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CRUISE HOLIDAYS UK

Call Jon Fletcher on: (0161) 408-2161, or e-mail: jfletcher@cruiseholidaysuk.co.uk

 

DISNEY WONDER

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE

BY

JON FLETCHER

OF

CRUISE HOLIDAYS UK

 

Have you ever thought of Disney Cruise Line, then shuddered with the idea of being trapped on a ship with thousands of screaming kids and Mickey Mouse and his friends popping out at you at every opportunity?  Then you might be amazed at what you are about to read.  Whilst Disney are really great at entertaining the kids, they really are just as good at looking after the grown ups too.  So Disney Cruise Line really are a family friendly cruise line.

 

Disney Wonder was the second ship in the Disney Cruise Line Fleet, after the Disney Magic.  She joined her sister in 1999 and is very similar in design to her sister Disney Magic. The major difference between the 2 ships is that the Disney Magic is decorated in the Art Deco style and Disney wonder is decorated in the Art Nouveau fashion.  Both the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder have 11 public decks with 875 staterooms, they can accommodate 2400 guests, who are looked after by 950 crew. 

 

Up on deck there are 3 pool areas with 3 different focuses.  There is a family focussed pool area, a kids pool area and an adult only pool area. 

 

The family pool area is called Goofy's Family Pool.  The pool is deeper than the kids pool so parent's need to supervise the kids when they are using this pool.  This pool deck area is the focus for the deck parties, poolside activities and events.  There is a giant screen in front of the funnel, where during the day they show films, cartoons and trivia quizzes and a stage that is used for shows and character appearances.  As well as the family pool there are hot tubs and water park style features and a waterslide that starts from inside the funnel winding its way down to the deck.  As well as the poolside attractions you will find great pizza at Pinnochio's Pizzeria, A pool Bar, Eye Scream where you can enjoy free flavoured soft ice cream from dispensers, Sunny Sips Bar where you can get smoothies and alcoholic drinks.  If you or your kids love burgers then Pete's Boilers Bites is perfect for a snack and you will even find Doner Kebabs there too.  However if you want something a bit more healthy or have a vegan or vegetarian in the family then the salads and healthy option foods can be found at Daisy Delights.  For a light lunch you can try the Buila Bowl stand and build your own soup with noodles, rice etc.  All within a few seconds from your poolside lounger.

 

  Goofy's Pool

 

Mickey's Pool is a smaller, quieter area dedicated to families with younger children.  It features a shallow pool that is great for little ones to paddle in. 

 

Quiet Cove is the exclusively adult only pool area and a great place to relax while the kids are being entertained in the kids and youth clubs.  It features a pool, hot tubs and plenty of loungers.  There is an extensive pool bar called Signals offering cocktails, mocktails, spirits, bottled bears and draught beers. 

   Quiet Cove

 

 

If you want to relax in a comfortable chair with a coffee in a quiet place, then you will love Cove Café.  Here you will find a great selection of coffees and tempting muffins, cupcakes, cookies and patisseries.  You can just sink in your comfortable armchair and relax while enjoying great views.

 

Guests in suites can enjoy their own exclusive adult concierge lounge area overlooking Quiet Cove and their own sun deck.

 

Deck 10 has a well equipped Sports deck, with a Sports Court where you can play basket ball or football.  There is a semi shaded games area where you can play table tennis or table football.  It is also a great place to get some great views.

 

  Sports Deck

 

The Atrium covers 3 decks, the Atrium is the venue for the meet and greet sessions such as Princess Gathering.  These meet and greet sessions are very popular and are free of charge, so if your kids want to meet their favourite characters in one of these sessions you are advised to book early to avoid disappointment.  There are also sometimes live music performances and events such as the farewell performance.   The Atrium is also where you will find the Ariel statue and a beautiful bronze frieze featuring many of the Disney favourite characters.   On Deck 3 of the Atrium you will find the Guest Service Desk and the Port Adventures desk where you can book your shore excursions.  If your little girl wants a Princess Makeover or your little boy wants to become a Pirate then a visit to Bibidi Bobbidi Boutique is called for. 

 Atrium Character Meet

 

The Deck Parties and the Events on Disney Wonder are pretty special and not to be missed.  On the first afternoon of the cruise right after the muster drill everyone heads up to Goofy's Family Pool for Mickey's Sail Away Party.  This will be your first taste of the Party atmosphere and to meet your favourite characters in a lively spectacular show.  The highlight of the show for many people is the countdown to the horns playing the song When You Wish Upon A Star, which signals the official start of your cruise.

 

The Pirates of the Caribbean Deck Party is an evening deck party, that again takes place at Goofy's Pool Deck.  Guests are encouraged to be an active part of the Party by dressing up and to help everyone gets a pirate bandana delivered to their cabin.  There is a character show where pirates abseil down on to the deck as if they were boarding the ship and Mickey zip wires above the pool coming to the rescue and the party culminates with a spectacular firework display.

