Panama Canal aboard the Wonder 12/9-12/23 - all photos now up as of 1/22/13!

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by dvandkq, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. dvandkq

    dvandkq Disney Kool-Aid Drinker

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    40
    On December 9, 2012, we boarded a Disney Cruise Line ship for the first time. From the moment we set foot aboard the Disney Wonder, we were captivated by the ship and by her cast members/crew members.

    After leaving Los Angeles at 5 pm on the 9th, we spent the following day at- sea. We arrived in Cabo San Lucas the morning of December 11th and did a harbor tour and bus tour Port Adventure. December 12th found us in Puerto Vallarta, where our Port Adventure was swimming with dolphins - an amazing experience!

    After leaving Puerto Vallarta, we spent four days at-sea. On December 17th, we transited the Panama Canal! We explored Cartagena, Columbia on December 18th. Cartagena is a spectacularly beautiful city, and one of the oldest in the Western Hemisphere.

    We spent the 19th and 20th at-sea.

    December 21, 2012 (12/21/12 - the last day of the Mayan calendar - at least according to Hollywood) gave us the opportunity to climb Mayan temples and explore the ruins at Chochobben, our Costa Maya, Mexico Port Adventure.

    We were again at sea for December 22nd, and we arrived in Miami the morning of December 23rd.

    Our experience was so wonderful, we booked a 7-night Alaska cruise aboard the same ship for this coming August!

    I've shared our photos and videos from our cruise, Port Adventures, and canal transit to our family's website - dvandkq.net. Feel free to browse around to get a sense of what our Panama Canal cruise experience looked like.

    Below are excerpts from the letter we wrote to Disney Cruise Lines upon our return home:
     
  2. Avatar

    Google AdSense Guest Advertisement


    to hide this advert.
  3. fredgirls

    fredgirls DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2009
    Messages:
    865
    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. :goodvibes

    And thank you for sharing your family's panama canal cruise pictures. I've just opened them and am now going to grab my coffee and have a proper look through them! Getting me very excited to sail on the her soon!
     
  4. dvandkq

    dvandkq Disney Kool-Aid Drinker

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    40
    I've gotta make a few pointless posts so I can hit 10 posts, enabling me to add links to pictures to my synopsis above.

    While all the photos are on our website (dvandkq.net), I'd like to incorporate them into this thread.
     
  5. fredgirls

    fredgirls DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2009
    Messages:
    865
    haha! I'll happily read pointless posts!
    Maybe I can help by asking questions? :goodvibes

    You have SO many wonderful pictures. It's very exciting!
    Where on the ship was your room and did you like the location?
     
  6. fredgirls

    fredgirls DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2009
    Messages:
    865
    Also...
    did your Son like the 'friendship rocks' thing?
    They didn't have this on the dream but think my 8 year-old will like it. :goodvibes
     
  7. dvandkq

    dvandkq Disney Kool-Aid Drinker

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    40
    We were in Stateroom 5124. Port side, Deck 5, not far from the Aft Lifts and Stairs. There was only one "Verandah" cabin ahead of us, and that was occupied by the retired Senior Panama Canal Pilot (and his lovely wife) who was aboard to give lectures on the history, design, construction, operation, etc. of the Panama Canal and about shipping in general. He instantly took a liking to our 7 year-old son, and they became buddies who enjoyed seeing each other at the lectures and around the ship.

    The location was great as it provided easy access for our son to the 'Oceaneer's Lab', which was also on Deck 5 (along with the 'Flounder's Reef' nursery and the 'Oceaneer's Club' for pre-school aged kids). Being close to the stairs was convenient for access to the beverage bar and the pool areas. Plus, with the exception of Triton's, all the ship's dining rooms, including the Beach Blanket Buffet, are at the aft end of the ship, so that was also convenient.

    The ship didn't roll much in the Pacific, but once we got in to the Caribbean, I was glad we were on one of the lower decks and towards the stern. The higher on the ship you go, the more pronounced the roll. The farther forward on a ship you go, the more pronounced the pitch, so being relatively low and towards the stern minimized the ship's motion. There are no Verandahs below Deck 5, so that's as low as you can go and still have a stateroom with a balcony.
     
  8. dvandkq

    dvandkq Disney Kool-Aid Drinker

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    40
    While my son thought it was fun simply to be on the Walt Disney Theater stage, and to get to get close to Mickey & Minnie in their 'Kids staff costumes", being a (relatively) older child, he sat in the back row. We tried to sit as close to the stage as we could, but unfortunately that resulted us in being unable to see him for most of the "performance".

