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!