Back in 2017, Disney announced that it would be adding not two, but three more ships to its Disney Cruise Line fleet. The ships, built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, were scheduled for completion in 2021, 2022, and 2023. COVID-19 did upset that schedule, like so many other projects. Finally, on June 30, the Disney Wish, the fifth and newest ship of the Disney Cruise Line, was officially christened and set sail on a three-day cruise to the Bahamas. The ship went on its maiden voyage on July 14.
Unlike Disney’s other ships, the Disney Fantasy (godmother Mariah Carey); the Dream (godmother Jennifer Hudson); the Wonder (godmother Tinker Bell); and the Magic (godmother Patty Disney, the former wife of Roy Disney), the Disney Wish does not have a godmother. The ship has godchildren and was christened by Colby (10), Megan (16), and Jenna (13), representing all the children—past, present, and future—of the Make-A-Wish-Foundation, celebrating that wishes do come true.
The Disney Wish has a capacity of 4,000 passengers with 1,254 staterooms, of which 53 are concierge staterooms and 23 concierge suites. It is notable that more than 90% of the staterooms have ocean views, and 948 rooms offer a balcony. My favorite thing to do when I have a room with a balcony is to order breakfast delivered to the room.
I stayed in a Family Deluxe Room with a balcony, but I visited all other rooms, including the Tower Suite and the Royal Suite, named after Princess Aurora.
As with all Disney cruise ships, passengers experience rotational dining with an assigned dining experience for each night. The waitstaff rotates with you. It gives dinner a unique, personalized touch. The staff knows your name and will do everything to make your dining experience special. If you do not like what you ordered or if you wish to have seconds, no problem—the waitstaff will see to it. It takes “Be Our Guest” to a whole new level.
Before going on your cruise, you get to pick your dinner seating (5:45 p.m. or 8:15 p.m.). But even that can be changed once onboard, based upon availability.
The three rotational dining experiences are the 1923 restaurant, an Homage to Roy and Walt Disney and the Golden Age of Hollywood; the Worlds of Marvel Avengers: Quantum Encounter Dinner Show, calling all Marvel fans; and Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure, sure to please the entire family.
I will focus on all the dining experiences in a series of articles going forward, so stay tuned. For now, feast your eyes on the decor and some of my Disney Wish favorite dishes.
When boarding the ship, our first visit was to Marceline Market, located on deck 14, which serves breakfast and lunch buffet-style. With 10 food stalls and a café-style beverage bar at the entrance, it has everything you need to enjoy your first meal onboard, and much more. If you prefer eating outdoors, you can do so, as Marceline Market offers alfresco dining.
When arriving at Marceline Market, guests are asked to use the hand-washing area. I loved this! It was much better than just distributing disinfecting wipes or sanitizing gel.
The 10 food stalls offer international specialties, soups, salads, amazing seafood, some American favorites, and sumptuous desserts. When I was on the Disney Wish, all the food stalls were showcased behind glass, and you could point out what it was you would like to eat. Food was served by cast members wearing masks to reduce the fear and spread of COVID. I personally would like it to continue to be this way going forward. It is a good and sanitary way to deal with food.
While I did not experience it on the maiden voyage of the Wish, it seems that Marceline will convert to a table-service dining venue at dinnertime, offering entrées cooked to order.
If Marceline is too time-consuming for you, the Wish offers Mickey & Friends Festival of Food. Your choices are Mickey’s Smokestack Barbecue, Donald’s Cantina, Daisy’s Pizza Pies, Goofy’s Grill, and Sweet Minnie’s Ice Cream. Here, too, during my voyage, food was not self-serve, but it handed to guests to avoid contamination, with the exception of condiments and soft drinks. Inspired by the seaside boardwalk setting from the Mickey Mouse shorts, Mickey & Friends Festival of Food is perfect for families with small children.
Enchanté and Palo Steakhouse are the upscale dining venues of the ship. While they were not operational on the maiden voyage (except for Palo Steakhouse for those who managed to get a reservation), we had a look at the venues and enjoyed drinks at The Rose.
When it comes to entertainment, families with kids are presented with a palette of amazing activities. Located under The Grand Hall, connected with a fun slide, are Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab. How fun it would be to be a kid again. I would have a hard time choosing between the activities for toddlers and tweens, as well as the Disney’s Star Wars: Cargo Bay experience.
Families can have plenty of fun on the upper decks in the pools of various depths and sizes; and there is, of course, the AquaMouse, version 2.0 of the AquaDuck. To top it all, Funnel Vision, a huge LED display right in the center of the main deck and right under the ship’s funnel, shows classic Disney movies. Little tykes will love the Toy Story Splash Zone on deck 12. I do, however, think that the ship would have benefited from having at least one large family pool.
If you are looking for a place to relax, then Quiet Cove, reserved for guests 18 years and older, is where you can rest in a whirlpool spa and a small infinity pool. Quiet Cove is also home to the Cove Café, serving tea and specialty coffees. The entire area, café included, is way too small and doesn’t have enough seating.
