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?
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!
In 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.