Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 397 out of 500
Accommodation: 155 out of 200
Food: 201 out of 400
Service: 287 out of 400
Entertainment: 88 out of 100
Cruise: 320 out of 400
Overall Score: 1448 out of 2000
Disney Wonder Statistics
Size: Mid-size Ship
Cruise Line: Disney Cruise Line
Former Names: none
IMO Number: 91216819
Builder: Fincantieri (Italy)
Original Cost: $350 million
Entered Service: Aug 1999
Registry: The Bahamas
Length (ft/m): 964.5/294.0
Beam (ft/m): 105.7/32.2
Draft (ft/m): 26.2/8.0
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric (38,000kW)/2
Passenger Decks: 11
Total Crew: 945
Passengers (lower beds): 1,750
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 48.5
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 1.8
Cabins (total): 875
Size Range (sq ft/m): 180.8-968.7/16.8-90.0
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 388
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 12
Wheelchair accessibility: Good
Cabin Current: 110 volts
Casino (gaming tables): No
Slot Machines: No
Swimming Pools: 3
Hot Tubs (on deck): 6
Self-Service Launderette: Yes
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: Yes/270
Onboard currency: US$
Theme-park casual cruising for the whole family
Overview. Disney Wonder is like floating versions of Disney’s incredibly popular theme parks - seagoing Never-Never Lands. In reality, the ship provides a highly programmed, well organized, strictly timed and regimented cruise experience, with tickets, lines, and reservations necessary for almost everything. But for children of all ages (minimum 12 weeks old), it’s hard to beat Disney’s entertainment.
The Ship. Disney Wonder is the second of an identical pair of ships (first was the 1998-built Disney Magic). The ship’s profile is sleek, and combines streamlining with tradition and nostalgia, a black hull and two large red and black funnels designed to remind you of the ocean liners of the past - Disney Magic was the first cruise ship built with two funnels since the 1950s. One funnel is a dummy containing various public spaces, including a teen center, Aloft.
There are three outdoor pools: one pool for adults only (in theory), one for families, and one for children. One has a large poolside movie screen, and you can guess which one has Mickey’s face and ears painted into the bottom.
Inside, the ship is quite stunning. Most public rooms have high ceilings, and the Art Deco theme of the old ocean liners or New York’s Radio City Music Hall has been tastefully carried out. Have a look at the stainless steel/pewter Disney detailing on the handrails and balustrades in the three-deck-high lobby.
Apart from the ports of call, the highlight for most is a day spent on Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay in the Bahamas. It is an outstanding private island for families.
Take mainly casual clothing. Gratuities are extra, suggested at about $10 per person, per day, and 15 percent is added to all bar/beverage/wine and spa accounts.
Families. The ship has three main zones: one for adults only, one for families with children, and one for families or single parents with toddlers. Each group has its own swimming pool and open deck/sunbathing areas - adults only at the front of the ship. A 24 x 14ft (7 x 4m) Goofy Pool Jumbo Screen is positioned by the family pool area, just behind the forward funnel; it shows classic Disney animated and live-action movies, TV shows, and sporting events.
A child drop-off service is available in the evenings, and private babysitting services are available at around $11 an hour, as are character ‘tuck-ins’ for children, and character breakfasts and lunches - all at extra cost. Free strollers are available, and parents can be provided with beepers in order to enjoy their time alone, away from their offspring for much of the day.
Accommodation. There are 12 grades, but just six different cabin layouts; the price will depend on the grade, size, and location chosen, and are linked to the resort accommodation for those taking a combined resort/cruise vacation. Spread over six decks, all suites and cabins have been designed for practicality and have space-efficient layouts.
Most cabins have common features such as a neat vertical steamer trunk for clothes storage, illuminated closets, a hairdryer located at a vanity desk or in the bathroom, and bathrobes for all passengers. Many cabins have third and fourth pull-down berths that rise and are totally hidden in the ceiling when not in use, but the standard interior and outside cabins, while acceptable for two, are extremely tight with three or four. Some cabins can also accommodate a fifth person. The cabin decor is practical, creative, and colorful, with lots of neat styling touches. Cabins with refrigerators can have them stocked, at extra cost, with one of several drinks/soft drinks packages.
