A World of ‘Wonder’ on a Disney Cruise
This summer, I crossed off a bucket list item by travelling to Alaska with my partner. We chose the Disney Wonder for our cruise, and experienced some of the most spectacular scenery – and service – of our lives. But a Disney cruise is not for everyone. Here’s the low-down on Disney cruises, to help you decide if it’s worth it for your family!
Let’s get something straight – you don’t go on a cruise to lose weight. It’s just not going to happen unless your superpower is resisting temptation 24 hours a day (and if it is, I envy you!). At all times on a Disney cruise, there is free food – lots of it – available. Different food locations are open at different times of day, and you’ll never find yourself without some sort of food option.
Breakfast and Lunch
Our go-to for breakfast and lunch, Cabanas is a seemingly never-ending buffet featuring just about every type of food you can imagine, from basic raw veggies and fruit to tasty entrees for vegans and carnivores alike, and even a dessert bar with dozens of delectable treats. Which of course sounds great until you reach the end of your cruise and realize your clothes aren’t fitting quite as well as before…
Table Service Restaurants
Disney cruises have several table service restaurants on board. They’re all open for dinner, and some are also open for breakfast and lunch. The theming at each sit-down restaurant is exquisite, as is the food! Depending on your ship, you may be able to dine under the sea, eat in a royal palace, or even be surrounded by animators’ creations.
Rotational Dining and Communal Seating
Like other cruises, you’ll dine on a rotating schedule, moving from one restaurant to the next each night, and your waitstaff move with you, so they can get to know you and your preferences. We had two nightly seatings to choose from; the early seating at 5:45 pm, and the late seating at 8:15. The early seating was so popular that it was unavailable when we booked – plus, as a couple, we’d have to do communal dining – that is, dine with other guests every night, as opposed to having a table to ourselves at the later seating.
For many travellers, meeting other people is what a cruise is all about! But if you’re looking for a romantic couples dining experience, or have any anxiety about meeting and eating with strangers, this is not for you. So, we dined at 8:15 nightly, and just made sure we ate a “pre-dinner” late in the afternoon to get us by. It worked better than we anticipated, although, by the time the second seating is done, early risers and kids won’t feel like doing anything but crashing in their staterooms!
Complimentary room service is available 24 hours a day on all Disney cruises. Just in case you don’t feel like leaving the comfort of your room to dine.
There are self-serve beverage stations open all day, offering coffee, tea, hot chocolate, lemonade, and a variety of soft drinks. For alcoholic beverages, and any specialty drinks like smoothies or milkshakes, however, you’ll pay extra. Unlike many other cruise lines, there’s no drink package available on Disney cruises. So think twice if sitting by the pool with non-stop margaritas is your idea of the perfect vacation!
Unsurprisingly for a company known for its high level of service, we had no complaints about service on our Disney cruise. From our servers at dinner, to the housekeeping staff who turned down our beds every night and left us chocolates and adorable towel animals, to the staff who passed us in the hallway and asked how our day was going and offered assistance, the service we experienced was truly impeccable, more than living up to our expectations of Disney!
Any requests we had were catered to immediately and cheerfully. All of the staff went out of their way to ensure we were having a fantastic time.
Our first night, we informed our server of my dietary restrictions (I’m a vegetarian with several food allergies), and he not only consulted with the chef to make sure my meals would be delicious and safe, he brought me the next evening’s menu so I could choose my meal for the next night in advance.
He often brought us extra appetizers to sample, and every single night, in addition to the desserts we ordered, he’d bring us another dessert to try (including Mickey Bars, which are only on the children’s menu!).
Disney cruise ships are basically floating cities, with all the amenities you’d expect. There are multiple pools onboard each Disney ship, and we enjoyed spending time at the adults-only pool, for some quiet time. The water slide was also a blast, and a massive screen featuring Disney movies overlooked the family pool.
We loved that the pools were open to the sky. Meaning we could relax in a pool while watching snow-capped mountains glide by.
There are special splash areas for Disney’s youngest guests. There is also a supervised Disney Oceaneer Club where kids from age 3-12 can drop in all day to meet Disney characters, play, and learn – and give their parents a break!
Gym and Sports
Disney cruises all have complimentary fitness centres where you can use an impressive variety of equipment to work off all that cruise food! There are also decks where you can play games like shuffleboard, mini-golf, basketball and foosball.
We went to the onboard spa to enjoy a couples’ massage at the start of our cruise, and felt amazing afterwards! Be aware that your therapist will try to upsell you on more services and products at the end of your treatment. This is something that left a bit of a bad taste in our mouths, considering the high cost of the massages.
Movies and Theatre
All Disney cruise ships feature stunning theatres where you can watch Disney movies and live shows. We’re talking Broadway-calibre musical productions here. Trust me, you don’t want to miss these! We were blown away by the talents of the casts – and you will be too.
Lounges, Clubs and Other Onboard Entertainment
There plenty of lounges and clubs where adults can relax and enjoy entertainment. From piano and jazz to magic shows, and comedic acts. That’s not including the special events onboard, such as character meet and greets and themed parties. There’s always something to do on a Disney cruise!
Disney is a lot of things, but cheap is not one of them, and Disney Cruise Lines is no exception. On a Disney cruise, you’re surrounded by Disney magic every second of the day, and that comes at a cost! We were lucky enough to find a discounted cruise to Alaska, but typically, you’ll pay quite a bit more for a Disney cruise than for a comparable cruise with another cruise line.
To be fair, you get what you pay for. The quality of everything onboard a Disney cruise is higher than that of some other cruise lines. The question is whether it’s worth it for you?
THE BOTTOM LINE:
A Disney cruise might be for you if…
- You’re Disney-obsessed and want to travel the world with Mickey and friends
- Money is no object, OR you can find a discounted Disney cruise
- If you have kids who want to dress in costume all vacation and meet their favourite Disney characters while cruising
- You appreciate excellent food, fantastic entertainment and unparalleled service
You may want to skip a Disney cruise if….
- You’re a couple who likes to eat early, and at a private table
- One of your main cruising goals is drinking
- You don’t want to see kids running around your cruise ship all-day
- You’d rather not see/hear Disney characters and theming all vacation
If you have never taken a cruise before, check out our “Cruising Tips for Beginners”.