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Our first Disney cruise was aboard the Disney Wonder on the inaugural Australia and New Zealand Disney Magic At Sea season. We did a 3 night Brisbane to Brisbane cruise aboard the Disney Wonder. Spoiler – we loved every second of it!
This is our honest Disney Wonder review to help you decide if a Disney cruise is for you. Specifically, this Disney cruise ship – the Wonder!
Overview of Disney Wonder
The Disney Wonder is one of the six ships in the Disney Cruise Line fleet, and it was launched in 1999 as the second ship in the fleet.
The ship is 984 feet long and has 875 staterooms. The Ship is approximately 85,000 gross tons, making it the equal smallest of the DCL fleet, alongside Disney Magic.
Spanning over 11 decks in total, the Disney Wonder can hold 2,713 passengers and around 1000 crew members.
The Disney Wonder typically sails out of Vancouver for Disney’s Alaskan cruises and from the Port of San Diego for ports of call such as Cabo San Lucas in Mexico.
We first saw the Disney Wonder cruise ship back in 2019 while in Mexico and thought wow, what a dream it would be to go on a Disney cruise.
It wasn’t until 2023 when Disney Cruise Lines finally came down under for their first Australian and New Zealand sailings that we got the chance!
What We Loved About The Disney Wonder?
Cruising with Disney has always been a bucket list dream of mine. Living in Australia, it was one of those things we didn’t really expect to happen while the kids were young so you can imagine we were crazy excited to get the chance to sail from our home port.
While as a whole we absolutely loved the Disney Wonder, there were a few things that weren’t ‘perfect’. After all, nothing is perfect!
The price is high – but you expect that with the Disney brand. What makes it harsher is being from Australia where our dollar conversion into US currency was quite terrible at the time of the review, but we still felt the Disney cruise was worth it!
The most negative would have to be the extremely late time for the deck parties.
I’m not sure if this is because it was only a 3-night cruise so they would normally be able to do this a little earlier, however, 10:30 pm for the Disney Ever After fireworks farewell party and the Marvel Heroes Unite show were really challenging for the kids to stay up. Only I went to the farewell fireworks as the kids and Simon were just too tired from 3 late nights in a row.
The character meet lines are huge but expected. We simply skipped these. And the pools get extremely crowded, but not to the point where you can’t still enjoy a swim.
Review Of The Disney Wonder Cruise Ship
Prior to the Australian and New Zealand season, the Disney Wonder ship went for a bit of a makeover so the boat was quite fresh when it arrived. Everything looked clean, modern and well-maintained, despite the age of the cruise ship.
The ship itself is beautifully designed and impeccably maintained. The decor is classic Disney, with nods to some of our favourite characters throughout.
There is great attention to detail in the little things, like Mickey Mouse arms for the elevator hands and the artwork on each level of the ship.
The adults-only bar area has a distinct nightlife vibe with complete theming around the portholes, walls and furnishings.
There were always Disney cast members cleaning, from sweeping water on the pool deck to clearing away plates and cups from tables. You could also spot maintenance team members busy at work, repainting posts and making necessary repairs and upgrades.
One of the things we appreciated most about the ship was its cleanliness.
The Disney Wonder has a very high health rating and vessel inspection scores, which is a testament to the crew’s dedication to keeping the ship in top condition. We felt confident that we were in a safe and healthy environment throughout our trip.
The dining rooms give the experience of fine-dining restaurants with themed plates and menus.
Overall, the ship itself was beautiful and a pleasure to explore.
Navigating the Ship
When it comes to navigating the Disney Wonder, we found it to be quite easy. Even the kids were able to find their way around and work out which level they needed to get to.
That’s saying something because they have my terrible navigational skills… The ship is well-organized and easy to get around.
There are plenty of maps and signs to help you find your way, and the crew members are always happy to point you in the right direction.
Disney Wonder Staterooms
The cabins on the Disney Wonder are spacious and comfortable, with all the amenities you could need for a relaxing stay.
We appreciated the attention to detail, such as toiletries to use on board so you could leave our shampoo and conditioner at home and even a make-up remover cloth to use.
The clever storage solutions that made the most of the space available. There was plenty of room underneath the main bed for multiple suitcases and bags and loads of drawers and cupboard space to unpack.
There is a separate bathroom and toilet in your cabin too and the shower has a small bath at the bottom.
The other thing that was a lovely touch was that being an international cruise, they included a universal plug-in case we forgot to bring one on board for our devices. We only used USB ports, which they have in the room already but it was great to know it was considered on our behalf.
We had an oceanview stateroom. It was room 2000, the very first cabin at the front of level 2. It was so quiet. A little distance from the elevator but we really enjoyed this spot and it had a large porthole.
Compared to smaller ship cruises we’ve done before, the rooms were a comfortable size.
The Disney Wonder Pool Deck
The main pool on the deck is Goofy’s Pool, which is located on Deck 9. It is a relatively small pool with two hot tubs nearby. The pool is surrounded by deck chairs and loungers, making it a perfect spot to soak up the sun while enjoying the cool water.