For complete relaxation, pampering, and total tranquility, book a treatment at the Senses Spa. I also highly recommend just booking a day pass for the Rain Forest experience. It is a whopping $79, but it comes with hot tubs, scented showers, a sauna, an ice chamber (my favorite), heated tile lounge chairs, steam and dry rooms, and access to an amazing outdoor area.
The spa is much larger than those on other Disney ships, as there is no mani-pedi parlor nor a barber shop. But, don’t despair: Two salons (Untangled Salon and Hook’s Barbery on deck 4) offer themed spaces to enjoy services like manicures, pedicures, and the perfect shave! There is, however, more to the perfect shave than meets the eye. Hook’s Barbery is also home to a “hidden” bar serving a hand-crafted bourbon old-fashioned that guests can experience even while giving their new makeovers some more thought. There is also a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique on board where little tykes can get their royal treatment.
Families and teens will love the HERO Zone. In a climate-controlled environment, guests can play Ping-Pong, basketball, and more. The most fun, however, is the Incredi-Games area, an Incredibles-themed inflatable obstacle course. Try it out—it is much more challenging than it looks!
Tweens will enjoy hanging out at Edge, a club reminiscent of a New York loft with lots of games and movies to watch. Edge even has a soda bar.
From New York to Paris: Visit the teen Parisian artists’ loft Vibe. The decor is a twist on retro with neon signs and funky pop art, including a a brightly painted Mickey Mouse and graffiti. The Vibe is accented by a larger-than-life, brightly painted Mickey Mouse statue. Floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the ocean make for a stylish place where 14- to 17-year-olds can participate in activities or just watch movies and play games.
Connected to the Edge is the Hideaway, a place where older kids and young adults (18-20 years of age) can relax, listen to music, and sip a smoothie. The Hideaway area can be closed off for special events and private parties. The Hideaway features a dance floor and a DJ booth. Karaoke, anyone?
There is plenty of evening and nighttime entertainment on the ship, starting with the three Broadway-style shows: Disney’s The Little Mermaid, a musical that puts a modern twist on the classic Disney tale; Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular, which is also shown on the Disney Fantasy; and Disney Seas the Adventure show. The latter is shown on the first night of the sailing. It is a perfect choice to start the cruise and features the best of Disney’s live entertainment and lots of beloved characters. Kids and those young at heart will love it!
For those who do not need sleep or love to watch a movie, try out Wonderland Cinema (84 seats) and the NeverLand Cinema (86 seats). Both cinemas are equipped with Dolby Atmos 3D audio technology.
There are bars, cafés, and lounges galore on the ship. The Hyperspace Lounge is a must for all Star Wars fans. If the lounge is on top of your to-do list, make sure to get a reservation. The lounge is not much bigger, if at all, than Oga’s Cantina. The screen behind the bar is much fun, and some of the displays are too. But that is pretty much it.
While this report is not meant to be a “show and tell” about all the bars, cafés, and lounges, here are some of the best places to have a drink:
Keg and Compass: The decor is special, and one has to visit both during the day and at night to take it all in. The bar offers three beers brewed especially for the Disney Wish, including Uncharted Lager, Twisted Tentacle Ale, and Maelstrom Stout.
Inspired by the “Sing Sweet Nightingale” song from the 1950 Disney classic Cinderella, Nightingale’s is an adults-only piano bar with a modern yet elegant design. The chandelier over the baby grand piano is amazing. The many glittering bubbles are wrapped in the sheet music that, for those who can read notes, display the tune to the “Sing Sweet Nightingale” song.
My favorite lounge is The Rose. Located between the entrance to Palo Steakhouse and Enchanté, the lounge has tables with porthole views of the ocean and an impressive wine list. I went, however, for the Sommelier Bin! Each wine from the bin is $11 by the glass. Just tell your server what kind of wine you are looking for. The wine will remain a mystery until presented. Try it—you won’t be disappointed.
The Disney Wish sails from Port Canaveral and offers three- and four-night cruises to the Bahamas, including visits to Nassau and Castaway Cay. I have visited Nassau several times, but I never get tired of a day at Castaway Cay, where the family and adult beaches are much fun even if you do not book a shore excursion.
Finally, the magnificent Grand Hall is not just an amazing entry to the ship, but it also has a stage that transforms into an environmental theater with hidden layers of special effects. The grand staircase is a great background for family photos, and Disney characters appear regularly for photo ops. Balconies on the next floor overlook the Grand Hall, where Disney Characters appear at times.
At night (10 p.m., for the little tykes, and midnight) the Grand Hall is the place to be to witness “The Kiss Goodnight.” Projections all around the Grand Hall and the gorgeous chandelier provide a magical effect that is sure to put little ones to bed dreaming of Cinderella and her Fairy Grandmother!
There is also lots of shopping available on the ship: 3 Wishes, Treasures Untold, Enchanted Castle Jewels, Royal Regalia, and Once Upon a Time (Deck 3). And finally Mickey’s Mainsail (Deck 5) and Don’t Forget Me Knots (Deck 11)
If you’re planning a Disney Cruise Line vacation, make sure to check out The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line by Erin Foster with Len Testa and Ritchey Halphen.