Our family took the Very Merrytime Cruise out of Galveston, with port stops at Key West and Castaway Cay. We drove to the terminal on the day of embarkation. The Disney Wonder is a good sized ship, but certainly must feel small to veteran cruisers compare it to the megaships at other cruise lines. We enjoyed the manageable size and other than a few deck parties, we never felt like there were too many people on board (there were supposedly 2600-2700 guests on our cruise, including over 1100 children). We could always find a spot near the pools.
First, some notes on the weather on this cruise: The weather did not completely cooperate on the cruise, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been; you had to roll with mother nature. The first day at sea, heading to Key West, the ship faced 45-50 knot winds constantly, all day, with 9-12 foot waves normal. Despite going at full speed and with the stabilizers, we were rocking. No one in our party got sick as we adjusted our food and drink intake, but needless to say, you earned your sea legs on that day and if you were prone to motion sickness, some medication might have helped.
Port day at Key West ended being very windy, with our plans to parasail canceled. We ended up just spending some time strolling along the streets and doing some shopping. Castaway Cay also started out rainy in the morning with alternate periods of overcast sky and torrential downpour. However, the rain stopped before noon and the sun came out, making the rest of day nearly perfect. The next day at sea was wonderful and the last day at sea saw the return of some ship movement (but not as bad as the first day) and some rain during the last night as we got closer back to Texas.
As for the ship: while it may not have had its major dry dock yet for a complete overhaul (something its older sister ship the Magic went through a few years ago and the Wonder will likely do later in 2016), the staterooms and public areas were mostly in good shape.
Although another reviewer may have had a bad stateroom experience, ours was clean and well maintained by our room steward. The beds and decor have been upgraded to the modern tasteful nautical look of the other ships in the fleet. Ours even had two hairdryers, one bolted to the wall in the split bath, and another in a drawer. The raised beds are very handy so that all suitcases can roll underneath. The split bathrooms are a bit cramped, but still very useful when you have a party of 4. The lack of on demand TV was noted, but not an issue as there was plenty of content, and besides, we were rarely in our stateroom.
The public areas are even better maintained, although you could tell that it was an older ship, particularly on the open decks that is subject to salty air 24 hours a day. Still, we saw constant upkeep during our cruise, from crew sweeping up anything that fell on deck to maintenance varnishing and painting everyday. The pools are nice, with lifeguards at both the Mickey and Goofy pools all day long. The adults only areas (pool, cafe, etc.) were rarely busy and you could easily find a place to lounge or space in the pool or whirlpool.
The rotational dining concept is great for families and we enjoyed the various dining venues. Animator’s Palate is of course the most Disney-like, but it was a bit disappointing as the color changing show and the monitors installed were in dire need of an upgrade. Parrot Cay seemed the most theme-park like and Triton’s was very nice. We did have dinner at the adults only Palo one night (for an extra charge), but it was the best food we had onboard. The main dining food was fine, but you could tell the galley was preparing food for hundreds at a time — sometimes the food would not be as hot, and it could take some time to receive your dish, depending on when you order. The experience at Palo was a whole different level, and well worth the experience.
There are a multitude of activities available onboard for all age groups. Kids activities are especially abundant, and of course, there are so many Disney characters to meet and see all cruise long. Adults had slightly fewer choices, but there were still many tours, wine and spirit tasting opportunities, bingo, trivia, etc. However, with so many families on board, the adult only areas on board did become ghost towns by midnight, even though dancing and music would continue until 2am.
The Disney musicals shows are of course of high caliber, but they are definitely family oriented. There were a couple of other variety acts, such as a magician and a country music recording artist as well. Of course, on our particular cruise, one highlight was that they premiered the new Star Wars movie, available to see multiple times in both 3D and 2D digital projection and surround sound.
Disembarkation is a busy time, but if you do not have a bus, shuttle or plane to catch, the best thing you can do is to wait until after the rush (around 9am) and then just walk off, get your luggage and breeze through customs; we did this in 5-10 minutes, and most of that was waiting for a porter to help with luggage.
For the future, we would do another Disney cruise, either waiting until the Wonder is re-imagined, or trying one of the other ships. We of course hope the weather is much better.
The cruise terminal area on Galveston Island not very good, and Disney operates out of what looks like a temporary warehouse structure. It looks like they are building another terminal for the future.
Weather was windy, canceling our excursion. Key West seems like a nice place to spend a few days, perhaps driving from mainland Florida.
Rain in the morning notwithstanding, it was the best place to spend a day. We wish we could have spent another day there.