younger kids. Trips to the Bahamas include a day on Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island, with adventures for kids of all ages, particularly older kids and teens.
Older kids may enjoy longer trips with interesting ports of call. For example, teens may enjoy visiting Alaska or some European spots.
So What’s the Best Age for a Disney Cruise?
Let’s break things down by age:
Kids Under Three
Kids under three will have fun seeing some of their favorite characters come to life and splashing around in the water features designed for smaller kids.
The childcare center has much to offer, but they likely won’t want to spend the day there. There aren’t as many activities in some of the clubs designed for older kids. Some kids under three may not want to sit during dining events and evening entertainment.
Kids Four to 12
Kids between four and 12 are the ideal age for a Disney cruise. The Oceaneer Club and Lab are the best the ship has to offer when it comes to fun for kids. There’s so much to do there that they may not want to leave.
They’re also the perfect age for shows, dining, and other special events. They’re still young enough to be in awe of the magic only Disney can offer.
Kids between 12 and 14 are a toss-up. The fun they have on a Disney cruise will come down to their interests. If your tween is still into Disney and isn’t quite ready to grow up, they’ll enjoy Edge. There’s plenty to do there, and they’ll get to spend time with other tweens.
Many kids this age still enjoy the evening entertainment and dining as well. Those who love Disney movies will have a great time.
However, some kids this age have more teen-oriented interests. They may enjoy a cruise with activities designed for older kids.
Kids 14 and Up
If your older teens are major Disney fans, set sail! Like the Disney theme parks, a Disney cruise is designed for people who love Disney. They’ll love it, even if they are “too old.”
However, if your kids feel they’re “too cool” for a Disney cruise, you may want to consider another cruise line. There are several that have more activities for the teenage set.
While kids between five and 12 are likely to get the most out of a Disney cruise, kids of all ages can have a great time. If your kids are big Disney fans or will enjoy some of the special events, then their trip should be a blast.
More about our TFVG Author
A seasoned traveller, Dad, and avid sports tourist, James foundered The Family Vacation Guide to share his expert vacation experiences- especially when it comes to being a travelling family man.
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