Recently we had the opportunity to go on a cruise aboard the Disney Fantasy with our son Elliot, who was then 15 months old. As he was under the age of three, he was too young to join Disney's Oceaneer Club which is for 3 to 12 year olds only. In addition to that, he also was not potty trained which meant he wasn't allowed to enter any of the swimming pools aboard the ship. This is in line with the United States Public Health Service that requires all children entering the swimming pools aboard cruise ships to be toilet trained. So what is there do on a cruise with a 15 month old toddler? Obviously, Disney is very well known for its suitability for families and its excellent children's clubs but does it provide anything for its youngest guests? Well the short answer to that is a resounding Yes! Disney caters well for this age group by providing ship areas, activities and scheduled entertainment aimed specifically at them. Although this article is based specifically on the Disney Fantasy, all the ships in the Disney fleet will have similar ways to entertain your toddler.
So here are 7 ways to entertain your toddler aboard the Disney Fantasy...
1. Nemo's Reef. This is a water play area specifically designed for young children that features pop jets, bubblers and fountains, a waterslide and other fun features. It is covered and well shaded from the sun and a great fun way of keeping young children cool. It is located at Deck 11, Midship beside Mickey's Pool, so ideal if one parent wants a quick swim, the other can stay at the Nemo's Reef. The area is themed on the popular Disney-Pixar film Finding Nemo, and the water features all represent different characters from the movie which makes it a really fun and colourful area for children to play in. Children must be supervised by a parent or guardian while enjoying this area.
2. Aqua Lab. This is a similar area to Nemo's Reef except it is out in open deck. It has pop jets, leaky pipes and lots of geysers. The theming is based around a "lab" that Donald Ducks mischievous nephews have designed. It contains pouring paint cans, pop jets, geysers, leaky pipes and raining showerheads. There are also stations that kids can control the water running through the AquaDuck water slide, which always seemed to amuse all ages! Although all children must be supervised, there are shaded lounge chairs available near by that parents can watch but not get wet.
3. Toddler Time. This is a scheduled playtime, usually held once a day at It's a small world nursery. Throughout the cruise, additional Toddler Times may be held at other ship venues. At toddler time, age appropriate toys are provided for toddler play and interaction and staff from It's a small world nursery are there to supervise. We found the staff to be exceptionally good with the kids, they encouraged them to play with the toys, they interacted well with them, and all the kids including Elliot seemed to enjoy themselves. Please note that all children attending this toddler time must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. It is not a baby sitting service.
4. Wake up with Disney Junior Dance Party. This is a high energy early morning dance party with the Disney Junior characters. It is usually on between 8am and 9am. Great if you have early risers and gives them a possible activity even before breakfast? Or if your kids are like Elliot with the day starting at 6am (yes folks, even Disney can't make them have a lie in!) then this could be a mid-morning activity! As the Disney Junior characters are very popular with younger kids, then this music and dancing activity is going to be a big hit with them.
5. The character experience. Obviously this is very popular with children of all ages and the adults too! There are character meet and greets scheduled every day, both in the morning, and again in the evening. The Characters available to meet usually include Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Pluto. By day Mickey and his pals have on their beach attire, and by night they are a little more dressed up in formal wear or to suit the party theme for a certain evening. Other characters are also on board and greeting guests throughout the cruise. They will usually include the princesses, the Disney Junior characters, Chip N Dale and certain Toy Story characters as well. Whether you wait in line for your child to get their autograph book signed or they simply see them around the ship and say hello, the characters will be another great way to keep them entertained. The Fab Five also take part in many deck parties, sail away shows, and have short appearances in some of the live theatre shows in the evenings. So again, brilliant entertainment that was very suitable for young children.Daisy Duck posing for a photo in her beach attire The Characters saying their farewells In the final show of the cruise - See Ya Real Soon ... 6. The Magical Porthole. All inside staterooms on the Disney Fantasy have magical portholes, a unique feature with the Disney Cruise line. These are high definition screens that are made to resemble a porthole. There is a high definition camera on the exterior of the ship that feeds the monitor with the current live image. So through the magical porthole you can see what you would actually see if you had an outside or balcony stateroom. Every once in a while a Disney character will "magically" appear floating across the screen. This fun extra is always preceded with a sparkle so you will know when something is about to appear. Elliot quickly learnt to watch his "porthole" and found it was wonderful when Mickey Mouse would fly across waving at him. So although not strictly entertainment, it was still very much entertaining to him whilst we were in our stateroom.
7. It's a small world nursery. This is the child care centre on board suitable for children between the ages of 6 months and 3 years. It is chargeable per hour that the child attends and places need to be pre- reserved. The nursery design is based on the original attraction at Disneyland and includes a main play area and a quieter room for nap time. Activities include movie time, story time, arts and crafts and much more. The nursery always seems to be very well run, and very secure. This is ideal for parents wanting to do a shore excursion or have a quiet dinner by themselves.
There are many more things that will appeal to all children aboard the ship like the movies under the pool, the mini golf, small water slides, live theatre shows and dining entertainment, however this list includes the areas, activities and entertainment that is the most age appropriate for children under 3. So you can be assured that no matter how old or young your children are, if they are sailing aboard a Disney ship, they will have an amazing time!