During peak times, they clear out the pool to allow other people a chance to swim although we didn’t find it excessively full. Yes, busy but still room to swim.
There is also the kids pool and splash play area designed for younger cruisers, near the waterslide.
The AquaDunk waterslide was very busy after the first afternoon on board. For a first-time Disney cruiser tip, do this as soon as you get on. The lines were too long for our kid after that so they didn’t bother going on it again.
There is also the adults-only pool area which is a great size and not very busy.
On the pool deck, you will also find poolside eats, including Pinocchio’s Pizzeria, Pete’s Boiler Bites and Daisy’s De-Lites, all included in the fare. Unlimited free ice cream and soft drink too.
Disney Wonder Food
When it comes to food on the Disney Wonder, we were pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of dining options available. Before our cruise, we heard mixed reviews for the Disney Wonder food.
One of the unique features of dining on a Disney cruise is the rotational dining system.
We were assigned a table in one of three main dining rooms – Animator’s Palate, Tiana’s Place, and Triton’s – and we rotated between them each night. This allowed us to experience different atmospheres, menus, and entertainment.
Triton’s was our favourite of the three when it came to food, with a more formal dining experience and French-inspired menu – the lamb cutlets were a standout! But the entertainment is lacking. Well, there’s none.
Animator’s Palate has the most unique entertainment and second-best food.
The restaurant features a fun and interactive show where the walls come to life with Disney characters. The black truffle pasta was my favourite from the entree menu. I could have eaten a main meal of this!
Tiana’s Place was the menu we liked the least, but the food was still fine. The restaurant has a New Orleans-inspired menu and live jazz music, with Tiana visiting each table and all the servers joining in for limbo and a conga line. Here you can have beignets for dessert.
Best of all, the kids can order from the kid’s menu or the adult’s menu. Plus there’s no limit on how many dishes each person orders. We had two desserts each most nights.
Casual Dining and Snacks
For breakfast, lunch and snacks, there are casual dining options on the pool deck with pizza, burgers, hot dogs, shwarma and salads. The shwarma was delish!
Plus there’s Cabanas buffet. This was fine. I wouldn’t rave about it but there was plenty of variety.
The kids also loved the soft-serve ice cream machines and the self-serve soft drinks. It was nice to be able to grab a snack whenever we wanted.
Specialty Dining and Extras
For an additional cost, there were also specialty dining options available on the Disney Wonder. We didn’t try any of these, but we heard good things about Palo, the Italian restaurant.
For adults looking for a quiet place to relax, there is Cove Cafe, which serves specialty coffee and pastries.
There are also adult beverages, including specialty cocktails at an extra cost also. Aside from a wine with dinner, we didn’t try these.
Disney Wonder Entertainment and Activities
When it comes to entertainment and activities, the Disney Wonder cruise ship does not disappoint. There is always something to do for everyone, regardless of age or interests.
Here are some of the highlights of what we experienced during our time on board.
Live Shows On The Disney Wonder
The Walt Disney Theatre is the place to be for live shows on the Disney Wonder.
We were blown away by the quality of the performances, which included theatre magic, singing and dancing. Easily Broadway-caliber productions.
Disney Dreams was possibly our favourite but all 3 were so great that it’s hard to choose.
The theatre is spacious and comfortable, with excellent views from every seat.
But we recommend arriving early to secure good seats. We didn’t get into the theatre until 5 minutes before the show for Frozen as we were lined up to meet Black Widow. There were no seats left, so we had to sit in the side aisle. Very uncomfortable!
This particular show was at 2 pm because of the night Marvel show, while normally the theatre runs at night. I think this meant more families with younger children attended compared to evening performances.
Families will have a great time on the Disney Wonder, with plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained.
Character meet-and-greets were a big hit with kids, although ours weren’t keen on lining up so we only did this twice for the whole cruise.
We did get some great photos during the Marvel mingle on Marvel night. This was more their style anyway being Avengers fanatics.
You can watch first-run Disney moives on board in the Buena Vista Theatre on the first day they are relased to the public. We were on board 2 weeks after The Marvels was released and could have waited to watch the movie on the ship. How cool!
We also loved doing trivia together. We came close in Marvel trivia but were disastrous at the rest. Still a lot of fun to join in. Plus we did a learn to draw Groot session.
Wide World Of Sports Deck
The Wide World of Sports deck is perfect for sports enthusiasts, with basketball courts, ping pong tables, and other games. It gets busy and quite hot up here though so we didn’t spend a lot of time here. Great for teens!
Kids Club On The Disney Wonder Cruise
If you’re cruising with children, the Disney Wonder Cruise, and all other Disney cruises, have kids clubs available from toddlers to teenagers.
The Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab are the most popular kids clubs on board, catering to children aged 3-12 years old. Here they can take part in a range of activities such as arts and crafts, video games, and storytelling.
