Worst of Disney Wish Cruise Ship

Disney Wish has a lot of good, and a bit of bad. It does many things really well, surpassing the legacy ships in countless ways. Unfortunately, there are also some surprising and confusing disappointments. We’ll cover those in this “worst of” list, which looks at things the newest addition to the Disney Cruise Line fleet gets wrong.

This is a follow-up to our Best of the Disney Wish, which praises what the new ship got right. It’s based on only one sailing–the Disney Wish Christening Cruise. As covered in our First Impressions of the Disney Wish, not everything was ready or presented during that media itinerary, so this list is undoubtedly incomplete. It’s possible that some of our complaints will be resolved as the Wish finds its footing (err…sea legs?).

Even then, some entries on this list might sound a bit harsh. That’s probably true, and we’ll again preface this by saying that we loved our experience aboard the Disney Wish as a whole. It’s not perfect, but it’s really good. We simply hold Disney Cruise Line to a very high standard, and had hoped all of the promised innovations and tweaks made to the Disney Wish would make it a significant upgrade over the legacy ships. Here are some of the ways we think those missed the mark…

Layout – With some of these entries, it’s difficult to separate how our perception and opinions are colored by familiarity with the other ships and lack of that with the Disney Wish. Change can be difficult and it takes time to get used to new things. That’s definitely at play to some degree with our confusion about the layout, which often felt counterintuitive and choppy.

Getting to or from Cove Cafe was convoluted (until we found the random shortcut through Hero Zone) and that was also the case for other spots on the ship. It probably didn’t help that some areas were spread out instead of consolidated, or that wayfinding markers were a bit too subtle. The lack of midship elevators will also bother some cruisers.

With that said, this wasn’t all bad. Once you’re used to it, the layout can be satisfying in some ways. Certain bars and lounges feel more tucked away, and the ship is imbued with a sense of intimacy outside the main atrium that defies its otherwise large size. The scale never really felt overwhelming, and we really appreciated this.

I think a “better” layout would’ve given the Wish a more sprawling and impersonal vibe. As with anything, there are tradeoffs–it’s easy to spot the downsides of what you’re “missing” as compared to the other ships without recognizing the benefits you might be taking for granted.

Decor & Furnishings – Our earlier best of list praised the interior design of the specialty dining, retail, and several areas of the ship. That’s all accurate, but there are other areas that feel plasticy and insubstantial. Things that should have an aged or weathered look, but appear brand new. I could swear a few specific pieces of furniture were consumer-grade products I’ve seen on Wayfair.

I’m deliberately not naming specifics, as some of this was very clearly temporary. A lot of signage, for example, was not yet permanent during the Christening Cruise. (This was easy to spot with a side by side comparison to what had been finalized–night and day differences.) It’s entirely possible some of that furniture is also temporary, as the final products haven’t arrived. Maybe the same is true with some props. That excuse only goes so far, as some finishings are clearly inferior to the other ships.

Nautical Style – One of the things I think Disney Cruise Line’s first four ships did extraordinarily well was taking the glamour and beauty of the golden age of ocean liners and “Disneyifying” that. Characters and movies were weaved into that, and the appearance and themed design were cohesive. The themed spaces that broke from this were isolated from public areas, and felt like bold punctuation marks. It just all came together and worked really well.

On the exterior and top decks, the Disney Wish looks the same as the other ships. Many areas inside do, as well. However, many of the main spaces opt against period-inspired Art Deco and Art Nouveau styles in favor of a variety of disparately-themed spaces. To the extent that there is one, “castle at sea” probably is the most apt way to describe the ship’s unifying style. A lot of first-timers–especially families with small children–might love this. As seasoned DCL guests, we missed the nautical details and golden age of cruising. Again, personal preference and familiarity with the other ships probably strongly colors this one.

Marceline Market – Effectively replacing Cabanas, Marceline Market is the main food hall and buffet on the Disney Wish. Listing it among the “worst” aspects of the ship is a bit hyperbolic. In reality, Marceline Market is just fine.

It’s mostly a lateral move, not significantly better or worse than Cabanas. There are a few little things that bugged me, but the same is probably true of Cabanas if I were to give it deeper thought. The reason Marceline Market makes this list is because all of the other dining options improved to such a degree. Relative to those, it now stands out as a weakness.

AquaMouse – Imagine having an beachfront home with floor to ceiling windows and breathtaking ocean views. One day, a new television comes out. Not just an ordinary one–we’re talking a QLED 8k NextGen TV. You absolutely love that puppy, and you’re wealthy, so what the heck–you buy 8 of them. Unfortunately, your floor to ceiling windows are too bright for the QLED technology, so you’ve gotta replace the ocean views with a big brick wall and screens affixed to it.

It is safe to say that no one in their right mind would do this–there’s a reason “million dollar views” are a thing, and don’t refer to a windowless wall of $3k QLED televisions. This is the story of the AquaMouse, the first ever “attraction” at sea aboard the Disney Wish. (Heavy, heavy air quotes around attraction.)

AquaMouse was one of the things for which I was most excited, and it ended up being our single biggest disappointment. It feels like yet another instance of the tail wagging the dog, with technology (waterproof TVs, I guess?) dictating the direction of the project without anyone stopping to ask: why? 

