For years, my sister has raved to me about the perks of Disney cruises. They’ve been a favorite of hers, as well as for her husband and son (now two sons) for quite some time. “They have a lot of things not just for kids to do, but adults as well,” she once told me. When I had my first child, I became intrigued by the idea of a cruise truly for the whole family, so when Disney offered the chance to test out their newest ship, the Wish, I grabbed my husband and my energetic toddler, and we hopped on board the 1.2 million square foot vessel.
What I quickly learned was that my sister was right. In addition to movie screenings, shows, and providing spaces for kiddos, there were countless things for not-so-little kids and grownups to not just try but really enjoy. Check out a few of the things that stuck out for me and my family.
For the Marvel Fans
I think we all know that fans of Marvel superheroes come in all ages and from all backgrounds (which is why Marvel films are constant blockbuster hits and Comic Con conventions are always major events). Disney bought Marvel back in 2009, so to cater to those fans aboard the Wish, a first for the cruise ships, they created a restaurant called the Worlds of Marvel. It’s an interactive, cinematic dining experience that brings Ant-Man, The Wasp, Captain America and other popular Marvel characters (and film props) to your table. I don’t really watch many of the films but I loved the character displays and descriptions for the different members of the Avengers. And the food was tasty too!
For Those Who Love Pampering Themselves
Listen, I love any opportunity to shop. Aboard the Wish, there’s more than just Disney souvenir shops. I stumbled upon Royal Regalia, where they had a pretty impressive display of designer bags and scarves for women. My husband perused 3 Wishes, which was full of fancy timepieces, including from Breitling. Other opportunities to feel pampered came from the salon and barbershop experiences, adorably named the Tangled Salon and Hook’s Barbery. There’s a fitness center to stay on top of your goals. And you could get mani-pedis, facials, haircuts, whatever you need. And there’s also a luxurious spa on board, Senses, three times the size of Senses spas on the other four Disney cruise ships. Try all sorts of treatments (they even have CoolSculpting@), facials, massages, waxing, acupuncture and more to help you unwind when vacationing.
Teens are a hard group to impress, but the ship had plenty for them to do away from their parents in a safe and comfortable environment thanks to Disney counselors. There is the chill spot called The Vibe where teens can play video games, listen to music and watch television. They could do karoake at The Hideaway, and engage in creative activities at The Edge. Every spot is a mellow one allowing for youth to socialize and make new friends.
For the Wee Ones
One might assume a Disney cruise is all about the kids, but as mentioned so many spaces are set aside to appeal to people of all ages. But of course, there are some very colorful and fun spots set aside for small children. When my husband and I needed some time to do our own thing, we were able to leave our son at the “It’s a Small World” Nursery for a block of time. Granted, he wasn’t pleased by that, but staff worked hard to make him feel comfortable, eventually getting him to play with some soft blocks, which he loved (and they gave us to keep!). They also sent updates to the Disney Cruise Line app (where you can communicate with people aboard the ship and keep all details of your trip), letting us know how he was doing. For older kids, there is the Oceaneers Club. It allows for children up to 12 years old to hang out with Disney characters and check out “multi-themed magical lands.” That place is perfect for letting your kids run out a lot of pent up energy on the ship. I also loved the Toy Story Splash Zone, which was a splash pool for small children with the characters from the beloved film morphed into life-sized bath toys. My son was initially skeptical of the space, but quickly became obsessed.
For the Grown Folks
There were big shows and events for everyone, but certain spaces were just for adults. The nightlife was perfect to get dressed up and go enjoy a drink and good vibes. Everything was still Disney themed, but nothing was childish. Have a beer at Keg & Compass, cool out at the piano bar Nightingale’s, kick back with a cocktail at The Rose and geek out (I mean that in the most respectful way) at the Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge. I was most impressed by The Bayou bar, inspired by the Big Easy and The Princess and the Frog. They serve delicious beignets! My husband enjoyed checking out the bar scene when we’d swap looking after the little one at bedtime.
For Those Who Need Sun and Sand
While there are many great pools available to soak in, nothing beats the chance to be on the beach, toes in the sand, taking a dip in the ocean. Before the ship heads back to Port Canaveral in Florida, the Wish docks in the Bahamas at Disney’s privately owned island, Castaway Cay. The water is fantastic (not too cold either so as to avoid that initial body shock), the sand was clean, and they had spots on the island for you to enjoy a barbecue lunch, get drinks, smoothies, ice cream and more before you made your way back to the ship. That was by far my favorite experience — not the sunburn I got though.
For the Lovers of Live Shows
Broadway shows have spoiled me, so I knew I had to partake in some of the performances that take place on the Wish. They even happen during dinner. We spent our first night on board at Arendelle, a dining experience based off of the film Frozen. The show was a celebration of the engagement of characters Queen Anna and Kristoff. Performers, who sang, played instruments and interacted with patrons, were in full Frozen mode — we even got to see the snowman Olaf! As for the food served, it’s Norwegian inspired with delicious dessert options. Full shows you can enjoy on board include Disney’s Aladdin, Disney Seas The Adventure and The Little Mermaid.
There was plenty to see and experience in the three days we were aboard the Wish. Even the smallest of details made the cruise all the more memorable and comfortable, from having the same dining staff every night (no matter where our reservations were) to keep up with our allergies and dining preferences, to having the same cruise staff fix up our room each day and answer our questions. There was also a laundromat, Fairytale Fresh Laundry, that helped us return home with clean clothes (you can fully dry clothes in 20 minutes!), food options open most of the day when not at the restaurants (the Marceline Market has it all), and the Bibbidi Boppidi Boutique, to send your kiddo home with a princess dress, accessories, and fairytale prince attire.
The design details were stunning too, including the Cinderella castle in the middle of the ship, the celestial constellation setup in the Luna lounge, and Ariel of The Little Mermaid in the lights as you move through the ship. And if you were wondering, COVID tests were required days ahead of boarding, and for small unvaccinated children, right before boarding, to ensure people could enjoy themselves safely and COVID-free.
The entire experience brought out my inner child, as I was a huge Disney kid growing up. And it also was a great experience for my family. It was our first big vacation as a brood and our very first Disney cruise — but certainly not our last.
View dates and itineraries to check out the Disney Wish for yourself at the Disney cruise website.