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Old 05-24-2013, 03:00 PM   #1
Chaopolis
Earning My Ears
 
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Arrow A WONDERful Honeymoon Cruising Through the PANAMA CANAL (5/6-20/2013) *DAY 1 Added*

DISCLAIMER: My goal is to make a VERY detailed trip report of our Westbound Panama Canal Cruise aboard the Disney Wonder from May 5 - May 20, 2013. As such, it'll be a long one. Bear with me, it'll hopefully be worth it.


- - - - - -


On the evening of May 5th, we had taken a red-eye flight out of Las Vegas, Nevada. It was a nonstop flight, luckily, as we were to arrive in Miami at 7:10 AM. I was nervous, naturally, for it's usually not recommended to fly in the same day as something BIG in your vacation. However, our work schedules demanded it so. Add in the fact that we were flying on American Airlines, an airline notorious for pissing off everyone I know... well, this could be interesting.

Day 1, Miami

As luck would have it, we arrived in Miami around 6:45 AM. Step 1 complete. Down to the baggage claim, where ALL of our luggage arrived safely. Step 2 complete. Then, we wait until about 10:30 AM for our limo (it's our honeymoon, we wanted to do it right) to take us to the Port of Miami. SIDENOTE: If you're ever in need of a limo service in Miami, we HIGHLY recommend John's Car Service. Excellent! He even offered us a quick stop at a place we miss oh-so-much... Publix. Step 3 complete. With all the hurdles out of the way, we arrive at the Port of Miami to find our home for the next 14 nights, the Disney Wonder!

Now, this was my first Disney Cruise, and my first cruise of ANY kind in over 20 years. My wife and I have been longtime Disney fans mainly due to the fact that we both grew up in Central Florida. Both of my parents worked for the Walt Disney Company when they met (working together at Space Mountain). Later on, my dad would become an Imagineer. As such, I grew up in the parks, and living in Vegas, I missed it. Sure, Disneyland is only a 5 hour drive away... I'm getting off topic. We like Disney. First Disney Cruise. Very excited. Moving on.

Arrived at the Port by 11:30 or so. We slowly made our way through the check-in line. In line, we had already met a few other DISBoard folks. My wife and I sat patiently after check-in... waiting... and waiting... and waiting. This honeymoon was 6 months overdue (we were married in November) and although we were THERE... at the Port!... our patience was killing us. However, around 12:15 PM, we boarded and our vacation BEGAN!

Prior to my cruise, a friend of mine had wished us safe voyages and such, and said “Make sure you use lots of hand sanitizer!” In all my preparedness for this cruise, I hadn't really heard anything about this... but sure enough, the first thing we had to do before boarding was soak up some Purell! Also, prior to entering every restaurant, you gotta sanitize. This makes perfect sense as you never know what kind of sickness can come onboard at home or abroad. Needless to say, they take it seriously.

Our stateroom (7116) wasn't going to be ready until after 1:30 PM, so it gave us some time to get some things done. First things first! Go to Guest Services and book some DRINK TASTINGS! We had intended on doing a few (we already had a private Mixology booked through DISBoards). So, we booked “Chocolate & Beverage Pairing”, “Rum Tasting”, “Tequila & Margarita Tasting”, and “Blind Wine Tasting”.

So, all booked, but still no ready stateroom. Let's get some lunch! We walked over to Parrot Cay, but there was a 20-25 minute wait. We were encouraged to go up to Beach Blanket Buffet. No wait! Grabbed a quick lunch and decided to move on down to Deck 7 to wait for our stateroom as we were “close enough” to 1:30. In the elevator vestibule at Deck 7, Aft, we had run into a few other DISBoarders before the ropes came down at 1:30 and everyone hastily went to their stateroom.

