Earlier this month I had the wonderful opportunity to do a last minute Disney Cruise Line vacation on the Disney Wonder. Disney has 4 ships in their fleet (soon to be 5!). The Disney Magic and Disney Wonder started sailing in 1998 and 1999. Then came the bigger ships in 2011 and 2012, The Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. I have been able to visit both Disneyland and Walt Disney World multiple times, but a Disney Cruise Line vacation has been at the very top of my bucket list since Heidi came home and raved about her family’s Land and Sea vacation on the Disney Fantasy. You can read all about their experience here!
This past Spring I took the plunge and booked my family of five on the Disney Wish for it’s inaugural season in 2022. To say that we are excited is a complete understatement. Of course I started to look at the current itineraries for Disney Cruise Line because they were finally reopening after a LONG time of no sailings… and I thought it would be invaluable to experience a Disney Cruise right now as travel is finally starting to open back up! To hear alllll about the changes and requirements for cruises in regards to safety during COVID, head on over to my first post: Travel and COVID: Disney Cruise Line. It goes through all you need to know from booking, to getting on the ship, staying safe on the ship, and disembarking.
Now let’s get to the fun stuff!
Day One: Monday October 4th, 2021
Today is the day, we are heading to San Diego! As I mention in the previous post, I do recommend getting into your Port City the day before you sail. You just don’t want the stress of possibly missing your cruise! We arrived in San Diego, and immediately headed to Target. As a Canadian, you will 100% understand. We used to go at least twice a month, and not having it at all through this whole pandemic is ROUGH. I wish I could’ve brought lots more home, but we only had carry-ons with us this time.Next up? In-N-Out Burger… for similar reasons. You just don’t go to California and NOT eat there! Following dinner we Uber’d to our hotel which was one block away from the Yacht Club Marina across the bay from the Port. The main reason for staying across the bay is the significant difference in price! There are no shortage of great hotels near the Port and across the bay, just depends how much you want to pay. We went for a walk at Shelter Island; it was safe and beautiful, and we arrived at the exact right time, as it was Golden Hour! We took a different route back to our hotel and happened upon “The Craft Creamery,” which had 5 ice cream shops in one! A mini was $4 and a flight of 4 was $9, so we went with the flight. We had no idea that the flight consisted of 4 giant cups of ice cream! We tired buckeye (peanut butter and chocolate… since my Dad is from Ohio it felt like the right thing to do), lemon sorbet, mango/mandarin sorbet, and pumpkin (cause why not!). It was delicious, but man it was a lot of ice cream! We could’ve easily split the whole flight with our family of five! Day Two: Tuesday October 5th, 2021
We started our morning at a local coffee shop, Better Buzz Coffee. (We Googled coffee shops and picked the best rated one in the neighborhood… this is a wonderful way to get to know a community!) In San Diego, the rule is if you are fully vaccinated, you don’t have to wear a mask inside. We are both fully vaccinated, but still chose to wear them because we wanted to go on the cruise and get home to Canada safely.We took an Uber over to the Port, picked up a Refresher at Starbucks, walked by the Maritime Museum on the dock, and noticed some nice places to get a few bites. For the nitty gritty details regarding COVID tests and cruise ship check-in, head over to my previous post.
Once we got our bracelets saying that we were COVID free, we got on the shuttle bus from the COVID testing site back to check in. We went through security and presented our travel documents (Pro tip: It really helps to have your stateroom number memorized because they ask for it a lot!) We got the all clear and were able to get photos taken from a professional photographer right before boarding.
One fun thing about Disney vacations is the opportunity to do TONS of professional photos. From Magic Shots (with characters) to fun backgrounds to character photos, you don’t have to worry about getting good photos on your own. However, be ready to pay a pretty penny for them! We chose our favourite, and the single photo cost us $22. For a package of 6, you will pay $99; $150 for 10, and then $200+ for all of the photos. I wasn’t mentally prepared to spend that much, but I am sad cause we got some fun photos. (Personally, I think it should be no more on the ship than the cost of a Memory Maker at Walt Disney World, which is $169.)
