Disney cruise offers a magical experience for children of all ages

Mason Muldoon discovers a water spigot in the Disney Magic children's pool.

Mason Muldoon discovers a water spigot in the Disney Magic children’s pool.

ABOARD THE DISNEY MAGIC – Nicole Muldoon wanted to take the family to Disney World Resort. Her husband preferred a relaxing ocean cruise.

The couple reached a great compromise – they booked passage on the beautiful Disney Magic.

“It’s wonderful. Just what we needed,” Marc says of the family’s first Disney cruise.

Getting away from wintery weather at their Cape Cod home has been a welcome break. “It was really cold at home when we left,” Marc says. “And there’s still a lot of winter left.”

The family’s two sons, 6-year-old Marc and 1 ½- year-old Mason – are splashing around in Goofy’s Pool on this sunny day. While big brother Marc is enjoying the bigger kid’s section, little Mason has discovered his favorite spot – flat on his stomach while a wading pool spigot sprays water in his face.

An oilfield worker, Marc spends three weeks away from his family on his job and three weeks at work. “We wanted to get away and spend some time together as a family,” he says.

Another thing he likes on the Disney Magic, Marc says, is the complimentary use of a Wave cellphone so he and his wife can easily communicate on the cruise. Each cabin has two of the portable phones for free shipboard calls and text messages. The phones also work on Disney’s private island Castaway Cay.

Logan Peters tries out one of the complimentary WAVE phones aboard the Disney Magic.

Logan Peters tries out one of the complimentary WAVE phones aboard the Disney Magic.

“If Nicole is on another part of the ship, I can call her,” Marc says. “The kids’ activities also can call us when the activity is done and they are ready for us to pick up our kids.”

Folks who have a tendency to lose things might not want to carry these phones. Guests are charged $250 per phone that is lost, damaged or not returned to the stateroom prior to debarkation.

Although I don’t have a little one on my family cruise, I did check out the Magic’s special kiddy spots.  Designed for children ages three months to 17 years, the ship offers youth activities that are supervised by trained counselors and feature some of the longest operating hours at sea.

The Little Mermaid-themed Flounder’s Reef Nursery lets infants and toddlers ages three months to three years enjoy life “under the sea.” As an added convenience, all baby products needed for a Disney cruise can be pre-arranged and delivered directly to a guest’s stateroom upon arrival.

It’s not an official port of call but children feel like they’ve been transported to Peter Pan’s Never Land at the whimsical Oceaneer Club. This child-friendly oasis, themed to Captain Hook’s pirate ship, contains a play area with slide and rope bridge, a “captain’s closet” filled with costumes and toys and an open seating area for arts, crafts, games, storytelling, musical fun and dancing.

Kids go to “infinity and beyond” at the space- and science-themed Oceaneer Lab. Twinkling star-like lights and giant planetary spheres fill the room along with an oversized Buzz Lightyear figure. Computers with video games and music stations begin the exploration and kids can participate in crazy experiments at the interactive science lab, as well as enjoying karaoke jams, pajama parties, sports challenges and more.

A tiny princess meets Disney's Belle from Beauty and the Beast aboard the Disney Magic.

A tiny princess meets Disney’s Belle from Beauty and the Beast aboard the Disney Magic.

One of the things I like about the Magic cruise is that children can become involved in hand’s-on activities that appeal to a child’s sense of creativity and invention. The next great celebrity chef could be discovered at Ratatouille Cooking School where children work together to bake tasty chocolate chip cookies. Or a budding dancer could be learning the do-si-do with Snow White.

During the Animal Tracking Series, children discover that conservation can be fun as they learn about endangered animals and create an animal tracking device. In Flubber, children join the Professor in creating magical green goo and other interesting concoctions.

Vibe (ages 14 to 17) and Edge (ages 11 to 13) are ultra cool teen- and tween-only hangouts.  The areas are the perfect chill-out spots with comfy couches, computer games, plasma-screen TVs, MP3 player and other tech necessities. Activities include dance parties, trivia games and sports contests to keep teens and tweens engaged and entertained.

“Children have changed very much in the last five or six years,” says Cruise Director Darren McBurney. “They are very different from when we started 15 years ago.”

Today’s young people have grown up with technology and expect it to be part of their lives. So Disney Cruise Line tries to integrate today’s technology with yesteryear’s more simple pastimes.

Children of all ages are delighted by Disney characters aboard the Disney Magic.

Children of all ages are delighted by Disney characters aboard the Disney Magic.

“Children do want technology but some of the greatest programs we have for youth have nothing to do with technology,” Darren says. “It’s a fine balance nowadays.”

Although I have cruised with Disney several times I am always surprised to see how much the youngsters enjoy interacting with Disney characters. Children of all ages collect Disney autographs and wait in long lines for photos with their favorites. Some little girls even dress up like their favorite princesses.

Sitting behind a couple of little girls in their princess finery waiting for the live production of “Villains Tonight” in the Walt Disney Theater, I watched as the youngsters scrolled through their parents’ cell phones to admire photos of themselves with Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and others.

Seems somehow appropriate that these teeny gals consider it quite natural to combine high-tech with fairy tales. The Disney Magic does have a way of spreading pixie dust aboard its magical cruises.

Photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch

 

About Jackie

Jackie Sheckler Finch fell in love with cruising 35 years ago when she rode the magnificent Mississippi Queen riverboat in its inaugural 1976 voyage. A newspaper reporter, photographer and travel writer, Jackie has cruised on large and small vessels on numerous rivers and oceans. Read more...

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