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Disney Cruises aboard the Disney Wonder
Above: Disney Cruise Lines Disney Wonder Cruise Ship.

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Ship Details
Began service: January, 1999
Guest capacity: 2,400
Total staff: 950
Length: 964 feet
Passenger decks: 11
CDC inspection score: 97

Disney Wonder Overview

The Disney Wonder cruise ship departs from Orlando, Florida. Throughout the year, she offers ocean cruises to the Bahamas.

Check Dates & Prices for cruises to Bahamas.

From the outside, the Wonder is a sleek ship, with a dark blue hull, two matching red funnels and yellow insignias encircling the ship (Mickey's colors). The decor inside is elegant art nouveau. This ship proves that "elegant" and "family friendly" don't have to be mutually exclusive.

Disney's ships are designed to offer something for everyone from honeymooners to multigenerational family groups. Adults have numerous places to call their own, and since there are so many kids on board (and adults watching them), the Quiet Cove Pool, Vista Spa and Route 66 entertainment district never seem to be to crowded. Family activities set this ship apart from the others.

The Wonder looks brand-new since its refurbishment in October 2004. Three new areas were added to the ship -- Cove Cafe, Diversions, and Aloft. Cove Cafe is an adults-only coffee bar; it's a great space for relaxing on comfortable couches, watching TV, checking email, or reading one of the many magazines on the shelves. Diversions is a pub-style sports bar. Aloft is a new space for teens. called Aloft.

Disney's Wonder alternates three- and four-night Bahamas itineraries. Both make calls to Disney's private island Castaway Cay and Nassau, Bahamas. The four-night allows for a day at sea to enjoy all of the ship's offerings.


On Disney Wonder, standard inside staterooms are about 184 square ft. with the smallest balcony cabin starting at 226 square ft.

The majority offer a comfortable layout with bedroom and living room areas, separated by a curtain (a plus for anyone who likes to read before bed but doesn't want to make it too bright for children sleeping nearby).

There is a convenient deep sofa that converts to a daybed with a top "bunk" that folds down from the ceiling. It is great to be able to leave the beds set-up during the day without taking up all the floor space that a pulled out sofa bed would. Families of five can choose a family stateroom. They're a bit larger and have a sofa bed in addition to a wall-mounted Murphy bed.

There are plenty of storage areas including a closet with an attached six drawer dresser, several drawers and high shelves in the desk/dressing table area, plus an upright steamer trunk that provides easy access to clothes for young kids. The TV has a wide array of channels to choose from including ABC, ESPN, CNN, some Discovery Channels, and the Disney Channel.

Most staterooms include Disney's unique "bath and a half" where one person can shower in one bathroom while someone else is using the toilet in the other. The result of the split design is that each bathroom is cramped.

When selecting a stateroom, there are a few things to keep in mind. The only difference between categories 5 and 6 is that category 5 is on a higher deck. The handicap-accessible rooms are huge with plenty of open floor space, a large walk in closet, couch, pull down bed, and a bathroom larger than the ones in some of the suites. The balcony is also a good size, except it has a half-wall so it's difficult to see the water unless you're standing.

Category 7 balconies also have an obstructed half-wall view. For a stateroom that offers an outside view at an inside price, try to book one of the following cabins: 5020, 5022, 5024, 5520, 5522 or 5524. These cabins are priced as an inside category 10, but are similar in layout to outside category 8, and offer a porthole window (5024 and 5524 with an obstructed view). Inside cabins are similar in decor and amenities to the outside with the exception being the least expensive inside staterooms have one bathroom and one sink.

There are three types of suites ranging from one to two-bedrooms and accommodating five to eight people. They are appointed with dining tables, numerous storage areas and TVs, plus whirlpool tubs, expansive balconies, and a cabinet with popular board games. The Walt Disney Suite is the grandest (typically booked a year in advance) and filled with family photographs of Walt and a baby grand piano.


There are three main restaurants on the Wonder, and every guest dines in each of them at least once (on the four-night cruise you return to your first restaurant for a second time). Your dining tickets will be waiting for you in your stateroom indicating your dining time (6 or 8:30pm), table number and restaurant rotation. Your table number, dining companions and servers remain the same throughout.

Two additional Disney dining perks include free sodas during dinner at these restaurants (and at the self-service beverage station on the pool deck), along with a different children's menu/activity sheet each night, filled with fun word games, a coloring sheet and maze.

Triton's is an upscale dining room with stained glass walls and a shimmering tiled wall depicting a scene from the Little Mermaid. They offer continental cuisine with a French flair.

