Giveaways and Reviews Travel

Disney Wonder Mexican Riviera Cruise: Time to Put an End to “We’ll Travel When They’re Older”

I have done a lot of traveling this year for this site.  Each time I leave my husband and kids behind, I truly enjoy the time away to be a normal human being but it never fails.  There I am, sitting alone in an airport, and I’ll see a family getting ready to embark on a trip.  And then it hits me.  The guilt, the loneliness, and the urge to take the whole family on some sort of adventure when I get back home.  I then come up with a dozen reasons why it’s just not the right time to take a family trip.

If we go to Disneyland, Nevaeh may not remember it all when she’s older since she’s only four.

Everleigh is a baby, how could we possibly enjoy a vacation with all the extra things we’d have to bring; nevermind trying to figure out how to entertain her the whole time.

It’s just too expensive.  We should wait until they’re older and can really appreciate a family trip.  You know, in like 4…5…6 years?

Have you done this?  I’m 100% guilty of it, finding every reason why a family vacation is not a good idea and postponing it over and over.

And then, the phone rang.

Disney Parks Canada invited our family on a whirlwind trip to visit Disneyland in California, then leave the port of Los Angeles aboard the Disney Wonder on a 7 night Mexican Riviera Cruise!  If that isn’t a way to jump into our first family vacation with both (pedicured!) feet, I don’t know what is.

Was I nervous?  Absolutely.  Not only were we embarking on our first family vacation outside of Canada but we were going on a cruise ship for 7 days.  I’ll be honest when I share that I wondered what would happen if I lost my mind on day 3.  Would they pull over to shore in some random village in Mexico to let us off?

I’m happy to report that not only did I not lose my mind on a ship for 7 days with the family – I actually had amazing moments like the one captured above (feeding Everleigh her morning bottle sitting on our verandah somewhere off the coast of Mexico.)  So many more magical family memories were made that I am looking forward to a cruise next year as well – maybe we’ll make it an annual event!

Little girls are not the only ones treated like royalty aboard the Disney Wonder.  From the moment we boarded the ship, everything we needed was taken care of for us.  The cruise is all-inclusive (minus alcohol) and operates on a no-cash system.  Guest Services has your credit card number on file, and anything additional you need to purchase is done with the swipe of your Key to the World Card which also is handy as a room key too!

I had pre-ordered baby food from Babies Travel Lite ahead of time (who wants to carry a suitcase full of glass jars) and that was waiting in our room for us, along with a case of bottled water that I ordered directly from the In-Room Gifts & Shopping area of the Disney Cruise Line site.  Our Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah was clean and ready for us when we boarded the ship (typically rooms are ready by mid to late afternoon, and you can board as early as noon).

The rooms are smaller than your typical hotel room, and when I opened the door to the room the first time I was curious as to whether the size would bother me (5 people in a small room?) but we soon made the space our own and settled in comfortably.  There’s ample storage in the room for your luggage and clothing so that your belongings can be kept out of the way during your stay which allows for more open space in the room.

Once settled in, we were all eager to check out the ship and see everything that awaited us on our one-week stay.  The Disney Wonder boasts 3 swimming pools including the popular Mickey’s Pool shown above where we spent several afternoons.  It’s shallow enough for smaller kids to splash and swim but deep enough for parents to hang out as well.

A note for guests with children still in diapers  – US regulations state that children who are not potty trained can not use the same pools as others, so there’s a special area right beside Mickey’s Pool for little ones to play.

Goofy’s Pool, seen above, has a deeper pool for older children (and mom and dad too of course) along with an awesome big screen that plays Disney movies throughout the day.  While my kids were too small to go in Goofy’s Pool without holding onto me, the two hot tubs beside the pool where the perfect spot for us to hang out and watch Lilo & Stitch one afternoon.

