I was so excited when I booked the 7-night Mexican Riviera cruise aboard the Mega-ship Disney Wonder. My 5 year old grandson would be my only guest. Finally, the time had come when he was at the age of being able to fully enjoy vacationing with Grandma.
Checking in at the Port of San Pedro was a breeze, no waiting no long lines...we were on board the ship within 15 minutes of my arrival.
Upon arrival we were greeted by the Disney hosts with a mic in hand to announce that the Weaver family had arrived. I booked the Deluxe Inside Stateroom, wanting to see how the split bathrooms were set up.
We boarded at 11:30 am, however, our staterooms would not be ready until 1:30 pm. With that, we decided to visit the Parrot Cay restaurant, which was set up as a lunch buffet. I loved the tropical dÃ©cor and yes, as soon as you enter the restaurant, you do hear the calls of birds chirping overhead. There was a large selection that included chicken fingers and macaroni and cheese for the longer guests on board.
After lunch it was definitely time to tour the ship. We started on Deck 9 where I found 3 pools, one of them being The Quiet Cove, located in the adult-only section. The middle pool, Goofy's Family Pool(4ft), was for all ages and this was where the outside large theatrical screen was located for watching on deck movies and presentations. This was also the area where Disney hosts all of their deck parties such as Pirate Night and other on board participation. The final pool was Mickey's pool for young children (1 ft). My grandson totally loved the water slide, and jumping in and out of the pool. I must say that I enjoyed hanging out in Mickey's area while monitoring my grandson (Disney advises not to leave any young children alone in the pool area).
On Deck 8, we found the Beach Blanket buffet that is only opened for limited hours serving both breakfast and lunch. We also had the choice of the soft served, self service ice cream station near the Goofy's Galley (here you would get your fresh fruits, salads and hot/cold sandwiches). Also, across the way, we found Pluto's Doghouse that offered hot sandwiches such as fish, hamburger's, hot dogs, fries, and chicken fingers. I later found that I enjoyed the chicken fingers and fish burgers more than the food offered in the Beach Blanket Buffet.
We also found a self service drink station off to the side that offered soda (Coca Cola products, not Pepsi), coffee, tea, fountain water (bottled water at a charge), milk and hot chocolate. This section is available for 24 hours (Note: if you order soda from a waiter anywhere else on the ship, you will be charged). It's best to pack a to-go bottle which can be filled as much as you like. Everyday there was a variety of different pizza slices available at Pinocchio's Pizzeria.
Finally our rooms were ready and I was anxious to show my grandson his "bunk bed". The very first thing that I noticed was the stateroom size....huge in comparison to other cruises that I have sailed on. We had so much storage space that with 2 full suitcases and a backpack, I still had plenty of left-over space, therefore families of four will definitely have enough storage for everyone. We also had the mini fridge and ample closet space and hangers for hanging up all of our clothes.
I had one bed, instead of 2 twins. I could swear that I was sleeping in a king size bed...it was so much bigger than the beds that I previously slept in on other cruise ships. And the SOFA SLEEPER, I can't say enough about it; gone are the days of have to remove cushions and "pulling" out your bed. The sofa sleeper was the length of a twin bed, and all you had to do was lower the back of the sofa into a fully made up twin bed for your third and fourth guests in your stateroom. I wanted my grandson to sleep in the bunk bed though for the experience. He loved climbing his stairs at bedtime. We kept the bunk bed down for the entire cruise and never was it in the way or an eye sore. I loved it!!! There was also a flat screen television and desk.
Now for what I did not like about the stateroom.
The split bathroom was very small. I can only imagine how uncomfortable this would be for a larger guest and I am 5'9". In one bathroom, we had a bathtub (yes in an DELUXE inside stateroom) and a sink. On the other side, you also had a sink and toilet. I had to turn sideways walking in the door every time I had to use the bathroom. I could only imagine how I would have felt if I weighed more or was taller. However, I did enjoy the shower head and bathroom amenities from H20 (lotion, shampoo and conditioner). The only request that I had for my room "host" was to have a daily supply of bath amenities and I got just what I asked for.