    They put the kids from the 'Oceaneer's Club' in the front row, so if your child is on the small side for their age, and is of the appropriate age for the 'Club', you'll at least have a chance of getting pictures of your kid(s) in the skit as they'll be in the front row.

    But since he had fun, that's all that matters :)
     
  9. fredgirls

    fredgirls DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2009
    Messages:
    865
    Hmm...she's 8 and very tall! So we'll sit a little further back to see her. Thanks for the heads up! :goodvibes
     
  10. BethC1952

    BethC1952 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2001
    Messages:
    3,941
    We also had Michele as our server in Palo, and agree, he is the best we've ever had on Wonder (our favorite on Magic is Nergis). I must disagree about your dining servers, however. We had Balwan and Freddy. This was my 15th DCL cruise, and they were by far the best we've ever had. We had a table full of fun people (all DIS'ers, some of us pre-linked for dinner, and the others lucky enough to be stuck with us LOL!!!) and had wonderful service and great fun each night at dinner. I have already requested Balwan as our server for our Alaska cruise in September, and hopefully that request will be granted!

    Beth
     
  11. CarolAnnC

    CarolAnnC <font color=blue>Caught Smuggling Jello Shot Syrin

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2000
    Messages:
    12,232
    Regarding your query about beer on the Alaska cruise - though I do not drink beer, DH does and he was happy with the special Alaskan beers they had onboard.

    Regarding closing the Mickey pool every other day - this has to be done when a child has an accident in the pool. Unfortunately, some get in though not potty trained and well, they must close the pool for a special cleaning.

    Glad you enjoyed your cruise so much! We will be on the WBPC in May...
     
  12. dvandkq

    dvandkq Disney Kool-Aid Drinker

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    40
    I'm pleased to hear they supplement the beer selection for the Alaska cruises - let's hope that continues with Vancouver, B.C. as the port of embarkation. Embarking from Seattle last year was just a one-year deal. For 2013 forward they are embarking from Vancouver, B.C.

    As a parent of a child who loves water parks and swimming pools, we're well aware of WHY they need to close and clean the pool - and we can't possibly object :) Some day they'll invent a chemical/process that eliminates the need to drain, pressure-wash, and re-fill the pool every time there's a potty accident. We're fans of the Great Wolf Lodge as well, and there they call them "AFRs" - "Accidental Fecal Release". GWL was on an episode of "Undercover Boss", and the CEO had to scoop poop out of a pool. The employee who made her remove the poop from the pool was appropriately horrified when it was revealed who she was making clean the pool!
     
  13. dvandkq

    dvandkq Disney Kool-Aid Drinker

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    40
    Michele was commiserating about missing his girlfriend back in Italy, and was contemplating leaving the ship so he could spend more time back home. We wish him the best, but we also hope to see him again on a future cruise!

    Our best "Michele story" was after a Palo brunch where he spent some time going over how Palo's pizza is the only "real" pizza on the boat. The following day, he was serving pizza to our son at Pinocchio's Pizzia, and I just had to ask him if the cheese pizza at Pinocchio's came from Palo. :)
     
  14. dvandkq

    dvandkq Disney Kool-Aid Drinker

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    40
    Just two more posts and I get to add photos to my trip report :yay:
     
  15. dvandkq

    dvandkq Disney Kool-Aid Drinker

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    40
    Perhaps I'll do a day-by-day photo diary/blog...
     
  16. dvandkq

    dvandkq Disney Kool-Aid Drinker

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    40
    Photo test...

    Let's see if I can now link photos to my posts...

    Here's one of my favorite photos from our trip:

    [​IMG]

    We were told (we're new) that a photo with all of these friends is almost impossible to get anywhere but on a long DCL cruise...

    [​IMG]
     
  17. dvandkq

    dvandkq Disney Kool-Aid Drinker

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    40
    We left Seattle early in the afternoon of December 8th. Our Alaska Airlines direct flight made getting to Southern California easy.

    [​IMG]
    John checks out the aircraft emergency procedures card

    Arriving at Long Beach made getting to Southern California even easier, as the airport is small and simple and rarely crowded.

    We obtained all of our bags - except for my garment bag which I left on the luggage carousel. The "Best Western Long Beach" shuttle van soon arrived and took us to the Best Western Long Beach, our home for the night before the cruise.

    While checking in at the hotel, my wife's cell phone rang. It was Alaska Airlines calling to let us know we'd left my garment bag behind on the luggage carousel. We were able to cajole the shuttle driver into making another round-trip to the airport to retrieve the garment bag containing my nice clothes for the formal and semi-formal nights. On the way back from the airport, we were able to get the driver to stop at the In-N-Out Burger along the way - a requirement of any trip to Southern California, no matter how abbreviated!

