I haven’t been on a Disney Cruise without kids – my kids are 13. Yet. We’re not in the place in our vacation planning where we’d take this type of trip sans kids. But I can see my husband and I taking a kid-free Disney cruise together when the kids are grown and flown. I’ve been on eight Disney cruises, and I always see child-free groups on board.
As much as we love Disney cruising as a family, we see so little of our kids on board that it almost feels like an adults-only vacation. Here’s why adults love Disney cruises and, surprise, being obsessed with Mickey Mouse isn’t one of the reasons.
About Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line currently has five ships in service. The sixth, the Disney Treasure, is expected to sail its maiden voyage in 2024. The current ships are the Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy, and the newest addition to the fleet, the Disney Wish.
Disney Magic and Disney Wonder are laid out in a nearly identical manner, as are the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. The Wish has a unique and different layout from the rest of the ships. The Treasure is expected to be laid out similarly to the Wish.
Disney’s ships sail worldwide. European cruises sail from Southampton and Barcelona, and Caribbean and Bahamian cruises sail from Port Canaveral, Miami, New Orleans, and Galveston. Alaskan cruises sail from Vancouver and many more. The ports of call and routes change routinely. You can find year-round Caribbean and Bahamian cruises, and there’s typically one Disney ship in Alaska for the summer and another in Europe.
You Don’t Have To Be A Disney Adult
A Disney Adult is generally defined as an adult who loves Disney just as much, if not more, than the kids, owns a lot of Disney merchandise, and vacations at Disneyland or
The Disney branding is present on the Disney Cruise Line ships but is subtly presented. While you probably wouldn’t want to take a Disney cruise if you truly loathe Disney, you don’t have to be super into all things Disney to love a Disney cruise.
I travel with kids. My two youngest are in middle school, and we did our first Disney cruise when they were in second grade and in love with all things Disney Junior. I was wary of the 24/7 Disney vibe and had visions of Mickey popping out of a row of lounge chairs saying, “Hiya Pal!” when I was trying to laze on deck. It isn’t like that at all. Not one bit. The Disney theming is definitely present, but it’s very subtle. One word of advice, though. Disney cruises cater to families. While plenty of opportunities exist to do things that don’t involve kids, kids are on board.
Read More: Is Disney Concierge Worth the High Price?
Here’s a deep dive – pun intended – into the adult-only dining options Disney Cruise Line offers. There are many more options for eating on a Disney cruise but the main dining rooms, buffets, and quick-service restaurants are open to everyone.
Palo and Palo Steakhouse
Disney offers adults-only dining options on each of their five – soon to be six – ships. Disney Wonder, Disney Magic, Disney Dream, and Disney Fantasy have Palo, which features Northern Italian cuisine. Palo serves dinner and brunch on sea days. The Disney Wish has Palo Steakhouse with a slightly different menu and theming.
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Pre-2020, Palo brunch was a combination of buffet and menu dining. The buffet featured appetizers and antipasto as well as dessert, and the menu had heartier fare, such as plate-sized Mickey waffles, benedicts, pizzas, calzones, pasta, and steak – in other words, a little bit of everything. Palo’s current menu is similar, but the antipasto and desserts are served from the menu. The cost of brunch is $45* per person and includes a welcome glass of prosecco or a mimosa or bellini. Absolutely worth it, in my opinion, and I don’t miss the buffet.
Dinner at Palo is a fixed-price menu. There are a variety of steak, seafood, and pasta options, all more elevated than what you’ll find in the main dining room. Get ready for spectacular ocean views – I recommend dining at sunset. And you’ll have access to a sommelier and an extensive wine list with Italian wines. Palo dinner is $50.
Palo Brunch Versus Palo Dinner?
I’m a foodie, and I enjoyed both. I like the elevated experience and the tranquil atmosphere of the Palo dining room versus the main dining rooms, but the food quality isn’t that much better than the main dining room food. If I had to choose, brunch would win every time. Brunch is spectacular.
The Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy have Remy, an elegant French restaurant named for the rat in Ratatouille. Remy serves dinner, brunch, and a dessert experience. If you do the dinner tasting experience at Remy, which I highly recommend, expect your meal to take about three hours, including desserts and the famous Remy cheese cart.
