V-Log: Disney Magic Family Cruise to Europe's Baltic
V-Log: Adults-Only Mediterranean Cruise
Disney Cruise Line's four ships are family-friendly, offering the elaborate Walt Disney Theater, which resembles a plush Broadway house, and the Buena Vista Cinema, which features Disney flicks. Studio Sea is styled like a television sound stage and offers a forum for G-rated floor shows on Wonder and Magic; a similar venue is called the D Lounge on Dream and Fantasy.
The line also features "Disney Digital 3-D" aboard Magic and Wonder. It's a cinema experience that uses lasers, fog, streamers and special lighting effects in the onboard theater.
The main pool areas on all four ships are geared toward families; there's a pool for younger kids with a 200-ft. Mickey water-slide, and a small sprinkler tub for toddlers. An adults-only pool exists as well on Magic and Wonder, though on Dream and Fantasy the grownup area encompasses several decks and bars.
Dream and Fantasy stepped up the waterpark-at-sea aspect by adding the AquaDuck, the first-ever watercoaster on a cruise ship. Clearly visible atop the ship, the coaster features a transparent, acrylic tube that propels riders along on a raft, up and down four decks of the ship -- at one point swinging out 13 feet off the side, 150 feet above the ocean.
For a real soak, kids (and adults) can head to Disney Fantasy's AquaLab, which explains the genesis of the AquaDuck. Basically, it's just a way to get wet standing up, as water pours out of buckets, through holes in the wall and from fountain jets on the deck.
Older folks have more than a pool in which to escape. Palo is a boutique eatery on each ship featuring northern Italian cuisine; reserve the minute you get onboard. For a real splurge, Remy offers top-of-the-line French fare on Dream and Fantasy and comes with an $85 tab -- the highest at sea.
The spa is also off-limits to the younger generation and one of the highlights is its rain forest steam room. Somewhat less compelling is an adults-only area of night clubs called "Beat Street" on Magic,"Route 66" on Wonder, "The District" on Dream and "Europa" on Fantasy; among the options are a dance club and sports pub.
There are family cabins that hold six, but Disney's roomier-than-average staterooms can handle at least four. Forty-four percent of outside cabins have verandahs. All come with bathtubs, a television, a safe and a hair dryer.
The children's program is organized and run by dozens of caring youth counselors; scheduled character greetings occur throughout the day (and many surprise visits, too). The inclusion of onboard nurseries (Flounder's Reef Nursery on Magic/Wonder and It's a Small World on Dream/Fantasy) filled a void for parents looking for childcare for their infants through age 3.
Spanning nearly an entire deck, Disney's Oceaneer Club is a supervised program for children aged 3 - 7, spilt into age groups of 3 - 4 and 5 - 7. The Oceaneer Lab is split into groups for kids aged 8 - 9 and 10 - 12, and offers high-tech interactive programs, hands-on science experiments and ship-wide treasure hunts. Kids 11 - 12 can compete in a marine biology knowledge game show and send digital postcards to friends.
The quartet mix it up when it comes to older kids. Teens (13 - 17) have a single private club on Wonder (Aloft) and Magic (the Stack); they're home to lots of overstuffed couches and chairs, the latest video games, MP3 listening stations, board games and magazines, and a bar that dispenses soft drinks and smoothies. But Dream and Fantasy split apart the demographic: 11 to 13's head to the Edge, while 14 to 17's chill in Vibe (which includes an outdoor area with hot tubs). Children's facilities are open from 9 a.m. until 1 a.m., though times can vary.
Once signed in onboard the ship, your children are automatically enrolled in the children's programs on Castaway Cay. There are supervised games for the individual age groups, and bike riding. However, take note that they do not take the children swimming. Disney character appearances are scheduled several times daily on the private island.