While this was my second Disney cruise, it was the first for my wife and kids, along with some friends. All total, it was my family of 4, my parents, our friends' family of 4, one set of their parents and a brother for a total of 13. Kids were aged 2-5.
This cruise on the Disney Wonder started in San Pedro (Los Angeles Port), had a couple days at sea, then a day in Puerto Vallarta, a day and a half in Cabo San Lucas, finishing with a day at sea before returning to Los Angeles.
Overall, it was a fabulous cruise. We took up 3 outside view cabins and one inside at the front of the ship.
Service and crowd control. The ship never really felt crowded. Even the really popular events weren't too crowded. Service everywhere was fantastic. I particularly liked how far they went to keep the ship clean.
Our servers were adequate. No real complaints, but they didn't particularly stand out either. The assistant server did entertain the kids on occasion, but we never felt any particular special care. I'm a firm believer of set dining times because I like having the same servers. This allows them to recognize my habits. For example, I always have a Coke at my meals. On my other cruises, the servers, after a couple of days or so, figure that out and learn to just have a Coke ready for me when I arrive so I don't have to wait. That's about the minimum I expect in order to rate them outstanding. Never happened here. They were very polite and attentive, just didn't go above the bare minimum that I expect.
Our room steward was fantastic though. He would give us special sheets. Some days, it would be Princess sheets for my daughter. Other days, he would use Cars sheets for my son. These special sheets were noticeably softer than the standard bedding too. I also caught him cleaning our room one day. He used a cleaning solution and was wiping down EVERY hard surface you could touch. Places I didn't expect, like the walls, sides of desks, etc. Made me feel really comfortable that I wouldn't catch norovirus.
Food was absolutely excellent. My parents had just got back from a 12 Day Celebrity cruise to the Mediterranean (Italy, Greek Islands, Turkey, etc). Celebrity is supposed to be a higher end line, but they said the service and food was far inferior to Disney. My only complaint is that after dinner, your food options basically end. The hot dog and pizzeria shut down around 10 or 11, which is basically when the late seating ends. One night, they did have something from 11 to midnite, but it was a small table about 4' x 2' with leftovers. Even the Pirate Night buffet was just 45 minutes long and ended at 11:15. So, if you're a late night snacker, room service is about your only option. Finally, all the ice cream desserts were amazing. I'm lactose intolerant but still ordered the ice cream sundae dessert with every meal. I tried the others too of course (typically the trio in order to sample more), but they could be hit or miss.
The ship itself is starting to feel its age. At night, you can really hear the ship creaking. Also, our toilets only worked about half the time. They were trying to repair something outside of our cabins, but it caused them to constantly shut off the toilets. It bothered our friends' parents more than it did us though. We just closed the lid and when they turned it back on, it would auto flush.
We found the front of the ship to be a bit inconvenient. It tended to be far away from most things (only the Disney Theater was close). Next time, I'll pick something midship or at least aft. Still, a big warning: we noticed that around cabin 2590, it was SUPER noisy from the engine or something mechanical. I've fallen asleep in the Tiki Room at Disneyland next to a speaker, but I don't think I could last a week in the cabins around 2590.
Other than that, I thought the ship was still beautiful and in pretty good shape. Some of the screen in Animator's Palate were a little off, but still ok overall. We were the first week with the Christmas decorations and it was fabulous.
As for the ports themselves, I don't think it's a big deal that Disney is going to stop cruising down the Mexican Riviera. My main complaint is that the cruise ports aren't anywhere near anything. No matter what you want to do, even if it's just shopping, you're going to have to pay someone to drive you out to your desired destination.
Puerto Vallarta - Walmart my be seen from the ship, but you have to cross what looks like a freeway to get there. In that heat and humidity? No thank you. Also, the place is pretty run down. Think Tijuana, but a little more run down. We did hire someone to give us a tour of Puerto, and while the beach is pretty nice and the water temperature just about perfect, the place badly needs some sprucing up. A lot of the buildings look like they're about to collapse any second. However, the people there are wonderfully nice. Just some really nice, nice people. I didn't mind having to pay to get anywhere because they were so nice, from our tour guides to the shop people we ran into.
Cabo San Lucas - just a constant gauntlet of people pestering you to take a tour or buy something from the second you step off the ship (have to tender in). Not the nicest about it either. Tourist trap all over it. The only way I could ever recommend Cabo to someone is if they stayed at one of those all inclusive resorts and never left the resort. I really dislike this place, despite it being very, very beautiful. Lover's Beach was wonderful. The weather and water temperature literally were perfect. When you got out of the ocean, you didn't notice the water because the air and water were basically the same temperature. The sand was very fine and soft and there are huge rock formations providing a ton of shade if you want it. Also, there's sea life you can see around the smaller rocks, like crabs and sea snails.
Our last day, we were apparently racing to get back to port. There were also two storm front colliding on us. Since the Wonder is a smaller ship (80,000 tons or so), we were tossed like a little toy boat. We were fine until this day, in which we needed the patches and still felt queasy. People were throwing up in the aisles during the show.
Oh, I forgot to mention the shows. Fantastic. You can clearly tell that Disney hired experienced Broadway people to help develop these shows. I don't think I've been on another line with a better collection of shows. I was worried my kids wouldn't like them because they're a bit young, but they absolutely loved them. The Walt Disney theater, which usually hosts the live shows, can also show 3D movies (Wreck It Ralph on ours). The Buena Vista Theater is where the movies are typically shown. Disney gives you the nice 3D glasses too. If you have little kids, you can ask the ushers for the green ones, which are more kid sized.
All in all, a wonderful cruise that met my already high expectations (my first Disney cruise was my favorite). If I ever did this again, I'd likely just stay on the ship except for maybe a few hours at Lover's Beach in Cabo. My son is already asking when we can go on another cruise. Next time, it'll be on the Fantasy or the Dream.