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Disney Wonder Review: Fun for the Whole Family

Been to Disneyland or Disney World? Now imagine all of that magic, service and entertainment packed onto a gorgeous cruise ship.
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The term “fun for the whole family” gets tossed around A LOT.

“Come to the Scarefest 2011 Cornmaze! It’s fun for the whole family!”

No. It isn’t.

But, a Disney Cruise? A Disney Cruise owns family fun.

I’ve been on a cruise before, so I thought I knew what to expect from a trip on the Disney Wonder. It was so much more than I imagined.

Been to Disneyland or Disney World? Now imagine all of that magic, service and entertainment packed onto a gorgeous cruise ship.

 I'm on a boat!

I'm on a boat!

Activities for everyone.

I feel like I spent most of our vacation with my mouth gaping open, in awe of what was happening around me. Each evening when the next day’s schedule was slipped under our door, we eagerly poured over it, figuring out how to spend the next day of our vacation. I’ll be honest, at times I had to put the schedule down and come back to it later because there was just so much to do. I almost couldn’t wrap my brain around it.

We enjoyed movies, martini tastings, character appearances, nightly theatre productions, deck parties and regular visits to the ice cream machines.

 An old pro already.

An old pro already.

Amenities for everyone. 

But if scheduled activities aren’t your thing, you can take advantage of all of the amenities on the Disney Wonder and choose your level of relaxation or immersion in the kid/family aspect of the cruise.

Three separate pools cater to different age groups. Mickey’s Pool for smaller kids (complete with twisty water slide), Goofy’s Pool for the whole family, and the Quiet Cove Pool that is reserved for adults. I spent most of my time at Mickey’s Pool as my daughter splashed, but for one glorious afternoon, I enjoyed the soothing music and cushioned lounge chairs at the Quiet Cove Pool. I relished the time with my family, but sometimes mom needs to put her feet up and have a cold drink in the sunshine. Alone.

The ship is even laid out in such a way that all of the 18-and-over features are in the same area. The Vista Spa and Palo (the adults-only restaurant) are tucked away and make you feel like you’re truly retreating into a luxurious pocket of the ship.

Grown up drinks at Palo.

Families get to go hog-wild in most areas, adults can have some quiet relaxation and kids don’t inadvertently stumble into the bar.

For the kids.

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Sure, the folks at Disney Cruise Lines have done a fantastic job of creating a relaxing atmosphere for the adults. But for the young and young-at-heart, the Disney Wonder really shines.

The first day of the cruise I took my daughter down the the Oceaneer Club to scope it out and see if she wanted to spend any time there. Think of an outstanding summer camp program, full of interactive activities and staffed by engaging counselors—that’s the Oceaneer Club. Every day when my daughter woke up, the first thing she asked to do was go to the “kids club”.

She spent an hour or two at the Oceaneer Club each day (usually while her baby brother napped) and it’s not hard to see why she loved it so much. I picked her up one day to find her dressed in a Buzz Lightyear costume playing with a troop of costume-clad kids. Another day I caught the end of a visit by Peter Pan—as I waited, Peter took the kids on an adventure through the indoor play structure and taught them how to scare off Captain Hook (by chanting “tick-tock-tick-tock” in case you were wondering) before being summoned by the jingling of Tinkerbell’s call.

Yeah, I think she had a good time.

Yeah, I think she had a good time.

The process for checking kids in and out is incredibly secure—children receive a bracelet/scanning tag and you have to show your ship keycard AND provide a password that you select when you register your child.

My daughter is a preschooler, so I’m obviously the most familiar with the Oceaneer Club, but additional youth programs for older age groups were available on the ship. The Oceaneer Lab was packed with elementary aged kids and was geared more toward learning and experimenting. I saw many clusters of tweens and teens enjoying the activities organized by Edge and Vibe, the “kids club” for older cruisers.

One of the things that impressed me the most is that shipboard activities start around 9:00 A.M. and continue through Midnight! So whether your kids are early birds or night owls, they will have a great time.

Port Adventures

With a baby in tow, we decided to forgo the port adventures in Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas and instead ventured out to explore the area on foot. The port excursions were incredibly tempting and I can’t wait to go back and try my hand at snorkeling in Cabo.

The blue waters of Cabo San Lucas.

The blue waters of Cabo San Lucas.

I was worried that we’d be the only people on the ship if we didn’t spend more time at port, but as one mom I chatted with said, “it really is all about the boat”.


This is my 5th family vacation, but it’s the first time that I’ve actually returned home rested and rejuvenated. Usually you need a vacation from your vacation. Not so with a Disney Cruise.

Later this week I’ll be sharing more about the entertainment offered onboard (Woo! Pirate Party!) and the food...oh, the FOOD.

The fine folks at Disney Cruise Lines sent my family on this trip for the purposes of reviewing the cruise experience. My opinions are my own and I am happy to share them, because DANG, this trip was awesome. You should go. 

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