3-Day Wonder Cruise 1/17/02 with Rent-A-Kid


DIS Veteran
Aug 18, 1999
Our Trip
Tina (38 yrs old )“Hopkins”
Bill (42 yrs old) “DH of Hopkins”
Sam (13 yrs old) “Rent-A-Kid”

After so much planning, I can’t believe it’s all over. Thanks to everyone on the DIS for all their help and suggestions. What a great “family”of people. My husband and I have been married for 16 yrs and don’t have any children, so we thought it would be neat to see the cruise from a kid’s perspective. Thus, we rented the neighbor’s kid for the 3-day Wonder cruise sailing on Thursday, January 17, 2002. To pay for his cruise, I sold my Precious Moments figurine collection, most of my Disney pin collection, dog sat another neighbor’s dog for 10 days during the year (doggie morning play group dog and our dogs girlfriend), my Christmas and birthday present from hubby. We’ve known Sam for over 7 yrs. He’s a great kid who has been diagnosed with ADD and dyslexia. They say Walt Disney was dyslexic, but I don’t know if this is really true. He goes to a special school for dyslexia, so they can teach him the tools he needs. The school has done wonders for him. He’s really smart.

I had flown down a few days before the cruise, and stayed with my cousin, her husband and their 8 month old daughter in a 1-bedroom villa at Disney’s Old Key West. We toured the four parks. Sam and Bill flew down to Orlando late on Wednesday after Sam finished school (and hubby finished worked) and I picked them up at the airport. I moved to a studio at OKW earlier in the day since my cousin’s family moved out to the Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. We didn’t get to bed until about 1 AM. Earlier in the month, Bill had bought a car on eBay, that was suppose to be delivered by the gentleman to the cruise terminal after our cruise, but to make a long story short, we had to pick it up at his house instead in Vero Beach. I was furious since I wanted us to sleep in and then drive to the terminal by 12 noon. Now, we had to drive 2 hrs out of our way to pick the car. By the way, it is a 1976 Ford Granada that hubby is going to use to fix up his 1977 Ford Granada. It’s a “Historic Vehicle” with tags to prove it. I wish it were a sports car, though. I was very disappointed in hubby’s planning. We all drove to Vero Beach and then Sam and I followed Bill to the Disney Cruise Line terminal about 1 ½ hours up the coast. We did get to the cruise terminal around noon anyway, but were already a bit worn out.

***Thursday, January 17, 2002 (Day 1)***
As we approached the cruise terminal, I told Sam to take photos of the ship/terminal. When we first spotted the ship we were so excited. Our hearts was racing, we were so excited we screamed and yelled and carried on. We could have been a power source for Port Canaveral. Sam got off lots of beautiful pictures. All in all, we took 11 rolls of film and one water camera. I figured it was better to have more pictures than too few. The parking/bag drop-off was a bit confusing. We cruised twice before on DCL, so we knew that the parking lot is to the right and baggage drop-off is through the main gate and to the left. The traffic was really bad and the line to drop baggage was very slow. At the gate, you had to prove that you were sailing that day. Then, you loop around to the terminal, cross the road you entered on, and then into the parking lot. I don’t believe you can go directly into the lot without going through the main gate. We dropped the bags off and took a photo. Sam and I (while waiting to get cleared by security to cross the road into the parking lot) saw a couple in a BMW 7-series pass the lot and then threw their car into reverse and then turned into the lot. The officer with us was absolutely furious. Whistles blowing, hand gesturing, and then he exchanged words with him. He was then backed out and sent to the main gate. Interesting. We parked and made our way into the building taking pictures all along the way and inside. We met Bill in the terminal since we got separated when we dropped the luggage and checked in around 1PM. We entered the ship where they announced our name, Captain Mickey was waving from the staircase and went directly to our stateroom to change into our swim gear which was in our day bag. We went to Goofy’s Pool which was completely deserted. We swam a bit and then called Sam’s family from the deck. Bill called the car insurance company to put the “new” car on our policy. Afterwards, Sam went into the whirlpool and I joined him for a moment (and the picture). The water temperature was really too warm for me. We bought Sam and Bill the soda mugs (I shared theirs) and then ate fast food from Pluto’s Dog House. Off to Scoops for ice cream. Sam wanted to go down Mickey’s slide, so we asked the cast member and he made the cut-off age/weight/height. We looked around the ESPN Zone Skybox and sat in the stadium seats and dined on cheese nachos and soda. Back to the stateroom for the lifeboat drill and we unpacked our bags. Sam’s bag was missing, but it was still early. We told our stateroom host and he kept a look out for it. It arrived after the lifeboat drill and before the musical at 6:30PM, so we were all settled in after that. We then joined the “Sail-Away Celebration” party and Sam danced, I took photos and Bill took video of us. We then walked around the ship to see us leave port and then we showed him the Wide world of Sports Deck. Sam joined into the basketball game for about 45 minutes while Bill and I talked with a nice couple. Then, off to Hercules the Muse-ical. Since we hadn’t showered from the pools. We missed some off the programing to change into our clothes for dinner. We dinned at the more formal Triton’s. After dinner we did some shopping at Mickey Mates. I had a list from several DIS folks to fill (and also my own). We had a nice swan towel animal waiting for us back in the stateroom. We asked our host to make up the top bunk and leave the sofa instead of coverting that into a bed. Sam had a lot of fun up there, but with the lower ceiling, he hit his head a often.

