Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line
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Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line
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Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line
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Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line
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Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line
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Disney Wish

Our Ship Review
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger

Since introducing its first ship, the 2,700-guest Disney Magic in 1998, Disney Cruise Line has gained a loyal clientele of adoring families and “Disney adults” who enjoy pairing a visit to Disney World in Orlando with a three-or-four-night cruise to the Bahamas from Port Canaveral. Disney’s cruise product matched its theme parks in quality and consistency across its first four ships, which also include 2,700-guest Disney Wonder and 4,000-guest Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, and commanded much higher fares than other contemporary large-ship lines. 

Enter 2022’s Disney Wish, the line’s first new ship in 20 years, which, like Dream and Fantasy, accommodates up to 4,000 guests (at capacity). With Wish, Disney opted to change up the ship’s layout — creating design flaws that have irked some loyal Disney cruisers. One obvious change is the main pool deck, which, on Wish, features six smaller pools of varying depths, with some set on tiered decks accessible via stairs. The adults-only spaces on this ship have also been haphazardly scattered rather than being located in a central area; there are only two elevator banks, not three; and the ship’s layout is a bit maze-like, requiring passengers to traverse many long hallways to move between public spaces. Expect long lines, excessive waits for elevators, and crowds everywhere.

After giving its earlier ships retro-classic nautical and Art Deco decor, Disney’s designers created interiors for Wish inspired by the brand’s beloved fairytale princesses. The Grand Hall features a balcony where Cinderella and Prince Charming wave to embarking guests while their names are announced as if they’re attending a royal soiree. One of the main bars, The Bayou, resembles the magnolia-draped environs of Princess Tiana’s New Orleans, and the two extra-cost adults-only specialty dining venues, Palo and Enchanté, have decor inspired by Beauty & the Beast. Both are accessed via a lovely (and popular) adults-only bar called The Rose. Fans of Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and Mickey & Minnie imagery will find it here and there, especially in the Oceaneer Club and the new Mickey & Friends Festival of Foods casual food court, but Disney Wish definitely gives off far more princess-y vibes than its predecessors.

What We Love

Family-Friendly Entertainment: Disney Wish offers onboard entertainment on par with its theme parks: Full-scale theatrical productions include “Seas the Adventure,” a travel-inspired musical featuring familiar Disney characters; a colorful theatrical interpretation of The Little Mermaid; and “Aladdin — A Musical Spectacular.” You’ll enjoy continuous showings of first-run Disney and Marvel superhero movies, daily character meet-and-greets, and The Incredi-Games, a blow-up obstacle course. The Pirate’s Rock & Parlay Party, an on-deck spectacle with live music and fireworks, is especially fun. One quibble: Disney charges for popcorn at its movies, something other cruise lines hand out for free. 

The Well-Designed Staterooms: In line with Wish’s fairytale princess theme, the ship’s staterooms feature a subtle palette (no bold reds, blues, and yellows here). One wall features vignettes from various princess-themed films — including The Princess and the Frog, The Little Mermaid, Moana, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty — dressing up an otherwise neutral color scheme. The Deluxe Family Oceanview Veranda Staterooms can comfortably sleep up to five (in a queen bed, bunks, and a pull-out twin) and the split bathroom (sink and toilet in one room and bath/shower and sink in the other) is family-friendly.

The Oceaneer Club: Kids on any Disney ship have tons to keep them occupied, but they’ll likely want to return again and again to Wish’s Oceaneer Club, which has four very popular spaces for kids ages 3-12: The immersive Star Wars Cargo Bay, the interactive Marvel Super Hero Academy, the hands-on Walt Disney Imagineering Lab, and the drama-inspired Fairytale Hall. There are also hang-out spaces for tweens (Edge, for ages 11-14) and teens (Vibe, for ages 14-17) and an It’s a Small World Nursery offering daycare for tots ages six months to three years.

Best Known For

Rotational Dining: Disney is unique in how it handles complimentary dining. All guests rotate among three venues — on Wish, they are 1923, Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure, and Worlds of Marvel — and their waiters rotate with them. Unquestionably, 1923, a sophisticated, Art Deco-inspired space dedicated to 100 years of Disney memorabilia, is the most grown-up friendly and has the best food. Arendelle is the most Disney-esque and offers the best show. The futuristic Worlds of Marvel is the most experimental, but with mixed marks for the video entertainment (although who doesn’t love Paul Rudd as Ant Man?). All in all, there are enough menu choices at all three to keep most guests happy, although tables are tightly crammed together, wait times between courses can be excessive, and food quality isn’t quite up to the Disney standard. For an upscale dining experience, adults can always pay extra to dine at Palo or Enchanté. 

Disney Merchandise: The Mickey’s Mainsail shop on deck 5 aboard Disney Wish is the only spot selling Disney souvenir merch — and it’s long and narrow and almost always crowded. The shop features more variations on mouse ears than one could imagine, along with character-inspired items, from clothing to home goods. Other ships have two such shops, but on Wish, Disney opted instead for high-end watch and jewelry boutiques on deck 3. 

Who It's Best For

Families With Young Kids & Disney Adults: Families are Disney’s bread and butter — and the sweet spot is between ages 5 and 12, when kids are generally most in Disney’s thrall. That said, you don’t have to be a kid or even have kids to love Disney. You’ll find plenty of mouse-ear-wearing Disney Adults onboard every sailing. 

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

Quiet Cove Is Anything But: Moved to deck 13 aft, the Quiet Cove adults-only area might need a new name. At times, its small pool resembled a crowded Spring Break free-for-all. It’s simply too little space with not enough lounge chairs and hardly any shade — and the hot tub is a walk away on the ship’s port side beneath the AquaMouse tube. As a relatively quiet alternative, check out the Chip ‘n Dale’s Pool tucked away forward on deck 14; it’s on the shallow side, but there’s plenty of shaded loungers and bar service.

Star Wars Hyperspace Lounge and AquaMouse Underwhelm: Disney’s pre-cruise hype about two of Wish’s attractions, Star Wars Hyperspace Lounge and AquaMouse, was so strong that a letdown seemed inevitable. The coolest aspect of Star Wars Hyperspace Lounge — the rapid whoosh as you enter through the airlock doors — isn’t matched by the “space scenery” floating by behind the bar and weirdly colored $20 drinks with smoke effects — unless, perhaps, you’re a “Star Wars” super fan. Equally anticlimactic is AquaMouse, touted as Disney’s first “attraction” at sea. In reality, it’s simply a montage of classic Mickey cartoons that play as your raft slowly ascends a conveyor belt, followed by a mildly thrilling 30-second water ride. And yes, there’s usually a long line to board.

Donna Heiderstadt
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger
Cruise Expert