We arrived at 7116, a great Verandah Stateroom not too far from either the Aft elevators nor the hidden Deck 7 Aft lookout/hideaway (and the adjacent stairs to lead to the Stations for the Mandatory Boat Drill). While the room felt, at times, cramped, it's in fact quite large for an ocean liner stateroom (as I'm told). The bed was very comfy, the water for the sinks and shower temperature was surprisingly great (cold all the way to very hot), and the verandah was perfectly relaxing. My only complaint about the room is the so-called Beverage Cooler. We had brought beer and bottled water from Publix, and decided to store in this Beverage Cooler. I'll just say that “Cooler” is a suggestion at best. If the drinks you put in are currently cold... then I suppose they won't get THAT much warmer over time. However, if you put anything room temperature in there, don't expect them to get cold. (Room Service delivers buckets of ice upon request... I strongly encourage requesting said buckets).

Outside our stateroom was our Room Steward, I Komang. He was a splendid individual whom always had a smile on his face and, amazingly, memorized our names very quickly without any confusion. Every time we'd see him, we always greeted with a “Good morning, Mr. Stephen” or “You look lovely, Mrs. Tiffany”. Given that he had many rooms to look after, the fact that he had memorized who we were so quickly amazed me. He was always very quick to give us updates about where our luggage was and when he'd be cleaning the rooms (twice a day, by the way). Excellent.

It's coming on 2:00 PM and my sweet, wonderful wife... did not sleep on the plane. Needless to say, she crashes on the bed and stays there until Mandatory Boat Drill time. Around 3:00, I head down to the Promenade Lounge on Deck 3 to meet a few other DISBoarders, then I return to the stateroom. Now, it's Boat Drill time. Our Assembly Station was “T”, which is located INSIDE Animator's Palate. Understandable that it's a Maritime REQUIREMENT, I still found the placement of these Assembly Stations rather odd. Especially since the signs for the stations stand out from whatever theming is there... but once again, it IS law. This Drill is VERY simple. You sit at your section, listen to what your safety marshall has to say, and you leave. I can see how some may find this whole process annoying, but it's a mere blip of your vacation... if that.

We head up to Deck 10 to see the Adventures Away Deck Party begin, and then make our way to the Vista Spa & Salon (I fancied a haircut). Pricey... but I'm on vacation. Afterward, we had gotten a brief tour of the Vista Spa and the infamous Rainforest room (…...more on that later).

Back to our stateroom, my wife decided on another brief nap to get adjusted (poor thing). I take this time to look through the Personal Navigator. These end up in your room the night before the listed day (the first day is handed to you as you board). They tell just about everything you need to know for the day's events and activities. This being a 2-week cruise, this first Navigator listed the FIRST week's Evening Shows, Dinner Attire, and Buena Vista Theater Movie schedules. SIDENOTE: Although the Buena Vista Theater shows mostly recent and First-Run Disney feature films, a frequent film showing in that theater was the movie musical Les Miserables (released by Universal Pictures). Not a big deal, just very odd given that all the other repeating films were Disney releases.

It's 6:00 PM and it's showtime! We make our way down to the Walt Disney Theater, the 900+ seat show venue at Deck 4, Forward. Tonight's show was “All Aboard! Let the Magic Begin!” - an intro show hosted by your Cruise Director (Jimmy... whom you will see A LOT). It's a show warming you up to the cruise, with an extra performance from one of the variety acts (in this case, Magician Mike Super). It's all bookended with a mini-show featuring Disney characters, singers, dancers... and an extra helping of cheese. (It's Disney, deal with it)

After the show, we took a stroll around the ship and eventually made our way to dinner at Animator's Palate. You've all read about the Rotational Dining, so I won't bore you with those details, but it's fun. It's a great way to keep things fresh, although with a 14-night cruise, keeping it fresh requires some effort. Although Animator's Palate is known for it's theming and effects, they were all in “simple” mode for the evening, as it wasn't “Show Dinner” night. The menu was “Let The Magic Begin!” and our serving team consisted of server Lito from the Philippines and assistant server Ajit from India. You'll hear more about them throughout this report and we saw every day (and a few times more than once). Simply put, they were amazing.

