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Transgenerational Travel: A Grandparent & Grandson Set Sail

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Credit: Matt Stroshane

With the kids about to be out of school for the summer, sometimes the grandparents have to step in. Finding an activity, let alone a vacation that works for both can be quite the challenge. Michelle da Silva Richmond and her grandson went on board the new Disney Fantasy to find the experiences that work for travelers of all ages.

The Fantasy, whose sister ship the Dream debuted in 2011, set sail this spring on its inaugural cruise out of Port Canaveral. I invited my 8-year-old grandson Mateo to accompany me. No stranger to the cruise experience–this would be his fifth–I figured that his observations would give me a different perspective on this new vessel. I wasn’t disappointed. but I hadn’t counted on the non-stop activity we would be exposed to. What was I thinking?

Kids Clubs & Family Communication

In true Disney-style, they have thought of everything. Located in our the cabin were two cellular phones that family members can use to locate one another while on board…another sensible addition to the big ship cruise experience. Disney also provides a tracking device for children ages 3 to 10 who register at the Oceaneer Club. These bracelets allow parents to keep tabs on their children while they’re on board, however, they don’t work when going ashore.

Most cruise lines have designated areas for children. Disney does it in reverse. The Fantasy has “tranquility” areas for adults. I caught myself looking longingly at these secluded places offering peace and quiet for travelers 18 and older. Private pools, hot tubs, a cozy café, luxe spa and a collection of dining options and bars beckoned, yet I wouldn’t have given up 1 minute of bonding with my energetic grandson for all the secluded sundecks in the world.


Credit: Michelle da Silva Richmond

While there is something for the whole family, Disney ships are all about the kids and there are several clubs designed just for them, ranging from the Oceaneer’s Club and Lab for grade schoolers to the Edge for tweens and the Vibe for teens. There’s even a “Chill Spa” for teens with age-suitable treatments.

Mateo opted out of joining the Oceaneer’s Club because, as he told me disdainfully, there were “too many girls.” I had to agree. There did seem to be an inordinate number of young girls on board. Instead, he developed friendships with boys around the pool, the hot tub and on Goofy’s Sports Deck, the nine-hole miniature golf course. Once that happened, I was on my own but he did check with me periodically to apprise me of his next destination.