Be prepared to  gain a pound or two on the ship, eating at all the restaurants.  There’s no need to leave the pool area to go for lunch or dinner, because there’s 3 places to grab a quick bite all on deck.  Pluto’s Dog House offers hot dogs, burgers, and my favorite – cajun chicken burgers – along with ample french fries.  Pinocchio’s Pizzeria offers, you guessed it, pizza!  If you’d like something lighter (um, non-greasy!) check out Goofy’s Galley, which I loved!  It has a great selection of fresh fruit, paninis, and wraps – my kids ate their weight in watermelon!

Aside from the pools, there’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained while at sea.  My kids (7 and 4) loved the “kids clubs” as they called them.  Disney’s Oceaner’s Club, for kids ages 3-10, is a ship-themed area with wide open spaces for games and activities, along with computer stations for some quiet play.  Nevaeh loved the Oceaner’s Club and especially enjoyed the day that Peter Pan came to play (all events and appearances can be found in your Navigator, which is a daily listing of events on board delivered to your room each evening).

Elijah preferred Disney’s Oceaner’s Lab which is also open to kids aged 3-10 but best suited to the older half of that spectrum.  The Oceaner’s Lab boasts several computers (I’d estimate 20?) as well as gaming consoles with large screens.  Added fun comes from the Science Lab area inside which also doubles as a kitchen for making chocolate chip cookies when Ratatoulle’s Cooking School is in session!

The Disney Wonder has 2 theaters for entertainment.  At any given time on the ship you’re likely to find a movie playing in one of the theaters.  The evening is saved for spectacular live performances for the whole family and if you’re lucky you can catch some of them in the afternoon for a third matinee performance.  I wish all performances were available for afternoon shows as this was the best time for our family with younger kids.

While the older 2 kids were at the “kid’s clubs”, my husband and I spent a lot of time walking around the ship taking in the sights.  This shot of the main lobby area, decorated for the holidays, was taken in the morning while most guests were at breakfast!  While our gait was a slow wander, there’s actually an outdoor deck exclusive for those who want to walk or jog around the ship at a faster pace!

Our days were always capped off with a decadent meal in one of the 3 main dining  restaurants on the Disney Wonder.  Upon arrival, you are given information on which place you will be dining at each evening.  Your table number is always the same and, even better, your two servers are with you each and every single night on the ship.  This is especially comforting to kids when they can have a familiar face greeting them each evening, asking about their day.  Our two servers, Santana and Jenny (seen above) were an absolute delight to experience.  Remember my mention of being treated like royalty?  This is where it really happens!

The serving staff at dinner were always cheery, always excited to talk to the kids, and always eager to help us with anything we needed.  I posted on my Facebook wall one evening about my absolute delight at Jenny leaning over and cutting up my steak for me while I fed the baby.  “Mama’s busy,” she said.  I wanted to take Jenny back home with me!

No visit to Disney would be complete without a famous character meal!  While the parks offer this experience if you’re fortunate enough to get a reservation, each family on the Disney Wonder has one character breakfast included (scheduled in the same manner as evening meals).  Ours was scheduled on our first full day on the ship which made for a perfect introduction to the magic Disney has to offer guests.

An inviting comfortable stateroom, swimming pools and hot dogs, youth clubs for the kids to play at, evening theater entertainment, a variety of tastes each evening at a dining experience where you’re waited on like royalty, and more all await you on the Disney Wonder.

I can’t possibly summarize our week at sea on the Disney Wonder in just one post!  Stay tuned to more features about our vacation with Disney including our Port Adventures in Puerto Vallarta and Cabo, 10 Things Not To Miss on the Disney Wonder, and Q&A on Sailing on the Disney Wonder in the coming weeks!

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  • Wow! Sounds like a wonderful trip. We’ve been thinking forever about a cruise, but like you we worry about the ages of our kids and their ability to enjoy it. I also worry about fitting 5 people in a room, since not all cruise ships have many cabins for that number of people, will have to look into Disney more thoroughly now 🙂

  • Looks like you had a fabulous time! We sailed on the Wonder back when it was still in the Caribbean. Their staterooms are actually huge compared to most cruise lines. Can’t wait to read more about your trip!