There’s also Marvel’s super hero academy.
Our eldest was 11 at the time of sailing and 11 and 12-year-olds are separated from the younger kids, so this is something to note if older and younger siblings are expecting to do activities together. Our eldest didn’t mind, but our youngest got a little bored.
However, they both loved Stitch’s cosmic goo making session. Stitch even came along and made a mess.
Our eldest spent a lot of time at Edge, the tweens club for 11 to 14-year-olds. The did scavenger hunts around the cruise ship, gaming console challenges, crafts and card games. She enjoyed making friends her own age.
Vibe is a club designed for teenagers aged 14-17 years old. We went here for a open house and you will find classic arcade games, gaming consoles, a kitchen and hang out zones.
For young children aged 6 months to 3 years, there’s the It’s A Small World Nursery, which offers a range of activities and care services for a small fee. Once your child turns 3 and is potty trained, they can join the free Oceaneer’s Club.
As adults, we were pleased to find that the Disney Wonder offers a variety of amenities just for us. Here are some of the highlights:
The Quiet Cove Pool is a serene oasis just for adults. It’s the perfect place to relax and unwind without being kicked in the face by a kid in the pool… okay, I exaggerate. No one kicked me in the face! But it is nice to have a pool that isn’t crowded.
The pool is surrounded by lounge chairs, and there’s a bar where you can grab an adult beverage.
Honestly, who goes on a Disney cruise to go to the gym? Simon does. That’s who.
He went to the gym twice while onboard and said it had a pretty cool view out the front of the ship. He’s quite tall though so his head was not too far from the gym ceiling when on the treadmill.
Here, you’ll find a variety of cardio and weight machines, as well as free weights and yoga mats. There are also fitness classes available, including yoga and morning stretch sessions.
If you’re looking to pamper yourself, the Senses Spa is the place to be. This luxurious spa offers a variety of treatments, including massages, facials, and body wraps. There’s also a salon on board where you can get your hair and nails done.
The prices are pretty expensive so we didn’t even consider this for our cruise.
If you’re looking to bring home a souvenir to remember your trip, Mickey’s Mainsail gift shop has lots to choose from. There is a variety of Disney-themed merchandise, including clothing, toys, and accessories.
They also have a few exclusives like Disney Wonder Pandora charms and Loungefly bags which you can only get on the ship. We opted out of buying anything though.
Prior to the Aussie sailings, they announced that 2 and 3 night cruises would no longer have a pirate night and this would be replaced with the Marvel show. Honestly, we were happy about the change because Marvel over pirates any night for us.
But a 4 night cruise would have been a great chance to have both.
On this night, cruisers are treated to a special pirate-themed menu and everyone dresses up. Any excuse for a dress-up is fun!
We did get fireworks at sea twice though – once during the Marvel show and again for the Disney Ever After Farewell party on the deck. These were both late at night but how fun it is to be on the only cruise line company that does fireworks at sea!
Tips and Recommendations
Here are a few things we recommend after our Disney Wonder experience:
Wear your swimsuits on board and go straight to the pool and slide when you embark. It won’t be too busy yet and you will get to try the water slides before the line gets long. Our kids had 4 or 5 goes on the slide during this time and the pools weren’t crowded at all.
For shorter cruises, don’t worry about the wifi packages if you can go without. Enjoy disconnecting from the outside world for a few days and make the most of your cruise. The Disney Navigator App allows you to chat with other guests on board using their onboard wifi.
Book a photo package (10 photos or unlimited) before cruising so you get the discounted rate, then cancel it if you don’t feel you got enough value out of it. You can cancel it on your final night and won’t be charged a thing.
Take your allowed adult beverage limit on board with you. It means you can save loads on drinks if you like to have a few relaxed holiday beverages.
To avoid spending your entire cruise in lines, decide which characters and shows are most important to you and line up early for these to secure a spot. Make it count when it really matters.
In Summary: Our Disney Wonder Review
After experiencing the Disney Wonder cruise, we can confidently say that it is a great choice for families looking for a fun-filled vacation. Our Disney Wonder cruise review is almost entirely positive.
Yes, the late nights were exhausting but it was only a 3-night cruise. I feel like 4 nights might have been the sweet spot to feel a little more relaxed, but 3 nights was a great length for us otherwise.
One of the standout features of the Disney Wonder is the live performances in the theatre and on the main deck. There are some seriously talented people on those cruises, who will even impress the hubby’s, who aren’t as big on all things Disney!
Another highlight of our Disney Wonder cruise review is the rotational dining. We loved the concept of having a different restaurant each night but with the same servers. It added a personal touch to our dining experience, and we appreciated the effort put into making us feel special. The food was delicious.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly cruise, we highly recommend considering the Disney Wonder, or any Disney cruise for that matter. We can’t wait to cruise with Disney again!
Disney Trip Planning Resources
If you are planning a visit to a Disney park soon or a Disney cruise, check out our Disney guides to help you plan some magical adventures: