7/1 The Sea Report (Wonder) Part 1
As hard as it was to leave the Polynesian, the next leg of our holiday was to be an adventure. Neither my husband, John, myself, nor our two-year-old daughter Lucy had ever cruised before. My 18-year-old son Jonny had experienced a Christmas cruise on Carnival a few years ago, a vastly inferior cruise line. So, our expectations and anticipations were mounting.
The lobby of the Poly was filled with cruisers and although there was no sign and no cruise personnel were visible, other cruisers said indeed this was the place to gather. When we wandered outside because I saw the distinctive cruise bus, a line was forming to board. Cruise folks were harried, talking into walkie-talkies and I began to feel like a bit of a herd. It was a definite difference from the friendly ease created by the Poly staff.
Once on the bus, we relaxed to the mellow jazz provided by Percy, the driver. The bus was quite plush and the ride very smooth. The informational video was helpful, showing previews of shows and excursions. However, it never mentioned Freeport, one of our destinations.
Once you come into port, you can’t miss identifying the Disney Wonder. It is the most beautiful, elegantly appointed ship there. The embarkation was a breeze. My husband, who is a resident alien, sailed through immigration. It was a straight walk right into the lobby on Deck 3. No one gets introduced anymore and Mickey and Minnie aren’t there waving to you. But our excitement overcame those minor details and we headed to the Beach Blanket Buffet, mouths watering for those well-documented shrimp.
Delectable they were, fresh and flavorful, certainly befitting a more elegant display. The Beach Blanket Buffet room was little more than a high school cafeteria line complete with plastic trays you push along. The table we sat at wasn’t properly cleaned and my husband got ketchup on his shirt from the edge of the table the moment we sat down. Although there were plenty of servers hawking special drinks, I had to clear away our dirty plates to make room at the table for dessert. Frankly, Sizzler has a better presentation. Oh well, our spirits were high and we were off to our room!
We booked a Category 4 stateroom, the family suite. Although small, I was prepared for the size from reading these reports and I knew it was much larger than what other cruise lines had to offer. It was well designed and there was plenty of storage space. The verandah was inviting, though it hardly fit three adults and a toddler. I was prepared for the noisy commode, but was surprised by the scent of urine. Well, it is a bit cramped in there and I imagined the previous family’s presence! There were only two bath-sized towels for a suite that was supposed to sleep four and I was beginning to develop a bad first impression of the Wonder. But, we were off to the deck party and I was determined to have a good time.
Disney knows how to throw a party! Characters, streamers, bubbles, music and dancing on top of the Goofy pool (which was on top of our stateroom) to YMCA was so festive. The ship left port and we didn’t feel a thing. Such nice distractions for someone who came prepared with three different motion-sickness medications! Time flew by and we had to rush (past more servers hawking expensive drinks) to make the 6:30 showing of Hercules, where we rushed Lucy past the display of candies, also available at an extra charge.
The Walt Disney Theater was lovely, without a bad seat no matter how tall the person in front of you might be. Hercules was well done. Music, comedy, dancing — it had something for everyone. Hades was very funny and we left with smiling faces to try our luck at Bingo before dinner. We didn’t win, but the game was fun, full of audience participation.
Our first supper rotation was at Animator’s Palate. We could feel some ship motion, but it was more a sense of surging rather than rocking. It was a bit disorienting, but not really nauseating. Once we made it clear to our server that we really didn’t want any additional cocktails to start our meal (Disney needs to tone it down a notch), we began with starters and ate our way through to dessert. Everything was fine, except the very dry chocolate cake, and it was fun ordering more than one appetizer. It just wasn’t anything spectacular. I was expecting grand food, not just a moist chicken breast, and I was expecting extraordinary service. We had to repeatedly ask to have our water glasses filled, I ordered a ginger ale that never came, two of us received our entrees while the other two waited while other tables received some of theirs, and Lucy’s Mickey Bar was melted inside and fell apart with one bit. Ah well, we were getting tired. It was time for bed.
We headed back to the room. After John unwrapped himself from the shower curtain (it really is small in there), Lucy and I took a bath. Such lovely tile work and, oops, mildew in the grout coupled with a drain that only worked when we removed the cover (such yuck under there) sent me to bed beginning to wish we had stayed at the Polynesian (and where was the remote to turn off the television?)!!!
Nassau! Our cruise director Rachel awakened us with a lovely good morning. Wouldn’t it be fun to have “Wish Upon a Star” play on the alarm at home?! I ordered a room service lunch that promptly arrived within 15 minutes and packed a picnic (don’t forget your Ziploc bags) in our collapsible cooler, while John and Jonny headed off to the breakfast buffet. (They both really enjoyed the breakfast buffets each morning. Both the Parrot Cay and Beach Blanket Buffet were quite good.) In a flash, we were off to the Comfort Suites to check in and get admission cards for the Atlantis pools. It was almost comical the way the taxi drivers compete with each other to get your fare.
Once at Atlantis, we stopped at a towel stand to get the necessary wrist bands to use the facilities. What a place! So many pools to choose from, complete with a live band, waterfalls and aquariums! Such a lovely beach! Picture-postcard perfect with turquoise-blue water and white, foamy waves lacing rocky outcroppings. What great slides! We loved the inner tube slide down a darkened, twisting tunnel that shot you into a clear plexiglass tube right through a shark tank aquarium! Lucy loved the kiddie slides. She would slide down on my lap and at the bottom I’d toss her to John who was waiting to catch her. Huge smiles and much laughter filled the day, especially when John won $300 playing blackjack in the casino. It was the same casino Michael Jordan won $250,000 in the day before, according to a staff member. Apparently he was staying in the $25,000 a night suite on the premises. Why? Because he can.
We headed back to the ship in time for the showing of Disney’s “Atlantis” and then dinner in Parrot Cay. The service didn’t improve, but the food was more to our liking. The coconut-crusted shrimp and pot stickers were our favorite offerings of the cruise. The key lime pie and cheese cake were industrial. Disney needs to learn how to make a graham cracker crust. Sarah Lee does it better. It was clear that I was going to need to adjust my expectations about desserts.
Up next: Days 3 & 4 on the Wonder
Hmmm.... can't help wonder if you had the same servers we had on our 4 day Wonder cruise after Thanksgiving in November. I had read about all these wonderful servers and saw all sorts of fun going on at other tables, but we didn't have that experience most of the time. Our servers (whose names I have forgotten) were fair. We frequently had to ask to have our water glasses refilled. They did figure out quickly that most at our table (except one couple) did not drink much (alcohol) with dinner and never really pushed that. There was at least one occassion when my then 3 yr old was the last one served when she should have served first, with the other 3 yr old at our table.
On the other hand, our stateroom host, Susan, was terrific as were most other CMs we encountered, esp those working at the childrens club.
Been there, done that, NOT going back ;)
Wow I am really glad to read this. I thought I was the only one to think this way. There have been a lot of people that have been told that the cruise may not be all it is said to be. We did see some servers who seemed to be really working but our 2 never seemed to be around. I wasn't sure if it was because non of us ordered drinks. Try getting soft drinks at our table...
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