I can't say that I was weaned on Walt Disney, although I do distinctly remember being unnerved by the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" sequence in the 1940 movie classic Fantasia. I also have memories of Space Mountain and the monorail from a family vacation to Disney World when I was a child. That's about the extent of my Disney indoctrination.
So making my way on to the Disney Wonder recently for a three-night Bahamian cruise, I didn't know what to expect. Deep down I may have presumed that there would be kids nipping at my feet all day, and by nightfall a tablet of Alka-Seltzer would be necessary to relieve the ringing in my head. That's of course until I actually stepped on board.
Suffice it to say, my prejudgment was disproved—not entirely, mind you—but enough so that I can unequivocally say that adults without any kids will enjoy a Disney cruise. Just like Fantasia, Disney can be more mature. So how does Disney Cruises resolve to do it both ways?
Obviously, Disney is known for catering to kids, and the cruise line takes no shortcuts toward that, offering two children's pools, various kids clubs and multiple stage shows replete with Disney characters. Yet it knows that kids aren't the only market out there—adults want to enjoy themselves, too.
To that end, there are many adult-centric activities and options on a Disney cruise. Three main bars/lounges occupy both the Wonder and Magic. Diversions, the name of the sports bar on both ships, is great for catching a game or playing a board game amongst friends. My favorite thing about the lounge is that it's atypical for a sports bar. It's not loud, and the walls are not adorned with sports paraphernalia. Instead, the environment is subdued, with comfortable furniture and table service. Not to mention the complimentary buffet, stocked with bar-food favorites like hot dogs.
Outside sits the Signals bar, which services the Quiet Cove Pool. This area is only for adults 18 and up. A sign is prominently displayed stating such, although a kid every once in a while may squeak through. It's not egregious though, and, for the most part, the area is quite peaceful. Though it sits next to one of the children's pools, you won't hear any loud noises cascading over to this quiet area. It's the perfect place for adults to relax in the sun, read a book or listen to music (preloaded iPods can be rented free of charge on board).
An Oasis for Adults
A Disney cruise caters to grown-ups so well that you may even forget you are on a Disney vacation—save for the ship's horn that now and again blasts four bars from "When You Wish Upon A Star." If you want a second opinion, consider Barbara Nefer-Lesniak, a home-based travel agent in Celebration, FL, and veteran of 56 Disney cruises—all taken sans children. "Disney has the designated adults-only areas and they are enforced," she says. "I've been on some Royal Caribbean cruises and they don't crack down on that kind of thing." Nefer-Lesniak has also recommended Disney cruises for couples, especially for weddings and vow-renewal packages. She says that though some of her clients may be leery at first, they always come back happy.
Nefer-Lesniak will also agree that when it's time to eat, making a reservation at Palo—the fine-dining restaurant available on both ships—is a great way to spend an evening with your significant other. Northern Italian is the cuisine and the homemade gelato is a must. Notably, no kids are allowed in the restaurant, so it's as civilized as it is tasty.
Above all else, the Vista Spa & Salon is the ultimate adult getaway. The spa on the Wonder was given a recent facelift, adding more space and improvements to the private villa rooms. I enthusiastically recommend booking a private villa for a massage or facial. Not only is there an indoor treatment room, there is a private adjoining balcony that features a hot tub and chaise lounge. The spa also houses what it calls its Rainforest Room, which is pattered after a Turkish bath. It's spacious and segmented by multiple steam rooms and saunas of varying temperatures. It's a great way to start off the day or end it.
Now, if you are like me, you like to start off your day with a nice shower. If there is one thing that Disney does truly right, it's the staterooms—particularly the bathrooms. The shower is separate from the toilet and stocked with products by H2O Plus. Upon leaving your stateroom, consider making the Cove Café your first stop of the day. It's a coffee lover's home away from Starbucks.