I’M sitting with my four-year-old eating ice creams and watching Encanto on an open-air cinema screen, in the early evening Mediterranean sun.
As pre-school life goes, this is a solid 10/10. So imagine my surprise when he turns around and announces: “Mummy, I’d like to go to the kids’ club now”.
I can hardly blame him. I’d bet good money that the ones on the Disney Cruise Line ships are among the best in the world.
And the club on board the Disney Dream certainly doesn’t fall short of expectations.
There’s also a lit-up, interactive dancefloor and a whole other interconnecting kids’ club called the Oceaneer Lab, where activities include making slime and watching a makeshift volcano erupt.
With movie nights, Disney princess story-time and visits from Mickey and friends also on the entertainment list, it’s little wonder the clubs are a magnet for children aged three to 12.
For tweens aged 11-14, there’s the cooler Edge hangout, with video games, dance-offs and karaoke machines, while for the 14-17-year-olds, there’s Vibe — with a beach club/Friends living room-type feel.
But the youth clubs are only a fraction of what’s on offer when it comes to fun for the kids.
We could have stayed on the ship for another three weeks and still not completed the activities available.
This is Disney Dream’s first ever summer season sailing the Mediterranean and, from the minute we boarded the ship in Barcelona for our seven-night cruise, there wasn’t a dull moment.
Soaking up the southern European sunshine as we sailed between Spain, France and Italy, we dodged the fountains and sprinklers in the Nemo Splash Zone, swam in the two kids’ pools and whizzed around the two waterslides on the top deck.
At night-time, we enjoyed live shows in the Walt Disney Theatre, including the West End-calibre Beauty And The Beast, as well as The Golden Mickeys — an Oscars-style awards show with an all-singing, all-dancing cast and a nice touch where guests are interviewed red carpet-style as they arrive.
Disney is all about the extra little touches and the cruise ships work just as hard as the theme parks to make sure all guests have a great time.
It was often the smaller details that caught my son’s attention more than the showstoppers.
For instance, the Detective Club Agency game was a hit. It sees guests search the ship on a Whodunnit mission, finding clues in interactive pictures that come to life on ten floors.
He also loved the casual moments when we bumped into Minnie Mouse or Pluto strolling along the promenade deck as we played shuffleboard in the late afternoon.
He was especially excited to introduce his own Minnie stuffed toy, which we’d bought from the ship store the day before, and the “real” Minnie threw her hands in the air with joy when she saw it.
Then there was our wonderful stateroom host, who created an elaborate sea creature from the blankets and towels in our room each evening — and high-fived my son on the way to breakfast every morning.
Our room was spotlessly clean and incredibly comfy, with space for up to five family members, a decent but compact bathroom and stacks of storage.
Not to mention the free room service, which allowed us to order milk and cookies while enjoying the huge Disney movie selection.
I was also blown away by how well the grown-ups were catered for.
The 18+ zones include several bars, a nightclub, a pool and sun deck, two incredible restaurants and a state-of-the-art gym and spa.
The spa is one of the best I’ve ever been to — significantly better than many that charge upwards of £75 for a day visit in the UK.
The Jacuzzis and sauna overlooking the sea were so relaxing, but my favourite touch was the themed showers — with everything from a tropical storm (complete with lightning) to a rainforest mist to choose from.
The gym was also excellent, but a special mention has to go to the small fridge stacked with cold flannels for sweaty exercisers — a luxury I never knew I needed.
The same goes for the two adult-only restaurants, Palo and Remy. The food at French restaurant Remy, named after the Parisian rat in the Disney movie Ratatouille, is among the best I’ve had.
We were treated to a seven-course tasting menu featuring delights such as wagyu beef, pigeon — and a tomato dish, including a glass of tomato wine, which is now in my top five meals of all time.
The family restaurants were excellent too, with a range of kids’ dishes including fish, pasta, chips, pizza and burgers.
And the entertainment in some of the dining spots was mindblowing.
My particular favourite was on our final evening, when we visited the Animator’s Palate restaurant and were invited to draw pictures of ourselves on our placemats before dining.
Then, as pudding was served, we were treated to a moving picture of all our stick men dancing on screens around the room.
There was so much to do, from Disney trivia quizzes and silent discos, to karaoke, Marvel mask-making, beer-tasting and even two showings of the new Little Mermaid film.
Then we joined thousands of other guests in our best pirate fancy dress for a themed show on the top deck, followed by fireworks choreographed to songs from Pirates Of The Caribbean, which left my son beaming.
Special mention must go to all of the wonderful port visits too, including Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast and my favourite — Cannes in the south of France, where we caught a peek of the red carpet rolled out for the film festival, and swam in the sea.
I’m not sure if the kids’ club, the pirate night or the Golden Mickeys show were my son’s favourite part of the trip, because when there’s so much awesome stuff going on it’s hard to pick what’s best.
Now that we’ve been home for a week, he declares a different winning moment every day.
Mickey, Tinkerbell, Woody and Pluto pepper our conversations as though they were lifelong friends he made on holiday.
Which I guess is the point, isn’t it?
This is Disney Dream’s first ever summer season sailing the Mediterranean[/caption]
Disney is all about the extra little touches and the cruise ships work just as hard as the theme parks to make sure all guests have a great time[/caption]