A Disney Cruise is a magical experience to say the least!
by Chris Boyer
I have a confession to make (as a travel agent, I don’t think I am actually supposed to admit this, but since this is just a casual conversation among friends I suppose it will be ok); I never understood the point of going on a cruise. Honestly, why would anyone spend good money to get crammed into a small room on a ship with thousands of other people and spend days at sea, just to spend a few hours in a port or on a beach? It just never made sense to me when a perfectly good airplane can get me to my destination in a matter of hours.
My confusion for cruising hit a wall when my wonderful daughter decided she wanted to take a ride on “the Disney cruise ship.” I still wasn’t sure if I would enjoy myself, but I figured if anyone can make lemonade out of the lemons that was a vacation on a cruise line, the magic makers at Disney can. This is how I found myself aboard the Disney Wonder for a 5-day cruise to the Bahamas. Did it change my opinion of cruising? Let’s find out!
Perhaps nothing impressed me more on this trip than the ship itself. From the moment we walked on the Wonder (with an enthusiastic announcement and applause from some cast members), I instantly began to ‘get it.’ This ship is AMAZING. The intricate details and planning, from the amazing chandelier to the statue of Ariel in the lobby, transformed our mode of transportation into a floating work of art. The ship is jam-packed with activities, ranging from Broadway-style shows, to pools and a water slide, to kid’s clubs, and even adults-only lounges! In true Disney fashion, this ship was maintained to perfection (which is an amazing feat with all of the folks on board!).
If you want to truly see Disney’s customer service philosophy in action, Disney Cruise Line is the place for you. The service we received on this ship was well above and beyond any customer service experience we ever had (including at Walt Disney World). Everyone, from the room attendant, to the entertainment staff, to our assigned servers and head server at dinner, worked to ensure we were having a fantastic time! You truly are treated like royalty on Disney Cruise Line.
While Lumiere may have served Belle a culinary cabaret, I doubt his food lived up to the cuisine we were served aboard the Disney Wonder. The Wonder has three restaurants in the main rotation, King Tritons, The Animator’s Palate, and Tiana’s Place. The theming in each of these is amazing, and the food is even better. We ate in King Tritons for one evening, and then rotated to The Animator’s Palate for evenings 2 and 3. Each night in Animators Palate brought about a really fun show during dinner (with the boss Mouse himself making an appearance on night 2), and the menu changed between the two nights so you did not have the same meal despite being in the same restaurant. The highlight of the trip was certainly our evening in Tiana’s place, which featured a fun, interactive show starring some super talented jazz musicians and even Tiana herself!
Outside of dinner, we enjoyed all-you-can eat breakfast on the top deck of the ship (with an outside table that provided amazing views) and lunch at one of the many grab and go spots on the ship. There was a 24/7 beverage station that provided soft drinks, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate included in your cruise fare, and even an ice cream station! Room service is also included, which allowed us to enjoy a relaxing lunch in our stateroom on day 3.
Castaway Cay ºoº
While Nassau was nice to visit (and the Dolphin Encounter was super fun), the highlight of the trip as far as ports of call was Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. The island is so well maintained, you could swear you were among the first to walk on the sand! We grabbed a package that included floats and scuba gear, which allowed us to enjoy the scuba area on the island. We were served a BBQ lunch, and my daughter even got to enjoy some kid time at Disney’s kids club (more about that next). Castaway Cay was SO fun, I would do a cruise that just went there and came back!
On Board Activities
Every night after dinner (we snagged the early dinner, which seat at 5:45 pm), we enjoyed a top-notch show. The Golden Mickey’s, which pays tribute to Disney classics, was super fun and engaging, and the award-winning Disney Dreams truly brought Broadway to our ship. Our daughter loved going to the kid’s club, which provides structured activities in a safe environment (she even got to read stories with Anna and have a pajama party with Pluto!) and afforded my wife and I some adults-only time. The ship has their own on-board cell system, with phones in each room, that allows the kids club staff to get in touch with parents if the need arises. The kid’s clubs are broken down into age groups (a nursery, a school-age club, a tweens club, and one for teens) that allows the kids to enjoy themselves in an age-appropriate setting. Character meet and greets (including Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Tinker Belle, Captain America, Spider Man, and more!) and a movie theater playing first-run Disney movies (Black Panther was playing during our cruise among others) are just a few more examples of all the activities available to guests on Disney Cruise Line.
So, in the end, do I see the point to taking a cruise now? I can emphatically say YES. I even commented to my wife that I would take a cruise to ‘no-where’ just to enjoy being on the ship again. Once I truly understood everything that was included, especially considering the amazing food and wonderful customer service, I can certainly justify the cost. My only concern at this point would be trying a different cruise line hoping they can live up to the high standard set by Disney Cruise Line.