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All you can do without visiting the theme parks
Disney Cruise Line without Kids
Friday, May 24, 2002
It should come as no surprise that Disney Cruise Line ships are filled with far more families traveling with children than other lines. This should not, however, mean adults traveling without children should feel out of place. Whether the Disney Cruise Line is the right choice for adults is a personal decision.
Disney Cruise Line does not necessarily offer the best cruise value, and while adults can avoid children to some degree, it is impossible to cruise these ships and reasonably expect to never encounter children. However, if you enjoy the Disney characters, and the type of shows and entertainment offered in the Disney parks, then the Disney Cruise Line ships are the only ones that really fit the bill!
Based on my own experience with the Disney Cruise Line, Disney has been pretty successful in marketing the ships to the adult-only segment.
One of the nice things about staterooms on the Disney ships is that your cabin is not furnished with a pair of twin beds on opposite walls. Disney pushes them together to make a large queen-sized bed, which is nice if you are traveling as a couple. If you are traveling with a friend, a sofa converts to a very comfortable twin bed, with this section of the cabin separated by a privacy curtain.
The split bathroom in many cabins is another plus, and something I wish other cruise lines would copy. Each stateroom comes with a refrigerator, which is very handy for storing a bottle of wine for later - particularly if you will have a verandah to enjoy the warm Caribbean air at night.
As the ship prepares to sail, everyone is invited to the Sail Away party up on deck 9. While the Disney characters are there as are many children, the party is also a festive way to kick off the cruise for adults. Servers circulate with the special drink of the day - typically a mixture of pina colada and strawberry daiquiri (for purchase).
Although going on vacation with your children can be wonderful, so can taking a vacation <I>from</I> your children! Imagine enjoying the breeze in relaxed comfort with a pina colada in your hand as you stand by the railing and wave to people watching your ship depart, instead of wondering where little Suzy has disappeared to, or whether Johnny has to use the bathroom.
Dining is a highlight of any cruise, and while in my opinion Disney falls short compared to some other lines in terms of fine dining and leisurely dinners, the food is still very good. Dinners are only three-course meals, most likely because of child passengers with limited attention spans, but each course is tasty and attractively presented.
Children are present at both early and late seatings, but you may find fewer of them at the latter. While simply requesting a table without any children when booking a cruise can ensure that you are seated at an adults-only table, Disney also tries to group the non-children tables in the same section of the dining rooms. When I cruised with children, dinners were a noisy affair - lots of kid noise. The two cruises I have take without children (early dinner seating) we would not have been aware there were children in the dining room at all had we not seen them as we walked past them to our table.
Palo, the specialty restaurant, is not to be missed! People under the age of 18 are not permitted to dine here, and each stateroom is allowed to make one reservation for dinner per cruise, subject to availability.
The chocolate soufflé alone is worth the trip, but everything is excellent and the cast members make recommendations and bring out samples of items for you to try. During the seven-night cruise on the days at sea, there is also a special champagne brunch that is an elaborate spread of delicious food. The dinners here have a $5 per person service charge, and the brunch costs $15 per person.
Disney is known for entertainment, and because the main show each evening is suitable for both adults and children, adults without children may find it a bit lacking after four or five nights. There are no casinos on either Disney ship, although gaming is available in some ports.
After 9 o'clock each night, there is an area of the ship declared off-limits to those under age 18. On the Disney Magic it is called Beat Street, and on the Disney Wonder it is Route 66. Other than the exterior theming, the areas are identical.
There are three clubs here, and a dueling piano bar is the liveliest of the three. There is a quiet bar with soft music for sitting and chatting to soft music, and another bar where short comedy, magic, or game shows might occur at different times. In between, there is a dance floor and a band or music. There is also a nightclub in another area that is open to all ages - quite often they play games of one kind or another that are suitable for both children and adults.
Character appearances are quite common, and adults without children are certainly encouraged to participate. After all, this is your vacation, too - you should do what you enjoy. Passengers on the seven-day cruise are invited to a character breakfast one morning, which I have always skipped--choosing sleeping or a fitness activity over a big breakfast with lots of children--but adults who enjoy the character breakfasts at Walt Disney World should certainly take advantage of this one.
On deck, one of the three pools is set aside for adults only, and on my cruises it has always been a wonderfully quiet and relaxing area of the ship, compared to the noise and bustling activity at the other two pools. The adults-only pool is located right next to the spa, making it convenient to enjoy the pool, go inside for a workout or spa treatment, and return to your lounge chair!
There are Jacuzzi tubs at both the adult and family pools, but you are likely to find many children in the tubs at the family pool. Many passengers return to the Jacuzzi after dinner for a bit of relaxation.
Speaking of relaxing, there are activities on board geared towards adults. On the seven-day cruise, there are three separate "tracks" of seminars designed for adults, but my experience has been that people who bring their children are not turned away. My opinion is Disney should either lift the "adults only" rule or enforce it - but fortunately the few children we encountered in these settings were either well-behaved or quickly removed by the parent.
There are also wine tastings and other activities for adults, and of course the opportunity to do nothing more exciting than take a nap on a deck chair.
In port, there are excursions available with different age limits, so it is possible to minimize the number of children on your tour by choosing wisely if this is an issue. Castaway Cay, Disney's private island, has an entire area set aside for adults.
The family crowd spends the day on the very crowded Family Beach, which is more crowded than any beach I have ever seen anywhere. Adults on the other hand, can enjoy the wonderful Serenity Bay. It is appropriately named, as this beach is uncrowded, beautiful, and very peaceful! Trams transport adults from the family beach area to Serenity Bay, and there are limited barbecues served here for people who do not want to return to Cookie's BBQ for the full lunch.
Whether you are traveling with children or not, the cabin stewards still create the famous towel characters most evenings, and even us older children enjoy returning after dinner to see what creature has been left on the bed.
Is Disney Cruise Line as slick and sophisticated when it comes to adult cruisers as some of the other lines? No. However, they do provide an enjoyable cruise experience for adults who understand they will still see plenty of children, and who are happy with Disney's style of entertainment. Although Disney is not my first choice for a cruise line, I also realize that there is no single cruise line that is "best" for every type of passenger.
If you love Disney and do not have children at home right now, do not let that stop you from taking a Disney cruise! You will not be the only childless adults on board, and you should have a wonderful time.
Contact Sue at email@example.com.
Sue has been hooked on Walt Disney World since her first visit in 1972 with her parents and younger brother. She kept returning more frequently until she moved to Florida in 1986.
After joining the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) in 1997, she now visits almost monthly. She also spends time at the DVC's non-WDW locations, and is experienced with the Disney cruise ships.
She takes many of these trips on her own, but she's also toured WDW with large groups of people, including families, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
She works as the Administrative Services Division Head for a large residential facility administered by the Florida Department of Children and Families. She currently resides in Southwest Florida with her teenage son.
Sue is one of our most prolific trip report writers. Read her trip report archive here.
You can contact Sue here.
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