It would have also been nice to have a coffee maker. All rooms are non-smoking and are subject to a fine of $250 if caught..........mmmmmmmm if caught. I could not take a chance. Being a smoker, I headed either to Deck 4 between the hours of 6:00 pm and 6:00 am or to a small section on Deck 9 to smoke.
Room service was great. I ordered the same thing several times and never ran into any problems. If you order soft drinks from the room service menu, there will be a charge.
I loved all 3 of the dining venues. I inspected the Palo Italian restaurant onboard, however, I did not dine there ($20 per person). I liked the way the venue was set up...top deck with ocean views to die for. I did not like, however, the process of having to rotate from restaurant to restaurant. I thought that Triton's was more popular than the Parrot Cay or Animator's Palate, and later found that the menus basically remained the same for each restaurant, with slight changes throughout the week. For instance, on my other cruises, I would always "view" the dinner menu to determine where I would dine that night. Unlike other cruise lines, Disney has it set up where your choices would be to have dinner in your assigned (for the day) dining/formal venue or to order room service or pizza and hamburgers on Deck 9. There are no buffets offered at dinner. We really did enjoy the Character Breakfast where we met all of the Disney celebrities. Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and others visited with each table for photos and autographs. This feature is included in your cruise fare and happens several times a week.
The food was okay...nothing to really run home about, which was surprising. I had some items that I enjoyed and others that I sent back. However, the service was excellent! I noticed that one family did complain to the head waiter that they had to wait for over an hour for a special prepared meal, but other than that I did not notice any other complaints. Every night my grandson had water and chocolate milk waiting for his arrival. The kid's meals also pretty much remained the same with a choice between chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese, pizza or ham/cheeseburger. One night, steak and shrimp were offered, which my grandson basically played with. He loved running to his assigned table and finding his chocolate milk.
Now let's talk about what makes Disney stand out from all of the others.
#1, it's Disney plain and simple. Disney characters were always available for photos and there were scheduled autograph signings. Sometimes lines for the autographs were longer than others, however they went by quickly. My grandson had a choice of staying in Disney's Oceaneer Club or Oceaneer Lab to play in. On our 4th day, I allowed him to check himself in. Each child is given a wristband monitor that they wear during your entire cruise. On your last night aboard the Disney Wonder, Disney hosts will remove it (there is a $50 fee if monitor becomes damaged). There are also phones located in each stateroom where friends and family can receive calls or texts from each other without any additional charges. Family members must use a password to "check" their little ones out. I did visit the teens club and found it to be very impressive as well. Each night I could always hear the teens laughing and having a good time as I walked to and from my stateroom.
Customer Service: Excellent
Entertainment: How could we not enjoy the countless hours of entertainment abroad the Disney Wonder, starting with their Broadway shows to the fireworks under the stars. My grandson was thrilled to see Mickey zip line across the deck with Goofy and Minnie dressed in all of their pirate gear. Since this was a Halloween celebration, we were able to "trick or treat" in several locations onboard the ship, afterward partying hardy on Deck 9. Pirate's Night was held on a different night with Pirates of the Caribbean (Johnny Depp, of course) showing in both theaters onboard. Speaking of theaters, the Buena Vista Theater was awesome as well, with most movies being shown in 3D. My grandson and I usually ended our nights with cups of hot chocolate and a movie, which began promptly at 10:30 each night. Disney's Golden Awards was one of my favorites, especially when my grandson was selected to "play" one of snow white's dwarfs during one of their live productions. I was so proud, that he got his Buzz Lightyear toy that very night. Another favorite was Toy Story. I really thought that these were productions that I would buy a ticket to see if they were ever on Broadway.
Overall, the most important thing that Disney stressed throughout this cruise was living our dreams for all guests onboard. I found myself going back to my childhood, when running to Disneyland was always an exciting treat. I still remember having my coupon book with e-tickets for rides like the Space Mountain and the Matterhorn. I also found myself uplifted and motivated to continue to live out my dreams.
I could go on and on, however, there is nothing quite like experiencing a Disney cruise yourself. Definitely something worth putting on your bucket list of things to do.