If you have children and are sailing on a Disney cruise you need to know about the amazing clubs they offer for kids.
The Disney Cruise Kids Club really is an amazing facility for all ages from 6 months to age 17.
There are different spaces on all of the Disney Cruise Ships for children of all ages. I have sailed on many Disney Cruises with kids of all ages for over a decade.
Since Disney resumed sailing in 2020 there have been some changes. Initially, reservations were required for the Kids Clubs to limit capacity.
However, Disney has just announced that reservations are no longer required for children aged from 3 years old.
Unfortunately, the It’s a Small Nursery still remains closed so there is no child care available for those aged 6 months to 3 years at this time.
Let’s explore what is available for children in the kid’s clubs on a Disney Cruise.
New Rules for the Disney Kids Clubs from March 2022
Although the reservation requirement has now been dropped, here are the new requirements for the Kid’s Clubs:
Dropping Off/Picking Up
Only one parent or guardian at a time can drop off or pick up kids at Disney’s Oceaneer Lab and Disney’s Oceaneer Club. In addition, parents are not allowed to enter the youth clubs when dropping off and picking up children.
Guests under 5 years of age who are currently ineligible to be vaccinated are required to bring and wear appropriate face coverings at all times while inside Disney’s Oceaneer Club and Disney’s Oceaneer Lab.
All children will be required to wash their hands upon entering and exiting the youth clubs.
With a focus on high-touch surfaces, youth clubs will be cleaned more frequently and surfaces will be sprayed with a non-toxic disinfecting mist each night.
It’s A Small World Nursery
Disney is one of the very few cruise lines that have a facility to care for children under the age of 3. The It’s a Small World Nursery is available on all of the Disney Cruise ships.
Babies can sail on a Disney Cruise ship from the age of 6 months onwards. The only exception to this is for Transatlantic and Panama Canal Cruises where the minimum age is one year.
Even if you don’t use the Small World Nursery for many hours on your Disney Cruise, it can be great to get a break so you can take advantage of all that a Disney Cruise has for Adults.
The Nursery will take children aged from 6 months to 3 years old.
This is the only child care on the Disney ships which is not provided free of charge, and you have to book ahead.
The Nursery on all of the Disney Ships is decorated in a very brightly colored design, evoking the design of Mary Blair.
There are two separate spaces in each It’s a Small World Nursery. The main area is a play area, with lots of toys available. The other space is a sleeping area which is kept quiet and dimly lit.
It’s a Small World Nursery that charges $4.50 for each half-hour, and you must book for at least one hour. Therefore, the minimum charge is $9 for the first child.
There is a discount for children who are in the same family as they are only charged $4 per hour. So the minimum charge is $8 per hour for the second child.
Advance reservations are required and can be made online:
- Up to 120 days ahead for Concierge and Platinum Castaway Club Guests
- Up to 105 days ahead for Gold Castaway Club Guests
- Up to 90 days ahead for Silver Castaway Club Guests
- Up to 75 days ahead for all other Guests
If you don’t make reservations online you can go to the Nursery to see if there is any additional time available.
Numbers are very strictly controlled as there need to be the correct amount of Cast Members to care for the babies and infants.
If you need to cancel a reservation make sure that you do that at least 4 hours ahead of time or you will pay for all of the sessions that you have booked.
Is Food Provided in the It’s A Small World Nursery?
Juice and crackers are available for snacks for your child. Meals are served at lunch and dinner time so be sure to let the counselors know if your child has special dietary needs (you will fill out a form that asks about this).
Milk is not provided so you need to bring your own formula and bottles. If you have baby food you can bring this as well.
What Else Will My Child Need for the Nursery on a Disney Cruise?
You will need to provide diapers, wipes, and pull-ups for your child if they are not potty trained.
Pack a bag that is clearly labeled for your child with extra items such as a change of clothing, special blanket, pacifier, or perhaps a favorite toy. Make sure that you label items because things do sometimes get lost.
If you think that your child may be anxious or not settle well in the Nursery, it can also be a good idea to go to the open house which is held every day from 8 am until 9 am. This can help your child get used to the new environment and the counselors.
You will need to keep your Wave Phone with you so that you can be contacted if your child won’t settle.
Counselors can’t give any medication to your child, but there is a trained First Aid Cast Member in the Nursery at all times.
Disney’s Oceaneer Club
Children aged between 3 and 12 have a choice between the Oceaneer Club and the Oceaneer Lab. On all of the Disney ships, the Oceaneers Club and Lab are on Deck 5 mid-ship.