With this menu, I got the Cajun Spiced Calamari (yum), my wife got the Prosciutto, Mozzarella and Citrus Tapanade "Bruschetta" (also yum), and we both got the Yachtsman Steakhouse Cut Grilled Sirloin Steak (you guessed it... yum-yum). A lot has been said about the food. Much positive, occasional negative. However, if this was any indication of the rest of our trip, the food was going to be very very good. Best steak I've ever had? Nah... BUT, a good cut of meat nevertheless and better than food I've had in Disney Parks.

One dinner was finished, we decided to call it a night and head to bed. We came back to our stateroom to find our next day's Navigator, a lovely Towel Origami creation, and some “Sleepy” Pillow Chocolates. It was important to get some sleep for two reasons... Number 1, we were still on Pacific time and were getting wonky from lack of sleep... Number 2, tomorrow was Castaway Cay!!!

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Old 05-24-2013, 03:21 PM   #2
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Subscribing...would like to see this trip through your eyes I know trip was amazing for us!
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Old 05-24-2013, 03:45 PM   #3
jstkpswimming
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My new husband and I were also on our honeymoon on this cruise - just a few doors down from you in 7126!
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Old 05-24-2013, 03:49 PM   #4
Chaopolis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jstkpswimming View Post
My new husband and I were also on our honeymoon on this cruise - just a few doors down from you in 7126!
Awesome! Shame we didn't bump into you guys at some point... or maybe we did. It's all a blur now.
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Old 05-24-2013, 07:22 PM   #5
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Do you have any pictures with face characters?? Would love to see them if you do!!
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Old 05-24-2013, 07:59 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Schmoopsie Poo! View Post
Do you have any pictures with face characters?? Would love to see them if you do!!
Face characters? What do you mean?
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Old 05-24-2013, 08:22 PM   #7
Chaopolis
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Quote:
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Face characters? What do you mean?
I think she means Belle, Aladdin, Ariel, etc, etc. Non "Big Heads".

We did not get any pictures with them. We got a few during the Character Breakfast, but that's it.
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Old 05-24-2013, 09:10 PM   #8
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Yay! I was looking forward to reading about this cruise. I wanted to go but life didn't work out this year.

Jill in CO
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Old 05-25-2013, 09:55 PM   #9
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Fantastic so far! But this is the Dis, and that means pictures, we seriously need them. Onward!
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Old 05-25-2013, 10:11 PM   #10
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Great start! Looking forward to more of your TR, hopefully with photos!
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Old 05-27-2013, 05:02 PM   #11
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Great start!!! Can't wait for more!!
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Old 05-28-2013, 07:58 AM   #12
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Looking forward to your TR...always hear how great a Panama Cruise is and want to 'come along'
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Old 05-28-2013, 11:53 AM   #13
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Love it so far. I met you and your adorable wife at the drink tasting that changed my opinion of tequila. I know you had a big camera around your neck so hope you share some photos. I myself have a lot of pictures to go through, edit, crop, shrink, upload and organize but hope to do a trip report as well from this cruise. Welcome home!
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Old 06-03-2013, 08:06 PM   #14
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Great start to your trip report. Soon the kids will all be at college and I'll get to take this PC cruise But now I'll have to live through your trip report.
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Old 06-04-2013, 05:12 AM   #15
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Looking forward to reading more! We were on this cruise as well, and also apparently on the same dining rotation so we may have seen you in the dining room (or at the DISmeet? Or the Mixology? I admit that I haven't been very good at keeping in touch with my fellow Disers this cruise ...)
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2011: Our return to Disneyland Resort Paris (4 nights) / August 2012: NYC to Castaway Cay and Canada (B2B, Magic, 13 nights)
2013: Westbound Panama Canal Cruise (Wonder, 14 nights) + 3 days at Disneyland / 2014: Westbound Transatlantic and Southern Caribbean (B2B, Magic, 21 nights)

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