Disney Cruise Line: Neverland at Sea
When your kids are too old for "kid-stuff" and too young for "teen stuff," they come to Edge (the Wonder's former conference rooms were transformed when the ship was preparing for its longer itineraries). The zone for 11-13 year-olds is designed like the ship's bridge on the Magic where they can sit in a captain's chair and virtually steer a cruise ship in and out of ports around the world. On the Wonder, it is a cozy zone where tweens can play computer video games, enjoy arts and crafts and spend a night at the movies.
On the Dream and Fantasy it sports a lighted dance floor and tables with notebook computers for playing games or for accessing the onboard social media application, as well as a state-of-the-art video wall that stretches more than 18 feet long and green screens so they can put themselves "in the picture," including photo postcards and video karaoke. Plus, Edge's location on the Dream and Fantasy means tweens can see out, but guests below can't see in.
And parents, don't worry, during the school year, there's even scheduled homework time.Teen-Sized Fun
An onboard Oasis just for teens that requires a key-card to enter. That's Vibe. On the Magic and Wonder, is located in one of the funnels. On the Dream and Fantasy, Vibe comes with its own outside sundeck. The club, part-"coffee house" and part-dance club, ensures that 14- to 17-year- olds have both freedom and privacy.
To keep connected with the new friends they've made, Disney Cruise Line created T.O.R.C.H. (Teen Only Resource and Communication Hub). The a private, user-generated social network lets teens check out activity times, post messages for their friends and see videos and pictures of Vibe programs and parties. T.O.R.C.H. is an on-ship only, closed intranet network that's watched over by Disney Cruise Line Teen Counselors and accessed with special IDs and passwords that teens create themselves.
Unlike the other youth zones, the teens at Vibe design and create the entire program for the cruise. If they want movies every night, or a Karaoke-free cruise, they make it happen. Teens can relax by themselves or with friends, escape with music or a movie, play Wii video games and enjoy all the complimentary soft drinks they want at the juice/coffee bar. They also have the opportunity to "Pump It Up" in the Fitness center.
On the Dream, Vibe's outdoor deck at the ship's bow allows teens to enjoy some fun in the sun without ever having to leave their private club, where they can hang out on chaise lounges among as well as "splash" pools, fountains, pop jets and misters to help them cool off. Inside, they can create and edit videos using the latest computer technology. The Disney Dream also has Chill Spa, which has special teen-focused treatment, like a hot chocolate body scrub or ice cream manicure-pedicure.Island Life
When families debark in Castaway Cay on the cruises out of Port Canaveral, the fun doesn't end… it just gets a beach infusion. The family beach is enormous, and full of water activities like snorkeling, Castaway Ray's Stingray Adventure, 2,400-square-foot water play area called Spring-a-Leak and a 2,400-square-foot floating platform, called Pelican Plunge. For kids who want a break from the parents, or parents who want to take advantage of the 18-and-older Serenity Bay, the party for 3 to 12-year-olds shifts from the Club and Lab to Scuttle's Cove. The counselors set up a multitude of programs, broken down by interest and age such as Sebastian's Sea Search, the Whale Dig, Castaway Capers and the Water Games obstacle course.
Teens who come to the island have a choice of activities. Hide Out, a teen retreat just steps away from the beach, extends the Vibe experience off-ship. Multicolored deck chairs and sail cloth shades create the ideal getaway to kick back, listen to music and soak-up the sun.
Those who want a little more action sign up for "The Wild Side Teen Adventure," an exclusive Port Adventure just for teens (meaning no parents allowed). Passengers 13 to 17 get to snorkel, kayak and take a scenic bike ride around this tropical island paradise —with four hours away from mom and dad.
There's also a teen-only surfing program in Cabo San Lucas for passengers on the Disney Wonder.
Happily Ever After
The idea of Neverland at Sea, where kids never have to grow up (and grown-ups can sometimes act like kids), happens every day onboard.
And the most popular events? "Flubber, no matter how old or young you are, we easily get 100 children," Jennifer said. "It's gooey, it's fun and it's funny. Also Do-Si-Do With Snow White. Parents come down with their kids and they'll be 100 children in a circle listening to Snow White, and 30 parents filming it. Those moments, you can't take that away… and you can't find it anywhere else."
Whether your family is the kind that enjoys spending day and night together, separate or a combination of the two — Disney Cruise Line accommodates it. The hardest thing might be getting your kids to leave.
For more information on Disney Cruise Line, check out our guide to Walt Disney Parks & Resorts.