The Disney Wonder embarkation process at the Port of Los Angeles World Cruise Center went fairly smoothly. We arrived at the cruise port at around 11:25 AM and had our luggage picked up by port worker at the curb. We then proceed to area #93 where the embarkation process would start. First you had to fill out a illness form (one per family) and answer if anyone in your group had fever or diarrhea within the last 24 hours, etc. We then headed to security, then proceeded to check-in where your passports/ID's are checked and a family photo is taken.
We then headed outside where there was an exhibit of large-size Cars characters which included Lightning McQueen and Mater. That was a nice photo-op opportunity. Next we went to the main waiting area where there was already a mass of people waiting to board to ship. We were a little disappointed that there weren't refreshments/snacks offered during the wait. This waiting period was also a chance for you to register kids 3 or order for the ship youth activities.
After about 20 minutes of waiting, we were able to start going onto the gangway to board the Disney Wonder. Oddly enough the process took a while as we had to withstand the heat and humidity inside the covered platform to board the ship. After about another 20 minutes we finally made our entry aboard the ship, and directly into the lobby. There we found out why it was taking a while- they were asking each family the surname/last name and then providing a ship-wide welcome announcement for the family. That was a nice gesture, though I'm not sure the extra wait was worth it. The time when we set foot on the Wonder was at around 12:30 PM.
Overall the Embarkation process wasn't bad at all- one hour total is certainly a reasonable amount of time. One of the best parts was that you can skip the photo op opportunity via a different online when boarding the ship. A few minor improvements could make the process even less painless.
After embarkation we were directed to the Parrot Cay restaurant for assigned seating lunch buffet. The wait was about 6 or 7 minutes before we got our table. The buffet didn't have a large selection, but the quality was solid. The raspberry dressing for the salad was enjoyable, and so were the cocktail shrimp (still had shell on, however), mini chicken sandwich, and the white chocolate parfait. The thinly-fried breaded pork was a tad dry, though our 2 year-old son enjoyed it. He also liked the penne pasta as well. Ironically he didn't like the mac-n-cheese from the kid's buffet section (which had 4 or 5 selections total including corn dogs & spaghetti and meatballs).
At 4 PM the Disney Wonder emergency drill took place- and they definitely let you know about it before hand with 3 or 4 in-cabin announcements starting 30 minutes before the drill. Every family had to go to a meeting place- ours was at the Animator's Palette. Once there you had to present your room ID card & room number for the "roll call". It lasted at about 30 minutes- which I thought was longer than my experiences from other cruise ships.
The Disney Wonder sail-away party immediately followed on Deck 9. It was a fun, energetic party with the cruise entertainment staff dancing up a storm on and around the stage and around the jumbo-tron screen hanging above it. Kid's were jubilant, especially when the Disney characters came on stage including Mickey Mouse, Minnie, Donald Duck and Goofy. The only thing missing from this raucous party was some BBQ.
Disney Wonder Inside Cabin Impressions
We reserved an inside cabin aboard the Disney Wonder. It was an upgraded room on deck 2. We really liked how the room was laid out compared to the cabins of the ships we've been on. The most noticeable difference was that the toilet and the bathtub/shower areas are in two separate rooms with individual doors. And both rooms have sinks too. The tub is a nice feature for those of us with young children, although for us adults it felt too cramped, especially with the metal support bar/shelf taking up elbow room. A shower door also would be nice too compared to the shower curtains.
The cabin was clean, felt relaxing and presented a sense of comfort. There was a flat-screen HDTV (looked like 24") and was the first one I've seen that had HD signals. The other cruises I've been on before which had flat-screen HDTVs all had blocky regular non-HD signals. Quite a few newer movies were shown as available as well including the Avengers and Wrath of the Titans.
The bed was very comfortable, and there were a ton of drawers and cabinets all around the cabin, including a tall treasure-chest styled cabinet against the wall near the foot of the bed. Lots of nice Disney details as well including a cool map-lamp shade, and complimentary H2O-made lotion/shampoo conditioner tubes with printed Disney characters, and light fixtures with Mickey Mouse symbols.
As far as noise goes- we did hear this machinery lift sound every now and then even late at night, but it wasn't loud enough to bother us.
Our stateroom steward did a good job overall cleaning our cabin. This was, however, the first cruise we've ever been on where a room steward would constantly restore items such as tissue boxes to their original locations instead of respecting where we wanted them. He would also remove the cosmetics my wife have organized into a cup and spread them out in a towel. It got to the point where we had to write a note to him to stop touching them.
