Having never been on a cruise, but always enjoying the "on land" Disney experiences of the past, we chose to venture out on the high seas with Disney Wonder. We wanted an entertaining trip for our 10 year old son and had heard and read a lot of positive comments from others about Disney cruises. Not the least expensive option by far, our expectations we fairly high that this would be a great mini-vacation. From the beginning it just felt like being herded on a cattle boat. It would be impossible to count the number of times we walked from one end of that ship to the other, top to bottom, state room to the top deck just to get a soda.
The staff was friendly, always smiling and saying hello, but they really didn't do much for you. There were multiple times that we asked 2 staff members standing together for directions and they pointed in opposite directions...comical, but not much help.
Given that it was a Disney cruise, I would expect it to be pretty much all about the children. The Disney island on the first day was great. I did the 5K fun run, followed by a fun family day at the beach. But when you consider that the other two ports are definitely NOT children friendly, I'm not sure what they were thinking. Nassau is not the kind of place you want to take your children. Key West is where you go with your adult friends to party, again without kids.
I have been told many times how wonderful the food is on cruise ships, so I was really looking forward to that. Again, I was underwhelmed. I'm not much of a cook, but I do all of the cooking at home and I’m not that picky. The first dinner began well. The menu was beautiful and promising, the service was good, the meal presentation top notch. Too bad I could only eat a quarter of my meal. I don’t normally leave food on the plate, but that is what I did. Pretty institutional. The second night we didn’t go to the sit down meal, we just ate salads. The third night we gave it another try and I hate half of the meal, but that was all. The fourth night we had snacks again. If you wanted a “real” cup of coffee, not the “instant” stuff that comes out of the machine on deck, that costs extra. Actually, the breakfast was probably the best meal of the day. The buffet always had lots of fresh food to choose from. The “snack” places had the standard burger, chicken dogs and fries, plus fruit, salad and wraps throughout the day. I guess it was just the dinner that was disappointing.
We didn’t do any of the shore excursions, we kind of thought that the ship would entertain us enough. All of the “extras” on the Disney Island cost “extra”. Seemed like they were always trying to sell you one more thing. The “Pirate Night” got all the kids excited. Everybody bought all the “pirate” stuff they had for sale in the gift shop. Then, on the night of the party, the crew was out in force selling lighted swords and lighted spinners and gadgets up at the party, which lasted all of one hour. Again, it seemed like just an event to sell more stuff. The on board theater was nice. I was a bit perturbed that they charge you for popcorn…seems like that would be something they would include in the price of admission.
We are not big drinkers, but we did go to a couple of the bars in the evening just to hang out a bit. I'm not sure where all of the rest of the adults were, but the bars were always empty. And there are quite a few bars, so a lot of unused space.
We took our son to the entertainment room for 5-10 year olds and it was a little too immature for him. So we asked if he could go to the older kids room, called the Edge and be with the 11-14 year old kids. Lots of video games and other staff led activities. He had a great time there and was pretty content to stay all evening.
I was wondering what the pools looked like and was not really able to see anything on the website. I found out why. The kiddie pool, the one with a slide is really small. The older kid pool is about 6 feet across and 20 feet wide, so when you get about 10 kids in there, it looks full because it is. The third pool is for adults only and is about the same size.
Since they move the ship from port to port at night, they arrived at port very early in the morning, like before 6am. Apparently they use some sort of side thrusters to maneuver into dock, but the ship shudders enough to wake everyone on board. And it takes about 20 minutes to dock, so you’re wide awake by then.
I guess I thought there would be more things to do together as a family. But it seemed like the ships goal was to give adults every opportunity to separate themselves from their children. Maybe that’s what some people wanted, but not us.
Bottom line: if I want a Disney experience in the future I’ll go to Disney World or Disney Land. Never back on the ship.