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Jared Baer

Age: 21 to 30

Occupation:Information Technology

Number of Cruises: First Cruise

Cruise Line: Disney

Ship: Disney Wonder

Sailing Date:

Itinerary: Four night Caribbean cruise

My wife (Staci) and I traveled on this cruise for our honeymoon. It was the first time cruising for the both of us. I just want to start off by saying that I cannot say enough nice things about the ship and the crew. We were both absolutely delighted with our entire cruise experience.

Our honeymoon started with a three-night stay at Port Orleans at Walt Disney World in Orlando.  Again, our expectations had been exceeded with our accommodations and service we received during our brief stay there.  When we checked in, (the counter hostess was French to keep up the theme of the New Orleans French Quarter), anyway, since it was our honeymoon, we received a letter entitling us to a complimentary champagne toast at Scat Cat’s Lounge in the Lobby of the resort.  On to the cruise

We left Port Orleans at about 11:30 a.m. on Sunday morning and arrived at the Disney Terminal Building at Port Canaveral approximately an hour and a half later.  The terminal building is absolutely beautiful, I only wish we would have arrived earlier so we could have spent more time touring the terminal.  Boarding the ship was quick and painless since we already checked in at Port Orleans we already had our boarding passes in our hands.  The boarding pass is a credit card type thing that also acts as your resort room key, your theme park tickets, your ship boarding pass, your ship’s stateroom key, your stateroom safe key, and charge card to anything Disney.  The card is called your Key to the Word Card and you use it almost constantly.  Everyone in your group is required to have one.

We boarded the ship at about 1:15 p.m. at the ships’ Atrium Lobby where a welcome crew announced our name and mentioned us as being newlyweds.  As you enter the ship there is a “Welcome Aboard” sign with a picture of Captain Mickey on it where you get your picture taken.  The picture, along with all the other pictures the ships’ photographers take of you during the cruise are available at Shutters, the ships photography lab and store.  After entering the ship the welcome crew ushers you up to deck 9 where there is a huge lunch buffet prepared at The Beach Blanket Buffet.  They send you immediately to the buffet so the room hosts/hostesses have time to finish preparing all of the rooms.  We weren’t exactly hungry when we got to the ship so we took a small walking tour of some of the middle decks for about 15 minutes and got tired of carrying our carry-ons so we decided to see if our room was finished.  Our room was a category 9 Deluxe Ocean view Stateroom on deck 2 (room 2058).

We found our room and were pleased to see our luggage waiting for us outside our stateroom door and the room clean and ready.  The luggage and ground transfers included with the trip were probably the nicest service provided by DCL.  The only time we handled our bags was when we checked our luggage at the airport to travel to Orlando and when we claimed our bags when we debarked the ship when it returned to port (every transfer in between was handled by the Disney staff.)  After we unpacked our stuff, we decided to go check out the buffet.  The Beach Blanket Buffet had a large variety of lunch items for us to choose from including five different kinds of lettuce, pasta, and jell-o salads, cold cuts for sandwiches, chilled jumbo shrimp and whole roast beef cut to order.  There was also a large selection of breads and a full salad bar, as well as dessert upon dessert to choose from.  All of the food was very good.  A drink hostess walked by our table and asked us if we wanted to try the drink of the day in a souvenir glass, we did, the drink was a strawberry daiquiri with vanilla ice cream floating in it.  The name of the drink escapes me.

It was now time for the brief emergency drill.  We had to fetch our lifejackets from our room and meet in our designated emergency location to make sure we knew what to do in “the very unlikely event of an emergency”.  The emergency drill is mandatory, and the life jackets are uncomfortable, but the crew tried to make it as fun as possible.  After the emergency drill Staci and I went back to our room to settle in and unpack.  Our stateroom was very nice, there was a large four foot porthole window on the outside wall, a sitting area with a couch that folded out to a bed, a vanity with a lighted mirror and refrigerator, two twin beds bridged together to make a king, a safe and a split bath, as well as more storage space than we could possibly use.  We unpacked our things, gathered our empty luggage and stowed it away under the bed and inside the closet.