For an additional fee, wine and champagne pairings are available for dinner, dessert, and brunch. My husband and I did the tasting menu with wine pairing, and it ran us $355 per person – that’s not a typo. The dinner was $125, and the wine pairing was $230. I say it was worth it for a one-of-a-kind experience, but I probably wouldn’t book this experience again at that price point. The whole experience was delightful, although I don’t recommend it for anyone with dietary restrictions or someone who isn’t an adventurous eater with a refined palate. This isn’t your place if you’re a chicken nugget and fries person.
During our seating at Remy, we interacted with our waiter, the sommelier, and the chef. All were very welcoming and friendly and made the experience fun and approachable. However, if you’re not accustomed to truly fine dining, you might find the experience intimidating.
The new Disney Wish does not have Remy but instead has Enchanté. Enchanté by Chef Armand Lallement is an elegant, Beauty and the Beast-themed adult dining venue. Chef Lallement is a three Michelin-starred chef from Reims, France, who also curated the menu for Remy.
Enchanté is mysteriously encased behind gleaming doors in The Rose lounge on the Wish. Enchanté serves dinner, champagne brunch, and a dessert experience. The reviews and pricing indicate the experience is very similar to Remy.
Adult Dining Dress Code
Disney cruises, in general, are pretty casual, but Enchanté, Remy, and Palo adhere to a dress code. Formal or semi-formal attire is recommended. Dress casual attire with a polished look is permitted (such as dress pants, jeans in good condition, collared shirts and blouses, and lifestyle shoes). Clothing such as T-shirts, swimwear, and sports attire is not permitted.
Adult Dining Reservations
Make your adult dining reservations prior to sailing. All Disney cruisers will have a booking window for onboard activities and shore excursions, which Disney calls Port Adventures. You will want to make reservations at the beginning of this window, which means 12:01 am Florida time. If you don’t get the reservation you want before your cruise, check as soon as you board the ship.
There is a bar between Remy and Palo on the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy called Meridian. You do not need a reservation to go to the bar, which is open evenings and during the day on sea days. The Wish has The Rose, a delightful Beauty and the Beast-themed space with ocean views that sits at the entrance of Enchanté and Palo Steakhouse.
*All prices are subject to change.
Mixology Classes and Alcohol-Tasting Seminars
It’s true – you won’t run out of things to do on Disney cruise ships, and adults can sign up for mixology classes and alcohol-tasting seminars. The mixology classes will feature a sampling of five cocktails. They are smaller portions, but if you drink all of them, you will feel it, so have something to eat before you start out and plan for a rest or a brisk walk afterward.
There are also various other tutored tasting sessions, such as wine tasting, champagne, cognac, whiskey, beer, and more. These seminars are for small groups. Sign up in advance. If there are no spaces for the tastings you want, check when you get on board.
Disney Cruise Line Bars and Nightclubs
I remember telling a friend how much I loved Disney cruising, and her answer was a horrified “But they don’t serve any alcohol.”
Let me assure you, they do. I’m not going to attempt any correlations between parenthood and drinking but let’s just say I have my doubts about whether the line would be as popular as it is if there weren’t liquor on board.
While Disney Cruise Line does not sell drink packages like some of the other cruise lines do, there are bars all over the ship, and you can get a drink absolutely anywhere you want to have one, including your room, the movie theaters, and all of the dining venues.
Adults-Only Bars and Nightclubs
All five ships have adults-only bar/lounge areas. On the Magic, Wonder, Dream, and Fantasy, there are adults-only districts which are groupings of three to four spaces that offer live music, dancing, trivia, karaoke, game show-type games, silent disco, and other adults-only entertainment such as comedy performers or illusionists. Whether you’re looking to get involved in a game or a quiet place to have a drink, there’s a spot for you.
All of these spaces are open to anyone before 7:00 pm; after that, it’s only for the grownups. The entertainment and activities are overall PG to PG-13, so if you’re looking for racier comedy acts, you won’t find them here. The adults-only is more about the lack of kids present than “adult entertainment.”
What to Expect in a Disney Cruise Bar
The adults-only bars and lounges on the Disney Wish work a little bit differently. The lounges have fantastic theming, but instead of being clustered in one spot, they’re spread all over the ship. These spaces are adults-only after 7:00 pm, but they’re located in areas where families with kids traffic. So, you might be sitting under a canopy of magnolias in The Bayou, a magical Princess and the Frog-themed bar enjoying a drink and seeing – and hearing – a family of six walk by. I did not find this bothersome, but if you’re a guest wanting to escape kids for a bit, you might see it differently. That goes back to my advice of maybe not choosing Disney Cruise Line if your goal is to avoid children completely.
