This was our second 4 night Bahamian cruise on the Wonder, and we have sailed on its twin ship, the Magic, as well. We are early 40s, our son is 8. My wife and I have also cruised Royal Caribbean once w/o our son before we discovered ... Read More
This was our second 4 night Bahamian cruise on the Wonder, and we have sailed on its twin ship, the Magic, as well. We are early 40s, our son is 8. My wife and I have also cruised Royal Caribbean once w/o our son before we discovered Disney Cruise Line. We drive to Port Canaveral from Atlanta, so for the Sunday embarkation we drive down on Saturday to have a stress-free embarkation day. By the way, for those driving down I-95 to the Port, the Hampton Inn in Titusville is less than a year old, clean, comfortable, modern and has two queen size beds in a double room, much roomier than two double beds, and is conveniently near a Wal-Mart for anything you may have forgotten when you left home.
Embarkation is fast for Castaway Club (returning Disney cruisers), but the relatively new process of registering kids for the Oceaneer's Lab or Club in the terminal was slow as can be and an hour or more later I had to step out of the line to board while my wife and son were still in the registration for Club line. Minnie and Donald's appearances in the terminal were a nice touch of magic, and I have always found the luggage drop off and parking and sign in to be very well organized with lots of Disney staff to direct you.
We had booked an oceanview Cat. 8, and a month in advance were upgraded to a Cat. 5 verandah. Solid walled verandah at the back of deck 7, much less enjoyable than the regular plexiglass walled verandah must be. We find the split bathrooms handy, sure they are tight, but it is a cruise ship. Overall, the spaciousness of a Disney stateroom, on a square footage basis, is a big edge over other cruise lines. Storage in many rooms was more than ours -- a quirk in the ship's architecture left our room without the "steamer trunk" storage piece and that is a major amount of storage. On a 4 day cruise, not as big a deal, but might have mattered on a 7 day.
We do find the buffets in Parrot Cay, that have the same menu as the buffets in Beach Blanket Buffet, to be more civilized with beverage service from the wait staff, and and we do think there is good variety and choices. Omelet station is a plus for breakfast, pasta or stir fry station at lunch likewise. Mickey shaped waffles were not available in Parrot Cay, though, so had to go up to Beach Blanket Buffet on Deck 9 one morning to make sure I got my fix. The grab and go choices for burgers, fries, hot dogs, chicken fingers, etc., at Pluto's Dog House is good and fast and easy, though since it is outdoors to get to it, in "iffy" weather it could be a problem. We have still never done the Palo's adults only optional restaurant, as we enjoy sharing dinner with our son.
Dinners, the rotational dining among three restaurants, is a nice touch to get restaurant variety but take your wait staff with you. By the third night I did not have to order my dinner drink, my assistant waiter knew what I wanted, and our waiter was doing magic tricks and playing with our son. The food is "good," not more, not less. This is not a gourmet line, but is down the middle of the road for a family oriented audience. Kids menus are fun, and I did order the Mickey shaped ice cream bar for dessert off the children's menu one night.
The talent level of the production shows is very high -- Hercules the Muse-i-cal is about to be retired, but it had been updated with topical lines for the stand up comedy interludes since I had last seen it two years earlier. I skipped the singer and juggler evening. The Golden Mickeys and Disney Dreams are just nice, plain and simple. If you want glitz, not wholesome, look elsewhere. This is a DISNEY ship, remember -- some forget that and criticize because there are not all night discos. No all night discos in the Magic Kingdom, either...
The adult areas are a nice option -- too bad the smoking in the Cadillac Lounge drove me out of that piano bar. Enjoyed an early evening showing of a half an hour of ESPN commercial classics in the Diversions Sports Pub, and on embarkation day the NFL playoffs had that room packed, though we skipped the games (Falcons had won the night before). The public areas are kept immaculate, our room steward was responsive to whatever request we had, and the one morning we pre-ordered breakfast off the limited room service menu it came exactly on time, and included a special type of chocolate croissant that was not on the menu but our son had enjoyed in the restaurant so I wrote it in on the request.
The ship is elegantly decorated with subtle touches to remind you it is Disney -- think Grand Floridian, not the garish All Star resorts if you want to compare it to WDW.
A nice touch -- we wore T-shirts from Disney's private island onto the ship, and upon seeing the emblem, a Cast Member (as Disney calls employees) not only welcomed me aboard, but welcomed me back.
The bad -- January isn't guaranteed swim weather in the Bahamas, and other than the hot tubs, we didn't. And the seas were rough the first night, sending my wife to an early bedtime with medication. All was fine by 3 or 4 a.m., but hearing the ship creak in 16 foot seats and the motion was pretty dramatic!
Our son is active, and the Lab and Club are not always active, so he played a lot of basketball up on deck 10, but always went to the Lab at night to play Playstation with the other boys in his age group on the big screen. Had to drag him out of there, and he stayed until closing the last night. His third Disney cruise, and him being 8 years old and responsible, we gave him sign-in and sign-out privileges. No problems -- I made sure he knew how to open the door with his Key To The World card.
Disney's programming, and indeed the story lines of its shows with so many heroines and princesses, do make this a bit more magical for the girls than the boys.
Didn't get off the ship in Nassau -- been there, done that, found a comfortable lounge and read my book, did some hot tub time, snacked and enjoyed down time with wife like our hectic regular lives never allow.
Bummer -- the device involved in my wife's desired spa treatment was in need of repair so she did not get that treatment as she wanted.
Castaway Cay -- sure, it can get crowded, but no one asking to braid your hair or sell you junk every 30 seconds. Mostly immaculate except where Hurricane Damage and repairs underway (no work done on the days a DCL ship is there) are plain to be seen. Food was not fancy on the island, but good, and the fresh fruit cutting station is a nice option, and soft serve chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream ... YUM.
Son finally got to go to Quartermasters arcade -- might have cost me a total of $20 for the cruise, filled some time when he wasn't swimming because of temperatures in the 60's with 20 knot winds.
Sea day -- great chance to explore the ship, visit the spa (for those who complain the fitness center is small, then why have I never had a problem getting a treadmill?) and on a calm, flat sea sunny day, did 3 miles of laps around deck 4.
Disembarkation is ridiculously easy, only problem being that on a 4 day cruise it comes just as you have gotten unwound. Which is why we'll be back on the Magic for a 7 day cruise over Spring Break in April. Read Less