***Friday, January 18, 2002 (Day 2)***
We arrived in Nassau to sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s and 80s. Beautiful!!! We had breakfast at Beach Blanket Buffet out on the deck. What a beautiful view and the food was good, too. The table next to us must have had a zero IQ. They were feeding the sea gulls which swarmed their table. The CM’s didn’t say anything until they left and cleaned up the mess. Bill and Sam were at the table while I was walking around deck taking a few photos. Once I returned, it looked like they were being attacked. I said something out loud and they understood and soon left. Nassau really did look nice. I really think they have been working on cleaning it up. At the dock, there was a Bahamian band which sounded great. We were planning to do a carriage ride, but then decided against it and thought to see the sights on foot. As we walked, a nice gentleman approached us and asked if we wanted to do a carriage ride. He was very friendly and quoted us $25 for the three of us (with tip $30). It seemed fair. He gave a great 20 minute tour of the city. Lots of information. What a great guy! Again, we took lots of photos with him and the city. We went to Del Sol which is a shop that has items that change colors in the sun. Sam bought two tee shirts for his sister and brother. We returned to the ship for lunch and to change into our swim gear for the “Swim with the Dolphin” program. Since it was offered from Disney, we had to book directly with the company. We had to take a taxi from the cruise ship to the Paradise Island Ferry Terminal. Again, we were approached as we left the ship, but this time by a nice lady who was going to take us in her taxi. We were about 10 people all together. It was a beautiful gray Mercedes van. She took us to the Atlantis Hotel, where we walked to the Ferry Terminal. It was a nice walk and we had the time. The high speed catamaran to the Dolphin Encounters Blue Lagoon Island took about 20 minutes. I wasn’t expecting it to be that far away. Along the way, the coastline of that part of the island is simply gorgeous. Once we arrived at the Dolphin Encounter complex, we had an orientation lecture and picked up some literature for Sam to write a book report. They suggested we wear a wet suit since the water was a little chilly. Sam opted to, but I declined. I run warm! We hung out on the dock with our feet dangling for a while with the dolphins swimming by and then it was time for us to jump in. The trainers were correct, the water was a bit cold, but once you started moving around, it was fine. We did the “Swim with the Dolphins” program and not the “Dolphin Encounter”. Though, it was twice as much, it was incredible. We were able to pet, kiss, dance, feed, human hurdle (they jump over you) and the incredible foot push (your laying on your stomach and your arms out to the side and two dolphins push at the bottoms of your feet achieving 25 miles/hr). We then showered outside and changed out of our bathing suits in the rest rooms. We bought one picture and since Bill video taped, we didn’t buy their video. I had the water camera with me snapping photos the entire time. At 6PM we made our way back to the catamaran to the Paradise Island Ferry Terminal and then the Port of Nassau. We arrived back at the Wonder at 6:30PM just in time for “Who Wants to Be a Mouseketeer”. Cruise Director Rick was the host. Rick is a great at what he does and not a bad “Regis”. Since we hadn’t showered completed, we returned to our stateroom to get dressed into our dinner clothes. We were off to Animator’s Palate. I surprised hubby with an anniversary cake. The head waiter, server and assistant server all came over and sang us “Happy Anniversary”. He was really shocked. Everyone around was looking and clapping. We took the cake back to the room. We joined into the Tropical Deck Party until the movie premiere of “Snow Dogs” in the Walt Disney Theater at 11:15PM. We had to do it since it opened the exact time as on the movie theaters on land. We all liked it. It was a great family movie. A popcorn cart serving popcorn would have been a nice addition, though. Running on fumes, back to the stateroom where a dog towel animal was waiting for us. We were exhausted.

