If “a wish is a dream your heart makes,” then Disney Wish—the first new ship from Disney Cruise Line in 10 years—should send the hearts of Disney Princess fans fluttering. Whereas Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy took design cues from the golden age of Art-Deco-inspired ocean liners, Disney Wish takes a lighter, more feminine approach with spaces that seem lifted from the pages of the theme park pioneer’s earliest animators’ sketch books.
There’s a softness to both the public spaces and the staterooms, which feature a mostly neutral palette (versus the vivid reds, golds and blues of earlier ships) with accent hues inspired by an above-the-bed mural depicting a scene from a Disney animated film, such as The Little Mermaid or Cinderella.
Disney Wish, which was christened June 29 as the first Disney ship to have not a single godmother but rather “godchildren”—all the children past, present and future who are Make-a-Wish recipients with life-threatening illnesses—accommodates 4,000 guests and began cruising three- and four-night cruises to the Bahamas from Port Canaveral on July 14, with port calls on Nassau and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.
These itineraries are ideal for combining with a few nights at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, an hour away. Cruise fares vary by date and cabin occupancy but begin around $900 per person for two adults and two kids in an inside stateroom.
Here’s what to know about the onboard experience.
The ship’s theme is “Enchantment”
Inspired by Cinderella, whose bronze likeness stands in the dazzling Grand Hall—where embarking passengers are greeted by name, a wishing star descends from a sparkling chandelier and Disney princesses and princess wave from a balcony—Disney Wish was designed around the concept of “Enchantment” and is filled with exceptionally pretty spaces.
Even several of its adult dining and lounge venues channel the feminine energy of leading Disney animated heroines, including Belle from Beauty and the Beast and Tiana from The Princess and the Frog. That said, there are plenty of Star Wars– and Marvel-themed spaces for kids (and kids at heart) to create balance.
The multiple pools are mostly small and shallow
Disney Wish’s pools are spread out from stern to aft and, in a change from previous Disney ship designs, the main pool area is now a series of five smaller and relatively shallow, tiered soaking pools offering views of the movie screen and outdoor stage (which slides over the main Mickey’s Pool) but not much in the way of actual swimming. The youngest cruisers can cool off in the adjacent Toy Story-themed splash zone, wading pool and family waterslide.
Adults can head aft to the redesigned Quiet Cove, featuring an infinity pool (which is striking, but smaller than the non-infinity pools on other Disney ships), bar and loungers (although there is little to no shade). For that, head to the deck 14 forward Chip ‘N Dale Pool, which offers a half-moon-shaped pool and a semi-circle of shaded loungers with bar service. It’s not adults-only and the pool itself doesn’t open until 12:30 pm (after the ear-piercing noon blast of the ship’s horn, which is right above the pool!), but this somewhat hidden oasis with piped-in spa-like music is a great place to escape with a good book.
The Wish Tower Suite is pretty awesome
An ample vacation budget can make a stay in the Wish Tower Suite come true. Disney’s first-of-its-kind funnel suite (it’s on deck 14 set into the forward funnel) is a 1,966-sq. ft., three-bedroom duplex penthouse that sleeps up to eight guests and overlooks the main pool area.
And yes, it’s inspired by a Disney heroine—daring teenage adventurer Moana—with elegant contemporary décor in soft blue, white and coral hues, along with movie-inspired artwork and soft chimes that echo the Moana soundtrack.
AquaMouse is AquaDuck with animation
While Disney calls AquaMouse its “first attraction at sea,” it’s better described as AquaDuck 2.0. This tube ride is very much like the water slide on Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream, but with the addition of classic Mickey Mouse cartoons and soundtracks playing on screens during the 90-second ride up the conveyor tube.
Then it’s a quick and splashy 30-second descent down and around the darkened slide—but the glide along several seconds of clear tubing over the open water is pretty cool. Because of the long ride up the initial incline, guests can expect to wait in line to board and technical issues may shut the ride down at certain times.
Pirate Night is a rockin’ good time
Disney cruises are known for their on-deck Pirate Night celebrations and on Disney Wish the “Pirate’s Rockin’ Parlay Party” features a playlist of rock ‘n roll showstoppers from Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Queen and other top bands—with a finale of fireworks off the ship’s starboard side accompanied by a live performance by Disney’s jovial rock band the Scallywags (and a cameo by Captain Jack Sparrow).
The Star Wars Hyperspace Lounge doesn’t live up to the hype
Although much-anticipated, the new Star Wars Hyperspace Lounge is pretty much a gimmick to get adult guests to spend $20 on an oddly colored cocktail with sparkly ice cubes and smoke effects (kids are allowed in until 9:00 pm, but some will likely be bored). There are certainly “Easter eggs” to be discovered by die-hard Star Wars fans in this sleekly futuristic space.
The coolest special effect is the entryway: a metal door that opens with a dramatic air blast like a Disney World attraction—but even that gets tiresome. Perhaps the vibe gets better later at night after a cocktail or two?
More enjoyable adult venues are the adjacent New Orleans-inspired Bayou, a convivial space with a ceiling of magnolia blossoms serving excellent beignets and potent Hurricane cocktails; the pretty Nightingale’s piano bar, where the theme is “bubbles,” from champagne to drinks encased in frozen ice spheres; and the elegant Beauty and the Beast-inspired The Rose, where a wall of windows makes it the perfect spot for a sunset cocktail.
