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Christine Olson

Age: 33

Occupation:Communications Consultant

Number of Cruises: 4

Cruise Line: Disney

Ship: Disney Wonder

Sailing Date: February 13th, 2005

Itinerary: Bahamas


In Brief: The Disney Wonder is a first-rate cruise ship.

We had a fabulous time on a four-night cruise. We would highly recommend it and will consider a 7-night cruise. With the exception of the food, Disney Cruise Line far exceeded our expectations.

Ship Appearance: Outstanding inside and out.

You will feel like royalty the entire time you are on the ship. The Wonder is highly polished and sophisticated with abundant use of granite, marble, glass and carved carpets throughout the common areas of the ship. It is certainly not your typical cruise-ship-come-Vegas decor. The lobby is impressive with two sweeping curved staircases, a massive (Chilluly) chandelier; a bronze statue of Ariel perched atop a marble column, and a bank of glass elevators. Heavy draperies flank large porthole windows and thick royal blue carpeting covers the floors. Deck 4 features teak recliners with comfortable navy blue pads…a quiet place to read in the afternoon or relax with a glass of wine before dinner. The pools are fabulous with age-appropriate music and ambiance at each of the three pools. Tip: On the “At Sea” days get to the pool early if you want a recliner.

Service: Excellent.

Always smiling and willing to help. The staff was neither solicitous nor ‘begged’ for gratuities. (An experience we’ve had on other ships.) One issue cropped up with regard to our dinner seating. We were assigned 8:30…unbearable for our two year old used to Central Standard Time. Soon after boarding the ship we requested a dinner time change. We were number 8 on the list. At 4 o’clock we received a call from the head manager and were told he’d be unable to accommodate our request. On the first night we went ahead and attended the 8:30 dinner. It was less than ideal. The next day we called again only to be denied. After investing more time and frustration in phone calls to the manager, we were approved for the 6:00 seating. We were happy they saw fit to accommodate us. Part of the problem with the 8:30 seating is that you attend the early show…which is generally over by about 7:15-7:30 leaving you another hour to wait around with a hungry tired toddler.

Incidentals/Souvenirs: Expensive.

If you forget to pack something, I pity you. Everything is incredibly expensive onboard and in port. Example: I forgot hairspray. The exchange rate in Nassau the day we were there was dollar for US dollar. For a can of Suave I paid $4.20. Here in Chicago at a local grocery store Suave goes for 99 cents. Additionally, bring plenty of film or digital cards for your camera…the pictures they take on board are of amazingly poor quality and they charge $10.00 per photo. (They are wonderful about allowing you plenty of time to capture character shots with your camera…and in my opinion, whatever kind of photographer you are your pictures will probably come out just as good if not better than the ones the Disney “professional” takes.)

Dining Experience: Fair.

The décor/presentation of each of the three restaurants is outstanding. You and your children will delight in the colorful (yet sophisticated décor). You will rotate to a different themed restaurant each night. Your table number and wait staff remain the same.

The quality of the food does not equal the grandeur of the ship. Many raters on this site have said the food was average to good. I think those reviewers are much too kind. Shame on Disney. They charge top dollar and then serve inferior food.

Don’t look for fine wine. It’s your average grocery store mid-shelf wine selection. (As an aside, the Mudslides are an awesome poolside treat!)

Parrot Cay decor: Vibrant Caribbean. Colorful painted parrots line the chandeliers. The walls are sunshine yellow and ocean blue with stenciled flowers. The night we were there, they had a low-key Caribbean band playing. It was great. Listen for parrots chirping brightly as you enter the eatery.

The food in Parrot Cay: Think of your company’s cafeteria. No joke. I ordered cold melon soup that looked like foam and tasted like a melted Jolly Rancher. My main course of prime rib and was a cut so sinewy and poor it was hard to find any edible meat among all the fat medallions. My husband ordered the recommended grilled vegetable appetizer. It was three slices of wilted zucchini that looked as if it was grilled on last week’s cruise. For his main course, he chose the barbeque ribs. He said they were good. I tasted the sauce and agreed (probably a good thing I didn’t look at the meat too closely under the sauce). For dessert we chose the ice cream sundaes. Disastrous. For starters, the things were freezer burned. They filled the sundae flutes 2/3 full with a thick marshmallow-y, cool whip-ish substance then plopped the ice cream on top. Stuffed in was a little brown brick with nuts…we surmised it may have been a brownie in its past life.

Animator’s Palate: Animator’s Palate was our favorite. Our daughter loved watching the room change from black and white to color. The wait staff begins the night donning black and white vests and at the end their vests “magically” change to color. Nicely done. Bring your camera to this dinner. The room is said to have cost $4.3 million to build.

We found the food in Animator’s Palate to be average. Your local family restaurant would serve similar quality. My husband and I both ordered the salmon with maple glaze paired with green beans and mashed red-skinned potatoes. We are seafood fans. We found the salmon to be pretty good. Light, flaky, and fresh tasting. We liked it. However, the maple glaze drizzled about the plate tasted suspiciously similar to Golden Griddle pancake syrup. Our tablemate commented that it was the best salmon he had ever eaten. Who knows, maybe it was… I wouldn’t have gone that far.

When I am on vacation, I like to indulge in fine chocolates and exquisite desserts. The ice cream sundaes in Animator’s were amazing…the best dessert we had the entire time. We ate in Animator’s two nights so we also sampled the Boston Cream Pie cake and the Decadent chocolate cake. The cakes were terrible. The filling in the Boston Cream Pie cake was not custard…it was more like instant pudding. The chocolate cake was sawdust— dry and flavorless…with the same lard-like frosting.

Triton’s: Reserved atmosphere. The restaurant has a large mosaic of Triton and Ariel, the décor is more formal with white table linens, dark cherry wood and muted fabrics. The lighting is interesting…especially on the ceiling…the brochures don’t do it justice. It looks like pools of water floating above you. Awesome.

Triton’s Food: Since it was Valentine’s Day we went “all-out” for this dinner. We ordered a bottle of one of the pricier French champagnes. We should have stuck with the champagne and called it a night. For our main course we had a shrimp/scallop angel hair pasta concoction. The sauce was a tomato cream, I think.

Dessert was another little plate of horrors. I can’t remember what they called it, but it was supposed to be Bananas Foster. Right. There were a couple of three-inch gray-brown bananas floating atop a gooey syrup mess. (They must get a lot of mileage out of bulk pancake syrup.)

Entertainment: Spectacular.

Everything you’d expect from Disney. The Golden Mickeys night is fun and beautifully executed. They even roll out a red carpet and Disney radio does a ‘live’ broadcast interviewing the kids as they walk off the red carpet. Your kids (and you) will feel Hollywood movie stars!

Cleanliness: Superb.

No complaints here. They go above and beyond to keep everyone safe and healthy.

Character Appearances: Numerous.

Read your daily Navigator. There are plenty of opportunities to see characters throughout the day and evening. They even appear on shore.

Passenger composition/dress: Neighborly.

The passengers seemed to be middle to upper middle class, reserved, well behaved and very well dressed (including the children of all ages). I did not see a single family with children out of control or inappropriately dressed. Men wore nice shorts/slacks and polo-style shirts. The women were seen in colorful open-toed sandals with bright capri pants and sweater sets, Bermuda shorts, polo shirts and nice cocktail dresses. Fresh manicures, pedicures and hair color were everywhere.

Embarkation/debarkation:
A breeze.

We arrived in Orlando one day prior to our cruise. We boarded the Disney shuttle at the Orlando Airport at 10:30 a.m. We arrived at Port Canaveral at about 11:30 a.m. There was very little wait time to process our papers (maybe 15 minutes at most). Minnie Mouse (dressed in delightful red, white and blue cruise attire) even came out and welcomed everyone aboard.

About us: My husband is 33, my daughter is 2.5, and I am 33. My husband and I are both executives at Fortune 500 companies in Chicago. We are very reserved/quiet people (and dare I say somewhat critical). We generally stay away from large theme-park, fair-going type crowds and culturally devoid activities. However, we were in the mood for some colorful fun to break up our winter blahs. We were also looking to escape to a place that would be memorable for our daughter.

Before our daughter was born my husband and I traveled on two Windjammer cruises and one Norwegian Cruise. This was our first Disney cruise.

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