This was our second cruise with Disney and we enjoyed this trip as much as the last. The Wonder was clean and well maintained, the staff was friendly and courteous and food ranged from very good to excellent and, of course, Alaska presents an unforgettable experience.
As repeat Disney cruisers the process goes a bit quicker since there's a dedicated line for 'Castaway Club' members so we were on board by 12:00 p.m. Even for those who were taking their first cruise with Disney the process was apparently fairly painless.
By 1:30 staterooms were available and luggage arrived within an hour. We opted for a stateroom on Deck 7 to ensure an unobstructed view in anticipation of sailing the inside passage (deck 8 is considered more desirable and the rooms are larger but deck 9 partially extends above your verandah).
If you've ever sailed on any of DCL's four ships the layout will look and feel familiar. Split bathrooms, plenty of storage and enough space for a family of four.
When booking ANY cruise it's important to do a little research before selecting a stateroom. Is your room above or below a public area like a theater, restaurant or pool? Near elevators? Too near or too far removed from areas most desirable to you? A simple Google search will often provide detailed information on every deck and often the very room you've been assigned or intend to stay in (there are reviews to be found on this site as well).
Rotational dining keeps the dining experience fresh since you're rotated between three different restaurants (your servers follow your rotation). Animator's Palate is a favorite and Triton's is beautifully done but Parrot Cay is the least exciting of the three restaurants and feels a bit tired (the Disney Magic will be replacing Parrot Cay and it's rumored that the same will happen on the Wonder). Food in all three restaurants was very good to excellent and our servers, Sarah and Arlene, were amazing.
If you want to treat yourself, spend the extra $20pp for a meal at Palo's. Service is top notch and the food is worth every penny.
FUN FOR THE KIDS
This is a Disney cruise and if there's one thing Disney excels at is keeping children entertained. The staff in both the Oceaneer Lab and the Oceaneer Club were attentive and energetic, managing to keep their level of enthusiasm up from early in the morning until late in the evening. No small feat to be sure when dealing with kids who are pre-k through 6th grade.
Teens 14 - 17 can spend their time in Vibe and our 16 year old enjoyed and spent a better part of his time there with other kids his age.
Disney Cruises get high marks for their shows and the hype is well deserved. It should be noted, however, that while we all enjoyed "Disney Dreams" (a carryover form the Magic) and "The Golden Mickey's" we were all a bit underwhelmed by "Toy Story: The Musical" which is a lot of fun to look at because of the clever character design and staging but is only so-so as a show.
Movies are shown throughout the day in the Buena Vista theater with at least one feature presented in the Walt Disney Theater over the course of a seven day cruise (a recent release or, if you're lucky, a premiere). Presentations are in both 2D and 3D and while most of the films on board are Disney releases there are non-Disney releases on the schedule.
PIXAR PALS PARTY
Due to environmental concerns there are no fireworks on the Alaskan cruises and for the 2013 season Disney decided to replace the Pirate Party with the Pixar Pals party. As with the Pirate Party on Alaskan cruises, the Pixar Pals party takes place in the Atrium on deck 5. Plenty of energy with popular Pixar characters but it was apparent that a number of people were unaware that the Pirate Party had been replaced by Pixar Pals, with some dressed in full pirate gear and others saying that they had never been notified. It may seem trivial if you've never been on a Disney Cruise but the Pirate Party is a big deal to people and Pixar Pals was, admittedly, not as much fun.
As for the entertainment staff, they were all great.
Route 66 is the main drag for adults with the Cadillac Lounge (my personal favorite), a sports bar and a night club but there's also the Cove Cafe (which was expanded to two levels in 2011 and has specialty coffees and drinks) and the Quiet Cove Pool area. In short, plenty of space to escape for some quiet time.
Very attentive, friendly and professional. Often forgotten by many is how hard a ship's staff works to ensure that you enjoy your vacation. It's hard work and yet they never let on just how exhausting it is. Having worked in a number of hotels it was far easier for me to to appreciate the level of service I was receiving but it was readily apparent to others I encountered over the course of the cruise that they appreciated the level of service that they were receiving.
Wow. After one and a half days at sea you awaken to the Inside Passage and the scenery is breathtaking. On an Alaskan cruise there is always something to see and late into the evening as well since the sun is in the sky until well past 9 p.m. Have a camera at the ready because you never know what you might see. Lighthouses, numerous glaciers, whales and miles and miles of mountains as far as the eye can seeas you move from port to port. If a verandah won't break your budget it's worth every penny on a cruise such as this.
Suggested excursions: Liarsville and musher's camp (Skagway), Whale Watchng Adventure (Juneau), Lumberjack Show (Ketchikan).
Young couples without children, older couples without children and, of course, lots of families. Smiling faces are in no short supply on any Disney Cruise and it's infectious. If you're prepared to have fun on your vacation you will likely enjoy the company of your fellow passengers.
Breakfast in an assigned restaurant (two seatings) and then you're off once your group has been called. Never the best part of a cruise since you're a short walk away from the end of your vacation.
As with any vacation you only get out of it what you want to and while no cruise (or vacation) is perfect Disney works tirelessly to make it as near to perfect as possible. Pair the friendliness and level of service from those on board with Alaska and it's truly the vacation of a lifetime.