This was our fourth cruise, second with DCL. Our first was on the Disney Magic last year out of Port Canaveral.
We drove into Miami the morning of embarkation; it took 3.5 hours with a stop for breakfast. We parked at Premier Cruise Parking, booked through Global Airport Parking. Not to be confused with Premier Parking Ventures! This parking facility was a garage with gate. We parked on the top floor and our car was intact, albeit a little dirty upon our return. The shuttle service was top notch. We didn't have to wait long for a shuttle in either direction.
Check-in went very smoothly and is set-up similar to that in Port Canaveral. The main differences being the size of the terminal. In Miami, they are currently using terminal F. It is long and narrow in the check-in area. There may have been more room further on, but we didn't have time to check things out. The shuttle dropped us of at 11am exactly. We gave our bags to the porters and there was no wait to check-in once we got inside and we received boarding group #3. We had just enough time for a bathroom break, organize our lanyards, and take a peek at the Personal Navigator. By 11:35, they were announcing the family of the day to board and regular boarding commenced immediately after they got on. We were boarding the ship at 11:45a!
We attended the Welcome Buffet in Parrot Cay, the main dining room which is set up as a buffet for breakfast and lunch. We had a nice leisurely lunch while we waited for the rooms to be ready. After, we brought our 2 year old to the nursery and club, for open house, to check out what was there for her to play with. She enjoyed both areas very much and made another reservation for her to stay in the nursery while we were there because we had booked a Tequila Tasting for the first sea day at guest services.
A little before 1:30 we decided to head to deck 7, where our staterooms were located. A rope was across the hallway that stated 2:00pm was the official time rooms are to be opened. We knew from past experience that it could be as early as 1:30pm. We were in our rooms before 1:40! We had stateroom 7102 and our family was in the connecting stateroom of 7100. The staterooms were in a good location, close to the AFT elevators and therefore close to 90% of the dining options. It's a long walk back to the room from the shows at night, especially with a sleeping toddler in your arms. I posted a small review of the stateroom for more info.
We visited two ports, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.
The tender process in Grand Cayman was efficient. We got to the Buena Vista Theater early to get our tender tickets. We were doing the Turtle Farm on our own and didn't have the priority boarding that the excursions get. We made it onto the first tender, easily. It was an early arrival (7:30am), so there weren't as many people waiting for the first tender as I expected. We were able to get to the port quickly and had time to shop a little before we had to meet the bus at 8:30 to the turtle farm. I have posted a review of the turtle farm as well, here on cruise critic.
In Cozumel, we docked at Punta Langosta which is near downtown. We took a taxi to Mr Sanchos Beach Club for $25 each way. I posted a review of that too.
The ship is in good condition, considering it is over 14 years old. Nothing was bad enough to put me off. Everything we encountered was in good working condition. The lounges we went to for the entertainment were very nice. I especially liked the events put on by our cruise staff. I feel they were better than what we encountered on the Magic last year. The shows, in my opinion, weren't as good as the Magic. Golden Mickey's were OK, but I felt it was lacking some positive energy? I cant quite put my finger on it. Toy Story was good, but basically just a condensed version of the first movie. I saw Dreams on our last cruise, so I skipped it this time to pack and watch my daughter in the room. I do regret doing that, I should have seen how this set of performers did the show... maybe it's just a case of lackluster performance on our cruise. Golden Mickey's is fairly highly rated by most cruisers and I was surprised when I was slightly disappointed in most of it.
The dining on this cruise was top notch. Everything I had was delicious this time around. I can't say the same for the Disney Magic. The chefs must be better on the Wonder! Our dining staff was fantastic. Our daughters food came out quickly after the first night. They brought her milk and the fruit appetizer as soon as food service started each night without us having to tell them. Our meals were quick to follow and we were done before the mini dining room shows each night! Some nights this was a real blessing because our daughter started to melt down. One night I had to leave dinner early. They covered my food and my family was able to bring it to me in the room when they finished their meals.
We didn't do PALO dinner on this cruise because we wanted to enjoy all the menus in the main dining rooms. DH and I now know for certain that Parrot Cay's signature menu is not for us and in the future we will book PALO for that night. We did do PALO brunch again. It is so worth the $20 add on! So much good food, so little time and stomach space to eat it all!!!
Our daughter is an early riser so we had to eat at either Goofy's Galley or the buffet every morning, as soon as they opened. I love the omelet station in the buffet and Goofy's Galley has really good yogurt smoothies and fresh warmed croissants. For lunch, we did the welcome buffet, PALO brunch (sea day), Pluto's Dog House (after Grand Cayman), Mr Sanchos All Inclusive (in Cozumel), and Pluto's/Pinocchio/Goofy (sea day). Everything was very very good!
I left my running shoes at home, oops! Really, I forgot. I brought my running clothes and everything, just forgot to grab the shoes on the way out. Too much craziness that morning in our house. I was hoping to make use of the gym and running track this cruise, but alas, it will have to wait again. I didn't set foot in the spa either, not even a tour.
I organized all our shore excursions myself, so I cannot comment on the DCL port adventures.
I recommend the tasting seminars. Go to guest services when you board and inquire about them. I only did the Tequila and Margarita tasting, but it was a lot of fun and we learned a lot about how Tequila is made. I also recommend Who Wants to be a Mouseketeer, Wonder Quest, Mickey Mania, and Bingo. Two of those are heavily dependent upon your knowledge and love of everything Disney. Wonder Quest was SO much fun, it's like a scavenger hunt but you have to stay in the room and have it on you already or find it nearby. We didn't pay to play BINGO, but the cruise staff puts on quite a show and it was fun to watch while we ate a snack indoors. I also attended the drawing class for Donald Duck. I wanted to do more of them, but the times didn't line up. The teacher takes you through line by line, its a lot of fun! I thought all of the activities I was able to attend were very well put together and the cruise staff made them all super fun.
The only non-Disney entertainment I went to was a ventriloquist. I am not a big variety act kind of person, in general. I thought it was OK and convinced myself that I just need to stay away from those types of acts on cruise ships. They are never quite as good as I expect them to be! This worked out well because the other adults wanted to see those shows and I watched after my daughter while they went.
The rates in general, for the Wonder out of Miami are much more reasonable than the sailings on the new ships Dream and Fantasy. We booked this cruise on a FL resident deal, because of that we got a very good value for our money. We were able to get a balcony stateroom for the first time. We didn't use it as much as I would have liked, if I paid full fare for it. For that reason, we will stick to interiors or oceanview in the future. Like any cruise, the photos are outrageously priced! I wish they would put together smaller packages so you can get a little break on prices. The smallest photo package was for 10 photos and we didn't even have that many good photos to choose from between the two cabins! Which reminds me, I was disappointed in the character meet and greets. It seemed like there weren't as many times that characters were out for portraits. For that reason, the lines were CRAZY long and the times were always right before dinner seating. We didn't want to be late for dinner, but we also would have liked to be dressed up for some of the character opportunities.
Last but not least, the service on this ship was excellent! We did not encounter one cast member that could even be considered a 4 out of 5. They were all 5+. Maybe we were lucky, but I think if you don't get that service, it must be incredible bad luck.
A cruise like we had this week on the Wonder makes me want to sail DCL over and over again. If only we could afford to all the time! :)