There's no better cruise line for families, period. It's not just the character appearances for kids or the teen spaces or the personalized service at dinner with Mickey-shaped ketchup pours; it's the attention to the oft-overlooked 18 to 20 demographic, the adults-only spaces including Quiet Cove and After Hours, production shows that all ages will enjoy and spaces for babies to play, as well. Family time is always encouraged through activities that include everyone.
Parents with little ones will want to seek out the It's a Small World Nursery, a place for toddlers and babies 6 months to 3 years. It features an acclimation zone, a main play area and separate quiet room for naps. Group babysitting and playtime incurs an extra fee -- $9 per hours and $8 for each additional child. Advanced reservations are encouraged, since it's a limited space. The international theme features cheery primary colors and cushioned floors.
Cribs and Diaper Genies can be delivered to your cabin upon request, and also reserved online ahead of your cruise.
Children ages 3 to 12 are in the sweet spot for kids' activities on Disney Wonder -- they have access to two giant play areas, the Oceaneer Club and the Oceaneer Lab, located on Deck 5 midship. The club offers a storytelling theme, with various rooms inspired by Disney Junior shows and the films "Toy Story," "Frozen" and the Marvel superhero movies; the lab is more of an experimental environment with a space theme. Kids older than 8 can sign themselves out of any activity with parental consent.
While the Oceaneer Club's rooms might be divided by theme, the club itself is an open space and kids can wander from room to room and throughout the middle to play with different features or participate in the activities, regardless of age. As for the separate rooms: Andy's Room features the oversized toys of "Toy Story," as well as the only interactive TV in the Disney fleet -- when Woody or Buzz come for a visit, the screen incorporates their presence into what's happening in the room. Also the only one of its kind in the fleet is Wandering Oaken's Trading Post, a reproduction of the cabin from "Frozen." Windows showing snow outside might change to offer an activity like "Olaf's Summer Snow Day" or other programs throughout the cruise. Objects here -- we're talking pickled onions and fish -- offer a true Norwegian atmosphere, and hidden trolls make great checklist items for organized scavenger hunts. IPads are in the back of the room for free play, and the princesses Anna and Else visit for a royal ceremony once per cruise.
In Marvel's Superhero Academy lights and sirens go off throughout the day indicating world peril that requires tiny superheroes' attention. A motion-capture video game allows the superhero kids to use teamwork to fight the bad guys, but at the end of each escapade youth staff emphasize the inner strengths and morals that make a hero, and not just the superpowers. Critical thinking is encouraged, and the superheroes add badges on their tags for accomplishing various tasks. Also inside is a display case of Marvel items like masks and relics, and Marvel heroes visit the kids on occasion.
The Disney Junior room is an inviting space for the smaller cruisers to interact with their favorite shows in a way that they can't do sitting in front of the screen at home. Kids can play in the realms of Princess Sofia, Doc McStuffins and Captain Jake while making crafts or listening to stories.
There are plenty of nighttime parties in the Oceaneer Club, from glow jams to pirate play and the GAGA ball.
The Oceaneer Club is too cool to restrict to just the kids. As such, there are open houses for older teens and adults who want to meet Captain America or Black Widow, take a romp through Andy's Room or a jaunt through Wandering Oaken's to catch the shopkeeper checking in from the sauna.
Also for kids 3 to 12, the Oceaneer Lab is a kid-friendly space for science experiments, computer use, educational toys and games, plus there's a beanbag area for reading and lounging. Activities include the Ratatouille Cooking School where kids can make chocolate-chip cookies; classes on the history and secrets of animation; and building race cars out of soap, based on "Cars."
A "secret" corridor connects the club to the Oceaneer Lab, which serves as a dining area for the kids during mealtimes if they're staying in the confines of the club. Both areas are open from 9 a.m. to midnight.
Kids and young teens from 11 to 14 have their own club, Edge, which is an open space with a dance floor, lounge, video games and karaoke. Activities include trivia, gender wars and Wii challenges. Edge is open from 9 a.m. to midnight, daily.
Your 14-year-old has two options when it comes to teen clubs. If they feel like they've aged out of Edge, they can enjoy the less structured environment of Vibe, relocated to the top of the ship on Deck 11 inside the red funnel. Activities are similar to Edge with trivia, themed parties and dances, but are a bit less structured. Teens through the age of 17 can hang in the dorm-like space or head to the sports court for some outdoor games.
Aged out of the teen clubs but not old enough to chat over drinks, the 18 to 20 set are usually left in limbo onboard most cruise ships. Disney strives to include everyone, and that's why the 1820 Society is a great alternative for young adults who are looking for their peers. Organized brunch, coffee or smoothie meetups, and other get-togethers give this cruiser demographic a place to fit in.