View Full Version : How young is too young for the cruise for kids?

03-19-2006, 11:02 AM
How young is too young for a child to enjoy the Disney cruise line experience. My wife and I just watch a travel channel special on it and are looking forward to it. Of course, my youngest is 2 weeks old and we have several years, but would like to plan ahead financially for it?

Also, is there enough to keep kids entertained for the whole 7 days, or would you suggest the 3-4 day thing?

THanks to all,

03-19-2006, 12:20 PM
I think that any aged child can enjoy a Disney cruise. It really depends on what you are expecting out of the cruise. The characters are great & you get more interaction with them than at the crowded parks IMO. There is definitely enough to keep you all busy for 7 days...and them some. We have gone on three 7 day cruises so far & haven't done all of the activities onboard that I want to. :)

03-19-2006, 12:26 PM
I'm not sure I'd say an infant would "enjoy" a cruise ... but toddler age and up would definitely enjoy it, and there's plenty for them to do ... now enjoying the cruise of course will be different from remembering it ;) A two year old won't remember cruising when they're 21, so plan on taking a lot of pictures. :teeth:

03-19-2006, 01:13 PM
I'd think a child under four (or in my case 5) won't remember a cruise (IN LATER LIFE), so you'd be taking those little ones for their enjoyment "in the moment" and for your enjoyment and memories.

I had a traumatic hospital experience just before my fifth birthday....and don't remember anything before that experience. I have friends that claim they remember things from when they were three...but I think it's just becuse they have photos and family stories from that time. Maybe for me it was because we didn't have a lot of photos of those early years that I didn't have the opportunity to retain early childhood memories. So TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES AND VIDEO ::yes::

03-19-2006, 01:30 PM
I think there is a point where kids can be "too young" for a cruise--especially one costing as much as this one does. I think you have to take into consideration the child and that isn't easy when you are "pre-planning" this early for a cruise.

I would ask several questions of myself:

1--How reasonable is my child in new environments? Do they listen to reason and can they "go with the flow" so to speak? If they are a high-maintenance child, I think the risk of it becoming unenjoyable for everyone is too great.

2--What are your expectations for your enjoyment of the cruise? Do you want to go see show? Will your child sit through them? Will you have alternate plans for him or both of you if he won't or do you have to miss out on the show?

3--Does a child at that age really benefit from a cruise or would an all inclusive resort do just as well and maybe be less expensive?

4--It is always a persona decision. What am I willing to do and not do in order to make the experience a pleasant one for all involved?

I come from experience. I took my 2 daughters on a carnival cruise (2 1/2 and 5 1/2) because Disney wouldn't take under 3 in the clubs. I hated it, my husband hated it, she hated it. It was the worst vacation we had ever taken and I contribute it all to her age. Trying to accomodate her schedule with our schedule and what we wanted to do. We even took my 16 year old cousin with us to kind of help out with the kids. She became a kid herself---she got very homesick for the first half but finally came around to having some fun the second.

I have since cruised twice on Disney (Youngest daughter was then 5 and 7) and it worked out beautifully. My son was born before our first Disney cruise and he didn't go on either of them. He is finally joining us on this one at the age of soon-to-be 5 (he turns the 5th day on the boat). I am bracing myself for some small issues. He has sensory issues so he can get overstimulated. But, as I told my dh, we cannot and will not expect him to be in the clubs nearly as much as the girls have in the past. If we are right, then we have the mindset we need to really enjoy ourselves anyway. If we are wrong and we can't get him out---then darn, we were wrong and we are gonna party. LOL!!

What it boils down to is the decision is purely your own to make. You just can't make a decision like that and close your eyes and hope for the best. The more you plan and the more you prepare for any and all situations, the more you get out of the experience. Expect the best but plan for the worst.