Animator's Palate starts out in stark black and white, but during the course of dinner, changes slowly into a room filled with color. At one point, near the end of the meal, the various screens around the restaurant come alive with Disney animations past and present. When the waiters reappear to take dessert orders, their black vests have been replaced with brightly-colored ones.

Parrot Cay offers a Caribbean-themed multi-sensory experience, with birds chirping in the background, and bold tropical colors, including the oversized green porthole windows. We visited for lunch one day and discovered a delicious seafood lunch buffet, and a much better salad bar than we'd found upstairs at Beach Blanket Buffet.

Palo, the adult-only restaurant, is an open-kitchen dining room with espresso bar, wine cellar and sweeping ocean views. Inspired by the Italian birthplace of the ship, Palo is named for the poles that line the canals of Venice and serves Northern Italian cuisine. The restaurant is open for dinner (and for Champagne Brunch during the "at sea" day on a four-night cruise); both require reservations, which should be made as soon as you board the ship. The food and service here is worth so much more than the $10 per-person charge.

Beach Blanket Buffet
is the indoor/outdoor place for breakfast and lunch buffets. (Note: If you want fried eggs you must head to one of the restaurants.) Casual outdoor eateries include Pinocchio's Pizzeria, Pluto's Dog House, and Scoops, serving ice-cream with an assortment of toppings. Cookie Time offers DVD-sized assorted cookies.


The premiere entertainment facility is the Walt Disney Theatre. This venue has comfortable seating, unobstructed views from almost anywhere, and is home to some of the best production shows I've seen at sea. Other productions include "Disney Dreams," a bedtime story featuring Peter Pan, Cinderella, and others, plus "Hercules -- The Musical."

For interactive entertainment, Studio Sea offers scavenger hunts, family karaoke and game shows like "Walk the Plank". Buena Vista Theatre features current Disney G-rated releases throughout the day and adult-oriented movies from its subsidiary film studios in the evening.

Along Route 66, a variety of games are hosted in Diversions from "Who's the Boss" (a battle of the sexes) to sports trivia contests. Piano and vocal favorites can be found in the Cadillac Lounge. G-rated is home to everything from adult cabaret to 70's and 80's dance parties.

Despite all of the elaborate entertainment, one of the biggest highlights of the cruise for young children is the character appearances. The digital display board in the atrium lists the appearances. Many children arrived each evening decked out as Minnie Mouse, Belle, Cinderella, or wearing their favorite Disney pajamas, all anxiously waiting to get an autograph or picture with their favorite character.

Fitness & Recreation

The pool area consists of three age-specific swimming pools and a 200-foot-long Mickey Mouse-themed water slide. The Mickey's Pool is for the younger set. Family-friendly Goofy's Pool is four-feet deep, with two whirlpools adjacent, and right in front of the main outdoor stage. Quiet Cove is the adults-only pool and is definitely quiet compared to the rest of the pool deck. The area is surrounded by two large hot tubs, an outdoor bar, and the adult-only Cafe Cove where you can get frozen coffee drinks to sip by the pool. Deck 10 has additional lounge seating overlooking the various pools as well as a basketball court and volleyball area.

Deck 4 promenade is the place for running (three laps equal one mile), or relaxing on cushioned lounge chairs that you won't find up on the pool deck. The area is far from the crowds and, aside from shuffleboard on the starboard side and an occasional jogger, is perfectly peaceful enough to listen to the waves.

The Vista Spa & Salon offers an assortment of massages, facials, and self-improvement treatments ranging in price from $15 to over $200. For $15 you can buy a day pass to the spa's "tropical rain forest" -- a circular Tuscan-themed (co-ed) aromatherapy area with a fountain in the center, and steam rooms, dry saunas and tropical rain showers off to the sides. Sleep-deprived parents might enjoy the unusual Chakra Balancing Capsule -- 25 minutes of rest in this aromatherapy space-age capsule is supposed to be worth two hours of sleep ($45).

The spa also includes a modestly sized fitness room that is equipped with Cybex weight machines, cycles, balance balls, mats, and seven treadmills that overlook the bridge and have televisions above. The front desk provides headsets for you to use while listening to the televisions. In addition, yoga, Pilates and cardio kick boxing classes are offered in the exercise studio.

We include a description of Castaway Cay, Disney's private island, here, because it is a land-based extension of the ship's fitness and recreation options. Castaway Cay is an island paradise of crystal clear waters, beach umbrellas, and a family beach. Snorkeling gear and assorted rafts and tubes are available to rent at reasonable prices. If you're lucky, you'll be able to nab one of the six hammocks strung up in the trees not far behind the She Shells shop. If you want to be on the family beach, but away from the crowds, head around the path toward Heads Up Bar, on the other side of the horseshoe from where the ship docks.

