Last week we experienced our 29th Cruise, a relaxing 6 night Pacific Coastal repositioning Cruise from Vancouver to Los Angeles, onboard this Beautiful ship!
Surprisingly, since we’re such huge “everything Disney” lovers (we’ve been to Walt Disney World 5 times & Disneyland 4 times) this was Cruise # 1 for us with Disney.
And now the past few days since we’ve been off the Disney Wonder we’ve been asking ourselves, “What took us so long to sail with awesome Disney Cruise Line?”
We have to say, when you Cruise as much as we have it’s hard to get “Wowed” these days by ships (as we’ve Cruised on many of the World’s most unique ships… Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, Norwegian Epic, Oceania Marina, Celebrity Solstice, etc.) but the Disney Wonder seemed to “Wow” us for 6 days straight…
…not a bad feat for a 13 year old ship!! 🙂
So what was it about the Disney Wonder, that’s over a decade old that doesn’t have the newest Cruising features like rock climbing walls, ice skating rinks, surfing, zip-lining, lawn clubs, ice bars, etc., that impressed us so much?
Well, it was a lot of things so let’s get started. 🙂
1. Experiencing the Happy “Disney Feeling” 24/7 for 6 Nights
Now this is a little hard to describe but if you’ve ever visited a Disney Park you should know what we mean.
We simply loved being “Immersed” in Disney for a week!
As soon as we got to the port to check in Disney music was playing, some of the check in staff had the big Mickey hands on, beloved characters were there to greet us, some of the check-in podiums were designed like the funnels on the ship, even the hand sanitizer was dispersed from a special “Disney” dispenser. 🙂
Everywhere you looked on the Disney Wonder, the Mickey Mouse emblem was etched into it, from the duvet on our bed, to the desk lamps and the high chairs in the dining rooms, etc. It was so easy to keep a smile on our faces the whole week. 🙂
And waking up to a Mickey Mouse wake up call each morning just made getting out of the comfy bed that much easier.
The “Disney” touches on the Disney Wonder were everywhere…
…even the ship’s horn & onboard announcements chimed to “When you wish upon Star”.
When we 1st stepped onboard the Disney Wonder, the friendly crew welcomed the “Power Family” over the PA system followed by a round of applause from welcoming staff.
We even received a phone call from Mickey the day we booked the Cruise saying he couldn’t wait to see us onboard.
It was Classy 100% of the time… like Cruising should be… no-one was pushing drinks on us, there were no belly flop or hairy chest contests, no loud blaring music, no drunk people wandering shirtless into the buffet, etc.
It was simply a great atmosphere to be a part of all week!!
2. Great Service
When we took our 1st Cruise 9 years ago the amazing service was definitely a big part of what got us “hooked” on Cruise Vacations.
Over the past couple of years though, we’ve noticed the service on the mainstream lines is not as gracious as it used to.
Now don’t get us wrong, even the worst customer service during a Cruise puts to shame the way most of us get treated on land (you know the feeling of feeling like you’re a bother to the companies
you do business with- we all experience that often) but overall the consistency of mainstream Cruise staff (the Luxury lines still rock!) being “Happy, Happy” 24/7 just isn’t there.
BUT not so on the Disney Wonder. The staff is just how we 1st experienced Cruising years ago and the way it should be.
We were all truly treated like Kings & Queens onboard… especially the kids! 🙂
The staff were Happy 24/7… they really amplified the “Happiest Place on Earth” feeling just as Walt intended it to be!
Our room server, our dining staff, the entertainment staff, even the maintenance guys… they were all gracious, polite, always asked how we were, we kept hearing how happy they were we chose to Cruise with them, etc. It was pretty awesome!
If you love to be treated well, like you know you deserve to be, we’re pretty sure you’ll be in Heaven on a Disney ship! 🙂
3. Great Food
Just like Cruise ship service, when we took our 1st Cruise 9 years ago the amazing food was definitely another big part of what got us “hooked” on Cruise Vacations.
And again, over the past couple of years, we’ve noticed the food on the mainstream lines not being as good as it used to be… and with the way Cruising prices have dropped, that’s to be expected.
Not so on Disney Wonder though. In a league of their own, they can still get people to pay the premium Cruise prices that their Cruises are worth and they still maintain good quality/delicious food choices onboard, great presentation and you don’t get nickeled & dimed for things like pop. That’s right- 24/7 you can get free soda, juices, hot chocolate, etc.
And things that can be pricey in their parks like Mickey Ice Cream Bars & experiencing a Character Breakfast- were FREE onboard.
One afternoon they had a Beautiful Seafood Buffet with plentiful crab legs, mussels, jumbo shrimp, etc. Although the mainstreams lines still have versions of this we haven’t seen it this nice in a while!
Goat Cheese Penne… that was something super tasty that we hadn’t seen on a ship before… every evening at dinner different breads, rolls, and a specially prepared dip for each evening too… All yummy!
…and the chocolate soufflé in “Palo” their adults-only specialty restaurant, was to die for!
And we loved their unique “Rotational Dining” that no other Cruise line offers.
How it works is they have 3 main dining rooms where they serve their 5 course fine dining meals each evening. Each night though, the guests switch restaurants but your servers move with you… so you get a new venue atmosphere each evening but the same great service comes along with you… perfect!
And the animation show that took place in “Animators Palate” (which is definitely the best decorated of the 3 restaurants) was pretty awesome… we’re sure Walt would have been proud! 🙂
4. Great Entertainment
Like Cruise ship service & food, the entertainment onboard also got us hooked in our early days of cruising (on land we certainly never experienced Free entertainment) so this was a real treat while “at sea”.
