Disney Wonder was Disney Cruise Line’s second ship, launched in 1999 (one year after Disney Magic) and offering an almost identical experience, with just a few design tweaks to keep things interesting.
Today she remains one of the cruise industry’s best family ships, able to carry 1,754 adults and nearly 1,600 kids with all her extra berths filled. When she launched, those stats put her among the largest ships at sea; today, they make her a pretty average-size vessel, dwarfed by Disney’s own newer vessels (such as Disney Dream) and some super-megaships that typically carry more than 3,000 guests at double-occupancy.
Wonder is a long, proud-looking vessel, designed to evoke the flavor of the great early 20th century ocean liners. Outside, she has a beautiful black-white-red-and-yellow paintjob that looks classic and grand and is a perfect match for Mickey Mouse’s signature outfit.
Inside, her public rooms and cabins are done up with timeless Art Deco and Art Nouveau style, with mouse ears and other Disney-isms sprinkled around so subtly that it’s actually fun to try and spot them among the design motifs. Even the ship’s horn is distinctively Disney, belting out the first notes of “When You Wish Upon a Star.”
Well laid out and kept fresh through frequent updates and upgrades, Wonder offers spaces for kids, spaces for families, and spaces for adults only. The pool deck, for instance, has three different pools. The two-foot-deep Mickey’s Kids’ Pool is shaped like Mickey Mouse’s face and has a giant Mickey hand holding up its water slide. Next door is the Splash Zone, a play area for kids under 3 who aren’t toilet trained. The four-foot-deep Goofy’s Family Pool is flanked by hot tubs, letting adults relax while keeping an eye on the kids. Finally, separated off from the others, the adults-only Quiet Cove pool has whirlpools, waterfalls, lounge chairs with plush cushions, a poolside bar and a coffee bar.
Inside, kids can play at some of the biggest and best children’s facilities at sea, taking up nearly half a deck. The Oceaneer Club for kids 3–10 is a kid-proportioned playroom with a Neverland theme, where kids can climb and crawl around a giant pirate ship, dress up as their favorite hero or princess, and participate in supervised activities throughout the day.
The interactive Oceaneer Lab, for the same age group, is themed on characters from the Toy Story movies, and gives kids a chance to play on computers, do experiments at a science lab, learn how animation works and more. Special lunches and dinners are served here too, giving parents a chance to get out on their own.
Down on deck 2, tweens age 11 through 13 have a space called Edge, where they can play video games, watch TV, surf the web and participate in organized activities. Teens have a hangout space called Vibe, located inside a phony smokestack on the top deck and designed to look like a cross between a college dorm rec room and a college-town coffee shop. It’s open 24 hours a day; is stocked with computers, games, TVs, music stations and DVD players; and offers dance parties, karaoke and other organized activities.
For the youngest kids, ages 3 months to 3 years, the Flounder’s Reef Nursery is open at various times through the day, including 6pm to midnight, and charges $6 per hour for the first child and $5 an hour for the second. Stocked with toys and decorated with a Little Mermaid theme, the space has play areas, cribs, and counselors who’ll change diapers. You don’t even have to bring your own on board, if you don’t want to. Instead, you can pre-order diapers, wipes, and other baby supplies and they’ll be delivered to your cabin on the first day of your cruise.
For adults, Wonder offers the adults-only Route 66 district with three separate clubs: Cadillac Lounge, a piano bar with a classic Cadillac theme; WaveBands, which offers daytime games and nighttime dancing and karaoke; and Diversions, a sports pub and lounge. Adults can also hunker down at the comfortable Cove Café, where they can get a gourmet coffee or cocktail, and read, watch TV or surf the web.
For families, there are live family shows at the grand Walt Disney Theater; movies at the Buena Vista Theatre; animated films and other family entertainment shown on a giant movie screen attached to the forward funnel out on deck; and game shows, karaoke and dancing at the TV-studio-themed Studio Sea lounge.
All told, Wonder offers nine different restaurants and dining spots. There’s the formal, Little Mermaid–inspired main restaurant, Triton’s, serving French-inspired continental cuisine at dinner. And there’s the tropical-themed Parrot Cay, a second main restaurant, serving Caribbean grilled specialties. Both also serve contemporary American cuisine at breakfast and lunch. A third dinner spot, Animator’s Palate, has a decor that starts out looking like a black-and-white pencil sketch, and gradually gets more colorful as the meal goes on.
For an adults-only getaway, Palo serves Northern Italian cuisine in a casual atmosphere.
There’s also a pool deck grill, a pizzeria, a buffet restaurant, and a couple of snack stands, including one near the kids’ pool.
In terms of staterooms, Wonder really shines. Like all the Disney ships, she offers extra-roomy standard cabins that can sleep at least three or four through fold-out couches and bunks that pull down from the ceiling. The majority of staterooms come with two bathrooms — one with just a toilet and sink, the other with a bathtub and sink. There’s also a little fridge, lots of storage space, and subtle Disney themes worked into the classy decor.
One-bedroom suites can sleep four or five comfortably, and two-bedroom suites sleep seven. About half the outside cabins on board offer private verandas. Those that don’t have wonderful oversized portholes instead — another cute nod to old ocean-liner days.
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