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Disney Wonder Cruise Questions & Answers

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After our amazing family vacation in December where we were treated to a Disney Wonder Cruise, my readers, friends and family had a lot of great questions when considering a cruise for themselves.  I’ve received emails from readers and have answered the questions there, but saved those as well to share with everyone.  Chances are, if someone had a question, others might be wondering as well.  So, here are some great Q&A’s based on our trip with my own personal take on it all.

I can’t stop raving about our trip and am planning another Disney Cruise.  Now to decide, which Disney Cruise will it be?

disney_wonder_cruises

Is it chaotic boarding the cruise?  Will I be lost and unsure of what to do?
No! There are several staff members at the boarding area that help direct the foot traffic and tell you exactly where you need to be and what you need to do. Everyone is very friendly and they know that many (but not all, people LOVE cruises and return year after year) people are new. They help you every step of the way and even with our 3 kids in tow, we made it through the process very quickly.

What happens once we board?  How do we know what to do next?
Coming aboard a Disney Cruise is a special experience that I won’t detail too much because you really need to be in the moment!   Once you board you will need to listen for an announcement sharing that the Staterooms are all ready for guests to enter. In the meantime guests can go to one of the restaurants or lounge areas on board. You’re encouraged to bring a day-bag with necessities as a carry-on since your luggage wont’ be delivered until later in the day or evening. We heard the announcement that our rooms were ready within minutes of boarding which was great!

Given recent media on cruises, when do we learn about safety?
I was shocked when I learned that the recent Italian cruise line disaster story included a mention that the guests, after being on board for several days, had not even had a safety demonstration. On Disney Cruise Lines, all guests must attend a safety demonstration, at a designated area on deck (info is in your stateroom sharing where you meet) within hours of boarding. The ship does not leave the port before that safety demonstration is done. It is mandatory to attend, and your room number is checked off when you state it, so they know you were there.

I’ve heard you eat at a different restaurant each night – how do you know where you’re supposed to be?
All the information about your evening dining is in your room upon arrival. The information states your dining time (5:45 or 8:15) and which restaurant you are scheduled for. If you have young children I’d suggest asking for the earlier dining time (Main Seating), as your time is the same every night. To further simplify things, your table number is the same each night regardless of which restaurant you are at.

Can you tell me more about the kid’s clubs?  Do you leave your child there or do you stay?
Both the Oceaner’s Club and Oceaner’s Lab are for children ages 3-10 (must be potty trained to attend) and are open from 9am to midnight. Nevaeh (4) preferred the Oceaner’s Club as it seems to be geared towards the younger part of that age range. There, she colored, played games, did dancing and exercise activities, and even had a visit with Peter Pan one day. Elijah (7) preferred the Oceaner’s Lab as it was more geared towards older kids (though his sister did join him sometimes). In the Oceaner’s Lab, kids can play Wii on a big screen or smaller tv screens and there are tons of computers as well. There’s also a craft table area and an awesome “lab” area that doubles as a kitchen where kids can make things like Flubber or participate in a cooking class called Ratatouille Kitchen!

Kids can stay as little or as long as they (or you!) like, and you don’t have to book them in ahead of time – just stop by the clubs on your way to lunch or before some much needed adult time, and the kids are happy to spend some time away from mom and dad as well!  Lunch and dinner is served right in the clubs for the kids!

You need to register kids before they can attend – I did this our first afternoon on the ship and it only took a few minutes.  Kids are then issued a bracelet with a chip inside that actually scans them in and out of the security-locked entrance to the clubs.  You also need to supply the counselors with a password that you must supply before you can leave with your child each and every time.

Finally, for wee ones ages 3 months to 3 years, there’s Flounder’s Reef Nursery where babies can play with counselors at a 1:4 ratio for infants and 1:6 ratio for toddlers.  I didn’t leave Everleigh (8 months) there, but did peek in to check out the atmosphere and environment and watched one counselor rocking a baby to sleep while another played with 2 toddlers on the floor.  It was a very quiet area compared to the two Oceaner’s areas!  There are also areas for Tweens and Teens exclusively as well.

Do I need to take a stroller?
This is entirely up to you, but I’m glad that we did! We also had a baby carrier and used both about the same.  The stroller was nice for afternoons at the pool on the ship and definitely for our port adventures in Puerto Vallarta and Cabo.  Also, if you want to get some exercise (and beautiful perspective!) take a walk or jog with the stroller on the track that encircles Deck 4.

Did you or the kids experience any sea sickness?
We didn’t experience any sea sickness, and my husband was the one paranoid about it for himself.  You can feel the ship move a little but you get used to it very quickly and it’s not enough to be disruptive to your sense of balance.  In fact, I found the sound of the ship’s massive engine and the slight rocking very soothing at night!  I miss that.

