By Ryan Miano
When Disney sets sail, adults can have just as much fun as children.
Disney cruises from Port Canaveral, Fla., offer three-, four-, five- and seven night packages to the Caribbean, with most featuring at least one stop at Disney's private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay.
Cruising in January is a pleasant escape from winter in the Carolinas. Days on the ship are warm, but you better pack a sweater for the evenings, which can be cool, especially if there is a breeze.
And you better pack some intestinal fortitude to take a dip. It may be the Bahamas, but it's still winter and water temperatures in Nassau and on Castaway Cay are downright chilly.
Another must-pack item: your passports. Disney issues everyone a "Key to the World" card that allows you entry and exit from the ship as well as the ability to charge for everything onboard, from merchandise to specialty drinks. But once you're off the ship, you need a passport to get around the Bahamas--and to get through U.S. Customs at the end of the trip.
Nassau is over-commercialized and can easily be skipped during the cruise. Instead, when the ship docks, head directly to the Atlantis Hotel. There, you can spend time relaxing on the hotel's beach and playing in both the waterpark and the casino.
The aquarium at Atlantis is a must-see. They have a huge variety of fish, and the aquarium meanders across the hotel property, going from open-water exhibits to glass walk-through tunnels.
Castaway Cay offers shuttles to different areas, including adults-only beaches, teen beaches and children's beaches. Each offers music, a beach barbecue and water sports. The island also features the actual pirate ship from Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie.
For adults looking for a night out, make sure to reserve a table at Palo for a quiet, romantic dinner. These reservations fill up quickly, so it's best to make a reservation online before the cruise begins.
For those with children, make sure to bring a pen and some paper to get autographs from Disney characters, which is the new "biggest thing" for children.
The cruise ship also offers babysitting (for a fee) for children 3 and under, while the Castaway Club is geared for children ages 4 to 12. The club has games, activities and visits from the Disney characters, and the staff works hard to keep children busy and entertained.
As with all things Disney, a Disney cruise is very family-friendly. But unlike much of the theme-park action, a cruise offers activities for everyone, including some of the best food, entertainment and nightlife for adults and children alike.