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January 19, 2013 Wonder, 5-night (Cozumel and Castaway Cay)

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by SirGoofy, Jan 25, 2013.

  1. SirGoofy

    SirGoofy DIS Fan

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    Subject: Overview

    We (DW and I) enjoyed this itinerary and would (will) definitely do it again.

    The Basics: 5-Night, Itinerary A
    - Embarkation, Port of Miami, Terminal F (Saturday)
    - Sea Day (Sunday)
    - Cozumel (Monday)
    - Sea Day (Tuesday)
    - Castaway Cay (Wednesday)
    - Debarkation, Port of Miami (Thursday)

    Subject: Getting to the Port and Terminal

    We drove from the Orlando area and used the old fashioned method -- maps and written directions from the DCL website.

    The directions to the port provided on the DCL website were accurate and simple to follow. (FYI, the directions on the DCL website are different from those on the Port of Miami website.)

    Our cruise started on a Saturday, so traffic wasnt too bad. But, if you are traveling on a typical work day, we recommend you allow extra time for sitting in traffic. (When we were leaving Miami on Thursday after the cruise, I-95 south from Sun Life Stadium to the end of the express lanes was very slow and, in some places, at a complete stand still.)

    The other thing to keep in mind is availability of gas stations. The closest gas station to the port we found along our Florida Turnpike/I-95 route was the southernmost Turnpike Service Plaza (Pompano Beach Service Plaza, mile marker 65), which is about 38 miles away from the port. Next time, Ill get gas on the way to Miami -- maybe we will exit at mile maker 152 (Fort Pierce exit), as there are several gas stations and fast food restaurants available.

    Subject: Getting to the Terminal

    After crossing the bridge at the port, the trick is to watch for and follow the signs to the correct terminal: The Disney Wonder was at Terminal F. The sign for our turn said Parking for Terminals F and G, but it didnt indicate that was also the way to go to drop off guests. So, if you miss it, just keep going and youll drive around the entire length of the passenger port.

    Dropping DW and our luggage off at Terminal F was easy. The parking structure is opposite Terminal G, which was less than a 10 minute walk back to F.

    If you drop folks off, be sure the you keep some document that proves you are going on the cruise. My DW had our cruise documents and passports, so all I had was my drivers license, which would have been sufficient at Port Canaveral. But, the security person at the Terminal F entrance didnt want to let me through, because they expected me to have the Disney Cruise booklet with documents inside. I got in, but it was a bit of a hassle.

    Subject: Parking

    We opted to park at the port and pay the hefty $20 a day. There certainly were cheaper options, but all of the off-port parking locations we investigated or saw (except one) were merely fenced in lots and we werent comfortable leaving our vehicle in a fenced in lot. The one location that had interior parking didnt start its free shuttle to the port until 11:00 am, and we wanted to checked in by 11:00. So, for us, parking at Terminal G met our needs.

    Subject: Checking in at the terminal and boarding

    Check in was easy and relatively quick. (My wife was checked in by 10:45 and I was checked in by 11:15.)

    The terminal waiting area is a long and relatively narrow area. The check in line for the youth activities was after the cruise check in area. And, beyond that was a character meet and greet area and the boarding area.

    Disney started boarding the Wonder at 11:30 and the process was very smooth and easy. We entered on Deck 4, mid-ship and proceeded to our favorite restaurant, Parrot Cay.

    Subject: Access to our stateroom

    We were told that staterooms would be ready no later than 2:00 pm. But, for our cruise, they were accessible at 1:30. We also received all of our luggage in early afternoon, which was quicker than on any of our previous cruises.


    Subject: The cruise itself

    We have previously sailed during a kids sail free promotion and, in the past we have found the children to be a pleasant contribution to the overall Disney atmosphere. But, this cruise had so many children sailing due to the kids sail free promotion that it was a bit overwhelming. (The children really werent the problem. The real annoyances were the large number of double wide strollers being used as battering rams by parents and unattended children being allowed to literally swing from the porthole drapes on Deck 3.)

