When my wife and I took a Disney cruise to Alaska last summer — sans kids, who are now grown — we weren’t sure if we would feel out of place on a Disney vessel. We had enjoyed all the usual Disney entertainments when our kids were young, but how would we fare as a couple on the Disney Wonder, sailing through Alaska’s Inside Passage?
Would we be overwhelmed with small children in the swimming pool and dining rooms, and besieged by roaming Mickeys and Minnies?
We needn’t have worried. While Disney cruises are certainly as family-friendly as you would expect, with far more kids sailing with Disney than on the average Alaska cruise, Disney is expert at balancing the needs and desires of different ages and interests — just one way in which they are expert marketers.
Sure, they know how to attract families. But a number of other child-free couples were also aboard, opting to see Alaska in the company of the world’s most famous mouse.
How does Disney manage to attract baby boomers traveling without kids or grandkids?
For starters, the Wonder features three separate pools on the pool deck. At one end is an often noisy children’s pool; in the middle sits the family pool; and at the other end is the more sedate adult pool. There are also adults-only cafes and areas where you can escape to find serenity at sea.
Meanwhile, a daily program lays out a detailed schedule highlighting three different tracks of age-appropriate activities — one for kids, one for adults, and one for all ages. Adults, for instance, might attend a lecture or lounge act while families play Disney tune trivia and youngsters take advantage of the finest kids’ programs at sea.
And with both early and late dining options available at dinner, adults can choose the late option, when there are fewer children in the dining rooms. Disney also offers a romantic specialty dining room (at extra cost) with panoramic views of the passing scenery that extend well into the far-northern sunlit evenings.
In fact, if you really want to press the point, you could probably enjoy seeing Alaska aboard the Wonder and not even be an especially big Disney fan. Even folks who can’t tell Doc from Dopey could cruise the Inside Passage without feeling the least bit Grumpy.
Of course, most everyone who opts for Disney cruises does like Disney films, Disney characters and other things Disney. But in talking with other passengers, we found what most had in common was that they trust the Disney brand.
Disney, in short, would get them safely where they wanted to go and entertain every member of the family — no matter how old — at just about every step along the way.
I’ll talk more about the genius of the Disney brand in future blog posts.
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