Planning to go on a Disney Cruise as a single parent? I can advise on that. I went on a Disney Cruise as a single parent with my 5 year old daughter; it was just the two of us. I’d been a single parent for years by that point, so going on the cruise wasn’t much different to how we normally spent our time.
Except it wasn’t like being at home – it was much easier. I had travelled a lot as a single parent – my daughter and I visited a hand full of countries together in Europe and the Caribbean. The Disney Cruise was by far, the easiest trip I ever took as a single parent. To be honest, it was probably the only trip we took together where I had as much fun as she did.
So if you’re weighing your options on whether or not you should go on a Disney Cruise as a single parent, I would say that there’s nothing to be nervous about with regards to the cruise itself. (It was expensive, but it was worth it, in my opinion – click here to read my post on how much you can expect to spend.)
Regardless of which Disney Cruise option you choose, you’ll be well looked after and pampered, and be able to make precious memories with your kids without having to worry too much about daily responsibilities.
There are a few things to keep in mind in order to maximize the fun you have on the Disney Cruise as a single parent, so that this is a special vacation for you as well as them.
I’m going to share with you the best tips for going on a Disney Cruise as a single parent. So, let’s jump aboard!
10 Tips for Disney Cruise as a Single Parent
Here are the ways to make sure that both you and the kids have the time of your lives on board the Disney Cruise , regardless of which ship you’re on
1. Be sure to make any special requests in advance
Be on top of your game and get any requests in or book any excursions in advance, so that you aren’t left disappointed and things to smoothly during your sailing. The requests you will need to be sure to take care of in advance are:
- Any special character meet and greets. If you have a child that loves Disney Princesses or Frozen specifically, then these are greets you need to book in advance. You can do that under My Reservation tab
- Any special diet requests. Disney Cruises are so accommodating when it comes to different diets, but they need to know this in advance. (I sailed as a vegan, and the food they prepared for me was great)
- Your dinner seating time. With a 5 year old, I strongly preferred the earlier seating time at 6pm (the later one is around 8pm.) Be sure to get this request in in advance, so you aren’t stuck with the less convenient time!
- If you have very young children, then let your server know on embarkment day that you require a high chair. They’ll have it already ready at your table for each dinner thereafter.
- Childcare for children younger than 3 (3+ is drop in and no reservation is needed.) You should do this as far in advance as you can.
2. Familiarize with and use the Disney App
There isn’t wifi on board the Disney Cruise, unless you purchase it. But they do have an app you can use for free. I found it very useful to use this app, so I could keep track of what events were happening on board and what time our dinner was at. Being on my own with a 5 year old, its easy to lose track of time, so the app is a necessity.
3. Take advantage of the childcare
This is what made my trip so relaxing to me, as well as fun for her. At 5 years old, my daughter was able to go to the Oceaneer’s Club, which is open daily from 9 am until 11pm. While she was in the daycare, here are some of the things I did on my own:
- Visited the adult-only pool and sat in the hot tub, gazing up at the stars
- Went scuba diving (one of the port adventures)
- Read my book (which I rarely had time to do during my daughter’s waking hours)
- Sat in an adult-only bar with another single mom I met on board
Getting these breaks helped me stay recharged on vacation and have a great cruise with my child. There is also an adult-only restaurant, and a bingo hall on the Disney Cruises – I didn’t do these things but I would love to another time.
Tip: Depending on the age of your children, they may be nervous about being dropped off at the Oceaneer’s Club. The Oceaneer’s Club has an open-house on embarkment day. I recommend attending this so that you can play there with your child, so that its not a new place when you drop them off later on.
If you have children younger than 3, then they can attend Its a Small World for $9 USD per hour.
4. Start or join a Facebook community for the cruise you’ll be on
One thing I find really cool about Disney Cruises is that there are Facebook groups that are started for specific sailings, so you can interact with others who will be on the same cruise as you. As a single parent this can be helpful because:
- You could connect with other single parents who will be on the ship
- Arrange to do things together with other families with children of similar age to yours. This may be helpful if your child is an only, like mine was
- Organize participating in the Fish Extender Program, which is a gift exchange between your kids and others that will be aboard the same cruise. (Optional, of course.)
Good to Know: One cool thing that Disney Cruise does, is organize seating arrangements. We were seated with another mom who was cruising with her child that was close in age to mine. We did things together the 4 of us, and we also put the children in the Oceaneer’s Club, so we had some adult company on board.
5. Indulge in your time together as a family
Unlike being at home, where I’d be preparing for fun activities and cleaning up after them, or driving us places, on the Disney Cruise, I didn’t have to worry about that. It was so special to be able to do fun things with her, without the care of who would set things up or take them down. There is a lot of fun offered on board for parents and kids to do together. Some of them are:
- Deck parties
- Character meet and greets
- Swimming in the deck pools (she swam, while I read my book – the deck pools are mainly for children)
- Movies in the Buena Vista Theatre, or broadway shows (we watched Frozen, it was excellent!)