Were you worried about the verandah in your Stateroom?
When I found out our family would be staying in a Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah I was definitely nervous knowing we had a balcony and 3 little kids. I went online to read more about it and other family’s experiences and it made me feel much better. First, the door locks with a latch that’s really high up so little ones can’t unlock the door without you noticing them climbing. Second, the balcony itself is encased with plexi-glass against the iron railing so kids can’t climb the railing. I also learned that if you’re uncomfortable with the furniture on the verandah (climbing concern) you can ask to have it removed. We kept the furniture, and I loved sitting out there in the mornings with a cup of coffee and a magazine! The kids enjoyed the view and one time when we were anchored at Cabo we saw a seal that swam up to the ship while we were all out on the verandah which was really special.

Are you overly scheduled on the ship?  I don’t want to need a vacation from my vacation!
The beauty of a Disney Cruise is that you can do as little or as much as you wish! Each evening your daily Navigator, which is a flyer publication that details all the activities, meal times, appearances, and other information you need, is delivered to your door so you can lay in bed as I did each evening with a pen or highlighter and plan out your next day. Or, you can just take each day as it comes and decide how you want to spend it.  The only time you are scheduled to be somewhere, aside from dinner which you can skip if you need to, is the excursions in Puerto Vallarta and Mexico.

What about your experience in Mexico?  Were you concerned for your safety?
Having been to Mexico 3 times before, I am familiar with visiting resorts and also aware of media reports sharing some pretty concerning info.  Still, knowing we were stopping at both Puerto Vallarta and Cabo did not cause me any concern.  Sure, you need to be vigilant and careful when traveling anywhere but I knew that we were in good hands with the companies trusted by Disney for these excursions.  In Puerto Vallarta, we spent an afternoon at the Paradise Village Resort where the kids could play in their beautiful pool (with two waterslides!) or on the beautiful beach.  This particular area is picked because the ocean is much more calm so the kids had a blast going into the ocean for the very first time!  Mom and dad liked the all-inclusive drinks and lunch included on the excursion!

cabo dolphin encounterIn Cabo, my husband and son did the Dolphin Experience excursion while the girls and I watched.  In comparison to Puerto Vallarta where we took a chartered bus to the Paradise Village Resort, in Cabo you are on your own to walk the short distance to the Dolphin center so it was a great opportunity to check-out the local stores…and the locals themselves!  The Dolphin Experience was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that I’m so glad my husband and son got to do together.

I still have questions, can I email you?
Absolutely! I’m happy to share our experience and answer any questions you may have.  You can also check out these other posts I wrote about our experience:
Disney Wonder Mexican Riviera Cruise
10 Travel Tips When Sailing on the Disney Wonder

I think I know the answer, but would you take a Disney Cruise again?
Yes, yes, yes! The irony here is that before Disney approached me asking if we’d go, I would not have considered a Disney Cruise for our family. I didn’t know if the kids were old enough to travel in a way that we as parents could enjoy ourselves too, and didn’t know what a Disney Cruise really involved. What a shame that we could have missed out on all these experiences!

I am always telling friends and family, “Do it!” and the kids have not stopped talking about it!  I can’t wait to set sail someday again.

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  • We have looked at a disney cruise, but my oldest son has autism and I’m wondering if they can accommodate him and his special gluten free diet. He is very high functioning, but still gets overwhelmed.

    • Yes, special meal requests can be made and accommodated. I sailed with a friend recently who’s daughter needed gluten-free meals. A chef came to introduce himself to her at the 1st dining and after that, she was treated to meals that she loved.

      • LOVE THIS! I should also mention that my 8 month old was on jarred baby food at the time and the staff were so eager to bring us pureed sweet potatoes, carrots, etc., and I didn’t even ask – they suggested it! I think they just wanted to see if she’d make faces. 😉

  • Great Q and A

    I would be hesitant to take a cruise because of my motion sickness issues, but from everything you said it looks like an amazing experience. I know the family would be thrilled to go on one.

  • love it! and love that you got to check out the paradise village resort in puerto {nuevo} vallarta – my parents have a timeshare there and I’ve been lucky enough to go several times {though sadly not since our honeymoon 10 years ago!!!!}.

    This cruise sounds amazing!!!!

  • My biggest concerns are whether we can find a room suitable for two adults and three kids, without breaking the bank 🙂 But I really do want to go on a Disney Cruise, maybe the Alaskan one!

    • Did you read my other posts Carrie? Make sure you try the Cajun Chicken Burger from Pluto’s Dog House, and the Rum Cake for dessert on Pirate Night (Thursday). Apparently I’m all about the food, lol!!

  • After emailing you we are going on a Disney Cruise unfortunately not till March 2013 but we are going…Yay!! I can’t wait…
    Thanks for everything!!