    Once checked in, fed, and organized, we went to a nearby liquor store to buy some much-needed cruise supplies. After that errand, a bunch of excited people tried their best to get a good night's sleep the night before the fun really started!
     
  18. dvandkq

    dvandkq Disney Kool-Aid Drinker

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    40
    Sunday, December 9th found us waking up in the Long Beach Best Western hotel. After a continental breakfast at the hotel, we packed up and caught a 10:30 AM shuttle ride from the hotel to the Los Angeles Cruise Terminal at Pier 93, right under the Vincent Thomas Bridge.

    [​IMG]
    Riding the van to the cruise terminal!

    This is the stereotypical place to board a cruise ship in Los Angeles, as it was the home port for Princess Cruise's "Pacific Princess", a.k.a. as "The 'Love Boat".

    This was our first Disney Cruise Line cruise, and we noticed the subtle differences from the beginning.

    Friendly staff with "Mickey Hand" gloves directed us to our check-in location. Everyone was always happy and always smiling. The magic began the moment we stepped out of the shuttle van!

    Check-in was quick and easy. We were then guided to a large waiting area, where passengers would board in groups. We arrived at the terminal shortly after 11 AM, and the check-in process and security screening had us ready to board by 11:45. While waiting to board, we took the opportunity to register John with the Kid's Club program and also got some photos with Minnie!

    [​IMG]

    Not long after, our group was called and it was time to board the 'Disney Wonder'! As we waited in line to board, there was another photo opportunity...

    [​IMG]

    Friends had done a Mexican Riviera cruise aboard the 'Wonder', also leaving Los Angeles, and they advised us once aboard to find a spot on Deck 9, sit down, and get something to eat - so we did - finding our first delicious meal at "Goofy's Galley", where they always had delicious wraps, sandwiches, panini, fruit, and salads.

    [​IMG]

    We quickly noticed that some of the crew wore outlandish uniforms.

    [​IMG]

    We were also exposed to the cross-pollination of Disney characters!

    [​IMG]

    After a relaxing lunch, we decided to see if our stateroom was ready - and it was! There was a loud noise outside, so I went to investigate. It turned out it was the pump on the fuel barge, filling our tanks for the long journey.

    [​IMG]

    View of the Vincent Thomas Bridge from the 'verandah' on our stateroom.

    [​IMG]

    After getting things squared away in our stateroom, it was time to explore our new surroundings.

    [​IMG]
    The "Lobby Atrium".

    [​IMG]
    "Mickey's Pool"

    [​IMG]
    "Goofy's Pool"

    [​IMG]
    "Quiet Cove Pool"

    [​IMG]
    The crew's pool and deck area

    [​IMG]
    The ship's "Builder's Plate"

    [​IMG]
    As we get closer to 5 PM - our departure time - the engines are brought on-line to give us the power we'll need.

    [​IMG]
    Time for a Bon Voyage party!

    [​IMG]
    Shore-side staff give us the four-fingered salute!

    [​IMG]
    The 'Goodyear Blimp' comes to see us off!

    [​IMG]
    We pass the USS Iowa as we sail out of San Pedro harbor.

    [​IMG]
    Leaving Los Angeles

    [​IMG]
    Leaving Los Angeles

    [​IMG]
    Ship's funnel as we're sailing out into the Pacific Ocean

    [​IMG]
    The Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Pilot departs the ship as we enter the Pacific Ocean.

    [​IMG]
    'Stich' is our first "towel creation" found upon our return to the stateroom!

    John's favorite part of his day: Exploring the Oceaneer's Lab.
    John's favorite food of his day: Turkey/cranberry sandwich from "Goofy's Galley".
    Left Long Beach Best Western at 10:30 AM for the 20 minute drive to the Los Angeles Cruise Terminal 93 in San Pedro. Checked in and waiting to board by 11:30.
    Pictures with Minnie in the terminal waiting area. John enjoyed seeing everyone wearing their various "Mickey Ears" in the terminal. Boarded around 12:20 PM. Went straight to Deck 9 for lunch at "Goofy's Galley". Hung around top deck until around 2, when our room was ready. Luggage hadn't arrived yet, but unpacked carry-ons and started settling in.
    Hermie our House Elf had brought a Christmas Tree for our stateroom, and there were birthday decorations for Kathleen as well.
    Continued exploring ship until Bon Voyage party and departure from cruise terminal at 5 pm, which we observed from Deck 10.
     
