Saturday, January 12, 2008

Walt Disney World Review Part 2-The Criuise

Disney Wonder Cruise Review
December 9th-13th

This review will cover the cruise that my wife and I took on the Disney Cruise Line. Currently Disney has 2 ships in operation, the Magic and the Wonder. The Magic takes passengers on a 7 night Eastern Caribbean itinerary. We were on the Wonder, which is a 4 night cruise to 2 Bahamian ports of call; Nassau and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.

This cruise was a part of Disney’s Land and Sea package. We stayed 3 nights at one of Walt Disney’s resorts from December 6th through the 8th and then headed for the pier on the morning of 9th. Due to our visit to a local Church congregation, we made private transportation arrangements through Sunray Transportation. I cannot say enough about Sunray and Bob, one of Sunray’s owners. Bob made special arrangements to drive by our Church location a day ahead of time just so he would know where it was that he was to pick us up. If you want fantastic service (transportation in a nice leather seated SUV) at an affordable price, give Sunray a call. They can easily be found on the web.

We arrived at the pier at 12:30PM. Getting through security was a breeze. If we had not stopped for a 10-minute bathroom break once inside the terminal, we could have been on the ship in less than 10 minutes. Since we had stayed at one of Disney’s resorts prior to our sail date, we had the luxury of being able to check in at our hotel earlier that morning. That meant we had our stateroom keys in hand by the time we reached the terminal.

One of the neat things they do on all Disney cruises is announce you by name as you enter the ship. A neat little perk. After we boarded, we were directed to one of the 2 buffets (Beach Blanket Buffet and Parrot Cay). Since it was only 1:00PM, it would be another 30 minutes before we could go check out our stateroom.

We were told that Parrot Cay was full so we had no choice but to go to Beach Blanket Buffet. The first thing we noticed was that the buffet area was much smaller than what we became used to on Royal Caribbean. This made it very tight to get in and around the buffet line and it also meant that the selection of food seemed smaller. The seating area inside was also much smaller and meant that the only choice was to sit outside which had its challenges in the wind.
After w quick bite, we were anxious to see our stateroom. We were in a category 5 stateroom that was a deluxe stateroom with a verandah. Our room number was 7036. We were close to mid ship on deck 7. The room was very nice. It had a classical nautical theme with lots of Disney artwork placed throughout. One of the unique things about Disney staterooms is that most come with a bath and a half; one with a vanity and tub/shower combo and another with a vanity and a toilet. This was nice when we were both trying to get ready at the same time. The rooms seemed spacious and the beds were very comfortable. They do need some updating when it comes to the TV’s. Most cruise lines now are going to nice flat screen TV’s and the one we had was your typical 13-inch TV from the 1980’s. Other than that…the room was very nice and our stateroom attendant was superb.

Our dinner rotation schedule had us visiting the dining restaurants in this order; Parrot Cay, Tritons, Tritons, and Animator’s Palate. Parrot Cay was the least favorite of ours. The theme was nice, but the restaurant lacked any special flair. Tritons was actually our favorite out of the 4 due to the ambience and menu choices. Animator’s Palate was kind of a let down. We had heard so much about how the scene changes in the restaurant as your receive each dinner course, but the change was less than dramatic and the music change was almost unnoticeable. The servers all left at the same time and came back clapping with colorful vests on which was really the most dramatic part of the dinner experience and that wasn’t much to talk about.

The food was good, not great in all the restaurants except for Palo’s (which I will get to in a moment). The service however was noticeably sub par. Our two servers had a really hard time at remembering what each person had ordered. While we easily excused it the first night, it became a pattern by the last night. We were accustom to Royal Caribbean’s superior service and how their servers paid attention to the smallest level of detail and that was simply not the case with our experience on this cruise. One morning for breakfast we had decided to try the buffet at Parrot Cay and also found the service to be disappointing. I had asked the server for coffee, which never made it to our table. Now I am aware that each server is unique and we may have been the exception to the rule. So take this criticism for what it is worth.

