The family-friendly Disney Cruise Line also has plenty of options for teens on its ships
Ten years ago, in the magical kingdom of Port Canaveral, Florida, Disney Cruise Line launched its first ship, the Disney Magic. She was joined by sister ship Disney Wonder in 1999. Since then, they've been traveling all over the Caribbean with many happy passengers. Over the years, they've been refurbished and made even nicer for the fun-loving families. And now, they will live happily ever after.
Now, back to reality.
As a "young adult," what is your first thought when you hear the word Disney (Cruise Line)? Mickey and the gang, along with all the princesses and other Disney characters, right? As a kid at heart, I was excited to be on the Disney Wonder with my mom, my brother Ethan, and my best friend Callie. Other teenagers, though, might not think they're into the Disney scene. But they should be aware that Disney has a bunch of attractions for teens who don't want to take pictures with the characters all day, or have tea with Alice in Wonderland.
Teen Amenities In the last few years, Disney has revamped its shipboard teen programs. The teen clubs in both the Wonder (Aloft) and the Magic (The Stack) reside in one of the smokestacks (don't worry, it's perfectly safe in there). The rooms are meant to look like a cool and hip urban loft, like those found in TV shows like "Friends." There is a bar (with non-alcoholic beverages), a dance floor, DJ booth, video games, computer area, and "chill-out" area. It's definitely one of the more attractive teen areas I've seen.
If your Disney cruise stops in Castaway Cay (all itineraries do except the Mexican Riviera), you're in for a really fun time. Castaway Cay has its own Teen Beach on the far side of the island (away from annoying little siblings and parents). It's a great place to hang out with all your new friends. For a little extra cost, you can participate in the Teen Banana Boat ride or take the Wild Side excursion, which includes bike riding, kayaking, snorkeling, and swimming as you tour the tropical island. Many water sports are also available at Castaway Cay for a small fee.
Food Disney isn't my favorite line for food, but by no means is the food bad. On the Wonder there are many dining options. On all Disney cruises, you switch around between the three restaurants. Triton's (called Lumiere's on the Magic) has an aquatic theme inspired by The Little Mermaid. Here you can enjoy seafood specialties as well as traditional cruise fare.
Another restaurant (on both ships) is Animator's Palate. This is my favorite because of the decorations. It's designed to look like a Disney animator's drawing and painting palate. Throughout the meal, black and white drawings on the wall from classic Disney movies change as their theme music plays. At the beginning of the meal, it's all good guys -- but by dessert time, the villains come up on the screens. Even as a teenager, I was still a little scared (pathetic, I know). After the villains are finished, all the classic good guys come back and the room bursts into color. All the pictures and the walls are colorful at the end of the meal. It really is quite a show for dinnertime.
The last formal dining option for families is Parrot Cay -- a bright, vibrant, and colorful restaurant. It's supposed to be like stepping into a Caribbean rainforest with parrots and lush tropical plants. It specializes in tropical, Caribbean-style food.
For adults, the alternative restaurant is Palo. Here, parents can enjoy fine Italian cuisine while looking out onto the ocean.
For those of you who like to play it casual, the Beach Blanket buffet is always open for all three meals. There is also the poolside Pinocchio's pizzeria, as well as Goofy's Doghouse, where you can get grilled items like burgers and hotdogs.
Public Facilities and Activities On sea days, there are lots of things to do aboard the Disney ships. For younger kids, there is the Mickey pool with a water slide. If you're taller than 64 inches and/or older than 14, you can't go on the slide. Luckily, I just made the age cut-off but had to slouch a bit to meet the height restriction. Right next door is the Goofy pool, where all the poolside entertainment happens. For sports lovers, there are basketball courts in the front of the ships where you can play some "b-ball" as well as other games.
|Us in the Mickey Pool|
For those who like to capture that Kodak moment, photographers around the ship take portrait pictures with backgrounds, as well as character pictures. One of our favorite pastimes was having our pictures taken in front of a white background. We would jump up right as the photographer snapped the picture, and it really looks like we're flying. Here's a tip: If you or your siblings want any character pictures, get there early. For some characters, the lines can be 15-20 minutes long.
|Minnie||Captain Hook and Mr. Smee|
At night, you can see a movie on the giant screen by the Goofy pool or in the Buena Vista theater. Or you might see one of the many stage performances. There is a show every night. On our cruise, there were three shows. The first night, we saw Toy Story the Musical. This show is in its début season and it was really good. Toy Story (the movie) doesn't have any songs, so the scriptwriters added in a bunch that fit the story. The second night, we didn't attend the show, but it was called the Golden Mickeys -- It's like an old-fashioned Hollywood awards show honoring classic Disney movies and songs (with many song performances as well). The last night was the Disney Dreams show. I sailed on Disney when I was younger, when I was a Disney princess fanatic. To this day this remains my favorite cruise show. It's a musical about how dreams really do come true (cheesy, I know, but it's still great) with many performances by Disney characters.
So if you ever get your hands on some pixie dust or wish upon a star, wish for a Disney cruise. Although you might find it sappy and corny as a "too cool" teenager, it really brings out your inner child. As for me, I always enjoy feeling like a happy little kid again.
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