Disney Wonder Food Review/Comments on Dining
We definitely liked how the same two servers (one responsible for food and another for beverage) attended to you the entire cruise during dinner and the character breakfast. The dining room service was extremely good. There was a drawback to this, however, as the dining times are not flexible. We have been spoiled by NCL's freestyle dining where you can just walk into any non-specialty restaurant during its operating hours. Plus you don't have to sit with strangers. Although our dinner companions on our Disney cruise was affable. But the set dinner times meant that often times only one of us (we're two parents of a 2 year old toddler) can watch the show, as the other has to tuck the toddler into bed. We chose the early sitting at 5:45 PM, but often times the first run of a show would start at 6:15 PM, and there was absolutely no way you could finish dinner by then.
Which brings me to the point of how quickly food came out on our Disney Cruise. Our first dinner, which was at the Parrot Cay, took nearly 2 hours. The food crawled to our tables, and our toddler, along with the 3-year-old child of our dinner companions, were getting very cranky as they were getting bored and restless. Thankfully, after voicing our concerns to our servers Patrik and Levy, we usually were able to finish dinner in about an hour 15 minutes the rest of the cruise.
Food-quality-wise, it was similar to what we have experience on Norwegian Cruise Line- perhaps slightly superior when you are comparing non-specialty dining rooms food. I would say that the NCL buffets easily offered more choices for all 3 meals. One of the best dinners on our Disney Wonder cruise was the second time we dined at Triton's. There were escargot and jumbo shrimp appetizers. The lamb shank (the best dish) was tender and moist. The duck breast was pretty good. This was one of the "lobster night" I suppose, and there was a lobster dish in the form of lobster mac-n-cheese, but our server advised against ordering it as he thought it was dry and the lobster was in tiny portions sprinkled on top. The following night at the Animator's Palate was the Toy Story theme night. There was lobster again and we did try it this time- the lobster was a whole tail and was well-cooked and not dry. The trout was good and so was the shrimp pasta. It certainly rivaled the previous night at Triton's as the best dinner.
Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to experience Palo, the lone specialty restaurant aboard the Disney Wonder. This was because Palo is only for adults- you cannot bring anyone under the age of 18 there. It's a strange policy- I've never seen kids banned before from a restaurant aboard a cruise or anywhere in fact.
Disney Wonder Entertainment Review
The best show was the Toy Story, the Musical. The costumes and props were well-crafted and the characters, especially Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the evil kid were all well performed. The story was a good one. Very enjoyable- even our 2 year old toddler liked it.
I saw the juggler/comedian adult show at the Waveband. It was very enjoyable and a funny act. He definitely did some amazing juggling tricks including juggling a hatchet, a bowling bowl, and an egg at the same time.
The ventriloquist show in the main theater was fairly funny, appealing more towards the kids. The best part was how he had a volunteer 6-year-old boy come up and the end and made him his "puppet".
The Pirate theme night was pretty fun. We were assigned to eat at Parrot Cay for dinner, and the servers lined up for a dance around the dining room and encouraged everyone to participate. The Pirate Deck Party on the Disney Wonder for us started at 9:45 PM. It was loud music with energetic dancers trying to get the crowd involved. It culminated at 10:30 PM in Mickey Mouse zip-lining to the stage followed immediately by the fireworks show on the starboard (right) side of the ship. It was fun, though because we primarily were there to see the fireworks, thought it was too long to wait before it happened. If you plan on attending the party and want to see the fireworks, deck 10 is certainly the best place to enjoy it.
Overall our 2 year old son and us parents really enjoyed the Disney Wonder Pacific Coastal Cruise, and would not hesitate to return to another Disney cruise in the future. Our rating for the Disney Wonder cruise is 4.5/5 stars.
Disney Wonder Pros and Cons
-no art auction
-great service in main dining rooms
-photo-ops with Disney characters
-no pushy announcements to buy drinks, and no non-critical announcements in cabins
-do your own laundry for $2
-inflexible dining times for main dining rooms
-not nearly as many dining options as NCL- e.g. no sushi
-long wait time for photo-ops with Disney characters
-no live main show one night (3D movie of Finding Nemo was shown instead)
-buffet doesn't have a large selection
-10:30 PM time on last time to put out luggage is constraining- other cruise lines = 1 AM
-Satellite internet seem slower than other cruise ships we've been on
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