But after a couple of dozen Cruises, you can only take so many “Broadway Reviews” & “60s, 70s & 80s Music Reviews” or the same old Cruise Ship jokes we’ve heard 29 times already. 🙂
But all that changed on Disney Wonder!
After all, Disney does have a reputation for creating some of the best entertainment in the World in their Theme Parks, their Movies, TV shows, etc.
Onboard we saw the “Golden Mickey’s” (Disney’s version of the Oscars), “Toy Story The Musical”, “Disney Dreams” and a couple of variety shows as well as comedy, ventriloquism, and so on.
The characters were in most of the shows as well as Disney’s music, special effects, etc.
Character greetings were plentiful all over the ship, 1st run movies played in their authentic “Buena Vista Theatre”, game shows, lots of music in the lounges, more TV stations & movies then any Cruise we’ve ever been on…
…it was all pretty awesome!! 🙂
The for sure # 1 highlight though was experiencing their “Fireworks at Sea/Pirates in the Caribbean” party!
We’ve always said to each other how great it’d be to experience Fireworks on a Cruise Ship but as a fire is about the worst thing you can have happen at sea, we kinda understand why we’ve never seen it before. 🙂
But after investing millions of dollars & years of training into how to safely do this, Disney is the only line to offer fireworks at Sea. (most everywhere except when in Alaska)
And we’re happy they did this as the night we experienced our Fireworks show with them was the night of our 5th Wedding Anniversary so it made for one special night! 🙂
5. Beautiful Ship
As mentioned earlier, the “Disney Wonder”, at 13 years old, is nowhere near the newest ship we’ve ever been on… but she sure was Beautiful!!
Disney likes to call their ships, “Modern Classical”, and we agree they are. Yep, they’ve got state of the art features & entertainment onboard but it’s mixed with touches of class that remind you of the olden days like a wrap around Promenade deck, funnels like on classic liners, etc.
The foyer (where lots of “Character” action took place each day) was “Whimsical” as Nancy put it. 🙂 Especially with it’s “Arielle” statue and it’s “Under the Sea” Glass sculptures.
The Disney themed art was beautiful… everywhere you looked there were great Disney moments captured and on display.
The rooms were bigger then your average ship… our room was almost 30% bigger then the same type of room on Princess, Celebrity, Royal, Norwegian, etc. (You can see our pictures of our Disney Wonder Cruise here and the 1st one is a video showing you around the room)
Definitely one of the best things we loved about the “Disney Wonder” though was they had unique areas on the ship for the different age groups.
They had the young kids areas, the tweens area, the teens areas & lots of adults-only areas.
One question a few people asked us before we got onboard was “weren’t we concerned it’d be nothing but a ship full of kids running around?”
Yes, but strangely enough, we noticed there were more adults-only areas then other ships… and these guys strictly enforced the adults-only areas which other lines don’t do so well.
There was the adults-only pool, the Outlook Cafe, the spa & fitness centre, the specialty restaurant Palo and the “Route 66” lounges area containing 3 unique venues.
Overall there was plenty of places for the adults to hang out on their own and at the same time to hang out with the kids to see the joy on their faces from all the excitement they were experiencing.
So whether you’re 3, 13, 33, 63 or 93, you have kids or don’t like us, there’s something on a Disney Cruise for everyone on their Beautiful ships!
6. Great Kid’s Program
Although we don’t have children ourselves, we do pay attention to the kid’s areas on all the ships we sail on, Shawn in particular being a Cruise Consultant, as we want to be able inform our readers & clients as best we can on what’s available for young families.
And in our experience, it seems Disney takes the cake when it comes to offering Youth programs.
For starters, each stateroom gets a couple of “Wave” phones. These are virtually cell phones that work on the ship as a cell does on land so members of the family can call/text each other… what a great way to keep in touch with the kids and so the staff at the kids centers can call you anytime if needed… talk about peace of mind!
How about Disney’s “Dine & Play” program… about 45mins -1hr into dinner each evening the Youth staff come & pick up the kids so Mom & Dad can enjoy the rest of dinner & the evening… very nice! 🙂
As well, it seems to us that Disney offers more activities and “open hours” in their kids areas then anyone else out there… most days the centers are open from early morning till 11pm-midnight… lots of time for Mom & Dad to enjoy the ship & adult activities while the kids play too.
Something else very unique is Disney’s “Flounder’s Reef Nursery”… this is a group babysitting service for 12week-3year olds and costs $5-$6/hr…
…we thought this was brilliant as most Cruise lines don’t offer kids organized activities till they’re 2-3 years old so with Disney Mom & Dad can get back to Cruising just a few months after the birth of the child… seriously, who can wait 2-3 years to cruise again! 🙂
No matter what age your child is… from 12weeks to 17 years old, there’s great activities for them to enjoy.
And the Youth staff, we heard, are fabulous… they’re all Disney & Kids lovers and are there simply to make sure your child has the Vacation of their lives… perfect! 🙂
So there you go… our 6 reasons why we believe Disney Cruise Line rocks and why Cruise # 29 was one of our most enjoyable ones yet…
…we truly had a great time on the Disney Wonder!
When you’re ready to start planning your 1st, or next, Disney Cruise contact Shawn as he’ll be Happy to share more of our experience with you and help you get that perfect Disney Cruise Vacation planned & booked.
Oh ya, we took lots of pictures & videos while on our Disney Cruise for you to see… you can check them all out at our Disney Wonder Pacific Coastal Cruise photo & video gallery.
And when in the above gallery make sure to check out what we did during our 2 days in San Francisco… you’ll get some great shore excursion ideas.
We appreciate you!
Nancy & Shawn
Your Trusted Cruise Experts!