Recently I was able to check off a bucket list item – a cruise through the Panama Canal!
This was the highlight of our 30 Day Vacay (yes, we went on vacation for 30 days – I’ll do a separate blog post on THAT!)
If you have ever considered a long cruise like the Panama Canal crossing, DO it! You will not regret it. This was the best time I have ever had on a Disney cruise ship. I put together a list of the top 14 reasons why you should take one of these cruises:
#1 – Time. So if you can take the time off from work, you can’t beat the amount of time on this ship. Every cruise always seemed so rushed to me. Even 7 night cruises, I found myself not getting to do all of the activities and not getting to relax enough. Well, I was still very busy on the 14 night cruise but I definitely had a lot more time to relax and enjoy cruising to it’s fullest this time around.
#2 – Activities. These longer cruises are so much fun because they put together “different” activities that aren’t normally offered on regular sailings. We got to play hide & seek with the officers, cruise director & captain one day! We got to enjoy ADULT only nights in the kid’s clubs! Our kids got to SLEEP OVER in the kid’s club (that’s right! We were off duty for one night! ha!) Those Navigators are chocked full of things going on every day for all ages including FREE first run movies!
#3 – Ports. On this particular itinerary, we were able to stop at Disney’s Castaway Cay, Cartagena, Columbia, Puntarenas, Costa Rica, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico & Cabo San Lucas. That’s a great mix of rare (and beautiful) ports!
#4 – Boarding & Disembarking. We boarded the Wonder in Port Canaveral, Florida and disembarked in San Diego, California. We were able to tack on a stay at Walt Disney World in the beginning and then we got to visit Disneyland afterwards! How great is THAT!?
#5 – Time (I know I said this already but this is sort of a time travel thing…) – By going on the Westbound Panama Canal cruise, we were able to GAIN hours because of the time zone changes. Keep this in mind if you are looking to book. I would always go for the westbound so you get more time onboard… you would hate to cut it short even by a few hours.
#6 – Educational. My kids learned so much on this cruise. Between trivia, lectures, the onboard narrative as we navigated the canal, the different countries/languages… nothing can take the place of this experience. I had someone recently compliment me on how well cultured my kids are and how these trips help them to be so well versed in manners and knowledge that most people will never learn. That means so much to me.
#7 – Special Guests.
We got to see some amazing shows while we were on board. In addition to the Broadway style shows, they had variety acts like comedians, musicians, jugglers, magicians, etc. We were able to see Paige O’Hara (the original Belle from Beauty & the Beast) and meet her to get her autograph. My 11 year old son even took a selfie with her. Where else do you get these opportunities? Captain Kenneth Puckett was onboard with us and he gave several lectures all about the Panama Canal (history, crossing stories, etc.). He has crossed the canal over 1,400 times in his life. This man is a legend. We got to hang out and talk to him giving my kids experiences they won’t ever get anywhere else.
#8 – Cast Members. We got to know so many of the wonderful workers on board. They are truly what makes a Disney cruise so special. We made fast friends with them and when the last night came, it was so hard to say goodbye. It was like they were family. We have become friends on social media with a lot of them and keep in touch.
#9 – Characters. With such a long cruise, there were plenty of opportunities to meet your favorite characters. We saw so many just roaming the ship. On the day we crossed the Panama Canal, there were a record number of characters out to keep guests entertained. There were Pixar characters as well! We had a couple rare opportunities to get pictures taken with a large group as well. That NEVER happens! Lines are much shorter on a cruise than in the parks too.
#10 – Special Merchandise. We had postcards, pins, books, shirts, mugs, etc. that could all be purchased on board with the Panama Canal print on them. These are only available during this sailing and nowhere else. This is great for any collector!
#11 – Photo Package. We have done the photo package on past 7 night cruises and felt like we always got our money’s worth. Well, this cruise was a bargain with the digital photo package only being just under $340. We had well over 300 photos taken on this cruise (and not to brag but we had the best photographers ever on this ship). To me, this is worth it. I have these photos to cherish forever and they are way better quality than my phone could’ve ever taken.
#12 – No Cooking or Cleaning. So. Much. Food. You know the golden rule? You have to eat your cruise fare in food, right? I’m pretty sure we came close in just the free ice cream on board this time. I can’t tell you how much I loved our room steward. He was absolutely amazing and took care of organizing the kid’s shoes when they just threw them places and even set up a princess bed for my daughter. How sweet is that!? Touches you don’t get on any other cruise line!
#13 – Kid’s Clubs. The kids will make friends! My kids were able to connect with others from all around the world and stay in touch with them now afterwards. The kid’s clubs are invaluable to you as a parent and you don’t have to worry while they’re in them. They are being well taken care of.
#14 – Pricing. You probably think “Yeah, but what did this COST you?” You would be surprised to know that this cruise was actually cheaper than most 7 night cruises. It was such a fantastic deal! Taking a look at the next WBPC cruise sailing in February 2020 – $4,662 for 2 people in an inside stateroom was the starting price when they went on sale. $5,612 for 2 people in the same category on the Fantasy for a 7 night cruise in April (also pricing the first day they were released) – surprising, right!?
If that’s not enough reasons for you, have a chat with my kids and they’ll tell you that was the best two weeks of their lives! We had so much fun!!!