First off, I have to say that before we went on our cruise this past February, I came on this site numerous times and read the reviews for the Mexican Riveria cruise on the Disney Wonder that we were going to take. I was petrified after reading all of the negatives and talked with my husband about the possibility of canceling but we had a great deal and decided to do it and chalk it up to a learning experience.
I don't know what these people are reviewing or what they are expecting but we had a wonderful time and didn't see ANY of the negatives that these people have claimed "ruined" their vacation.
Embarkation is a nightmare but it is probably that way for every cruise line. With that many people getting on a ship, you're going to have some chaos. Our travel agent really didn't tell me that I needed to choose a time to embark so I was a bit late on that one and got the 1:00-1:30 time but even with that time, we didn't get on the ship for another hour. Our kids are older (10 and 12) so this delay wasn't a big deal. They just sat down and played with their DS. I think with younger kids it would be a bit harder but just keep in mind, that it will be some time before you get on the ship and there is not enough seating for everyone so many people sat on the floor. You could definitely tell who had better attitudes than others from that alone but I digress.
I wasn't expecting much from the ship since quite a few reviewers were indicating that it is old and run-down. After being on the ship myself for 7 nights, I honestly have no idea what these people are talking about. I never saw anything broken and nothing looked old. There were employees cleaning the ship constantly--in the halls by the rooms, by the elevators, etc.
The pools are a joke but we knew that before going on the cruise since we have talked with many friends who have cruised (on all different cruise lines) and they all told us the same thing--you don't go on a cruise to swim. If you want to swim, book an excursion that allows you to do so. They are very small pools and once my son and I walked by and he said, "Mom, can I go swimming?" I looked over at the pool and saw about 30 people just standing in the pool, packed like sardines. Didn't look like much fun to me so needless to say, he didn't go swimming. He is scuba-certified though and I knew that he and my husband had booked excursions to scuba in Puerto Vallarta and Cabo so I wasn't really concerned about him not being able to swim on the ship.
We thought the food was just fine. Our kids are picky eaters and they seemed to have no trouble finding stuff to eat. The cruise motto was "If you see it, eat it!" We had room service, which was fast and yummy, as well as free, except for the tip. I had a Palo reservation but it was for the night of the pirate party so I canceled before we left for the cruise. The menu choices at dinner are amazing. They have something for everyone--vegetarian, seafood, pasta, beef and so on. Some nights I was in the mood for a steak and others I was in the mood for something lighter, like a salad. We also really liked the 3 other places we could eat other than the restaurants and the buffet. I think they were Pluto's, Pinocchio's, and something else. The one that I can't remember the name opened early and had pastries, yogurt, etc. It was a nice place to grab something quick before early morning excursions or just to take a morning walk around the ship. They were very quick in giving food to everyone so there was hardly any waiting at these places. The ice cream was so yummy and my kids loved the soft drink area.
We had wonderful service here. I'm not naive. There were a few people that were not very friendly but our room steward and all of the other ones on our deck were so friendly. Every time we walked by, they always smiled and said hello. Our personal steward was great and I was very happy with her. The room was cleaned twice a day and if we were in our room longer, she would make sure to clean after we had left so it made her day probably a bit longer. Even with that, she still came in at night and turned down the room and made the towel animals, which my kids loved and took pics of every night. I was doing laundry and noticed that there was no more laundry soap in the dispenser. I called Housekeeping via the phone in the laundry room, told them, and someone ran up with soap for me and refilled the dispenser. I was amazed at how fast they fixed that issue. We loved our assistant waiter or whatever they are called. He was friendly and funny. The kids thought he was great! The head waiter was also very good but a bit shy as she was very new. We thought she was very kind and she took good care of us. The head guy (I don't remember what he is called) was nice but honestly we hardly saw him so it was a bit strange to tip him at the end of the cruise.