  19. dvandkq

    dvandkq Disney Kool-Aid Drinker

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    40
    [​IMG]
    We awoke to a spectacular sunrise over Baja California.

    [​IMG]

    With a day at sea, we had lots of time to explore the ship and become acquainted with our home for the next two weeks.

    Every summer, we love to go to a music festival held at a private campground and resort in Northwest Oregon. The festival grounds are always swarming with peacocks, and thus peacocks are a favorite bird of ours. The venue is most famous for the albino peacocks roaming the grounds, so when we found paintings of a white peacock and a "regular" peacock in the forward stairway, we knew we'd found a special place just for us!
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    View from the stern as we sail south into Mexican waters.

    [​IMG]
    Occasionally, we were able to see the coast of Baja California.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Princess Ariel has a special relationship with ships and the sea.

    [​IMG]
    Disney did not disappoint when it came to Christmas decorations aboard our ship!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Hanging out in the windows along Route 66 (Deck 3)

    [​IMG]
    Daisy Duck!

    [​IMG]
    Sailor Goofy!

    [​IMG]
    Captain Mickey!

    [​IMG]
    Fiesta Goofy!

    [​IMG]
    Fiesta Mickey!

    Morning lecture by Capt. Kenneth Puckett, retired Senior Panama Canal Pilot in the 'Walt Disney Theater" on the early history of the Panama Canal region.
    Saw characters, explored the ship, and hung out by the pools.
    John's favorite food - cheese pizza from 'Pinocchio's Pizza".
    John's favorite part of his day - playing in the pools, on the water slide, and seeing the ventriloquist in the evening show in the 'Walt Disney Theater'.
     
  20. dvandkq

    dvandkq Disney Kool-Aid Drinker

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    40
    We awoke on Day 3 with the ship much closer to shore than the day before, as we were approaching Cabo San Lucas.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Pacific Ocean on the left, Sea of Cortez on the right

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Cabo San Lucas dead-ahead!

    [​IMG]
    Cabo doesn't have a pier for cruise ships, so we must use tenders to go ashore.

    [​IMG]
    We can't be too far from the U.S., as we can see a Costco...

    [​IMG]
    ...a Wal-Mart...

    [​IMG]
    ...and Sam's Club from the ship.

    [​IMG]
    Heading down the gangway to our tender for the short trip to the harbor.

    [​IMG]
    Tenders allow you to get away from the ship, which makes for great photos!

    [​IMG]
    Pulling in to the Cabo San Lucas harbor

    [​IMG]
    Tour boat for the first part of our harbor tour/city tour excursion

    [​IMG]
    Enjoying our harbor tour!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Shortly after rounding the point, we encountered three California Gray Whales!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    After the harbor tour, we returned to the port and boarded buses for the short ride to the "Sunset Da Mona Lisa" restaurant for the view of the harbor from the restaurant

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Heading back to the ship after a fun day ashore in Cabo San Lucas!

    [​IMG]
    Preparing to come alongside the Wonder's folding tender dock

    [​IMG]
    So long, Cabo San Lucas!

    Hot weather arrives!
    There were dolphins jumping in our wake prior to arriving in the harbor.
    We anchored out and took a tender ashore.
    Did a boat tour of the bay and out to Los Arcos.
    We found three whales off the cape. We followed the California Gray Whales for about a mile before slowly returning to the harbor in Cabo. Whale in Spanish = "ballena".
    After return to harbor, boarded bus for 30 min drive to "Mona Lisa Sunset Bar & Grill" restaurant for refreshments and photos.
    Then drove back to harbor and tendered back to the 'Disney Wonder'.
    Pat & Karin stayed in Cabo for a couple hours to poke around the harbor area before returning to the ship.
    The last tender arrived 15 minutes after our scheduled departure time. The last person off the last tender appeared highly intoxicated, and had to be brought aboard with the assistance of several crew members. We heard from Capt. Puckett that on a normal cruise there would be one ship's doctor, but he heard there were two aboard this cruise due to the number of accident-prone kids aboard.
    John's favorite food: Mickey Bar
    John's favorite part of his day: Playing in the 'Mickey's Pool' water slide and in "Goofy's Pool".
    Today John received his 'Panama Canal Pilot's Pin" from Capt. Puckett.
     
  21. dvandkq

    dvandkq Disney Kool-Aid Drinker

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    40
    Day Four of our 14-day cruise took us to Puerto Vallarta. Puerto Vallarta is one of my favorite cities in Mexico, primarily because there are large parts of the city where one can get lost and forget one is in a tourist town.

