Last month I sailed on my first cruise in 18 years (and second overall), the Disney Wonder, on its first Alaska voyage of the year. The experience was fantastic. Here are ten things I learned on my week-long cruise:
1. Food on a cruise can be exceptional
I am sure this is not the case on every cruise, but the food on the Disney Wonder was exceptionally good. Not only was the quality on-par with top-notch restaurants, but the variety was equally as impressive. If you could not find something you liked, you have a major problem, and this is coming from a very picky eater.
2. Disney cruises are as magical as Disney theme parks
If you are a Disney fan then you know what I mean by “magical”. I had my doubts going in about how “Disneyesque” the cruise would actually feel. After seven days on the Wonder with Disney characters all over the place and different Disney activities every day, I could make the argument that the Disney cruise experience is even more magical than the Disney theme park experience, especially if you have children that are old enough to know many of the Disney characters but too young to participate in many of the theme park rides, as was the case with us.
3. I can survive a day or two (or three) at sea
One of my main concerns about this cruise was how I would feel on the three days at sea on our itinerary (including one cruising through Tracy Arm). After all, I had never spent more than 16-hours without actually setting foot on land. In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed my days at sea. There is just too much to do for you to get bored.
4. Adults without children can also enjoy a Disney cruise
Among the many things Disney does very well is making sure adults are entertained. Between the spa, the adults-only pool, adults-only activities and the significant adults-only portions of the ship, unless you totally despise Disney, I can almost assure you that you will have a good time on a Disney cruise even if you do not have children. There were three adult couples without children in our travelling party and there were absolutely no complaints from them.
5. Alaska is a great destination to visit on a cruise
One of the reasons I am not a fan of cruises in general is because I believe most destinations require more than a day-visit or at least more flexibility than a cruise provides. However, there are exceptions. Alaska is definitely one of these considering how remote and hard to get to most of its destinations are. While there is certainly plenty more to see in Alaska than we saw in our day-stops in Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway (plus Tracy Arm), we saw and were able to do enough to feel satisfied with our Alaska experience.
6. Internet can be extremely expensive on a cruise
I purchased the “Large Package” which allowed you to download a mere 1000 MB for $89. Ouch! Keep in mind that for most of the time you are sailing there is no cell service, so if you want to have any access to emails, etc., you are going to have to pay for an internet package.
7. A 2 1/2 year-old can thoroughly enjoy a Disney cruise
There are a lot of different opinions about how old a child should be to really enjoy his/her first Disney experience. I am not sure what the answer to that is, but I can assure you that our 2 1/2 year-old daughter had a blast on our cruise meeting all the Disney characters, watching the shows and participating on a number of activities.
8. Staff goes out of their way consistently
Again, I am sure this is not the case on every cruise, but the staff on the Disney Wonder, from the servers to the stateroom attendants, consistently went above and beyond what was expected to ensure everyone was enjoying the cruise.
9. The debarkation process can be a complete mess
Perhaps the only aspect that left a negative impression on us about the cruise was the debarkation process. My stateroom was assigned a different debarkation group than the other three staterooms in our group. This resulted in us having to wait an extra hour the get off the cruise, most of it simply in line trying to get off the ship. To make matters worse, one of our pieces of luggage was damaged and we then had to wait about 20-minutes in line for a taxi. I am aware debarkation processes are usually messy, but I certainly expected more order.
10. I will be cruising again, most likely with Disney
We enjoyed our Disney Wonder experience so much that we will definitely be cruising again. The only problem now is that I got so used to a Disney cruise that I am hesitant to even consider other companies. Fortunately, though, Disney does sail to a number of destinations that I am interested on sailing on a cruise.