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Old 01-27-2013, 11:43 AM   #1
Earning My Ears
Join Date: Jan 2013
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better option for 3 yr old

Just wondering if you think Disney World for 5 days or 7 night Disney Cruise is better for a 3 yr old. We want to do something special for our son's birthday. We have been on a cruise years ago (pre parenthood) and Disney (pre parenthood but with neice and nephew). My hubby thinks our son is too little for a cruise, but I think a cruise would be more relaxing and fun. Some extra info: we would go my ourselves, our son will be turning 3 on the trip. He is big for his age, only 2.3yrs old now and already 39 inches. We have to fly for either trip. Price is not the issue. Thanks!
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Old 01-27-2013, 11:49 AM   #2
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Cruise! My daughter has been going to both since that age and a cruise parents and child hace
Always dreaming of being on the "Mickey Boat"

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Old 01-27-2013, 11:50 AM   #3
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Have fun and relax! Srry phone cut me off
Always dreaming of being on the "Mickey Boat"

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Old 01-27-2013, 12:06 PM   #4
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The million dollar question--will your son be fully potty trained and able to take himself to the potty unassisted/unasked? We took our toddler on a cruise for her second birthday, and she loved it. She really enjoyed being in Small World Nursery. We showed her the Oceaneer's Club/Oceaneer's Lab, and she was so excited--and when we explained to her that she had to be potty trained to go there, she was instantly eager to start potty training.They are very firm about the potty training rule. No pull-ups, and the kid has to be able to take themselves. If he isn't fully potty trained, then you'll have to tell your kid no about going in there aside from open house times.

In addition, no kids in swim diapers are allowed in the pools (although the kid's splash area is wonderful).

Another challenge is knowing whether your child is okay with 2.5-hour meals (only one of our dinner meals on ship were less than 2 hours) and whether your kid is okay with missing bedtime most nights (if you want to do the shows or the pirate party).

The final challenge is that you will be extremely limited in what shore excursions you'll be able/want to do with your kid. Even some that don't have age restrictions may be a little too much of a day for a toddler.

That being said, if you are okay with all of those challenges, a cruise with a toddler can be amazingly fun and a very relaxing trip.

We've also taken our toddler for a Disney trip, and had a blast doing that. The big thing for us was to stay at a resort with a zero-entry pool (so she could wade in the ankle-deep water), limit the number of sit-down meals/bring an iPad with movies for meals that went long, and take lots of afternoon naps.

I don't think you can go wrong with either--but it really depends what you want to do on a trip.
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:09 PM   #5
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If your son is potty-trained and likes character interaction, I'd say the cruise. We've done both and the cruise is more relaxing. Not many lines for food, your room is a short distance away from everything on board.

If he's not potty-trained and doesn't like a lot of character interaction, then I'd say maybe Disney World.
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:03 PM   #6
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My son turns 3 on March 31st. We sail on April 27th. This will be his third cruise. Take your son but just be willing to adapt your schedule to his needs not the ships itinerary. Have fun!
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:13 PM   #7
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I'd say the cruise. I took my kids to DW when my youngest was 3 (3 and 3/4 actually, he was coming up on 4) and it was fun but very stressful. The parks are draining and trying to work around a toddlers nap needs can be very tricky. On a cruise, your room is always just a few flights and a walk down the hallway away. In the parks, you have to worry about buses, crowds, line, and meltdowns are pretty much a given. Plus there is so much walking at the parks- a toddler ends up in a stroller the majority of the time and lugging the stroller around becomes a pain. Plus you always need a bag with snacks, extra clothes for accidents, etc. The cruise would be much more relaxing. And character meets are much easier on the cruise. I wish I had thought to do the cruise back then.
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:34 PM   #8
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DD will be Gold Castaway status when she turns 3 so we don't think 3 is too young. We love cruising because we can see the world and DD has a blast. She loves the character interaction which is longer than in the parks (she had a ten minute conversation with Belle in a hallway one day, so it's not just photo ops). We love the dance parties (definitely can't take a toddler to a club back home ) and the shows are wonderful. We also don't have to think about meals. When we are hungry we can eat anything we want, which is especially great for small children who are rarely thirsty or hunger on schedule. Up until now (we cruise with my mom and brother in March) we have also gone by ourselves and used the nursery for one hour during dinner each night.

