We are sailing in Wonder the first of the year. Our experience with the balcony on a previous cruise was mixed. Extra space to sit was good. View, albiet a bit narrow, was good. The snoot factor of having a varandah stateroom was lost since all the rooms on that ship had them. Surprising drawback; the entire wall is glass and it gets hot when the sun beats in. We had to draw the curtain in late afternoon, or leave the door open. SoS had no balconies but we were very comfortable in a mini suite with large window. Didn't feel like we missed a thing. Seriously considered the huge porthole or the "navigator" staterooms for those reasons. The "navigator verandah" gives you the room of the varandah and the protection of the porthole. But..........our cruise agent got us the Florida residence discount (Good old Walt does that for us a couple time a year) and since the real varandah and navigator varandah were the same and both were pennies more than the porthole, the appearance of living large won. If I was paying through the nose, the big porthole would do fine.
We throughly enjoyed our balcony room and felt it was very worth it. We Booked our children on an inside cabin right across the hall from our room and it worked out very nicely. My husband and I loved to sit out on the balcony in the mornings and late afternoons. The sunsets were fabulous when we sat out and watched them- very relaxing and romantic. We also really enjoyed opening the sliding door at night and listening to the ocean. This was the second cruise that we have had with a balcony room and would not do it any other way. Our children also loved to come to our room and sit out on the balcony, especially when we were docking or taking off at the islands. It was nice to have some place quite to come to and enjoy the ocean. The top decks get rather loud and there is no privacy to enjoy the sea.
Shore excursions- At St Thomas we scheduled a fantastic snorkeling tour over the internet with New Horizons. It was a full day sail that took us around to St Johns to snorkel at a private area. The crew was wonderful and the food was very good. My three children loved this day. The only draw back was that we did not get to shop in St Thomas because this was a full day sail, but it was a very memorable day. In St Martin, we did not schedule any tours. We went shopping for part of the day then rented a car and went to the French side to some of the beaches. Beware in St Martin of the nudity on the beaches. My teenage boys really got their eyes full that day! The beaches were very beautiful and it was fun to relax and swim and snorkel. Also, beware of the restaurants on the French side. We went to a beach front outdoors restaurant where the menu was in Francs and we had not paid attention to the Francs currency rate, we ended up spending $90.00 for the 5 of us to have hamburgers and drinks. The shopping in St Martin is very good and wonderful prices.
Hope you have a fun trip. Its a great ship for families. I was amazed on how smoothly Disney runs that ship. The activities were great, very organized. I don't ever remember feeling crowded or frustrated. This kids will have a ball.
Our family went on the Disney, Magic, over Christmas and had a ball. I took 22 of my family as their Christmas present and all said that anyone who had not had fun it was their own fault! Your were asking about the verandas on the ship and I have mixed feelings about them. There were 4 families that had the verandas and the rest had the same size room with a huge oval picture window. You are hardly ever in your room except to rest or sleep, and don't really know if the extra money is worth it. I found being on the verandah, it is not only very small, but the railing and chairs were so salty. You could get nice pictures from that site, but you can also get the same on deck. We did have a wonderful time and you should enjoy it immensely! Pat