My family and I went on the Disney Wonder to the Mexican Riviera at the end of April, and all I can say is, “Take me back!!!”. No, but, seriously. We’ve been fortunate to cruise with Disney once before, but this time was a whole new world (see what I did there?) being able to take my 3.5 year old son. Seeing the magic and wonder in his eyes made the whole trip and if you’ve ever been to the parks or on a Disney cruise… those aren’t just cliche terms and you know what I’m talking about.
Being a professional photographer, I brought my mirrorless camera in hopes of capturing some of the magic with it, but honestly, I thought I would have used it more. I got some great shots of Walt eating ice cream on the deck and some of my son and husband in the pool, but aside from that I used other means to capture the moments and most importantly, was able to live the moments. From frequenting the Disney parks with a young kid and now cruising with a toddler, I have some tips to help you capture the moments of your vacation.
When going on your vacation, I recommend you use a variety of cameras. I like to have something on me at all times that has the ability to take a photo, and with smart phones and some point and shoot cameras, it’s easy to carry around something that isn’t too bulky or hinders your overall experience. The types of cameras I used on this last cruise included:
A GoPro with a sleeve that allowed me to hang it around my neck.
My Sony A7 Mirrorless camera with the 50 mm lens (forgot to pack my 35 mm lens which I totally would use next time for tight spaces) in a small travel shoulder bag
My iPhone X with a tough case
The Disney PhotoPass Professionals throughout the cruise ship (Also available at any Disney Park)
There are so many different great camera options out there, it’s worth researching after you figure out what you want your camera to do for you. In my opinion, the best camera is the one you can access quickly to capture the moment, because on vacation, great moments are happening all the time.
GoPro Hero 7
The GoPro allowed me to take fun photos in the pool and on the beach without worrying about sand or water damage since it’s waterproof. The silicone sleeve on a lanyard also allowed me to free up my hands and forget that it was even around when I didn’t want to utilize it. I would highly recommend purchasing a waterproof camera for any vacations, or if you just want to use your smart phone, there are waterproofing cases that I’ve heard work well too, however I don’t have any experience with them.
Sony A7 Mirrorless Camera
My mirrorless allowed me to get those beautiful bokeh shots and close ups that is hard to recreate with other cameras. I wasn’t able to use it indoors as much as I thought due to the lighting (I didn’t bring a flash), but if I had a flash I probably would’ve used it more indoors. There is very little natural light throughout the ship with the exception a balcony room and right by the port holes. For those point and shoot cameras with the flash built in, you’re good to go.
As I mentioned earlier, the best camera is the camera you can access quickly, so if you don’t mind carrying around your phone (the navigator is now available on the phone through an app which I thought was insanely helpful), you can capture the unexpected moments like running into Donald on the deck on Pirate Night and having a pretend sword fight.
DCL Professional Photos
The last recommendation I have for getting great photos is to utilize the professional photos! There are professional photographers throughout the ship, typically paired with a character greeting or at dinner. They are usually excellent at their job and capture those sweet moments like your little one walking up to greet their favorite character for the first time. The service is free, as they plan on you falling in love with the photos and purchasing them throughout the cruise. The great thing is you can always buy some or none at all. Being a photographer, and obsessed with Disney characters, I always want to buy them all. The photos and some Minnie Mouse ears are typically my souvenirs. So if you know that you are planning to take lots of photos with cute outfits and characters, it’s worth looking into buying the All digital package beforehand ($199) instead of waiting onboard (price increases to $350 for all downloads). Once onboard, the lowest package is 15 digital images for $199. (Prices from April 2019 cruise).
One last thing to remember is, enjoy the moment! I used to get really caught up with documenting it all with my mirrorless camera and trying to capture every perfect moment, but it was exhausting and honestly, not realistic when you’re chasing a toddler around (hello you need both hands to help wrangle and coral!). I’ve gotten much better about getting a couple photos on whatever camera I have on me, and then putting it away, because while I want to remember the vacation, I also want to experience it! It is a tough balance though and what has helped me is to remember that the overall goal is capturing the moment so later on I can reminisce about that memory. On vacation, the goal isn’t to produce a perfectly composed and posed image. By reminding myself of this, I’m able to maximize my vacation, get some great shots, and have a scrapbook full of memories at the end.