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Old 01-30-2014, 02:49 AM   #1
GMU MOM
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Will I regret booking the Wonder - 1st time cruise?

We are a family of 4 - myself, DH and 2 boys (13 and 7 at time of cruise) and we have never been on a cruise. I'm looking at a November cruise if we decide not to visit WDW again this year.

The Wonder 5nt cruise out of Miami seems reasonably priced but I am concerned because it's an older ship. We usually prefer booking newer resorts.

For those that have recently been on the Wonder, what can you tell me about that aspect?

Other things important to us are the entertainment onboard (the evening shows), the quality of the food and also the pirate night (younger DS has asked specifically for that). Does the 5nt Wonder have the Pirate night? The kids clubs are also relevant. I'm not sure how much time our kids will actually spend there as this is our first cruise and usually we like to all stay together on vacations but I would like to know our options.

Our other cruise option is the 7nt Magic Eastern Caribbean for $1200 more than the Wonder. Are we better off just booking on the Magic?

Note: For the same week, the 7nt RCI Oasis cruise is about the same price as the 5 nt Wonder but I know my kids want the Disney experience and the Disney characters which is the only reason keeping me away from any other cruise line.

Any help/advice/suggestions are welcome! Thank you.
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Old 01-30-2014, 03:32 AM   #2
Disneydebbie1
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I love the Wonder!

Hi!

My DH and I are about to embark on our 5th sailing on the "Classic" Disney Ships, our 4th on the Wonder. I really think your family will enjoy the Wonder. Even though she is an "older" ship she is maintained to Disney's exacting standards. I have not yet been on the "New" ships but I am deterred by the size of those ships. The Wonder and Magic max out with 2400 guests, which is about half of the number on the Dream and Fantasy. I love the intimacy of being on the smaller ships. It does not have the feel of a "floating city" that I have heard the large ships referred as. It is easy to navigate the decks and the children all see to have a great time in the clubs. OH, you asked about the food...fabulous food and top notch servers. The smaller ships have only 2 seating for dinner in the 3 main dining rooms. IF the kids don't want the fancy food in the Dining Room there are quick service choices available all day with hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, ice cream, soda pop all on Deck 9 by the Mickey Mouse children's pool. Room service is free and available 24 hours.

I don't have small children anymore, but the kids on the ship all seem to be thrilled by the clubs, the party's, the character opportunities, and the pools. If you have not cruised before you will be very pleased. I like to think of the Magic and Wonder as being like a wonderful vintage home that is beautiful. The Wonder will likely get a major upgrade in 2016 or when the work on the Panama Canal is complete. Currently she is the only ship in the Disney fleet that can navigate the Panama Canal. She did just come out of Dry Dock today so she is good to go for another year, at least! Hope this helps.
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Old 01-30-2014, 03:37 AM   #3
jdb in AZ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GMU MOM View Post
We are a family of 4 - myself, DH and 2 boys (13 and 7 at time of cruise) and we have never been on a cruise. I'm looking at a November cruise if we decide not to visit WDW again this year.

The Wonder 5nt cruise out of Miami seems reasonably priced but I am concerned because it's an older ship. We usually prefer booking newer resorts.

For those that have recently been on the Wonder, what can you tell me about that aspect?

Other things important to us are the entertainment onboard (the evening shows), the quality of the food and also the pirate night (younger DS has asked specifically for that). Does the 5nt Wonder have the Pirate night? The kids clubs are also relevant. I'm not sure how much time our kids will actually spend there as this is our first cruise and usually we like to all stay together on vacations but I would like to know our options.

Our other cruise option is the 7nt Magic Eastern Caribbean for $1200 more than the Wonder. Are we better off just booking on the Magic?

Note: For the same week, the 7nt RCI Oasis cruise is about the same price as the 5 nt Wonder but I know my kids want the Disney experience and the Disney characters which is the only reason keeping me away from any other cruise line.

Any help/advice/suggestions are welcome! Thank you.
The Wonder doesn't have the glitz and gadgetry of the newer ships but she's very carefully maintained and the crew works hard to keep her in good shape.

Yes, both cruises you're considering have Pirate's Night.

