A good size group of us were booked on the Disney Wonder for a 3 night cruise out of Port Canaveral on April 2. We were a good mix of adults and kids and age ranged from 2 - 40. This was our first cruise on a Disney boat.
We're all basically within a two hour drive of the port but decided to continue our tradition of driving over the day before and staying at the Radisson in Port Canaveral.
The hotel is ok (and since I saw someone else ask, they don't care if you put 5 people in a 4 person room) and has just finished a large refurbishment project which was very much needed!
Due to a late night at the Radisson bar watching the UFC fights, we got up around 11 and headed over to the port. There were a lot of people already there but surprisingly, no lines. We went to station 11 and started our check in process. The lady at the counter (and unfortunately, I don't recall her name) was talking to another employee who clearly ticked her off and then took it out More
on us. She was rude and very short with us. We were in a CAT4 and had asked if suite upgrades were available. She told us, "I think we have a few rooms available but you're going to have to talk to the supervisor at the end of the line as I just don't have time for this." Wow... I was shocked.
We walked to where the supervisor sits and lucky us, it was the employee who had clearly put our check in lady in a bad mood. Bummer for us. We decided not to bother with a suite upgrade (a mistake for us) and we met up with the remainder of our party.
Once the parties had all met back up, we compared dining room assignments. We were all over the place... in fact; people in the same rooms had different dining tables and different dining rotations. We inquired with guest services and were told that we'd have to address this once on board the ship at the guest services counter on desk 3.
We boarded in group 3 and went to get on board where the entire group realized that none of us had taken our pictures. We all checked in with the same lady who seemed to forget to point us to the kiosks where they take your picture for your room key card. Oh well, they fixed that pretty quickly and we were on board in no time....woo hoo. Vacation time! We headed to guest services where we were told that they couldn't do anything about it and we'd need to head to the waverly on deck 3. The group walks over there only to find out it doesn't open until 1p (and its 11:45 am now!). We were getting pretty fumed! Luckily, a guy named Alen from Croatia walked by and asked us why we were waiting there and we explained that we were a large group, wanted the same dining room table and restaurant rotation. He thought it was pretty silly that this had gotten messed up so bad, took out his notepad and assured us it would be resolved. We were a bit skeptical, because his English was very sketchy, but low and behold, about 3p, he came knocking on all of our doors with new dining assignments. That was some of the best customer service I have ever experienced and we rewarded him very well.
Thanks to Alen's assistance, we were then able to head back to the aft part of the ship to enjoy lunch. The buffet lines were a bit crazy, but we expected that. The food was good, though I miss Royal Caribbean's Honey Stung Chicken on the departure day! We hung out for about an hour and then headed to our rooms.
We're used to cruising in suites and were pleasantly surprised by the size of the CAT4 rooms. Not as big as a suite, but easy to move around in. What we were most disappointed in was the bathrooms. Holy cow they are SMALL!!! The section with the shower was ok but where the commode was, was almost unusable for us. I guess that's the price you pay for being 6'4" and 300lbs. Aside from some air conditioning issues that were never resolved, that was our only major disappointment with the rooms. Our room attendant "weekly" met with us and did a great job keeping the room clean and tidy and always making sure our "cooling box" was well stocked.
We toured the ship and were amazed at how nice it was, for a kids and family ship. It is very well maintained and has an unspoken elegance about it. Not having a casino is a bit of a bummer, but that was replaced with glee when I found the Quiet Cove area (the adult pool) and the almost freezing coffee house attached to it.
We had first seating and our rotation was P-T-A. I don't recall our server's name, but he was very good. His assistant waiter "Oscar" wasn't very good. We constantly had to get up to grab our own drink refills. After the first day, our main server had a plate full of jumbo shrimp waiting for me every night. I was in heaven. I was stunned at the food quality on Disney... clearly better than any other cruise line we've been on. It was FANTASTIC! In our party, we had a few adults and kids with food allergies and our head waiter continuously went above and beyond to make sure they were taken care of. Dinner service was a bit slow because of this (we were literally the last ones out, every night) but it was well worth the wait.
Our first stop was Nassau... its Nassau, been there too many times to care anymore. I ended up staying on the boat, popping on my iPod and just being a lounge rat at the adult pool. Life is good!
Our second stop was Disney's Castaway Cay (or Key, as they keep calling it). We got on to the island fairly late, but it wasn't that hard to find some nice seats. The island is laid out nicely and it is a nice break from the cruise ship. A big disappointment on this island, the bathrooms! Not sure how you think having 3 sets of restrooms (with 2 stalls each) is going to be ok for 2700 guests. I made most of the runs with the kids and each time, it was a 5-10 minute wait for a stall. There were two separate instances of kids who "didn't make it" and had accidents right there in line. I felt so bad for the kids and their parents who were clearly very embarrassed. I was embarrassed for Disney. Other than that, the food and service was great and I bought a few of their "survival" packs on the island, what a great idea.
We arrived back at Port Canaveral pretty early, about 4:30 and the noise from docking and starting to unload the ship woke us up. We went back to sleep pretty easily and woke up around 8. We had a quick shower and headed straight for disembarkation. Holy cow again... boy do they have this down to a science! No fluff here folks, it took us exactly 9 minutes from the moment we closed our door to the second we made it to our car and that includes the time it took us to find our luggage! The other cruise lines need to come figure out how Disney managed to make this process as smooth as it was.
The Good The ship is in immaculate condition and is very well maintained. The food is spectacular. The best I've had on a cruise! The service is for the most part very good. They have a strong focus on customer service!
The Bad! The bathrooms in the rooms are ridiculously small. The folks in the check in area of the terminal need a refresher on providing good customer service! They need to put more restrooms on Castaway Cay. The Parents... holy crap are we raising a generation of kids who are going to be out of control. When did we start negotiating with children???!!! When did parents stop being parents???!!! Ok... that's for another thread! LOL!
Overall Though it was a fun getaway with our friends, we'll likely not do another Disney cruise. We missed the Casino, we missed having things to do in the late night hours and I guess I prefer a cruise where the adults would have a fighting chance if the kids were to declare a mutiny on the boat. :-) Less