Trying to get a great vacation at the same time for kids 4 – 18, and parents too is obviously difficult, and Disney really worked out great for us on this cruise to Alaska the first week of June.
I have read that the Wonder is starting to show her age, and was concerned, but I can tell you that I disagree with any negative assessment of the ships condition, and think that Disney gets praise for constant maintenance; we found things to be in good order all around, although the soda area seemed to be getting repaired frequently. Still, overall I would rate the ship superb, it is a beautiful ship to start with, and was in very good shape.
We were in neighboring staterooms although not connecting on the 2nd floor around midship on the starboard side and it worked out just fine. They configured one room with 2 twins plus convertible sofa, so the 13, 14, and 18 year old each had their own space. The split bath worked out great, and the only time I wished for more room was trying to pass in the hallway between the bathroom and closet, and the bed is very close to the wall creating a pretty narrow passage. The Flat screen TV worked out just fine, storage was adequate, and I liked the oversize porthole window. We had occasional noise above us from scooting equipment, I am guessing it was photo equipment being stored or shuffled, but can’t know for sure as we were below a “crew only” area. Although certainly noticeable, I wouldn’t call it bothersome. Overall, Cabins suited our needs very well, and everything was kept very clean, items were in good or excellent condition, and there were no items that required attention.
We had an excellent experience from all of the staff. Our room steward was ever present it seemed, learned our names quickly, and seemed a very nice person as well. Our dining staff was very attentive and friendly as well, and seemed to have fun goofing off with the kids, and regularly asked if there was anything they could do to provide a better experience for us. The head waiter dutifully appeared every other night for a brief time, checked us off his list, and moved on to the next table.
Other staff were all excellent, and always available, and always nearby, and prompt, and courteous, and efficient. I saw very frequent involvement of ships officers and management with all types of staff.
Kids Club Staff:
I had frequent interaction with the Oceaneer club staff that looked after my 4 year old Daughter. The club was staffed adequately, they knew my daughter’s name, and I was confident that her needs would be met while I was elsewhere. I was pleased with the number of staff, and the level of interaction they had with the kids. I saw different members of the staff go to a child that seemed sad, and work to get them included in an activity. It was not just coloring, and my child was ready to go to the club regularly, and mostly didn’t want to leave when I came to pick her up.
The 13 and 14 year old boys were in different clubs; they had a great time, and although I had very limited interactions with the staff members at Edge, and Vibe all were pleasant, and professional, and approachable by the kids in the club. Both kids had a great time in their own clubs, and they even switched one night. Both made friends, and both are eager to do another Disney cruise.
The 18 year old was on her own to find a group to hang out with. They had a couple of “College Club” (18-21) gatherings, but literally nobody went. Ultimately she hooked up with a group of 8 or so others and they made after dinner plans pretty much every night, and ended up having a nice time.
The shows were outstanding. My last two cruises were Celebrity and Holland America, so I have had my expectations lowered, but the Disney shows were enjoyed by the entire family. We were always able to sit together, and were helped by a friendly staffer to find seating even though we arrived late one evening.
Evening grown up entertainment:
Well, this was a little hokey, and over-hyped and over-promoted from my point of view, but still a nice time. The comedians and musicians did a nice job. I wish there were something in between “the newlywed game” and a nap in the deserted Cadillac Lounge, many nights we went to the new “outlook café” for some quiet time with a nice view. This is a very nice area of the ship, and was hardly utilized, and seems to make the “Cove Café” on the pool deck a little redundant.
The food quality was a notch above my expectations. We ate in the dining rooms all but one night, when we went to Palo. Palo food and service was excellent. The regular dining room selections were nice, I had a couple of instances where the food I was served was not quite hot enough, but the portion sizes were good, and the overall quality was also good, and service was good to excellent.
We did not use the spa at all.
The pictures they took turned out very nice, the characters were excellent. The character breakfast was a highlight, and the staff that accompanied each character were always nice and took photo’s with our camera for us, which turned out great too.
Just beautiful, a lot of it was lost on the younger kids, but the ship seems to be constantly inland, and the glaciers, and waterfall’s and wildlife, and snowcapped mountains were really something. In fact, I brought a zoom lens up to the deck while we were in Tracey Arm, and we were so close, I had to go back to the cabin to get a less powerful lens.
We went to the Glendenhall Glacier visitor center, and although it was raining, and we decided not to walk to the Glacier or Waterfall, the visitor center was excellent, and it was fun to handle a piece of 250 year old glacier ice. The visit was very hands on and informative, and I think it was something like $4 for the Adults. We purchased a bus ride on the dock; it leaves the dock at the bottom of the hour, and leaves the visitor center at the top of each hour. We were able to negotiate a small savings over the listed price and free passage for the 4 year old. The rest of the day was shopping in port, kind of like the Caribbean, with lots of Jewelry stores, but there were some interesting local places too. There was a Russian Goods store which had some beautiful things which I had never seen before.
We purchased a zip line adventure from Disney, it was OK, although the zip lines were not very long. There was an obstacle course in the trees that proved difficult for some of the parents (and grandparents especially.) The tour operator did a nice job, although we learned that the zip lines in Ketchikan seemed to be longer, which would have been nice. If I had it to do over again, I think I would just walk around town, Skagway seemed a little more interesting to me than Ketchikan.
We all thought Ketchikan was the least interesting port. We did not have any excursions planned, and the town offers some shopping, not quite as nice as Juneau and Skagway. We bought a “duck boat” tour on the dock; it was neither interesting nor entertaining.
Breathtaking. You don’t get off the ship, you just cruise very slowly in a beautiful group of mountains. There were sea lions on large ice chunks in the water. The deck was very crowded, but there was stuff to see all around the ship.
Other Observations: I wish the Ship departed Seattle. Vancouver was a very expensive flight, and I was buying 6 tickets so opted for Seattle and drive a few hours. It was a pain to do 2 one way rentals, and the border in to the United States was delayed due to a power outage. Complicating this further for us, I had to rent a minivan to accommodate 6, and there wasn’t too much room for luggage, so it was a chore.
Onboard booking desk. We intended to book a cruise on board, but the last several days, the desk was not attended during advertised hours, and when it was attended there were significant lines. I guess if this is your plan, start trying early in the cruise.
Room service was good, I used it twice to order a pot of coffee. Service times were 20 minutes one time, and 10 minutes the next.
Overall, this turned out to be a great cruise, if you are considering it I highly recommend it.