 

On the final night of your cruise everyone meets in the Atrium for the last event of the cruise, Til We Meet Again where the characters and casts from the shows come together to say goodbye to the guests.

 

Other family entertainment on the Disney Wonder include the Buena Vista movie theatre, where they play first run films, cartoons and the classics.  The movies are free and popular so make sure you turn up early particularly for the latest movies, that tend to be the most popular. 

 

The Walt Disney Theatre is where you will find the Broadway style production shows such as The Golden Mickey, a mock awards ceremony.  A tribute to the Frozen movies and a show called Disney Dreams.  For the size of the ship The Walt Disney Theatre is relatively small.  So if you want to take in one of the shows you need to get there early.

 Walt Disney Theatre

 

Dining on Disney Cruise Line Ships is on a rotational basis.  What this means is that guests eat in a different restaurant each night but you are served by the same waiters throughout your holiday.  On the Disney Wonder there are 3 themed main dining rooms which you will rotate through.  These are, Animators Palate, Tiana's place and Tritons.  Each will give you a very different special experience.

 

Animator's Palate celebrates the talents and art of the animation artists.  When you walk into the Restaurant the decoration and the animation screens are monochrome and in the style of pencil drawings.  You will be invited to draw your own characters during the meal, which at some point during the meal will come to life.  As your meal progresses the décor and screens become more and more colourful until after your dessert Mickey makes his big entrance as The Sorcerer's Apprentice form the classic movie Fantasia. 

 

Tiana's Place is a New Orleans style Cajun themed restaurant based on the movie Princess and The Frog.  Princess Tiana circulates around the room meeting and greeting guests and having her photo taken with them. There is a New Orleans jazz vibe to the evening's entertainment. On your table you will find little touches like Mardi Gras Beads that you can use when evening culminates in a Mardi Gras Procession around the restaurant.

 

Triton's is a Little Mermaid themed Main Dining Room. It is probably the least heavily themed of the 3 restaurants and has little in the way of themed entertainment.  However like the other two main dining room restaurants it offers you fabulous menu choices and high quality cuisine. 

 

The meals consist of 4 courses, however should you want extras you can order as many options as you like.  Disney also offer vegetarian options and lighter options.  I understand that like most cruise lines if you have particular dietary requirements they will cater for them. 

 

For Breakfast and Lunch you should try Cabana, which is a buffet restaurant.  One of the beauties of this restaurant is that rather than piling the food high they set out small amounts but replenish often to prevent it going cold and standing around too long.  Plus there is a nice alfresco dining area on the deck outside.

 

There is an Adult only speciality Italian restaurant that offers authentic Italian dishes. It is a very elegant restaurant and great for a special occasion.  There is a cover charge of $40 per person.

 

If you get the munchies and want room service then you will be pleased to hear there is an extensive free room service menu that you can have delivered directly to your room. 

 Animator's Palate

 

Senses Spa, Salon and Fitness Centre is a wonderful way to pamper yourself, keep fit or relax.  They offer a fantastic well equipped fitness centre, a spa that also offers treatments and massages from Elemis trained therapists.  They have a Chilled Spa for teenagers and a hair salon and barbers.

 

I am sure it will not come as any surprise that the Disney Cruise Line Kid's clubs are among the best at sea and this is certainly true of Disney Wonder. 

 

The youngest members in the family aged between 6 months and 3 years can enjoy the It's a Small World Nursery.  There are 3 zones in the nursery, an Acclimation zone where they can used to their new environment, a main play area with toys and video screens and a quiet zone where they can have snooze and rest while mum and dad can have some together time.  This facility does cost $4.50 per half hour for the 1st child and $4 per half hour for additional children.  It is as you can imagine a very popular facility so it is not uncommon for it to sell out of places.  So my advice is if you want to use it, then prebook as early as you can.

 

The Oceaneers Club and Lab is for kids between 3 and 12.  The Oceaneers club has 5 themed zones which are the Treasury of Children's Classics dedicated to story telling, Wandering Oaken's Trading Post based on the Frozen films character where kids can play with tablets, hear stories, do crafts etc. There is the Marvel Super Hero Academy, which has some cool Marvel Super Hero props and the kids can meet their favourite Marvel characters.  The Disney Junior Club has some cool activities such as storytelling, talks and games.  Finally in the Oceaneers club is Andy's Room based on the Toy Story franchise of films.  Kids will love the slide that is two storeys high.  Kids from this age group can also enjoy the Oceaneer Lab, this is a great space where kids can draw, and do craft work etc.  two of the coolest features of the Lab are the animators studio where kids can draw or even create their own characters and the Ocean Simulator where kids can even have a go at steering a ship! Both these facilities are regularly visited by the characters.

