I’ve never figured myself for a cruising kind of girl. I grew up taking airplanes, long road trips and camping in the woods. So when I had the opportunity to take my two children (aged nine and six) on the Disney Wonder Cruise, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I think my biggest fear was feeling like I was trapped with nothing to do once I left port.
That’s probably one of the biggest misconceptions about taking a cruise.
We took the Disney Wonder from Vancouver with a stop over in San Francisco, carrying on to LA. It was a six-night repositioning cruise – which offers great deals when you can snag one (approximately $830-2,400 per person depending on cabin).
When we left the Vancouver port, the kids danced to live music on the pool deck with Disney characters. However, I found myself still having some misgivings about leaving land behind.
My first concern was food. The Disney Wonder provides several restaurants throughout the ship. One of the great things was that we were given a designated table number and time every night, so we always knew our table (never had to wait) and the kids were happy to stick to their same dinner
time each night.
Disney has a rotational dining experience, which allows guests to experience all the restaurants on board during their cruise.
My six-year old daughter was thrilled she could wear her fancy ball gown during some evenings and my nine year old son was content when he could show up in runners and jeans.
Each restaurant offers a different selection of food, different attire and different themes. The food every night was exceptional. For breakfast, we opted for the buffet in the Topsiders restaurant. This was perfect for my children who are notorious for wanting different things in the mornings.
As food is included in our cruise, the children could “help themselves” throughout the day with hot dogs, hamburgers, wraps and serve yourself ice cream on the pool deck (this was a big novelty for the kids).
My next concern was keeping the kids busy. This was soon dismissed after visiting the Disney clubs onboard, which provide different activities for different age groups.
The Oceaneer’s Lab offered interactive activities like science experiments, cooking classes and computers (which my son loved) and The Oceaneer’s Club (3-12), which had crafts, dress up, music, and colouring; which was ideal for my daughter.
Edge is a club for ages 11-14 and Vibe for ages 14-17. There is also a nursery for those with babies. Each child is provided a GPS wrist band as they enter the club and parents must provide a password for when they pick up their child, which is a great security measure. There is also a “wave” phone for parents to take with them, to be contacted by the club at any time, wherever they are on the ship.
The club was great for our children to meet other kids from around the world and spend time doing things they loved. It also was a perfect time for my husband and me to spend a dinner or activity alone (thus able to indulge ourselves as well during the vacation).
Our room on the cruise had a balcony with a surprisingly large, roomy cabin. We had a queen bed with bunk beds, which were a big hit with the children.
A Disney crew member made up our beds and cleaned our room twice per day. The evening service offers turn down service (with special touches like a towel turned in to the shape of an animal and chocolates on the pillows).
There was an itinerary provided each night to use as a reference as to what activities and special events were going on the next day. It was great to know where the Disney characters would be on the ship (which we couldn’t get enough of) and choose which activities we wanted to do as a family (there were dozens to choose from).
If you asked either of my children what their favourite part of the trip was, it would have to be the pool. Both of them could hardly wait to get on the large water slide. They loved swimming in the pool despite the colder weather from Vancouver to San Francisco; the children were oblivious to it.
The entertainment aboard the ship was beyond spectacular. The live-shows each night in the Walt Disney Theatre gave shows on Broadway a run for their money (particularly one show called “Disney Dreams”). The children looked forward to the evening shows and we always returned back to our cabin each night to discuss our “favourite” parts afterwards.
I was able to run each morning on the top deck of the ship which had a track for walkers and runners. There was also a gym which I enjoyed using and a spa to unwind in for some “me” time.
I also enjoyed being in the cabin and sitting out on my deck. I loved looking out at the water and taking in the breath taking views.
I found peace on a family vacation – who knew that was possible as a parent?
On one particular night, guests were encouraged to dress like pirates and come on the main deck for a show. Once there, we were treated to a pirate dual with lots of music and dancing. We even witnessed Mickey Mouse zip line down from the top of the ship.
Soon after, fireworks shot off over the ocean and I looked down at my children with amazement in their eyes.
And with all my misgivings gone, I found myself never wanting the cruise to end.