I love Mickey Mouse. I also love Donald Duck, Goofy, Peter Pan, Captain Hook, Alice-in-Wonderland.... So my expectations going on a three-day Disney Wonder cruise from Port Canaveral, Fla., were over the top.
|Andy Vladimir, center, savors the Disney treatment.|
I wasn’t disappointed.
Disney runs a cruise like no other. The ship’s black hull and old-fashioned smokestacks immediately remind you of a grand old ocean liner. And the ship’s horn plays “When You Wish Upon a Star”!
On our cabin door was a sign, “Welcome Vladimir Family.” Every cabin can sleep a whole family, and little details revealed design with a special, caring, nurturing touch.
Our spacious room included a grand balcony and a walk-in closet. Moreover, there was a phone by each bed, each with a panic button. There was also one in the super-sized roll-in bathroom, which had one of the easiest doors to open I’ve found.
With a nursery for babies, this ship has an entire deck dedicated to children’s activities: the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab where play, story and craft programs run all day long. The Disney Sea University program for ages 8-9 has real classes and a graduation ceremony.
But don’t expect to see just families on this ship — 32 percent of passengers are adult couples and singles.
There’s a teen hang-out, and at least half a deck for adult-only activities, like a sports bar, a jazz cafe and a first-class spa. Everything else is open to everyone.
The Disney Wonder has three dining rooms, each one different. At the breakfast and lunch buffets in each there are separate lines for children with items like macaroni and cheese, hot dogs and ice cream.
Of course, all your favorite Disney characters are on board. They patiently sign autographs and pose for pictures.
The entertainment is pure Disney — the same kind of family shows you see in the parks, with engaging stories, a live band and special effects. Think “Lion King” and “Cinderella.” There are even fireworks every night.
Castaway Cay, Disney’s private Bahamas island, features an area for families and children, and a more secluded area exclusively for adults. The island is chock-full of snorkeling areas, boats to rent, bikes to ride, and gorgeous beaches with white sand and turquoise waters.
Accessibility has been a prime consideration in Disney’s design of this entire cruise vacation experience. As in their parks, you can see everything, do everything and go everywhere. I loved it! Go to disneycruise.com.
Medjet Assistance — air evacuation insurance
|Air evacuation insurance can be an invaluable precaution.|
You’re on a Caribbean cruise, and you have a major medical emergency requiring hospitalization. You don’t want to stay on the island or the ship; you want to go home. But, like most insurance policies, yours doesn’t cover an air ambulance to take you there.
The answer is air evacuation insurance. The best deal, I think, is Medjet Assistance. As long as you’re more than 150 miles from home, or, under certain circumstances, if you need to be transported to some specialty hospital more than 150 miles away from your home, you can ask for an air ambulance.
The service costs $325 a year for a family, or $205 for an individual membership. There are a few caveats and restrictions, and you can’t call for help more than twice a year, but it’s worth checking out. You can look at www.medjetassistance.com, or call (800) 963-3538.
Another useful service — luggage concierge
I don’t know about you, but for me handling luggage is a real hassle.
I was delighted to learn there’s a service that picks up your luggage at home before you leave and delivers it to wherever you’re going, so it’s in your room or ship cabin when you arrive. Luggage Concierge provides door-to-door round-trip service, protective shipping bags, $1,500 insurance on every bag, and a tracking service so you can see where your stuff is.
See www.luggageconcierge.com or call (800) 288-9818.
Frisco access guide
The city of hills has made it easier to get around, or at least, find out how to get around.
”Access San Francisco” lists accessible transportation, tips and lodging information as well as a guide to accessible tourist attractions. For more information, go to www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com/plan_your_trip/access_guide.asp.
In my March-April column, I reported on Spector et al. v. Norwegian Cruise Lines; several people with disabilities sued Norwegian for noncompliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Norwegian had argued that since its ships are registered in foreign countries, the ADA couldn’t be applied to the ships.
I’m happy to report that the U.S. Supreme Court has decreed the statute applies to foreign ships in U.S. waters to the same degree that it applies to American ships in those waters.
Although I believe the cruise industry is making strides to accommodate us, I’m also grateful this decision gives those of us with disabilities who travel the legal standing to challenge shipboard conditions we believe to be discriminatory under the ADA.