I attended the 2017 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration ~ Land & Sea. This year’s conference included a 3-day cruise aboard the Wonder at a discounted price, so I totally jumped on it. This post is attempting to be both insanely useful and a ramble of my personal experience. Let’s go!
I had been eager to try a Disney Cruise but unable to convince my husband, Alec, so when the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration (AKA DisneySMMC) invited me to join this year’s conference with a discounted cruise, I jumped at the opportunity! I was personally thrilled to bring my real-life, opinionated, bad-mannered children to the high seas Disney-style to test my hypothesis: If you can’t relax on a Disney Cruise, you can’t relax anywhere.
It turns out I was partially right: I can’t relax anywhere!
By the first sunset, my children broke the rules of the upscale dining room by wearing swimwear at dinner (Ugh, how embarrassing!) and not eating the food (my little picky one does not suddenly try new things on vacation – shock!). But the really good news is that their kinda poor behavior does okay in an immersive experience built to bring joy to families. The staff knows how to roll with a kid who (literally) only eats rolls at dinner.
About that childcare
My children were all eligible for the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab for ages 3 to 12 (must by potty-trained!). My older son was also allowed to come and go into Edge, the tween clubhouse for ages 11 to 14. There’s an even older teen program, too. Each of these allows children 9 and over to check themselves in and out without a parent using a special id. Kids under 9 need a parent to be present and know a secret password. These kids’ clubs are included with your cruise payment whether you use them or not.
For children 3 and under, babysitting care in the nursery costs a bit extra and may require advance reservations during busy times.
Pro tip: Visit the kids clubs early and use them often! Just casually say, “Oh hey, let’s check this place out. I heard it was cool,” and then stand back.
Plenty of room to free-range your big kids
Against my parental instincts, we let the nine- and 11-year olds roam the ship after we returned to our stateroom (the fancy name for a ship’s hotel room) to put our five-year old to bed around 1opm. They visited the supervised kids club (more on that below), and returned about a half hour later with new knowledge and confidence. I’m pleased we made that counter-intuitive choice because they loved the feeling of freedom and independence AND they felt inspired to enjoy the kids’ activities throughout the remainder of our trip. These kids clubs allowed my husband to have happier days at sea while I attended conference programs.
11-year old Holden misplaced his key three times but figured out how to get it reissued all by himself. Baby steps toward taking personal responsibility. Parenting achievement unlocked.
Pro tip: Older kids can explore the ship pretty safely as long as they understand where the maps are and can remember their room numbers. You know your kid.