Embarkation The port at Seattle is nice and spacious. The lines were pretty quick and boarding was fast. We got to the port at around 11:15 and quickly got through check-in within about 10 minutes. There was a mix up because they had my mother in law as a first timer so they wouldn't give her the silver lanyard, etc. They did note it though and later when I was on the ship, I checked with guest services and they did have it updated (and gave her a silver lanyard).
I stood in the long line to get my son's wrist band. Minor annoyance here was that the forms to fill out for your child were on a table but there were only 2 pens because everyone stole the pens. I was waiting for this lady to finish up so that I can use the pen after her but of course...she ended up just walking off with the pen! Some people... They always seem to call my boarding number around the time that I get to the front of this long line and sure enough it happened again. I was boarding group 7 and they called 7 when I was about 2 people from the front so I just kept waiting in line. By the time my son got his wrist band, they were at group 12. They called groups quickly (every 3 minutes or so). Getting on the ship was nice as they continued with the traditional welcoming of each family.
We headed straight to Parrot Cay. I usually like eating at Parrot Cay instead of Beach Blanket because they will assign a table to you rather than force you to walk around looking for an empty table. I enjoyed the first meal as I was pretty hungry.
I made 2 palo reservations online. I wanted to see if I could change the times of my reservations as well as add some more people to my reservation. We were traveling with my son, MIL, sister in law, and SIL's husband but when I booked online, I was only able to book tables for 3, not 5. They tried to book online but by the time they got online it was full.
So we walked over to Wave Bands and made reservations. It was simple and fast. They had lots of availability, etc.
Our meals were all excellent. Of course this is a cruise ship, not a 5 star restaurant so expectations need to be aligned. They aren't cooking your food to order so customizations, etc. should be kept at a minimum. Our servers were both great and friendly and took the time to chat and be personable. Our assistant waiter was good but didn't do some of the things that previous assistants did such as play games, give little puzzles / brain teasers, etc. But he did get us drinks and stayed friendly the entire trip.
Our waiter also had no problems hooking us up with extra lobster tails, etc. Those lobster tails were huge!
The ship is in great condition. They are keeping up the ship pretty well. I did see a few cracks and discolorations, etc. here and there but overall, the ship is still a beauty. They did paint the black on the ship during the ports, etc. Our room smelled of heavy paint fumes but oh well...once the paint dried and we were moving it was fine.
Shows / Entertainment
We didn't watch all of the shows this time since this was our 3rd Disney cruise (all on the wonder). But I did watch the Golden Mickeys and the first show (forgot what it was). Both shows were pretty good. They had a funny physical comedy guy named Max Winfrey and he was great. He was really funny for both the kids and the adults. I went to his adult show as well as the family show and both were excellent.
The bucket boys were also good. All of the entertainment on the ship was great for a cruise ship.
Our room was 6134. This is one of the rear plexiglass balcony rooms with a slightly obstructed balcony so you basically pay for a cat 7 room but get a cat 6 quality room so it's a good deal. The room was nice but a little cramped (i.e., if I wanted to walk from the bathroom to the sofa, the bed was in the way so only one person could walk through at a time). The sofa cushions were worn so it was a bit uncomfortable sitting on the sofa. The bed was nice though.
One of our wave phones weren't working so I took it to guest services and they were able to fix it. They just pulled off the battery and re-seated it. I tried to do that but didn't want to force open the battery cover in the back but it turns out you can just force it open.
Our room steward was great as well. He was always working. If he wasn't cleaning rooms, he was cleaning the doors, rails, hallways, etc. We had Arturo from the Philippines. He made towel animals every night.
My son spent all of his time at the Oceaneer Lab. He spent a few hours in the Oceaneer Club when the Lab was closed (or had open house). He really enjoyed the video games and arts and crafts in there. He wanted to stay there all day long but we pulled him out for dinners, sightseeing at the ports, etc.
We went swimming on the first morning (day 2) when most people didn't realize that the pool was heated. Everyone was walking by giving us a look like we're 2 crazy people since the 2 of us were the only ones in the pool at 9am. But a few people did walk over and put their hands on the water to check the temperature and by 10am, there were some more kids, etc.
The ports were nice. Like most cruise lines, they do push pretty hard on shopping at the ports for stuff like diamonds, jewelry, watches, etc. I'm not really a big shopper so I didn't go to any of the shopping talks or step foot in any of the jewelry places. I did go to some souvenir shops though and the prices seemed ok (t-shirts for $10-$15, etc.).