It was only about noon when we boarded, which was so exciting! We got onto the gangway and were literally the only ones… it was surreal. The cast member asked our names and we walked into the Main Atrium of the Disney Wonder as they announced us… “Disney Wonder, please welcome the Jones family!” I lost it. Like, full sobbing, weeping mess, multiple cast members asking if I was ok. Once the initial emotions passed I managed to keep it together enough to see that Mickey and Minnie were on the stairs welcoming guests, and the ship was decorated for Halloween.
We were directed to a circle on the floor for the “show,” but we didn’t fully understand (masks make it HARD!) so we went to find our stateroom (which was roped off). Turns out Mickey, Minnie and the cast members were welcoming about 5 families at a time with a song. We ended up watching this from a few decks up, overlooking the Main Atrium.
Following the “show,” we headed immediately to Cabanas, which is the main buffet on the ship. Dan had his jaw on the floor the whole time…I toured the ship before when it was docked in Vancouver (perks of being a Travel Agent!), but it’s no less impressive the second time! We could pick where we wanted to sit (we chose by the window, but there was also outside seating). LOTS of food choices, and crew members EVERYWHERE to help you out. Steak, chicken, pasta, soup. A seafood station with crab legs and giant prawns, a drink station with soda, tea and coffee, and a giant dessert station. Everything we had was fantastic, and certainly a bigger selection than anything we normally have for lunch!After lunch we checked on our room again and it was ready! The staterooms on Disney Cruise Lines are so much bigger than you might expect on a ship. There was a split bath (LOVE that) with a sink and toilet (and shelves) and built in blow dryer. The second bathroom has a mini tub/shower and sink. The bed is a queen size with plenty of room underneath for your luggage. There is also TONS of storage… a large closet with hangers, and a LOT of drawers. We had a couch (that can turn into a bed) and a desk with a mirror. We also had a verandah with two chairs and a small table. With a solid wall on one side and no one at least 4-5 staterooms on either side of us, it was basically a private verandah which was awesome! Heads up if you are traveling with kids and worried about the verandah. There is a sliding glass door with the lock placed up high, and I had THE HARDEST TIME trying to get it open whenever I wanted to go outside. IMO, it is VERY safe for kids. I would say you should be in the room when the slide door is open, but you don’t have to worry about your child opening it without you knowing.
Next we decided to do some exploring! We had a latte at Cove Café (of course!), and then started checking out the ship; pools, theatres, kid’s areas, etc. We wanted to see the shops, but there is a law that doesn’t allow them to be open while docked, so we had to wait!
Here are some of our thoughts from that first afternoon:
Cove Café and Quiet Cove
On Deck 9 you will find Cabanas on the aft side, then the kids splash pad, pool and waterslide. Mid-ship there’s a very small pool and 2 tiny hot tubs for everyone, with TONS of beach chairs. You can also find quick eats like shawarma, pizza, sandwiches and grain bowls; as well as endless soft serve ice cream and a soda station. All of these things are included! Some are usually self-serve, but since reopening they have a cast member serving you due to COVID.
Then there is a whole section of the ship that is for adults only! Since it was just the two of us we spent a lot of time on this half of the deck. We found Cove Café because I saw on Instagram that you can get lattes there. This is one of the things that aren’t included (you can get coffee or tea at anytime, but specialty coffees are extra). However, the treats at the Café are all included. We tried a bunch! They were small bites; the perfect size to enjoy with a specialty coffee.Unfortunately, the printer for the latte machine was broken. This may sound silly, but it really did bum me out! Normally you can choose from a bunch of Mickey designs or other Disney themed images. It was something I was REALLY looking forward to… thankfully, I can still look forward to it on the Disney Wish next year.
