There are emails we all hate to get, the spam, the notifications that you’ve forgot to pay a bill, and the dreaded email that nits are going around the school, again. And then there are the emails that have you jumping around the room, and that’s just what I did when I received an email with an exclusive invite to be one of the lucky people to jump aboard the Disney Wonder, the first Disney Cruise in Australia.
Very early yesterday morning Disney Wonder entered Australian waters for the first time ever, sailing all the way from Hawaii. I popped on one of my favourite dresses, a pair of Minnie ears, and headed out to discover what Disney Cruise Lines had to offer, with my trusty fellow Disney fanatical husband, Shane, at my side.
We started with a welcome party in the terminal, with drinks, canapes, a DJ, we were given our lanyards with our ID, and our Key to the World card that we use to scan us on and off the ship. We all eagerly awaited our groups to be called so we could board the Disney Wonder and start our magical adventure.
We entered onto the ship, walking right into the Atrium, with beautiful decor, the glass lifts, and an iconic statue of The Little Mermaid (each Disney Cruise Line has a different statue). We then spent an hour walking from floor to floor with our tour guide, exploring everything the ship had to offer, from theatres, to pubs, to shops (oh my!), pools, spa, kids clubs, slides, and so much more… and I have a feeling we didn’t even scratch the surface.
7 things that surprised (delighted) me about sailing Disney Wonder
There are five Kid’s Clubs on the Disney Wonder, and they’re huge!
I’ve cruised quite a lot in the past with my family, and I’ve never seen a kid’s club quite like what Disney Wonder has to offer. While most ships I’ve experienced have a room for kids that is fun, and decorated suitably, they’ve never been vast in space. Well, definitely not like the Kid’s Club we experienced on Disney Wonder. There are 5 Youth Clubs in total, including a very cool (I think even my teen would totally approve) hangout for teens, called Vibe. It’s equipped with oversized pillows, music, TVs and they even have dance parties, and karaoke sessions. For the younger kids, the Oceaneer Club has a replica of Andy’s Room (Toy Story) but with an added slide. On the tour this was one of the most exciting experiences, everyone’s inner child came out and they didn’t want to leave.
The Cruise Director is actually an Aussie
With anything Disney, whether you’re in the parks or resort, you’ll see the cast or crew are wearing badges with their names, and also the country or state that they come from. It’s great way for guests to connect with the cast and have conversations, and is really intentional on Disney’s part. As we heard the Safety Briefing on our visit, I noticed that the voice was an Australian accent, which I thought they may have done because we were in Australian waters. Turns out, no. The Cruise Director, Trent Hitchcock, is an Australian who has been working with Disney Cruise Lines for over 17 years. It was moving to see him so excited about being in Australia, his home country, while aboard the Disney Wonder.
The dining room is interactive (and the food is delicious)
As we arrived into Animator’s Palate, we were taken to our designated tables. For cruisers who are staying onboard longer than we did, they’ll have the same servers for every night of their sailing experience. This means that you’ll get to bond with your servers, and they’ll remember what your favourite drink is, and how much ketchup/tomato sauce your kids like with their meal. Guests will visit a different restaurant each night, and their servers will magically appear at their table ready to serve them.
We were met by Richard (from the Philippines) and Lulu (from India) who were so excited to be in Australian waters for the first time. As we sat down there was a piece of paper on the table, and Richard asked us to draw a character, not telling us much more than that. So we all got drawing, being as creative as possible, and the pictures were promptly collected and we got busy ordering our meal; for me it was a truffle pasta for entree, and a herbed pork chop for main. After mains the lights dimmed, and the screens dotted around the room lit up, and suddenly the characters that we’d drawn earlier started dancing across the TV screens, coming to life. It was a magical moment, and everyone was so excited to spot their own character.
The staff were as excited about Australia as we were about the ship
It’s so easy to forget, in all the excitement of being on the Disney Wonder, that people would be just as excited to be visiting Australia for the first time. Our server at dinner, Richard, was so excited to tell us that he’d spent his day exploring around the Sydney Opera House and how it was a dream to see it in real life.
We docked at Circular Quay, with the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge in perfect sight, and it was so fun to see the cast and crew pose for their own photos with our iconic Aussie landmarks in the background.
Turning a corner and seeing Mickey is as delightful as you imagine
As Shane and I strolled around the ship we kept running into Disney Characters, which never, ever gets old. We first ran into Pluto, then Goofy, quickly followed by Mickey and Minnie. By the end of the night we’d encountered most of the gang (just not Chip and Dale, they might have been exploring Bondi Beach or beyond, who knows!). It was so great to give them a cuddle and catch up, like old friends. We do love a character cuddle! I loved that we never knew when we’d see a Disney character, so it kept us on the lookout (something I think we’ll really enjoy when we cruise properly in the future).
The shows are like nothing we’ve seen before
Before dinner we headed down to the Walt Disney Theatre to catch a show, and I thought it might be a remake of some of our favourite shows, like Lion King, but instead it was this beautiful medley of all our favourite shows brought together. I loved that we were singing along, and were part of the show itself, but also seeing something for the first time, that Disney has never brought to us before. TIP: When visiting the show, sitting in the first third of the theatre – preferably to the left or right, not so much the middle – is the most ideal position for a little extra magic (that’s all I’ll say!).
The ship’s horn is the Disney theme, of course
I don’t know if it’s a ship rule to do this, but every time we’ve sailed under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the ship’s horn will be activated, and usually it’s a heavy monotone ship horn that echoes around the harbour. As we went under on the Disney Wonder the horn played “When you wish upon a star” and audible gasps could be heard around the ship (it was really moving!), and yes, I may have cried. It’s those magical moments that make any experience with Disney special, whether it’s at the Parks, or one of their Resorts, or like for us last night, on the Disney Wonder.
We only got to experience Disney Wonder for half a day – where we cruised out of the harbour for a short while, but from what we experienced, we’re in love already. Disney Cruise Lines has all the magic that we’ve come to expect and love from visiting their Parks & Resorts, and I just know that so many lucky Australians are going to be making magical memories now that we have Disney Wonder in our waters.
I can’t wait to get the girls on board and start our own family Disney Cruising adventure.
Disney Cruise Lines officially start sailing out of Australian waters on Saturday October 28th, 2023. You can book your own adventure here.
We traveled as guests of Disney Cruise Lines. All thoughts and opinions are my own.