    Nonetheless, we had a wonderful time for several reasons, such as we found the pacing more comfortable and less rushed than a 4-night. It was fun seeing Captain Fabian again, as he is very personable and interested in guest comments. We thoroughly appreciated our dining room team as they were amazing: Kerry Sean from Jamica (Head Server), Quacey from Jamica (Server) and Theo from South Africa (Assistant Server). Kerry seems to have a sixth sense about everything happening in the dinning room and is able to make sure all is running smoothly. Quacey and Theo were always in sync with each other and consistently demonstrated collaborative teamwork.

    We also enjoyed the shows in the Walt Disney Theater, as they were excellent. (There were a lot of first time Disney cruisers on our voyage and the early show [for second seating diners] was jam packed every night. It was somewhat frustrating that people kept arriving for almost the first half of each show and since it was so crowded, finding a place to sit was very difficult. As a consequence, they would wander up and down the aisles in search of open seats. Here too the kids were basically behaving, but some parents were inconsiderate and annoying -- like the father who attempted to reserve an entire center row for the people traveling with him.)

    Another highlight of our cruise was our fun interaction with the characters. And, certainly our day at Castaway Cay was another high spot of our experience even though it was a bit chilly (high of 71 degrees and winds of 15-20 knots).

    Unfortunately, the cruise was over before we knew it.

    Subject: Debarkation, Thursday

    In Miami, you cannot gain access to your luggage until after your luggage group (e.g., Ariel, Daisy Duck, Minnie Mouse, etc.) has been called. So, if you want an early departure, check with Guest Services to get the correct luggage tags. We were in the Goofy group and were the last group to be called for departing, which was okay as we were driving.

    We quickly found our baggage claim area (there are three) and a porter. The bags were all on a very long conveyor belt, so we just waited until ours came along. Getting through immigration and customs was also easy.

    The porter took our bags to the parking structure at Terminal G, I went up to the second level, brought our car back downstairs, the porter helped us load the bags, and we departed (after giving him a decent tip).

    There was sufficient signage to get us back to I-95. And, north bound I-95 traffic flowed smoothly. (As already noted, the southbound I-95 traffic was a different story.)

    We departed the ship at 9:00 and were driving away from the parking structure by 9:50. So, we were very pleased with the process.

    I'll be glad to try to answer any questions you might have.

    SirGoofy
     
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  3. sbridgeman

    sbridgeman Mouseketeer

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    Great review. Thanks Sir Goofy!
     
  4. mickeyschickie

    mickeyschickie Disney Commando in Laid-back Mom disguise...heh he

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    thank you for your thorough coverage of actually getting to the port and back out again. I hadn't seen anywhere in our documentation what terminal DCL would be docked out, and knowing how large the port is in Miami kind of scared me a little.
     
  5. fredgirls

    fredgirls DIS Veteran

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    This is great! Thank you for sharing :goodvibes Like other post said, it's really helpful to have specific Miami information.
    Will the Wonder always dock at Terminal F?
    Are there other ships docked at the same terminal?
    I'd read that the drop off area was a little crazy. And the luggage porters are not specifically Disney like they are at PC?
    Just worried about our luggage not making it to the right boat?! :laughing:
    Thanks.
     
  6. SirGoofy

    SirGoofy DIS Fan

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    Yes, we too were worried about the details, but all we could find is "follow the directions on the signs after you get to the port." And, there were lighted signs telling which ship was at which terminal. But, it took both my DW and me paying attention -- especially since I had to drive. ;)
     
  7. SirGoofy

    SirGoofy DIS Fan

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    We were told by an officer onboard the Wonder that Terminal F would be the Wonder's home. But, we didn't confirm that with any other sources.

    There were five or six other cruise ships at the port that day, but the Wonder was the only one at Terminal F. It was an amazing sight to go up on Deck 10 and see all of the other cruise ships.

    When we arrived (1030ish) it wasn't particularly busy, so we easily found a parking spot and a porter. Departing was actually crazier and I was glad we parked in the Terminal G garage as we didn't have to mess with the very busy and congested Terminal F area.

    Also, the porters do not work for Disney, but as far as we could tell the ones at Terminal F were only working Terminal F. So, hopefully that is comforting information.
     