The Café gives you a card; buy 5, get one free. We had planned to use this card on the next cruise, but it says on the card that it’s not transferable to different sailings. I have heard from friends who have used the same card, but we didn’t want to risk it. We did buy 6 lattes total on our trip, so one was free at the end.The Quiet Cove is adjacent to Cove Café; it’s a small (heated!) pool for adults only and two small hot tubs. There are also no shortage of bars on the ship! So many adult only spaces.
The different water areas had signs for when they were available, which was almost always. The water slide has signs with lines on the floor saying things like “40 min wait from here,” but we never saw more than 2-3 kids on it at a time. The hot tubs say (in a hard to find place) one person, or one party, at a time. Also worth noting: we didn’t have to wear masks outside, and life jackets are provided, if you have kids that need them.Theatres
We visited the Buena Vista Theatre. It was showing Jungle Cruise and Shang-Chi during our cruise. We have seen both movies, and didn’t want to spend our time that way, but it is a fun option for sure. Pre-COVID you could purchase snacks like popcorn, but the concession was closed for this cruise. When we got there, Belle was in the Theatre so I went down to meet her. I wasn’t allowed to take off my mask for the photo (only for the professional ones later on in the Main Atrium). The Walt Disney Theatre has a different show each night; more on that later!Open Houses
The only time you will get to see the areas for kids is during an official Open House. We were able to see both areas: The Oceaneer Club and The Oceaneer Lab. They are quite literally, incredible. There is so much to see and do! Our favourite areas were the Marvel area and the Toy Story area. While we were there, we even saw JESSIE! That was very exciting.The “it’s a small world” nursery was closed for the entire cruise. If you do have a little one, you can normally sign up for care on the app before the cruise. The two areas for preteens and teens are Vibe and Edge. They look fun too… lots of opportunity to connect with preteens or teenagers in their age group; plus, video games, and counselors that take a lot of care and interest in the kids. Navigator App
The DCL app really comes alive once you hit “I’m on board, connect me.” The first thing we did was check for our Dining assignments because we were super excited about the featured restaurants. The app informs you of the exact time you will be seated for dining; before you get on the ship you can select Main or Second dining (tips for this are in the first blog post here). When we first checked right our dining was at 6:20pm, but an hour later it was changed to 7:10 pm and remained that way. (Our best guess is that they rearranged the dining times due to the smaller number of guests on board.) You can also explore the menus for all 3 restaurants, and the menu for the room service in the app.
I knew there would be Broadway quality shows on board, but I wasn’t sure how it worked. For longer cruises, there are not necessarily more shows, just more options for when to watch. In our case, there was an early time and a late time each day and that was it. If you couldn’t make one of the two showtimes, then you missed it completely. Of course, I also really wanted to see the sunset every night (which was only successful 1/3 nights cause of clouds). We ended up deciding on the late showtime as we could head from our dinner seating at 7:10pm right to the theatre for 9:00pm. The app says to be there 30-45 min early because it can sell out, but honestly, in our case, even if the whole cruise showed up there would’ve been room.
Some of the fun additional features on the app include individual pin numbers for chatting with other guests on board. (This works even if you are signed into one account like we were.) And there was also special Disney themed emojis that were super fun! You can also see your account balance to keep track of extra charges and purchases made on board, and add extra gratuity if you want. There was a chat function for asking questions about the cruise, and we also received push notifications for anything important. You can even “heart” the activities you are most interested in to create a custom itinerary for your cruise! It’s also worth noting that you can receive iMessage texts and Messenger messages, but can only send iMessage texts back.
Truly there is no shortage of things to do on a Disney Cruise! There were drawing classes (free), bingo (cost), family games, trivia nights and karaoke. It was almost overwhelming… but we decided we weren’t going to let it be that way. We were just going to be excited about what was offered and choose to do what we felt like.Dining
There are 3 signature dining restaurants. On a 3 night cruise you are assigned one per night , but you don’t find out which one on which day ’til you get on the cruise. On the Disney Wonder, there is Triton’s (Little Mermaid themed fine dining with plenty of French influence), Tiana’s Place (Creole and Louisiana food based off of The Princess and the Frog), and Animator’s Palate, which is on all 4 of the current ships. (The Disney Wish, which will sail for the first time in 2022, will not have Animator’s Palate). You are also welcome to eat at some of them for Breakfast and Lunch (at not extra cost)… or Cabanas, or room service, or the one deck options I mentioned earlier. It’s safe to say that we did NOT go hungry on the Wonder!