After unpacking we went up to deck 10 to watch the embarkation party taking place on the Goofy Pool stage on deck 9.  We watched from the railing in front of the Outlook Bar and had a perfect view of all of the festivities bellow us.  The Cruise Director, Jim, walked out and introduced himself and got the crowd going and then introduced Captain Mickey, and Minnie, Goofy, Chip and Dale to the crowd.  Jim then counted down for the embarkation from the port and the ships’ horn rang out “When You Wish Upon a Star”.  The horn is very loud and they blow it every time they leave a port, so if you miss it, there are more opportunities to hear it later.  Then the party started rockin’ and the characters danced around on the stage for a while and then went into the crowd to dance with the children.  We were standing in the front row against the rail watching the goings on below, me video taping the whole thing, I feel somebody lean against my back.  I turn around and there’s Goofy dancing on a pedestal right behind me.  It was pretty cool seeing one of the characters that close dancing with all of the kids.

We left the party before it broke up to explore the ship some more, we were walking around unaware that the ship was moving until we noticed the dock was not in the same place it was earlier.  So, we rushed back up to deck 10 to watch the ship leave the canal and head out to sea.

Next it was time to get ready for the early show and dinner.  We chose the second seating for dinner that was at 8:30.  The first night’s show was Voyage of the Ghost Ship, it was a Disney style Broadway show with an elaborate stage and plenty of music and slapstick for the kiddies.  This show was very good, however, my least favorite of the live shows on board.

Dinner time: Our first night on board we dinned at Triton’s, our favorite of the three main restaurants.  The dress suggestion for Triton’s is jacket recommended, I opted for a shirt and tie, Stacie went for a dinner dress.  Not everybody followed the dress suggestion, but everybody looked nice, because all of the restaurants have a “no shorts” policy.  We both had the creamy lobster soup for an appetizer and crème brulee, for our main dishes, Staci had the seafood fettuccini and I had the crispy baked sea bass.  All of our food was excellent and our wait staff (who travel with you to the different restaurants) couldn’t be more pleasant.  Our wait staff consisted of Ivan, our Head Server from The Ukraine, he seemed more like a PR person, and oversaw the events of many tables in the restaurants, he is also the one who heads up the “Happy Birthday” and “Happy Anniversary” and “Happy Honeymoon” tunes throughout the cruise for the people celebrating such occasions.  At our table we had one honeymoon (us) and two birthday’s.  On the ship you eat with the same people for dinner throughout the duration of the trip.  It’s very nice, because you get to know them fairly well and if your like us, you sit around and talk to them about how much you are enjoying the cruise or anything else that comes up.  The other portion of our wait staff was Nuala, from Ireland, and Christopher, from The United Kingdom.  They we both extremely nice and very accommodating to our every whim.

We finished dinner rather late and decided to turn in for the evening.  When we returned to our room, the lights had been turned down, the curtains drawn, and the bed turned down with mints on the bed as well as the next days Personal Navigator (record of events).

Day Two:  We woke up around 8:00 a.m. as the ship was pulling into the port of Nassau, we got dressed and headed off to breakfast at the Beach Blanket Buffet.  We took our food up to deck 10 and sat at a table overlooking the capital city of the Bahamas.

Off to Nassau, this was the part of the trip we could have done without.  We both wish Disney would spend less time at Nassau (or none at all) and more time at their private island, Castaway Cay.  Anyway, we did not purchase any of the shore excursions at Nassau, instead we opted for a self-guided walking tour of the shops along the pier.  The shopping at Nassau consists of two major streets.  The first street has street vendors selling $3.00 T-Shirts and women wanting to braid your hair, and the second street consists of shops where you can purchase duty free liquor or really expensive jewelry.  We walked around for a few hours, got tired of being pestered by the street merchants, so we headed back the ship for an afternoon snack and to hang out at the pool for a while.

Show Time: The second night’s show was the “premier” of Disney’s Dinosaur movie which opened in theatres the week before.  As we approached the Walt Disney Theatre, the hallway was lined with a red carpet and crewmembers were standing behind red velvet ropes acting like Star Searchers, Media Members, and Autograph Hounds.  One of them was dressed like a bodyguard and he guided you through the crowd towards the theatre.  As you enter the massive room that makes up the theatre, you saw on two projection screens the same scene you just walked through and the same confused look on the faces of the people that you probably had on your face.  The theatre had been transferred from a Broadway stage to a full scale movie theatre just as good if not better than any movie house your used to at home.  Staci and I both enjoyed the movie very much, another amazing accomplishment by Disney.

