From my first step aboard the 4,000-passenger Disney Dream, I knew this three-day cruise to the Bahamas was going to be special. And not just because my two grandchildren, 11-year-old Jock and 9-year-old Scarlett, were with me. As our names were announced on the loudspeaker, we were welcomed aboard by crewmembers who clapped as we entered the ship. Special, indeed.
So, too, was traveling with my grandkids without their parents, which is part of a growing trend of “skip-generation” trips. Unlike multigenerational travel, a skip-gen trip leaves the middle generation — parents — behind so grandparents can bond with their grandkids on fun vacations. It was especially meaningful to me since I live on the opposite side of the country from Jock and Scarlett, and only see them a few times a year.
Turns out that a Disney cruise, the gold standard in family cruising, was the ideal way for us to have a memorable vacation together. Plus, since a cruise is all-inclusive and self-contained, the logistics — from where to go for dinner to how to fill each day — were effortless, especially helpful since I’m not used to spending time with my grandkids.
Photo by Matt Stroshane
Leave it to Disney to turn dining into a magical, whimsical experience. The genius is in the rotational dining system, whereby our waiters followed us to all three themed restaurants. It allowed the kids to bond with our Jamaican headwaiter, Linval, who did magic tricks at the table, and with our Indonesian assistant waiter, Arka, who made origami animals, inspiring Scarlett to make an origami “fortune teller,” much to his surprise.
Dinner became a highlight, instead of a trial: Each time we sat down, Jock automatically got his lemonade and Scarlett her Shirley Temple (thank you, Linval and Arka). Menus featured plenty of kid-pleasers (burgers, chicken fingers, mac ‘n’ cheese). And Mickey ears showed up in enchanting ways — in the shape of ketchup poured on a plate and of chocolate-covered ice cream on a stick.
Jock was smitten by dinner at Animator’s Palate, where Crush the sea turtle from Finding Nemo chatted with us in surfer speak — “Totally righteous, dude!” — from his underwater world shown on a giant plasma screen adjacent to our table. Meanwhile, for lunch one day, Scarlett and I laughed over her all-white meal of rice, bread, mac ‘n’ cheese and creamy cheesecake chosen from the endless Cabanas buffet.
Finally, kudos to Disney for Eye Scream, the 24/7 self-serve softie ice cream dispenser located near the pool. What a way to a kid’s heart.