03-19-2006, 01:57 PM
DCL only charges port fees & taxes for kids up to 3, so that is a great savings. ;) DD3 never stopped talking about the cruise. Her & DS5 acted out everything that they had seen on the ship. That was when DD discovered her stage presence...LOL! She would sing a bit, dance, then hold up her hands & TADA and bow. :)

I know that I wish we had discovered DCL before we did with the kids at 3 & 5. I would have LOVED to have taken a week off from cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc and had DH with us for 7 full days in a row...9 with travel. :)

03-19-2006, 05:51 PM
My own personal opinion is that I wouldn't take child under three and/or not potty trained. I'd want the kid to be able to use the clubs and pool and I wouldn't want to pay all that money for the cruise and still have to shell out for Flounders!

03-19-2006, 06:44 PM
My own personal opinion is that I wouldn't take child under three and/or not potty trained.

I tend to agree with this as DS4 is a fish and has been swimming since he was a baby. I could never have kept him out of the pool at 2 and it would have been a difficult cruise. If he had been an only child maybe but having an older brother he would have been upset if his brother swam and he did not.

03-19-2006, 09:13 PM
My DD7 first went when she was 3 1/2 years old. She talks about things that happened on that cruise as well as on one when she was almost 5. On that second one, we also had DS who was 21 months at the time. We were with a large group, and because of that we had 6 adults who could rotate time in the stateroom for his naps, etc., which really helped out. We didn't mind paying for Flounders for a couple of nights and a couple of mornings. He seemed to enjoy himself, and loved the two beach days we had playing with his big sister in the sand.

03-19-2006, 09:43 PM
Another thing to consider, is how much YOU'LL be able to enjoy the cruise. A cruise now may be ideal, as your baby is too young to go running off, getting lost, getting into trouble, etc. He/she won't mind staying in the stateroom with you, or doing pretty much any activity you want to do. Of course, if he/she starts crying in the middle of a show, it'd be nice to have someone else there who could babysit for you.

Once your child is old enough to walk/run, it's a completely different story. I would guess that the best age to take a child on a cruise would be between 3-12 months, then sometime after 3-4 years. Between years 1 and 3 your child may want to do a lot of activities that he/she's not allowed to do. Plus, he/she'll be able to wander off and will be harder to keep track of.

Of course, every child is different. We'll be taking our son on his first cruise shortly after he's 12 weeks old. I think my wife and I will need a vacation at that point, but won't want to be away from our new baby. Now we just need to get someone to come with us for babysitting duties.

03-19-2006, 10:09 PM
Thanks everyone. I was also wondering...which do you think toddlers would like better - a day on the cruise or a day in one of the Disney parks?
THanks all!

03-19-2006, 10:57 PM
Tough question -- I think they'd be happy either way. We took our daughter when she was about 27 months, and she had a ball on the cruise. She has also loved the parks. It's all different stuff and new to them, so the question may be more what YOU would like. Most kids would probably enjoy either one equally well. Have a great time, whatever your decision! :sunny:

03-20-2006, 08:32 AM
We are going on our first cruise next spring. Our daughter will turn 5 when we're sailing!

The biggest tip I can give about traveling w/ a child is this: Do it a bit at a time, building up to the big vacation. We take short vacations right now, maybe 2-3 nights, and stay in a hotel. DD loves it, and always asks when we're going to stay at a hotel & swim in the pools again. I think she's adjusted fairly well, by sleeping in a different place, and it's shown her how to adapt when away from home. :thumbsup2

If the day comes when we have another, we'll probably wait until that child turns 2, and sail again. For us, though labeled the "terrible twos", that was the age when DD could eat pretty much anything, run, walk, and be a bit more verbal in her wants & needs.

03-20-2006, 11:35 AM
Well, from an economic standpoint, consider going a month before the child turns 3. If he/she is potty trained, she will be allowed to participate in the club programming, and you will pay only the port charges and taxes (since there is no "cruise fare" for children under 3).

From an enjoyment standpoint, it really depends on the family and the child. If your child will go to programming part of the time (and give mom/dad a break), it can be great. If your child needs constant mommy care--well, does that really give mom a vacation?