  8. fredgirls

    fredgirls DIS Veteran

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    thanks :thumbsup2
     
  9. jagmeister

    jagmeister Happy Camper

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    Thanks for the review, it brings back good memories. We were on the cruise with you. In fact, we were sitting two rows in front of the dad trying to reserve an entire row before "Dreams." Why anyone would subject themselves to the drama that kind of move creates is beyond me. But it was good entertainment while waiting for the show. :)

    I'm going to piggyback a little on your review if you don't mind.

    Prior to cruising I was curious about the weather in Cozumel and Castaway Cay. It was in the high 70's in Mexico and sunny. The water temp was great for snorkeling. Castaway Cay was too cold for our taste because it was overcast. With a little sun it would have been tolerable. Most people stayed ashore even with the weather.

    For those interested in a low cost excursion, we did the sea lion encounter at the Chankanaab Natural Park. Dolphin Discovery was the company. Disney didn't offer it so we booked in online for $59 per person. Taxi was $10-12 each way. We had a great time with the sea lions. Only down side was the expensive pics they try to sell you if you don't have someone there to take some. Compared to the cost of the Dolphin excursion, it was an easy choice for us.
     
  10. fredgirls

    fredgirls DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for the extra info. If you don't mind me asking, about how much are the photos? Often people allude to their expense but no-one ever says how much! :goodvibes I'd like to go as prepared as possible!
     
  11. SirGoofy

    SirGoofy DIS Fan

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  12. SirGoofy

    SirGoofy DIS Fan

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    I'm guessing you mean the pictures from Shutters on the ship. We usually do the CD package that includes jpg files for every one of the photographs and prints of all the pictures, too. As I recall (DW takes care of that), the cost for that package is $300. Yes, that's a chunk of change, but if you're going to take lots of pictures or want digital as was well as prints, it can be worth it.
     
  13. fredgirls

    fredgirls DIS Veteran

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    Thanks! That's useful too. :goodvibes

    I was actually meaning the photos at the sea lion encounter that jagmeister mentioned.

    All info. gladly absorbed though! :)
     
  14. jagmeister

    jagmeister Happy Camper

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    If I recall correctly, it was based on the number of individuals in your group. The CD of all pictures for four people was about $160. He offered to give it to us for a discounted price for three people of around $130. There was no further bargaining. Individual printouts of the photos were a lot more -- around $30 a pic. It was a great experience nonetheless. It's not often in life that you get to interact that closely with a sea lion. Even got a mouth to snout kiss (I know, yuck, right!). :)
     
  15. fredgirls

    fredgirls DIS Veteran

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    Thanks so much! :goodvibes
    We're going to get a taxi to the park and I'm hoping we'll be able to just get in to do either the sea lion or manatee experience without a booking. We haven't promised the kids anything, so it won't matter if not.
    thanks again.
     
  16. rentayenta

    rentayenta <img src=http://photopost.wdwinfo.com/data/500/dm.

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    Thank you for sharing! :goodvibes

    Hopefully DS and I will be on this exact cruise next January. We've never gone on a cruise like this, anything paramount, helpful tips about any of the trip that you'd think would be beneficial. All this research is making me batty. :crazy2:
     
  17. geetha

    geetha Earning My Ears

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    Sir Goofy,

    Thank you for your review. Did you do anything unique in Cozumel? I am considering a mayan ruin excursion but do not want to subject my father (mid-70s) to too much walking. tx.
     
  18. SirGoofy

    SirGoofy DIS Fan

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    Geetha,

    We didn't even get off the ship -- we just stayed on and enjoyed having the ship almost to ourselves.

    We have been to Cozumel before, but can't recall the excursions we have previously done.

    Sorry I can't be more helpful on this question.
     
  19. AussieMice

    AussieMice Earning My Ears

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    Great trip report :)
     
  20. canadian2013

    canadian2013 Earning My Ears

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    Thanks so much for this review, Sir Goofy. My husband, 10 year old son, and I will be taking this cruise in March and I loved reading what you have to say!
     
  21. Cackyschmackers

    Cackyschmackers Cruise dreamin'

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    Thanks, SirGoofy; Wondering if you or anyone can answer this question: We are doing this same itinerary next Jan. We've done 7- and 8-night cruises on the Magic and always had a character breakfast. Does anyone know if this itinerary has a character breakfast? I was told prob. not on the 5-nights. Thanks in advance!

    :cheer2:
     

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