It's easy to get around the island; trams from the dock to various points on the island run continuously throughout the day. Island highlights include the beach barbecue; biking along paved (and sandy) trails; snorkeling out to see sunken treasures; relaxing at Serenity Bay, the adults only beach; and having a massage in one of the open-air cabanas overlooking the ocean.

Public Areas

Decks 3, 4 and 5 are home to the majority of public spaces as well as the three-deck-high atrium lobby, which is also home to character appearances each evening, pin trading and the guest service and shore excursion desks. The Promenade Lounge is a peaceful area with ocean views, board games and internet-access stations (75 cents per minute, with a minimum of five minutes).

Just before the entrance to the Walt Disney Theatre are two large shops. Mickey's Mates sells assorted character items. Treasure Ketch is the place to go for clothing, jewelry, unique Christmas ornaments, and an exclusive Waterford Crystal Disney ship.

Outdoor adult areas include Signals Bar facing the Quiet Cove pool, decorated in nautical flags. It was quiet with soft music playing in the background and plenty of chairs to choose from. For your own private hideaway, Deck 7's Aft Overlook is where you can enjoy water views and silence, unless the captain is there officiating a wedding.

Trivia tidbit: On most cruise ships there are 10 - 12 different carpet patterns; on Disney ships there are over 100. The reason? Themes and navigation. For example, the carpets bordered in red symbolize entertainment areas, whereas each restaurant's carpet is tied into its theme, like Beach Blanket Buffet's carpet of polka dot and checkerboard "beach blankets" strewn about. In addition, each deck of the ship has a different carpet inlay near the elevator banks to help guests identify various decks.


Disney's greatest advantage is the abundance of choices you have for spending time together as a family, as well as spending it apart in age-specific activities.

As for the children's programs, Disney offers programming for babies as young as 12 weeks to teens, with a few advantages like pagers for parents (with text-messaging so pre-teens and teens can let parents know where they'll be), continuation of program activities on Castaway Cay and flexible age groupings.

Flounder's Reef Nursery
is designed for babies and toddlers. Head to the nursery as soon as you board and decide what time slots you'd like, they go quickly. The fee is $6 per hour ($5 per hour for each additional child), and you must cancel four hours in advance if you decide not to bring your child. The ratio of counselors to children is 1 to 4 for infants and 1 to 6 for toddlers.

Oceaneer Club (Ages 3 - 7) A separate schedule of events is planned for ages 3 - 4 and 5 - 7 with some overlap during the day. Activities vary from the Jr. Chef Experience, where kids get to make their own chocolate chip cookies, to Animation Antics, where they learn to draw their favorite Disney characters or make up new ones. There is plenty of run-around time on the enormous indoor pirate ship, complete with slides, tunnels, and climbing areas.

Oceaneer Lab (Ages 8 - 12) The Lab plans for ages 8-9 and 10-12, with some overlap. In addition to bridge tours, "Pajamarama" pizza parties, computer and Playstation2 time, and movie outings, the Lab offers kids a chance to perform amazing feats of strength using basic physics, including immobilizing others with one finger, and removing a tablecloth from the dinner table without disturbing the dishes (part of Hercules' Feats of Strength program). In Goofy's Files, they learn about the world of forensics as they try to identify people by viewing hair, clothing fibers, fingerprints and handwriting samples.

Aloft (Ages 13 - 17) This brand new area for teens is a cross between a college dorm and a coffee shop with lots of overstuffed couches and chairs. Aloft includes the latest video games, MP3 listening stations, board games and magazines, plus a bar that dispenses soft drinks and smoothies. In addition, there are several planned activities tailored to younger teens, along with events for the entire group, like the Funnel Fusion Dance Party.

Hint: Pick up a copy of "Disney Sea University" at any of the kid's areas for a full schedule of events each day of the cruise. Other than Flounder's Reef Nursery, there is no charge for the programs.

Expert Disney Wonder reviews are edited by Michelle, and provided by Ian and Cruise Critic.com, an award-winning cruise community. This objective information can help you choose just the right ship for your next cruise vacation.

Check Dates & Prices for cruises to Bahamas.


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Disney World Vacations
Use this planning kit to find information about Orlando theme parks and and Disney World hotels.

Disney Wonder cruise reviews

Cruise Ship Inspection Report
All passenger cruise ships arriving at US ports are subject to unannounced CDC inspection. Disney Wonder Score: 97

Cruise Critic: Disney Wonder
The Cruise Critic gives Disney Wonder a 4+-ribbon rating.

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