As to having to "shell out" for FLounder's for a child under 3, yeah, there is that babysitting fee, but you don't pay for that child to cruise so it sort of evens out.

03-20-2006, 01:13 PM
Well, I'm going to be Miss Negative because that's what our son's first experience was (he was 9 months old). It's partly my fault because I must have expected too much and wanted to do too much thinking that he would act the way he did at home but it didn't happen that way. He wouldn't take his naps for anything (and I have a very good napper to this day) which made him so fussy. This was a child that would take about 3 naps during the day and just refused. Even being out in the sun and water, he just wouldn't give it up. This was also about the time that he got really attached to his blanket, and he would not sleep in the pack and play for nothing which meant he was in the bed with us (not something that happened a lot at home). When we got home he was successful in continuing this! (I know, I know. I could have fought a little harder but let's not go there!) We went last Sept. when he was almost 3 and he had a ball. I don't think I would take a child unless he was old enough for the clubs.

03-20-2006, 01:30 PM
I'm waiting until my daughter is over three. I think that she will enjoy it more and I am looking at the cruise as a whole family exprience. In other words, The kids will love the Disney aspect of the cruise and my wife and I will enjoy a cruise that is both with the kids and without the kids. Under 3 and my daughter would be with us exclusively except for those few times that she would go into flounders.

03-20-2006, 02:09 PM
I really believe the Disney Cruise is for all ages, but I would advise against the one mistake we made with our DS, who was 2 1/2 at the time. On the first day the whole family went to tour the amazing, wonderful, colorful, imaginative, fantastic kid spaces where DD, 6, would be playing. THEN we went to the very nice Flounders. If we had ONLY gone to visit Flounders, DS would likely have been fine. But once he realized that where his sister was going was vastly cooler than where he was going, he was not happy.

We had the best vacation of our lives, but it would have been even better if DS were a year younger or older, or if we had simply not shown him the Club at all. We're going back in June with our kids, who will be 10, 6 & 3, and I am just counting the days!!

03-20-2006, 05:55 PM
OH! Ouch! I can see me making that mistake! Thanks for the heads up!

03-20-2006, 07:19 PM
My Dear Sister and Family cruised DCL in July 2000 when our youngest was 4 months old. I remember feeling envy for the experience. Her girls were 9 and 12. At that time I begin saying that we'd wait until 2005 or 2006 so that Rachel would be old enough to remember it. As time went by I decided that 2006 was best because she'd have been in K for a year and at 6 would remember most of the trip, especially with video and pix. Other dds are now 14,12,& 81/2 All still young enough to enjoy it. For us it will be a once in a life time thing. (Until they have families of their own to go as an extended family.) We have saved for 2 years from not going on vacations and eating out to do the 7 nights. We might do a 4 or 3 as the older girls graduate but could never do another 7 nighter at the new prices.

We leave home next Friday to sail on the April Fools Day Magic!!
A very long time coming. But well worth the wait. IN 2007 we'll do 10 nights at WDW for 1/2 the $$.

03-20-2006, 09:24 PM
Well, we waited until age 4 to take our kids to Disneyland, and in hindsight it would have been a better trip if they were a couple of years old. My first trip was at age 8, and my wifes was at age 11, and we lived less than 400 miles away.
As for the cruise, I'd say to get your money's worth they need to be a couple of years older than the parks, say 8 or 9. Our kids were 11 and 15 on our first cruise (on HAL) and 12 and 16 on Disney. It was an ideal age for us to have a "family" vacation. Only possible bad thing, they had NO interest on either cruise in ANY kids club activities. They found the "general" activities too interesting. DW and I got to be their friends, not mom and dad for a week.

Just Me 2
03-22-2006, 10:44 PM
It's much easier if they are out of diapers, although many people go before. I know a couple of families that waited for their children to be three and they said they were happy that they waited.

