This is my third cruise with DCL. We took 2 cruises on the Disney Dream in 2012 before trying out the Disney Wonder for the first time. First, even though I will share the good, bad and everythign in between, let me say that I still think Disney is the premiere cruise line for families with children, and for adults w/o children for that matter who seek out the magical Disney experience. We were uncertain about the older Wonder ship, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that the service quality, staff friendliness, shows, kids activities, and ship cleanliness were all superb on this ship just like it was on the newer Dream.
I will quickly go through the list of things I think Disney can and should improve about the Wonder experience to make it even better, but all in all still a great cruise experience. This is out of Disney's control, but the Port of Miami check-in procedures seemed more hectic and chaotic than checking in at Port Canaveral. We arrived at 11:00 for early check-in (that was our scheduled time to arrive), but they didn't clear the ship until 12:15 for those already checked-in to enter the ship. That was a frustrating full hour to just sit around with absolutely nothing to do, no snacks, no nothing in that tiny waiting area. We never had an experience like that at Port Canaveral. Those ships at that Port cleared by 11:00 on both occasions for us.
The food was very good overall, but we did find that the food quality was not quite as good on the Wonder compared to the Dream. Animator's Palate was spectacular as far as the dining room experience. What a neat place to eat dinner! We really liked the atmosphere and food at Triton's too. Parrot Cay was just okay, and unfortunately we got assigned to eat there 2 out of the 4 nights. Our waiters were friendly, but they seemed overworked and stressed out part of the time. The ship was packed (full), so that might have explained why we felt the waiters were so slammed and assigned too many tables. Not their fault. We never once felt this way about the wait staff on the Dream.
The shows were great as always, with the exception of the Toy Story musical. That show was a little bothersome for us and we think other families with children felt similar. They way overplayed the "evil" kid in that musical, so the show took on too dark of an experience for Disney if you ask me. The music in it was just plain weird when the evil kid played his parts. The "Dreams" show was absolutely incredible and easily the best Disney show we've ever seen. Incredible acting and music in that show...they need to take this one to Broadway! We had already seen the Golden Mickey's. It's a good show, but it's probably time for Disney to retire it soon since all of us who cruise regularly are going to tire out from that same show.
The kids activities were great as always. One of our kids just became a tween, so he enjoyed the Edge a lot. Heck, we all enjoyed it during Open House and my wife, myself and his 7 year old sister enjoyed about an hour playing games in there one day.
Bingo, always fun. Disney trivia, always fun. Pools were great on this ship. Thank you for keeping the Goofy pool heated, in January! That made all the difference. I have to admit our kids and I really missed the Aqua Duck that is only on the Dream and Fantasy, and the Mickey slide on the wonder was way too slow and no thrills for our 7 and 11 year olds. The ship needs to upgrade and put in some type of new slide or water attraction beyond what's there (2 small pools for kids and a dinky slide). The b-ball and soccer courts were great, as was the ping pong and fusball tables at the front of the ship. We hung out there a few times and loved that part of the ship! This was better than the Dream's sports deck if you ask me.
Our interior cabin on Deck 2 was very clean and we loved our cabin steward. He was very nice and always asking about our experience with the room and with the cruise in general. We did miss staying in a room with a veranda this time, so if you can spend a little more to stay in a room with a balcony on DCL I highly encourage it. It makes a big difference to experience that natural sunlight and ocean breeze right from your room.
All in all, a fantastic cruise and ship. We have our sights on the Fantasy next time, and can't wait to enjoy the longer 7 nt. cruise experience on DCL. Also, I'm SO ready to return to Port Canaveral. I'm just not a fan of Miami or the Port there.