Disney Wonder Cruise Review by kath00
- Sail Date: December 2011
- Destination: Mexican Riviera
First the great things about the ship: it's smaller, which means much less walking from place to place. Our suite was located forward of the midship elevators and there is a reason why the most expensive suites are there. The forward elevators are the quietest and have the best access to the theater, the lounges and other frequently visited places on the ship. The midship elevators are very busy but take you just about everywhere including the kids clubs, the theater, the shops, and Tritons. Midship is also the most stable on the ship as far as movement, which was key for my younger DD, who sometimes gets a little seasick in rough waters.
Our cabin, the Walt Disney suite, was beautiful in its appearance with whitewashed wood everywhere. Tons of storage space too. The layout was very clever with a separate bedroom for the kids (sleeps 4 with 2 pull downs) and a dining room that easily sits 6, plus a living room area that we hung out in a lot. The "reading room" has 2 huge chairs to sit in, which I used often to stare out the huge bay windows into the deep blue sea. There is a large murphy bed in that room too that the stewart lowered for my older DD every night. Then there is the master bedroom and bathroom, which are not huge but very comfortable. It's the best use of about 1200 square feet I have ever seen, and I think you can easily fit 6 people into the room at least without being on top of eachother. The suite had the wonderful gift of having free Palo delivered to your room every night if you wished. Our room stewart (the same one each night we ordered) was superb and set up a white linen tablecloth and all the dishes, etc about 30 minutes before our food was to be delivered. Sometimes we ordered in as a 3 course meal, sometimes we had them deliver everything all at once if we were in a hurry to do something. It was the best part of the whole cruise. We also had brunch at Palo (not free and not in our room) and it was FABULOUS. The views from the top deck are to die for. I would recommend brunch over dinner, actually! The seafood spread was amazing and absolutely delicious. Worth every penny.
The entertainment on the ship, for both adults and kids, was incredible. We are talking broadway quality shows for Disney such at Toy Story (basically the first movie acted out), Dreams (princesses) and Golden Mickeys. The talent and sheer imagination that goes into these shows is beyond any other cruise line's. The kids and adults all enjoyed the entertainmnet. We also had a wonderful comedian/ventrilaquist on board as well as a magician. They made stops in the kids clubs before going to perform in the huge theater, so the children got a more intimate "show" each time. At night, around 9:30, the houseband (Speakerbox) played a set for about 45 minutes, followed by 45 minutes of either adult comedy or 80s theme night or 70s name that tune or whatever. Then Speakerbox came on and played again till around midnight. It was a wonderful way for adults to enjoy the evening after late seating dinner.
The weather and ports were great (Cabo, Cabo, PV and Manzanillo) and we did all Disney excursions for the convenience (and safety). The family enjoyed every single one. In Cabo, we did the dolphin swim on D1 and a snorkeling excursion to Santa Maria on D2. The waters were cold so be prepared (we had 1/2 wetsuits). In PV we did the Paradise Beach getaway and it was the best excursion we've done in the MR ever (in 5 cruises!). In Manzanillo, Elephant Rock snorkeling was a huge hit with totally calm and warm waters, lots of fish and great coral.
Now the bad. Disney does NOTHING for adult entertainment during the day, either in port or during sea days. On the Navigator it may look like there are "lots" of activities but they are all sales pitches (DVC presentations, how to get a flatter stomach by eating a lot (buy spa products), how to relieve all your pain through acupuncture (at the spa), etc,). OR, you can pay money and do just about any alcohol tasting. Beer tasting, margarita tasting, wine tasting, tequilla tasting, etc etc. They all cost money and they all try to sell you stuff. There would be about 3 of these alcohol tasting events on the navigator every day! Otherwise, there were literally NO events of any kind. No Bingo, no trivia, no educational talks about animation like I had hoped, nothing. Princess and RCCL do a way better job in daytime activities for adults! The kids clubs were "Open House" during port hours too. You know what that means? That means a parent must stay with the child at all times as it's all unsupervised. So basically you get to use the club to babysit your children. Talk about cheap! THis would go on for almost 6 hours a day! Most other cruise lines still offer some childcare if you don't want to take your kid to port or just need a break. Can't believe Disney does this.
Our cabin was also unbelievably loud. Talk about snap, crack and pop constantly, and we had the most calm seas I have ever sailed on the Pacific! I think here the Wonder really shows her age. Soundproofing is aweful and you can hear people walking above you and in the hallways all conversations filter right in. Just be prepared and bring earplugs. The noise in the Disney suite with all that wood was just crazy! We called it the Rice Crispy Suite. SPeaking of motion, this ship is also I think a bit dated when it comes to stabilizers. Even in the completely calm waters we sailed in all 8 days, the ship swayed back and forth. Now I love being at sea and I don't mind, but quite a few others remarked on the constant swaying sideways and uncomfortable. More modern ships we've been on have somehow managed to eliminated this sway, even in more turbulent waters. Our family didn't mind but if this is your first cruise, consider it.
Last gripe (and a big one) is one I had on the 2n cruise too. The food is just not good! Think of your local sit down chain restaurant (Red Robin, Denny's, etc) and then take it down 2 notches. That's the food in the main dining rooms. Tritons somehow was better than AP and PC but really, all 3 were bad! Everything is preplated so unless you ask for special things 24h ahead, they literally cannot give you a plate of steamed veggies on the side or a sundae without nuts! They cannot make anything special in the kitchen at the time of your meal. You have to review the menu ahead of time and ask for it the day before! Good grief. Now Palo is of course and exception and having the Walt suite saved the day for us because 4 nights out of the 8 we ate in our room and avoided the dining rooms entirely. We had awesome, made to order food there and it was all included in the pricy suite! Only the top 3 suites allow this though, not all, so check which they are.
Also, the buffet has the most limited hours of any ship I have ever been on. It closed every day at 2pm. At 2:05, the serving spoons disappear from the buffet so even if you are wanting seconds, you are out of luck. One day we returned from an excursion at around 1:50 and about 100+ people raced up to the buffet to try to catch lunch. They literally turned away about 1/2 of the guests, saying it was too late and they couldn't eat! Unebelievable. So then your only choice is lousy, soggy and fattening hamburgers or hotdogs at the grill or soggy wraps that the kids just don't eat. Or, you can order room service, which serves the same hamburgers/hotdogs/wraps, just to your room! You basically are out of luck until your sit down mealtime at 5:30 or 8:30. Try explaining that to your starved preteen after a long day of swimming at the pool! I have literally never sailed on a ship with less buffet hours in my life. Very cheap of Disney to not have a 5-8pm time for the buffet or something like that. Most cruise lines go from 6am to midnight, if not 24 hours!
So while we had a great time on this holiday cruise thanks to the wonderful activities, shows and excursions, we just can't see sailing Disney again. The prices are outrageous, almost 2x that of Princess and almost 3x that of Carnival, with simply not enough things going for the ship or the food or the activities to justify this cost. If Disney truly was so far above and beyond that of other lines, I could understand paying more. But they really aren't.
Our cabin was also unbelievably loud. Talk about snap, crack and pop constantly, and we had the most calm seas I have ever sailed on the Pacific! I think here the Wonder really shows her age. Soundproofing is aweful and you can hear people walking above you and in the hallways all conversations filter right in. Just be prepared and bring earplugs. The noise in the Disney suite with all that wood was just crazy! We called it the Rice Crispy Suite.