Can a first-time cruiser find joy on the Disney Wonder? Without kids? You bet.
Cruising was never on my Bucket List or even my immediate family vacation list. n fact, I have always been sort of proud of myself for wiggling out of my husband’s dream cruise vacation by talking him into taking his mother, brother and sister for a last hurrah instead. Now I think I might have missed out.
My first-ever cruise was aboard the Disney Wonder with two PSI motion sickness bands, no kids, six mommy bloggers and two Disney public relations peeps. Although I had to interview families with kids about their experience aboard, my cruise experience, minus the sweets delivered to my room each night and the tour of the galley and bridge, matched that of the other passengers.
It felt odd to be traveling without kids on a cruise that was built for kids, but there were plenty of things for the over-18 crowd, including a nightclub, a pool and a restaurant.
My state room was larger than I expected. Could have been because I was in it alone but I had a sitting area, a large queen size bed and balcony. A family of three would have fit comfortably but four would have been pushing it. Suites are available and Disney acknowledged the need for more rooms of that type.
Every attempt is made to keep the ship germ-free. Sanitizing handwipes were everywhere and I always saw something being buffed or tidied. But let’s face it, I was outnumbered by little germy hands by like 1,700 to well, me. I left the ship with a juicy cough and stuffy head but I might have even brought it from my kids. Who knows.
For the Kids
The kid’s nursery (Flounder’s Reef) was immaculate and had plenty of room for tender loving care of infants 3 months and older. Caregivers are required to have child care experience in a camp or school-type setting and they are screened by Interpol. The 4- to 7-year-old area, Oceaneers Club, has a treehouse, computers and games, games, games. The area for 8- to 12-year-olds offers Flubber making, a large computer area and a kitchen for making cookies – where you mash it, mash it, mash it, with the chef and his helpers.
I expected the teen center to be empty. How many 13-year-olds and up would go on a Disney cruise? Wrong. The room was full and they told me they were having a blast. A cool loft hang out, appropriately called Aloft, offers lots of Rock Band, computers, quiet sitting area, “bar,” and comfy teen-like seating and games like Fear Factor and Ttrivial Challenge.
Executive Chef Patrick, who I am convinced was the muse for the chef in "Ratatouille," (French accent and all), showed us around three of his kitchens. What struck me was his happy demeanor. He has been in the cruise business for years and enjoys the challenges he sometimes faces with limited access to things. Like the time he was able to accommodate a last minute request for egg, flour and dairy-free pancakes. Or the time he came face to face with a real live TV-dinner-only-eating kid and got him to eat.
The food was plentiful, which I expected, but there was also a very healthy variety, which I had not counted on. I enjoyed delicious yogurt and fresh fruit including kumquats every morning and sometimes at lunch. Dinner was always an event with entertainment either by the staff or changing wall colors and a nice variety of food offerings. I enjoyed excellent risotto at Animator’s Palate, mushroom polenta at and incredible cornbread cake at. The chocolate soufflé at was to die for. I could have worked it all off in the gym. But there were too many other things to do.
The stage and crew were nothing short of amazing. It had been years since I last set foot behind a stage so I was unprepared for the amount of electronics that goes into a 60 minute show. Just about everything is computerized. Including the occasional mishaps like the time all cues fired at once, sending streamers shooting and sets sliding into place at the same time. Curtain closed.
This is Disney, so the nightly stage shows, especially "Toy Story," were fantastic. I watched the kids’ faces around me and they were all riveted and glued to the stage. The Golden Mickeys highlighted various star Disney characters and a Joan Rivers-ish reporter worked the red carpet getting starlet fashion ideas from the kids in line.