In June of 2023 we set sail for a 7-day cruise to Alaska on the Disney Wonder. This blog entry primarily focuses on our time onboard the ship. To learn more about our daily itinerary and ports of call, check out the Disney Wonder Alaska Cruise page.
STATE ROOM with porthole
We were at first disappointed to not be able to book a room with a Veranda, but found the Deluxe Stateroom with a Porthole to still have a great view, especially to see seals close-up. The double closet provided tons of hanging space, and we had 6 large drawers and 6 small drawers total between the bedroom and seating area. An additional large shelf near the desk plus shelves in the closet made for plenty of space for our family of three. We had the option of converting the couch to a second bed or using the bunk bed that our attendant pulled from the ceiling each evening.
Additional amenities included a small tv that could pivot toward the king-size bed or the seating area/bunk bed, two hair dryers, water glasses and a refrigerator large enough for drinks and small meals. We were able to carry on two bottles of wine and one six-pack of beer (or any like combo for two people) at the start of our trip and at each port. Coffee is not provided in staterooms, nor are coffee cups. Coffee first thing in the morning was a must, so we had to either set a time each night before bed to receive it from room service (they do come in to your room to drop off) or go to the 9th deck drink area.
We utilized Senses Spa daily, so being steps from the forward elevators was perfect. We were just one deck below the After Hours Lounge area, and our only complaint was that we could hear the music and footsteps at the Azure lounge until midnight each night. (Our friends felt especially guilty when asked to stomp on the floor during the dueling piano show after learning our plight.)
The second deck room with a porthole provided much better views than the two smaller portholes on the first deck. On port days, unfortunately, the lower decks often had a direct level view of the dock, so there was little privacy from the outside world when window shades were open.
One of the best features of deluxe staterooms is the split bathroom concept, with a sink and toilet in one room and and sink and shower/tub available in another, both with direct doors to the state room.
recreation and relaxation
The Wonder is one of the smallest Disney Cruise Line ships, and we enjoyed being able to easily and quickly get to our onboard destinations. Compared to larger ships, we also preferred the pool layout on the 9th deck, with three distinct sections. On the aft top deck of the ship was the Wide World of Sports, an open area with basketball, foosball, and ping pong. The 10th deck forward included a large outdoor area and Palo restaurant inside.
Services (ranging from massages to acupuncture to botox injections) were also available at the Senses Spa. The fitness center had great views from the front of the ship for passengers using the workout equipment. Wellness classes (spinning, stretching, boot camp, etc.) were available periodically, sometimes for a fee and sometimes for free.
All pools were on the ninth deck, surrounded by an upper deck with more lounge chairs. Goofy’s Pool and the Funnel Vision movies attracted older kids, while the AquaLab area was better for families with younger children.
Did we use the pool on a cruise to Alaska? Yes! The water was warm, and the pool area is protected from the wind. When the sun was out we enjoyed the pool and hot tub.
The Rainforest Room was an interior section of the Senses Spa, and included two steam rooms, relaxation chairs, and scented showers that alternated in temperature and imitate rainfall/mist. A separate pass was required for the Rainforest Room, and it could be purchased for a single day or for the entire sailing.
Main dinner seating for the Disney Wonder includes three locations: Tiana’s Place, Triton’s, and Animator’s Palette. Disney Cruise Line offers rotational dining for dinner, with two servers following guests each night. Our main server, Dan from Romania, was great with the kids and very honest with his dining recommendations. Our party included one vegetarian, one tree nut allergy and one shellfish allergy, and he was extremely knowledgeable about what was available on each menu, and was also eager to work with the kitchen to alter options to make them available. This was the first time our party of three was combined with another family of five. While we were at first apprehensive, our families became well acquainted as the week went on. The kids quickly became friends and headed to Edge together as the grown-ups continued our evenings in the lounges after dinner. Honestly, I’m short on pictures from the meals because we enjoyed our time so much, and dining was one of the highlights of our trip.
We chose late dining (8:15pm vs. the early 5:15pm seating) because we didn’t want to feel rushed to get to dinner each night (with late dining the first evening activity is the 6pm show in the Walt Disney Theater). Thankfully we had adjusted to the time change enough to not feel like we were eating dinner at midnight each night, as our complete meals took nearly two hours.
Each restaurant has one night that offers its signature show/meal based on the location. On the sail away night, themed night (Frozen for Alaska, Pirate Night on Caribbean sailings) and on the final night all restaurants have the same menu.
Animator’s Palette is a standard on all Disney Ships. The restaurant itself is mostly black and white, but the columns light up to match the theme of the activity or evening. With seven nights we spent three at Animator’s Palette. On our first night, the screens played classic Disney animation and we were greeted by “Fantasia Mickey.” Our second night in the restaurant was Frozen Night; this dining location had the added bonus of the screens; colors and meal elements were all themed to the movie. On the last night we were given paper to draw a character. Later in the meal the television screens surrounding the restaurant played a show created by characters we drew at the start of our meal.
Tiana’s Place was New Orleans themed, with Tiana and Louis the alligator greeting tables while live music played. On our second night, dining staff and performers led guests in a Second Line through the restaurant, ending with a limbo contest for the kids. The signature menu offered some classic Louisiana cuisine, and although my artichoke ravioli wasn’t in keeping with the creole theme, it was one of my favorites of the trip.
Triton’s was the grandest of the dining locations, but did not have the live entertainment or interactive activities offered at the other two. The Little Mermaid theme also didn’t play as heavily into the dining experience as did Tiana’s. We enjoyed our meals in the upscale art deco/under the sea surroundings.
Coffee & Room Service
White the coffee served from the 9th deck drink area was just okay, it was always available. Cove Cafe, in the adults only area of the 9th deck, was a better option, with lattes, cold brew, and spiked drinks available. They weren’t included in cruise fare, but we did receive a card for a free drink after purchasing six. The small indoor seating area was always a nice escape from the busier sections of the ship.
