Keeping several generations of travelers happy on vacation may seem like no small feat, but Disney Cruise Line has found a way to make multigenerational travel seamless for everyone. There are plenty of itineraries to choose from, like Bermuda, the Panama Canal, the British Isles, and the French Riviera, but our top pick for the most memorable is without a doubt Alaska. Sail on the Disney Wonder out of cosmopolitan Vancouver, Canada, and marvel at jaw-dropping fjords, waterfalls, and glaciers right from the ship’s balconies (this is definitely the time to spring for your own private verandah). Tear yourself away from the sights and you’ll be treated to Broadway-caliber entertainment, elegant food crafted by award-winning chefs, and fun for kids around every corner.
To take in all that Alaska has to offer, “Port Adventures” take you straight from the ship to some truly incredible experiences. Fish for crabs and spot orcas and bald eagles in Ketchikan, take a thrilling dogsled ride in Juneau, visit the breathtaking Dawes Glacier, pan for gold in Skagway, and whale-watch in Icy Strait, where, if you’re lucky, you’ll see the unforgettable sight of breaching humpbacks alongside your boat.
On board, kids will want to hit the pools and waterslides, meet up with favorite Disney characters, or hang out at one of several kids-only zones like the Oceaneer Club and Lab (ages 3-12) and the It’s a Small World Nursery (ages 6 months-3). At these secure, super-cool themed spaces (think: Marvel, “Toy Story,” and “Frozen”), a team of childcare pros will supervise your kiddos while they have the time of their lives running around “Andy’s Room,” doing arts and crafts, and interacting with characters who often swing by to join in the fun. While the kids are occupied, parents can socialize at a mixology class, kick back at the adults-only pool, or decompress with a treatment at Senses Spa & Salon.
In the evenings, families can catch new-release films or live productions of Broadway-esque shows like “Frozen, a Musical Spectacular,” or attend a special themed deck party. For some grown-up fun, drop your littles at the kids’ club and head to a nightclub or lounge in the adults-only entertainment district.
VIP character breakfasts, an adults-only coffee bar, an expansive buffet, a poolside grill, and an all-day serve-yourself ice cream station are just a sampling of the elaborate dining options available on the ship.
For dinner, indulge in nightly specials like rack of lamb, lobster tail, and chateaubriand as you rotate through three different dining rooms, the elegant, subtly Little Mermaid-themed Triton’s; Tiana’s Place, which transports you straight to the Mardi Gras bead-strewn streets of New Orleans; and Animator’s Palate, a stunning space that celebrates the magic of Disney animation.
For an even more elevated culinary experience, drop the tots at the kids’ club and head to Palo. This sophisticated, adult-exclusive restaurant serves gorgeously presented Northern Italian fare in a fine-dining setting perfect for a romantic brunch or dinner or grown-up group gathering.
Don’t feel like leaving the room? Hit up the 24-hour room service menu (at no additional charge!) for breakfast in bed, a late-night snack, or a cheese plate to enjoy with wine on your verandah.
Cruise ship accommodations will always mean closer quarters than your average hotel, but a smart layout, tons of storage, and some pretty epic daily “mousekeeping” keep you from ever feeling overcrowded in your room. Your stateroom host or hostess will visit multiple times per day (miraculously always when you’re away), stowing or turning down beds, bunks, and Murphy and sofa beds each morning and night, and each time you return you feel you’re entering a spotless room for the very first time. How’s that for some Disney magic?
Editor in Chief of Better, Brooke Geiger McDonald is a Chicago native who has worked for O, The Oprah Magazine and Shape magazine in New York and for various book publishers in London. Back home in Chicago, she’s outnumbered by her husband and two sons, and the four of them are certifiable Disney and Star Wars fanatics, always counting down the days to their next Disney vacation. Her favorite nonprofits to support include The Walt Disney Birthplace in Chicago and organizations focused on environmental conservation and combatting climate change, such as the Environmental Defense Fund and Shedd Aquarium.Follow her on Instagram: @brookegmcdonald