Photo Trip Report – Panama Canal Cruise plus 3 days in DLR
For your viewing pleasure - a photo-filled trip report and the dueling commentary of two adult spinster sisters and their take on the 14 day cruise from Miami to Los Angeles aboard the Disney Wonder.
I want to share that a re-occurring theme for this trip has been wildlife sightings. I joked that DSis should become a wildlife photographer – she got so many great shots of marine life on this voyage. But it all started back home the morning we left.
It’s almost time for our car to arrive to pick us up to drive the four of us across Alligator Alley to Miami’s port. The driver first picks up my parents and then comes over to our house. We know our parents to always be early so we stand out front with our luggage ready to go.
dun dun dun….
Look at the size of this bug. Or as DSis calls it “Bad bug”. One thing to warn any wary first-time visitor to Florida – we got some big bugs.
Anyway, this is just a sampling of the fine wildlife photography you can expect to enjoy through this photo trip report.
Table of Contents (if I remember how to do this and this thread becomes long enough to need it):
First interjection to explain "Bad Bug". Started out when I thought I saw a wasp on the ground a few years ago. I tried to warn DSis but all that came out was “Bad Bug”. Turned out it was just a leaf :) But now it is a running joke between us and now with all our friends on DIS!
All Packed Up
So here we are with our luggage ready to go –
This is DSis’ luggage alone. We each got two checked bag luggage tags and she has here one large duffle, one carry-on sized wheelie bag that she will also check, one DCL small wheelie duffle that was a “with purchase” last year and also this year (spoiler - it got a huge, terminal tear this trip and didn’t survive this second voyage), and a laptop bag with you guessed it, a laptop.
Here’s our luggage combined (DSis and me) neatly stacked on the curb waiting for mom and dad to arrive with the driver. You can see we didn’t pack too lightly. In addition to the above mentioned items, we have a Disneyland tote bag (free with our DLR package), a camera bag for DSis’ wildlife photography equipment, a Mickey Mouse tote I got “with purchase” at Disney’s Grand Floridian (didn’t stay there – just like to visit and shop there and image I was staying there), and my huge (29”) hardside, lightweight suitcase (10lbs) and matching carry-on wheelie bag.
My sister’s luggage is from a good while ago, but I realized a couple weeks before the cruise that my luggage situation was a bit dire. I was in Macy’s for a massive sale and saw the luggage was more than 50% off. After hours of annoying the kind sales lady and testing out just about every bag in a pretty color that they had, I selected the Ricardo Roxbury. From their website “Roxbury Sleek. Strong. Nimble. Ricardo Beverly Hills’ Roxbury Collection is a showstopper in high-impact polycarbonate with corner armor added for lasting durability. Looking lustrous in brushed black cherry or brushed silver, each sleek piece has a split book-style opening with two full compartments and glides effortlessly in any direction atop a double spinner wheel system. The Roxbury’s sophisticated styling, superior performance and superlight construction will get you anywhere you need to go – with pizzazz.” And, I got a $50 rebate and additional 10% off with my Macy’s card. So pizzazz plus cha-ching. Following the trip and the flight home, all my new luggage made it fine and fit well in the stateroom. I give it a big thumbs up and agree that it is a showstopper – twice I found someone else picking up my luggage (once outside the bus when we arrived at DL Hotel and once at the airport in Ft. Lauderdale). Both times the person said “oh I’m sorry I thought it was mine.” And both times I see the person next pick up a black suitcase (mine was cherry) – I think they were checking mine out!
So you might imagine we travel to Miami in a stretch limo with my show-stopping pizzazz luggage. Not exactly.
My parents have hired a friend of my mother’s to drive us to Miami in her SUV. Dad asks mom repeatedly what size vehicle/what type of SUV her friend has and mom always answered “an SUV”. Well this one was a bit small and a bit tight. Not just with DSis and my luggage, but with mom and dad’s luggage – including golf clubs – as well. Dad has spent decades playing Tetris and prides himself on being able to get it all in and this photo is proof – no one and nothing had to sit on the roof across the Alley.
I include this post in the trip report to help anyone that may be packing for a trip or planning to pack for an upcoming DCL vacation. This should make you feel better about all the crap you plan on taking – it can’t be as bad as this!
We make it across Alligator Alley in one piece, with every piece.
I snap the first view of the Disney Wonder as we approach the port.
A Note on the Cameras
I haven’t bought a new camera in 10 years. My old camera was an Olympus megazoom (at the time) 10x camera that I really liked. But it was time for a new one. So I did my research sticking with megazoom point and shoot since DSLR seems too professional for me. The top rated seemed to be the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200. So I ordered it a couple weeks before our trip – It was back ordered! But arrived a few days before our trip!
The other camera we brought along was one my sister got at Costco. This one was to be our “beach camera/park camera” - Less expensive than my megazoom but waterproof and rugged. This camera was Fujifilm FinePix XP60.
Hi, sounds like a fun trip report! Such a long cruise must be wonderful, very interested in hearing more about it!
And may I ask why do you speak Norwegian? :goodvibes
I'm enjoying catching up on your trip report too. thanks for reading and I promise to have better photos soon!
Port NOT Canaveral
So as another trip report said, Port of Miami is not Port Canaveral and it is a bit of a letdown if you are used to going out of PC to start your DCL vacation.
The wait is long and the staff is not as overly friendly as you come to expect with Disney.
