So I have tried writing a review of the Wonder twice on my smartphone but it turns out I am not smart enough and kept losing it. Hopefully, the third time is a charm!
We sailed on the Dream in 2012 and had such a great time that we booked another cruise on DCL before we disembarked. We were limited as to when we could travel because of our kids school schedules, coupled my need to escape the northeast during the winter, so we either had to sail on the Fantasy or the Wonder. Since the Fantasy trip would have cost over $4000 more, we decided to sail on the Wonder. I have to say, though I am usually a 'glass is half full' kind of girl, I was definitely pessimistic about the older ship!
When we pulled up to the port in Miami for our 2:30 boarding time, and saw the size of the ship, we were all snickering. The Wonder looked so tiny compared to the Dream. To my family's amusement, I literally drove around three times before finally just asking somewhere where I was supposed to park. Finally situated, we went inside to start the boarding process. There was almost no one there! We were worried that the boat was going to be empty. When we went on the Dream a year earlier we waited in line for half an hour. This time we walked right up to the counter. For a brief moment I thought maybe we had come on the wrong day! I also couldn't help but notice how much less ostentatious the decor in Miami was compared to Port Canaveral. I have to say, at the time I saw this as a bad thing. Once we got our room passes we headed to the ship to board. Where was our welcome? On the Dream they announced us and clapped as we walked on. Here...nothing. On the Dream as soon as we boarded they grabbed us for a photo. Here...we walked right past the photographer who was situated not on the ship but in an alcove in the terminal. They had to yell after us to get us back. I only give this background to say that this was all BEFORE we were even on the ship so knowing that the Wonder is older and smaller than the Dream, I was ready for disappointment and was already feeling it. Add to that, when we got to our adjoining staterooms (6028 & 6030) there was this horrible musty odor coming from the shower room in 6028. We immediately called our Host who poured some chemicals down the drain and scrubbed the floors. The odor did not completely go away but was much much better. I am happy to say that all these little issues now seem so trivial given that we had the time of our lives on the Wonder!
STATEROOM: As I said, we had the one issue with the stateroom. Other than that, as stupid as this may be, the only other problem I had with the stateroom was that, unlike on the Dream, you cannot get all the free Disney movies whenever you want them. Instead they have a schedule of certain movies that just played over and over at specific times. Unfortunately for me, the one I wanted to watch always either started too late or too early. I never did get to see it from beginning to end! Of course, the rooms were older than the Dream but still nice enough. And...I can't say enough about the bed. Just so comfortable!
ENTERTAINMENT: My three older kids (6, 8 & 10) could not get enough of the Oceaneer's Lab. On the Dream we really didn't take advantage of the kids' clubs but this time we definitely did. The kids had a blast and couldn't wait to go there! They even loved going to Scuttle's Cove (kids' club) on Castaway Cay, which didn't exist the last time we had sailed. The only issue that we had was that our 2 year old just refused to stay in the Nursery, so we were never able to enjoy the adults' only places on the ship. Maybe next time.
POOLS: I had no real issues with the pools. In fact, since the Wonder holds so much less people than the Dream, there was plenty of room at the pools. My only advice would be that on "at sea" days, you should grab a chair or lounge chair as soon as possible because otherwise you won't get one near the pool. My only issue, and the one area where the Wonder definitely showed its age over the Dream was the toddler area. Nemo's Reef on the Dream definitely far surpassed Mickey's Splash zone, which kept my 2 year old entertained for all of 5 minutes. I was definitely surprised that Disney would have something so lame, given that Disney's whole purpose is catering to families.
FOOD: I've seem several reviews where people lamented that the food and service on DCL sucks. I had the opposite experience. I found the dining staff to be completely attentive, flexible and entertaining. My kids loved the origami sculptures the assistant server made for them every night. I am a picky eater and DCL was extremely accommodating. Letting me order turkey off of the children's menu (which they gave me a full portion of) and letting me order 5 custom-made appetizers instead of an entree one night.
PORTS: In Cozumel my husband took my older kids on an excursion which they were unimpressed with (Salsa & Salsa) while I walked around with the toddler. I wasn't long before I went back on board since I felt much safer on the boat then out-and-about by myself in Cozumel. Despite not planning any portside adventures this time in Castaway Cay, my experience there this time was more fun than last time. As I told my husband, I do not book a DCL cruise for the ports (which I am not a huge fan of) I choose it for the whole experience.
SPA & FITNESS: I irresponsibly allowed myself to get a bad sunburn on my shoulders and went to the spa for a 'sunburn massage.' It was a wonderful massage, though I did find their constant peddling of their products to be a little annoying. As for the gym, my husband signed-up for a boot camp class that we had to pay like $120 extra for, which I thought was ridiculous given how much money we were already paying to DCL. Having said that, he absolutely loved the class and will definitely be taking it again if it's offered on our next cruise!
All in all, the shows, clubs, activities, Buena Vista theater experience, pools and food either was comparable or actually surpassed my experience on the Dream. In the end it made no difference to us or the kids that the Wonder was a little bit more worn than the Dream. It was every bit as fabulous and given the smaller crowd, in some ways it was better!
I am looking forward to February 2014 when we sail on the Fantasy!