Our first night was Tiana’s. I did have a bit of a hard time adjusting to the feel of the ship, especially on the lower decks and when we were more aft or fore (which happened to be both Tiana’s and the Walt Disney Theatre). The ship pitched quite a bit. It wasn’t terrible, but it was noticeable for me. I recommend bringing some medicine just in case. Bonine is what was recommended to me, though I didn’t end up taking anything.
Tiana’s was wonderful. We showed up 10 minutes early, and we were introduced to our serving team. The serving team is yours every evening (and at your final breakfast), which is very special! Signature dining includes 4 courses plus bread service. The entire dinner takes only about an hour, so you aren’t waiting long at all… but it doesn’t feel rushed. We were seated pretty far away from the Jazz Stage, but it made for pleasant conversation (not too loud) and we still got to enjoy seeing Tiana and a very talented couple of musicians! Louie also surprised us a couple of times, and I found that completely delightful!We enjoyed each of our dishes (we chose to always order different in order to try as much as possible!), although Dan did order better than me a couple of times. The menu does seem to change (at least in part), because I haven’t found any consistency at all when researching menus online! I really, really loved the beignets, but you know we are beignet girls! I’m not even that big of a sweet tooth, but they were GOOD. And they came with a dipping sauce that was delicious! (FYI, if you miss the beignets from the Parks as much as we do, check out our at-home recipe here!)
At the end of the dinner service, there was a “Mardi Gras Parade” and all of the servers joined in for a rousing song. It was a highlight for me; I got all the feels! There was also Mardi Gras beads on the table that you could take home. My server made me a lovely headpiece too!Frozen
On our first night, Frozen was the featured show at the Walt Disney Theatre. We headed straight there after dinner. The theatre opened at 8:30pm and we were escorted in. They spaced us out, and we all had to keep our masks on. Frozen was the same story as always, but honestly I was completely blown away. The actors were phenomenal, and they could sing something FIERCE. There’s always something fresh about stage productions, and we thought it was top notch. It exceeded my expectations in every way!
After Frozen, we headed back to our room, but stopped to see a little dance competition between Mickey and Donald on our way. There is a LOT you can do at night too… and it felt like there was endless Disney Movies playing outside at the Pool Deck on the Funnel Vision!
Now let me tell you a little secret… the bedding on the Wonder is next level. I have never, in my life, had a better sleep. I don’t know if it’s the Disney magic or the rocking of the ship or the $700 sheets (okay, I do know… it’s the sheets lol!), but it was heaven. Everything on the bed was super comfortable!Day Three: Wednesday October 6th, 2021
This was a Port Adventure Day. The app said we could enjoy getting off the ship starting at 8:30am, and had to be back on board by 4:45pm. We received a push notification that we needed to join a virtual queue to get off, but it didn’t let us at first. Eventually I did join but we chose not to get off right away.
We actually woke up to the sound of Sea Lions barking! It was hilarious. They were the only animals that we saw on the ocean (we were really hoping for at least some dolphins or a whale), and they were so funny. We often saw them hanging out on the buoys, and then on the rocks as well.
Dan was especially nervous about getting off the ship in different country, what with it still being a pandemic. Being the coffee lover that I am though, I knew before we left home that there was a Starbucks in Ensenada and couldn’t pass up the chance to grab a Mexico “Been There” mug. (Pro tip: If you aren’t going on an official cruise excursion, save some screenshots from Google maps of where you will be, in case there’s no wi-fi, and get to know the city you will be docking in.)