    • YAY Lisa! I’m so glad to hear that you decided to go! Hm, March 2013 huh? Maybe we’ll be cruising around the same time! Next winter definitely has “Disney Cruise” in it – I can’t wait to go again! Please email me if you think of any other questions!

  • Thanks for your info on the cruise, Tenille. Our Disney Cruise was amazing! And I am so glad we took your advice adn brought our stroller – a lifesaver!
    As for Flounder’s Reef Nursery, we left our 6 month old there a couple of times so we could enjoy dinner and brunch at the Palo’s restaurant. They were amazing with babies, and the cost was very reasonable ($6 / hour). I felt completely comfortable leaving my baby there (and I am a nervous mom when it comes to babysitters). In fact, we met a couple of families on the boat who dropped thier babies there several afternoons in a row, just so they would nap. The Staff at Flounders Reef are pros at getting cranky babies to sleep. Wish they’d teach a class on it or something.

    • We need to have coffee soon Terra and discuss! I was hoping you would love it just as much as we did and it sounds like you did. What memories huh?

  • I was so happy to read this! While I don’t have kids, I am from Orlando and have family who have worked on Disney Cruise since the very beginning. I am a huge fan! I went with my family and loved it. My friends with up to four kids have as well. Again, huge fan of Disney. 🙂 Kids love it!

  • Oooh, the snow here today makes this look even better!! I’m so glad that safety is of the utmost importance for Disney cruises. The Italian cruise ship accident makes it all the more relevant.

    • Look out Tania! My friend Shauna did the same before I went on my cruise because I couldn’t stop talking about it – and she’s booked on the Magic next winter! You won’t be able to resist after seeing the DVD!

  • I’m trying to get my sister to take a cruise… she gets seasick or thinks she will, I think a mini cruise would be the answer. do they have mini cruises?
    Thanks
    Deb H

    • Yes! They have 3 day cruises as well! I think it’s a great introduction to cruises for people that are unsure.

  • What a great Q&A! We’ve never been on a Disney Cruise and this answered most of my initial questions/concerns. Maybe one day we’ll be able to go on one as well! Thank you for sharing your experience!

  • We are HUGE fans of cruising, though haven’t managed a Disney one yet (bit out of our price range compared to other lines…) My 4yo actually learned to walk onboard a cruise ship at 13 months and has already been on 6 cruises. In my opinion, it is the ONLY vacation with kids – so easy…

  • This is a fantastic post Tenille. My husband and I took a three day cruise a few years ago and they are a lot of fun.I never would have thought we could take our girls.

  • IT sounds like you and your family had such an AMAZING time! Thanks for sharing your experience.. I would love to be able to take a Disney cruise sometime in the future after hearing all of the wonderful stories and seeing the amazing photos 🙂

  • Its so relieving to hear about the safety precautions taken by Disney Cruises. The Italian cruise ship accident makes us all very aware of these things!

  • Wow you make me want to book today! Even with a 5 month old I am feeling like we just have to go and capture this amazing experience! Well we are one step in the right direction my hubby who is not much of a traveler agreed we are getting our passports! YEAH and these are great helpful hints for if and when we ever get there! Thanks for sharing! Hailey M

  • This is one of the options we’re looking at when we go to Disney…we’re thinking of a week @ a resort and the cruise too. We have 2 DDs 2 & 5 – we’re waiting for our youngest to be 4 before we go to enjoy more rides @ DisneyWorld. 2013 or 2014. I can’t wait….the last time I was there was their 20th anniversary.
    Thanks for all the information on the cruise…I’m so excited!

  • Sounds like so much fun! We love Disneyland so I’m sure a Disney Cruise is just as amazing! What a great family vacation!

  • This looks great. I would have never thought to bring a stroller but that is a good point. I would love to take a Disney Cruise but we will probably wait until our boys are a bit bigger (they are 2 and 8 months right now).

  • Having been on 3 cruises myself, I think you did a fantastic job on this post and you put all of the information out there. I’ve never cruised with my children, but after reading you posts about the Disney cruise, we’ve decided that will be our next cruise. Disney should be proud to have you representing their brand and experience!

  • Thanks so much for this informative post. I’d love to take a cruise someday, whether it be Disney or not I don’t know, but this info is helpful on some questions I’ve had about cruises.

  • Great Q&A, I’m glad that you said it was relaxing even with the many activities, being able to choose for yourself.. Nothing worse than needing a vacation after a vacation.

  • I would really love to go on a Disney Cruise with my family. One day I will and I will come back and read this wonderful post when I book it!

    • Yes! I brought snacks and baby food for my 8 month old, and we had some popcorn from Disneyland with us too. I think that’s a great idea to bring your own snacks for the kids to keep them happy (though there’s not much to make them UNhappy on the ship!) 😉