Number of Cruises: first one
Cruise Line: Disney
Ship: Disney Wonder
Sailing Date: October 23rd, 2005
Itinerary: 4 night Bahamian Cruise
Disney Cruise Line is a well-oiled machine. From the moment I checked my one suitcase at the airport when leaving until I picked it up again upon returning home, it was the most relaxed, worry free, enjoyable vacation I ever had! Since this was my first cruise I can only go with what I've heard from other people and friends that have taken cruises before with other cruise lines. I must say, I do believe I chose well in going with Disney.
From the moment I arrived in Orlando at the airport there were Disney people waving their big, white cartoon hands guiding you to where you need to go. With everyone either going to a ship or a hotel the lines moved quickly. Once on the bus we were taken to Port Canaveral and to our ship. Everything was well organized and in order.
You can download some boarding information from their web site, but, as I found out you shouldn't do this. The lady I had checking me in threw those away and preferred the pages in the booklet you will be sent. I had filled those pages out as well so I saved some time there. But, just keep with what you are sent and not what you find on the computer. Once aboard I went straight to my stateroom to get rid of my jacket and some other things. My suitcase hadn't arrived yet and a house keeping crew was going through vacuuming some other cabins as well as mine.
By 12:30 I was at the Beach Blanket Buffet for lunch. The selections were quite plentiful and the choices I made were delicious! I made my way around the ship getting familiar with it and just taking it all in. Not quite believing I was really there! I do suggest though, upon arriving in your stateroom, check out the ship's newsletter. On WONDER it's the Navigator. It wasn't until later I noticed I had missed a singles meeting. Had I known about this earlier before my running all over the ship, I may have met someone I could have spent some time with while on vacation. Being single and not going with anyone, I was traveling alone. Which had it's perks, but, it would have nice to have shared all this with someone.
Instead of going straight to Nassau we sailed the first day out. WILMA was still messing things up abit. The seas got to about 20 ft. swells with winds of 55 knots and gusts to 65 knots. The captain announced we would be changing course and within a few minutes the seas were fairly calm and the day turned out to be quite nice. Even at the worst that first day, the ship only slightly rolled some. It was like relaxing in a rocking chair and letting yourself slowly rock back and forth. My dinner companions were a couple from above Green Bay. Barb and Mike. He had been retired a couple of years. They were by themselves and when asking why they chose a Disney cruise Mike replied that it was so laid back.
The food aboard WONDER was excellent! Looking at the menu samples online I was kinda worried about what I was going to eat. I'm not one for a lot of fancy stuff, sauces and such. But, I got something from the main menu each night and love every meal I had.
Our server, Dinesh, from Bombay, was just excellent in helping us choose what to eat. We did go with his suggestions a few times. And he knew what he was talking about. His assistant, Tatyana, from St. Petersburg, Russia, was excellent as well. I never had to repeat what I wanted or how I wanted it. I had iced tea each night, with no lemon. At home going to most restaurants, you ask for iced tea with no lemon, here comes the iced tea and there'd be a wedge lemon on the rim or in the tea.
Not with our servers! Tatyana brought my iced tea as soon as I sat down and would say, "Iced tea with no lemon, Mr. White." With the two seating dinner times and all the tables they cover, they do an excellent job at keeping everyone's name and needs straight!
The stop in Nassau was nice. The weather was great. I had signed up for the "historic" tour. It turned out more just a ride around the city limits and stopping at a couple of old forts, the second having a restroom.
Robert, our driver, in taxi 247 (he told us to remember his name and cab number so we wouldn't get lost), was great in telling us all about the different buildings and sites around town. His humor in some stories he told about the island and city made the tour worthwhile. Aside from renting your own taxi or just walking around downtown, this trip was nice that it gave you a good look at how the island really is. I did see one very nice ranch style house in the middle class residential section I wouldn't mind buying for my retirement!
Castaway Cay was very nice. Again, WILMA kind of messed things up there as well. They had some strong winds go through earlier and it tore up some nets around the beaches. I didn't get to go snorkeling and others didn't get to swim with the stingrays. And, we all had to go to the adult beach. But, Serenity Bay is so big it didn't matter. I had a very enjoyable day at the beach. The water was a bit cold at first but you soon got used to it. The sun was hot and the sky was clear. After a few short hours in the water and sun I was ready to do something else.
Taking my own tour around the island was very relaxing. Everything is so laid back. Being alone I could stay close to the crowd or just get off by myself. The day was very good. The food served up was delicious. I don't know how they do it. Everyone working on the island and those from the ship do a fantastic job at seeing everyone has a wonderful time. What really impressed me was one little salesperson I met on the ship. Her name is Tirza, from Honduras. We had talked a bit when I was in the gift shop aboard ship about where I was from, Kentucky, and horses! She loved horses.
Anyway, on Castaway Cay I bought some post cards (which I mailed from there and am still waiting for delivery), and, as I was approaching the cashier, Tirza sees me and smiles real big and greets me saying, "Hello, Mr. White." And this was before I had given her my pass card to pay for the post cards!
How she remembered me by name from everyone else she had waited on was beyond me! But, it does make you feel special and appreciated when someone like that calls you by name. The next day we were back in Port Canaveral and debarking leaving for home. The only bad thing, and it's not really bad, was upon arriving home having to wait for my bag at baggage claim. It was a two hour flight, but, because of the other flights arriving and baggage, it took an hour standing waiting for my one suitcase to come up! Outside of that one little thing, the whole trip was excellent.
If you're thinking of taking a cruise I'd highly recommend the 4 night cruise on Disney. With the extra day just sailing it gives you plenty to do, lots to see and time to relax. Not to mention the excellent entertainment both in the live theatre, movie theatre and the lounges. Aside from the very professional live theatre, I enjoyed Kennie, the piano player in "Route 66" who sounded like Frank Sinatra when he sang.
I've probably left out some things I meant to mention. But, for a good time, alone, family or with friends, a Disney Cruise is the way to go.
In fact, I've already begun booking for April 2007! Same cruise, same stateroom. Only this time, I've booked for two in hopes of finding someone to go along with me. I didn't mention anything about the kids. Well, since I was alone and don't have kids, I didn't really look for them.
But, I did notice the young ones had wrist bands on. The parents are given pagers for those in the nursery. All ages have different areas for things to do. If you don't really look for the kids, you don't really see them. At dinner of course with the families, but, outside of that, there are plenty of areas for adults to go to whether families with children or singles. There's something for everyone on a Disney Cruise. Except gambling. But, they do have bingo. And on my cruise the pot got up to $2000.00 the last night! So, for a ship with no gambling, $2k aint' bad!
If you've cruised before on any cruise line, you need to experience the way Disney is. If you've never been on a cruise before, then Disney is a most laid back, relaxed, quiet, fun, active, entertaining and most enjoyable time to spend.
Hope this review has been somewhat informative and helpful to anyone reading it in planning a cruise. Again, for a good time, you couldn't beat a Disney cruise!