A Wonder’ous, Double Dose of Disney for Multi-generational Family Vacations

by Carmel L. Mooney

Different types of cruise experiences abound but perhaps nothing offers a more “Wonder-ful” appeal for multi-generational travel than a cruise aboard the Disney Wonder (and a trip to Disney Resorts afterward).

Much like the Disney Magic, its sister ship, the Disney Wonder boasts 11 decks and comfortably accommodates 2700 passengers. Nearly a thousand cast and crew members cater to the guests on Wonder’s Mexican Riviera voyage.

For Disney- Loving Families, a magical Disney cruise experience starts the moment you board this spectacular vessel from the World Cruise Center in San Pedro, California, just a short ride from LAX.

Fun For Grown Up Too

What makes the Disney Wonder, and any Disney cruise, so magical is the approach to offering activities, dining, and serene and quiet places while offering world-class entertainment for all ages and lifestyles.

Disney Wonder’s Captain Thor says, “Our ships are unique in that we target couples, elderly, and families. You can get away and relax in our adults-only areas. As people have become more familiar with our product, we see really wide demographics now.”

When we were recently cruising on the Disney Wonder, my husband and I found it “Wonderful” to be able to escape from the busyness and activities, and yes, even the kids, to simply enjoy a relaxing afternoon in the adults-only pool. Other relaxing adult areas were easy to find.

We found fine dining in Palo, a lovely Italian-style restaurant serving exquisite cuisine, a welcome respite from a busy day of family activities as this is an adults-only option as well.

With its elegant Venetian glass and inlaid wood paneling, this romantic spot offers 270-degree sweeping panoramic views of the sea. Floor-to-ceiling windows and a circular layout afford a unique dining experience. A back-lit bar and open kitchen add to the ambiance. Chef Stephan says, “The galley is open and we love to interact with the guests.”

Numerous lounges and coffee bars with specialty coffee drinks and magazines also allowed us some quiet downtime as did the Spa and Fitness Center which both are reserved for grown-ups.

Adults-only comedy, art shows, and performances were peppered throughout the itinerary too.

children enjoy dining on cruise ships catered to their fancies

While onboard our family met numerous multi-generational traveling families who enjoyed these more mature aspects as well as a well-rounded array of activities that all generations could engage in together. While onboard, several different TV and music trivia games drew participants of all ages, as did golfing tournaments, ping pong tournaments, and cooking and ice sculpting demonstrations. Karaoke parties and talent contests seemed to also attract all ages as did some of the professional acts. The guest juggler on our ship was nothing less than astounding. The adults-only sand artist was not only unique and talented but created art in good taste.

The wait staff in all of the beautifully themed dining rooms were some of the best we have ever encountered on any ship or cruise line. Each night families are rotated to variously themed dining venues where the same wait staff follows them from place to place. This proved excellent for several reasons. The wait staff knew all our preferences and those of the children by the second night and were always a step ahead with preferred beverages and sides. The various dining rooms with spectacular effects, imagery, music, décor and themes kept things interesting, entertaining, and upbeat.


Disney’s onboard world-class shows are magnificent. As Jeffrey Mouton, the Dance Captain of the Wonder’s dance crew of 25 says, “We do five Broadway-style shows for our guests on each sailing. Disney’s world-famous attention to detail and quality shines through from the costumes and lighting to the effects. Some of the effects we have are award-winning and make the audience literally gasp. Every show is family-friendly. The production value is amazing and all steps and costumes are different in each production show. We are also the only cruise line that can show first-run movies onboard in our movie theater.”

It was evident that all kids loved the Pirate Deck Party and fireworks display which is a highlight of every sailing. The entire ship becomes Pirate-themed all night starting at dinner with the waiters and music right up to the dance party on deck and finishing with the fireworks show right off the ship’s truly fantastic deck.

Ports of Call

Ports of Call for the Mexican Riviera sailing are Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas which both offer a myriad of activities for families and couples alike. Snorkeling, sport fishing, shopping, tours, zip-lining, ocean kayaking, and dolphin experiences are just a few of the countless options.

As if this were not enough, many families choose to go from one Disney venue to another by leaving the Disney Wonder cruise when it returns to the World Cruising Center, to then visit Disneyland and California Adventure, just a short drive away.

For those who truly love Disney, this is the most “Wonder”-ous way to enjoy all things Disney.

No matter what time of the year you order your double dose of Disney you’ll enjoy the magic but this year a family can extend the Holiday Fun into January with Disney.

Back to Cruises…

Carmel L. Mooney is a travel columnist, author, and radio talk show host. She is the editor of Road Trips for Couples

Disney cruise workers on the Mexican Riviera