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Old 08-07-2010, 04:37 PM   #1

Riding for my own brand.
skylynx's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Loveland and Storm Mountain, Colorado
Posts: 1,061

July 30 Wonder cruise

Trip Report

The taxi picked us up at 3:30 am. The SW ticket counter at Midway wasn’t even open yet. Everything went smoothly, and we were in our Orlando rental car and on our way to DTD by 10 am. Tried to see if we could renew our annual passes further than 30 days before our expiration date to beat the price increase, but I got some noncommittal answer from the guest services lady. She told me we could renew our APs (which don’t expire until October) with the extra 3 months and current pricing, but there would be no record of it if we lost the actual pass and that even if we showed the receipt, the renewal would not be credited. That was a puzzle. If we had a receipt, why would Disney deny the renewal was paid for even if we lost the physical paper passes? We figured $800 or so was too much to gamble with. If we hadn’t been heading off to Port Canaveral, I’d have waited and asked a different cast member. Always think it’s worth it to double check, especially when you get a response as peculiar as that.

My sister and nephews from NY were at Disney on their vacation, so we had a brief but happy reunion over lunch at Earl of Sandwich before heading to the coast. We checked in at the Quality Suites down by Ron Jon. I’d booked the cruise package deal (which included parking at the Radisson) but it didn’t show that on the emailed confirmation. I called two weeks before and talked to a lady at QS who said yes, we had the cruise package. When I asked the manager checking us in for the parking voucher, he said we didn’t have a reservation that included the parking. Luckily I had written down the woman’s name I’d spoken to. QS was slightly more expensive than the Radisson (where we stayed last time) but had a one-bedroom set up and more room for the teens. Plus, you could walk to the beach (2 blocks). We’d asked for a rollaway and they didn’t have one of those either. Plus, although at the time we booked the room rollaways were free, they now charged $10 a night for one. The manager was cool about all this. He gave us the parking voucher, found a rollaway at another hotel in their group, waived the fee, and upgraded our room to a "river view." This upgrade really meant high enough that you could see over the roof of the Waffle House to the Indian River.

We let the kids have their pilgrimage to Ron Jon, then drove down to Grills for dinner. Had another really nice anticipatory meal there. They give large portions and the prices are very reasonable, so it’s no surprise it’s often packed. We went early enough that we didn’t have to wait. After dinner, we took a nice long walk on the beach and enjoyed watching the pelicans.

Morning…time to cruise! DH dropped us off at the terminal and went off to leave the car at the Radisson around 10:15. We were one of the first families in the terminal building. DH got hung up at the Radisson. He had a reservation for the 10:30 shuttle, but was sharing it with a huge family. The grandmother of this family didn’t turn up, so he had to sit and wait on the bus a half hour while they woke her and got her out the door. DH was the only one on the bus not in that family, so of course they all voted to wait for grandma.

This was our first time boarding as Platinum Castaway Club members. There was a special check in for Concierge and Platinums. There was never a line there that I saw. We just walked up when DH finally arrived. It was nice to have the number 1 boarding card. We were the third or fourth family on the ship. They are redesigning the entryway to accommodate the new ships. The Mickey Ear portal was gone. Couldn’t tell what they were planning instead. The gangway was new, too. Headed right to Parrot Cay for lunch. We usually sit outside at Beach Blanket Buffet, but it was roasting hot even by Florida standards. Hardly anyone was out there. Got into our room on time, admired our club gifts (black beach bag, two metal drink bottles, luggage strap, and Rice Krispie flip flops).

We were happy that for the first time, we’d be in Parrot Cay instead of Triton’s/Lumiere’s for Pirate Night. The theming just fits better.

Met a few Disboarders at our meet at the Promenade Lounge…including a nice family (Amy and John and Zach) who we ran into a few more times during the cruise.

During the muster drill there were dolphins jumping out of the water while the crew was going through their spiel. Not just surfacing dolphins, but ones jumping clear out of the water, like Flipper. No one paid a lick of attention to the drill once the dolphins started leaping! Even the crew members stopped to watch them for a minute or so.

The sailaway party was good…I think because it was so hot the characters came out, did the countdown, and immediately left. No dancing around for them! On the way out of the canal, we passed a swarm of manatees all circling around one extremely huge manatee. Not sure what they were up to, but I’m guessing it wasn’t good for the manatee in the middle.

Had nice tablemates for our first meal at Animator’s Palate. Our servers were ok. Not great, but nothing to complain about. Seemed they’d learned how to put forth just enough effort that you couldn’t gripe. The teens DD17 and DS14 vanished to Aloft and did not resurface until about 1 am.

Nassau. We debated getting off the ship at all, as we’ve done the Atlantis thing and been chased by hair braiding ladies more than enough times, but DD wanted to look in the shops so we walked around for an hour or so. Same stuff in nearly every shop. Returned in time for lunch at Beach Blanket (again, so hot no one was sitting outside). Went to the DVC member celebration for our obligatory glaring red hats. At least the brims are now beige. Started to dress for Palo and realized we’d grabbed two of my black work blazers instead of DH’s tuxedo jacket and pants (both were in dry cleaner bags). Oops. I wore my gown and rhinestones anyway. Luckily DH had a sports jacket along. I looked a bit overdressed, but so what. Food was exquisite, as usual. After dinner, we changed and watched a bit of National Treasure on the Ariel big screen before falling asleep on the deck 9 loungers. We are getting old.

Beautiful day for Castaway Cay. Dropped DD off for teen Wildside excursion and arranged for DS to be able to get off the ship later by himself. Were one of the first off at Serenity Bay. Picked a hammock in the shade close to the bar and bathrooms. The snorkeling is getting better and better there. Even in 3-4 feet of water, there’s lots of fish, live conch, sand dollars, sea biscuits, sea cucumbers and starfish. Out by the buoy where the airplane engine is, there were schools of fish including colorful Sergeant Majors, some damselfish, parrotfish, and the silver angelfish. I’d given up trying to get any decent pictures with the disposable underwater cameras and bought off Amazon a Fuji XP It’s supposed to be waterproof to ten feet, drop proof to 3 feet, freeze proof, etc. Skeptical, we bought it and tried it out at a swimming pool before the cruise. It did fine there, going from underwater to above water photos. I was astounded at how good the pictures came out. Partially because the viewfinder is the big screen on the back of the camera, and unlike the tiny viewfinder in the disposable cameras, even wearing a dive mask you could actually see what was in the frame, rather than just pointing in the general direction and hoping for the best! The underwater movie is in the link to our album below, if you are interested in seeing the kind of pictures it takes. We’ll finish off the camera’s test trial at Typhoon Lagoon after the cruise. It rained for about twenty minutes while we were eating by the adult beach and overcast afterwards, which helped keep the temperature down and saved a lot of people from some serious sunburns.

As always, we enjoyed getting dressed up as pirates. We’d pretty much decided to forego the usual queuing up for character photos this time as we have so many and the teens get antsy now. Fortuitously, as we were taking some pictures on Deck 10 who comes popping out a door but pirate Chip and Dale, and we had an impromptu deck photo of our family with the munks. Ahhh, pixie dust. The deck party later that night was mobbed and hot, so after the fireworks we ducked back into the room to de-pirate. Watched about an hour of POC1 on the big outdoor screen until again, we fell asleep (in the company of many other sleeping pirates.)

We were kind of disappointed with Shutters. The kiosks were good in theory, when they worked, but I was a bit miffed that ALL but two of the pictures they took of our family were the $20 8x10’s and not the cheaper 5x7’s. And you couldn’t buy just one 5x7 using the kiosk, you had to buy two! I don’t want two of the same picture! We ended up not buying any.

We took advantage of some of the Platinum perks. We had a cheese tray after Castaway Cay day (although I thought that was free with room service for anyone?) We passed on the Castaway Cay or Theatre tour this trip…no time. The comped service charges for our dinners at Palo were appreciated, as was the $25 OBC when purchasing $100 in the gift shop. We actually had bought about $40 worth of stuff the first night before we got the letter in our stateroom announcing the $25 OBC, but the cashier in Mickey’s Mates told us if we brought back the receipt, she’d refund that amount, and then we could combine what we’d already bought plus the new stuff we were getting, which came to $102, and then get the $25 OBC. I thought that was nice.