We got off on Deck 1 (no need for a tender boat in Ensenada) and were immediately greeted by dozens of Sea Lions; just hanging out and LOVING the attention. Next we were met by a shuttle driver who told us it was a bad idea to walk around. We felt confident, as we’ve been to Ensenada before, and later learned it was $4 per person each way to ride the shuttle downtown… likely why said driver was so pushy. Now there are some things to know about being in cities you are unfamiliar with… for instance; never go with someone you don’t know, don’t let people take photos of you, don’t let people put things in your hands… you know, that sort of thing.
So we walked to the Starbucks, got my mug, and then walked back. The whole excursion took us about 45 minutes, and it was a very pleasant walk. Unfortunately the main tourist spot/attraction, Plaza Civica de la Patria, was under construction, and most of the tourist places were boarded up… an unfortunate reality of the impact this pandemic has had on port cities.Upon our return, we went through security and had our things scanned by both the Mexican Authorities and the Disney Cruise Line workers. I was really impressed with how easy Disney made the whole process. It wasn’t stressful in the least! (Important note: A ship-wide announcement let us know to carry our passports and Key to the World cards with us if disembarking the ship.)
We chose to spend the rest of the day on board the ship, which was incredibly quiet… probably the result of only 350 guests combined with a Port Day. We had lunch on deck and enjoyed the sun. As this was the warmer day I was able to be in a bathing suit, but the cast members did offer towels, as well as blankets, which was nice!
We knew we would regret not going on the water slide so we did it this afternoon. It was SO VERY VERY COLD. Definitely NOT heated like the adult pool! And I accidentally broke two rules… 1) Wait behind the yellow line until the light turns green (a cast member let me know this on the loud speaker, as well as the kid behind me), and 2) No phones on the water slide (what can I say, I wanted to film it!). Whoopsie!
During our time in the room on this day I also found where they store the cards to order room service for the morning (in the desk drawer FYI). If you put it out before 1:00am, you can pick what time you want the room service order to come in the morning.
There is also cleaning service TWICE every day. Once in the morning to make the bed and reset the room, and then turn-down service at night during dinner. Every night we would come back to something different on the bed. I’m sure our kids will love this detail on the Wish next year!Triton’s
Our dinner was at Triton’s on night two, which is considered the fanciest of the three signature restaurants. I packed some super cute clothes for each of the dinners, but on this night I couldn’t do it, I was SO cold. We got one photo in nice clothes on our verandah and then I changed into jeans and a spirit jersey. There is no formal dress code for dining on the ship (with the exception of Palo), basically just don’t come to dinner in your bathing suit or workout clothes.
Triton’s was good, although I found my food to often be cold, which is a bummer. I did mention this to our serving team and noticed a slight improvement from that point on. Dan’s French Onion Soup was the star of the night (HOLY MOLY IT WAS SO GOOD!!!). The servers always do recommendations before the meal, and they were pushing the escargot HARD. We’ve had it before so we didn’t order it, although with the kids we would’ve for sure! The surprise of the evening was when Mickey and the gang showed up during dinner! We couldn’t get up, but they danced through the room, and Minnie ended up right next to us. It was a lovely addition! Also worth noting that the food is exceptionally rich, which isn’t something I’m used to, so I decided on peppermint tea with dessert for the last two nights, and that turned out to be a great idea.Following dinner we chose to skip the magic show at the Walt Disney Theatre in favour of Mickey’s Mouse-querade Party and fireworks on deck. Unfortunately, the party was scheduled for 10:30pm, with the fireworks to follow at 11:00pm… and I am not a late night person. Full disclosure, I actually fell asleep waiting for the party to start. We headed up to the deck around 10:00pm and discovered they had covered the main pool for guests to have more room to view the show, but we decided to go up a level to have a better view of the fireworks. There were markers on the deck and they were strict about people staying on them. Most people were in costume, and there was a great energy. I wasn’t sure exactly what type of “Halloween” to expect, but the tone was playful and fun throughout. Mickey and friends came out in Halloween costumes for what ended up being a 25 min dance party… it was super cute! The fireworks show was basically one song. It wasn’t long, but it was spectacular. What a treat!