    The Puerto Vallarta cruise terminal isn't one of those places. The Wal-Mart across the street from the dock proves the point. If you want to experience the real Puerto Vallarta, you're not going to be able to do it from a cruise ship. Fly to PV and spend a week there. Heck - I need a week there just to hit all my favorite PV restaurants!

    Knowing the cruise terminal was a long walk or a harrowing taxi ride away from the Malecon and the "Old Puerto Vallarta" we love, we decided on a Port Adventure not unique to Puerto Vallarta - a "Signature Dolphin Swim Experience" with Vallarta Adventures. We couldn't have been happier with our decision!

    We boarded a bus a short walk from the ship for the 15 mile drive to the "Vallartas Adventures" dolphin facility in Nuevo Vallarta. Puerto Vallarta is in the State of Jalisco, and Nuevo Vallarta, while a suburb of Puerto Vallarta, is in the neighboring state of Nayarit. There is a military checkpoint at the border between the two. While the soldiers only glanced at the vehicles passing by, the traffic jam turned the 15 mile ride into an hour-long crawl.

    Once we arrived at the facility, the staff let us know that our late arrival wouldn't deduct time spent at our adventure. They immediately got our minds off the frustrating bus ride and on track to have fun. I had some reservations about a dolphin swim experience. I was worried that the dolphins wouldn't have adequate facilities, or that they'd be over-worked tourist attractions. I was instantly pleased with what I saw. The dolphins have an enormous tank/pool in which to live and play and work. The handlers were only assigned to two dolphins each, and it was obvious that the handlers loved the dolphins just as much as the dolphins loved their handlers. The dolphins were eager to play, and it was obvious they enjoyed the play and interaction with people.

    The dolphins - and the staff - were equally adept at soothing the concerns and fears of our seven year-old son and our seventy-something year-old mothers. The dolphins were friendly, loved to be pet, loved to show off for people, and seemed to enjoy their work.

    I was also concerned as I anticipated trying to capture the experience on camera. It turns out I had nothing to worry about. There were two Vallartas Adventures staff photographers shooting our group of five, and the resulting photos and video are spectacular. We had to buy the all-inclusive photo package (I think it was $250), but when you split the cost among the five guests, the per-person cost isn't that outrageous. We think the proof is in the photos :)

    [​IMG]
    Sailing in to Banderas Bay

    [​IMG]
    Breakfast at the 'Beach Blanket Buffet' as we pull into Puerto Vallarta

    [​IMG]
    Having breakfast at the stern of the ship, we had planned on missing most of our entrance into the Puerto Vallarta harbor. We were pleasantly surprised when the ship turned around and backed in to the harbor! Now we had a front-row seat for our arrival in Puerto Vallarta!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    The 'Carnival Splendor' was stuck in port with engine trouble. We heard that the ship had to stay-over as repairs were made, and this voyage had to skip a planned port call in Cabo San Lucas.

    [​IMG]
    Our dock - with the Wal-Mart across the street. The mall on the left has a Starbucks. My mother-in-law made the trek for a latte and the free Wi-Fi to check in on her business.

    [​IMG]
    Puerto Vallarta's finest, hard at work in front of the cruise terminal.

    [​IMG]
    The dock in Puerto Vallarta.

    [​IMG]
    Leaving the ship for our shuttle ride to our dolphin adventure!

    [​IMG]
    Getting ready to jump in with the dolphins!

    [​IMG]
    Our friends for the next hour and a half!

    [​IMG]
    First the dolphins swim around you. They get familiar with you, and you get familiar with them. They love to be rubbed in the right spots - just like people! We still argue over what their skin feels like to the touch. Wet rubber, wet velvet, wet velvety-rubber, wet rubbery velvet... the list goes on!

    [​IMG]
    Yes - you actually do get to ride on the dolphins! First, you grab their dorsal fins, hang on, and enjoy the ride.

    [​IMG]
    The other way to "ride" a dolphin is when they swim on their backs. You just grab their pectoral fins like handlebars, hang on, and enjoy the ride!

    [​IMG]
    After the in-pool experience, the dolphins get to play and show-off.

    [​IMG]

    After the experience, there was a delicious Mexican buffet lunch provided as part of the Port Adventure. We reminisced about our swim over excellent cheese enchiladas.

    [​IMG]
    Then it was time to head back to the ship. The Carnival ship was still in port when we left.

    [​IMG]
    Leaving Puerto Vallarta...

    [​IMG]
    John & Capt. Puckett watch the Puerto Vallarta Pilot depart the 'Wonder'.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

Share This Page