At sea day. Enjoyed our room service breakfast on the verandah, and then went off to the Gold/Platinum reception. Mickey turned up, along with Captain Henry. The captain said the terminal at Port Canaveral was doubling in size (adding a mirror image of the waiting area there now, and that you’d be able to walk directly from the second floor of the parking garage into the new terminal). Saw our fellow Disboarders Amy, John, and Zach there. Fell asleep reading on deck 4 and missed the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Oh well. Packed and took our last stroll on deck. Good thing we have another two cruises on the horizon, or we’d have been so depressed. It also helped that we were heading off to WDW and our first stay at Kidani Village at Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Disembarked, found all the luggage, and got a shuttle quickly back to the Radisson. There was a huge wreck on the Beachline and a resulting traffic jam that made the trip to WDW take about a half hour longer. Checked into Kidani (room wasn’t ready) then headed over to Animal Kingdom. Managed to get on all the rides we wanted except Kali River Rapids (it was such a brutally hot day). We stayed a couple hours at AK then went over to our room. Our one bedroom savannah view at Kidani was just lovely. After spending the last four days in a cat 6 stateroom with the teens, it was nice to spread out. Our bathroom was enormous, including a glassed in separate shower and a jetted tub. Lesson learned: don’t overdo the bubble bath because once the jets go on…oh my. We had giraffe and roan antelope and ostriches right outside our balcony at some point every day, and zebras at night. The first evening we went over to Jambo to swim and get zebra domes from Mara.

Did Typhoon Lagoon on our “break day.” The waterproof camera is still going strong. Took some great photos on the lazy river. Dried off, and went to the outlet malls on I-drive and the Character Wearhouse, then had dinner at Bahama Breeze. Chased our dinner down with $8.50 sundaes from Ghirardelli at DTD. The things you do on vacation.

Our last day was a classic park warrior day. Got over to Epcot when it opened and sent DS 14 as our “runner” to get fast passes for Soarin’. Did the standby line on Test Track (20 min) then did Ellen’s Energy Adventure before our fast pass time came up. Walked around World Showcase but it was really, really hot and miserable. Decided the sane thing to do was to retreat back to Kidani for a swim. Cooled off a couple hours, checked in for our Southwest flights the next day, then went over to Magic Kingdom. Got to ride everything we wanted, really, and saw the Summer Nightastic fireworks and the Electric Light Parade. The fireworks were spectacular, although not so impeccably synchronized as Wishes. And I was nostalgic about ELP, as that was the first night parade I watched at Disney with my parents back in, well, a long time ago. Stumbled out around midnight.

All too soon, we were standing on our suitcases to make them close, and packing the car to head to the airport. All in all, another superlative trip!

Here's the link to the photo album with just some highlight pictures.
WDW 2 many times 2 count since 1973 AKL, WL, Dixie Landings, CB, VB,OKW, GCV, 5 Disney Institute Professional Programs CA/Disneyland GCAL, Treehouse Villas DVC 2007 Disney Wonder 10/02, 3/03, 2/04, 5/06, 5/07, 6/08, 8/10, 2/11, 10/15Disney Magic W 10/04, 1/07, E 2/06, 11/08, 2/12, 2/15 Disney Dream 6/11 6/14 Disney Fantasy 2/13 2/14 NCL Alaska 6/09 Trader's Inn Beach Club Ormond Beach FL 2014
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Old 08-07-2010, 07:47 PM   #2
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Location: Outside Philly, PA
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Looks like you had a wonderful time. I was bemoaning the fact that I wasn't going to be able to enter to the ship on my next two cruises (one leaving from Barcelona for the WBTA and the other is leaving Vancouver for Alaska) through the ears but seems like they are currently out of commission anyway.
Disney Dream/AKL - JUL14; Disney Fantasy - SEP12; Disney Dream/OKW - OCT11; Disney Wonder - Alaska AUG11; Disney Magic WBTA - Sep10; Disney Magic - Sep08; WL - Dec07-MVMCP; OKW - Oct/Nov06-MNSSHP; Disney Wonder - Aug06; OKW - Sept05; Disneyland - Jun04; Offsite - Dec03-MVMCP; Poly - Aug02; POR/Wonder - Aug00; POR - Jul99; And many more...

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Old 08-09-2010, 06:12 PM   #3
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I enjoyed your TR-it looked like a great trip.
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