Day Four: Thursday October 7th, 2021
This was our “Day at Sea.” I intended to wake up early for the sunrise but didn’t quite make it. I scheduled room service for 7:30am but we ended up sleeping ’til 9:00am… oops! (I stumbled to the door when they knocked, put it on the coffee table and climbed back into bed.) Every parent’s dream, right? Room service was the perfect thing for a slow start, and then we went to Triton’s for brunch. I had Eggs Benedict (my personal fave) and it was delicious!
We had a slow morning, choosing to read on the deck. It was too cold to go in the water, so we sat with blankets on the deck chairs. I saw some DCL beer cups, and I knew ahead of time that I wanted them as a souvenir. We aren’t drinkers, so I asked the crew member on deck for two virgin mojitos in the special cups. We were living our best life until we looked at the app and discovered that it cost us FORTY-EIGHT DOLLARS AMERICAN!!! The cups were $15 each, the mojitos were $5 each, plus he automatically added 20% for gratuity. Those were some expensive virgin mojitos!
I had an awesome grain bowl on deck for lunch. I picked quinoa and a bunch of veg, then went to the shawarma place to add meat and sauces… it was fantastic! Dan chose to eat at Cabanas, and everything he had was delicious. We were pleasantly surprised to find entirely different offerings than on the first day! We had afternoon coffee on our verandah again, and I ordered Key Lime Pie for me and a Mickey bar for Dan (they actually sent two, which I thought was hilarious… and he of course ate both!).
Disney Wonder Deck Plan
Deck One: Almost entirely staterooms, plus the Health Center. There is also an area marked “ISOLATION, DO NOT ENTER.” I assume this is where the positive COVID cases go? Or maybe anyone who gets really sick? There’s also the Tender Lobby, which is where we disembarked for Ensenada.
Deck Two: More staterooms!
The mid area of Deck Three is where we entered the ship and features the main floor of the Atrium. There is a statue of Ariel, a stunning staircase, and the entrance to Triton’s. This is the place to be if you want to see characters. You can also find the Port Adventures Desk, Guest Services Desk, and Sea Treasures store (small and mostly carries dress up items… they had the cutest mini captain uniforms!). Deck Three also features three adult only options; Azure Lounge, Cadillac Lounge, and the Crown and Fin Pub.
On the fore of this deck you will find the impressive Walt Disney Theatre. When filled, it seats a total of 977 people! Right outside the theatre is Preludes Bar (if you want a drink for the show), and it was actually open for the cruise!
Deck Three: Tiana’s Place in the aft, and then the French Quarter Lounge as you make your way towards the mid. When I toured the ship in 2019 this section was the Promenade Lounge, so it was awesome to see something new and the details were AMAZING!
The two main stores on board (Mickey’s Mainsail and White Caps) are right down the hall and they were fantastic! The sailing before us had more guests, and quite a few of them had on board credit, so a couple of the items we wanted weren’t available in the sizes we needed, which was a bummer! However, we still walked away with a souvenir mug for me, a DCL spirit jersey and Pirates shirt for Dan, and a gift for each of our girls. They also had several sale items, which I couldn’t say no to!
The upper level of the Atrium is on this deck, as well as the DVC Desk (Disney’s Vacation Club is definitely something we want to do one day! Who doesn’t want a Disney time share?) As you head towards the aft you’ll find DLounge, which is a fun place for families to do activities together. Every time we walked by something fun was happening here! Shutters is here as well, which is where you can purchase the photos taken on board. And in the aft of this deck is Animator’s Palate, but it’s shut pretty tight until dinner time!
Deck Four also has a walking and jogging track so we ended up walking this deck twice… once across the inside, and then all the way around the outside. The walking track is AMAZING! In the fore of the ship, you walk past where the extra anchors and tender ropes are, and in the aft you can catch a glimpse of Animator’s Palate. FYI, one lap of the track equals 1/3 of a mile.