Dinner, day two: Animator’s Palate was next on our restaurant tour.  This was our least favorite restaurant as far as food goes, but the display was outstanding.  Once again we chose the same appetizer, we had chilled crab legs with three different dipping sauces, garlic mayonnaise, cocktail sauce and a burgundy sauce.  The crab legs were the hit of the meal, we both preferred the burgundy sauce.  For our main course Staci got the chicken and I chose the pan-seared salmon.  Mine was pretty good, but not spectacular.  Staci was not at all impressed with her chicken.  For dessert we got a sampler platter of key lime cheesecake, chocolate mousse, a mini cream puff and a pineapple stuffed cream puff.  Our favorite was the mousse, but none were too impressive.  The thing that made up for the food was the show going on all around you while you eat.  You walk into this black and white room decorated with giant paint brushed and oversized paint palates on the ceiling, and black and white sketches of Disney characters on the wall.  As the evening progresses, the entire room gradually fills with color, with a colorful grand finale including a special guest.  All in all, the dinning experience at Animator’s Palate was pleasant.

After dinner we had intended on catching the Improv Comedy Act, but instead we showed up 45 minutes early for karaoke night in the WaveBands dance club.  By the time we realized we should have gone to the Barrel of Laughs club there were no seats left.  We then decided to have a nightcap in The Cadillac Lounge and listen to the lady play requests on the piano.  This was probably my favorite hang out place on the ship, anytime we had a few minutes to kill I would say, “let’s go to the The Cadillac”.  It’s a dimly lit jazz bar decorated with classic Caddy accents.  Behind the bar where Pascal mixes martini’s and pours champagne there is a giant Cadillac façade, and the windows are accented with Caddy tail fins.  It’s a neat place to have a drink, listen to some tunes or just relax for a while.

Day Three:   Breakfast in bed. In our stateroom there was a door hanger that you could pre-order breakfast to be delivered your room the following morning.  At 8:30 there was a nock on the door, the items you can choose from follow a continental breakfast menu and we selected Frosted Flakes and doughnuts, apple juice and a bloody marry for myself.  This was a nice indulgence to get us going in the morning, we felt kind of like Fred and Holly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which was coincidentally playing on one of the movie channels.

This was our day to explore Disney’s private island I mentioned earlier, Castaway Cay.  Like I stated before, Staci and I (and just about everyone else on board) would have liked to see a longer stay at Castaway Cay.  We got off of the ship around 9:30 and headed to the post office to mail some post cards with a special Castaway Cay post mark (It’s been a week since we were there and they still have not arrived).  Then it was off to the beach where we attempted to snorkel in the snorkel course.  Staci got out to where the water was shoulder length and decided snorkeling wasn’t for her and she turned back, I toughed it out a bit more and swam around the whole course.  Somewhere there is a sunken Mickey statue, but I never found it.  I did see plenty of other “sunken” items though, I saw a row boat, a mast of a ship and a lot of miscellaneous ship contents like a fan and a chest.  There were some fish, but they just seemed to blend in with the sand on the ocean floor.  I swam around for about 45 minutes, got tired and headed back to the beach.

I got us a couple of drinks of the day which was a Conch Cooler in a souvenir Conch cup.  We got lunch at the bar-b-que which consisted of fruit, hot dogs, hamburgers, salads, and desserts.  Again, a big thumbs up to the food.  After lunch we walked over to a little less crowded beach to sunbathe and just relax.  We got to what we thought was the adult’s beach, because there was almost no one there and no kids were around.  After we got settled in I looked around and saw a sign that read “Teen Beach”, we were still about a half a mile away from the adult’s beach, no matter, we were happy where we were and we didn’t feel like walking that much further.  I wish we would have had more time to explore Castaway Cay, maybe then we would have gotten motivated enough go back and find the adult’s beach.  Disney really needs to do something about the time spent at Castaway Cay.  It looked to me though like the island is still a work in progress, when we got there, there was a large number of construction workers doing some cosmetic work near the dock, and there seemed to be a number of unfinished projects scattered around the place.  So, maybe when the island gets a little more developed there will be a lengthier stay there.

Hercules – A Muse-ical Comedy was the show of the evening.  This was a brief live run down of the Disney animated feature, Hercules.  This was our favorite show of the cruise.  The Muses tell the story and they are supported by the live action counter parts of the characters from the movie.  It was a blast watching this production.

Parrot Cay was on tap for tonight’s restaurant.  I can’t remember everything we had, but I do know that it was all very good.  The things that stand out in my head was Staci’s Coconut encrusted shrimp and onion rings for her appetizer and my sirloin for my main dish.  We both had the bananas foster flambé for dessert….outstanding.  As usual, the wait staff and the company that surrounded us was just as enjoyable as the food.  Tonight at the table next to us the ship’s engineer, entertainment director, and human resources director had dinner and we chatted a little while with them.  It was nice to meet part of the staff that makes it all happen.  After dinner we headed back to The Cadillac Lounge for another nightcap and then it was off to bed.

