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Old 03-18-2008, 02:46 PM   #1
Dreamfinder2
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3-day Wonder (3/13-16) - more info than you can possibly stand!

OK, folks, this is my first cruise report, altho I've done some WDW restaurant reviewing before. I'm offering this because this was unique in the sense that (a) we only decided to cruise a month out and (b) we wanted to see how a 3-day, standard interior stateroom would compare to our other 4-day verandah cruise.

There y'are.

This crew consisted of moi (51-year old DD, unapologetic Disney fanatic, like you);
DW, Teresa (49, Disney buff to some extent, but not too partial to heat or crowds, and can't figure out my obsession); and
DD, Amy (just turned 21 - college junior, Delta Gamma, fashion merchandising major - you get the picture.) Disney fan like her daddy, and amazingly still enjoys doing stuff with her parents.

There's a 4th family member, son Jeremy, 25 ... college junior after spending four years in the United States Marine Corps and just in a "different place" in maturity and life experience than his peers (or even his parents). Not too partial to sun, sand and beaches, tolerant with Disney, but would much rather be in the mountains/forests ... loves hunting, fishing, and had a big fishing excursion planned for his spring break. He might try cruising "someday - if it's to Alaska."

Here we are, sporting our Castaway Club lanyards (daughter Amy is a natural blonde, but a couple of weeks ago she decided to go brunette... I've really struggled with this, but she's 21 and it's her head *sigh*.)



As we get into this, I'm going to talk about food. A lot. That's just my gig, y'know? I will say this: the food quality seemed far beyond what we experienced on the Magic back in 2000. More later.
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Check out our obscenely detailed Disney Wonder trip report! http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1758672

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Old 03-18-2008, 02:55 PM   #2
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Getting there. Ack.

We are DVC members, and snagged a studio at Old Key West for the Wednesday before the departure. It is a semi-grueling 11-hour drive for us to WDW, but we do it routinely a couple of times a year.

So we struck out bright and early for WDW Wedneday, the 15th, about 6 a.m. The girls love me for this. I'd leave at 3 if we could. Our general pattern when we're visiting the Mouse is to get to WDW in time to check in, spend the evening knocking around Downtown Disney, and turning in at a semi-reasonable hour before hitting the parks the next day.

Well, we got to WDW about 5:30 p.m., checked in flawlessly, even getting the studio we wanted. On over to DD. I knew we'd be eating ourselves into a stupor the next couple of days, so we had dinner at the Earl of Sandwich. We'd never tried this spot. Folks, I will tell you that it was absolutely scrumptuous. I think it's that freshly-baked bread they serve their sandwiches on. I had the Original, which is a roast beef/cheddar cheese/horseradish concotion with a pasta salad side and Earl Grey-infused lemonade. If you try this spot, don't let the length of the line alarm you ... it clips right along. It's a great spot for a no-fuss meal. The others got a BLT and BBQ chicken sandwich, and got thumbs-up all around.

After traipsing around DD, and checking out the fun stuff at Starabilias, we called it a night. We didn't have to get up too early the next day, which suited my girls fine.

Next: On to Port Canaveral and lovely weather.
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Check out our obscenely detailed Disney Wonder trip report! http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1758672

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Old 03-18-2008, 03:24 PM   #3
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I'm avidly awaiting more!

Oh, and I think your daughter looks cute as a brunette! Come on dad, its her hair!

My son is 11 and we are currently going through the long hair phase. Things could be worse!
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Old 03-18-2008, 05:10 PM   #4
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Thumbs up

We've done a 7-night Western and the 10-night Med, but are having a 3-night on the Wonder coming up in two weeks - so I'm anxious to read your trip report and see pictures of the cruise! Keep posting!!!

BTW, we'll be staying at SSR for a few days before heading over for the cruise - did you all drive over to Port Canaveral or use Disney transportation? We'll be driving and I'm curious about which route you took to get over.
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Old 03-19-2008, 10:30 AM   #5
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oh, can't wait to hear more. oh, by the way, your daughter looks adorable with brown hair. my dd did the same thing and it convinced me to stop goign blond after 20 plus years.

we'll be taking our first disney cruise in september and cannot wait.
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Old 03-19-2008, 10:31 AM   #6
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Cindy, we drove over from OKW, and it's an easy drive. Just leave SSR and head toward Orlando (east on I-4), then go east on 528 toward the airport. Stay on it; it basically dumps you right off in Port Canaveral.

The other cool new route I took was going to WDW itself. We travel south on 1-75, and I've tinkered with several other routes over the years. But this time I took the turnpike as usual, but then took the 429 exit off the turnpike BEFORE getting to I-4. It goes due south, passing through absoulutely nothing, and there is a Disney exit - Western Way - right off 429. It might be two miles further than the Turnpike to I-4 route, but there was NO traffic to speak of, and you don't have to deal with I-4. You come into WDW near Coronado Springs and Blizzard Beach.

OK. So we head out of OKW about 8:30 a.m., but make a pit stop at the Poly and a Tonga Toast fix (great ballast for an empty stomach!) We made the less-than-an-hour trek to Port Canaveral without a hitch, and everyone just squealed when the Wonder came into view.

Security was much tighter since our last cruise. That's fine. The CM's (who were all older adults and very thorough) who met us first routed us to a drop off point in front of the terminal. I deposited the girls, then went across the street to park the car ($15/day. Whatever.) I walked back across the street, met them, and began to check in. Of course, I had to pass through metal detectors, have my carry-ons checked, etc. No big deal.

Of note: I had a passport, but Teresa and Amy didn't. Neither of them have been out of the country except to Canada, and in Teresa's case the Caribbean. We debated long and hard about getting passports, which would have meant a trip to get expedited passports in New Orleans (about a 3 hour drive for us, no big deal), but decided we would rather use that $300 for the trip itself. They've since sent in their passport applications. I checked the appropriate websites daily, and became persuaded that we were still on safe ground with birth certificates. Sure enough, checkin was seamless, no questions asked, and we were given Castaway Club lanyards to put our KTTW cards and ID's in. I asked for a possible upgrade - nuthin' doing. I'll admit I was a little wary of a standard inside stateroom. More on that later.

Here's Amy, with someone I've had a crush on for years. It's a good thing Mickey met her first:



And the corridor right after passing through that glorious ear/arch:

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Check out our obscenely detailed Disney Wonder trip report! http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1758672


Last edited by Dreamfinder2; 04-26-2009 at 05:35 PM.
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Old 03-19-2008, 10:59 AM   #7
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I never met a buffet I didn't like...

I am SUCH a sentimental sucker when it comes to all things Disney, so when we passed down the gangway into the atrium lobby, and we were welcomed, I literally choked up. I'm secure in my manhood, but the girls have learned to tolerate those stupid emotional moments. The sun was streaming through those big windows on the Guest Services side of things, and the wood and marble glowed with golden light. Lordy, I hope I never become so jaded that I remain unmoved by such simple things. I snapped this photo in a quieter moment:



I made it a point to look for initial differences between the Wonder and the Magic. Triton's instead of Luminere's is the obvious one, but the Magic is more of an art deco style, with those blocky, thick ornamental doohickeys ... the Wonder is art nouveau, with all the sinuous curves and swooping lines. I like them both, but my personal tastes run toward art deco. That's just me.

Lunch beckoned. We elected to head for the Beach Blanket buffet rather than Parrot's Cay - it was such a spectacular day in Port Canaveral, the fresh air and breeze was what I wanted. It was chilly when we left home.

NOW, dang it - I had planned to take photos of basically everything I ate. But my girls, not understanding that in DISworld photos are not only tolerated, but welcomed, just about died of embarassment. So I VERY grudgingly said, "fine, I don't want to humiliate you folks," and put the camera away. There are some nice food porn shots in other threads, so enjoy those.

A word about sanitation. At every turn there were sanitary hand wipes. When waiting in line for a restaurant or buffet or even at the drink station, there were crew passing out the wipes. I appreciated that, although I felt after a day or so that I was heading into surgery every few minutes. The ship itself was as clean as an intensive care ward.

So at the buffet, we packed it in, since we were late seating. Dining tastes? Well, I'm the "food on the edge" guy - I will try anything, and the only food I've ever tried that I absolutely cannot stomach is coconut. I've never eaten ANYTHING else that I would turn down, although certainly there are some things I like better than others (I've never said, for instance, "Teresa, how 'bout let's having a big ol' plate of beets?") Daughter Amy is a bit more selective, but she has some things she doesn't care for - broccoli, for example. To her credit, she'll try anything. She loves seafood, as do I.

Poor Teresa. She does the best she can. She doesn't eat seafood. She wants her steaks medium well to well. She's wary of too many foreign sauces. We are all products of the south, of fried chicken and pork chops, peas and beans and greens and cornbread, and that's where her tastes run. But I told her, as I did on the previous cruise, "Try stuff. If you don't like it, there are always other options." She does like semi-ethnic foods ... Italian, Mexican, some Asian. Don't get her around sushi, or Thai, or Indian though. As she says, "there's always chicken," so she wouldn't go hungry.

The buffet was well-stocked and everything seemed very fresh. Give me some peel-n-eat shrimp, and I'm going to do just fine:



There were plenty of landlubber items, chief among which was roast beef, cooked perfectly with just the right amount of pink. And steamed veggies, and fresh breads, and some grilled tilapia (which doesn't have much taste by itself, but it accepts sauces well). My one disappointment was a pork "steak" - the seasoning was right, but it was mighty tough.

One overall observation about Disney in general - oftimes, the desserts look better than they actually are. I've found that true at WDW, especially with pastries and baked goods, and to some extent that extended to the Wonder. The cheesecake I had for dessert was fine, but a chocolate cake was dry.
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Check out our obscenely detailed Disney Wonder trip report! http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1758672

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Old 03-19-2008, 11:26 AM   #8
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MORE MORE MORE, great trip report ! Beautiful family!
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Old 03-19-2008, 01:49 PM   #9
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Looking forward to more of your report!!!
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Old 03-19-2008, 02:54 PM   #10
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Sailing, sailing ...

I should be working (isn't that the mantra of DISers?)

After lunch we headed for our stateroom. We were sailing on leftover DVC points. I know there's a spirited debate about the use or misuse of a boatload of points for a cruise as opposed to renting them. Honestly, if I had it to do over again, I think I'd try to rent them. But since this was literally a spur of the moment trip, I didn't feel too bad.

We were in 7623, a standard inside. I sort of dreaded this, because it was a step down, in my mind, from a verandah. But I thought, what the heck, it's just three nights.

I will tell you that I was pleasantly surprised. I remember sailing on NCL years ago in a converted broom closet, and even that wasn't awful. We're also campers, and own a smallish travel trailer, so we're used to adapting to limited space. Bottom line - we did just fine. I missed the trunk, but we used our drawers and closet creatively, and the over-the-door shoe hanger in the bathroom was brilliant - kudos to whoever thought of this first! We worked really hard to keep stuff from getting strewn all over, and it was easy enough to lift the beds a little and shove luggage out of sight. I did miss natural light. But one huge perk was that we were just a few feet down from the aft overlook on our deck, Deck 7, and that was a wonderful place to go watch the sun rise (just me. The girls up for a sunrise? Pfft.)



We took some time getting unpacked and organized. At 2:30 the girls wanted to go to the shopping briefing. Include me out. Ack. Amy, bless her little fashion merchandising heart, was all up in that. So while they went to the Buena Vista Theater, I went to see about getting our dining rotation changed. We elected not to do Palo this time, altho I purely love it, but to stick to the main dining rooms. I can't remember what our original rotation was, but I wanted Animator's Palate, Parrot Cay, and Triton's. I felt that dress up night should fall at Triton's, since it's the more elegant of the three. No problem at all to fix.

Then, the safety drill. The crew makes it as fun and as lighthearted as it can be. Our muster station was in AP, just like on our last cruise.



And then, the actual sailing. Decks 9 and 10 were packed for the sail away party, as our highly caffinated crew and characters whipped the crowd up into a frenzy:



... and Amy was thrilled.



When the ship's horn plays seven of the most famous notes in musical history, I defy any true Disney geek to remain unmoved. It makes the hair on my arm stand up even now.

Stay tuned. Gotta churn out a little work.
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Check out our obscenely detailed Disney Wonder trip report! http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1758672


Last edited by Dreamfinder2; 03-20-2008 at 06:18 PM.
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Old 03-19-2008, 03:38 PM   #11
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Come back, come back.....you cant leave us hanging like that!! My DD7 is excitedly watching over my shoulder to see the pics.

About those 7 magical musical notes...."When you wish upon a star" is the ringtone on my cellphone (its the music that callers hear instead of a dialtone while they wait for me to answer) and I constantly catch callers singing along when I answer the phone. I get chills when I hear it and DH full out cries when the Wonder's horn blows those special notes!
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Old 03-19-2008, 03:41 PM   #12
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Oh weird....Dreamfinder2...we're in your "sailaway party" picture!!!! Cool!
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Old 03-19-2008, 04:07 PM   #13
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So, Qball, which ones are y'all?

Global Mom, your DH must be a total, helpless Disney geek like me/us. Actually, my ringtone is the Pinocchio version sung by Jiminy Cricket/Ukelele Ike.

More to come. The day job is interfering with my playtime, doggone it.
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Check out our obscenely detailed Disney Wonder trip report! http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1758672

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Old 03-19-2008, 04:34 PM   #14
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I love your trip report and can't wait to read more. We will be sailing on the Wonder for 3 nights in May. It's our first Disney cruise so I love all your details.

One more thing.....I fight back the tears just reading about your emotional moments. I'm so glad there are other Disney fans as emotionally invested as I am.
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Old 03-19-2008, 05:01 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreamfinder2 View Post
Cindy, we drove over from OKW, and it's an easy drive. Just leave SSR and head toward Orlando (east on I-4), then go east on 528 toward the airport. Stay on it; it basically dumps you right off in Port Canaveral.
Thanks -- and we love that new "back way" into WDW via 429, too - it's so much more relaxing.

I'm enjoying your report! And getting more and more psyched for our own WONDERful cruise coming up in two weeks!
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