  • We LOVE cruising! Hubs and I have been on four together, with the last one being to Jamaica. The next cruise we take will be a Disney cruise with our 3 children so I’m stoked to be reading your posts to have a heads up 🙂

  • I’m so glad I came across this post! We are taking our first Disney cruise in a couple of months on the Dream. We have a room with a veranda and I was wondering if it made you nervous with the kids? This makes me nervous!

  • We were at Disney World for the first time a few weeks ago and we all loved it. Next up is a Disney Cruise – unsure if from LA or Orlando. I loved reading your post! I cannot wait to go on our first cruise!

  • Sounds like a fantastic time for kids and parents alike. I would love to leave the crew at activities and jog around the ship while it’s on the move. Disney is on my bucket list, but I may just have to add a Disney Cruise to it to. If I start saving now I might be able to make it happen before all 5 have set sail on their own adventures. I can’t wait to learn more!

  • Sounds amazing!!! We have been eyeing the Disney Cruise for over a year now and this totally confirms why! It looks amazing and spectacular ad I know my kids would loooooove it!!!

    Can’t wait to read the upcoming posts too!

  • WOW! That looks just amazing! I would be concerned that I would lose it a little too, but it looks like there is plenty to do and you never even realized you’re “trapped” on a boat. haha! Looks like paradise! Can’t wait to hear about your other adventures!

  • Oh wow! That looks and sounds like a super incredible, once in a life time trip!

    Your story sounds 110% like the conversation that my husband and I just had (the questioning part at the beginning!). My daughter desperately wants to go to Disney! My son is 3. I know they would both have a great time, but are they at the good ages for that much $$$? At 3 years and 6 years.

  • Amazing! I was looking forward to hearing about your trip! I really want to take a cruise… but you nailed it- I was planning on bringing my girls (anywhere) for a few years at least!
    This could be our answer!
    Is the price comparable to other cruise lines?

  • This looks great and the rooms look way bigger than the ships going to Alaska for sure! I wanted to go to Disney with my niece & nephew so bad but due to my health I couldn’t which makes me so sad, but now I think I could do this! I am so excited, thanks for the review it really lifted my spirits:) Take some advice from me NEVER put off anything you want to do because in a second circumstances can change where you are unable to dot it!

  • Oh WOW! I had no idea about the kids clubs being available for children 3 and up. So did you leave the kids there for that or did you stay with them? That would be wonderful to be able to grab an hour or so alone to work on the sun tan!! I’m interested in learning more about the price…I have no idea what something like this would cost!

  • I have to show this to my husband. We fall in to the ‘travel when they are older’ category, but this looks like it would be so much fun for our girls. And seriously, pardon my language, but our oldest would shit if she saw a princess on a cruise ship.

  • Wow this definitely looks like an awesome family vacation for the entire family! I love that there is something to do for everyone 🙂

  • Great review! I have always wondered what a Disney cruise would be like. The rooms are big and it looks like it would be a dream for any child to be on a boat with all their favourite characters. Thanks for sharing your vacation with us!!

  • You’ve inspired me to bring the little one on another cruise! We went on one with her last year (at 7 months old) and were disappointed to find that she was not allowed in the pools (ANY!!!). Knowing that Disney has a lot to offer for children of all ages means that we can continue our cruising addiction adn drag our daughter along too!

  • Wow, it looks like you had a fabulous time. This looks like such a magical experience, one which I hope to take part in with my 3 boys. I’m like you…I keep on saying that we’ll take a trip when the kids get a bit older so they can remember the experience, but time goes by so quickly and I should really start planning for our first family vacation. Maybe even on a cruise like you had.

    Thanks

  • Oh my gosh — this looks amazing. I’ve never thought about a cruise, but more & more I’ve heard people raving about how great they are, especially for children! I’m so guilty of saying, “We’ll travel when he’s older…”. I’m afraid that I’ll always have an excuse as to why it doesn’t work this year. Thank you for sharing your experience. It looks like you and your family had a fantastic experience.

  • wow sounds like you had an amazing time.. i love the review/pics..
    I also am the mommy finding excuses not to travel with the whole family .. I am going to Mexico in two weeks without the kids and i have mixed feelings..like i do everytime i leave them..