On the day at sea, we had made arrangements to have brunch in Palo’s, Disney’s alternative dining restaurant. Our experience there was superb. The service was excellent! The food choices for a brunch were incredible and the atmosphere was exquisite. The extra charge was only $10 per person, which was a bargain, compared to other cruise lines. I highly recommend for everyone to take advantage of the opportunity to dine at Palo’s.

The ship itself is what I will call a classical ship with its elegant color scheme. The inside is simply decorated, but quite beautiful. Disney has done a great job by keeping the Disney theme out in the forefront while still keeping things elegant and simple. They used a lot of black and white Disney prints in the common areas and a person really needs to take the time to stop and take some of them in.

I want to make mention of 3 areas of the ship that we found to be above our expectations. First the ship’s Buena Vista movie theatre is second to none. For a ship of its size, it was a large theatre laid out with tiered seating similar to those found in modern theatres. The real plus was that they show first-run movies and even Disney’s movies that are also making their theatre debut back at home. I am not giving it justice in this review, but please do not overlook it once you are onboard. Trust me.

Second, the shops onboard were laid out well and had a great selection for every age group. You felt that you were in a shop back at one of Disney’s theme parks. Once again…trust me and take come extra cash for shopping!

Third, there was the Walt Disney Theatre had some of the best show productions we have seen so far at sea. From the set decorations to the cast members, you felt you were at a Broadway show production. They were highly entertaining and a must-do during your cruise.

I also want to mention one area of the ship that Disney really needs to address. I am not sure what they were thinking when they designed the Vista Spa to be placed on a deck right below the sports deck and basketball courts. The pouncing of a basketball really does detract away from a true spa experience. Also…I was surprised to learn that there was an additional charge to use their rainforest room even if you had scheduled a spa treatment. That is not the case on some of the other cruise lines. I understand charging a daily use fee for those who only want to come and use this amenity, but not for those who are already paying a nice fee for a massage etc.

Now…on to the excursions and ports of call. Since this was only a 4-night cruise, we had 2 ports of call scheduled as I already mentioned; Nassau and Castaway Cay. Nassau is what it is. We probably would not have bothered getting off the ship had we not planned for an excursion. The excursion was the Dolphin Encounter on Blue Lagoon Island. It was awesome! It was worth every penny and something everyone needs to do at least once in their lifetime. The staff on the Island is very professional and does a great job, not only with the interaction, but also with the educating of the guests regarding the dolphins and their environment. It was the highlight of our cruise and one we will cherish for a long time.

The second port of call was Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island. We were docked by 7:30AM and cleared to disembark by 8:00AM. Being docked at the island is a luxury of being with Disney. Most cruise lines tender their guests onto their private islands. Docking is always a added advantage and it made getting off and on the ship a breeze. The Island is divided up into sections for all age groups, teen beaches, family beaches, children play areas, and even an area solely for adults called Serenity Bay. We were excited to be able to get away from the noise and bustle of the children spend the day in an entire “adults only” area. The beach at Serenity Bay was gorgeous. There were plenty of beach chairs. My wife made an appointment at one of their open-air cabanas, which was wonderful. The whole experience on the Island was great. Disney really has mastered the ability to organize and feed and transport large groups of people and this shined through on Castaway Cay.

For the sake of time and space, I will end the cruise review right here. Disney will make your cruise experience very enjoyable, especially if you have children. We prefer a longer cruise so we will probably not be going on this cruise again, but I can recommend it without reservations. You will be spoiled by Disney’s ability to get you on and off the ship at each and every port. The embarkation and disembarkation process was extremely hassle-free. We docked back at our homeport in Port Canaveral on the 13th at 6:00AM and were cleared to disembark by 7:00AM. You do not have to disembark in groups on Disney, which means you can simply walk off once the ship is cleared by the port authorities.

If you have any questions, please leave it on the comments section. If you would like to see pictures of the ship or other videos, you can visit our other blog site at You can also see other videos at

1 comment:

kate said...

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