Cruises and Sailing

I Was On The First Sailing Of The Disney Wish, Here Are My 10 Favorite Experiences Onboard

cruises and sailing, destinations, disney cruises, types of travel, i was on the first sailing of the disney wish, here are my 10 favorite experiences onboard

Disney Wish’s upper decks feature a new family water attraction and dedicated spaces for families, children, and adults.Photo credit: Nancy Schretter

For the first time in forever, the Disney Cruise Line has added a brand-new ship to its fleet. The 4,000-passenger Disney Wish is the cruise line’s first new ship in ten years, and it was worth the wait. Disney Wish is filled with magical experiences, innovative technology, cinematic dining adventures, and immersive storytelling that brings much-loved Disney characters to life.

The Disney Wish vacation experience is designed to please families and multigenerational groups, as well as adults traveling without kids. This floating luxury resort is packed with boatloads of fun, superb family-friendly accommodations, and some fairytale-worthy suites. Disney Wish sails three and four-night cruises from Port Canaveral, Florida. Guests often combine these sailings with a few days at Walt Disney World to get the best Disney vacation on both land and sea.

I was invited by Disney Cruise Line to be their guest on the Disney Wish christening cruise. A few attractions, experiences, and entertainment still needed a little pixie dust to be fully ready, but we were able to sample many of them during our three-night sailing.

Here are my 10 favorite experiences on Disney Wish:

cruises and sailing, destinations, disney cruises, types of travel, i was on the first sailing of the disney wish, here are my 10 favorite experiences onboard

The dazzling, fairytale-inspired Grand Hall welcomes guests as they board the Disney Wish. Photo credit: Nancy Schretter

1. Making A Grand Entrance

There’s something special about stepping aboard the Disney Wish. The ship’s theme is “enchantment.” The magic comes alive when entering the dazzling fairytale-inspired Grand Hall. While boarding, a crew member announces your name to all those in the Grand Hall, and clapping ensues. While this occurs on every Disney Cruise Line ship, the Grand Hall’s opulent setting made me feel like I was being formally welcomed to Cinderella’s castle.

The Grand Hall’s magnificent chandelier features a spectacular wishing star that comes alive at certain times through the wonders of technology. Children will receive their own wishing wand upon boarding so they can make their first vacation wish when entering the Grand Hall, but that didn’t take place on our preview sailing.

Pro Tip: Look for Disney princesses appearing on the balcony of the Grand Hall as you enter. Disney characters can often be seen in and around the Grand Hall during sailings.

cruises and sailing, destinations, disney cruises, types of travel, i was on the first sailing of the disney wish, here are my 10 favorite experiences onboard

Chewbacca strikes a pose at Star Wars: Cargo Bay in Disney’s Oceaneer Club on the Disney WishPhoto credit: Nancy Schretter

2. Feeling Like A Kid Again

The Disney Wish is an exceptional vacation destination for kids, teens, and adults who love staying connected with their inner child. Guests become immersed in a wonderland of familar stories and beloved Disney characters. I always look forward to seeing the magic through kids’ eyes on a Disney cruise, and the Disney Wish kid’s and teen’s clubs are out-of-this-world. Adults will be jealous, and kids won’t want to leave.

Disney’s Oceaneer Club is the best cruise ship area I’ve seen for children ages three to 12. The club features more extraordinarily well-themed areas than ever, including Fairytale Hall, Star Wars: Cargo Bay, Marvel Super Hero Academy, Walt Disney Imagineering Lab, and Mickey and Minnie Captain’s Deck. The attention to detail in these spaces is mind-blowing, particularly in Star Wars: Cargo Bay. Children can check in to Disney’s Oceaneer Club in the Grand Hall, then slide “down the rabbit hole” directly to their club on deck two.

Kids of all ages have their special place on the Disney Wish. “It’s a small world” nursery caters to young cruisers ages six months to three years, while tweens and teens have their own hangouts. Edge is for tweens aged 11-14 and teens aged 14-17 have stylish Vibe plus The Hideaway, a multi-purpose area that also holds events for young adults aged 18-20.

Pro Tip: Adults can access Disney’s Oceaneer Club and the Oceaneer Club slide at the open house on embarkation day and during select Oceaneer Club open house events throughout the voyage. Ride the slide — your inner child will love it!

cruises and sailing, destinations, disney cruises, types of travel, i was on the first sailing of the disney wish, here are my 10 favorite experiences onboard

AquaMouse, the “first Disney attraction at sea”Photo credit: Amy Smith / Disney Cruise Line

3. Riding AquaMouse

Disney calls AquaMouse their “first Disney attraction at sea,” and this first-of-its-kind water coaster delivers tons of family fun. As an avid lover of waterslides and coasters, AquaMouse was a “must-do” on my Disney Wish voyage. The ride includes 760 feet of tubes winding around the ship’s top deck, over 60 water features, special lighting effects, an entertaining cinematic show, and spectacular ocean views.

