Wonder West Coast B2B May 2014 Concierge - COMPLETED!
Me: 40-ish; compulsive planner. Lover of all things Disney and a huge fan of cruising DCL. (hmmm… does that sound like the other 1,000 DISers on these boards?) My two pups are even Disney-fied: Meet Figment the cocker spaniel / Pekinese cross (after the purple dragon from Journey Into Imagination at Epcot)
And here’s Gracey the puggle (after Master Gracey of the Haunted Mansion – my favorite ride)
DH: 40-ish; happy to let me do most of the planning. Lover of all things Star Wars, but has become a Disney lover (at least Donald Duck) through being married to me for nearly 23 years, so he is thoroughly converted, and is especially happy now that Disney owns Star Wars. I am so very lucky to be married to someone who understands my Disney obsession and knows how much fun a Disney vacation is! Here are the two of us meeting the famous duck on our last cruise on the Fantasy:
DS: age 12 (in March 2014). Lover of video games, reading, complicated Lego sets. Very laid back child. Loves the Edge, as he finds it much more entertaining than Oceaneer Club/Lab. He has grown up with a Disney vacation under his belt nearly every year. As a result, he will probably grow up to want nothing to do with Disney. :o) Just kidding, he’s always very happy to tag along – such a smart, easy-going, happy guy. He’s never thrown a temper tantrum in his life, and loves to meet other “dudes” that share his interests – don’t they all at age 12?? I would compare him to Mickey Mouse if I were to compare him to any Disney character. (here I send a quick prayer to God in heaven that he won’t turn into a demon the moment he enters teenage-dom)
DMIL and DFIL: Lost their son (DH) to the military when he was just 18, and they don’t get to spend nearly enough time with us, since we have relocated a few states away. We are so excited that they have decided to join us on the final leg of our B2B cruise. There may be a real possibility that they will not think as fondly of me as they used to as we continue through these planning stages. I may be a little too much “cruise director” for them. :rotfl2:I am glad they’re anticipating the FE, though. They assure me they’re ready to go!! I have to keep reminding myself to let them create their own cruise experience, but:
- We must, must do Palo brunch on our first sea day.
- Oh, and we must schedule Palo dinner all together.
- Oh, and we must ask them to come join us for breakfast on our verandah a time or two.
- Oh, and they should…. (see what I mean??) Sigh. Can’t be helped.:confused3
Cruise details: This will be our 4th and 5th DCL cruises. We were looking for an easier way to get to Gold level, and thought it would be interesting to do a back to back. So we are booked on the May 17, 2014, 2-night “Cruise to Nowhere” out of San Diego, followed by the May 19 California West Coast Cruise 5-night from San Diego to Vancouver, BC. I’ve been toying with writing a trip report for the past two cruises, but I’m kind of lazy that way, and I usually have some post-cruise blues, so I avoid the DIS Boards for a while after we cruise. However, I think this one is urgently needed, since there is not much information about these west coast cruises, and it might actually help my fellow DISers out. I know it has been frustrating to me (compulsive planner that I am) to see the lack of any detailed information about these cruises. The in-laws will be cruising in a 6A aft stateroom, 6652, with a larger, curved whitewall verandah. I am really looking forward to checking out the living space of this room. We have always sailed concierge rooms with extra living space, and I have always wondered if I’d be able to downgrade and still be comfortable. If we could manage it, we’d be able to cruise more often, that’s for sure. These vacations are EXPENSIVE! (just sayin’)
We are booked in 8532 on the Disney Wonder, the same 1-Bedroom Concierge suite we had on our very first Disney Cruise in 2007. What a wonderful room. This is a “sideways” 1-bedroom mid-ship, and we loved the layout. Nice to have our son sleep in the living room rather than the master bedroom. It makes it feel more like home. We also love having the triple-wide verandah, as we always spend quite a bit of time out there. :cloud9:
On the Fantasy, we loved the 1-bedroom on the bump-out verandah, stateroom 12512, and I have to say that I may not be quite as in love with the Wonder after experiencing the Fantasy and the Dream. Two of our favorite things are missing on the Wonder: the concierge lounge (with its wonderful espresso machine, savory breakfast treats and pre-dinner booze fest – LOL) and Remy (we love both Remy and Victoria and Albert’s at WDW, because we’re kind of foodies whenever we get the chance.) Palo is lovely, but Remy…… oh, my!
