My family has never taken a cruise. So when I was given the chance to tour Disney Cruise Line’s ship, Wonder, I was excited to get a taste of what it would be like to set sail with Mickey Mouse. During the two-hour tour, one thing became very obvious: Disney overlooks no details. The thoughtfulness with which they’ve designed their cruising experience reflects a commitment to making a Disney Cruise a fun and relaxing time for the entire family—not just the kids. Because let’s face it—sometimes, vacations with children can be a lot of work for parents. Here are six reasons why I’m dreaming about embarking on a family Disney Cruise next year.
Disney Cruise Line’s Wonder (Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line)
Everybody needs a little time apart…even on a family vacation! My 9- and 7-year-olds are chomping at the bit to take advantage of not one, but two supervised play areas designed for kids ages 3 to 12. The Oceaneer’s Lab provides a series of quality hands-on craft and interactive activities (think science experiments), while The Oceaneer’s Club offers more of an open play space with dress-up and computer games. With hours of operation extending well past midnight on most evenings, this complimentary service would give me a chance to connect one-on-one with my husband and enjoy adult activities and conversation.
The tween set, ages 11 to 14, can have fun with friends at Edge with its computer stations, Karaoke machines, and crafts projects.
Teenagers, ages 14 to 17, have their own hang-out, Vibe, complete with video and board games, flat screen TVs, and dance parties.
Flounders Nursery (available at an additional hourly fee) caters to children from 3 months to 3 years with books, toys, games, and cribs for nap-time.
At sea Oceaneer kids’ camp on Wonder (Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line)
Safety and Security
When I leave my kids, I want to feel assured that they’re safe and secure. Disney Wonder’s two kiddie play areas are connected by a private passageway that is not accessible to anyone but the children and Disney staff. This means the kids can travel safely between the Oceaneer Lab and Oceaneer Club. Children are also given wristbands that allow Disney staff to track their whereabouts.
In each stateroom there are two “wave phones,” which enable tweens or teenagers to have some freedom aboard the ship with an easy way for Mom and Dad to reach them if needed.
Wave phones for keeping in touch with cabin mates while at sea (Photo by Gigi Ross)
Functional, Family-Friendly Staterooms
It can be a challenge to comfortably fit a family of four in a regular hotel room, let alone a cruise ship stateroom. But here again, Disney puts families first with some thoughtful touches that make your time at sea more comfortable.
Bathrooms have a toilet/sink area plus and a bath/sink area so that multiple family members can get ready at one time. Unlike most cruise ships, Disney includes full bathtubs in their staterooms—not just showers—so little ones can feel right at home at bath-time.
Staterooms are attended to twice per day by a Disney crew member, which includes evening turn-down service. When my family returns to our room, tired after a fun-filled day of activities, we’ll find beds turned down, chocolates on our pillows, a copy of the next day’s activities and an animal sculpture formed from our bath towels. A privacy curtain can be pulled across the room to separate the queen-sized adult bed from the pull-out sofa/bunk beds, so my husband and I can watch TV after the kids go to sleep. Disney really has thought of everything!
Stateroom aboard Wonder (Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line)
Disney’s innovative “rotational dining” concept allows the whole family to experience all of the full-service restaurants aboard the ship, with the same server every night. Your server remembers food preferences, favorite drinks and if anyone has allergies.I love that Disney can effortlessly blend this level of service with fun, interactive dining experiences the whole family can enjoy.
As diners enter Animator’s Palate for dinner service, all of the decor is stark black and white. But as the meal progresses, the walls—and the Disney character sketches on them—come to life with color, until the entire restaurant is bursting with vivid imagery by the meal’s end.
During my tour, I got a chance to dine at Triton’s, a Little Mermaid-themed restaurant. There was a really nice wine list available and plenty of options to tantalize my palate, with entree choices that ranged from light sandwiches to hearty pastas. I especially enjoyed the chilled raspberry soup starter.
Animator’s Palate (Photo by Gigi Ross)
Convenient Beverages and Snacks
Kids don’t always keep to the same dining schedule as grown-ups. My children are notorious for not eating much during a sit-down meal, only to complain an hour later, “I’m STARVING, Mom!” That’s why it’s such a great feature to have unlimited access to fountain drinks and quick-service meals when the formal restaurants are not open. If my son or daughter is swimming in Goofy’s pool and wants a drink or a quick hot dog, there’s no need to pick up our stuff, get changed for mealtime and wait for lunch. Instead, we can take advantage of beverage stations and casual dining options right next to the family pool area.
Goofy’s pool for families, one of three pools aboard Wonder (Photo by Gigi Ross)
Fun for Adults
Adults are allowed to have fun on family vacations, too! After dropping off the children at the Oceaneer’s Club, cruisers can choose from an array of adult-only entertainment. After-hours comedy shows and other entertainment run in the beautiful Walt Disney Theater. Parents can also have a “grown-up dinner” at Palo, a gorgeous adult-only restaurant with an upscale feel. There’s even a whole separate entertainment district comprised of three different bars—a piano bar, an Irish pub showing sports games, and a dance club. My husband’s only complaint might be that there is no gambling aboard Disney Cruise ships.
The 1950s-themed Cadillac Lounge piano bar (Photo by Gigi Ross)
A family vacation doesn’t have to be “the kids have fun and Mom and Dad are stressed and exhausted.” Disney Cruises afford every family member the chance to relax, explore, have fun, be alone and be together—in a beautiful, secure environment with a high level of service. I can hardly wait to go!
What do you think you would enjoy most about a Disney Cruise? Let us know in the comments!
A Note from The Organized Travel Mama: Thank you to Disney Cruise Line for providing me with a tour of Disney Wonder!