I personally think 3 is too young for a few days in the park. I have friends who never tried DCL who think the parks are better. Each chid is different. They really can't do much due to height restrictions. We went in June and DD hated it. She had no patience for the lines. We've been pass holders for SeaWorld for years but when we take her we only go for a couple hours at a time.
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Old 01-27-2013, 01:08 PM   #9
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I have 3 children. Our first family cruise we spent 4 days at WDW and 4 days cruising. I only had 2 children then- ages 8 and 2. The cruise was the BEST part of that vacation BY FAR!

We also just got off a 7 night RCCL Liberty of the seas cruise with my 3yr old, 7yr old and 16yr old. Best vacation EVER!

We'll be on Disney Dream in November. My 3yr old will be 4 by then. And I can't wait!!
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Old 01-27-2013, 01:28 PM   #10
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By the time you put in the effort to get there, you may as well enjoy it for as long as possible.

As to cruise vs. WDW....if fully toilet trained, go for the cruise. If not, wait till next year.
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:23 PM   #11
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We did DCL for DD's third birthday (she turned three on the ship) and it was fantastic. We used "Mickey's Big Ship" as a potty training incentive so she was fully independent when we boarded. Since the cruise was for her birthday we picked everything around her: room type (secret verandah), excursions (resort day with zero entry play pool), etc. Because of the size of the ship vs. the size of WDW, within a day or two all the CMs knew it was DD's birthday and absolutely doted on her. She would not have gotten nearly as much attention in the parks. As for dinner... I think some kids can handle long dinners and others can't, and you're the only one who knows your kid's limits. It would NEVER occur to me to pack an entertainment dinner bag for dinners on DCL. The serving team will always bring their food early if you ask them to. And while we kept her with us for restaurants with a show, like AP, it was super easy to walk her up to the clubs on nights she got twitchy. There's just no reason for a kid to be bored on a DCL ship, whereas the parks is always hurry up and wait for me.
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Old 01-27-2013, 02:18 PM   #12
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I'm doing 1 day at WDW and a 5 day cruise. My youngest will be 3 and on his 3rd cruise, and he loves them. He doesn't remember WDW when he was a baby, so we're going there to introduce him to it, but 1 day is all the stress I can take. Then the vacation begins when we board the boat.

Also, my oldest was scared of anybody in costume when she went on her first cruise to the point we'd had to leave Chick-Fil-A if a cow showed up. We were actually pretty worried about all the characters. It didn't even take a whole day before she was hugging Mickey.
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Old 01-27-2013, 03:39 PM   #13
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What about a cruise with an extra day or two at the parks at the end or beginning? Our DS turned 3 a few months before our last cruise. He had SO much fun, but he wasn't really into being left at the kids club. He wanted us all to go and play there together. This year, all he wants is to go back to the kids club.

We love disney world, but with him last year for a long time it was a little much. I wish we had done a few days, but we were there for 5 (after a 5 night cruise).
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Old 01-31-2013, 02:42 PM   #14
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We did WDW with my nephew when he was 3 & thought it was absolutely magical. But we outnumbered him 6 to 1 and we only spent 1 long day at the parks.

We did our first DCL when my daughter was 23 months old & loved it! Best of both worlds - relaxation, shows, Disney characters. Another benefit which I didn't expect was the amount of independence/freedom we were able to let our DD experience on the ship vs. the parks. She would have spent a lot more time in her stroller had we done the parks and been able to ride very few attractions - basically would have enjoyed only the characters.

This year we will be sailing the day before our daughter turns 3 & our itineary gives us 1 day at WDW - so we get the relaxation of the cruise and she gets the magical WDW experience in a more abbreviated way.

She is already talking about going on "Mickey's Ship" when she is 3 and just can't wait.

Before my daughter was born, I had been to WDW regularly and you couldn't have convinced me I would ever say DCL was a better vacation regardless of her age...but I have to say I think until she are 40" and wanting to ride the more moderate thrill rides like Splash Mountain that DCL is better for the entire family - at least for our family.
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Old 01-31-2013, 03:06 PM   #15
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My daughter prefers WDW, but we prefer being on the cruise with her. Honestly, it's just easier than commando around the parks, dealing w/crowds and waiting in line for characters.

On the ship, she can hop into a character line, then watch a show. Super easy.
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