Next up….. planning, planning, planning. The 120-day mark is right around the corner now! (next week!!)
It seems to take forever to get to the point of embarkation, but I am so happy when I’m researching and planning a Disney Vacation. Here are the plans we’ve made:
Fly to Anaheim a few days early and spend 3 days at Disneyland, staying at the Grand Californian. It’s been about 3 or 4 years since we’ve been to Disneyland, so we’re excited to see some of the changes – like World of Color and Radiator Springs Racers. Disneyland is my favorite park. More laid back and relaxing than WDW (where I always feel I need a vacation after my vacation!). Besides that, Walt’s my man, and this is the park where I feel a connection to him and his vision. It’s the original! :lovestruc I am super excited that my Mom, my younger sister, and her daughter, our 3 ½ year old niece are coming to share their first Disneyland experience with us. As you can see, our niece is pretty suspicious looking:
Speaking of the little monster, she is the polar opposite of DS. She throws tantrums regularly and is not laid back in the slightest. It is a struggle to get her to go to sleep for the night, and she’s not a morning person. :sad2: But she is a charmer, with quite a personality, and I love her – I’m just anxious for her to grow up a little. She loves her older cousin, who of course just wants to avoid her. Secretly, I can tell he loves it. And he doesn’t get to see her more than a couple times a year, so this will be good. Here is a photo of our Niece, DS, and the Grandma who is traveling with us on the “land” portion of our vacation.
At this point, my two “men” - DH and DS - are determined that they will see very little of “the girls”: me, my Mom, my sister and my niece, as they will be doing “manly” things like riding roller coasters and eating turkey legs, while we stand in line to see princesses. Ha Ha! (I happen to love a good roller coaster)
I am looking forward to seeing everything again through my niece’s eyes. I’m just hopeful that everything will go smoothly. DH and I are going to plan an evening meal at Napa Rose, and will try to get a seat at the Chef’s counter. This may make up somewhat for the lack of a Remy dining experience. Not sure how my sister and Mom feel about spending a large chunk of change on fine dining, but one of them will have to stay with the 3-year old. :rolleyes1
On Saturday, May 17, we will see the extended family off, and they’ll fly back home while we find transportation (somehow) to San Diego. Oh my gosh, this may be the most difficult thing ever. I am having no luck finding anything reasonable to get us from the Grand Californian to the San Diego cruise terminal. The Disney folks know of no planned transfer service, unless we are staying the night in San Diego beforehand. A town car service wants around $350. Holy Cats! :crazy2: Super Shuttle doesn’t run that route, and public transportation with 4 or 5 suitcases is just not a good option for us. I suppose it will work out in the long run – it always does. I’m very hopeful Disney will pull through and offer something from the Disneyland Resort area to the cruise ship. :drive:
Next up: Helpful, helpful, Shoreside Concierge. How I adore you.
Looking forward to your TR in May :)
Concierge and More Planning
Now it is January. Cold, windy, Wyoming January. The 120 day mark is finally here, and that means finalizing more plans! Around the 140 day mark, I paid off the cruises, and I sent my first list of requests to the concierge staff via email:
- Private dining table for the 3 of us on the first leg (2-night cruise)
- Private dining table for the 5 of us on the second leg (5-night cruise)
- 2 lounge chairs and 2 regular chairs on the verandah. The lounge chairs are always iffy due to fire code, and since this is not a bump-out verandah like we had on the Fantasy, just extra long, I’m not sure they’ll be able to accommodate this, but they said they’d forward my request to the ship anyway. We’ll just see what happens.
