I've never figured myself for a cruising kind of girl. I grew up taking airplanes, long road trips and camping in the woods. So when I had the opportunity to take my two children (aged nine and six) on the Disney Wonder Cruise, I wasn't sure what to expect.
My biggest fear was feeling like I was trapped with nothing to do once I left port. We took the Disney Wonder from Vancouver with a stop over in San Francisco, carrying on to L.A. It was a six-night repositioning cruise, which offers great deals when you can snag one (approximately $830-$2,400 per person depending on cabin).
When we left Vancouver, the kids danced to live music on the pool deck with Disney characters. But I still had misgivings about leaving land behind.
My first concern was food. The Disney Wonder provides several restaurants throughout the ship. One of the great things was that we were given a designated table number and time every night, so we always knew our table (never had to wait) and the kids were happy to stick to their same dinner time each night.
Disney has a rotational dining experience, which allows guests to experience all the restaurants on board during their cruise.
My six-year old daughter was thrilled she could wear her fancy ball gown during some evenings and my nine year old son was content when he could show up in runners and jeans.
As food is included in our cruise, the children could "help themselves" all day with hot dogs, hamburgers, wraps and serve-yourself ice cream on the pool deck (this was a big novelty for the kids).
Another concern was keeping the kids busy. I needn't have worried. The Oceaneer's Lab offers interactive activities such as science experiments, cooking classes and computers (which my son loved) and the Oceaneer's Club (3-12) had crafts, dress up, music, and colouring, which was ideal for my daughter.
Edge is a club for ages 11-14 and Vibe for ages 14-17. There is also a nursery for those with babies.
Each child is provided a GPS wrist band as they enter the club and parents must provide a password for when they pick up their child. A "wave" phone is also distributed to all parents to carry with them and be contacted by the club at any time.
The kids clubs were great for our children to meet other kids and spend time engaged in activities they loved. It also allowed alone time for my husband and I.
Our roomy cabin had a balcony, queen bed and a bunk bed. A crew member made up our beds and cleaned our room twice per day.
A helpful itinerary is provided each night to use as a reference to plan the next day's activities.
But it was the pool that most delighted my children. They could hardly wait to get on the large water slide and go swimming despite the colder weather from Vancouver to San Francisco.
The nightly live-shows in the Walt Disney Theatre certainly give Broadway productions a run for their money (particularly one show called "Disney Dreams"). The children looked forward to the evening shows and we always returned back to our cabin each night to discuss our "favourite" parts.
My exercise included a morning run on the top deck of the ship that had a track for walkers and runners and a visit to the gym and spa for some "me" time.
Life is as busy as you want to make it on a cruise, but I relished sitting on the balcony outside our cabin and simply looking out at the water. I found peace on a family vacation. Who knew that was possible as a parent?
On one particular night, guests were encouraged to dress like pirates and come on the main deck for a show. Once there, we were treated to a pirate dual with lots of music and dancing. We even witnessed Mickey Mouse zip line down from the top of the ship.
Soon after, fireworks shot off over the ocean and I looked down at my children with amazement in their eyes. And with all my misgivings gone, I found myself never wanting the cruise to end. kelleyscarsbrook.blogspot.ca