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New Features on the Wonder
Panama Cruise January 2011 - Last Trans-canal trip planned for the Disney Wonder at this time.
There are three new features on the Disney Wonder that are worth mentioning. Whether is has been a while since traveling on her or you have never been there, Disney Cruise Line is always seeking to improve the onboard experience. The three things that have caught my attention are the Outlook Cafe, the new kids (tweens) area called the Edge and the improved phone systems.
The Outlook Cafe was added to the Wonder on a recent maintenance stop. In preparation of the new itineraries going to Alaska the wanted a place that one can sit inside, enjoy a coffee or drink and sit watching the panorama of the surroundings pass by in the usual comfort.
Until now, the first two Disney ships did not offer such a place. Many of the other cruise lines build in a large overlook high up, frequently with multiple tiers and large glass. All the Royal Caribbean ships we have been on have such a place, the largest with multiple bars and various settings suited for any size group
The Outlook is not quite as large... it is quite small, but there are two sides, each half can comfortably seat 25 people in occasional chairs, love seats and higher bar chairs in the back. Each side offers an unobstructed view of the whole side of the ship plus a look across the ship over the Adult swimming pool area. In effect nearly 270 degrees of view (minus the aft elevator and Palo's).
On the port side, there is an enclosed spiral stair way that leads down to the Cove Cafe. If you remember the double doors that led out to the Quiet Cove pool area, that has been replaced with the bottom of the spiral stair and now a single door out to the pool.
On deck ten there was a large unused area of deck that is now occupied by the Outlook Cafe. The bar that was there is now part of the area but it is redesigned to allow people to enter the Cove Cafe from the mid-ship elevator shaft right next to the entrance to the teens area in the Stack (directly opposite the broadcast booth).
It is well staffed, as the ship normally is, with friendly staff that can scare up a fine drink or coffee without leaving the room. In the middle of the two sides, the bar sits on the side of the inside entrance and along the wall that overlooks Quiet Cove, there is a sit up bar with plugs for laptops and other electronics. There are also plugs available around the perimeter of the outside.
The Cove Cafe still sits within the outer walkway, maybe a full eight feet so if one sits here, you may find your view obstructed by crowds outside along the rail. In Alaska this may not be much of a problem, but later this week on the Panama canal it will certainly be different.
The Edge is a new area that is labeled 'for the Tweens aboard', but the restrictions between ages on this particular cruise seems to be a bit blurrier than usual. I am not sure if that is reflected in all the cruise itineraries or only for this cruise that has far fewer kids than usual, in fact, the average age on this January 2011 cruise is far higher than any other I have been on. Never before have I seen so many electric carts people use to get around.
The Edge is located between the elevators on deck two mid-ship. It is located in the same position as the Qwest on the Magic but the Edge has a bit more square footage. It is more of a hang out location. There is an area for movie watching surrounded by bean bags and two other areas equipped with Wii, Playstation, large televisions and plenty of surrounding seating. Along two walls are more than a dozen computers with games and other activities.
Entering the Edge, to the right there is also a work station for organized games, experiments and even cooking projects.
As with all the other special areas for younger cruisers, this space is well staffed and carefully scheduled events are included on the daily Navigator received each evening in the state room.
New to my experience aboard the Disney Wonder is the cell phones available in every cabin. When checking in, you are asked to sign a waiver assuming responsibility for the $250 units against damage, but they are not fragile. In fact, when we got to our cabin the first day one of ours had a lot of water in the keypad that I had to gently tap out on a towel.
These phones are quite full of features, but most of them are locked out. The ringer is set to vibrate and you cannot change that. You can text between phones and make calls on board and ship-to-shore (at a very expensive price, I am sure). It would be nice to have access the calendar and calculator, but those are frequently pretty clunky. I continue to carry my iTouch for everything else for that reason.
The cell phones are assigned a number based on your cabin number and the number of the phone. So, cabin 1234 would have a cell phone 12341 and another with 12342. Calls between cell phones is simply dialing a 5 digit unit number after unlocking the keypad (SELECT then UNLOCK). The cell phones appear to be on a different system than the cabin phones. Dialing from cabin to cabin via 'land line' is as easy as just dialing the cabin number (1234). To dial between the 'land line' and the cell phones, you must first dial 41. So calling from the 'land line' in cabin 1234 to a hand unit you must dial 41 + 12341 or 41 + 12342. Dialing from the cell phone back to the cabin's 'land line' you would dial 41 + 1234.
The hand sets are supposed to work anywhere on the ship, but occasionally we find that a call does not want to go through for some reason or another. For those used to texting, that feature is also available. It seems to always go through. I find it to be my favorite for letting Jen know when and where I will be for the next few hours when apart.
There does not appear to be a voicemail system on my phone... I may be wrong. If you find one please let me know.
Disney Cruise Line is always venturing into new realms to make your cruise experience better. These three additions are no exception. In the past we have been there when they added real cell phone roaming and ship-wide WiFi. The east bound transatlantic crossing on the Magic was really cool as I watch and questioned the temporary crew members there to install and debug the whole system.
2011 Disney Wonder Panama Canal Cruise Index
Daily Navigator/Iwa Published Schedule