- Dining rotation TAAPT. We have main seating at 5:45, and the food at Parrot Cay is our least favorite, so we will take DS to dinner in the dining room that 4th night, maybe have an appetizer while he eats dinner, and then the grownups will leave to have dinner at Palo while he scoots off to Edge. On Wonder 5-night cruises, the dining rotations are TAAPT, APPTA, and PTTAP. We are in the Port of San Francisco on the 3rd night, and will probably eat dinner off the ship.
- We also asked concierge to book me and DH on the Lasseter Family Winery excursion on San Francisco day. However, the Lasseters have not committed yet to hosting cruise passengers this trip, and the shore excursion team is waiting to hear a definitive answer, so we are tentatively booked for the Sonoma Wine Country tour (visiting two wineries), and are in line for the Lasseter Winery Tour if it opens for booking. DMIL and DFIL are planning to spend the day in San Francisco playing tourist with DS. (Note: I was able to go last month to San Francisco to the Walt Disney Family Museum – highly recommend – I am sad that we don’t have two days in San Francisco, as I’d like to take DH there. It is one of my new favorite places in the world.) I've discovered that there is a special disembarkation authorization form to allow DS to leave the ship with his grandparents. Something I didn't know before, but someone pointed that out in another post, so we'll have it filled out and ready to go.
- I also verified that our dining was linked with the in-laws’ dining, so that we’ll be seated at the same table on the same rotation.
At 127 days out, we received a phone message and an email from Shoreside Concierge, just reminding us what they can help us with. That surprised me that they called so soon. Last cruise, they called the day before our booking window opened, at about 121 days out, but other than dining rotation requests, we didn’t use them much. This was before the days of early 150-day cabana reserving, so we did all of our requests online at midnight. (10:00 PM in Wyoming, which doesn’t make it too inconvenient – even though it’s about an hour past our bedtime – LOL!)
I’ve also placed requests for Palo dinner during our day at sea on the two night cruise, and Palo brunch and dinner on the 5-day cruise, to include DH’s parents. I’ve also requested the Exotic Rasul and a Couple’s Choice Spa Villa. The Couple’s Choice is a tradition of ours: DH usually gets a hot-stone massage, and I get some type of wrap. Happiness is taking a little spa-nap in a cocoon of warm mud or seaweed, if you ask me! The key to getting through a Wyoming winter is to pepper the months with little rays of sunshine, like booking Palo dinners and brunch, and spa treatments. (Hooray for the Exotic Rasul on the classic ships – DH and I love to fling mud at each other and leave the splatters for someone else to clean up!)
Just a note on requesting private dining: It’s not that we don’t like other people– we just enjoy family time, with family talk. On our first cruise, we sat with another family, who were very nice and pleasant to visit with. But no matter how wonderful our table-mates are, it’s always a bit awkward to sit and make conversation and try not to exclude them. So we prefer to sit together – just the three of us. It was nice to know that this can be a special request ahead of time. It’s also practically the only time we see DS to talk about his day, since the Edge is much more exciting than parent-type activities. :o)
Another note: DMIL and DFIL are staying in 6652, a 6A stateroom. Not being concierge, I can’t book them with us for Palo Brunch and Dinner online, but I placed the request with concierge for them to join us, and they told me it is all taken care of. They are such a wonderful team.
Next up: Finalizing Disneyland plans!
So although the in-laws are not showing as available to book items for (since it's their first cruise, it's not yet time for their booking window to open) - concierge booked us a table for two for our first Palo dinner, and a table for four for the second cruise brunch and dinner, when DMIL and DFIL are joining us. You can tell by the code on the cruise activities whether the reservation is for a 2-top or a 4-top. Yeah, concierge! :cheer2:
Also, a couple of days after our booking window opened, shoreside concierge called with the good news that the Lasseter Family Winery tour in San Francisco is a go! (hopefully enough people will be joining us for it to go ahead with no problems)
I found a company through Limos dot com that will take us from the Grand Californian to the San Diego Port for $217, which includes gratuity, so not bad. DH actually found the deal, and while there were a couple a tad bit cheaper, this one got the best reviews, so we'll take it! Of course, after taxes, etc, it is still close to $300. Ay yi yi - but what can you do? :confused3
So, everything is clicking right along - less than 30 days now and we can make Disneyland ressies!
