A Disney Cruise With Grandparents: I Took My 80-Year-Old Grandma On The Disney Dream!

by | Jun 12, 2020 | Disney Cruise Line

A Walt Disney World trip with an elderly family member could prove difficult. That’s why a Disney Cruise with grandparents is the way to go to still get that Disney magic, without all the stress!

My Nonna just turned 80 years old, and we wanted to celebrate this milestone the best way that we know-how—by going to Disney World!

Nonna wanted to do one thing for her big day: meet Mickey Mouse! And who could blame her? What better way is there to celebrate such a special birthday?

Although Nonna is young at heart, we knew that long days of walking at Disney World might be a bit of a challenge for her.

Disney Cruise Line - Disney Dream

This was our very first day on the cruise! Photo by Rebecca Sferlazza

Instead of spending a week at Disney World, we decided to spend 3 days in the parks and 4 days with Disney Cruise Lines!

My sister, Rebecca, and I thought this would be best. A Disney Cruise has all of the magic and fun of Disney… without all of the walking!

Here is why cruising with Nonna was the best idea we could have ever had:

Minimal Walking

Whether we wanted to go swimming, catch a show, meet a character, or get food, everything was just about a 5-minute walk from our stateroom.

At the parks, it is difficult to get around quickly. That is one of the many reasons I love Disney—there is so much to see and do!

Nonna-DIsney Cruise Lines Disney Dream

Nonna sets sail on The Disney Dream! Photo by Alessandra Sferlazza

But for Nonna, the simplicity of everything being in close proximity to us on board made our vacation very easy and stress-free.

Getting to the beach at Castaway Cay was also made easy by Disney because of the shuttle service provided on the island!

Castaway Cay- Disney Cruise Line Private Island

Nonna was able to explore the island because of the shuttle service on Castaway Cay! Photo by Alessandra Sferlazza

Shorter Wait Times For Characters

Nonna really wanted to meet Mickey, and you and I both know that character meet-and-greets can have some of the longest lines.

Waiting for attractions comes with the territory of going to WDW, but the wait time itself isn’t what concerned me, it was the idea that Nonna would have to stand in line for 45-60 minutes to meet a character.

On The Disney Cruise, we were able to plan which characters we wanted to meet based on the “times-guide” featured on the free Disney Cruise app.

We knew that we had to line-up about 10-15 minutes before the scheduled meet-and-greet time, and we were lucky enough that there were plenty of seats nearby that Nonna could sit on while my sister and I held our place in line.

Captain Mickey- Disney Cruise Line

Nonna meets Captain Mickey on The Disney Dream! Photo by Alessandra Sferlazza

Because we lined up early, we were able to be one of the first families to see the character. Nonna was able to have a fun and quick character meet-and-greet and didn’t get tired out in the process.

Great Shows

Most of the entertainment onboard Disney Cruise Lines are catered towards guests of all ages, which means the main events often allowed Nonna to stay seated.

Every night there is a “Broadway quality” performance in The Walt Disney Theatre. It is the perfect way to end your day aboard the ship.

As an added bonus, there are enough seats for everyone, which means Nonna was able to get a great seat every night.

Walt Disney Theatre on the Disney Dream

Walt Disney Theatre aboard Disney Cruise Lines. Photo by Brett Svenson

On the Disney Dream, we were able to experience Pirate Night, and that night concluded with a special fireworks show. Unlike the fireworks shows in the parks, you didn’t need to stake out a spot 2 hours early.

We were able to find a seated area with a great view so Nonna could enjoy the fireworks while sitting down!

DIsney Dream Fireworks Pirate Night

This was such a great show! Photo by Brett Svenson

Getting to Know Cast Members

Disney’s primary focus is creating magic and memories for guests, and Disney Cruise Line does this while adding a personal touch.

Every day we had the same team of Cast Members for our scheduled dining, and Nonna grew very attached to our server, Shana.

It was great to see Shana every night (and sometimes during the day). Nonna liked to share stories about her day with Shana, and by the end of the cruise, she invited Shana over to her house so she could make pasta for her.

Shana was also familiar on the first day with my sister’s allergies, which was great because we didn’t have to explain Rebecca’s restrictions every time we had a new meal.

This is something that you have to put on every dining reservation at WDW, so this was a worry-free experience for all of us!

Disney Cruise Line Cast Members

Nonna and her new friend, Shana, from St. Lucia! Photo by Alessandra Sferlazza

“Adult Only” Areas

At Disney World, there are plenty of kids having fun, and sometimes (when you don’t have kids in your party), you want to enjoy some time away from all of the excitement.

The adult areas allowed Nonna to relax and enjoy the pool in a more calm and quiet environment.

WDW resorts don’t have this feature. All of the pools at Disney Resort Hotels are family-friendly.

This is great, but Nonna wouldn’t have been able to have a low-key pool day like she did on the Cruise.

Quiet Cove Pool- Disney Cruiseline

Nonna enjoying Quiet Cove pool in the morning! Photo by Alessandra Sferlazza

Bottom Line:

The simplicity and efficiency of The Disney Dream made Nonna’s 80th birthday a stress-free and fun experience for all of us.

It allowed us to enjoy our time with Nonna without having to worry about the “little things” that could go wrong when you are traveling with an elderly person.

By the end of our trip, Nonna said that she thought she was living a dream because that is how much fun she has onboard her first Disney Cruise.

We can’t wait to go back with her!

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Posts by Alessandra Sferlazza

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Aly is the Social Media Coordinator for WDW Magazine as well as a contributing writer. For the past five years, she has worked with The Walt Disney Company and completed her BA, B.Ed, and a certificate in Journalism. Aly loves spending every second she can at Disney World with her best friends and family. Follow Aly on Instagram
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Authored by
Alessandra Sferlazza

Aly is the Social Media Coordinator for WDW Magazine as well as a contributing writer. For the past five years, she has worked with The Walt Disney Company and completed her BA, B.Ed, and a certificate in Journalism. Aly loves spending every second she can at Disney World with her best friends and family. Follow Aly on Instagram
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