Most adults that choose to go on a Disney Cruise aren’t just going along with it for the kids – they love Disney themselves. So release your inner child, and go have a blast with your kids.
6. Go on a port adventure
You can do port adventures with or without your children. (I chose without.) Disney is one of the few cruise lines that allows you to leave your children in the childcare while you participate in a port adventure outside of the ship. In my case, I went scuba diving. As a single parent, it was very rare that I ever had a chance to dive and this was a great opportunity – knowing that she was safe in the Oceaneer’s Club while I went diving.
You can also get off the ship with your children and explore the area where the ship is docked. Which port adventure you do, and whether you choose to bring your kids or not – is entirely up to you. One reminder though, is to remember to book in advance, as they do fill up.
7. Ask for – and accept – help
The staff on Disney Cruise Lines are some of the most kind, helpful and supportive front-liners I’ve ever seen. As a single parent, I was not used to having someone to ask for help, or having things done for me. But to maximize your time and take advantage of why you’re going on a Disney cruise as a single parent in the first place – please ask them if you need help.
Here are the ways the staff on a Disney cruise can help parents:
- You will have the same server each night for dinner. Let them know of any needs; such as a highchair, or puréed food for a baby , or any other preferences
- You will also have the same room attendant every day. If you need them to set up the pack and play for you at certain times, need bedrails (pictured above) or need more soap/shampoo, let them know
8. Don’t forget to bring the following items
There are quite a few items that Disney Cruise makes available (for free or for purchase) on board – diapers, pack and plays, bottle warmers, baby formula, and things like that. Here are the other personal items you want to make sure you bring, for yourself and kids:
- A good reef-friendly sunscreen, such as this one. If your child is potty trained, then you’ll be on the deck pool quite a bit, and will need that sun protection.
- An umbrella stroller, if your child is under 4 (but you know best.) Don’t bring a big bulky stroller
- Something to do during your downtime. Books, magazine or handheld games
- Swimsuits are a must. Swim diapers if your child isn’t potty trained
- Water-friendly shoes, such as crocks or sandels – for you and kids. We love these unisex rainbow crocks for kids!
- Fish extender gifts (if you’re participating.) These make cute, and simple fish extenders
9. Stay at the Art of Animation Resort (if you’re sailing from Port Canaveral)
I stayed at the Art of Animation Resort with my daughter when we did our Disney Cruise out of Port Canaveral. It was great to stay somewhere where we had so much to do and look at. The Disney sculptures, drawings, the large swimming pool. Plus the food in the dining hall was yummy. A complimentary Disney shuttle picked us up to take us to our cruise which made things easier, convenient and affordable for me.
10. Aim for a room with a balcony (if possible)
As a single parent on a Disney Cruise, you will likely be confined to your room after your children go to bed, as they don’t do in-room babysitting (only the kids clubs.) Going on a Disney cruise was a real financial stretch for me, so I wasn’t able to book a balcony room, but I did have an ocean-view room. The benefits of a balcony would be an area you can hang out after your child is asleep.
However, if this isn’t possible – then I’d recommend a flashlight or book light so you do activities after your child falls asleep. You’ll be so relaxed on the Disney Cruise, that I don’t for-see you falling asleep as soon as your child does!
Disney Cruise as a Single Parent: Final Thoughts
Travelling as a single parent is not normally an easy thing to do, but I believe that Disney Cruise Lines make travelling as a single parent it as easy as it can possibly get. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to travel with my kids (I have two now.) I don’t expect travelling with them to be easy all the time. But on the Disney Cruise, I felt a level of relaxation that I hadn’t on other trips. As much as I love adventures, exploring off the beaten track (like hiking through the Costa Rican jungle with a baby) its nice to once in a while just feel like you’re on vacation.
The Disney theme, the focus on family-friendly and the support that Disney Cruises provide to parents makes it especially an ideal cruise for single parents. Disney Cruises are not cheap, no – but they’re expensive for a reason. I think that those reasons set them apart from other cruise lines.
Disney Cruise as a Single Parent: Conclusion
Going on a Disney Cruise with my daughter was a special memory that we still look back on, and I’d recommend Disney Cruises for other single parents. I mentioned earlier that I travelled extensively as a single parent. We live near Toronto, but I have taken my daughter to Cuba, Italy, Iceland, England, and Ireland – all as a single parent. The Disney Cruise was one of my favourite trips because there was nowhere else I was so genuinely relaxed.
I’m not normally a cruise person, but Disney Cruises are an exception for me. I sincerely hope this has helped you decide if going Disney Cruise as a single parent is worth it or not. If you do decide to go, I hope you have an amazing time with your kiddos.