Our 10-year old loved the Oceaneer Lab but he seemed to spend a lot of time on the Wii and the computer there but he does that at home, so we didn't much care. Plus he's on vacation! He made quite a few friends that all did the same thing so it was good for him. I was impressed by the security at the kids' clubs and how the workers there are very good about making sure we were our son's parents even though they had seen us numerous times. I wouldn't say the people that worked at the Oceaneer Lab were the most friendliest but I think their job is probably one of the hardest on the ship so I don't fault them for that. As long as they keep my kid safe, I'm happy. Our daughter spent quite a bit of time at The Edge and the workers there seemed like more fun but they probably have a more laidback job since the kids just come and go from there. They played dodgeball at the gym, had a scavenger hunt, made cookies, made their own pizzas, had movie nights, etc.
There is so much to do on the ship! We would all look at the Navigator (Disney's daily newsletter) the night before and choose all of the things we wanted to do the next day. The plays are awesome! Disney just knows how to entertain like no one else. We had a ventriloquist on the ship who was hilarious and a comedian/magician who was so funny and perfect entertainment for adults and kids. They do fun family game shows and other things as well all throughout the cruise to keep everyone entertained. They played War Horse, the new Muppet movie, African Cats, and some other movies all day long, each day. They also had first-run movies on the TV in our stateroom all day. Those were Moneyball, the last Harry Potter movie, Puss in Boots, etc. These were movies that we hadn't been able to even rent yet.
The excursions were fun. We put a lot of thought into it before we left and read reviews on other travel sites. We did the zip line in Cabo (loved it sooo much!). Our kids are still talking about it! We also did the Cabo Dolphins and that was a great experience. We took a walk on the pier in Cabo and although there are quite a few peddlers there, we just smiled and told them 'No thanks.' We had the best guacamole and chips, as well as wood-fired pizzas in Cabo at the pier at a place called Captain Tony's. I want to go back to Cabo just for that! In Puerto Vallarta we chose the Paradise Beach excursion and that was fun. The pool area was great and although it was overcast, we had a great time. Unlimited drinks, a nice lunch buffet, and an air-conditioned bus ride to and from plus a pool for us to swim in. :)
We thought the people at the Port Adventures desk were awesome. I had booked an excursion online before the cruise but needed to make a change in the time and she was able to change that for us, no problem. Even if she hadn't been able to do it, it wouldn't have been her fault and I would have made it work.
Oh! Don't forget to decorate your ship door but remember you can only use magnets, not tape. That was an easy way for us to see our door. Our neighbors tied a ribbon on their doorknob and that was a good idea too. Decorating was fun though, especially since we went over Valentine's Day. Also people do dress up for the formal and semi-formal night. Some people dressed up for the pirate night as well. We just wore the bandanas that they gave us at dinner.
I was worried a bit before sailing about getting sick on the ship. For one thing, we had just heard that 2 cruise ships (not Disney) had just returned to port because so many people were sick. Like I said earlier, I saw employees wiping down the staircases all the time and the employees were also handing out hand wipes before eating at the buffet or the restaurants. I don't know if this is a change from earlier Disney cruises, but this one had 2 employees at both the ice cream place and the soda place. We would tell them what we wanted to drink or what flavor ice cream and they'd get it for us. I didn't mind it and actually started to prefer it being done this way since I know these places can be germ festivals.
This was an amazing vacation for us and we've taken quite a few great vacations but never have cruised before. Yes, the room is small but you're not in the room very often. In fact, we really only came back to the room to sleep and change for dinner. The view from our large porthole was great. We faced the Arches in Cabo and it was awesome to see! The photographers took great pics but you're under no pressure to buy any as we did not buy a one. Every family gets a character breakfast and it was fun! I didn't go to the spa just because I didn't want to waste any time doing that when I could be enjoying the other things the ship offers and the port excursions.
We loved this cruise so much that we booked another for next year! They offer a $200 onboard credit for your next cruise, a 10% discount in price, and 10% down if you book another cruise while on the current cruise--or at least that was the deal they were offering on our cruise.
I am so glad that I didn't listen to those cruisers that had such negative experiences and cancel our cruise. Maybe it is just attitude for some people or maybe there really were some bad things they experienced but I didn't experience anything like that. You get what you give. If you're having a bad attitude, then everyone you see is going to seem to be dissing you in some way. Get over yourself and enjoy the vacation! Would you rather be at work???