03-23-2006, 01:06 AM
I'd say the closer to 4 the better. DD was barely 4 on our cruise last fall, and to her the princesses were ABSOLUTELY the real deal. The conversations with them are priceless moments of family movies. From what I gather, a lot of kids are over the character thing by age 7 or 8, though.

We didn't see too many screaming 2 year olds on the cruise, because there weren't many 2 year olds. There were lots of young 3 year olds in the club, which leads me to agree with the suggestion of going the month before your child turns 3. As long as she's potty trained you'll get the double benefit of rock-bottom fare for her plus the use of the club.

Congratuations on the birth of your first child. Enjoy every moment, because they really DO grow up SO quickly!

03-23-2006, 08:53 AM
We went when DS was 3 months shy of 3. We ended up having a blast, althought I seriously considered canceling because of the pool issue.

To me, not letting toddlers in the pool was just HORRIBLE...DS couldn't really understand why he could swim in every other pool we'd ever been to, just not that one. I think not allowing swim diapers in the pool creates more problems than it solves, although I understand this is a CDC rule, not Disney's. DS is a total fish and wouldn't have been happy with the "ear" situation at all. In fact, while I was there, there were a lot of babies crawling into the main Mickey pool.

DS ended up being pretty entertained by just being on the boat, and we found a place at our port stop to swim in a pool, and we spent the morning before we got on the boat swimming, so he was happy. We put him in Flounders at night, and since it was his bedtime around 8 anyway, he just fell asleep there.

03-23-2006, 09:15 PM
Can anyone compare/contrast their experience with kids on the Disney Cruises versus other cruises (Carnival, etc...)?

(I have never been on a cruise ever before...)

03-23-2006, 09:39 PM
Disney and HAL were very similar, as I posted earlier. Biggest difference is there are no kids only, adults only areas on HAL. They do have kids programs, but they rotate thru the public rooms on the ship throughout the day, as their activities vary.
Again, my kids never stepped foot in the kids clubs on either ship, although they did read the kids navigators each day. There was always something on the regular navigator that they preferred to do over the kids clubs.

Only odd thing I found on Disney, the king of family entertainment, kids are never allowed in the fitness center. HAL did limit hours those under 18 could use the fitness center, but there were hours everyday when anyone could use the facilities.

03-23-2006, 11:13 PM
I think you really have to do two things when deciding how young is too young to go on a cruise:

1) How does your child deal with new environments, and how does Mom and Dad deal with their child in a new environment?

2) How do you plan to spend your time? Is this a Family vacation where you want to spend the time with each other, or is this a Family vacation where you all just do what you want, including being on you own?

Our first cruise was a 3-day on the Wonder with our then 27 month old DD. She was not potty trained, and she was too young to be in the clubs. We all had a great time. We took Swim Diapers with so she could be in the pool. We played on the beach at CC. Fish nibbled her little toes. She napped when she got tired, but we found you can't force your child to conform to his/her normal schedule on Vacation. Kids want to see and do everything (just like Mom and Dad), and just like Mom and Dad, they sometimes over do it. However, we also learned that kids are highly adaptable (at least ours proved to be). She was never at Flounders; she was always with us where ever we went. However, we went on this cruise knowing this. And personally, that's how we want it.

Now, just because she was with us all the time, doesn't mean we didn't get to do any "adult" activities. I had a massage, my wife had a spa treatment, and one night we actually spent some time on deck after our little one fell asleep in the cabin. It wasn't long, but Mom and Dad did get some alone time.

Anyway, you have to know your kid and make the decision. But I think trying to make you kids conform to your normal schedule is only setting you and your child up for a massive amount of stress and a stessful vacation. Know ahead of time what to expect, and you will have a great time, regardless of your kid's age.

Just my 2 cents.