***Saturday, January 19, 2002 (Day 3)***
We arrived at Castaway Cay to sunny skies and temperatures again in the 70s and 80s. We ate outside at Beach Blanket with Castaway Cay as the backdrop. We bought Sam and myself the “Castaway Package” which included all day snorkeling, one hour bike rental and an all day float. On the way to the snorkeling area, we saw Island Mickey, Island Minnie in a cabana and Island Goofy at Mount Rustmore. We picked up the gear at Gil’s Fins and Boat and we were off to the water. I never snorkeled before, but Sam was a pro. It took a while for me to get the hang of it. We took pictures of the fish with the water camera. Afterwards, Sam and I had reservations for the banana boat ride. This was a first for both of us. What a wild ride!!! Bill took video along the shore. I was the first to fall, but I fell toward the center. A few more fell toward the center, but then it happened. Someone fell off the boat. We blew the whistle they gave us for emergencies and then circled back and picked him up. He fell again, but toward the center and took out Sam. People compare the ride to riding on a horse at a gallop, but with lots of water being thrown at you. I highly recommend this. The views of the ship from the boat were incredible. I wish I had more water camera photos left, but even if I did, you are holding on for dear life so it might not have been a good idea to hold on with one hand with the other snapping photos. We then found Bill on a beach lounge chair and made our way to the bike rental area. They make the kids wear helmets, but not the adults. Around Maryland, it’s the law that everyone wear one, so to set an example for the other kids, we all wore them. We made our way around the paths, past the airplanes and runway, cabanas, adult beach and then the look out area. We stopped for cold water at the stations along the way. We had worked up quite on appetite, so we went to Cookies BBQ. Afterwards, Bill went back to the ship for a nap, and Sam and I stayed on the island. Sam wanted to snorkel some more, but I didn’t have the energy, so I rented the float and stayed outside the snorkeling area where I could keep an eye on him. He wanted to find the statue of Mickey. He found it and lots of fish along the way, but the water camera didn’t have any pictures left. I wish we had that photo of him finding it. By this time, I had developed a headache, so we visited First Aid on the island for some Advil. Back to the ship for a nap, started to pack our bags, and we dressed for the musical Disney Dreams. Before the musical, we watched us leave the island from the deck and then picked up our photos from Shutters. We did the five photo deal package. We made our way to the Walt Disney Theater for Disney Dreams. Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful! I teared up at the Tickerbell flying part clip. m I'm not going to spoil it for people whi haven't seen it, but it was "magical". Afterwards, we did Family Dueling Pianos. The show is very different than the adult version. There is more interaction and activities to keep the kids attention like dancing and the like. Not as many songs and requests from the audience, but still very fun and entertaining. We dinned at Parrot Cay in our tropical attire. Afterwards, Sam wanted to do Family Karaoke where he sang “I Believe I Can Fly”. I thought he was great and the audience really enjoyed it. He thought he wasn’t that good. Modest. I wish I had a photo of him singing, but I probably would have made him nervous. So, it’s probably a good thing I didn’t. Off to our stateroom to finish packing and place the bags outside the stateroom by 11PM.

What a wonderful thing you did for Sam!! It sounds as though you and Bill enjoyed this cruise immensely with the addition of your "Rent-A-Kid"!

The dophin swim is something I wished we would have done on our Disney Cruise - we did the horse riding on the beach instead - which was also very nice - just very pricey.

I have a Precious Moments collection, too. I quit buying them, though, shortly after
we had our two teens.

Thanks for the great report!
and how great of you to give Sam the opportunity to go with you and have the experiences he did.

I have a couple of questions. We are planning to go to Atlantis for the day and I am interested in getting a couple of these "change color" t- shirts I've heard a lot about. Can you describe what they're like specifically? And, how far a walk is the t shirt shop from the ship. I think we'll do like you did and go there first and then on to Atlantis...

Also, how was "Who wants to be a Mousketeer? My kids are dying to go to this. How long is it?

Thanks for any info...

Here are some answer to your questions.

To get to the carriage ride from the ship, it's about a 5 minute walk and another 5 minute walk from there to Del Sol. It's no more than a total of 10 minutes. Skipping the carriage ride, as you get off the ship dock go straight up the street and then turn right on the "main shopping" street. Or, you could go by the carriage rides (right) and then a left and up the street. It's on a corner and very easy to find. The people were very helpful. Basically, the t-shirts are plain with black outlines (like a coloring book) which change into colors in the sun. Some shirts have designs that change on the front and the back. Most all say Nassau, Bahamas on them, so that's a great souvenir. DCL gives you a map of the shopping area with that store and other stores listed which is in a Nassau trash can. I usually save everything. I must have forgotten that one. They have canvas bags, polo shirts, nail polish, hair clips,rings neclaces... which all change colors.