Guests board their two-seat ride raft are conveyed through the lift hill tunnel while watching one of two new Disney animated short cartoons. Then, you’re off on a wild ride up around the ship’s upper decks, jetting up and down via speed blasters. It’s a cute ride — and you will certainly get wet.

AquaMouse age and height requirements make the attraction accessible to many families with kids. The water ride is fun and adventurous without being too scary or overwhelming for younger kids. The Disney Wish family area also features six pools, plus a Toy Story Splash Zone for little ones.

Pro Tip: AquaMouse lines can be lengthy, so go first thing in the morning or during dinner seatings. If there are long lines, check out Chip ‘n Dale’s Pool on deck 14. It offers covered loungers and incredible views.

cruises and sailing, destinations, disney cruises, types of travel, i was on the first sailing of the disney wish, here are my 10 favorite experiences onboard

The decadent six-layer carrot cake at Palo Steakhouse, one of two adults-only specialty dining venues on the Disney WishPhoto credit: Nancy Schretter

4. Dining At Palo Steakhouse

Palo Steakhouse is one of two exquisite adults-only specialty dining venues on Disney Wish. It’s an elegant “Beauty and the Beast” inspired setting with wraparound floor-to-ceiling windows, cozy booths, and spectacular views. The service and cuisine are exceptional. Our meal at Palo Steakhouse was one of the best we’ve had on a cruise and included antipasti, Japanese A5 Wagyu beef, pan-seared salmon, and butternut squash agnolotti. The tiramisu and six-layer carrot cake are decadent and delicious.

The ship’s second adults-only dining experience is Enchanté by Chef Arnaud Lallement, a celebrated gourmet restaurant created by three-star Michelin French Chef Arnaud Lallement.

Pro Tip: There’s an additional charge to dine at both restaurants. Guests must be 18 or older, and reservations should be made as far in advance as possible.

cruises and sailing, destinations, disney cruises, types of travel, i was on the first sailing of the disney wish, here are my 10 favorite experiences onboard

The fireworks display during Disney Wish’s nighttime deck celebration, Pirate’s Rockin’ Parlay Party Photo credit: Nancy Schretter

5. Rockin’ Out At The Pirate’s Rockin’ Parlay Party

Disney’s parks are famed for their spectacular nighttime events, so it’s no surprise this floating theme park at sea has an amazing celebration as well. The “Pirate’s Rockin’ Parlay Party” is a brand-new version of Disney Cruise Line’s pirate-themed nighttime deck party featuring live rock ‘n’ roll music, stunts, amazing special effects, and even a fireworks show at sea.

Inspired by Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” attraction, the pirate night extravaganza features Captain Redd and her pirate band along with an appearance by Captain Jack Sparrow. Disney Cruise Line is the only cruise line that includes fireworks shows regularly on its voyages, and I always look forward to their dazzling displays.

Pro Tip: The fireworks launch over the ship’s starboard side. We watched from deck 12, and the views were incredible.

cruises and sailing, destinations, disney cruises, types of travel, i was on the first sailing of the disney wish, here are my 10 favorite experiences onboard

Bar at the Disney Wish‘s Star Wars: Hyperspace LoungePhoto credit: Nancy Schretter

6. Taking In Galactic Views At Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge   

I couldn’t wait to experience Disney Wish’s Star Wars-themed bar at sea, and the immersive experience lived up to the hype for me. Yes, there’s a $5,000 drink on the menu, but this venue is so much more. The lounge is designed to feel like a lavish starcruiser where guests can sip creative intergalactic concoctions while enjoying the panoramic vistas of galaxies far, far away. I was completely mesmerized watching the action-packed encounters and stunning views of places like Endor and Tatooine. The viewport’s scenes blur as the ship periodically “jumps” to a new location via hyperspace, and it’s hard to get bored.

The highly-themed cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks here are great. Some of our favorites included the zero-proof Temple Twist, The Golden One from the Moons of Endor, Berken’s Flow, and The Chancellor — complete with an added bubble of cinnamon smoke.

Pro Tip: This sought-after experience is currently limited to 45 minutes, and advance reservations are now being made on embarkation day. Families can access the lounge during the day, but the space converts to adults-only at 9 p.m.

cruises and sailing, destinations, disney cruises, types of travel, i was on the first sailing of the disney wish, here are my 10 favorite experiences onboard

Ant-Man and the Wasp visit a table at the Worlds of Marvel “cinematic dining experience”Photo credit: Amy Smith / Disney Cruise Line

7. Marveling At Disney Wish’s Rotational Dining

Disney Wish offers three rotational specialty-quality dining venues for guests, including the first and only Frozen and Marvel-inspired restaurants at sea. No surcharges are involved, and your wait staff move with you each night.

