Written by Kimberly McClintock Evans – Magical Tripcations Travel Planner
If I had a nickel for every person who laughed or gave me a double take when I said I went on a Disney Cruise for a week without my kids, I could have paid for the trip!
But I am not sure why? When you think about it, Disney Parks are unlike other parks. Disney Hotels are unlike other hotels. Disney movies, well they are some of the highest grossing, most entertaining movies of all times. Companies actually hire Disney Executives and the Disney Institute teaches people “how to be more like Disney.” Disney is one of the strongest brands worldwide that is synonymous with cleanliness, excellence and unparalleled service. Why wouldn’t I want that on my vacation? But without the kids? What about all the kids? What did I do for 7 days on a ship full of kids?
The first time I took a cruise my kids were tiny…that was the first place since I had kids where:
- I ate a full meal from beginning to end. I had a full meal even at the temperature it was intended to be served at!! (Not 3 hours later while my kids are in the tub and I am standing over them eating cold meat.)
- I didn’t have to do anything but eat and enjoy my family. I didn’t even have to cut meat. If someone spilled a drink, there are two people to come and clean it up within seconds. I didn’t even have to pour ketchup. While that can happen in many places there are differences-my kids were happy. Nobody complained about the menu, nobody said they were ready to go after 3 minutes. Ketchup is even shaped like Mickey.
- When my kids were done-they begged to leave for the kids club so “mom guilt” was nonexistent. That meal that changed my life.
Objection #1 Aren’t there kids everywhere?
Well, sort of…..there are kids but happy kids. I might even venture to say happier than in the parks? Mickey and friends are at every corner, there are relatively no lines for characters or anything for that matter. Kids get their needs met. They are happily swimming while watching movies they love. They are also in the kids’ clubs. These are seriously fun clubs-with so many different and varied activities for children of all ages. The older ones are happily doing activities geared towards their age in their clubs and usually frequent the higher decks all together in the evenings. So yes, you will see kids, but they’ll be happy kids. If that is something out of the ordinary on every other cruise line in the industry then please let me know. I should say happier kids than any other cruise line.
There are also adult only parts of the ships:
There is an adult only pool. Often with live music to drown out the annoying loud talker who will forever be worse than listening to a kid. There are staff there to wait on you. They will remind you of drink specials and make all your favorite requests. If you ask, they will even bring you pizza or snacks or whatever you heart desires. (There is also an Adult only beach on Disney’s Private Island exclusive to Disney Cruise Line guests only…more on that later.)
There are adult only night clubs, lounges, & bars. There are several depending on the ship could be anywhere from 4-6 where no children are allowed. If you want to listen to violins and drink champagne-Ola la they’ve got it. (pun intended – the champagne bar on the Fantasy is called Ola la Lounge.) If you want to hear comedy shows, ventriloquism or fellow cruise guests get hypnotized you can do that nightly. There are games to play and sometimes things are downright slap your knee hilarious and could potentially be a bit on the racy side…There are also sports bars to catch the game (a full game I might add with no interruptions) or get your dance on. There is a mix of evening activities not involving kids but mostly I got to have whole conversations with my spouse. And by whole conversations, they didn’t include getting a child to whatever location or some kind of tired conversation before falling asleep. We got to discuss and re-connect on our own terms while sipping or eating some really great treats.
All Disney Ships have adult only restaurants. Every ship has Palo, an Italian Dining location at the back of the ship with views of the ocean. There is a small fee to dine but the payment includes multiple courses on the menu. This is a location that begins with a Chandelier by Famous Artist Dale Chihuly as you enter the dining room, so yes you are in for a special treat. While the menu can change a bit, there are amazing pastas and main courses, soups and wine. The Antipasti cart at the beginning of the meal is amazing and always have a chocolate soufflé for dessert. There is also a beautiful limoncello served in a “Chihuly-like” glass. If you are not into Italian food and you are sailing on the Disney Dream or Disney Fantasy try Remy. Remy is a place like no other in the world. The menu was created by 3-Star Michelin Chef Arnaud Lallement. Remy is based off the movie Ratatouille and even has a dining room with the famous kitchen painted on the wall. The dishes here are wonderfully French with mousses and foams. The service is equally important and attention to detail of each course is presented with flair. When the cheese comes (towards the end of the meal) you will literally take a tour of France by way of fromage. Arguably one of the best meals you may ever eat! Aside from the adult only sections of the ship where you literally don’t see one child, what about the main dining? If you don’t want children at your table, you can request that. We were seated at a table for 2 every time we went to main dining. The locations are beautiful, some of the most elegantly appointed dishes and linens and menus that even the pickiest eater can fall in love with. Dishes like: Pan Seared Sea Bass with Fava Bean and Pea Risotto, sliced Fennel and a dill-chive riesling wine sauce. Also beef wellington that melts in your mouth and a personal favorite, escargot. Desserts are a whole other category including Grand Marnier Soufflé and Tahitian Vanilla Crème Brule. That’s hardly “kid food.” There were some families (not judging) that don’t even take their kids to main dining-they eat in the clubs or the quick services restaurants. There were also families with older kids well into teen years and generations all celebrating together.