One of the most popular bars on the Disney Wish is the Star Wars Hyperspace Lounge. Since all things Star Wars tend to be popular with people of all ages, expect kids in the lounge if you visit before 7:00 pm. The Hyperspace Lounge was super popular and hard to get into during the first few months the Wish sailed, but it’s much less crowded now.
Adults-Only Pool Deck
All of the Disney ships have an adult-only pool deck with a Quiet Cove pool and hot tub. I am not a big “swim in the pool on a cruise ship” person, and I’ve nicknamed the family pools “kid soup.” We do enjoy lounging on the adults-only deck and using the hot tub there, and it’s an overall peaceful place to enjoy the sun and sea breezes. The chairs and loungers fill up fast and early on sea days.
None of the Quiet Cove pools are huge. The Disney Wish’s adult-only deck seems to have the most pool space, with an infinity pool and pools with bench seating. Even so, a sea day or a Nassau Day – Disney Cruise Line passengers are notorious for staying on the ship during Nassau port stops – equals a crowded pool area.
The adult-only pool deck is home to the Cove Cafe on every ship. The Cove Cafe serves specialty coffees and teas. Outside of the Concierge Lounge, only accessible to Concierge passengers, and the adult fine dining venues, this Cove Cafe is your only shot at good coffee on board.
The coffee drinks at Cove Cafe are not included in the price of your cruise. However, I’ve budgeted a daily coffee treat for the cost of my cruise. The additional cost is worth it, and yes, the buffet and room service coffee is really that bad. The Cove also serves treats, except on the Wish. All other ships have a selection of pastries throughout the day and sometimes antipasto between 5:00 – 7:00 pm. The food is included in the cost of your cruise, whether you order coffee or not.
Adults-Only Beach at Castaway Cay
If you select Caribbean or Bahamian cruise itineraries, you’ll probably stop at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. Castaway Cay has an adult-only beach, Serenity Bay. Serenity Bay truly does live up to its name.
All of the Castaway Cay beaches have white sand and sparking blue water, but Serenity Bay is a tranquil space to lounge in a beach chair or hammock and not see or hear any evidence of small human people. Lunch is included at Castaway Cay, and if you’re enjoying Serenity Bay, there’s no need to leave the adults-only area to get your food. A dedicated Serenity Bay BBQ has all of the same lunch fixings the main buffet locations have, with the addition of – usually – Ribeye steaks. Guests can also book spa treatments and massages on the beach, but as with every other add-on activity I’ve mentioned, booking in advance or as soon as you board the ship is key.
Disney Cruise Line is opening up a second island paradise in the Bahamas, Lighthouse Point. Lighthouse Point will be open summer of 2024, and no one has details yet on possible adult-only spaces there.
Senses Spa and Fitness Center
All Disney ships have a spa and fitness center. The onboard fitness centers are 18+, so you won’t encounter kids during your workout at sea. The Senses Spa will offer a variety of spa treatments, from massages to facials to other body and wellness treatments. There is also an onsite salon that offers hair and nail services.
The spa treatments are pricey, but I’ve never had a bad one. Like most onboard activities, advance bookings are recommended, but the spa will usually have appointments if you check with them once on board. If you are committed to having a spa treatment, I recommend you attend the open house on the first day of your cruise. There is usually a drawing with prizes, although the prizes are typically a discount on spa services and not a completely free treatment. While I hate signing up to win a “prize” that requires me to pay money, if you know you want to enjoy the spa, this is a way to save a bit.
Each ship also has a Rainforest Room, which you can tour during the spa open house. You can buy day passes or passes for the duration of your cruise. The facilities vary from ship to ship, but the Rainforest Room amenities generally include steam rooms and saunas, relaxing rainfall showers, and heated ceramic loungers, which are the absolute best ever. You also get access to the spa’s shower and locker room facilities, which offer a nice roomy space to take a shower and blow-drying stations to dry your hair. One downside to cruises is getting ready in a tiny stateroom, and having a Rainforest Room pass alleviates that pain point for me.