It's very similar to the television version, except the "phone a friend" is "ask the panelists", questions are all disney related, money is all shipboard credit with a grand prize of a 7-night DCL cruise, and they pick contestants for the "hot seat" at random by a computer from the audience. First, the "Ask the Panelists", are six people chosen from the audience by the host. He picks the crazy/nutty/energetic people to be a panelist on stage. Wear bright colors and/or a Mickey hand and go nuts. You may get picked. One person is then chosen to be the spokesperson for the panelists. In the end you just get a pin for doing this and the memories of being on stage in the show. The "Ask the Audience" question is done by the loudest round of applause for A, B, C or D. The contestants for the "hot seat" are chosen from the audience at random by computer by row/seat number. If a child is chosen, an adult goes up with them. The kid is in the hot seat and the adult behind them.. It really is cute! They can make the decisions or you can guide them. The host might help out on the easier questions with hints if a life line is chosen too early or a wrong answer might be given. The show last about 30-45 minutes. The contestant gets the shipboard credit and a pin.

I'm glad people liked the report.

Dear Hopkins:

What beautiful people you and your husband must be. To take someone along when one has ample means is one thing, but to sell off your dear collections to bring Sam - brings tears to my eyes.

I'm sure you have some real life "precious moments" to replace those that you sold.
Tina, YOU RULE!!! What a WONDERful person you are! It's not just Disney that makes dreams come true. Ebay made your husband's dream come true(if you can consider a 76 granada a dream LOL) but you made Sam's dreams reality. That is the best part of your report. I hope Matt sees this and gives you a free cruise just for your generosity, selflessness and compassion. You get my vote for DIS cruiser of the year.


Loved your report Hopkins. You are a very special lady and Sam is a very lucky boy. We have given thought to bringing my DGD's best friend with us on our next cruise because DGD is so very shy,she never connects with anyone her age (10) and then is reluctant to go to kids club. Could you tell me if any special paper work was needed to bring Sam since he isn't a relative? You have me sooo psyched for our 3 day cruise in May. We have been on 4 and 7 night and we want to go to Palos one night. Which night would you suggest? Did you go to Castaway Club party? I'm pretty sure I read there is one on the 3 night cruise. Thanks for a great report.

You need a notorized letter from the parents stating that you are taking their kid out of the country on a cruise. It wouldn't hurt if they added something about making medical decisions on their behalf with insurance and policy numbers. If they don't have a passport, a photo id and birth certificate are needed. Sam's parents applied for a passport, but it got caught up in the anthrax, so we didn't have a passport for him but had a photo id and an official copy of the birth certificate. His original birth certificate is still somewhere in the Passprt Agency. I hope it comes, since it's the original.

Remember Parkhopper's pin meet on Feb 9th.
Take ME along on your cruise!
Magic (Western) 1/18/03
you truly are a special person.....
thank you for sharing your report with us....

and now a few questions:

how big is the upper bunk?
my kids are very tall, especially the boy (6'4").....will he fit?
i have a feeling i'm going to have to give up my bed for him....(which i've done before, so it's not really a big deal....i'd just like to know in advance)...

did you hear anyone talk about atlantis?....can you go to the waterslides there?.....my son found their site on the net and he's looking forward to trying them out.....we would do the dolphin swim, but we swim with dolphins all the time where we live...actually scuba dive with them......they don't do any tricks, but they do love to harass us.....like slap their tails on the water if we're too slow putting on our fins and masks.....
disneyholic family,

It's funny that you mention the upper bunk. I thought they were standard twin size beds. It was late one night and we couldn't sleep, so we were going over what we did that day, and Sam (Rent-a-Kid) said that he thought the bunk bed was shorter in length than his bed at home. So, we turned on the lights and measured it with a book. It's about 3 to 4 inches shorter in length than than the king bed that hubby and I slept in. It's width was half of the king bed which is what I expected. Sam was correct about it being a bit shorter in length. The only problem with sleeping up there is that sometimes he forgot he was up by the ceiling and... bam!!!. He would hit his head on the ceiling.

The water park at the Atlantis hotel (which is simply incredible) can be booked directly through the Disney Excursion desk, rent a room at the Atlantis Hotel for the day, or rent a room at the Comfort Suites Paradise Island which is cheaper than the Atlantis and gives you FULL access to the Atlantis pools/beach/water park/aquarium. You can't just go to the Atlantis and then pay for the water park. While your at the Atlantis, you must visit the aquarium, too. We were going to do the excursion or Comfort Suites, but decided to do the Swim with the Dolphin program since you can't do that around here. Your lucky that you see dolphins and swim with them. They're so gentle.

Your going to have lots of fun!
Magic (Western) 7-day 1/18/03
a very l-o-n-g way off
thanks Tina!!!
my son will be in seventh heaven when i tell him....
as for the dolphins....yes they are incredible animals....
in some ways they remind us a lot of our dog (a total sweetie...golden retriever mutt), but much much smarter....
the ones we play with have a wonderful sense of humor.....
and they totally adore playing with people....


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