Joining in. I can't wait to hear all about your vacation.
Finalizing Disneyland Plans
Woo Hoo! My countdown clock on my Disney Cruise Line App says 59 days until we set sail – that means about 56 days until we start vacation, with a stay in Disneyland at the Grand Californian.
We have plane tickets for all parties involved. We also have 3-day park hopper passes for the 6 family members on this “land” part of the journey. Shuttles have been reserved from Orange County Airport and from Grand Californian to the San Diego port, so I can mark off transportation! Since we found out the Wonder is arriving at the Ballantyne Pier in Vancouver instead of Canada Place, we had to find a shuttle to get us over to the Pan Pacific at Canada Place on the morning of debarkation. I was referred to Brent at Sea & Ski Shuttle, who, for a very reasonable fare, will deliver us to Canada Place and also to the airport EARLY (4:00 AM!) on Sunday morning. Phew! Glad that’s taken care of!
So here’s the deal with Disneyland. Since it’s not a mega-resort like Walt Disney World, dining reservations cannot be made until 60 days prior. Quite a difference from the 6-month window at WDW. I try to appreciate it for what it is, but my little obsessive self is a little traumatized.
The nice thing I learned from someone on the DIS boards is that if you want to make reservations at Napa Rose, you can make reservations anywhere from 60 – 90 days out, depending on the calendar date you are arriving. So on March 1, the reservationist at Napa Rose had the calendar available for March, April and May, so I was able to get an early reservation (5:30 seating) at the Chef’s Counter at Napa Rose on May 15. I told the nice lady that it was our first visit to the Chef’s Counter, so I would appreciate the best seats possible to watch the goings-on in the kitchen. She told me that seats 5,6,7 and 8 were the best, so she booked the three in our party (me, DH, and sister) in seats 5,6,7. My mother will be shepherding the two kids, as she really doesn’t want to dress up, and my sister is a bit of a foodie like we are. Her feelings didn’t seem to be hurt about the whole thing.
Also a priority, due to a promised Christmas gift to darling niece, is an appointment at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. The reservation line for the salons at Disneyland opened at 7:00 AM Pacific Time. I happily was able to book it for 10:10 AM on Thursday morning. DH just said (rather snarkily), “Have fun with that.” Thank you very much – I PLAN TO! :thumbsup2 It’s girly princess time that morning!
The whole ride refurbishment thing is making my head spin. The official calendar for Disneyland only lists the daily schedule (including refurbishments) about 5-6 weeks out. So…. I have no idea whether Blue Bayou restaurant will be open while we’re there, as rumor has it that Pirates of the Caribbean will be closed for refurb. But… the online reservation system let me make a lunch reservation anyway. I booked a backup reservation at Café Orleans around the same time, so I’ll simply cancel BB if the ride is being refurbished. Honestly, since the beginning of the year, the list of ride closures has changed SEVERAL times, so I’m not going to think too much about it until we get more like a month out.
I made World of Color dining reservations at Ariel’s for Friday evening, so we can stand in the reserved viewing section. I hemmed and hawed about this for a long time, but then I saw that Friday night is a grad night, and I really don’t want to be jockeying for a spot among the general masses (even though I think I read that the teenagers get their own dedicated World of Color show after the park closes, but I might be mistaken about that.)
