One of the facilities I was most interested to check out on our Disney Fantasy cruise, was the It’s A Small World Nursery. Not every family resort or cruise offers infant and baby care, but if they do it’s usually pretty good. The Disney Fantasy was no exception. It’s not free, like at Beaches Turks & Caicos, but it’s not a full day rate like at Club Med. In fact, the pay-as-you-go rate of $6.00 USD per hour is incredibly reasonable, and Bub couldn’t wait to go!
Since he was just shy of his third birthday, I was a little worried that he would find the area a little too babyish. Not the case! He really seemed to enjoy the smaller scale of Small World, and when my husband went to pick him up after an hour there, he didn’t want to leave – a good sign, I think. We let him stay for another hour 😉
I spoke with Manda, one of the lovely staff members about the policies the It’s A Small World Nursery follows. For infants aged 14mos. and younger, the ratio of staff to babies is 1 – 4. For older babies aged 14mos. and up, the ratio is 1 – 6. There is usually a staff of 8 standing by, but they can always call someone in if things get busy. On the Dream the maximum number of babies they could manage was 28, and Manda anticipated the same for the Fantasy. Reservations are recommended, but they can take walk-ins as capacity allows. As with the Oceaneer Club and Lab, you can pre-register your kids online- -check under “My Cruise Plans” in your online cruise profile for the option for registering. Wristbands are not given for the little ones. The It’s A Small World Nursery is open from 9am to 11pm – sometimes opening at 7am – and they offer open house time during the first two at-sea days.
When dropping off your baby, you leave with the staff their food and/or bottles, diapers and wipes, and napping instructions. If your little one is not exactly thrilled with being left, the staff will try to comfort and distract. Manda advised that usually most calm down within that time frame, but they will page parents for further instructions if the baby cannot be comforted after 15 minutes. If your little one cannot be comforted after 30 minutes, the staff will page you to come pick him or her up.
If your baby or toddler falls down and goes boom while in the care of the Disney Fantasy It’s A Small World Nursery, the staff will administer ice packs and/or band-aids, and will call you straight away. Usually they are fine to stay but they leave that decision at your discretion. If a “protein spill” happens (Disney-speak for vomit – love it!) they will call you to come pick up your child, and they can return to the nursery once you’ve received clearance from the medical team. They need to determine if the “protein spill” was a one-time upset stomach, or a virus that could affect the staff and other attendees of the nursery.
The cost of the It’s A Small World Nursery is $6.00/hour – remarkably reasonable, I think, considering the level of care and quality of the surroundings. It’s spotless, and the various zones are so nicely decorated and soothing (and clutter-free) it makes me wish our daycares at home could maintain that level of cleanliness and tidiness. One thing I noticed about the staff at It’s A Small World (and most of the kids’ staff, actually) is that they’re mostly Brits, Aussies and Kiwis – I think it’s the accent (think Mary Poppins) that inspires extra confidence in the child care department.
Personally, I wasn’t able to utilize baby and kids clubs at resorts until my daughter was past-two. But that’s me and my helicopter parent tendencies, not lack of confidence in any of the facilities I’ve come across. Bub did great at FDR Resort and his vacation nanny in Jamaica when he was 16mos., but my mother-in-law was also there with him. But I recognize that other (most?) parents are not as hover-y as I am, plus having 2nd and 3rd kids often means A) you’re more relaxed about leaving them in the care of others & B) you’re in more need of a break (!) so knowing there are resorts and cruises like Disney Cruise Line that offer exemplary infant and toddler care is a real bonus for parents who just need some grown-up time.
For more information on Disney Cruises, please visit www.disneycruise.com