Worlds of Marvel is an interactive cinematic delight featuring Avengers: Quantum Encounter starring Ant-Man and the Wasp. The dining experience is filled with mission-intensive storytelling, Marvel-inspired menu items, and character appearances that will keep both adults and kids engaged. Each table has a quantum core, and we had fun interacting with it to help save the day.

Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure is an entertaining dinner theater-type experience starring favorite characters from Disney’s blockbuster hit, Frozen. Guests will enjoy the character interactions, live band, great food, and fantastic entertainers who bring the world of Frozen to life. The Nordic-style cuisine is excellent here, particularly the seafood.

The restaurant, 1923, offers a classy entertainment-free dining experience where the food is the star of the show. One half of the restaurant is dedicated to Walt Disney and the other to Roy Disney.

Pro Tip: It’s great to attend the Marvel Super Hero Academy open house to get the backstory for the Worlds of Marvel cinematic entertainment show.

cruises and sailing, destinations, disney cruises, types of travel, i was on the first sailing of the disney wish, here are my 10 favorite experiences onboard

The Bayou, an adults-only lounge inspired by The Princess and the FrogPhoto credit: Nancy Schretter

8. Enjoying Adults-Only Areas

The Disney Wish was designed to cater to adults sailing without children, as well as parents and grandparents traveling with kids. As a result, there are plenty of adult-only spaces spread across multiple decks, and the cocktail lounges are superb. My favorites were The Rose, Nightingale’s, and The Bayou, a stunning magnolia-canopied lounge inspired by Disney Animation Studios film, The Princess and the Frog.

Additional memorable adults-only spots on the Disney Wish include the Quiet Cove’s aft-facing infinity pool, the Moana-inspired Cove Café, and the Senses Spa’s Rainforest experience featuring a brand-new outdoor oasis. Purchase rainforest passes as far in advance as possible.

Pro Tip: There’s live jazz music in the evenings at The Bayou and live piano music at Nightingale’s. If you want to have more time for evening entertainment, it might be best to choose the early dinner seating.

cruises and sailing, destinations, disney cruises, types of travel, i was on the first sailing of the disney wish, here are my 10 favorite experiences onboard

Disney The Little Mermaid, an original stage adaptation of The Little Mermaid exclusively on the Disney WishPhoto credit: Amy Smith / Disney Cruise Line

9. Watching Enchanting New Shows

Disney Cruise Line’s entertainment is Broadway-caliber, and the Walt Disney Theatre’s immersive performances bring the magic to life. We saw previews of Disney The Little Mermaid and Disney Seas the Adventure, two brand-new shows making their debut on the Disney Wish. Both were outstanding. Guests will also be able to enjoy a reimagined adaptation of Disney’s Aladdin — A Musical Spectacular on Disney Wish sailings.

Entertainment choices abound on the Disney Wish, including free first-run movie showings in the Never Land and Wonderland cinemas, shows and interactive features on the Grand Hall’s atrium stage, and programming in the new Luna entertainment hub. This wealth of indoor entertainment options will help keep families happy, even in inclement weather.

Pro Tip: Wheelchair-accessible seating is available in Disney Wish cinemas and the Walt Disney Theatre. Starting 30 minutes before show times, crew members are available at the deck 3 entrance to the Walt Disney Theatre to assist guests to wheelchair-accessible seating.

cruises and sailing, destinations, disney cruises, types of travel, i was on the first sailing of the disney wish, here are my 10 favorite experiences onboard

An obstacle course in the Incredi-Games in the Hero Zone sports arenaPhoto credit: Amy Smith / Disney Cruise Line

10. Playing Incredible Games

Disney Uncharted Adventure is a first-of-its-kind interactive game played through the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app. We previewed this free immersive experience on our sailing, and it takes storytelling to a new level. Guests can create their own avatars then head out on themed quests throughout the ship. The multidimensional journey features augmented reality and special effects, unlocking hidden layers of magic around the ship. I loved being immersed in this adventure, and the technology is amazing.

More action-packed games are available in Disney Wish’s Hero Zone sports arena. Don’t miss running through The Incredibles–themed inflatable obstacle course, which is part of the ship’s Incredi-Games experience. It’s lots of fun, and it’s not just for kids. Time slots are pre-announced, so check the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app to see when the obstacle course will be available.

Pro Tip: Disney Uncharted Adventure will be a fantastic experience to play with family and friends once it’s fully operational onboard. Families can play together by linking up to six mobile devices at once or team up by using just one or two devices at a time.

For more information about traveling on Disney cruises, check out these articles: