Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Disney
Ship: Disney Wonder
Sailing Date: December 20th, 2003
Hello, first off, I wanted to apologize for this review being nearly 3 years late. Because of that, some of the things in my review may be different now. I didn’t know about this website until recently, when I found it to post a review about a cruise we went on this month (May 2006) through Royal Caribbean. I guess the nice thing is that I have two cruises to compare, so that might help the review a bit.
Let me also say that there were many factors in the Disney cruise that made it not as memorable as our most recent cruise. This had nothing to do with Disney; it was just the circumstances at the time. When we went on the Disney cruise, our children were only 3 and 1 ½. This is a big mistake, and I would advise against bringing small children on any cruise line, not just Disney. The reason being is because they do not allow the children to participate in their programs unless they are three and potty trained. Our son had just turned 3, but he has autism, so he was not potty trained yet. Because of this, neither of our kids could be in the programs. We knew this going into the vacation; we just didn’t realize how much it would affect the ‘cruise experience’.
The second downfall was the weather. I would not recommend taking a cruise to the Bahamas in the months of December, January, or February. It is considered the ‘cold season’ and you have a higher chance of encountering bad weather, which we did. And even if the weather is nice during the day, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have to wear coats at night. If you don’t really care about the weather, this isn’t a concern. But if you are going on a cruise because you want a fun vacation in a warm setting, this can be a setback. I have been told that the Disney cruise lines that go to the southern ports like Jamaica and the Cayman Islands do not have this problem however. If you’re going to take a cruise to the Bahamas, I actually recommend May because the weather is perfect. It’s before the rain and hurricane season, but after the cold season. It’s also cheaper. The weather on our most recent cruise was around 85 the entire time. The temperature on our Disney cruise was maybe 50, I kid you not. And with the humidity, it felt even colder. I am from Colorado and used to 20-30 degree weather, and 50 in the Caribbean ‘feels’ like 30. It was so windy and chilly that we could not go out on the decks or enjoy the pool. They actually closed the pool area early each day because the wind and the waves were causing the water in the pool to thrash all over the pool deck. When the pool was open, I overheard several people complain that it was too cold. And if you did dare to brave the pool temperature, there were so many kids splashing around that it wasn’t very fun because their pools are very small. But, this cruise is more for kids though, so it’s to be expected. The weather also contributed to Disney having to cancel all the excursions at their private island, and we were not able to dock until 3pm. The ship still had to leave at 5pm, so we only had several hours on their island. Because we were so bummed, we decided that we were going to swim in the ocean if it was the last thing we did. It was freezing, but we insisted, so it was our own fault. Because of the weather, I’m not sure what the snorkeling would have been like. At Royal Caribbean’s private island, the snorkeling was awesome. The marine life was fantastic and very memorable. At Disney’s, we were lucky to see a couple of fish. I would be interested in snorkeling there when the weather was warmer to see if it makes a difference. I’m sure it does. Again, this is not Disney’s fault, and is something you might encounter if you choose to go on a cruise. This is why I would highly recommend checking average weather temperatures throughout the year in the Caribbean, and finding the time that would be best for your family to go. And, you might even luck out in December. I have talked to people that went on cruises in December where the weather was around 70-80. So it might have just been bad luck. But I do know your chances are worse during that time for bad weather. I just wouldn’t take that chance again, because Disney Cruises are expensive.
The ship itself was gorgeous. It is more luxurious then Royal Caribbean and they pay attention to every single little detail. We had an inside stateroom on both cruises, and Disney’s was twice as big. They keep up with the ship very well, and even when we were in port, there would be repair crews re-painting little details on the outside of the ship to keep it looking the way it does. Their three dining areas are top-notch and the food is even better. I’m not too picky when it comes to food, but I think Disney Cruise Lines has even better food then some fine restaurants where I am from. The wait-staff were wonderful, and would humor you during dinner and had very good memories, considering how many people they were serving. During dinner the first night, I asked for a cranberry with Sprite. The next night at dinner, they already had one waiting for me when I came in. If I said I wanted something else, it wasn’t a problem and they would bring me that as well. If you couldn’t decide between two different meals on the menu, no problem! They brought them both. If you didn’t like something, they had no problem returning it and bringing you something else. The food was so delicious that I didn’t even have anything to complain about. My mother in law however, had dessert one night that she didn’t really care for. Not because it wasn’t good, it was just different and she wasn’t used to that kind of dessert. They brought her something else from the dessert menu without any problems. Since we went three years ago, I hope this hasn’t changed.
The staff was fantastic and would tend to our every need. They would go out their way for the children and make them special plates such as happy face pancakes and whatnot. The characters throughout the ship were also wonderful. My daughter got her picture taken with all the princesses before dinner one night, and the characters would also walk around during dinner and interact with the kids.
As for the ship activities, this is where my children’s ages came into play. Disney is really family oriented. That seems like a good thing, but it leaves little for adults to do. They only had one or two shows when we went, and you could only watch that Hercules play so many times. Having been on Royal Caribbean, I wish Disney had more variety in the shows and activities that they have. I have heard that they still do that Hercules play on Disney. It’s wonderful, and very funny, but like anything else that you see you too much, it loses its appeal. Because our kids were so young, they didn’t enjoy many of the activities and would get fidgety quick. We also couldn’t do a lot of the activities because of our kid’s ages. Maybe they have better activities for families with older children? If your kids are old enough for the programs, and you want to do adult activities, there honestly isn’t much besides the pool (which is full of kids all the time), the bars, and the nightclubs. But because it’s a family type cruise, even the night clubs weren’t that popular. We got my in-laws to watch the kids one night, and there were maybe 5 or 6 people in the night club when we went. Hopefully this has changed and they have more activities for adults now.
As far as the ports, Nassau is great now. It has really improved since the last time we went. Atlantis and the aquarium are good destinations, as are Cabbage/Cable beach and the Rainbow Reef Snorkeling. Bring one dollar bills to Nassau instead of bigger bills because the vendors are terrible about change. If you give them a 10 for a 6 dollar item, they will try ignoring you and you have to hound them for the change. If I went on a Disney cruise again it would b purely to experience their private island. I can’t give much of a review on it because of the short time we were there and the bad weather. It also seemed very crowded. Royal Caribbean’s private island had plenty of chairs, hammocks and room to go around.
All in all, I would say that if you’re going to do a cruise, do Disney when your kids are between the ages of 5 and 10 because the programs for the kids are fantastic I have been told. But once they are 10, I think the other cruise lines would be just as good and would have more for the adults to do.