Other than those two meal reservations in the parks, we’re just going to wing it at quick service counters. And I love a Disneyland Corn Dog! DH, sister and I are definitely going to try to hit Trader Sam’s at the Disneyland Hotel for drinks one evening – sounds like a hoot. The new Cozy Cone Hotel in Cars Land sounds interesting - you can get things like chile con carne with fritos on top in a little cone-shaped bread "bowl" and flavored popcorn in a cone. Also some yummy drinks that you can make "high octane" (read: add vodka) :rotfl2:
Fish Extender gifts are in the works, and one of our fellow cruisers is setting up a private mixology – it’s getting close now. I want it to get here, but I’m dreading when it will all be over. Planning is truly half the fun!
Next Up: Are you Ready?? I’m Ready!! (Packing for Uncertain Weather and Let’s Not Forget Our Passports!)
Hi, I just found your report and started following along. I would love to learn more about these West Coast cruises so I'm looking forward to reading your report.
Following alng. I'm enjoying your planning so far. I am also a planning junkie and I'm addicted to DISboards! Booked in Thursday next year's B2B 2 night San Diego cruise to nowhere then the 3 night Ensenada cruise. Can't wAit to read more!
I'm looking forward to hearing about how this works for you. We are also on the B2B 2 & 3 day cruises next year.
Thanks for the heads up that you can now make reservations online for Disneyland as well. I didn't know that.
Thanks to all of you for following along. Glad to hear that some of you are booked for next year's West Coast adventure - I'll try to be as thorough as possible so that it might help you in doing some planning. I know the Pixar Party has been moved a couple of different times, and currently, it shows as Thursday (day 4) at 4:15 until 5:00 in the Atrium. Members of our DIS group are getting conflicting information about fireworks as well. I assumed there would be no fireworks, but more than one person has been told that yes indeed there would be fireworks, so I will report back with all the details!
In other news, I caved regarding a sailing in 2015. DH and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary in 2016, and are planning another Fantasy Eastern Caribbean. I took a look at the pricing for June in 2015, and it is around $19K for two adults and one child in a category T. That's a $6K increase since our 2013 sailing at the same time. Yikes! I guess I need to plan on at least $20,000 for our celebration of wedded bliss :headache: Will spending all of our money on DCL Cruises end in divorce or destitution? I guess time will tell.
What does this have to do with a 2015 booking? It SHOULD mean that we forego a big vacation next year. But I am thoroughly, hopelessly addicted to cruising with DCL - and I need some beach time at Castaway. So... I booked a 4-night on the Dream for mid-May next year, which is WAY cheaper than the 7-night Fantasy will be. Truly, it seemed like peanuts in comparison, so I felt I couldn't say no. LOL! :rotfl2:
Joining in! We will be on the Wonder in October for a double dip.
I have a question about the dining rotations...can we request a specific rotation if we aren't concierge? And what do you base your request off of?
I've only been on 1 Disney cruise before.
We get the MDR menu for each restaurant on one of the nights we dine in that restaurant...correct?
Thanks for reading along! If all stays the same, your first night restaurant will be the regular menu for that dining room. The second night will be the Golden Mickeys menu. The third night will be regular menu. The fourth night should be regular menu (unless there's something special such as the Pixar Pals menu, which is on the West Coast cruises). The last night will be the farewell menu. On 5-night cruises, the 2nd and 3rd night are in the same MDR.
Anyone can request a specific dining rotation, not just concierge. But of course it is never guaranteed. You will find out what you are given when you receive your room key. If you don't like your assigned rotation, there will be a notice in the daily navigator to tell you where to go to request a change in person.
When we requested our dining rotation, we took into account 1) which menu or dining room them we like the least (parrot cay for us) and 2) when we planned to eat in Palo - and then made our choice that way. But some people will request a dining rotation because it's their tradition to start their cruise in a specific restaurant.
If this is your first time cruising this itinerary, you cannot go wrong. If you want to experience every single MDR (which I would recommend for a first-timer), you can still enjoy Palo by requesting a later seating time, and taking your kid(s), if any, to the assigned main dining room and having an appetizer or drink while they're eating dinner.
I hope this helps - and I know you'll have a wonderful time. Our 2nd cruise was also a double-dip - and it was fabulous!!
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