The Oceaneer Club is themed for Disney fantasy and imagination. The Oceaneer Lab is about learning while having fun. The Club is supposed to be for the younger children in the age range, but they can choose to go to the Lab.
Children have to be at least 3 years old and fully toilet trained before they are allowed to go into the Oceaneer Clubs on any of the Disney Ships.
The Oceaneers Club and Lab are separate spaces, but they are connected by a closed corridor. Your child can move from one space to the other via this corridor. If they need help the Counsellor will accompany them.
Disney Oceaneer’s Lab
The theme in the Oceaneer’s Lab is on learning whilst having fun.
The Marvel Super Hero Academy is a very popular space. It is available on all ships except the Disney Dream.
You will probably find that your children want to spend every possible moment in the Kids Clubs! There are lots of organized activities, but if your children want to be independent that is fine too.
You can see the daily schedule for the day on the Navigator so you can plan if your child wants to do a particular activity.
Children can have lunch and dinner in the Oceaneer Club if they want to. You can specify any dietary needs when you register your child for the Disney Cruise Kids Club.
The Oceaneer’s Club is secure. Only adults who you authorize can collect your child and they have to know the password.
Each child has a wristband for identification.
If your child is aged 10 or above you can allow them to check themselves out, but this is optional.
The only times that you can spend time in the Oceaneers Clubs as a parent is during Open House. Look at your Navigator’s for when these times are scheduled.
Disney Cruise Edge
The Edge is for those aged 11 to 14.
Obviously, there is an overlap here for 11 and 12-year-old as they can choose to go to either Edge or the Oceaneers Clubs.
This really depends upon what your child wants to do.
The Oceaneers Club space is much larger than the Edge. There are also a lot more children in Oceaneers than Vibe.
With my children as soon as they could go to Edge they chose to do that. They have all formed some long-lasting friendships with people who they met in the Edge.
Edge does have computer games, television screens, and games. The space on each ship is designed to appeal to that age group.
The Disney Wonder and Magic have a relatively small space on Deck 9, between the family pool and the Quiet Cove Pool. It’s more than large enough to accommodate this age group of tweens.
On the Disney Dream and Fantasy, the space is particularly appealing as it has a large window and a huge video screen.
In my experience, I would say that there is a lot of interaction with the Counsellors for this age group with an emphasis on smaller groups.
From karaoke to video games, scavenger hunts to arts and crafts, there is something to appeal to all in this Disney Cruise Kids Club age group.
Disney Cruise Kids Clubs Vibe
This is for teens aged from 14 to 17. On the Disney Magic and the Wonder, the loft-inspired space is in the forward Funnel.
The Disney Fantasy and Dream have a wonderful indoor and outdoor space that might even make you wish you were a teenager again.
The design of the Vibe on the Disney Fantasy and Dream cruise ships has a lot of different spaces for teenagers to hang out and make friends.
The outside space on the Disney Dream Class ships is perfect for teens.
To access the Vibe on the Disney Fantasy and the Dream teenagers have to have their own key card which is specially coded.
How To Register for the Disney Cruise Kids Clubs
For any of the kid’s clubs on a Disney Cruise, you do need to register your child. The easiest way to do this is online. You will have the option to do this once you have paid in full for your cruise.
You can also do this at the terminal on embarkation day. The lines do tend to be quite long for this, but it can keep you occupied whilst you wait for your boarding party to be called.
You will fill out all the paperwork (it doesn’t take long). You will then get a Disney Cruise Line Youth Activities wristband for each child.
This has to be handed back at the end of the cruise or you will be charged. You can keep it as a souvenir if you want, but you will be charged.
When you get on board the ship there will be an open house.
You can tour all the kid’s clubs at this time – it is a great opportunity to see what is available.
Disney Cruise Lines has a downloadable PDF for younger cruisers so that they can know what to expect on the cruise. It has some good information and includes some coloring pages which younger children may like.
Disney Cruise Kids Clubs – Final Thoughts
The Kids Clubs on all of the Disney Ships are excellent. The environment is well designed, the Counsellors are wonderful and the mix between scheduled activities and free choice of things to do is just right.
Most kids will love it. You do have to be prepared that your child may not want to spend much time with you! Other children, never really take to it and won’t want to spend time there.
It just depends on the individual.
My eldest, who is now an adult, never really wanted to spend time there. My two sons would spend all the time they possibly could in the kid’s clubs. Be prepared for either scenario!
One thing which is particularly great about the kid’s clubs is that my sons have formed lasting friendships with people who they have met on the Disney Cruises. It can be a wonderful bonding experience.