The debut of the Disney Cruise Line in 1998 put the cruise industry on notice that the family market had been overlooked—it was the mouse that roared. Notably, the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder managed to cater to the younger crowd, but not completely at the expense of adult activities. Each ship in the fleet, which now numbers four with the 2011-12 arrivals of Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, features an adults-only pool area, plus bars and restaurants where kids aren’t allowed.
Each ship in the Disney line has a movie theater and plenty of slick, professional (and family-oriented) stage shows. Common areas can be as crowded as a Disney theme park when the ships are full, but the surprisingly fine dining options are a nice respite, complete with a strictly enforced dress code.
Disney’s itineraries are heavily Caribbean, mostly operating out of Port Canaveral (an hour’s drive from Disney World). The company’s Castaway Cay in the Bahamas is a popular stop. But Alaska has been an annual destination since 2011, and now that the line has four ships, voyages to Europe may become a regular part of the itinerary. Disney charges a steep premium for its cruises, so these getaways are strictly for those with deep pockets.