Ever wonder whether a Disney cruise would be smooth sailing for your family? Here are my picks of the most kid-friendly activities on board the refurbished Disney Wonder. I’ll also bring you along as we drop anchor in Cozumel.
Cruising to Cozumel Aboard Disney Wonder
Give me an AAArrrr! We were still recovering from a late night partying like pirates, when the Disney Wonder pulled up to Cozumel at 8 a.m. The Disney Cruise pirate parties are legendary. Once each cruise, a massive dance party is held on the main deck, with lots of passengers dressed up in pirate finery. The excitement reaches a high note when Mickey Mouse flies in via zip line. Could it get any better? Apparently yes … with the only fireworks at sea being set off. Not surprisingly, Disney knows how to throw a dynamite party.
We had about seven hours to enjoy Cozumel. Luckily, there’s no tender needed. You pull right up to the pier, making it an easy disembarkation. You exit the ship directly into a mall. Si, the locals make it easy for passengers to part with their dineros. Don’t worry if you don’t have any, all the shops take U.S. dollars.
Although plenty of cruise passengers spend their days in port shopping, we decided to dive into another activity Cozumel’s well known for — snorkeling. This Mexican island is world-renowned for its crystal clear waters, snorkeling and diving. It’s also known for having some world class resorts, and many will allow cruisers to buy a day pass to enjoy their pool and beach.
We went with the Fiesta Americana, just a few minutes from a popular snorkeling beach known as the Money Bar. Fiesta Americana charges $100 for a day pass that includes all you can eat and drink, as well as access to their pool, beach and over-the-water daybeds. We brought our own snorkeling gear and enjoyed seeing colorful fish just off the shore. You can also rent snorkel gear at the resort. The ten minute cab ride to the Fiesta Americana cost only $12, and cabs were waiting at the hotel to take us back to the cruise terminal when we were ready.
Navigating Our Way Onboard
Back on board, we check our Personal Navigator, the daily itinerary placed in our stateroom each night. It contains a complete rundown of the day’s activities, from the movie schedule, to the show times for the evening’s live entertainment and the listing of special activities. Aboard Disney Wonder there are activities for every age group— live music, cartoon drawing sessions, dance parties, as well as teen and tween meet-ups and gatherings for single adults.
Characters Count on Disney Wonder
My daughter wants to take advantage of shorter lines to see Disney characters, since it’s a port day. Character photo-ops are plentiful during the cruise, with the daily Navigator telling us exactly where and when we can meet up with Goofy, Donald and the rest of the gang. Yet the line to get that photo often makes me do a double-take. Forty five minutes in line to see Mickey? That’s not my idea of a vacation. No lines on port day though. So we snag a close-up with Goofy and Ariel.
Then we head up to the pool deck. The refurbished Disney Wonder has a new water slide, the Twist and Spout, and reimagined water play areas for younger kids.
Throughout the cruise my daughter was wearing sun-protective clothing and bathing suits. I still put sunscreen on, but this is an added protection. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends sun protective clothing as the first line of defense against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. And in 2015, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a warning about skin cancer as a major public health concern, one that’s completely preventable. Hey, sun-protective clothing just seems to make sense to me. I packed my daughter a bag full of Sunuva clothes. They’re a British brand of sun-protective kids clothing that I just find adorable.
Food for Thought
Time to check out Disney Wonder’s brand new restaurant, Tiana’s, named after the main character in Disney’s 2009 film, “The Princess and the Frog.” It’s a New Orleans themed restaurant with a live jazz trio playing fun Cajun-inspired music. Of course we had to order traditional beignets for dessert.
Note the adorable “Princess and the Frog”-themed china. At the end of the meal, a Mardi Gras style party erupts, with kids and parents dancing. Like everything else aboard a Disney cruise, it’s not just a meal, it’s entertainment.