Room service is available 24 hours; we only chose it for breakfast, and mainly to get coffee delivered. Breakfast delivery must be set the night before, so one morning the knock at the door abruptly woke us up.
Quick Service & Buffets
Dining for breakfast and lunch included Cabanas, rotations of the larger restaurants, room service (always available), and quick service options on deck. Cabanas was our preferred option, although seating both inside and on deck was sometimes hard to find. The large buffet was different every day and had no shortage of vegetarian and other healthy options. The plant-based options were clearly marked with a green sign above each dish. The cold bar always offered hummus, olives, and an array of salads. We always first went to the daily themed section, which varied from a backed potato bar to global cuisines.
We had many mini-meals from the on-deck locations, including pizza from Pinocchio’s, fresh fruit and healthy lunch options from Daisy’s D-Lites, and sandwiches, fries, etc. from Pete’s Boiler Bites. All of these spots almost always prepared a plant-based option of each daily offering. Eye Scream Treats offered soft serve ice cream and when in doubt of children’s locations, most were found there.
Lounges & After Hours
The French Quarter Lounge was a standard New Orleans themed space, with some Dr. Facilier Disney flair thrown in. Beignets with coffee weren’t free, and Barq’s root beer was also a popular purchase. The other main lounges were found in the After Hours section of the ship. Azure hosted family-friendly events during the day and after-hours adults only shows. It was the largest of the lounge event spaces and was the up to midnight spot for many adult passengers. We preferred the quieter Cadillac Lounge, where the same piano player performed each night and we had our choice between the bar and cozy lounge seats. The UK themed Crown and Fin Pub also had a lounge area with board games and standard bar/high top seating. Late night snacks could be found in different locations throughout the sailing.
For daytime drinks the Signals Lounge (we, like many passengers, were guilty of calling it Singles on many occasions) was a hotspot. The bar was located on the 9th deck adjacent to the adults-only pool. Disney Cruise Line didn’t have drink packages like other lines. For those who were budget-conscious, ordering the Drink of the Day, finding a Happy Hour, or attending an evening reception with complimentary drinks cut down on the sticker shock of the daily folio charges.
Using the Navigator App we added our favorite activities through the week, and then were sent 15 minute push notifications to remind us when they started. Because our sailing was mostly sunny, we participated in a lot fewer activities than we would have if it were cold and rainy. Some of our favorites were trivia (themes varied and some were for families and some were 18+) and family game shows. With more time we would have attended animation classes, cooking demonstrations, and bingo (although a deterrent was line wrapped down the hallway for most sessions).
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
We started our last full day with our first ever visit to Bippidi Boppidi Boutique. We wished we had done it earlier in some ways, as the magic was a bit lost on our 10-year old. However, our “Fairy Godmother in Training” easily kept all of the pixie dust chat as part the experience while still making it age-appropriate. We also learned that adults could stop by for a “pixie” dusting free of charge. While it quickly fell out of my product-free hair, Alex’s gel base kept glitter in his life much longer.escription
Jack Jack’s Diaper Dash
One activity that deserves its own column is Jack Jack’s Diaper Dash, a standard on most Disney Cruises. This well-attended event pits crawling babies (passengers) against each other in multiple heats. Parents urge their babies along the racing mat in hopes of getting the first place prize. Does it cross a moral line? Maybe, but it was also super fun to watch (and I did NOT bet on the babies, as we were repeatedly reminded was illegal.)
On the fifth deck, the Oceaneer’s Club and Lab were massive, connected by a long hallway. In the Lab, the play area for young children was Toy Story themed, and a Marvel character area included activities and props. The Club had a large central area for games led by staff and tables for crafts and dining.
Teens & Pre-teens
The pre-teen & teen lounges, Edge and Vibe, were smaller than other ships, but packed with lounging areas and plenty of screen time activities. Alice was a month shy of 11, but they made an exception for her to be able to attend Edge because we were comfortable with her being able to check in and check out on her own. One of her favorite activities was when Edge kids were allowed to “invade” the ages 14+ Vibe lounge.
Characters & Shows
The three main theater shows on the Wonder were Frozen, A Musical Spectacular (it followed the plot of the first movie), Golden Mickeys (a staple on most Disney Cruises) and Disney Dreams: an Enchanted Classic. Each of these were held close to 6pm in the Walt Disney Theater for those in second dining. With a nearly sold-out cruise, the theater was almost full. Additional performances on other nights included a magician an a cappella group.
Character meet and greets were listed on the Navigator App, so it was easy to plan, especially because the more popular characters would have their lines cut off by the time the character arrived. The “at sea” day had the most greetings on the schedule, but the lines were shorter on port days.
There were some character costumes specific to our cruise, including Alaskan attire and summer exclusive 25th Anniversary at Sea attire. Marvel characters (including Thor and Spiderman) that are restricted from Walt Disney World due to Universal Studios Florida licensing, were permitted on this and other Disney Cruises.
The cruise kicked off with a sail-away party on the outdoor deck and closed with Til We Meet Again in the atrium on the last night.
Cruise ship photo packages range in cost depending on the length of the cruise or how many photos a family wants to purchase. We’ve always opted for the unlimited package, and felt it was well worth the money. Photo shoots are not something we usually do outside the cruise, so the non-Disney specific pictures were great for other occasions too.
The crew collected an iceberg near the Glacier, and we were able to watch it melt through the cruise and we were able to get Alaska-unique photo souvenirs.
Even without visiting many characters, we still felt like there was a lot of value in the backdrop photos that matched our itinerary and the family portrait set-ups. There were also photographers sometimes set up just off the ship to capture Alaska IRL.
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