On Board the New Disney Wish
July 14th marks the maiden voyage of the new Disney Wish, Disney Cruise Lines' fifth ship, and its first ship in 10 years. There's been plenty of anticipation among cruise fans and Disney buffs alike. Based on Travelzoo's own voyage abroad the christening cruise of Wish -- a three-night sailing from Port Canaveral in late June -- we are happy to report that the Wish does not disappoint.
Here are the top seven ways the Wish is making waves.
Story-telling is the main inspiration behind the dreamy decor of the 1254 staterooms on board. Think pixie-dusted furniture, magical lighting and themed carpeting. Almost all offer an ocean view and most -- 70% -- feature spacious verandahs for plenty of time spent gazing out at sea. My family of five with kids aged 16, 14 and 7 shared one of these verandah cabins comfortably, thanks to creative bed stowage spaces in the ceiling and in the wall. More than 450 cabins also come with connecting doors to accommodate larger families. Also standard: 43-inch TVs, USB ports and the cruise line's signature split-bathroom concept, with a sink and bathtub shower in one room and a sink and toilet in a separate room.
For a magically upgraded experience, Wish offers 76 concierge staterooms and suites, including seven oceanview rooms that represent Disney's first staterooms above the bridge. The ship also debuts four whimsically decorated royal suites inspired by Sleeping Beauty and -- for the ultimate stay -- 2000-square-foot Wish Tower Suite, with elegant decor inspired by Moana, and set inside the ship's forward funnel.
It may look like a waterslide on the surface, but this new wet thrill-ride is actually Disney's first attraction at sea. The AquaMouse is inspired by "The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse" animated shorts and features scenes from the show along with themed lighting and special effects. Riders go on a tracked raft and are sent zig-zagging on 760 feet of winding tubes suspended high above the upper decks and along the side of the Wish, offering sweeping ocean views.
The ride is part of a Mickey-themed district that also features six pools and casual food options. For younger cruisers, the nearby Toy Story-themed district offers a splash zone, waterslide and smoothie bar.
One of our favorite aspects of the themed dining nights aboard Wish is the fact the servers stay with you -- the same team looks after each of your meals, creating a more personal and specialized experience. Each dinner event creates a memorable, themed, immersive moment.
"Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure" puts guests at the wedding banquet for Queen Anna and Kristoff, and, along with characters like Olaf and Elsa, creates a rousing musical dinner theater experience. Kids and grown-ups even get to join in the grand finale dance around the hall, which is decked out with state-of-the-art fiber optics. The Nordic-inspired fare includes seafood smorgasbords and rustic game dishes.
"Avengers: Quantum Encounter" allows diners to play an interactive role in an action-packed Avengers mission. Every table is outfitted with a Quantum Core, a tech device which guests use in sync with the action on screens throughout the dining room to shrink and augment virtual targets at the push of a button. Ant-Man and The Wasp play hosts, and friends like Captain America and Captain Marvel appear throughout. My kids got a real kick when our superhero made a surprise in-person appearance at the very end.
"1923" features Hollywood-inspired glam -- it's the elegant restaurant on the third deck named for the year the Walt Disney Company was founded. Two dining rooms -- named for brothers Walt and Roy Disney -- are adorned with more than 1000 original drawings and props that depict the evolution of the golden age of animation, from Snow White to Frozen. You can spend quite a bit of time, as I did the day after, perusing the extensive displays, which are housed inside floor-to-ceiling vitrines. The nod to Disney's California heritage is spotlighted in the produce options to the Napa-heavy wine list.
For all-day dining, Marceline Market offers an impressive 10 served food stalls, all inspired by characters from Disney films like Tangled and Ratatouille. And the open-air Mickey and Friends Festival of Foods, located in the heart of the upper decks, is home to five food stalls, including new barbecue and Mexican food offerings, as well as Disney Cruise Line's signature soft-serve ice cream.
Grown-ups can also tap three adult-exclusive dining options inspired by Beauty and The Beast, including The Rose, featuring small plates and an extensive liquors list, and Palo Steakhouse, offering myriad fine cuts. Enchanté, inspired by Lumière, is the ship's ritziest eatery, with food by three-Michelin-starred Chef Arnaud Lallement.