Bathrooms, although compact due to the fact that the toilet is separate, are really functional units, designed with split-use facilities so that more than one person can use them at the same time - good for families. Many have bathtubs, which are really shower tubs.
Accommodation designated as suites offers much more space, and extra goodies such as CD and DVD players, big-screen TVs, and extra beds (useful for larger families). Some suites are beneath the pool deck, teen lounge, or informal café, so there could be noise as the ceiling insulation is poor - although cabin-to-cabin insulation is good.
The two largest suites, the Walter E. Disney Suite and the Roy O. Disney Suite, are located beside the central bank of elevators. These are luxurious living spaces, each with two bedrooms, and all the Disney trimmings you’d expect.
Wheelchair-bound passengers have a variety of cabin sizes and configurations, including suites with a private balcony - unfortunately you can’t get a wheelchair through the balcony’s sliding door - and extra-large bathrooms with excellent roll-in showers, and good closet and drawer space. Almost all the vessel is accessible. For the sight-impaired, cabin numbers and elevator buttons are braille-encoded.
A 24-hour room service is available, and suites also get ‘concierge service.’ But the room service and cabin breakfast menu are limited. A 15 percent service charge applies to beverage deliveries, including tea and coffee.
Dining. There are has three main dining rooms, all non-smoking, each with over 400 seats, two seatings, and unique themes. Lumiere’s (in the center of the ship on Deck 3) has Beauty and the Beast; Parrot Cay (Deck 4) has a tacky, pseudo-Caribbean theme; also on Deck 4 aft, with great ocean views over the stern, is Animator’s Palate, the most visual of the three with food and electronic art that makes the evening decor change from black and white to full-color.
You will eat in all three dining rooms in rotation - twice per seven-day cruise - and move with your assigned waiter and assistant waiter to each dining room in turn, thus providing the variety of different decor and different menus. It’s a great concept - and unique in the cruise industry. As you will have the same waiter in each of the three restaurants, any gratuities go only to ‘your’ waiter. Parrot Cay and Lumiere’s have open seating for breakfast and lunch, but the lunch menu is pitiful.
Other dining options. Palo is a 140-seat reservations-only restaurant with a cover/gratuity charge, for Italian cuisine. It has a 270-degree view and is for adults only; the à-la-carte cuisine is cooked to order, and the wine list is good, although prices are high. Make reservations as soon as you board or you will miss out on the ship’s only decent food. Afternoon High Tea is presented here, on days at sea.
Topsider’s (incorporating Beach Blanket Buffet) is an indoor/outdoor café serving low-quality self-serve breakfast and lunch buffets with limited choice and presentation, and a buffet dinner, consisting mostly of fried foods, for children. But the venue is often overcrowded at lunchtime, so it may be better to go to the Parrot Cay dining room, which offers breakfast and lunch buffet, too. A poolside Goofy’s Galley has grilled panini and wraps, and soft drinks are complimentary.
Scoops, an ice cream and frozen yogurt bar, opens infrequently; other fast-food outlets include Pluto’s for hamburgers, hot dogs, and Pinocchio’s, which is open all day but not in the evening, for basic pizza and sandwiches.
On one night, there is also an outdoor self-serve Tropicalifragilisticexpialidocious buffet.
A casual Outlook Café, installed in 2010, has fine views from Deck 10, just forward of the first funnel housing. Vegetarians and those looking for light cuisine will be underwhelmed by the lack of green vegetables. Guest chefs from Walt Disney World Resort prepare signature dishes each cruise, and also host cooking demonstrations.
Entertainment. The entertainment and activities programs for families and children are superb. There are three large-scale stage shows in the stunning 977-seat showlounge, presenting original Disney musicals and comedy productions, bringing together a cast of Disney baddies from many Disney films. Sadly, there is no live orchestra, although the lighting, staging, and technical effects are excellent. There is also a Disney-themed Trivia Game Show.
Spa/Fitness. The Vista Spa is a fitness/wellbeing complex measuring 10,700 sq ft/994 sq m. The fitness/workout room, with high-tech Cybex muscle-toning equipment, has ocean-view windows overlooking the navigation bridge one deck below. There are 11 rooms for spa/beauty treatments - but note that the pounding from the basketball court on the sports deck directly overhead makes spa treatments less than relaxing.