The Disney Wonder set sail at the end of 2016 following an extensive refurbishment that left most areas on board looking brand new. And while the Wonder has undergone several upgrades since it first launched in 1999, including one just two years ago to replace all the furnishings and bedding in guest cabins, this one touched most of the public spaces on board, from the lounges and restaurants to the pool deck, kids’ club and spa.
Whether you fancy island hopping through the Caribbean or sailing the Alaskan coastline and are traveling with the whole family or on an adult voyage, here are some things to keep you well occupied on your days at sea.
1. Frozen, A Musical Spectacular
Three years after its release, it’s clear the Frozen mania isn’t melting away any time soon. A Broadway adaptation of the mega popular animated film is in the works, and Disney unveiled two theatrical productions telling the story of Anna and Elsa last year—one at Disney California Adventure and the other right here aboard the Disney Wonder. Frozen, A Musical Spectacular revamps some of the film’s most loved songs and combines puppetry (created by Michael Curry, the Tony award-winning production designer behind Broadway’s The Lion King), lighting magic and a little bit of snow at sea to present the story of sisterhood and true love in a whole new way. And as most adults enjoyed the movie as much as their children (admit it), the stage adaptation has the same effect.
2. After Hours Adults District
The adults-only district, After Hours, offers three distinct spaces for grownups to hang out sans kiddos. Azure has a sleek nightclub vibe and houses the ship’s DJ, musicians and comedians. The Cadillac Lounge features live piano music nightly and classic car themed furnishings (think a bar with giant headlights, leather seats that look like they’ve been stripped from an old Cadillac and tires that serve as side tables). Our favorite in the “district” was the Crown & Fin Pub, a cozy British tavern with plush leather seating, craft beer on tap and Brit rock on the speakers. The true Disney nerds will spot callouts to certain Disney films in the décor—a newspaper announcing Mr. Toad’s arrest, Mary Poppins’ umbrella, and artwork from Bedknobs and Broomsticks and 101 Dalmatians adorn the walls.
3. All the Pools
One of the three pool areas on the upper deck of the Wonder got a complete makeover with the addition of the AquaLab, a pool and splashground that consists of Dory’s Reef, an enclosed play area featuring characters from Finding Nemo and Finding Dory; and the Twist ‘n’ Spout, an all ages (yes, adults can have fun, too) water slide with three big loops that may make you reconsider that second cone of poolside ice cream. You’ll find Goofy’s Pool mid-ship just below Funnel Vision, a 24-foot-wide TV screen that shows Disney movies all day. Adults wanting to relax can head down to the appropriately named Quiet Cove pool to stretch out in a teak lounge chair, grab a drink at the poolside bar or soak in one of the whirlpool spas—all without fear of an incoming cannonball.
4. Tiana’s Place
Storytelling is a crucial part of everything Disney does, and Tiana’s Place, a new restaurant exclusive to the Wonder, is a prime example of that. Inspired by the movie The Princess and the Frog, Tiana’s Place is the restaurant that Tiana always dreamed of opening in New Orleans, and (spoiler alert!) finally did at the end of the film. Tiana’s Place features Cajun- and Creole-style cuisine and is the first restaurant on any of Disney’s ships to have live music and entertainment during dinner. The Crawfish Crooners, with Tiana herself on vocals, play jazz standards during dinner before the wait staff leads a lively parade around the dining room. Don’t leave without trying the beignets.
5. Senses Spa & Salon
One guaranteed place to enjoy some quiet time on board is the Senses Spa & Salon. Another space that got a refresh, the spa now includes a special area just for teens to get pampered. For adults, select treatments include access to a private spa villa with a whirlpool tub and ocean views. But you don’t have to part with much cash to have a relaxing spa experience—for just $16 you can purchase a day pass to the spa’s Rainforest Room with two steam rooms, a variety of aromatherapy showers and heated lounge chairs. The spa area is also home to the ship’s fitness center, which is available to all passengers free of charge and offers panoramic ocean views while you sweat off last night’s dessert.
6. Oceaneer’s Club
The Oceaneer’s Club may be for children, but we’ll bet most of the adults on board wouldn’t mind spending some time there as well. A supervised, safe place for kids to play, the Club has been completely re-themed and includes the Marvel Super Hero Academy, exclusively on the Disney Wonder. The Academy has six classes that give children a chance to train alongside Spider-Man, Captain America and Black Widow. The final course uses a brand new videogame exclusive to the ship to teach children to fight the Hydra-Bot and save Hong Kong—no small task. The Oceaneer’s Club is also home to Andy’s Room, a play area themed to Toy Story with an amazing Slinky Dog Slide; and Frozen Adventures, where Anna and Elsa just might breeze by.
A must-do for adults on board any Disney cruise ship is snagging a reservation at Palo. The restaurant is only available to those 18 and up and is well worth the $30 charge. Palo received a makeover on the Wonder with Venetian-inspired décor (there’s a display of ornate Carnevale masks in the entryway), but the Northern Italian cuisine remains the same. Pro tip: Can’t decide between entrees? Ask for small portions of both, or two desserts. But whatever you choose, don’t miss the chocolate soufflé. Palo is always located at the rear of the uppermost deck of the ship and is open for dinner as well as brunch on days at sea.
Valerie Marino is a journalist based in Durham, North Carolina.