  • I thought we would have to wait several years before trying a cruise with our little one. After reading your review, it looks like we won’t have to wait that long!

  • I went for my 10th birthday to Disneyland, and remember as if it were yesterday…I’m 12 now…just kidding lol, 43 actually, but recall especially how the Haunted Mansion made me feel, so much fun from the dropping elevator/pictures, rollercoaster through the house past so many things like the ballroom, to the little halographic lady at the end…ahhhh memories! 😀

  • Looks like you had a fabulous time! Thank you so much for sharing your review. It is helping me slowly convince my husband that a Disney Cruise would be great for us!!!!

  • Went to the Bahamas on a Disney cruise and it was THE BEST vacation ever! Even with my sunburn from Castaway Cay. Recommend to all, cool vacation and Disney won’t disappoint.

  • Sounds like you had a wonderful trip. Yes they do treat everyone great! I went to Disneyworld and had a great time. How can one not be happy there!!!

  • Thank you for all of those photos! I went to Disney when I was 7 and would love to go again. My husband and I have already started to look at cruises to take the little one on, and he’s not even born yet. (I’ll probably wait 2-3 years but it’s still exciting to plan.)

  • After hearing about you going on your trip, and me googling Disney cruises, I had my husband convinced and our trip booked within a week!!! Thanks Tenille…and Disney! Our family is going to WDW for 5 nights and then a 3 night Bahama cruise in December 2012 (to experience the Disney Christmas magic!) and we are all SO excited already and are counting down the days. And I totally agree about not waiting till the kids are older. My boys are going to be 9 and 16(yikes!) this year, and I am in a panic because they are growing up so fast, and I feel we are running out of time. So travel now and make those memories, when kids are kids and truly enjoy all the magic of Disney, and you as a parent get to watch them enjoy it! Life is too short. Great post, thanks for sharing and I can’t wait to hear more about the port adventures 🙂

  • What a wonderful family vacation idea. We took our girls to Disneyland at ages 4 and 2 and plan on going back in a couple of years but maybe I cold convince hubby to try the cruise instead 🙂

  • LOVED your review and I now want to book a Disney Cruise!!! I learned that there are some really cool poolside places to eat: Pluto’s Dog House, Pinocchio’s Pizzeria and Goofy’s Galley! I loved the photo of you feeding your youngest by the ocean. Wonderful!

  • Amazing! I love the first picture…absolutely stunning. I’m defo going to consider this in the future. I’ve never been on a cruise but this one is going to be great for the kids and adults too.

  • Oh my gosh! What an amazing sounding trip! I love the photo of your daughter with Cinderella – so adorable.

    When I was around 8 yrs old, my parents took my sister and I to Disney for a holiday… To this day I still remember that trip and have such fond memories of it! If you are able to, I would try to take your kids back on the cruise again, as I am certain it will be something THEY will remember fondly for the rest of their lives! 🙂

  • Nice pictures and review. Never been on a cruise before; I really get the itch to go now. It’s all your fault lol. 🙂

  • made a comment under your amazing write up about the cruise,,,all the pictures are great and Im glad you had a really nice holiday with your family

  • Last April we did Disney by land and now I would love to Disney by sea! What a great review of your vacation. I would absolutely love to do a Disney Cruise and make many more magical memories with my husband and children!

  • Shawn and I have been debating on whether or not to do Disneyland, as Chey is coming close to 16, and after seeing your blog, it may be something that we are interested in! I have always been leery on going on a cruise, but from what you said, it was an awesome experience and it may be something that we will do!

  • I know I was reading about your adventure while you were out there enjoying your cruise vacation. I know Disney Cruises really caters to families (esp. children), but wow, this is the way to travel as a family.

  • this is making me so envious! i’ve never been on a cruise and you guys looked like you had an amazing time! everything is so gorgeous!

  • wow, this looks like a lot of fun, I cant wait to hopefully take our girls on something like this! Thanks for sharing this adventure!!!