Deck Five: Disney’s Oceaneer Lab / Club (for kids), “it’s a small world” Nursery, and the Buena Vista Theatre… plus staterooms.
Deck Six: Staterooms
Deck Seven: Staterooms (We were on this deck!)
On this deck you’ll also find the doors to the two big suites… the Walt Disney Suite on one side, and the Roy Disney Suite on the other. I toured both rooms in 2019 as well, and they are AMAZING!
Deck Eight (Concierge Staterooms): Concierge level takes the amazing service you typically experience and kicks it up another level. There is a lounge just for concierge guests too… and I know it has amazing details (because I was able to tour it back in 2019!).
Deck Nine: Cabanas (buffet), Daisy’s DeLites (sandwiches, wraps, and the grain bowls), and the beverage station. Kid’s pool areas: Dory’s Reef, Aqualab, Mickey’s Splash Zone, Twist n’ Spout water slide. Then Pete’s Boiler Eats (shawarma, hot dogs and fries), Sulley’s Sips (these cost extra), Eye Scream (soft serve ice cream), and Pinocchio’s Pizzeria (different specialty pizzas each day). One night I got hungry before dinner and was hoping for a quick pizza fix, but it closed before I expected it to! Heading towards mid ship you’ve got Goofy’s Family Pool with Funnel Vision (somehow this giant screen is never washed out by the daylight… actual Disney magic people!). And then in the fore there’s Quiet Cove, Cove Café, Signals Bar (by the adult only pool), Edge, Senses Spa and the Fitness Area.Deck Ten: Wide World of Sports Deck is on the fore of this deck. In my previous post, I mentioned that once upon a time this was the place for basketball and other on-deck sports. They still have foosball and ping pong, but you have to ask in the chat for equipment, then go down to the Port Adventures Desk to make an appointment. Next up is Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique, which was open but very empty (this is a pleasant surprise since it’s currently closed in the parks)… there was likely a total of 5 kids on the whole ship so those poor ladies weren’t busy at ALL. The concierge lounge areas are on this deck as well, plus the entrance to Vibe (for the teenagers). The aft of this deck is Palo, which is an adult only restaurant. You can book Breakfast/Brunch or Dinner, but it’s not included. The price says “_____ per person,” but you can actually order a la carte, which is a good idea considering how much food we managed to consume over the 3 days! Deck Eleven: Technically Vibe is on this deck, even though you enter it from Deck Ten.
Phew, that’s it! We had a wonderful time exploring the ship, and it was fun to see some of the decorated stateroom doors that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise! The hallways and staircases are also filled with original art, and it was fun to see them all.
Dinner on this night was at Animator’s Palate, which I was looking forward to the most! From the entrance hall, to the aesthetic, to the special surprises, it’s absolutely incredible! We loved the food and how the room comes alive as you eat. Everything was delicious, and because I mentioned I like my food hot, it all came fresh and warm! For me, this was the most wonderful of the three dining experiences.
There’s also a bit of mystique to the Palate as the main doors are shut tight all day, which only adds to the anticipation and excitement. You can look into Triton’s pretty much all day, and outside of Tiana’s is the French Quarter Lounge which gives you an idea of the feel inside. The only way to see into Animator’s is from the outdoor walking track, and even then it’s just the entrance.
I know from my training that you can usually draw something at your table and it comes life in the portrait on the wall next to you… they didn’t offer this, but we didn’t miss it. We loved how the portraits went from black and white sketches, to animated motion, to full colour; it was breathtaking! The “show” at the end had me feeling all of the Disney feels! Helped by the fact that they played my most favourite of all Disney songs while it happened.
