Cruising With the Disney Wonder

Disney prepares for its West Coast return By: Marilyn Green
The Disney Wonder is returning to the West Coast next year. // © 2010 Disney<br />
The Disney Wonder is returning to the West Coast next year. // © 2010 Disney

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Disney Cruise Line
Disney’s seven-night Alaska cruises are priced from $939; seven-night itineraries to the Mexican Riviera are priced from $639.
A ship is sailing into Los Angeles early next year, stuffed with small princesses, pirates, Mickeys and Minnies. In January, it will carry them all along the Mexican Riviera and, from May through August, it will sail into Alaska out of Vancouver, British Columbia. Disney is on the move, and its 2,700-passenger Disney Wonder represents a huge opportunity for West Coast cruisers next year. So, you may be wondering what the Wonder is like these days.

I have yet to see happier families than those on this ship. They love dining in its main restaurants, each boasting its own unique ambience and decor: Animator’s Palette, with lighting effects changing the surroundings from black and white to color during the meal; Triton’s underwater environment; and Parrot Cay, with a tropical Caribbean/South Beach vibe. In preparation for the spectacular Alaskan scenery that the Wonder will sail through next year, Disney is adding a 65-seat Outlook Cafe with floor-to-ceiling windows on Deck 10, which will be connected to the Cove Cafe by a spiral staircase.

Staterooms, which measure from 184-1,029 square feet, cater to all types of passengers, from couples to large families occupying the five-person rooms or connecting ones; 75 percent of staterooms are outside, and more than half of these have balconies. The split bathrooms, with toilet and bath/shower facilities separated, are innovative, as are the privacy curtains in all accommodations.

The ship’s showroom is packed every night with kids thanks to Disney Dreams, “Toy Story” and the like, as well as character appearances that follow schedules available in the lobby. Kids loved seeing themselves at the Golden Mickeys, where interviews taped outside the door on the red carpet are screened on the inside.

Children’s activities, including the nursery for ages 12 weeks to three years; the Oceaneer Club for ages 3-7; the Oceaneer Lab for children ages 8-12; and the teens’ area, received high reviews. The biggest hit, perhaps, was the “Pirates of the Caribbean” dinner and deck party, culminating with fireworks.

Disney does a great job keeping families happy, but the most delightful aspect of the cruise is the kids themselves — hugging their servers at breakfast, trotting around in costume, lining up with huge eyes to meet their most adored Disney characters and even studying the carpet, the waffles and the walls to find the hidden Mickey images. There’s nothing quite like it.
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