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Baby Goes to Walt Disney World: Taking a Disney Cruise With Your Baby

Family on the CruiseIn this final post about taking an infant to Walt Disney World, I wanted to write about our experience on a 4-night Disney Cruise Line cruise. Please keep in mind, again, that our baby Walt (age 5 months at the time of our cruise) was sick with a double ear infection, so our trip went a little differently than I hope yours would.

Please note that as of July 2014, Disney Cruise Line changed their policy so that any new bookings required infants to be 6 months of age on shorter cruises and 12 months of age for longer cruises.  For the complete policy explanation, please speak with a travel agent or visit the Disney Cruise Line website at: http://disneycruise.disney.go.com/

Rooms:

We booked a room on Deck 5 of the cruise ship and have always loved the location. This deck holds less staterooms than most as it contains the movie theatre, several of the kid’s clubs, and the shore excursions desk. It is also just a few decks away from most of the restaurants and, prior to using a stroller, allowed easy use of the stairs in order to avoid the elevators, which can become very crowded.

Our wonderful MEI and Mouse Fan Travel agent(s), Leslie Henson (who is sadly retired) and Vicki Damanti, made sure that we knew some options for cruising with baby. No worries if you forget to mention needing these items, your room host or hostess will ask if they see your party includes an infant. Disney Cruise Line has available for use a Pack ‘n Play and a Diaper Genie. For those of you who have not cruised, having wet and dirty diapers in the normal trash cans would be terrible and smell up the entire cabin! I highly recommend taking advantage of both items as it will make your trip much easier.

One additional recommendation I would make is to remember that you do not have much space anywhere on the ship for your personal belongings. What I mean by that is the hallways are really narrow, so don’t bring your double stroller and expect to use it or have lots of room in your stateroom to store you stroller when it isn’t being used. We ended up folding our stroller and placing it in a closet, but the door wouldn’t close the entire way. Disney has enhanced the storage area in each stateroom by allowing for storage under the bed. This is a perfect place to keep your empty suitcases. I did read that umbrella strollers are recommended as they are super tiny and fold easily.Walt in his Life Jacket

P.S. – They do have infant life jackets available for your child and you will never have to actually try it on, but we had to just for the sake of seeing what it looked like. As you can see I’m not sure Walt would have been able to sink!

Dining:

Having such a small infant, we didn’t expect that he would be eating table food on the cruise, but I did some research just in case. What I found was that the kitchens are able to puree foods for you to feed your baby, so you do not have to worry about bringing lots of baby food containers! With the variety of fruits and vegetables they offer on the menu, your baby is sure to eat well!

Disney Cruise Line DiningWhen we arrived in our assigned dining room the first night, our wait staff already had a high chair (which we hadn’t used before) and a little cup of water with Walter’s name written on the lid! While it was absolutely adorable, we never used it since he doesn’t drink out of a straw. Each night there was a different coloring page and crayons for the kids to draw on and Pirate Night offered a pirate hat as well.

With Walt being sick, he was extremely fussy, and Brandon ended up taking him to the room the first night, our waiters kept asking me if I wanted to take Brandon food and assuring me that crying babies were okay at dinner! It was amazing how much your wait staff want your vacation to be enjoyable. We also skipped the second dinner as Walt, again, was very fussy, and we felt it would just be a hassle to try and keep him quiet, so we did a quick service dinner. My in-laws called us to let us know that if we wanted to just walk into the dining room, our servers would have dinner for us to take back to the room. I was impressed that they cared that much about us and wanted us to not go hungry (as if that is possible on a cruise). On the third night of the cruise, we felt okay leaving Walt at the nursery so that we could enjoy dinner and let him play with some other kids.

“it’s a small world” Nursery:it's a Small World Nursery

I was very excited for Walt to be able to play in the nursery and had booked a couple of hours each day so Brandon and I could see a movie or head to grab a drink. Of course, they do not want your child in the nursery if they are ill, so we only took him once and it was a wonderful experience. The nursery is for babies up to 3 years old and is themed to the “it’s a small” attraction with lots of colors and shapes on the walls. There is a room with cribs if your baby needs to nap, a play room with toys and tables for coloring, and a room for changing diapers. This is the only kids room that charges a small fee for each hour your child is there.

Disney Cruise Line Child's BraceletUpon checking into the nursery your first time, they ask you questions about your child and what they like to do, when they eat and how much, and so on. You also give them a password to use as an additional form of security for picking up your child. You are allowed to give the nursery staff names of anyone in your party that can pick the child up, so if you want grandparents to have that ability, as long as they are named and know the password, they will be able to check the child out. Disney Cruise Line has always provided bracelets for any child that visits a kid’s club on board, but they have recently changed to a bracelet that strongly resembles the magic bands! For infants, they suggest it be worn on the ankle so that they don’t remove it constantly! If you want to keep the bracelet, they will charge a $15 fee to your stateroom, and you just keep it.

Castaway Cay:Walt on Castaway Cay

We were able to have several fun hours on the Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, and it allowed us to have some fun and take some amazing pictures. It was fun to walk along the path from the ship to the beach and just look at the blue water and the amazing ship that we had been sailing on. We spent a little while on the beach under some trees so that Walt wasn’t in the sun and heat. It was quiet, and we were able to get him to nap while we were sitting there. One piece of advice is that they offer wagons and maybe even a few strollers on the island, so if you don’t want to push your stroller, which isn’t easy in sand, that might be a good option for you. I believe my favorite memory is putting Walt in the ocean for his first little water experience and capture some amazing reactions!

Nemo’s Reef:Disney Dream, Nemo's Reef

The one aspect of the ship that I didn’t like was there is no pool for younger children to play in. Let me explain, there is a water play area for kids who are not potty trained and still need swim diapers, but infants are not allowed in the kids pool. Nemo’s Reef water area is for smaller children and features water jets, a small slide, and water curtains for the kids to walk around in. It was a fun area to play in, but for babies, they don’t enjoy being sprayed on yet.

Conclusion:

Overall our cruise was a little stressful, just due to Walt not feeling well, but there were some really amazing experiences, and we made lots of memories we will always cherish. We did decide that cruising would be better and more memorable if the child was a little older (and not sick). I am excited for Walt to be old enough to really experience some of the kids activities and club areas and get to really play. I guess this means that we will have to book another cruise in a year or two!

I hope you have enjoyed a look into our recent Disney trip with Walt and that some of the information might help your family or friends who are traveling with an infant. It was a wonderful time, even with Walt’s ear infection, and it was interesting to see how our traveling will change with a child. I would love to answer any questions you might have or even get some additional tips from you! We are heading back to the parks for Memorial Day week, so we will be learning new things during that trip I am sure!

(Photos from the author’s personal collection.)

Alyssa Wiseman (also known as ajwiseman09 in the box), her husband Brandon, and newborn son, Walt, reside in central Indiana (too far from Disney).  Alyssa and Brandon enjoy traveling to Disney several times a year to see what is new and enjoy classic Disney.  While traveling, and at home, Alyssa is frequently shopping for Disney products and making a list of items to buy while in the parks.  Please follow Alyssa on twitter @ajwiseman09.

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