Podcast 0050: Cruising with Disney
This month on Dispodopolis, we discuss Ryan's latest cruise on the Disney ship, Wonder. He did something very impulsive a couple of months ago and booked a last-minute cruise out of Galveston on the Disney Wonder. Galveston is a port in Texas that is just south of Houston. Not only was it a last-minute cruise, but it was also the last of this season's Very Merrytime Cruises. Tonight, we talk about boarding the ship and how to prepare for your excursion. We also dive deep into the food choices and the good and bad about the sit-down dining. We start our conversation about the entertainment available on the Wonder.
Ryan has been on quite a few cruises in the Gulf, and it had been a while since he ventured on a Disney Cruise. It isn't your most affordable cruise to take, but it is probably one of the best managed and kid-friendly. These cruises were designed to provide the best experience and bonding situation for any family. Ryan and Mike took their nephew, Cooper, on this excursion to have some special bonding time on the happiest cruise that sailed the seven seas. Cooper is nine years old and initially wasn't interested because he was uncertain since he had never been on a cruise before. He had been to Galveston, the port where the cruise departed, and had been able to few the Wonder and other cruise ships at the port. He had also been on a boat ride to view the dolphins that roam in packs in the Gulf. It is essential to remember that kids need references when they are about to have a new experience. We sometimes rush through this stage because it can be tedious and seem unneeded. But young eyes must have many references to feel safe trying something new.
It is always advised to stay in town the day before you depart. A cruise is not something to leave to chance to arrive on time. Whether flying or driving, plan to stay in a hotel near the port the night before your departure. You don't want to miss your boat. Yes, they will leave without you. There are quite a few places to stay around the Galveston port. We are a Hilton family, so we frequently take advantage of the Hilton Galveston Island Resort where you pay a flat rate for parking, and the shuttle to the ship is complimentary. Most of the hotels have reasonably priced parking and a complimentary shuttle. Some will have free parking but will not provide a shuttle. It is a give and takes that you will need to weigh to see which best fits your needs. If you want to be a little more posh, you can take advantage of the beautifully restored The Tremont House, which is a five-minute walk to the port, and they provide free shuttle service.
Another helpful tip is downloading the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App before leaving on vacation. That way, you aren't spending time on the boat trying to download the app and are confused by the navigation. Familiarize yourself with the login and the navigational tools before you depart. Make sure your kids get to check out the features also. They may see something that really gets them excited about your excursion.
Ryan had high praise for the rooms onboard the Wonder and equated them to the size of a suite on a typical cruise ship. It means you have some extra space for your crew. They had a Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with White Wall Verandah. The larger adult bed is queen-sized and comes with a sleeper sofa for a kid and an upper-berth pull-down bed for an extra kid. They opted to keep the sofa a sofa for the whole trip and placed Cooper in the pull-down berth, which was promptly pushed back to its daytime position while they were at breakfast. It was great having a heavy privacy curtain separating the two spaces, especially when you aren't exactly on the same sleep schedule as your kid. One of the rooms' best features is having two sinks with a split bathroom. Having two designated areas in the bathroom is lovely anytime there are more than two people. There is a shower and tub combination with a sink in one room, and right next to it is a toilet and sink configuration. This option is such a luxury when traveling with kids.
As we dove deeper into Ryan's trip, we continued our conversation about the many, many food options to explore on the Wonder. He started by hitting the highlights of their journey, spending the evening at the Animator's Palate. They loved the slow evolution of the room that began as a black and white space and slowly came to life as a colorful montage of Disney animation. The food was also a pleasure. The Animator's Palate was the place to get your spectacularly prepared fish and steak on your trip. The next evening wasn't quite as appetizing. They weren't sure if it was the menu or the evening. He raved about the entertainment, but the food lacked luster. That evening was spent at Tiana's Place, with plenty of jazz and incredible singing, but you did not come for the food. If you have a cruise ship leaving Galveston, which is two hours and thirty minutes from Louisiana, you better know how to cook Creole and Cajun food. Ryan actually decided to eat from one of the casual dining options the following evening rather than head to Tiana's Place again.
For more casual dining, you could head to Pinocchio's Pizzeria for pizza, equivalent to your local chain pizza restaurant, or Daisy's De-Lites for healthier choices of sandwiches and salads. For kids who love traditional greasy American food, head to Boiler Bites for hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken tenders. Don't forget to stop by Eye Scream Treats for your afternoon snack of soft-serve ice cream; for our immediate and extended family, that is a must. They do have Dole Whips on board, but you will have to pay extra for that special treat. Another place you will have to pay a little bit more is Sully's Sips, where they have some fun beverage selections. Ryan had one more must-stop on his daily food excursion: his afternoon stop at the Cove Cafe, and he would swing back there in the evening for the pre-dinner hors-d'oeuvres. Everything was exquisitely presented and amazingly tasty, from chocolate-dipped rice crispy treats on a stick, small chocolate soufflés, and pop-in-your-mouth strawberry cupcakes. A few of these treats made it home with Ryan. Another spot that hit all the right notes was the French Quarter Cafe. With Beignets and fun drinks who could ask for more. On a Disney cruise, soft drinks are included and obtainable at a few locations. If you have room service brought to your room, you will need to pay for the can of coke you order.
Ryan next outlines his favorite moments on the cruise that were provided by the entertainment on the ship. If you have been following along to our review of the parks, you will remember that Ryan fell asleep during the performance of "Frozen – Live a the Hyperion" at Disney California Adventure. I am proud to announce that Ryan did not fall asleep during the version of "Frozen, A Musical Spectacular" on the Disney Wonder. He highly recommends this version and thinks it is a much better rendition and translation of the movie. He enjoyed the effects created for the show and thought it was a more thoroughly developed movie interruption. I believe the Hyperion theater is still closed and is not even searchable on the official Disneyland Resort website. If they would like to bring back the "Aladdin" stage performance that was available before the "Frozen" show, I will be the first in line.
Ryan also discussed the firework show, a unique experience for the Disney Cruise Line. Apparently, the fireworks' casings are made of biodegradable material suitable for fish, and they even call it "fish food." This cruise would usually have the fantastic "Pirate Night" firework show, but because of the time of year they sailed, they were treated to the "Very Merrytime" firework show. Due to covid, they had to stand on their official circle, which proved to be a little tricky after a few drinks at dinner.
I wanted to drop a few pictures above of the Oceaneer's Club onboard the Disney Wonder. I wanted to share the incredible detail and adventure that awaits your children. Ryan's nephew wanted to spend some time in this area because of the incredible presentation and welcoming environment provided for the children. Here is where we decided to pause our conversation here and leave the shore adventures for our next podcast. Fiona has many more questions she would like answered, but it is time for us to end our discussion for the evening. I can't wait to hear part two of Ryan's adventure aboard the Disney Wonder and all the sites they saw.
Before discussing Ryan's cruising excursion, we discuss our top three moments that Disney made us cry. I went for the nostalgic movies I remember as a kid. These types of movies make you self-aware of your emotions and attachments to those around you. Fiona focused on her recent deep dive into the family Halloween movie genre, which included the latest Muppets special centered on the Haunted Mansion. Ryan focused on some of the more recent Pixar and Disney releases that hit all the right sentiments for him. He has really enjoyed the covid releases that have been hitting Disney+. Please email us some of your emotional moments that surfaced due to a Disney-inspired instant at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please enjoy our latest podcast, Dispodopolis.
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Images from: Dispodopolis and Disney Cruise Line
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