Objection #2 – What did you do all week? I think in some minds, we were trapped on a park ride that we didn’t want to be on and couldn’t get off with children melting down everywhere. Here is how we spent our carefree, kid-free days:
- Breakfast – We got up when we wanted to. We ate when we wanted to. Who doesn’t love a good Mickey Waffle? We even got room service some mornings!
- Workout – We went to the gym a few times just to counteract the 4 desserts we might have enjoyed the night before.
- Senses Spa – The spa is a whole world unto itself and again, kid-free. For a small fee you could enjoy the Rain Forest relaxation rooms with multiple aromatherapy showers, relaxation rooms, and hot tubs, facing the ocean.
- Tastings – There are numerous alcohol tastings available throughout the day, some even on Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. They change daily and some can be booked in advance. If you don’t get one right away make to check once you’re onboard, spots are usually saved for guests to book once on the ship. Some examples are: Stem to Stern-Wine old and new world wines, Champagne, Cognac, Whiskey, Mixology, Chocolates and Liquor, Tequila and Margaritas
- Make Your Own Fun – We had lunch, we laid by the pool, we read. We also had the opportunity to watch first run films, for free!
- Disney Cruise Line Activities – Here are just a few of the options we had to choose from: Adult-only cooking classes, Ship Tours, Trivia, Shopping, Scrapbooking classes, Art tours, Bingo – -I could write a whole other blog on bingo. Like everything else “Disney Bingo” is unlike any other bingo. Funnel Vision Movies by the pool – Yes you will see kids (this is their domain) but watching “The Lion King” while eating ice cream and sailing on the ocean is still relaxing. If there is a kid inside of you, hop on the water slides before you head back to the spa or adult-only pool.
- Port Adventures – There are Port Adventures that are only for adults like a cooking class in Mexico, scuba diving and more. Get off the ship and explore an Island or just head to a beach.
- Castway Cay Day! Disney has it’s own private Island for guests. You can read more about Castaway Cay, here. There is a little slice of Heaven on the island called Serenity Bay. There is a restaurant dedicated to guests 18 and up with bartenders and activities or just quiet peaceful relaxation. You don’t even hear kids splashing around in the water. Unless it’s you acting like a kid. In which case, enjoy! You can get there by tram, bicycle for rent and gold old fashioned walking. There is also a wonderful 5K every morning to partake in no matter how fast you jog or run.
Objection #3 – What about other cruise lines?
- Many cruise lines offer an all you can drink package and some people do. And they shouldn’t. Enough said.
- The infamous hallway loud talker at 2:00am or the happy couple fighting in the hallway at 2:00am. I do think the Fairy Godmother is right and nothing good happens after midnight. However you can party til then, the bars won’t close but the craziness is contained and doesn’t seem to get out of hand. Maybe because a lot of people have to see their kids in a few hours?
- The law – Do you know that most cruise ships have to kick people off at ports? That they have “pokeys” for the unruly? And worse, they have to use them! I am grateful and thankful I missed all the above.
- Sickness – The cabin attendants are amazing and they keep your stateroom very clean. Remember most staterooms have two bathrooms in each cabin to get ready so no need to compete for mirror space. More importantly you know Disney is doing something right when people are not sick. They do have kids, and kids are extra germy, so if for no other reason I would board that ship of dreams just because of the cleanliness. You hear about it all the time on other ships and it’s nothing short of hard work scrubbing decks, wiping everything down to keep spaces sanitized. There is something magical about how clean they keep the ship to ensure sickness is kept at bay. (pun intended again)
As I made a reservation for another cruise and decided to include my kids I know we absolutely will cruise again sans children aboard Disney Cruise Line. I can forever hang over their heads, “I will leave you at home and enjoy it if you don’t start acting better-I’ve gone without you and I can do it again!”
Want to see what prices would look like for an adult-only Disney Cruise Line vacation? Contact one of our knowledgeable Magical Tripcations Travel Planners today for itineraries, pricing, and dates! We’d love to help you get away!