Ahoy! Tappy and I just got back from a 5-night cruise on the Disney Wonder, where we stopped in Cozumel Mexico and Disney’s private island Castaway Key! This was Tap’s first time on a cruise, and my third time on the Wonder. If you are new to the experience keep reading! If you are not, maybe I’ll have a few new tips, tricks, and insights for you as we give you an overview of Disney Cruises, and more specifically the Wonder!
Most Helpful Tips
The Online Check-In allows you to go through the check-in process virtually. Checking-in is mandatory before boarding any Disney Cruise, and doing it online cuts your time down immensely. At the end you must print and sign the final Check-In forms that will be required at port. This allows you to skip huge lines at the port, and choose your boarding time! My family was able to do the online check-in 90 days before we boarded, and we were able to board the boat at the earliest time slot: 11am, getting us extra hours of fun on the cruise!
- Fly into your Port City early.
Flights can be unreliable. Just to be on the safe side, plan to arrive at your port location a day in advance in case of a postponed flight, missed plane, etc. You’d hate to miss your cruise! These extra days will also alleviate anxiety and stress prior to the cruise.. where the ultimate goal is relaxation.
- Do not waste money on an outside stateroom.
Unless you are incredibly introverted, and need your own space to rejuvenate, do not waste money on an outside stateroom. The Disney Wonder is spacious and has many beautiful and relaxing locations where you can hide away. Most of your time will be spent on deck, in restaurants, and at parties. When you only use your room to sleep, why pay the extra money? If you need some quiet space go to: The Cove, the Outlook Deck, and Deck 4 for a lounge chair facing the ocean.
- Research all excursions, even those not listed on the Disney Cruise Website.
My husband and I were interested in several excursions, but after looking deeper realized some of them required hours of transportation to and from the event. Others required that you paid for an additional meal, and did not have free access to transportation to get back to the boat earlier. These were deal breakers for us, instead we were able to rent Mopeds in Cozumel for $35 and see the entire island at our own pace and interest!
- Make goals, priorities, and boundaries before boarding the ship.
How much time will you spend on family activities versus spouse activities? Will you stick to your diet while on the cruise? Do you plan on working out to burn the extra calories you are consuming? The Disney cruise is wonderful for families, but it also offers a great variety for families to get independent time as well. There are so many great planned activities and areas for all ages, take advantage of it! There are also great all-family activities, like: movies, deck parties, dinner time, etc.
Every night you will get a paper copy of the “Navigator” for the following day. This will have ALL events for ALL ages listed as well as theatre and movie times, classes, tours, character meet and greets, and more. You can fold this into a three panel brochure, or you can carry it in your phone with the Disney Cruise Line App. The App will allow you to narrow down your search for particular age groups or event types, as well as give you access to a boat map.
Before you know it, the cruise will be over. Don’t get caught up in silly drama, fights, or the little things that don’t go right. Focus on the smiles, the laughter, the magical moments, and the unbelievable adventures….
- Check your receipts before tipping!
Gratuity is expected on certain services: massages, alcoholic beverages, and specialty coffees. Most always, the gratuity is already included and noted on the receipt. If the receipt says “Additional Gratuity,” you have already been charged for an 18% tip. If the service was excellent, feel free to add a little something. Also, tips are expected at the end of the cruise for your Stateroom Service and Dinner hosts. Be sure to budget for these highly encouraged tips!
- Get the Sea-Sickness patch and apply it early.
Getting the Most out of your Cruise
- Decorate your doors and include a Dry Erase Board.
My awesome niece, Kallie, put a lot of work into making everyone’s doors adorable. She printed and laminated different heads to go around everyone’s door number, added mickey heads with every individuals names, made dry erase boards, and Last name initials that hung on everyone’s Fish. We were able to find our rooms at a short glance, and leave messages and personal itineraries on our boards. When making these, be careful to add strong magnets, as the doors are very weak!
All of your food is already included in the price! You don’t have to worry about racking up a bill, or not liking an adventurous meal. If you have small tummies, like Tap and I, have everyone order something different and share! Then order your favorite for yourself. Also, if you fall in love with a particular dessert at another restaurant, you may still request it! Your servers will go above and beyond to make your trip magical!
- Have other guests take your pictures.
The Cruise will take wonderful photos of your family, but they are pretty costly! Save money by asking others to take your photos. Don’t feel ashamed! They’ll probably ask you to return the favor.
- “Link” Cabins with other family members and friends.
Everyone in our group, all 24 of us, were “linked.” This meant dinners were spent either at the same table or in a close proximity to one another. Most of our rooms were even on the same floor so that we could keep in the loop and invite eachother to different activities. This is great for the family-oriented types!
- Wait to see movies that will be on the Cruise.
We called ahead to find out what movies would be playing on our cruise. They informed us that Frozen, Bears, Captain America, and The Muppets Most Wanted would all be playing in the Buena Vista Theatre. We decided to save our money and time by not seeing most of these movies until we boarded the ship! That way we were able to experience brand new movies without paying $8.50/$12.50 a ticket!
Why the Disney Wonder?
- Disney pays the highest attention to details and service that simply result in a magical experience.
Disney knows customer service, and the will go above and beyond to make your trip extra special to keep the Disney “magic” alive. Our stateroom host knew us by name before we had ever been introduced, and always kept our bed made and room tidy. He was always in the halls ready to accommodate, and was always making sure we were comfortable. Our dinner servers knew our names and our drink preference after the first night, and continued to wait on us for every dinner meal.
- Disney Cruise Lines are family friendly with entertainment for ALL ages.
- Keeping things “Disney” is great for the moderately conservative families, couples, or individuals.
My husband and I are Christian. Our ideal entertainment is not casinos, getting drunk, and dirty dancing. We like to keep it classy and creative, which Disney knows how to do! Even in the “adult only” sections we were able to have a fantastic time without compromising our comfort, modesty, or morals.
- The Wonder is an older boat with very committed and experienced staff.
- The Wonder is a smaller boat, with slightly bigger staterooms, and is less crowded than the newer boats.