When you decide on the Magic sailing out of Port Canaveral vs the Wonder sailing from Miami, have you included your transportation costs? Some families find it more economical to fly into Orlando. For others, Miami is a better deal, depending on where you're coming from. Five days is a good length for a first cruise, but chances are you'll wish it was longer. On our first DCL cruise they had to pry us away after a week. Does the itinerary of the 5-day appeal as much as the 7-day?

Good luck with your decision!
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Old 01-30-2014, 03:42 AM   #4
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I've only cruised on the Wonder so aren't able to compare her with the other ships but we love her.
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Old 01-30-2014, 06:49 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GMU MOM View Post
We are a family of 4 - myself, DH and 2 boys (13 and 7 at time of cruise) and we have never been on a cruise. I'm looking at a November cruise if we decide not to visit WDW again this year.

The Wonder 5nt cruise out of Miami seems reasonably priced but I am concerned because it's an older ship. We usually prefer booking newer resorts.

For those that have recently been on the Wonder, what can you tell me about that aspect?

Other things important to us are the entertainment onboard (the evening shows), the quality of the food and also the pirate night (younger DS has asked specifically for that). Does the 5nt Wonder have the Pirate night? The kids clubs are also relevant. I'm not sure how much time our kids will actually spend there as this is our first cruise and usually we like to all stay together on vacations but I would like to know our options.

Our other cruise option is the 7nt Magic Eastern Caribbean for $1200 more than the Wonder. Are we better off just booking on the Magic?

Note: For the same week, the 7nt RCI Oasis cruise is about the same price as the 5 nt Wonder but I know my kids want the Disney experience and the Disney characters which is the only reason keeping me away from any other cruise line.

Any help/advice/suggestions are welcome! Thank you.
I've sailed on all 4 ships, and can say that we loved each and everyone of them. Each ship has it's own character and "feel". In my opinion you can't go wrong with sailing on any of Disney's ships. Whichever itinerary you chose, you will have a GREAT time on board.
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Old 01-30-2014, 08:03 AM   #6
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We sailed on the Wonder for the 1st last January and LOVED it. This was our 1st cruise and the Wonder was recommend to use my several people who are frequent DCL travelers. The boat was the perfect size and the activities and showed were just awesome! We travel a lot and I have never been more relaxed on a any vacation than I did on that one!!!! Great boat & great cruise highly recommend it! We are taking our 2nd cruise and we will be sailing on the Magic in November.
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Old 01-30-2014, 08:56 AM   #7
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Wonder is a great ship for a first cruise!
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Old 01-30-2014, 09:03 AM   #8
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We love the Wonder. I have to warn you though our 11 yearold loved the tween club and we did not see a lot of him.

In fairness I must say my kids also enjoyed the Royal Carribean clubs. If all three were in my budget I would choose between the Wonder and Magic. I must add however that DH hated Port of Miami.
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Old 01-30-2014, 09:12 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidls View Post
I've sailed on all 4 ships, and can say that we loved each and everyone of them. Each ship has it's own character and "feel". In my opinion you can't go wrong with sailing on any of Disney's ships. Whichever itinerary you chose, you will have a GREAT time on board.
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Old 01-30-2014, 09:44 AM   #10
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We sailed the Wonder almost a year ago on a 5n western. It was our second cruise after sailing the Dream on August 2012 (also a 5n but Bahamas double-dip).

It is VERY well kept and it has its own charm. I did like the CMs a little better than on the Dream. Being smaller, it's less people, however if you do go at high season it could feel cramped during character appearances.

I think it's a GREAT choice for a first cruise and will allow you to appreciate the other ones even more.

Now, you should know that booking for this year will result in higher prices than booking further out. Seasoned park guests will plan a 6-9 months WDW vacation, however a seasoned DCL guest will plan 18-24 months in advance. So book SOON!

Regarding clubs, the 13yr old would be on Edge and will have a blast. The 7yr old would be on Club/Lab and should also have a great time.

For the adults, I do love the Route 66 theme and the CMs do a great job to entertain us. The shows were superb - Toy Story was a bit long story wise, but the props were amazing.

If you are the shy type, I'd suggest you request a table for just the 4 of you - no guarantees, but they will try to accommodate you. And if you don't mind a little late dining, second seating will make that request have higher chances. Also, CMs will come earlier and escort the kids to club/lab, so the adults can stay enjoying dessert and coffee on their own - the 13yr old, you probably won't see until you debark!

