CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews

Disney Cruise Line Disney Wonder Bahamas September 19, 2002

I wrote a review on this ship in January so why do it again in September? A $99 coupon. We really weren't interested in another cruise in Wonder but who could pass us a weekend in the Bahamas in a balcony stateroom for less than $250.

Magic is a real seven day cruise to the Caribbean. Wonder is part of a seven day theme park/cruise package for most embarked. Therein lies the problem.

There is no cruise ship aura or mystic on Wonder. People do not enter with the feeling that they are going to sea to share a unique adventure. To them it is another place to be herded. The ship is just another attraction, and after four exhausting days in Disney World, they admit to being a bit jaded. This was confirmed by the staff who rotate between the ships. Magic is a normal cruise with a Disney flavor.

You don't have to pack much for a three night, two day cruise. Nevertheless, what I lay out to be packed and what actually goes into the suitcase never seems to be the same. I pack light, she says what if I spill. Couldn't get in the mood. Packed late with what was hanging in the closet. There is no such thing as formal on Wonder. I was overdressed in a sport coat and Miami Vice tee shirt. One suitcase held it all for both of us.

Planned to sleep late, have breakfast, then a leisurely two hour drive to Port Canaveral, by far the easiest port from which to start a cruise.

Was informed the cruise started when the alarm went off. Breakfast would be on the road, which brings us to lesson one: While St Augustine might be a great place to spend the night if driving from the northeast, it can be expensive.

We stopped at the St Augustine Outlet complex Cracker Barrel on I-95 and noticed several fellow diners filling out their cruise documents! Seems those motels are always available and reasonably priced, and that's where several had been booked. Actually they were headed for Ft Lauderdale and Miami, five hours down the road.

We still weren't in a cruise mood. "Did you bring the documents?" "Yes" "Are your sure?" "YES" "Did you turn off the ceiling fans?" "Yes" "Are your sure?" "YES"

Disney has streamlined their check in procedure since January. Still have to show documents to get into the complex. Told we had a two category upgrade. Mood improved. Dropped off bag and wife, drove across the road to parking, found a spot close to the walkway. The Port Canaveral terminal complexes are very compact and the walk back to the building is short. Do have your documents with you to get back in.

Donald still quacks welcome. Personal luggage and body search is now done at the door so that once you are in, you can go directly aboard without holding everyone up while you explain you will not hijack the ship with your knitting needles. You have already done that.

Upon boarding you are supposed to go to the embarkation buffet with your bags in tow. Rooms aren't ready until nearly 2:00. Disney has two options for boarding lunch; Parrot Cay, an enjoyable laid back experience or Beach Blanket Buffet, an indoor/outdoor feeding trough. Last time we played by the rules and waited until our room was ready. Parrot Cay was closed Lesson two: This time I left wife holding a table in decent restaurant, took bags to room, pretipped steward who probably would have let us left them anyway, and returned for an enjoyable lunch.

The dining experience on Disney is unique in setting, certainly not the food. Meals are long on presentation, short on quality and preparation. We shared our table with a couple who made them take it back untill it was done right. Didn't take long before the meals improved, for us at least. We didn't have the best servers, they spent most of their time doting over children and young mothers. Hope the tip they received from them made up for what they got from us. Speaking to the head waiter didn't help.

We received a welcome basket with two splits of wine. Took them to dinner and was faced with a $15 corkage fee. Solved that by pouring wine in our room, taking it into the restaurant with us. Worked twice. Ran out of wine. Probably couldn't get away with it three times anyway.

Last cruise I raved about the children's programs and how much they enjoyed them and how we hardly saw loose children and how happy parents were to be free of them and how the kids would be returned exhausted which made for fairly quiet evenings. The crowd on this trip was absolutely marsupial. They wouldn't let their kids out of their sight. It was a mad house. All the wonderful facilities were ignored. The counselers couldn't believe it. I won't get regional or ethnic. Why go on a Disney cruise if you don't let your children take advantage of the great programs available?

In Nassau we had four megaships and one monster ship. Voyager of the Seas literally dwarfed us. That makes for a lot of people in town. We decided to go tourist this time and took an island tour. Big mistake. Will continue to do what we always do, negotiate with a cab driver and get what we want. Lesson three; nice touch while on your varandah watching other ships and their passengers leave port is to have your butler stand in the background. We were out snooted by the ships next door.

Made the effort this time to see all the shows. Disney does put on quite a production. Very well done with genuine talent. There is a lot going on at the same time, take a hi lighter.

We enjoy people watching. Most cruises are made up of like people. Not Disney Wonder! Enjoyed watching the kids take in what was available. The look on NYC secretarie's faces when they learned this was not what they had in mind. Parents who are totally lost but have to be the last word. Kids who are way ahead of them and masters at having the last word.

Our room was much larger than we needed. My distress over the balcony is addressed in Cruise Complaints. Two parents and four kids would have been comfortable. Maybe not happy, but comfortable.

Repeating the same cruise on a Disney ship in the same year is not a particularly stirring experience, unless you really like cruising and really like Disney. I was reminded I had already done it everytime I tried to take a picture. What I saw in the viewfinder was already in an album. But, our house had been flooded and we needed a break. Besides, a three day cruise for less than $250 remember?

Strongly recommend Magic. With Wonder you get what you signed up for.

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