We stood under the blazing sun, patiently waiting in line for the water slide with our eyes glued to the big screen over the pool, which was showing Ratatouille. The lady in front of us turned. “I hope you don’t mind my asking,” she said to my boyfriend and me. “Is it just the two of you here alone?” She had a good reason to ask. The two of us, sans children, were on a Disney Cruise, typically the voyage of choice for families looking for nonstop children’s entertainment in the form of mouse ears and sing-alongs.
The short answer? Disney came highly recommended (T+L readers once again named it the World’s Best Mega Ship). The impeccable service was a given, as was the high-caliber entertainment. I’d recently, in New York, gotten a sampling of the food from the three-Michelin-starred chef Arnaud Lallement, who helped create menus at the adults-only French restaurant on board. The food was flawless. I felt sure that by carefully picking activities and sticking to adults-only spaces, we wouldn’t feel as if we were the only grownups at a (very, very large) children’s party. Here’s how to have just as much fun as the kids on board.
These serve as a haven from the hustle and bustle of the family areas. On the Disney Dream, this included the spa, gym, a Jacuzzi, pool, two restaurants, and the myriad of bars.
If you think Disney only knows how to entertain kids, you’re sorely mistaken. From whiskey and rum tastings (at an extra cost) to karaoke and trivia nights, we thought these would be cheesy but it ended up being a highly entertaining way to spend a night. Bonus: On a big ship, you’ll never get dragged up on the karaoke stage if you don’t feel comfortable singing. You’re free to sit back, sip a martini, and judge in peace.
We happened to be on board during the NBA finals, and knew we wanted to watch the game at night. (Disney is a joint owner of ESPN, in case you forgot, so the channel is available ship-wide.) We headed to the 687 Pub to catch the game, and found droves of people cheering for their favorite teams—just like what was happening at sports bars all over the world.
During port excursions, opt for the smaller-group activities, or look for options that are adult-only, such as a snorkeling tour that ends with a rum tasting. And at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island, there’s an entire beach (aptly called Serenity Bay) for those 18 and over. We headed straight there after docking, and had our pick of beach chairs. I loved the complimentary yoga session that was held on the beach in the morning. Crew members stroll up and down the beach with drink menus, and come lunchtime, they set up a separate buffet so you don’t have to trek down to the main beach. Even though we’d come off a ship with thousands of people, it truly felt like we were on a peaceful island retreat.
The best thing about a cruise is that it’s all-inclusive, but certain things truly do merit the extra cost. We paid $30 extra each to eat Palo, the adults-only Italian restaurant, and loved every second. The servers were knowledgeable, friendly, and happy to bring an extra appetizer or dessert if we couldn’t decide between two. My boyfriend, who returned recently from a trip to Italy, said the gnocchi rivaled the best he’d had there. And though we were on the three-night cruise, there were couples that admitted they’d dined at the specialty restaurants more than once. There’s also Remy (which costs $80 per person), which serves French food and requires men to wear jackets.
Liquor is not included in the cruise fare, and purchasing one-off cocktails, wines, and beers can add up quickly. Luckily, Disney has a liberal booze policy. Guests are welcome to bring their own on-board, as long as it fits in your day bag. And there’s also a duty free shop on board that sells bottles at very reasonable prices. And every day, there’s a specialty frozen cocktail available at a discounted price.
Let’s face it—a Disney cruise is the absolute last place to take yourself too seriously. This is the time to kick back and act like a kid again, whether it means binge-watching Disney movies or starting lunch off with a chocolate chip cookie. One night at dinner, I spotted one of the kids at the next table with a Mickey-shaped ice cream bar from the children’s dessert menu. The next night, I slyly asked our server if I could go off-menu for dessert and have a Mickey Bar. “Sure,” he said. “Can I see some ID?”