Disney Wonder Cruise Review by nzdisneymom: Disney Wonder in Alaska
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Disney Wonder in Alaska
This was our second time on Disney Wonder but our sixth cruise with Disney Cruise Line. We had been on the Wonder in April 2008 for a 3-night to the Bahamas and were wondering how the Wonder crew was adjusting to the longer itineraries now that she's moved to the west coast.
We sailed from Vancouver having booked air, pre-cruise hotel, and transfers through the cruise line. Everything went smoothly for getting us to Vancouver and housed for a few nights before heading across the street to Canada Place for embarking on our cruise. Check-in at the port was easy and whatever kinks they had in the process in the first couple of sailings seemed to have been worked out.
Upon boarding, we were directed to Parrot Cay for the Welcome Aboard buffet. This was a welcome change from the seat-yourself buffet on Deck 9 because we were seated and then we didn't have to juggle daybags, etc., while balancing plates and such. We had dining changes that needed to be made, so we took More care of those after lunch, and then only had a few moments before our cabin was ready. We chose the same cabin (6116 - just forward of aft on the port side) that we had when we sailed before and also always get on the Wonder's sister ship the Magic. The location is ideal. Our cabin was in good repair and our cabin steward was attentive to our needs.
We got our teenagers situated with their youth programs. They were both in the Vibe which is for the 14-17 year olds and has two to three counselors whenever they are open... usually at noon on port days, at 10 a.m. on sea days. We were happy with the youth program for the teens as we had been when they were younger. The first night, the teens that want to participate get together and plan the week's activities so each week is different based on the interests of the teens.
We dined in the formal dining rooms for four of the seven nights and in Beach Blanket Buffet on the other nights (formal night was one and then the two nights we were in the port til 7:30). The port nights had buffet-style in BBB while formal night was table service from a limited menu. We found the food to be about the same as it's been - nothing special to write home about, but any meal we're not cooking and isn't hamburger or chicken fingers works. The service in both the dining rooms and at the buffet was good.
The entertainment was good as we have come to expect. We have seen the stage shows multiple times so we chose to attend the variety acts, both the ones aimed towards families and those for adults. We participated in various game shows, trivia, and such, and we watched four movies in the Buena Vista Theater and one in the Walt Disney Theater.
As this cruise was going through portions of Alaska with regulations about noise, the day we were in Tracy Arm was awesome. There were times that the naturalist could come on the loudspeaker on the outside decks to describe what we were seeing and talk about Alaskan nature. They broadcast this on the stateroom televisions as well. In the past, if you sit on your verandah, you can't really hear the television because of all the outside noise; in this case, because there wasn't music and lots of noise from the outside decks, we could enjoy the view from the verandah AND hear what the naturalist was saying.
Although it was chilly, we saw many children using the Mickey pool but not so many people in the Goofy pool nor the one in the Quiet Cove. Most people seemed content to sit and read or enjoy their time in the Outlook Cafe drinking expensive coffee drinks. The rest of us used the free hot chocolate machine (which was a nice addition rather than the packets of powdered mix we've had before).
We used the self-service laundry room on the ship a couple of times as we had been in Vancouver for a few days pre-cruise and specifically planned to do laundry.
All in all, we had a great time and the cruise lived up to our expectations. Less
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Cabin review: Disney Wonder Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah Deck Eight 6116
Cabin 6116 is just forward of aft on the port side. This cabin sleeps four - two twin beds that can be pushed together, the single sofa that flips over to make a bed, and a bunk that drops from the ceiling. The cabin has a verandah which gives added living space. There is a steamer trunk to add storage space. There is a split bathroom - toilet/sink in one, sink/tub(shower) in the other. This cabin is situated on Deck 6 while the beverage station, buffet and pools are on Deck 9 and two of the three dining rooms are aft just two or three decks below. The movie theater is on Deck 5. The cabin is just above the lifeboats so you don't have to worry if your children stomp loud in the cabin - no one below to disturb. This cabin is near the elevators but not just where the lobby and hallway meet so you don't have people congregating outside your cabin. There is not a stateroom directly across and this is not a connecting cabin. Also on the verandah, one side is completely solid while the other is mostly solid but you can look around if you wanted to.
Port and Shore Excursions
Our second excursion was whale watching through Harv and Marv's -- we booked them on the recommendation of our travel agent who used them a year ago. We had a woman and her daughter on our cruise who we shared this excursion with as they limit to six people for the tour we did. We were picked up at the ship and transported about 25 minutes to the marina (it was past the heliport) where we met our captain and guide for the afternoon. The whale watching experience was good - they provided binoculars and snacks - both important for three teenagers onboard! When we returned to the marina, the driver confirmed our all-aboard time and was able to drive us to the visitor's center for Mendenhall Glacier for additional photo opportunities before taking us back to the ship.
We were interested in doing some shopping, particularly in search of Ulu knives for ourselves and as a gift. We also wanted to go to Creek Street as we'd read the shops were interesting. When we disembarked, we asked about a shuttle to town and were pointed to where one was waiting (we were at berth 4). It turns out there are three free shuttles - the one we took which goes to town and back - near to Creek Street, one that goes to the Totem Poles and other sites, and one that is another company that just goes to one of the Tongass trading center stores and back.
We spent a couple of hours at Creek Street (there is not a public restroom but you can use the one at the New York Cafe if you're a customer - we bought a cookie) or you can go to the Cape Fox Lodge which is a $2 funicular ride and worth it for the view, the lodge, and the restroom :) The shops were more than just the expected souvenirs, and we found the Ulu knives we wanted at one of the salmon shops. The lady who works there also works for the post office so we knew the knives would be properly packaged and shipped when we paid for shipping them home. Note, if you buy Ulu knives, when you board your ship, you'll have to leave them at security and pick them up after you get off the ship at the end of your cruise - and then deal with them for flying home! We were glad we opted to ship them home when we got back on board and saw the pile of knives that had been collected.
Because we were in port later, we went back to the ship for a rest before going back out to do some more shopping nearer to the ship. There are the bigger souvenir shops but also some smaller ones that were interesting to look in and talk to the folks who work there.
All in all, we liked Ketchikan.
Skagway looks like a movie set - at least the part where you go first. There are a lot of diamond shops and other places that someone said reminds them of what you find in the Caribbean, but what was interesting were the number of buildings that are part of the National Park Service. There is a nice free museum there, and the information desk has brochures and they are glad to talk with you about the history of Skagway.
There are lots of souvenir shops, and one is worth the walk up for getting t-shirts for a better price - it's the Skagway Outlet Store (just a satisfied customer!). And if you get a chance, go into the hardware store - they sell everything anyone might need, and if they don't have it, then you don't need it. Be sure to take some time to talk to the "locals" (who are mostly "seasonals").
We liked Skagway the best of our ports for walking around and shopping.