If you’ve ever had or been a kid sailing aboard Disney Cruise Line, you know that youth activities are some of the most memorable, immersive offerings on any ship. In addition to the ports of call, young cruisers get to visit fantastical locations through their imagination, thanks to youth activities managers like Stephanie, on board the Disney Dream, who discovered her passion for working with kids at a young age.
“I grew up in a home daycare center established and owned by my mom, so working with children and childhood development has always been part of my DNA.” After years of helping her mom and being surrounded by growing toddlers and young, imaginative minds, working with children not only became second nature to her, but it was also inspiring and fun. “Children are hilarious, creative and curious. Being part of their growth and development is very rewarding,” Stephanie shared.
A Career Traveling the World
In addition to following in her mom’s career path of working with children, Stephanie says she always dreamed of traveling the world and seeing new places. After learning about the incredible youth activities spaces aboard the Disney Cruise Line ships, she knew a career at sea with Disney was the perfect match for her.
“The idea of traveling the world and being able to see many different places that I had never been exposed to inspired me to begin my career at sea,” Stephanie said. “To be able to bring these two parts of my world together, both a love for travel and a passion for childcare, and successfully make a career out of it, it’s like a dream come true.”
A Love for Disney Storytelling
Stephanie’s love for Disney also started very young. As a child, she owned a VHS tape of just about every Disney movie you can think of. She added, “I was so mesmerized by the stories and the enchantment of Disney characters. It’s funny now, but at five years old, you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t Ariel or Jasmine. I was so infatuated with their stories, and I believed I could be them!”
Now, she gets to help tell those timeless stories and create magical moments for young guests in Disney’s Oceaneer Club as well as Edge, aboard the Disney Dream. Stephanie has been part of the Disney Cruise Line family for nine years, working on both the Disney Wonder and the Disney Dream. In her current role, she and her team are dedicated to creating magical and memorable experiences for kids, tweens and teens in youth spaces aboard the ship.
“It’s one of the greatest feelings to walk through the youth spaces and see the excitement and really hear the spaces come to life. The laughter that the kids are sharing with each other and the counselors when playing games, having a dance party with the characters and making new friends, is the kind of laughter that lets you know they’re genuinely having the best time together. Everything comes full circle for me seeing the youth activities team engaging with the children and doing what they love to do every day. When guests stop me to tell me how special and magical their experience has been in our youth spaces, that’s so rewarding for me.”
The People Behind the Magic
Stephanie says the best part about working for Disney Cruise Line is the people behind the magic.
“I’ve been able to meet so many different people from so many different walks of life. People like me, people different from me, people I would have never otherwise met. I can truly say that I now have family around the world and a couch to crash on in at least 10 different countries. It’s amazing! I know these friendships and bonds will last the rest of my life, and I’m so grateful for that.”
A Memorable Mother-Daughter Moment
After nearly a decade of sailing with Disney Cruise Line, Stephanie says one sailing that she holds close to her heart is when her mom had the opportunity to join her on board and visit her home away from home.
“It was her first time on a Disney cruise and her first time meeting Mickey Mouse! It was such a magical experience for both of us, and I was very proud to show my mom the Disney Dream and for her to meet all of the amazing people who I’ve gotten to know on board. My family is very proud of all that I’ve accomplished at Disney Cruise Line over the years, and they love to share my stories with anyone who will listen.”