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13 Tips for Surviving a Disney Cruise with the Kids

Avoid the hassles, skip the lines and retain your sanity with our step-by-step guide to ensuring your Disney-cruise is one to remember (for all the right reasons).

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1. Plan Ahead

Before leaving, buy your kids a Disney t-shirt or stuffed toy at a local shop (ideally on sale) and give it to them when you board. They’ll feel special and you may avoid shelling out for pricey paraphernalia on the ship.

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2. Arrive Early

If you need to fly in before you ship out, consider arriving a day early. By booking a room at the resort, you’ll avoid derailing your vacation thanks to unpredictable circumstances. (Unexpected traffic caused us to show up late for our direct flight to Orlando. Had we missed the plane, and were we not arriving a day early, we probably would have missed the boat!).

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3. Book Some Alone Time

Once it opens (usually just after shipping out), register your children (aged 3-months to 3-years-old) at It’s A Small World Nursery. After a day or two this service may be entirely booked-up.

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4. Get Your Game On

Spoil the kids at the Oceaneer’s Club and Lab (for children ages 3 – 12) which feature family-friendly game consoles, themed play spaces, arts and crafts sessions, interactive science labs, and much more.

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5. Order Off the Menu

When dining on one of the four sit-down restaurants don’t feel you’re bound to the menu. If your kid loves peas, for example, ask for an extra plate of those instead.

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6. Be a Homebody

Consider staying on the ship at a port of call. You will love the feeling of having the boat to yourselves. Plus, no line for the Aquaduck water-coaster!

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7. Bring the Grandparents

Bringing along the extended clan allows for a greater flexibility and family fun, and the ship has lovely adjoining room and even verandas.

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8. Don’t Dawdle

Once everyone wakes up, hustle to breakfast, especially if you’re going to the buffet. Getting to this busy hub early means you’ll secure a table, and you won’t have to worry about crowding at the bacon hotplate.

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9. Order Room Service

If you want to sleep in, take advantage of room service for a relaxing breakfast. They may not be able to bring you everything the buffet has, but you can order toast, cereal, fruit, coffee and juice at no extra cost. (Word of warning: it’s a massive boat, so expect about 45 minutes of waiting.)

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10. Make Time for Downtime

Make downtime part of your daily routine, especially since kids are constantly being over-indulged and over-stimulated. Take a 30 minute break in your room to read books, have a bath, or snack and watch a few classic Disney cartoons.

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11. Make Time for the Big Kids

Make sure you get some real vacation time while you little one is at the nursery by indulging at the adults-only five-star French restaurant, Remy, or relax with a massage at the on-board spa.

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12. Be Informed

Read the “Personal Navigator” sheet that gets delivered to your stateroom every evening. It’s a good way to keep up with all the on-board activities.

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13. Avoid a Food Fight

Remember, this is a vacation for everyone, so when your 4-year-old tastes Fruit Loops for the first time, relax. Once they return home you’ll see that they fall right back into their regulary dietary routine.