It took a long time for me to warm up to the idea of kids clubs. After all, the whole point of a family vacation is to spend time together, right? Perhaps I was scarred from seeing two miserable kids half-heartedly make sandcastles with a bored Mexican teenager while on my honeymoon, but I was certain I’d never dump MY kids off while on vacation. But once my daughter started nursery school (and would pretend not to see me when I’d come to pick her up) I knew that kids’ clubs would be a part of our lives. That’s usually the first place she asks to go to when we go anywhere – insert Marge Simpson grumble here…
Kids clubs and children’s activities at resorts and on cruises differ wildly in quality and sometimes cost extra. Disney cruise kids club experiences are very highly regarded, and the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab on the Disney Fantasy is probably the most awesome I’ve seen for kids 3-12, and is included in your cruise fare. My daughter concurs.
Located on Deck 5, the Oceaneer Club and Lab are side by side, and supervise children from ages 3-12. This is a pretty big span but the supervisors group the kids according to their ages and abilities, and in a nutshell the Lab offers more structured programs. According to the (lovely) Cast Members that operate the Oceaneer’s facilities, typically younger kids prefer the Club, and older kids like the Lab. My 6yo. daughter agreed. All kids, including the three year olds, need to be potty-trained, however they will make exceptions for younger siblings if they want to stay with big brother or big sister, you just need to promise to stop by and check them every hour to make sure they don’t need changing. Luckily Bub was happy to go to the It’s A Small World Nursery, so our daughter got to immerse herself in the Oceaneer fun without Bub cramping her style
On the first day, you register your children at the club and they will be wristbanded. The wristband will stay on for the duration of your cruise, and it is sand and waterproof. For your convenience, you can pre-register your kids online -check under “My Cruise Plans” in your online cruise profile for the option for registering.. Children with special needs can be accommodated at the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab, just notify the staff and they will make special arrangements as best they can. Children can move back and forth between the Club and the Lab, and the staff will direct appropriate activities for all. There are special “open house” times where parents and other family members can come in and participate with the kids and check out what they’re doing, otherwise the Club and Lab are secure environments – no adults will be permitted inside for extended periods of time. Consult The Daily Navigator (the daily newsletter left in your stateroom each day) for the Oceaneer Club and Lab hours of operation and schedules. If you (or they) prefer, kids can have lunch and dinner there too.
On the Oceaner Club side, you’ll find Andy’s Room, Monster’s Academy, Pixie Hollow, and Disney’s Explorer Pod. There is a reading area, computer banks, a small stage for games, multiple televisions, play structures, colouring, dress-up costumes, and a giant (and I do mean giant) TV screen.
Over on the Oceaneer Lab side, there’s a media room with bean bag chairs and so kids can watch movies, play video games or read, a working animation studio where kids can create original art or learn to sketch their favorite Disney characters, a tech space with numerous computers and large, high-definition LCD screens, a sound studio to create music, and a craft area (my daughter’s favourite!) with the biggest supply of crafty-type materials I’ve ever seen.
Scuttle’s Cove, on Castaway Cay, is the island’s extension of the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab. The staff transfer over to the island for those days at port, and you can enroll your kids there if you’d prefer some grown up time on the beach.
I was highly impressed by the kids club offerings on the Disney Fantasy Cruise. The rooms were spotless, the staff amazing, and the activities and amenities impressive – and it’s all included in the fare.