Our last full day on the ship.   Probably the most depressing day of the cruise, because we knew it would all be over soon.  We slept late and got up for a brunch buffet at Parrot Cay.  Afterwards we took a walking tour of the ship with our video camera to document the ship because our memories aren’t always as good as video tape.  After our tour we headed back up to the Quiet Cove pool with the intention of relaxing in one of the whirlpools, however, the International Belly Flop Competition was getting underway so we decided to sit down and watch the show.  A number of guys and two women volunteered to torture themselves by voluntarily belly flopping into the pool.  The competition was judged by the crowd based on form, splash, and redness.  The next game was a round of “Fetch Me”, in this game a crew member emceed while a group of people fetched the items the crew member called out.  Such items included a napkin, and slice of pizza, a crewmember’s name tag, a wet crewmember (so any crew members near by got tossed in the pool), and the finale was a woman’s bikini top and a pair of men’s swimming trunks.  This was hilarious to watch.  The final game was a T-shirt relay race.  Two rows of 5 guests lined up at the foot of the pool the first person had on a T-shirt and did a lap in the pool, then got out and took off the shirt and handed to the next person to put on and take a lap.  This went on until the last person in line finished a lap with the T-shirt on.

Later that night we chose to eat at the adult’s only romantic restaurant, Palo.  This restaurant is not included with the normal stops on your restaurant tour, it is an optional dinning experience by reservation only, a dress for the ladies and a suit for the guys is heavily recommended. Prior to dinner we caught the final show aboard the ship.  It was DCL’s signature show, Disney Dreams.  It again was a fantastic Broadway style show that represented a musical review of many of Disney’s more popular animated features.  The show was spectacular, but Hercules was still out favorite.  Our reservation at Palo was not until 9:30, so we had some time to kill.  We finished up our souvenir shopping at the ships two gift shops, the duty free Treasure Ketch and Mickey’s Mates.  Then it was off to The Cadillac Lounge for hors d'oeuvres and a pre-dinner drink.  Palo is an Italian themed gourmet restaurant with food and service that is equal to or superior than any of your five-star eating establishments.  There is a $5.00 per person service charge for eating at Palo to cover the gratuity for your waiter/waitress because you are eating in an optional restaurant and your normal wait staff does not wait on you there.  Anyway, the five dollars is miniscule compared to the service you get and I recommend adding to the gratuity for those waiters.  And the food…for appetizers I had the fried calamari and Staci got the portabella mushroom.  Both were absolutely marvelous.  Main dishes were (for Staci) crab meat stuffed cannelloni, and I had the Orecchiette which is sautéed peppers and mushrooms over shell pasta.  Our waitress also brought us a side order of hand made ravioli to compliment our meals.  Dessert was two individual servings of chocolate soufflé with chocolate and vanilla sauces to top it off.  Again, our waitress brought us out something extra for us, she is from Belgium, so she brought us a dish of Belgian cookies.  Everything was excellent…again, I only regret that my stomach only has enough room to fit a small portion of the menu.

11:30, time to pack. Actually, your bags are to be packed and sitting outside your door by 11:00, but our waitress at Palo said that they make a second pass at 12:00.  We changed out of our dress clothes and packed everything (tear) tomorrow we go home.  We once again headed up to The Cadillac Lounge for one last drink and took a Midnight stroll around the ship, it was very romantic and saddening at the same time.  We decided to take the stairs back down to our room on deck 2 from deck 10.  On our way down we saw the ping pong tables on deck 9 and played ping pong until 2:00 a.m.

The next morning we had to be up and out of the room by 7:30.  We were assigned to eat breakfast in Parrot Cay where we got to see our meal companions and wait staff one last time.  We had a nice meal and said our goodbyes and it was back to the airport and the rest of civilization.

In the comment questionnaire DCL asks if you would recommend their cruise line to someone, I would have to say ABSOLUTLEY, POSITIVELY!

DCL TIPS

As soon as you get your ticket package from your travel agent, go through EVERYTHING and see if there are any shore excursions you might like to purchase.  We didn’t do this, and when it was time to purchase the shore excursions we didn’t know what we might want to do, so we didn’t do any.

Make your reservations in this order, or you might find yourself missing out on things you want to do because they are already booked.  (1.) Palo, Deck 10 Aft  (2.) Vista Spa and Salon, Deck 9 forward (3.) Shore Excursions, Deck 3 Midship.

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