Tracy Arm was cold but it was interesting seeing the glacier and all of the ice around us. I mostly hung around the secret deck at 7 aft and our room balcony. Deck 10 was nice though and not nearly as crowded as I thought it would be. Maybe it's because it was rainy so people stayed in their rooms a lot more. They did have hot chocolate and cookies out for everyone and there was a covered section. They also had bbq at the rear of deck 10.
Skagway was fun. We rented a car and drove through the Yukon to Carcross and Emerald Lake. I used Murray's guide and it was great. The actual town of Skagway is pretty small and there really isn't much to do there.
Juneau seemed like it had a lot to do but we were only there from 7-2pm and we got to town at around 10am after breakfast. We went on a tour to the Mendenhall glacier and the city for 2.5 hours and it was ok. We just booked it in the city when we got there. The price was $30 but they guy gave us a $5 discount to $25. There were some bald eagles as well.
Ketchikan was pretty fun and we saw lots of salmon trying to get upstream. The little town area was also nice with lots of small shops, etc. Creek street was an interesting little street and we also took the funicular up to the lodge.
Victoria was a nice Canadian city but we were only there from 6-10pm so we really spent about an hour or so walking around the city.
We didn't do any of the Disney port adventures so I can't comment on those but these ports were pretty fun with lots of good nature to look at, etc.
We had brunch at Palo. It was awesome. There is a great assortment of anti-pastas, crab, king crab legs, caviar, sticky buns, vegetables, shrimp, priscutto, etc. We had a nice server named Alex who took the time to explain everything to us. They also have hot dishes that we can order through him so we got some pasta, pizzas, and main dishes (veal, chicken parmesan, etc.). It also comes with a mimosa or sparkling wine. And don't forget the dessert...nice assortment there too.
Brunch was great and is well worth the additional fee.
We also gave him a decent tip ($15/person).
We had dinner at Palo as well on the next evening and as soon as Alex saw us, he ran over to us and bent over backwards to welcome us. He brought us over to a table and couldn't wait to serve us again.
There was some confusion because our server was supposed to be Salvatore from Italy (Naples / Napoli) and he came by to introduce himself to us but Alex stepped in and got rid of him. I guess there was a minor turf war or something but anyway, Alex served us again.
He did very well and got us plenty of food and variety. He also got us a good variety of desserts (chocolate souffle, etc.). He really took care of us that night. He was missing his family a lot since he was at the end of his 6 month contract and would be heading back to Russia on Monday for 2 months.
The head of the restaurant Dragan (from Croatia) also came by to ask if there was anything he could do for us and we discussed heading over to Palo one more time. We discussed it at the table and decided to do another brunch on the last day. It was pretty booked but he was able to fit us in for a late seating (noon) on the last day.
So we had 3 meals at Palo this trip and all of the meals were excellent. Our server was great (I'm sure the tip helped) and I highly recommend it.
Final breakfast and disembarking
We had our final breakfast at Parrot Cay. It was nice but after all of this food overload I was sad and ready to get off the ship. We finished breakfast at 8 (started at 7:15) and they called our group as we were walking out so we just walked off the ship.
Disembarking was fast and our bags were waiting for us at the terminal. We walked outside and grabbed and taxi and went home. Quick and painless.
We booked a cruise onboard for 11/2013 on the Fantasy. I don't know if we'll actually take that cruise but I do want to check out one of their newer ships on a 7 day cruise. It looks like the only option for 2013 is to go to Florida. I would have preferred a west coast sailing or a Europe sailing but oh well.
The ship was a bit crowded with around 2400 passengers. The Wonder is rated for 1700 passengers based on double occupancy but with all of the kids, I think it's always much higher than 1700. I think around 2000 passengers would work well. The elevators were pretty crowded, food lines were crowded, Beach Blanket Buffet didn't have a lot of open tables, Walt Disney theatre was pretty full, etc.
Of course there is no saving seats at the Walt Disney theatre but that didn't stop people from doing it anyway. I did get a bit annoyed one night as we were there 15 minutes early but still couldn't find seating. I only needed 3 seats but people were saving 5+ seats, etc. I finally got so fed up with this one guy who gave the old excuse "my wife and 3 kids are in the bathroom" that I just told my wife really loudly "should I just call over the staff to tell this guy that he can't save seats?" but she didn't want to cause a scene. Hopefully he'll just tell his wife and kids to come with him next time rather than "I'll get there early and save you all seats"...but who knows. The other days were were ok but I also didn't go there as often as previous cruises.