Now here’s a little secret. If you see something on the menu at a different signature restaurant you either want to try or just love… you can order it at any of the restaurants! Nothing on the Animator Palate’s dessert menu interested me, and I was just really wanting beignets one more time, so I mentioned that to my server and he brought not only one set of the pillowy delights but TWO! (Yes, you had to roll me out of there.)Disney Dreams: An Enchanted Classic
Our final show of the Cruise was Disney Dreams: An Enchanted Classic. We didn’t know what to expect, but we like surprises. We really enjoyed it! It was a combination of all the favourite Disney characters and stories. If you looked closely, you could see that a lot of the characters were the same actors as Frozen… but we didn’t mind because they were a fantastic cast!After the show we did a final walk through of the main shops and the Atrium, and then headed to our room for the night.
Day Five: Friday October 8th, 2021
Our Navigator app let us know that we had a “farewell breakfast” at Animator’s Palate. The breakfast didn’t have anything special; honestly, we were hoping there would be characters or a goodbye song, but perhaps it would be too emotional? We were told to bring all of our belongings with us to breakfast, which was at 7:10am, and not to be more than 10 min late. The menu was good, with lots of selection and everything tasted great. We didn’t have anywhere specific to be, so we did ask if it was okay to visit Cove Café one more time… it seemed poetic. The cast members said yes, and though it seems like they want to keep tabs on where everyone is on the last day, we did see people in Shutters and walking the decks one last time as well.We disembarked right before 9:00am, and it was anticlimactic for sure. You just walk off! If you have checked luggage, it’s found under the picture of the character on your luggage ticket. (Note: If you have checked luggage you are given a pre-assigned time to leave the ship and the call your group by the character on your ticket.)
We had booked our rapid COVID tests for 11:00am. It was a 20 minute walk, and we headed there right away, which meant that we showed up an hour and a half early… but they took us! We tested and then took an Uber to our hotel, which was by Sea World. We dropped our luggage off with the hotel and then took another Uber to Sea World where we spent the day! It opened at 10:30am, and we managed to arrive before opening!
If you had asked me before the cruise, I would have said that you should do Disneyland or Walt Disney World FIRST, then enjoy the cruise AFTER. I still think that would be nice… certainly this feels more like an actual relaxing vacation than a Disney Parks vacation! But if you’re coming from Canada and testing requirements are still a thing for travel and cruises, doing the cruise first just makes more sense as you don’t want to risk not getting on board. And because you get off the ship so early you really have the whole day, so doing a park is something to look forward to after the letdown of leaving the ship. Sea World wasn’t my first choice, but it’s something we hadn’t done before, so why not!
I will be writing a post about Sea World eventually… it was a very chill day. We were there from open to close; it closed really early that night, because of the Howl-O-Scream event. We saw everything we wanted to see, rode the two big coasters, saw all of the shows. Other big draws in San Diego are LEGOLAND and the San Diego Zoo. LEGOLAND is actually in Carlsbad, California; approx. 40 min from downtown San Diego. It’s fabulous for kids ages 3-10. We took our girls a few years ago and made wonderful memories there! Check out our post about LEGOLAND here.
Day Six: Saturday October 9th, 2021
Though we received our negative COVID results within an hour of taking them on Friday, we still decided to head to the airport early on Saturday. When we arrived, the security line was ASTRONOMICAL. It would’ve been over an hour, easy. Thankfully we were able to go in the TSA pre-checked line because we checked-in online with our Nexus cards. We were the only ones in this line; in and out of security in 5 min! We grabbed something to eat, as well as coffee at Starbucks. Right before our flight was due to board, our names were called as they wanted to see our COVID test results. It was smooth sailing from there… other than the crazy turbulence on the flight home! When we arrived at Vancouver Airport, we were randomly chosen to be tested again, which made for FIVE COVID tests in SIX days. We have been home for over two weeks now, and all is well, no sickness at all!
Have you ever been on a Disney Cruise? What ship or itinerary is at the top of your list? I’d love to hear from you! If you’d like to plan a Disney Cruise, a Land and Sea vacation, or any kind of travel, I’d LOVE to help with that! You can fill out my quote form here.
Have a magical day!
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