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Mark Hammon

Age: 24

Occupation:Technical Writer

Number of Cruises: First Cruise

Cruise Line: Disney

Ship: Disney Wonder

Sailing Date: July 6th, 2003

Itinerary: Bahamas

For my fiancé’s birthday I decided to take her on a 3-night land/ 4-night cruise package. I will skip over the land portion since this is a cruise review. If you have any questions about the land portion please feel free to email me.

Arriving at the port was fairly easy considering the resort gave me directions to the port. Dropping the luggage off and going to park the car was easy and simple. We were told we would have to check in because our keys had expired that day because your hotel and stateroom key are usually the same. As it turns out they weren't expired and we wasted time waiting in the checking line when we could have been doing other things. When we boarded we went straight to the spa because you couldn't go to your room until 1:30 and I had heard the spa filled up quickly and that there was usually a line there before it even opened. Turns out we were the 2nd people in line and were able to get exactly what we wanted. After going and eating lunch at the buffet we relaxed by the pool for a while before the assembly meeting. The assembly meeting was a lot shorter than we expected but was very informative for if there was an emergency (everyone must attend this and they will call out your room numbers and each station area to make sure you are there). Next we went to the deck party where the staff got everyone to get up and dance to get you pumped up about the cruise. Characters came out for a little while and then before you realized it you had already been moving for a while. We ate at Triton's that night and the food was excellent. The wait staff was excellent as well. I encourage you to listen to what they recommend and if it sounds like something you might be interested in then to try it. I ate at least one of the different things the waiter recommended each night and my fiancé stated by the end of the cruise that I had ordered the best thing each night. After dinner we toured the ship a little before going to watch the "Welcome Aboard" show. They had a comedian named Gary Delaney. I don't know how long they planned to keep him on the ship, but he was a funny guy and if I was to hear of him being someplace around where I live I would go and see him again. After the show we went to look at the pictures that had been taken earlier. The ship has photographers all over the place that will take pictures throughout the day. They are of excellent quality and while they run from 10 to 20 dollars each they are worth it. They also have packages that you can buy that are so many photos for a certain price over the course of your trip. By the end of the trip we had bought about 10 photos, mostly of us with the characters. Before turning in for the night we went up to the pool again and relaxed in the hot tub before we encountered some rain.

The next morning we awoke in Nassau. We had ordered a continental breakfast to be delivered to our room because we were too lazy to get up and go to one of the dinning areas. They do this in a fairly simple way I thought. The night before you go to bed you fill out this form that you hang on your doorknob and they will pick it up. The next morning they will bring whatever you ordered by during the time frame that you selected. And while you don't have to pay for this it is common courtesy to tip the person who brings it. After eating breakfast we had to meet in Wave Bands for our shore excursion. We did the stingray encounter since the dolphin encounter had been full. Also they now allow you to book in advance way before your cruise even starts and I recommend doing this if you want to get what you want. I did this once I found out it was possible. It is also one less thing to worry about when you first board the ship. We checked in and after everyone had arrived they discussed what our instructions were. We were guided from the ship to a ferryboat that took us to the Blue Lagoon. Along the way there were a few people trying to sell you things but we pretty much ignored them. There were some people selling bottle drinks right by the ferry and since we were told it was a 45 minute ride we figured it might be in our best interest to get a drink. As we found out they sold drinks on the ferry as well. Either way they were about the same price but I have a feeling the drinks on the ferry were a bit cooler. When we arrived at the Blue Lagoon we were told to meet at a certain area at a certain time to go and swim with the stingrays. Since we had some time we decided to go swimming for a little while in the nice blue water. The stingray encounter was fun but not what I had expected. I had expected a lot more contact with them but they were down about 10 feet and you had to wear a life jacket so it was hard to touch except for when a staff person brought one up, but then all the kids were pushing. Overall it was good but not great. We heard someone talking on the way back and they said that the dolphin encounter was good but that it didn't compare to Discovery Cove in Orlando. So if you want to swim with dolphins and enjoy it you may want to look into going there. We spent about an hour or so resting in our stateroom when we got back before going to dinner Animators Palate. Dinner was delicious once again and then we went and saw "Hercules the Museical". Another great show that is basically a stage show of the movie. That night they had a beach party up by the pool where we did some more dancing as the ship left the port. Since it was close to the 4th of July and they had done this then as well they said, they were nice enough to shoot of fireworks for us as we left the port. It was a nice show but didn't top what we had seen on the 4th at the Magic Kingdom. That night we headed down to Wave Bands just to see what was going on for '70s night. We came in to find them having a John Travolta impersonation contest which was quite amusing. They also had a "Queen of the Booty Shakers" contest that was funny as well. After staying there for a while we headed up to our room where we would dream of our day at Castaway Cay the next day.