  • I definitely want to go on a Disney Cruise. It sounds like they went above and beyond to make your cruise special.
    Awesome pictures and memories I am sure.

  • That is so cool! It looks like a care/worry free vacation. I always worry about getting bore on a cruise ship. Looking forward to read you fore-coming post to learn more.
    I am green with envy 🙂

  • what an amazing account of your trip; makes one closely consider checking the trip out
    for themselves, lol. Awesome for you and your family and what memories were
    captured.

    yourstrulee(at)sasktel(dot)net

  • wow! This really makes me want to take my family one a Disney cruise!! I enjoy travelling with my family but I have had similar thoughts of “will they remember” or “will it be more work than fun for me”.. I will have to look into this a little further 🙂

  • A cruise is no where in the cars for our crew right now, However your post had me green with envy. Sounds like Disney does it up for kids…and parents too. Favorite part…server cutting your steak. Priceless.

  • Looks amazing. I would love to be able to do this, but as a family with 5 kids and one income, vacations (especially something like this) just are not in the budget.

  • Loved looking at all the pictures and reading about them. Now I am even more excited for our cruise. You’ve eased my fears about taking a cruise with a baby.

  • Okay, I’ll admit it right off…I am so jealous..lol. The Disney Cruise ship looks awesome, so much fun for the whole family. I want to take my family so badly but sadly it will have to wait for at least another year or two before we can afford this kind of vacation….Glad you guys had a terrific time!

  • Oh that blue water and sky look so inviting and it sure sounds like there are a ton of activities and areas to keep a family busy! How wonderful to spend such a great week with your family, the kids look like they had a really great time! Just a tiny bit jealous here 🙂

  • We leave for our Disney Wonder cruise next week with our 1 year old and 3 year next week. I am soo nervous about it! Loved looking at your pictures, it put my mind at ease. 🙂 thank you!

    • Do you leave on Sunday?! A friend of mine is on that cruise leaving tomorrow! Send me an email when you’re back Jaimie and tell me how much you loved it. I’m kinda jealous…. 😛

  • Thank you for the review.
    I have never cruised before but your review certainly entices me to do so.
    When our children were young we did not have a lot of mone for travel so it wasn’t an option, however now that they are older…we are planning more adventures.

  • We loved cruising when our kids were little. It’s really the ultimate pampering for a mom to have someone else do all the cooking, cleaning and it’s just so nice to always come back to the beds being made and used towels replaced.

  • You gave a great review of your vacation..the Disney Cruise looks so terrific and the staff really does make every effort to accommodate all the guests. Thanks for this review, now I just have to clear a credit card so we can go..lol

  • i’ve been to DisneyWorld but never the cruise. looks magical. When I have kids, I think I’ll definitely have to do this…maybe even if I don’t have kids….

  • Adventure of a Lifetime by the evidence here. Love the picture of the little girl looking out at the water. Definitely will be adding a trip like this to my Bucket List. My 8 year old saw these pictures, now he is on a mission of convincing Mom/Dad. Don’t think he will have too much of a problem. Thanks for sharing your family photos with your followers. Eva

  • I am going on the cruise this December and I was wondering which excursions are the best. Is it worth doing the ones the ship offers or venturing out on our own? Also, when you say all is included, do you leave tips after every meal (dinner) or is that included?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Chantel!

      We went last December so I’m totally jealous of you right now!

      I would suggest sticking with the ship excursions – they are super organized (meeting spot on the ship at a particular time to leave the ship and board) and professional. I liked knowing that everything was arranged for me and paid for with my cc as part of my package, so no surprises.

      In Puerto Vallarta we went on the hotel excursion where we sat by the pool, played on the beach and had a great lunch (my kids loved the ocean!) and in Cabo we did the Dolphin Experience (my husband and son, the girls and I watched).

      Tips can be left at the end of the cruise for employees (room cleaners, hosts/hostess, servers) and not after every meal. The ship truly does operate on a non-cash system so there’s no need to pull out cash for tips during your meal.

      Let me know if you have any more questions!