For Grown-Ups Only
The three kids' clubs on board -- for little ones, tweens and teens up to age 17, all with a closing time of midnight or later -- allow the grown-ups to carve out a little quality, quieter time to themselves. Quiet Cove is on top of our list: the refuge, set away from the bustle of family activities, is home to an infinity pool with wide water views, a cocktail bar and a sophisticated cafe.
The Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge is one of more than two dozen late-night watering holes. It's the one generating the most buzz, though, for its yacht-class spaceship vibe and a "window" behind the bar through which guests can watch the galaxy whiz by as they're transported to iconic Star Wars locales, like Batuu, Tatooine and Mustafar. This is where my wife and I attempted most of our cruise selfies. We also liked The Bayou, inspired by The Princess and the Frog and featuring seating underneath magnolia blossoms and twinkling fireflies; Nightingale's, a Cinderella-themed piano bar; and Ken & Compass, a nautically-inspired pub.
The Wish's fitness center is spacious and decked out in the latest fitness equipment. The Senses Spa features the fleet's first ice lounge, along with heated ergonomic loungers and sensory spa showers. And when it's time to look extra good, there's Hook's Barbery, complete with a hidden bar stocked with whiskeys and ports, and the Untangled Salon.
Nonstop entertainment is a hallmark of the Wish experience. The ship's Walt Disney Theater features 1274 seats and enchanted forest-themed decor that evokes scenes from the classic animated film, Fantasia. Guests can catch performances of "Disney The Little Mermaid," a new original Broadway-style stage adaptation of the famous 1989 movie. "Disney Seas the Adventure" stars Goofy on an inspirational journey to find his own inner captain, with the help from characters out of various Disney classics. And "Disney's Aladdin -- A Musical Spectacular" brings back a fleet favorite adaptation that is funny and fast-paced.
The Disney Wish also premiers "Pirate's Rockin' Parlay Party," a fresh take on the feet's signature nighttime deck celebration that's heavy on the live rock-and-roll music and references to Pirates of the Caribbean, not to mention a fireworks grand finale. And the two theaters onboard -- Wonderland Cinema and Never Land Cinema, each featuring just more than 80 seats -- run day-long schedules of Disney, Pixar, Marvel and LucasFilm features. Our family was happy to take in a screening of Disney-Pixar's Lightyear, while it was still in theaters back on dry land. They are the first cinemas in the industry to feature Dolby Atmos 3-D audio, for a super immersive viewing experience.
Castaway Cay, Disney's private island, is not new, but it remains a highlight of the Wish's 3- and 4-night itineraries out of Port Canaveral. The day stop means that guests can walk right off the ship and right onto a pair of tropical beaches, home to a sprawling snorkeling lagoon -- where my two boys and I spent much of the afternoon exploring a nicely decked-out underwater world -- and plenty of activities like parasailing. Cocktails and massages on the sand are on order, and guests enjoy a scrumptious barbecue lunch.
Castaway Cay welcomes Disney ships only, thanks to a 100-year lease from the Bahamian government. The 55 of the island's 1000 acres are developed and about 140 people live here full-time. It offers some of the best vantage points for family pictures backdropped by The Wish.
The Wish represents an environmentally friendly step forward for the entire cruise industry, with various eco-minded features. The ship is fueled by liquified natural gas, or LNG, allowing The Wish to be 30% more fuel efficient and to emit 20% fewer greenhouse gasses.
LED makes up about 90 percent of all the lighting onboard. The state-of-the-art waste-water purification system and on-demand lighting and heating systems also save hundreds of tons of fuel annually.
Washable dinnerware replaces single-use utensils. A special recycling program with Nassau offloads used cooking oil to be recycled into biodiesel fuel. This ship recycles naturally occurring condensation from air conditioning units to provide fresh water for onboard laundry facilities and for cleaning the ship's tee decks, saving more than seven million gallons of water each year.
And there's more to come: The Wish will be a equipped with a one-megawatt fuel cell in 2023, which will provide additional emissions-free energy for various onboard systems.
The Disney Wish precedes two more brand new ships, which are being constructed in Germany and which will grow the fleet to seven when they hit the water by 2025. Disney is also developing a second exclusive Caribbean destination for its ship passengers. All of this comes amidst optimistic post-pandemic signs for the cruise industry as a whole, with data from Travelzoo's own member survey in March showing increasing demand: 74% of travelers are open to cruising over the next two years.
Find out more at disneycruise.com.