There are some other minor effects here, but nothing that tips the scales or makes AquaMouse a bona-fide attraction. There’s a world where a ride like this “works” and the screens and other tunnel effects deliver an actual attraction at sea. However, nothing in this slide justifies sacrificing the big views on the lift hill or the reliability woes of the “ride.” We had high hopes, but it’s not just a lateral move from the slides on the other ships–AquaMouse is a downgrade.

Avengers: Quantum Encounter at Worlds of Marvel – We both really liked this rotational restaurant, and had an absolute hoot. That’s why it made our best of list. However, it did not comport with our expectations based on the marketing, which suggested that this would be an interactive adventure involving Avengers and Pym Tech.

Based on that, we were expecting entertainment mixed with novelty food. Basically, the grounds of Avengers Campus plus Pym’s Test Kitchen at Disney California Adventure. In reality, the food is mostly normal and the presentation occurs via screens, with only brief character appearances (and oversized food props) at the very end of the meal.

We still loved Worlds of Marvel. I suspect it’s one of those things that plays better in person, and the actual substance isn’t particularly marketable. However, we would have enjoyed this more had we gone in knowing absolutely nothing and having zero expectations. It could be improved with tweaks to the presentation, menu, and marketing–but this is a pretty strong offering as-is.

Star Wars Hyperspace Lounge – Okay, so we’ve already established a hypothetical world in which you’re absolutely infatuated with high-end televisions. (Maybe you own a lot of Samsung stock?) Now imagine that you’re also a restauranteur, tasked with coming up with a budget for a new themed bar your group is creating. Given your aforementioned love affair, you blow 90% of the budget on a big screen. This is the story of Star Wars Hyperspace Lounge.

Hyperspace Lounge is essentially Skyline lounge on the other ships, except with Star Wars visuals. To be sure, those look great and are well done. Star Wars fans will likely love watching that loop as well as the drinks served up here. For me, suspension of disbelief is difficult because the rest of the room is relatively barren and lacking in detail. For me, it feels like a room with a big screen, rather than a lounge aboard a starship with a window into space. Skyline may use dated technology by comparison, but the rest of the setting there does a better job of selling the idea of being inside a posh sky bar atop a ritzy hotel.

Adult Areas – Quiet Cove–the secluded adults-only district dedicated to lounging, sipping and soaking–has an excellent infinity pool with breathtaking panoramic views of the ocean. It also has a capacity of 25 people, tops. The entirety of Quiet Cove is undersized, and what makes this all the more mind-boggling is the expansive size of the kids clubs. If those are so large, does it not stand to reason that the adults who drop their kids off to play also might want similar spaces to themselves?

Then there’s the lack of a distinct adults district for nightlife, as those spaces are instead interspersed among the rest of the ship as a series of standalone venues. Several of them are near one another, but they’re not uninterrupted or isolated. This may seem insignificant, but on a ship that leans so heavily into intellectual property, and princesses in particular, it’s quite noticeable. More than any of the other ships, the Disney Wish could use an adults “hideaway” offering a respite from characters. The lack of that is a conspicuous omission.

Grand Hall – We don’t like the atrium on the Disney Wish. In talking to others who have been aboard the ship, this seems like an unpopular opinion. To each their own, I guess.

I get what Disney was trying to do with the Grand Hall on the Wish–it’s a more functional space, with the ability to host characters and small-scale entertainment. There’s a stage and a lot of lighting built into this area that can be leveraged to put on productions. With that, trade-offs were necessary. My issues go beyond that, though. I don’t think the Grand Hall has the same attention to detail, texture, or finishings as the other ships. It may look opulent in photos or at first glance, but that’s not reinforced by the actual ornamentation and craftsmanship.

Price – With its “new ship smell” unlikely to wear off anytime soon, the Disney Wish commands higher prices for comparable itineraries than the older ships. If this continues in the long-term, there’s not really any debating it–Disney charges what the market will bear.

Right now, prices and demand are more a function of expectations and hype than a reflection of actual quality relative to the other ships. There plenty of compelling justifications for this excitement and higher rates, but I personally wonder if the premium pricing is entirely justified by the substance of the ship. Regardless of reasons, the Disney Wish being more expensive than the legacy ships is a definite downside when weighing pros & cons.

Focus – The Disney Wish dedicates considerable real estate to high-end retail, concierge staterooms and lounges, and lavishly-themed suites. Bars and specialty dining are to be expected based on the other ships, but it also seems like there’s a greater emphasis on those (or at least, getting guests to spend on special drinks).

We have no issue with any of this on its face. Splurge-worthy experiences are great, and Disney has long had luxury offerings. It’s the way they’re front and center, commanding so much attention both aboard the ship and in the marketing that’s a tad concerning. (To this day, Walt Disney World still doesn’t publicize its presidential suites and other high-end hotel rooms.) Disney Cruise Line is more of an aspirational brand, but it’s still one that’s largely aimed at middle class families. The company obviously wants to capture more of an upmarket audience; they should be careful not to alienate the loyal one they’ve cultivated over the last several decades in the process.

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YOUR THOUGHTS

Any thoughts on our ‘worst of’ list for the Disney Wish? Which of these spaces, restaurants, entertainment, or other things to do look most or least appealing to you? What else would you like to know about the Disney Wish? Think this ship will appeal to you, or will you stick with the first four? Do you plan on booking a cruise aboard this ship, or are you awaiting more reviews and info from the actual guest sailings? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments? Any questions? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

24 Responses to “Worst of Disney Wish Cruise Ship”
  1. Jason Oswalt September 20, 2022

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