4 Ways for Dads to Get the Most from a Disney Cruise

DDR-130413-Stairs_8x10-4471007-590Family photo op on the Disney Dream!

I’m a dad, as well as a husband, and I love to vacation with my family.

Some of the best moments of my life have come via our family’s travels.

I love Disney, though I didn’t always…read a little about that in my Dr. Strangedad post. A Disney Cruise can be one of the most phenomenal family vacations experiences available.


You knew it was coming, there had to be a but.

For a dad, sometimes it’s just all too much.

My grandmother, Daisy Newsome, has a saying…too much sugar for a dime. Sometimes all the action on a family vacation can just be too much sugar for a dime.

IMG_2838-590Hanging out with Chip and Dale

In other words, it can be overwhelming for we humble dads…but it doesn’t have to be. I’m going to give you 4 tips to keep that from happening on a Disney Cruise.

Too much sugar for a dime…

This seems to be particularly true in the first few hours (and I’m going with a Disney Dream cruise out of Port Canaveral):

You’ve gotten into Port Canaveral. You’ve gotten the luggage dropped off. You’ve tipped the guy who took your luggage. You’ve gotten a great parking place on the third floor of the deck so you can walk across into the terminal with no steps or elevators.

You’ve gotten the family through security and check-in.

You’ve endured the line to take that family photo that your wife – the mother of your children – will not let you avoid. You’ve been introduced as the “Newsome Family” and have looked wide-eyed with the children at the grandeur of the Disney Dream’s Art Deco lobby.

You’ve taken the elevator up, and now you’re stepping off onto Deck 11 and the pools, the Aqua Duck, and in just a few hours, the Sail Away party.

All of it’s great…but…as a dad I can attest that these first few hours can lead to serious sensory overload. They can lead to you saying to your wife, the mother of your children, and the woman who planned (with the help of her amazing travel agent, of course) this wonderful trip, things like:

You mean to tell me…

Finish that one however you like.

You didn’t really mean that though, and you’re really having a great time (if you haven’t noticed, I’m speaking form personal experience here!).

As a dad, what you need to do on a Disney Cruise is to remember that no matter how much some of the activities on the ship might seen like something taking place on a alien planet, there are another 100 things to do that any dad would love.

Here are those 4 tips for the dads to maximize the fun on a Disney Cruise and minimize the stress and the temptation to say stupid things like the entirely hypothetical situations outlined above:

1. Relax!

Set your check in time as early as possible and get on the ship before noon if you can.

As soon as you walk out onto Deck 11, buy yourself a drink (resist the temptation to buy six beers – at least initially), and find a place to sit for a while.

Soak in the sun and the fun for a few minutes.

Your kids will be running wild checking out the pool, heading toward the Aqua Duck or watching the movie on the big screen.

Just sit there.


Enjoy the peace.

Have another drink – pace yourself though. You will want to stay awake past 5:00pm.

2. Eat!

Head back to Cabanas and grab a plate full of something.

Cabanas is the casual dining restaurant on Deck 11, aft. It is essentially a buffet, and while you might be tempted to think that Disney saves the good stuff for supper, and the more formal dining rooms – you’d be wrong.

The buffet at Cabanas is amazing.

If you’re a seafood fan, load up a plate with shrimp and crab legs, grab a beer (there are several small bar carts on 11 as well as a bar in Cabanas and in the Quiet Cove) and sit back down and watch the kids play. They’ll let you bring your food from Cabanas back out on deck.

3. Explore!

As the afternoon progresses, get up and explore the ship. Walk off a little of that lunch and work up an appetite for supper.

Check out your stateroom and see if your family’s luggage has arrived yet.

Discover the District on Deck 2 – it’s adults only. Explore the Quiet Cove, and head aft to check out Meridian. You can smoke a cigar on Meridian’s veranda or just enjoy the peace and quiet and amazing leather-clad appointments. Everything won’t be open yet, but you can get the lay of the land.

Take in the views both forward and aft.

Each ship in the Disney fleet is a work of art – don’t miss the chance to see as much as you can.

4. Avoid!

My best advice to dads is to avoid most of the Sail Away party.

IMG_2844-590The girls digging the Sail Away party!

The kids will love it, as will your wife. Make an appearance, but wander away before it gets to be too much. Your first supper on board will be soon and it will be quite an experience.

Don’t be afraid to let your wife and kids enjoy some things without you.

They won’t mind, and all of you will be happier.

Another thing to avoid is over indulging on the alcohol. Every time you turn around there will be a chance to buy a drink. Your wonderful Disney bartenders will try to upsell you on quantity – it’s an especially good deal with the beer.

If you have too many this afternoon, you’ll be asleep before supper.

You want to enjoy it all, so moderate!

My kids, and my wife love the shows on a Disney Cruise. We always like to choose the late seating for supper (it’s around 8:00 and here’s why) and there’s nearly always a show around the 6:00pm hour.

Jennifer and the kids do the show.

I enjoy a amazingly well-made drink or a glass of Tattinger bubbly along with a cigar at Meridian. It’s my favorite place on the Dream (and ranks as one of my favorite places anywhere). The bartenders at Meridian love me (or at least do a very convincing job pretending to) and everyone is happy.

Remember Dads, on in those first hours of your cruise:

  • Relax
  • Eat
  • Explore
  • Avoid

Get acclimated to that cruise – and have a ball!

Don’t forget to:

Relax…you CAN get there from here!