The Disney Cruise Line does a lot of things right, but the Kids Clubs may be the crowning jewel. I have a unique perspective on the kids club. I can actually say I experienced them as a kid and as the parent.
On my first cruise I was 16 years old, it was the fall of 1999 and the Magic hadn’t been sailing for a year. My cruising party consisted of my parents, and 4 siblings. Once all of us were introduced to our respective clubs it was hard pressed to get us out. The three oldest had a blast in the Teen Club. We did all the group activities, went to the Teen Beach and met friends that we then stayed connected to for years to come. My little brothers had a similar experience in the kids clubs.
Fast-forward 16 years (don’t do the math!) and I have my own little one. Being in the parent seat came with much more difficult questions then “will I meet cool people, how many virgin daiquiris can I drink?”. I have an only child, she was going to be by herself, she wasn’t going to have a built in friend network that she could play with like I did. So I had concerns just like any parent would.
Will she be safe?
When I was 16, we had the run of the ship. I knew my 5 year old couldn’t do that, but I wasn’t sure what she could do and how tight the security was. I am happy to report that they take this very serious and I never felt that her security was questionable.
- She was given a band (just like a magic band) that tracks her whereabouts within the kids club.
- For pickup you are scanned in using your key to the world card. And you are told where to find them based on the band’s information.
- In order to take her out of the club, they will scan her band and your key card and you must provide a pin before you are allowed to exit.
*This is a process, so be patient and allow time to get them in and out of the clubs.
Will she be supervised?
I was concerned that she would feel a little lost in the large space.. But in our case, the staff did a wonderful job. When pick-up came around she was almost always with a counselor. And if she was not directly with a counselor there was one nearby.
Will she be bored?
Of course this was not a huge concern, but I did wonder if she would get tired of being in the same space. No need to fear, she participated in so many planned activities throughout the cruise, that she never really did just sit and play with the things in the clubs.
I was blessed to have a child that not only loved the kids clubs but did not want to leave them. She picked to go to the clubs over the pools on a regular basis. She participated in everything she could. On the last day she broke my heart saying goodbye to her counselors.
I have read many accounts and talked to a couple people that say their children had no interest in the clubs and they could not get them to stay. A few tips:
- Show them video and pictures of the club before you leave.
- Take them into the clubs during open house. Don’t just walk through, spend time with them there so they are comfortable.
- Take them during planned activities. Get them excited for something that is right up their alley, video games, baking cookies, Pluto’s PJ party, the list can go on and on.
- If it doesn’t stick the first time, try again! I truly believe they will miss out if they don’t go!
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