disneywonderA seven day cruise along the Mexican Riviera.  What could be better?  Cruising with Disney of course.  This is the first installment in a series about the 7 night Mexican Riviera cruise on Disney’s ship the Wonder.  I will take you from booking your cruise until you arrive back home after a wonderful vacation.  Lets start with logistics.

Booking your cruise

When booking your Disney cruise there are a few things to consider.  Schedule is a big factor.  Think about your life, work and children’s activities.  Are you looking to cruise during a vacation from school or are you willing to take your children out of school?  When is the best time to be absent from work?

Price.  Disney  cruises do tend to run higher than other cruise lines.  They are also more inclusive than other cruises.  There are some things you can do to keep the cost down.  Try to travel during non peak times.  September, October, end of Januaray and first of February for example.  If your schedule allows.  Disney also has promotions on their cruises from time to time.  Look for a kids sail free promotion.  You can also book a discounted category.  You can be guaranteed a certain type of room {ocean view, veranda etc.} But you won’t get a specific room assignment or cabin number until close to sailing.  These rooms are usually discounted rates.  If you are looking for an upgraded cabin type, you can book a lower category of stateroom and try to upgrade at the port.  Usually these upgrades are cheaper.  You do run the risk of not getting an upgrade however.  Talk to your travel agent or call Disney Cruise lines for more information on these options.

Which cabin type you want is also important.  Disney offers many different cabins from inside staterooms to suites.  We sailed with an Ocean view state room.  It was spacious and lovely.  Something to keep in mind when booking your cabin is family size.  Not all cabins can accomadate 4 people.  Some cabins have a pull down bunk bed and some don’t.  Keep this in mind when booking.

Travel

Now that you have your cruise booked, you have other travel arrangements to consider.  Do you live close enough that you can drive to port?  This is what we did.  If you need to fly in, are you booking your flights with Disney or on your own?   Also, how will you get from the airport to the cruise port and back?  Disney offers a transfer service that will take you to and from your destination.  You can go to the airport, hotel or even down to Disneyland to extend your vacation.

I highly recommend getting a hotel room the night before.  There are a number of hotels that will shuttle you to the cruise terminal for your cruise the next morning.  Especially if you are flying, there can be travel delays and you don’t want to miss the all aboard as your cruise sails away without you.  If you are driving in, you can park at the cruise terminal for $12/day.  There are also hotels nearby that offer a parking service.  Most of these, in combination with a room the night before, will let you park for around $5/day.

Identification

As of the writing of this article, you can travel on a cruise with your passport if you are a US citizen.  Also for US citizens, if you are  leaving from and returning to the United States you can travel with your birth Certificate and government issued photo id.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this changes soon and you are required to have a passport.  If you are a non US citizen there are other requirements.  For a complete listing of the current Identification requirements you can visit travel.state.gov.  If you travel with a birth certificate, it needs to be a certified copy.  These copies most likely will say this is a certified copy or this is a true copy.  In addition they will have an official stamp that is usually raised.  If you travel without a passport, you need to make sure that you DO. NOT. MISS. THE. SHIP.  If you get off in Mexico and are enjoying yourself so much that you miss your all aboard time and the ship takes off without you, you do not have a passport to fly back home.  This could be a big problem.  As long as nothing goes wrong traveling without a passport can be just fine.  It is recommended you have one however.  Make sure and check travel.state.gov for the definitave word on all your travel identification.

Boarding

Here is the fun part.  You arrive at the cruise terminal and from the moment you step inside everyone is all smiles.  The cast members wear Mickey Mouse gloves and as you walk in they ask the children to give them “high fours”.  My kids loved this.  You fill out a short health questionnaire and go check in.  From there you are given your boarding number.  The earlier you arrive the better the number you get.  After this you go through security and wait for your number to be called.  You can take pictures and they do have Mickey and Minnie come out while you are waiting.  There is also a TV showing Disney shows while you wait.  There is a youth activities station where you can register your children for the kids clubs and pick up their Mickey bands.  I highly recommend doing this while you wait.  Normally it doesn’t take long to board but for us we sat there for over 2 hrs.  The kids were going nuts.  I heard a rumor that customs was taking a long time to clear the ship.  So we waited and waited.  I would recommend anticipating a wait.  Then if you don’t have one, great.  Listen to the speakers and they will call your boarding number.  Then its time to walk the plank up to your awesome home away from home!!

Now you have boarded the Disney Wonder.  Stay tuned to learn what you can expect on your Mexican Riviera cruise.  For more Disney traveling tips, search #tmomdisney  If you have any questions, leave me a comment and I will be happy to help.

Connie can also be found on her blog Measured by the heart, Facebook, twitter and Pinterest.  She loves meeting new people and hopes you will stop by and say hi.