One thing that surprised me right away was the lack of children on this cruise. Here is a section that usually has a long line that is empty:
The youth activities area. We learned that there were 185 children on this cruise – that’s it, just 185. :scratchin
And just beyond that was Mickey Mouse in his captain’s uniform ready for photos and no one was there so DSis and I got a photograph and only a handful of people followed after us to get a photo as well – I think it might have been too far out of the way and too hard to see at first.
Since mom and dad are staying in a one-bedroom concierge room (DSis and I are in the adjoining family stateroom) we crash the concierge lounge – which was a pretty small side room, with a nice view of the ship.
At the port, before boarding, we were handed the Navigator for today.
Before the cruise, DSis and I picked up three clear, plastic folders that snapped closed – these came in very handy during the cruise. We used one for keeping our navigators – as seen above, one for keeping the photos from Shutters, and one for keeping receipts.
They came to the concierge lounge to tell everyone it was time to board and then escorted us all to the gangway.
On this cruise we entered on the fourth deck and had to carry our carry-ons down the grand staircase to the atrium. This was not the day to wear high heels and to carry a big wheelie bag onboard! I thought I was so smart wearing onboard what I planned to wear for dinner and carrying a change of clothes and swimwear in a large carryon. See the other two cruises our luggage didn't arrive until after 6pm. Even in Concierge on the Fantasy last year our luggage (except for dad's golf clubs) went missing for most of the day. I thought I was being smart, but this shows you can't plan for everything! At least I didn't trip down the stairs - probably because for once I put down my camera!
Where's the Buffet?
This being DSis and my third cruise we know that the first thing you do onboard is eat and we intentionally skipped breakfast at home knowing we would be at a buffet before too long. The Parrot Cay was open but on the Magic and the Fantasy we went up top to the buffet and did the same on this cruise – here we are at Beach Blanket Buffet, seeing it as probably very few guests did – nearly empty of passengers!
If you have only been on the Fantasy or the Dream, the Beach Blanket buffet is a little different - it is one long line that is replicated on either side of the ship with a drink station at the end. The line is narrow and you can't cut around to the item that you want so it is a longer process during busy times, but most people are used to forming lines anyway so seems natural.
Something told me I would enjoy this Chilled Cream of Pineapple and Coconut soup and I did – it’s creamy and sweet, very refreshing and filling. I highly recommend picking up a spoonful or two. They serve it with a huge bowl – I think if you ate a full bowlful you would be spending the afternoon in your stateroom – that’s a lot of coconut milk, if you know what I mean.
Here’s my plateful – I also highly recommend the salmon – this was cooked perfectly. The beef was a lot less exciting – a bit leathery. The grilled veggies were also very good as were the shrimp.
DSis hit the pasta bar, at least I think there is pasta under all that parmesan.
Dad ventured to the chicken stir-fry station and this was also a hit.
Mom and DSis picked up selections for the table from the Dessert Bar. The cookies were soft, the cake was rich and the third item was maple-y. From mom’s plate below I can’t give any feedback, I don’t remember getting a taste!
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/...e/DSCF0541.jpg DSis plate
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/...e/DSCF0540.jpg Mom's plate
As you likely know, soft drinks are free on DCL but I was pleased with the selection of teas also available complementary.
Beach Blanket was pretty much empty when we arrived and we had our choice of tables. This was I think our very first family argument of the cruise.
Just wondering who forced you down the stairs when you got on? I wanted to check something about our dinning so we just walked right to Studio Sea. No need to go down any stairs and no one told me I had too.
Sent from my iPhone 5 using DISBoards
Concierge and Cadillac
After lunch we went to the Cadillac Lounge for mom and dad to meet with the onboard Concierge team. Mom and Dad have only done one other DCL vacation and that was last year on the Fantasy in Concierge. We tried to warn them that this experience would be different but it is very hard to go from Fantasy/Dream to Wonder/Magic.
Here there was another beautiful display of light snacks and refreshments.
I didn’t have anything and the above post should illustrate why, but it looked nice and they also had champagne or wine for the concierge guests. Lynda, one of the two concierge, informed DSis and I that we are not considered concierge guests. Okay. Well, we gate crashed anyway. On the Fantasy our stateroom was the same and was considered concierge, but on the Magic and Wonder the only concierge rooms are the suites. Rodrigo was the concierge assigned to mom and dad’s starboard room and he did an excellent job making my parents feel comfortable and happy. He also was sweet enough to treat DSis and I as concierge guests as well (allowing us to be included with our parents).
DSis and I had actually booked the one room suite with our mother for this cruise but on the last day our dad decided to join and we had to change the reservation to the one bedroom suite for them and then DSis and I booked an adjoining family verandah stateroom. Technically, we could have all been in the one bedroom suite.
Look how cute the Cadillac Lounge is -
concierge check in
just a quick note that the check in for concierge took a very long time. My sister and I were through our check in much faster. It turned out that Platinum cruisers could check in with concierge. But on this cruise there were a lot of platinum cruisers (which was great of course) but the terminal did not plan for this and still only had two people at the counter for concierge check in. After a long while they finally let my parents check in with the regular line which was so much faster! They should have just gone through the regular line with us to start with :)
Love all your pics! :goodvibes
Off to a great start! Too bad Lynda was so rude about you guys being treated as concierge.
Jill in CO
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