 

if you are concerned about the safety of your children, you will be pleased to hear that the staff are as you would expect fully qualified and all the kids have to wear an electronic tag which enables the staff to keep an eye on the kids whereabouts and the kids can only be collected by the person who dropped them off.  So if mum drops junior off it must be mum who picks them up.  Now although it is sometimes possible to book spaces on the day, to avoid any disappointment you can and should book as early as possible.

 

If your kid is between 11 and 14 they will not want to miss out on the Edge.  The Edge is a lot of fun they have lots of fun activities like pizza and ice cream parties, music, games and crafts.  Believe me mums and dads of kids in this age range your offspring will become strangers as they are having far too much fun.  So make the most of it!

 

If you have young adults between 14 and 17 then again you will hardly see them as they have their own really cool space called Vibe.  It has a common room style and lots to keep them interested.  Their are chill out spaces, video games, video screens, music and even a private Guitar Heros game booth. They even have their own pool area, with hot tubs and sun loungers. 

 

Now Mums and Dads are you a bit like me a kid at heart?  Do you sometimes you were a kid again so you could have a go in these clubs?  I am sure there are a few of you are like me.  Well you can have a visit to these clubs during what they call Open House sessions when the kids are not around.  These sessions are usually right at the beginning of your cruise so it is well worth keeping your eye on the Daily programme for times of the Open House sessions.

 

 

So what is there to do while the kids are too busy having fun to hang around Mum and Dad?  One of the things they can do is head to the After Hours Zone, which in the evening becomes adult only.  The zone consists of 3 great venues.  These are Azure Night Club, Cadillac, and The Crown and Fin English Pub.

 

Azure is the premier night spot of the ship.  You can find dancing to DJs, quizzes, game shows, karaoke and much more.  There is a bar and this is a great place to meet up with friends and let your hair down while the kids are not about.

 

The Crown and Fin English Pub is quite a good interpretation of an English Pub and decorated with lots of things that will remind you of home.  As you would expect there are a good selection of bottled beers and draught beers including a craft pale ale brewed especially for the Crown and Fin.  If you are a beer drinker this one of the rare occasions I recommend buying the souvenir tankard, because it is bigger than the standard glasses and the drink will cost you the same.  Plus you will get to take the glass home as a souvenir!  If you are looking for somewhere for lunch then the Crown and Fin do pub lunches too. 

 

The classiest venue in the After Hours Zone has to be Cadillac, which is a piano / cocktail bar that as the name suggests is themed to reflect the design of the classic car. 

 

There are 2 other bars which are more family orientated, the Promenade Lounge bar, which has a kids zone, so while mum and Dad relax with a drink the kids can play and the D Lounge which is used more as a venue for family quizzes etc.

 

 Crown and Fin

 

 

What cruise ship would be complete without the temptation to indulge in retail therapy and Disney Wonder has exactly that.  There is a small shopping mall where you can visit shops with the expected array of Cruise Line and Disney merchandise, perfumes watches etc.  There is also a Disney themed Art gallery where you can buy Disney themed artworks and a photo gallery where you can buy the pictures taken of you.  One of the great things about the Shutters Photo gallery is that unlike many ships where you spend hours trying to find yourself, here all you need do is put your key card in the viewer and it finds your photos.

 

If like me you enjoy a wander along the Promenade deck then you should head to deck 4 where you will find a traditional promenade deck complete with shuffleboard.

 

Now I am sure you are wondering what the stateroom accommodation is like.  Well as you would expect staterooms can be inside, ocean view, balcony and suites.  They are nicely decorated with a double bed as opposed to the usual two singles pushed together with a topper. All the rooms have a sofa bed in a lounge area which can be curtained off to give parents a bit more privacy.  All rooms have a flat screen interactive TV, a phone and one feature I particularly love is that the shower room is separate to the toilet.  The rooms are quite spacious so a family can be quite comfortable in them. 

 

 Ocean View Cabin

 

 

 

 

As a wheelchair user myself I am pleased to say that Disney Wonder has wheelchair accessible staterooms which are big enough to move around in a wheelchair and have wet rooms with grab rails and shower seats.  They are among the best designed accessible rooms I have come across.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think you will agree the Disney Wonder truly is a ship that caters for all the family, from the youngest to the oldest.  Disney Cruise Line cruises are often at a higher price point than their mainstream competitors but they also offer more for your money,  Disney Cruises are a great experience for kids who will have lifelong memories and in my opinion offer more opportunities to make those memories than visiting the theme parks.  They will certainly have more opportunity to meet their favourite characters. 

I hope that you have found this article helpful and enjoyable.  If you have please follow me on social media. 

 

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