A magical part of the Disney cruise experience is finally returning — and Olaf can’t wait

What’s the one thing many kids want when they meet Mickey, Minnie and other favorite characters on a Disney Cruise Line ship? A nice warm hug (as Olaf would say).

Though character hugs and autographs have been back in the U.S. Disney parks since April, the interactions with characters on Disney Cruise Line sailings remained distanced. Even on our Disney sailing a few weeks ago, you still had to stand at least 6 feet away from Captain Minnie and Mickey.

The line has been inching back to more normal offerings over the course of the last 12 months since sailings first restarted after the pandemic-related pause in operations. But this one big COVID-era rule has stuck around.

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(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

I’ve witnessed the heartbreaking scene that unfolds when a kid tries to go toward a character for a hug and that character has to dodge the embrace; it’s awkward to say the least. Plus, with so much of the cruise ship experience returned to normal, this level of social distancing feels out of line — and a little sad.

But parents and kids can rejoice because character interactions will be back to normal across the Disney Cruise Line fleet by Aug. 29, as reported by the Disney Cruise Line Blog.

While this is an incremental change on paper, it’s one that is likely to warm many hearts and set the stage for the moments that turn into memories. After all, these interactions are a big part of what makes a Disney trip special.

Jan. 2020 hug at sea. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Disney Cruise Line has also announced other changes that will make cruising more accessible and easier for families. Children under 11 and under are no longer required to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination effective Sept. 2, though pre-departure testing requirements remain. Masks are no longer required on Disney Cruise Line ships, and vaccinated guests can now test in advance of the sailing instead of at the port.

Read on to learn more about what it’s like to sail with Disney Cruise Line:

7 ways we were surprised by the new Disney Wish
How to save money when booking a Disney Cruise
Guide to Disney Cruise Line ships and itineraries
Tips for sailing on Disney Cruise Line
Everything you need to know about Disney’s loyalty program


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Featured image by Matt Stroshane/Disney