If you are flying to MIA, consider flying to FLL instead as it might be cheaper. If you're staying in MIA the night before, the hotels around the airport Blue Lagoon area are great. MIA is only 20 minutes away from the port and the hotels have free shuttles to the airport, but charge for the port but not much. DCL has transfers from the airport available but charge a bit more.

Plan the Magic for the future, when you book on board for a potential 2016 vacation!
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Old 01-30-2014, 10:46 AM   #11
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I am so glad to read all of these responses in regards to OP's questions. We are taking our first DCL trip on the Wonder in October of this year (we've taken 3 and soon to be 4 trips with CCL), so we feel like we are "seasoned" cruisers in some regards.

I also had questions about the Wonder as I've read various opinions. I do like the idea of a smaller ship (crowd wise) and am very glad to hear that she is well maintained. As long as she is clean and the rooms are what they advertise to be (splurging on this cruise and getting a room with a Veranda... never had one before!), I know we'll have a great time. Plus, the itineray is great. DH has wanted to go back to Grand Cayman since our 2nd CCL cruise back in 2000, and this will give him the opportunity.

I have only ever sailed out of Miami, so I guess that port doesn't bother me much. Still trying to decide if we are going to fly in the morning of the cruise or the night before, or how to even get from the airport (either Miami or Ft. Lauderdale, depending total cost of flight and transfers to the port). Guess we'll figure that out.

I'm hoping my girls will want to try out the clubs (they will be 12 and 9 at the time we go); the Kids Clubs on CCL didn't appeal to them, but I'm hoping that the Disney theme will go a long way for this one!

Love seeing all of your positive responses!
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Old 01-30-2014, 10:46 AM   #12
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Here is my own take on the ships, which is entirely subjective, entirely an opinion which may not be shared by anyone else:

I view the ships like this:

Wonder: hands down best service. The CMs from bridge officers to servers are eager to please.

Magic: great dinner service, really good general service. I have had some special requests denied on the Magic that were offered to me on the Wonder, so it does not get the over the top marks I give the Wonder. This has been consistent on four Wonder cruises and three Magic cruises over the past four years.

Fantasy: A simply amazing ship. Technologically fantastic, excellent adults-only areas, good service. Almost as good service as the Magic. Staff may actually be more eager to please than on the Magic, but hampered slightly by the size of the ship.

Dream: Great for technology, especially Aquadunk and Mid-Ship Detective Agency. Suffers from a rushed and overworked crew. Frankly, even many of the passengers seem more hurried, less friendly, less caught up in the "spirit of Disney." I suspect this stems from an overall vibe from the crew and from it being a bit of an entry level cruise.

Of note: the backstage hallways on the Dream, used by the castmembers to get everywhere, were horribly designed according to a number of castmembers who have worked there. That bad planning makes it more difficult for servers and other CMs to do their jobs. In fact, the poor design was so quickly apparent that the backstage area was redesigned for the Fantasy. A much smoother flow plus a seven day turnaround makes for a much nicer experience on the Fantasy.

Would I cruise the Dream again? Yes, but only on a really cheap fare, and with the intent of enjoying the Aquaduck, the quick service restaurants, Goofy's golf, Palo, etc.
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Old 01-30-2014, 11:06 AM   #13
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Four Swampers, thanks for your review! I always felt that the CM's and the service really "make" the cruise. Having been on the Magic and the Fantasy, and next booking will be on the Wonder, I really appreciate your insight!
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Old 01-30-2014, 11:15 AM   #14
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I haven't been on the Wonder recently but I am going in a couple weeks. I have sailed all 4 ships, the Wonder the most at 7 times. I haven't been on the Wonder in over 3 years and am looking forward to getting back on board. The classic ships are wonderful!
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Old 01-30-2014, 11:35 AM   #15
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Being on the West Coast, we feel like the Wonder is home. We've only been on three cruises but 2 were on the Wonder and we're going to be spending 2 weeks coming up for the Panama cruise. The classics are different from the newer, bigger ones, but I wouldn't say worse. It's really a whole different feel, much more intimate and friendly.
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