Oh, and I think a toddler can remember experiences like this. I know that our daughter remembers things that happend on the cruise that we do not have pictures or video of. Go for it! Enjoy the moment! Vacation is Vaction! :woohoo:

03-24-2006, 12:24 AM
Thanks everyone. I was also wondering...which do you think toddlers would like better - a day on the cruise or a day in one of the Disney parks?
THanks all!

I can't answer this from personal knowledge YET but this is what I was thinking myself, what we are doing and why. DS is 21 mths and we have a short trip to WDW scheduled for his second b-day this June. I've also booked the last 7 day cruise before the Magic heads to the Med in May, 2007 and he'll be a month shy of 3 and we are hoping potty trained. The cruise is certainly incentive to be potty trained. Pullups for nightime, I don't mind packing, but a suitcase full of diapers is not ideal for us and I want him to be able to swim in the pool. It would be hard to keep him out of the pool. We're not doing organized excursion tours. We are prepared to go at his pace even if that means never getting off the ship and I really don't care if I see another Caribbean island or not; to me the ship is the major destination on a Caribbean cruise. I think that WDW could easily be way more exhausting. For this reason, we are only going to do one park, one day. I don't care that I'm flying such a long way for a 4 day trip and just one day at MK. I don't care if we don't see everything as I know we wont. I've been there before, we'll take him again. Again we are going to go at his pace and have booked a monorail resort for greater ease but nothing beats being on the ship and just walking back to the stateroom for naps. He will not remember either trip but I will and as long as he's happy in the moment, I'm happy and I'll consider it a wonderful vacation.

I have digressed. You asked which would a toddler like better. My long winded point is that I think that depends a lot on the child AND the parents. I've seen a lot of parents at WDW who don't look like they are at the happiest place on earth and their poor kids look exhausted and are cranky. I chalk this up to parents trying to do too much or go too fast and kids become exhausted from it. If you were REALLY just going to compare ONE day at WDW to ONE day on a cruise, I don't know which a toddler would prefer. But there are no one day DCL cruises and few people go to WDW for one day at the park. If the exhaustion factor is not seriously taken into consideration and avoided, I would think a toddler would prefer the cruise.

03-24-2006, 09:55 AM
We have traveled to the parks and we are headed on DCL in three weeks. The parks are wonderful, but the kids can get tired and sometimes cranky. Try to go when you know that the weather will be good for the pools. Our girls loved a morning or afternoon break to spend time in their fabulous pools. My younger daughter did fabulous at 7 mths. When we returned when she was 16 mths, she was terrified of the characters. Her older sister wanted to spend half her time with the characters. My husband and I sometimes had to split up. We have also traveled with cousins and grandparents who can help with pushing strollers and stay with kids while DH and I go on some rides with or without some of the kids. Our newborn will be 13 months when we hit the parks in November for a family reunion.
If you go, make sure to have snacks, stroller(s), and take breaks when the parks are most crowded.

As for the DCL, we are going with our 6 mth old son and our daughters now 3 and 5.5. We are bringing a set of grandparents to help out so we got two connecting rooms. The people that I have spoken to said younger children prefered the DCL because it was more relaxed. Kids can't wait for the kid club, pools, character meets, etc. They aren't eligible for many of the excursions but they really just want to play at the beach. Will let you know how it goes.

04-01-2006, 09:23 AM
Nice to hear a variety of opinions on this matter. Just a few qusetions if anyone knows:
1. Why can toddlers swim at WDW resort pools in "Little Swimmers" but not on DCL?
2. How do Cast members know for sure a toddler is potty trained? I have a friend with a 2 yr old who is completely potty trained (where's pull ups at night only for accidents) and another friend with a child almost 4 who still has trouble).
3. What are the Mickey ear pools all about? I have heard that infants in swim diapers can go in the ears....isn't that the same water? just confused a bit :sad2:

04-01-2006, 09:30 AM
1/ It isn't DCL policy. DCL is the only cruise ship with a place for non PTd kids to be in the water on the ship.
2/ If there is a question the CM will approach the adult with the child and talk to them. If the child is completely PTd, just tell them that. We have seen infants in the pool & the CMs got them out quickly. Experiencing the pool being closed for a couple hours to clean it up because someone let their non PTd kid in the pool should make anyone understand how it can affect every other child's vacation.
3/ The one ear for the nonPTd kids has a seperate filtration system from the main pool. It is constantly filtered & recycled into the one ear. The other ear is full & does spill over into the main pool area.