The Disney Oceaneer Club Spaces are very cool
Parents will have a hard time dragging kids away from the super-cool venues in Disney Wish’s Oceaneer Club (for ages 3-12). First of all, kids can access the club level from the Grand Hall by whooshing down a gentle slide. The club space features five colorful and creative realms: Marvel Super Hero Academy, where “recruits” can train with the likes of Spider-Man, Black Panther, Ant-Man and the Wasp; Star Wars: Cargo Bay, an immersive experience where kids are tasked with handling a “mischievous menagerie of exotic beings from across the galaxy;” Fairytale Hall, a trio of activity rooms based on the characters Belle, Rapunzel and Anna and Elsa; the Walt Disney Imagineering Lab, a hands-on space designed to spark creativity; and Mickey and Minnie’s Captain’s Deck, a nautical-themed playground.
Like the line’s other ships, Disney Wish also features Edge (ages 11-14) and Vibe (ages 14-17), hangout spaces with dedicated programming for tweens and teens.
New production shows focus on The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Goofy
Fans of The Little Mermaid can watch as Ariel and her colorful undersea pals come to life onstage in the Walt Disney Theater in a Broadway-style musical. Guests will also enjoy two other production shows: “Disney Seas: The Adventure,” a rollicking travel-themed review as Goofy navigates the ship to far-off (yet familiar to Disney fans) lands, and “Disney’s Aladdin—A Musical Spectacular,” a fast-paced musical comedy, provide pre- or post-dinner entertainment for all ages.
Palo and Enchanté offer an upscale escape for adults
While all rotational dining is included in the cruise fare, adults who want a fine-dining experience can opt to book a table at Palo Steakhouse or Enchanté, two elegant restaurants inspired by Beauty and the Beast and located on deck 12 aft. Palo Steakhouse is an evolution of Disney’s popular Palo adults-only Italian restaurant with the addition of modern steakhouse selection and an a la carte or $45 prix-fixe menu. Enchanté by Chef Arnaud Lallement is the three-Michelin-starred chef’s intimate gourmet venue offering $165 and $195 tasting menus.
The cabin configurations work well for families
Good luck trying the fit a family of five into a standard cruise ship cabin. But Disney works its magic with spacious accommodations designed specifically with parents and kids in mind. The Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom with Veranda at 284 square feet comfortably sleeps two in a queen-size bed, two in a single convertible sofa with an upper bunk and one in a single bed that pulls down from the wall. What’s more, most of the ship’s 1,254 staterooms offer an ocean view—including 70 percent with a spacious verandah—and 451 feature connecting doors to accommodate larger families with adjoining rooms.
Most staterooms also have a split bathroom with a sink and tub/shower combo in one and a sink and toilet in the other. While snug, they offer convenience when multiple family members are getting ready to start the day or call it a night.
Hero Zone is fun for all ages
New on Disney ships, Hero Zone is a flexible sports arena on deck 12 that can be a basketball court or free-play sports field one day and the setting for The Incredibles-inspired Incredi-course, a blow-up obstacle course that’s fun for the whole family. It also hosts Jack-Jack’s Diaper Dash, where speedy tots speed-crawl across a 20-foot track in a bid to be crowned Diaper Dash Champion.
The dining rotation has something for everyone
Disney has a novel way of arranging dining for its guests: rather than make individual reservations, passengers are asked to choose a 6:15 pm or 8:15 pm seating and then are assigned a schedule to rotate among its three main restaurants—and the wait staff rotates with them each night. The three eateries offer something for everyone. One might start in Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure with live entertainment by Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Oaken as guests dine on classic dishes with Nordic touches.
The next night, 1923 rolls out the culinary red carpet in a sophisticated space that pays homage to the golden age of animation and the year The Walt Disney Company was founded. And in Worlds of Marvel, guests are immersed in “Avengers: Quantum Encounter,” as superheroes solve crises all around them on TV screens while they enjoy a menu inspired by the Marvel universe—don’t miss the Pym Doughnut Sundae for dessert.
The casual eateries serve lots of kid-friendly options
When quick-and-casual bites are the order of the day—kids get hungry at any hour, right?—the solution aboard Disney Wish is on deck 11, home to Marceline Market (named for Walt Disney’s childhood Missouri home), which is a walk-around buffet-style eatery featuring 10 different food stalls, and Mickey and Friends Festival of Foods, serving burgers, BBQ, burritos, pizza and Disney’s signature soft-serve ice cream. Disney Wish also offers 24-hour room service.
The Mickey’s Mainsail shop is full of fun cruise-centric souvenirs
Located on deck 5, this shop offers souvenirs for guests of all ages—from backpacks, t-shirts and themed mouse ears to ceramics, stuffed animals and beachwear—all with a fun nautical twist.
The app is everything
Your daily schedule will be digital not on paper. All Disney cruisers are required to download the Disney Cruise app, where daily programming and plans are stored and updated via the onboard Wi-Fi, and you can send messages to family members while at sea—but its design is not all that intuitive so you may need an app-obsessed tween or teen to help you figure it out.
You’ll also have no record of the day’s activities once you’re off the ship as daily schedules are erased as they happen, and the app only works with the ship’s Wi-Fi (which costs extra if you want to use it for web-surfing or email).
Bottom line: Disney Wish will fulfill the dreams of legions of fans of Disney animated films, Marvel comics and Star Wars sagas (to a lesser degree), but grown-ups who aren’t die-hard fans of the Disney franchise may find the constant playing of theme songs in the public spaces (especially the hallways) and the sweet and perky personas of the ship’s staff a bit too much—although everything onboard Disney Wish is top quality and three days do pass pretty quickly.