I went on a Disney staycation cruise with my 4-year-old. Here's what it was like on board, and what we did to prepare.

Our four-year old went on a Disney cruise for staycation and we sailed for two nights.
We had forgotten how it felt to travel with a child nearly two years after our last real vacation.

We chose to plan ahead and put our focus on three areas: pretravel, day of travel, as well as on the sea.

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December 2019 marked the end of our family's first flight together. We went on vacation in December 2019. It was our 30th flight together with our 2-year-old son. My husband and I were now pro-travelers with a toddler. We had seen it all, from the beautiful Maldives and sunny Bahamas to the cobbled streets in Prague. We all were put into lockdown when the pandemic struck.

We were just like everyone else, skeptical about flying and leaving the country. Instead, we chose a Disney cruise to the UK that would take us around for three and a half days.

We had forgotten how it felt to travel with children nearly two years after our last vacation. We also had to consider the fact that my 65-year old parents would be joining us on our trip, so we were more cautious. We made a plan and focused on three areas: pre-travel and day of travel.

Pre-travel: Check your booking, plan some activities and upload your documents

It is simple to use the Disney website. You can access your reservation online and plan your activities in advance. You can find a lot of free activities like youth club slots or karaoke. There are also tons of paid activities. Our son's youth club activity was timed with beer tasting for the grownups.

Check-in is similar to airline travel in that you will need to upload identification documents. If you are over 18, Disney will ask you to show proof of COVID-19 vaccine. For those under 18, you must purchase a quick test and upload it at least 24 hours prior to boarding.

After all documents have been uploaded, Disney verifies them and completes the check-in.

Disney Magic on Deck Spriha Srivastava

Let's get packing. There are many things to do, including sit-down dinners and informal lunches. You can also enjoy poolside drinks, water sports, and much more. Although we packed many clothes, we were able to travel light.

You can check your luggage at the airport before you board, and then leave it outside your room to be collected the night before. This allows you to bring only a handbag to your stateroom at four o'clock in the morning.

You can grab a snack and a water bottle for the day, then mask up while you wait for your flight.

Our day began early. The cruise was to depart from Tilbury in East London, which is a container port. We were able to spot the huge Disney cruise ship as soon as we arrived at the port.

We left our bags at the terminal, and then made our way towards the COVID-19 testing center.

It is worth noting, that anyone can have antigen testing done at this location regardless of having had a negative test within the last five days. The entire process took less than five minutes. The test was completed in less than five minutes. We were directed to a waiting area where we waited for the results.

Passengers await COVID-19 test results before boarding. Spriha Srivastava

This was the most nerve-wracking part of the entire trip. Although we had all been vaccinated and my son had received a negative antigen test, as we waited, we realized that it might all be for nothing. We were right in front of the cruise ship, but it took us up to 45 minutes to receive our test results.

After scrolling through my emails and refreshing my inbox several times, I finally saw the test results. They were all negative. Once we were cleared to board, we made our way towards the ship.

Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse welcomed us aboard and informed us that our staterooms were ready for us by 3 p.m. We were hungry so headed to Cabana for a buffet featuring a wide variety of dishes including fish and chips and lasagnas, Indian curries, Mexican burritos and oriental food.

The room featured a private veranda that overlooked the sea. Spriha Srivastava

After our lunch, we were able to pick up the keys to our stateroom. The stateroom was spacious and had a private veranda that overlooked the English Channel. We decided to stay a while and familiarize ourselves with the ship before we set off for the madness ahead.

On the sea: Cabana quick meals, meet-and greet Disney characters and rotational dining

COVID-19 restrictions such as social distancing were enforced throughout the cruise. When not eating, guests were required to wear facemasks. Social distancing was also required for character meet-and-greets. Our 4-year-old son wasn't happy about this: he wanted to run to Spider-Man or Thor and hug them.

Guests could view their itinerary via the Disney Cruise Line App once they were onboard. Our four-year old was determined to meet as many Avengers-themed superheroes as possible. We went through the app, added the events to our schedule, and then we moved on.

Meet-and-greet between Disney characters and people who live far away. Spriha Srivastava

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in the cruise fare at the Cabana, Animator's Palete and Rapunzel's Royal Table restaurants. Rotational dining is a feature that allows guests to try each of the three themed restaurants while they are onboard.

Valentin, Mario, & Gian, our servers, were warm and friendly and helped us create a memorable three-course meal. These restaurants offer interactive storytelling experiences and are large. Each restaurant has its own theme with live music and characters to enjoy while you eat.

Our last dining experience aboard the ship was at Animator’s Palete with our servers Gian and Mario (L). Spriha Srivastava

While food was an important part of our cruise experience, we also spent time on the ship exploring, meeting our favorite heroes, taking a dip at the pool, as well as watching Disney Dreams, a magical performance at Walt Disney Theatre.

The two-night and three-day Disney cruise was an unforgettable experience. We had a great time as a family and made many wonderful memories.

Our 4-year-old son said, "I want to return to the cruise again," as we got in our car to drive home.