Boy, you know, I think that every age is the best age! My kids have gone at 8 months, 9 months, 2 3/4 years, 3 years, 5 years, 6 years, and 8 years. On our next cruise (in two and a half weeks!!) they will be 9, 6, 3 3/4, and 19 months. I think all the ages have been great and they all experience it just a little different. Of course, the under 2 set doesn't really "get" it, especially since my littlest ones don't do the nursery. I'm not really sure there is a best age, just as I don't think there's a best age to go to WDW.
Sorry, not much help. I guess whatever you pick will be the right age, becuase in my opinion, its always the right age!
Under 3 was hard because she was with us alot and didn't "get it". My 12 year old was bored at times this last cruise because she didn't get to correspond with anyone from the trip beforehand so she felt "alone" (we surprised them with the cruise, normally they have had time to get to know kids from our meet group and have built in friends the minute we board the ship).
So I'd have to say based on our experience 4-11ish.
We first cruise & went to WDW with DD3 and DS5. It was just perfect for them. They both still talk about things that happened specifically on that cruise at 10 & 12. The interaction with the characters was priceless. Cindy became DD's best friend. She was so surprised when we saw her every day and she remembered her name and asked her how her day was and what she had done. It still makes me tear up to think about it. Of course I also tear up thinking about when DD was 8 and didn't want to put on her Snow White dress or even leave dinner to get her picture taken with her. At 10 & 12 they still have a great time and get their pictures taken with the characters but it is just different now.
When they started cruising my kids were 4, 13 and 10, and it was awesome. They have cruised a number of times since and are now 14, 23 and 20 and still love the whole experience. So it really depends on your children, but for mine any age was perfect!
Tough question.... We've cruised DCL with kids as young as 8 months old and as old as 13 (our oldest's current age). Everyone has always had fun. I guess, in some ways I'd say the ideal age is 3-8 yrs old. They still believe in all the magic and yet old enough to travel a bit easier than toddlers. In other ways, I'd say the ideal age has been 9-12 yrs old...because they had some extra freedom at that age and were very self-sufficient. My 13 yr old still loves DCL. I would not say he is out of the ideal age, but I would say that once the kids hit 11, while they still were at a great age for DCL, they were also at an ideal age to enoy the bigger RCI ships too....so, that 11 and up age group has more options for an ideal vacation (including DCL).
I'm trying ton convince DH to do a Disney cruise with our boys, later this year when they are 3&5 and he is concerned that they wouldn't like it because they wouldn't be able to run around. I disagree, so I'm going to tell him about this thread.
My girls were 4 (we embarked on her birthday, actually!) and 7, which many might say is a great age. But for us it didn't work out as well as I'd hoped. First, we couldn't get switched to early dining so we missed all of the dining rooms because they simply couldn't wait that long or stay up that late. They don't nap and wake up early no matter what you do so it's bed by 9:30/10:00 and even that's risking a major meltdown. My younger DD, in particular, likes to talk/sing herself to sleep so the two of them in the same room ended up being interesting. And DD #2 absolutely HATED the kids club and refused to go after the first day. So no Palo (we had to cancel last minute), no adult beach on CC (we managed to get her to Scuttles Cove only to be paged to pick her up after less than an hour), no Cove Cafe/adult pool, no shows (the girls weren't interested in seeing them). Not that it was a bad thing to have more family time, but it definitely changed our overall plans for the trip. We spent a day at MK after disembarking, and they were FAR happier and much more interested in that, so while I'm taking them back to Orlando in April we won't be planning another cruise for several years!
We took our kids on their first DCL cruise when my son was in 5th grade and daughter in 2rd. They had cruised about 8 times. so, we knew they loved to cruise. I wanted to try Disney before the kids got too old. They had been on RCI, NCl and Carnival (once- they hated it).
We loved it. My son said it was the best cruise he ever went on. We booked another cruise onboard. We had a wonderful the cruise again following year, I was a little worried since my son was in 6th grade. He was worried about being cool. etc. He said it was even better than the one before.
This year, my son is in 7th grade. He went on Allure of the Seas over Christmas with a friend.` He thought he would complain about our DCL cruise to Alaska this summer. While he had a good time on Allure, he is really looking for to cruising on DCL again.
We have not sailed on another line going on DCL. I had such a good time. I am leaving my husband and kids home and going on the transatlantic by myself in a few months.
My DD was in 2nd grade loved all the characters. She wanted to do everything she could. She had a terrific time.
If you mean ideal age on the young end, then I'd say for the easy trips (Bahamas, Carribbean), anything over 3, and for the more exotic ports (Europe, Alaska, etc), then whatever age is old enough to appreciate those ports. But I honestly don't think otherwise that there is an ideal age. My kids have been going since they were around 8 and now the oldest is almost 15 and she cannot wait for our 2 cruises this year. They have no interest in any other line. It really depends on the kids and what they are into. My kids are not so interested in the characters (except for Captain Jack), but they love the ships and the clubs and the atmosphere.
DD did her first DCL cruise at age 7 (MV of the Magic). She still tells me that it was her favorite cruise because the Oceaneer's Club was so awesome. There have been special moments at various cruises thru the years, but I would strongly recommend a cruise at about age 5-6 if at all possible.
We did WDW at 4 and again at 5, and it was amazing. The interaction with the characters is delightful.
Oh, and if you care, she now thinks that Palo is awesome!