On Tuesday we woke up and got ready for our day at Castaway Cay. We figured we would stop by the breakfast buffet before we began our day on the island. My fiancé just wore her bathing suit with some shorts and shoes but the person at the door told us she would have to have a shirt to come in for breakfast so we decided just to skip it and begin our day. Getting off the ship we expected a lot of people to be our already on the island seeing as how it was about 9:30 or so, but there was hardly anyone. We stopped and had our pictures taken along the way to the adult beach with a couple of the characters and what not. When we got to the adult beach the tide was really low and we decided we would drag a few chairs out in the water to relax. This was very nice and you could see a few fish swimming. My fiancé was laying on a raft later on and when she happened to look over she noticed a sting ray swimming right for her and she flipped out even though she had just swam with them the day before. After relaxing in the water for most of the morning we had lunch on the island. It was the normal burger and things of that nature but it was good and it beat going all the way back to the ship for something else. We had our appointment at 2 to get our messages. This was what we had been looking forward to the most. Let me tell you that we had never had massages before but they felt excellent and the cabanas overlooking the beach were wonderful. They make you fill out a form asking you if you have problems with different things. I believe they basically use this information to try and sell you more stuff. For example, I marked that I had problems falling asleep sometimes and they recommended a lavender shower gel that cost $33. My thought was that I could go to Target or something and find some lavender shower gel for about $5 or less, so don’t let them talk you into something that you can buy elsewhere for much less. After our messages we headed back to the ship since that is what most people were doing and because we felt so tired after those wonderful massages. We stopped by the gift shop on the island on the way back and got a bunch of souvenirs for people back home. Buy anything you might think you want on the ship and on the island because most things you cannot find anywhere else. We ate dinner at Parrot Cay and then went to watch “Disney Dreams”. This is an excellent show and has won a few awards. I don’t want to spoil anything but keep your eye on tinker bell at the end. After the show we went to watch Gary Delaney do his adult comedy show and it was even funnier than the other. We stayed at Wave Bands following his show because ‘80s night was right after it. It started by some dancers coming out to Footloose and dancing to the song. Of course at one point they pulled some people out onto the floor and since my fiancé had wanted to sit in the front, one of the women choose me. It was pretty embarrassing considering I’m not the best dancer in the world. Of course after I got embarrassed my fiancé wanted to leave. Could this have been because she didn’t want something like that to happen to her? So we went back to the room and went to bed since both of us were pretty tired.

The last day of our cruise was a day at sea. While this was nice we much rather had stayed at Castaway Cay for another day instead. One of the advantages to being at sea for a day was the fact that you could sleep in for a change if you wanted since you didn’t have to rush to get off of the boat or anything. We spent most of the day relaxing by the pool and getting in the hot tub. At 3 we had an appointment at the spa for the Surreal Bath. This is something nice for couples and it doesn’t cost too much. Basically a staff member takes you to the locker rooms where you undress and put on a robe. Then they take you to a private room where there is a tray of different products you can use. They explain what each one is used for and how it should be used. Also in this room is a sauna, where they have placed some red mud to cake yourself in. After explaining everything to you the staff member will leave you alone for approximately an hour for you to do whatever you care to past the time. You may use as much or as little of the products as you want and are free to do as you please. The staff member will comeback when your time is up and they will knock on the door to let you know. After this we relaxed by the pool some more and then headed back to our room to get ready for dinner. We ate at Triton’s again since you rotate restaurants each night and this was the first place we ate. We were given a special menu that is only given on certain nights and it was to die for. After dinner we went to watch the premiere of “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.” This was a good movie and if you haven’t seen it I recommend you do so. When the movie was over with we went to the gift shops and picked up a few more things. We found some really nice picture frames that they had priced at 50% off. This was great for all of the pictures we had bought. Next we went pack to our stateroom to pack since the luggage had to be outside the door by 11pm. Even though we had everything packed on time my fiancé accidentally packed something that she needed and when she stepped back out to get it at a little after 11 it was already gone. So they really will be coming around quickly at 11 to take luggage.

In the morning when it was time to leave, we really didn’t want to go. We ate breakfast in Triton’s since you eat breakfast in the restaurant that you ate dinner the night before. We wished the couple that we had ate with over the course of our trip a safe ride home. We told our wait staff good-bye and for some reason it was hard to leave them. They make you feel so comfortable and you come to know them so well and them you that when it is time to leave it is rather hard. After we said our goodbyes we disembarked, loaded up the car and drove home. It was a trip that we didn’t want to see end. It definitely was a Wonderful vacation and we our considering taking a 7-night Caribbean cruise for our honeymoon.

First of I would recommend a Disney Cruise to anyone. Even though I hadn’t been on a cruise before this was definitely a great experience. Everyone on the ship makes you feel special and comfortable. There is always something going on for everyone so there is never a time when you are bored. If you are a Disney fan or just someone looking for a fun cruise, then this is the cruise for you. Sure you might think there are going to be lots of children running around that are going to drive you mad and we expected this a little as well but as we found out, you are so busy doing things that you hardly notice them.

Here are a few tips that I would recommend if you were going on a Disney Cruise.

1. Book any shore excursions you may want to take in advance by calling the number on the Disney Cruise website or booking online.

2. Have all of your cruise information filled out before you go to check in. This makes things go a lot smoother and it helps to speed up the line. We had quite a few people who hadn’t done this and it caused the line to take a lot longer then some of the others.

3. Make sure you have a birth certificate or passport. This is required for everyone I believe including little children. If you use a birth certificate you must also have photo ID such as a driver’s license. Children I do not believe must have ID if they are with a parent, but check on this before you leave to drive to the port. Your travel agent should know or call the cruise line yourself.

4. Advice to parents, your children are given charging privileges with their key to the world when you check in. If you don’t want them to have this you can have them remove it at check in. I would recommend doing this simply because they could charge anything at anytime. We saw some kids who thought smoothies were part of the drink package and when they found out it wasn’t the man told them that one of them had charging privileges and was asking if it was ok for them to use it and they really had no clue but told him yes. So play it safe and just take it off, if they really need something they can get you.

5. Get to the spa early when you board if you want an appointment because they do fill up rather quickly, especially the massages on the ship and on the island. I believe they opened at 2 on boarding day.

6. Do express checkout it will make things much easier when you go to leave.

7. Lastly, HAVE FUN!!!!!

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