04-01-2006, 10:07 AM
We are cruising in January 2007 for 4 nights on the Wonder. :woohoo: We are taking my ds who will be 16 months at the time. (He is just shy of 7 months now) I don't know how he will be. I don't know if he will go to Flounders because right now he just stays home with me. I hope he will go. I don't know how long he will be walking. (My dd didn't walk until 15 months) We are going and hoping for the best. Whatever happens, happens. This is a once in a lifetime kind of trip and we do have other family members going so hopefully they will help a bit with him.

04-02-2006, 12:05 AM
Nice to hear a variety of opinions on this matter. Just a few qusetions if anyone knows:
1. Why can toddlers swim at WDW resort pools in "Little Swimmers" but not on DCL?
2. How do Cast members know for sure a toddler is potty trained? I have a friend with a 2 yr old who is completely potty trained (where's pull ups at night only for accidents) and another friend with a child almost 4 who still has trouble).
3. What are the Mickey ear pools all about? I have heard that infants in swim diapers can go in the ears....isn't that the same water? just confused a bit :sad2:

Hotel pools have filtration systems that cruise ships don't have. The CDC doesn't think highly of swim diappers or rubber pants and states that it gives false sense of security. The CDC doesn't allow swim diapers/rubber pants in pools on cruise ships. DCL is the only line that has a small sprinkler area (the ear) for non PT kids.

This is DCL's request from CDC website which explains how the ear was approved: Swimming Pools & Whirlpool Spas

Request: Exemption for a wet play area for children in diapers

VSP Operations Manual Requirements: Children in diapers or who are not toilet trained are not permitted in public swimming pools and whirlpool spas.

Approved in 2003:
This variance was approved based on specialized operating and monitoring equipment and devices used. Specific procedures for operations, maintenance and microbiological examination of water quality with record keeping for all of the equipment and devices.

Revoked in December 2004:
The variance was revoked due to non-compliance with operating procedures, system maintenance, records, and microbiological analysis requirements.

Re-instated in 2005:
This variance was approved because of specialized disinfection filtration equipment and devices, specific procedures for operations, maintenance, system alarms, recordkeeping, and microbiological analysis of fecal coliform bacteria.

Requester: Disney Cruise Line (Disney Magic and Disney Wonder)
Date: 2003

Nevertheless, I would actually feel better if kids could wear the swim diapers because I've read so much about the pools closing. Either people send non PT kids in the pool without it hoping for the best or the newly trained kids, out of their normal environment get excited or whatever and have an accident. I'm going to try to have my DS PT before our cruise; he'll be just shy of 3, but I'm concerned about the excitement, not wanting to get out of the pool factor.

04-02-2006, 12:34 AM
When you feel comfortable with leaving your newborn home with Grandma, go and check it out with each other, and figure it out for yourselves. Just be careful with all the fun you'll have together, as you may have to await another newborn 40 weeks after the cruise, and that would postpone a family cruise. If you really want to wait until a child may enjoy a cruise, you may end up being 35 years old, before you go. Go have a Second Honeymoon , and go again 6 years later with the family. Metrowon

04-02-2006, 12:56 AM
When you feel comfortable with leaving your newborn home with Grandma, go and check it out with each other, and figure it out for yourselves. Just be careful with all the fun you'll have together, as you may have to await another newborn 40 weeks after the cruise, and that would postpone a family cruise. If you really want to wait until a child may enjoy a cruise, you may end up being 35 years old, before you go. Go have a Second Honeymoon , and go again 6 years later with the family. Metrowon