Disney Cruise Crew Member Kept Passenger Memento, Reunites After 5 Years

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Disney cast members—the company’s employees on land and at sea—always strive to make magic for their guests. But sometimes, the roles reverse, and it’s the guest who makes magic for the crew member. 

When Nikki Kennedy, her husband Tanner, and their 18-month old daughter, Blair, embarked on a 10-night Mediterranean sailing onboard Disney Magic in 2019, the family formed a special bond with their server, a kind man named Aaron. 

All Disney Cruise Line ships feature a rotational dining program, which means that the servers follow their families and couples to different restaurants each night of the cruise. This allows them to really get to know their patrons, better anticipate their needs, and offer personalized service.

Nikki Kennedy and Aaron
Nikki Kennedy and Aaron (Photo Credit: Nikki Kennedy)

But Aaron went above and beyond Disney’s standard for top-notch service, making the cruise so magical for their family – and their young daughter specifically – that they asked the crew member to pose for a photo with Blair. 

They saved one copy for themselves and used a portable printer to leave Aaron a copy as a token of appreciation. 

When Nikki returned to Disney’s first cruise ship in the summer of 2024 for a work-related trip as part of her job as a travel planner, she never expected to reunite with Aaron—or that they would both remember each other five years later.

In a video on her TikTok (@yourfamilytravelplanner), which has been viewed nearly 200,000 times since its posting on June 20, 2024, the travel expert detailed their heartwarming reunion.

In the video, Nikki spotted Aaron from across the dining room and was stunned that her favorite server was still making magic onboard the 2,400-passenger vessel. The pair instantly recognized each other. 

“I went over and told him he was our server and before I could continue he says, ‘Wait I know. Kenn…Tanner Kennedy. I still have the picture you left me in my cabin, gets me through hard days,” Nikki wrote in text over a new photo from her reunion with Aaron. 

Her short but sweet TikTok concluded with the original photo of Aaron smiling as he posed with her toddler and high praise for Disney Cruise Line’s wait staff. 

The Pros And Cons Of Life As A DCL Cast Member

While it’s unclear which sailing Nikki undertook, as she says the sweet reunion with Aaron took place a few weeks prior to posting, the 83,000-gross ton ship has been spending the summer operating 4-5 night Bahamian cruises out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The sailings primarily call on Nassau, Bahamas, and Disney’s Lighthouse Point, the cruise line’s new private Destination in the Bahamas that just opened on June 7, 2024. Longer sailings also include stops at Castaway Cay, Disney’s first private island in the Bahamas.

Disney Magic Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Melissa Mayntz

But while being a crew member on a Disney ship comes with many perks—including seeing the world and participating in landmark events like the opening of a new private destination—it’s also not easy. 

Read Also: How Much Do Cruise Ship Workers Make?

Disney Magic is home to approximately 950 crew members, who commit to working and living on board for three to eight months at a time. According to Disney’s career website, the average contract length is between four to six months. 

Working on a cruise ship is not all that luxurious either, especially for an entry level position like waiter or food prep roles.  

These positions typically entail long hours with no days off, strict rules to follow, demanding (and sometimes rude) guests, and tiny cabins that are often shared – with no privacy and no windows. 

Being away from their families and working in these conditions can certainly take its toll, but these positive guest encounters – such as the one Aaron experienced with Nikki’s family – can provide hope and motivation for crew members when they need it most.

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