East Meets West - A Wonderful Journey


In Search of the Tag Fairy
Dec 25, 2007
WOW .... I loved sharing your experience of crossing the Panama Canal .. brings back so many happy memories for me when I did it every 2 weeks when working on the Royal Princess in the 80s. Of course I didn't get so many wonderful photographs as it was pre-digital. Did you get any of those enormous bugs flying across from the rainforest. :scared1:
We did see the odd very large dragon fly, but nothing else. I could cope with the dragon flies even though I am normally very nervous around insects.



RIP Tag Fairy
Apr 25, 2006
I wonder if Disney has to foot the bill for the damage to the ship or if the canal company does?
  • dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Dec 25, 2007
    I wonder if Disney has to foot the bill for the damage to the ship or if the canal company does?
    I am not sure about this. They had the welding equipment out at Los Angeles and I am sure the hole was fixed before the Wonder set sail again. The windows are a different proposition.

    Wow! Looks like an amazing day! :goodvibes
    It was absolutely amazing and I am so grateful that I was able to experience this.



    Bahama Mama Time !!
    Mar 8, 2003
    What a great day and fab photos as you passed through the Panama Canal too :thumbsup2

    We are big fans of Palo High Tea too, got to love those warm scones with jam & clotted cream ::yes:: Mmm, I wish I was having that right now ;)


    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Dec 25, 2007
    Day 10

    Compared to the previous day, it felt like a lie in when Mickey woke us up at 7:00 AM. Aqua Aerobics was offered that day so we put on our swim stuff and headed up to deck 9.

    Even though it had not felt that hot the previous day, the pool had heated up quite considerably and working out in this proved to be quite hard work. We still had great fun though. After the class, we decided to chill out in one of the hot tubs for a bit as we had time to kill. Let's just say there was not much difference between the temperature of the pool and the temperature of the hot tub.

    Once we had enough of the hot tub, we headed back to the cabin to get changed. We still had some time left so we went back to deck 9 to have some coffee at Cove Cafe.

    After a day off, we did Walk A Mile again. Our walking buddy from the cruise staff was all by herself the previous day as everybody was too busy watching the crossing. That day, she had a good turn out though.

    When we had finished our three laps round deck 4, we headed back to the cabin to get changed out of our work out clothes and to pick up my camera.

    It was our turn for the character breakfast that day. All of our table mates had turned out for this. Soon after we had all arrived, the characters started to come round. Unlike at our previous character breakfasts on the Magic, where the characters were wearing their tropical outfits, the characters on the Wonder were wearing their nautical outfits. We had Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Chip and Dale visiting. I always find it a real shame that they do not have the Shutters photographers at the character breakfasts. They do take photos at some of the dinners, so they can't use the excuse that it is too crowded in the dining rooms.

    Service was a bit slow this morning and most of the characters had visited our table by the time we had our breakfast. Graham had let our server choose his breakfast and ended up with Bacon, Grilled Ham, Sausage, Cheese and Ham Omlette, Grilled Tomato. I chose my own food and had Fried Eggs, Sausage, Hash Brown and Chocolate Chip Pancakes. Once everybody had finished their breakfast and all the characters had been to visit, our server and assistant server made silly hats out of cloth napkins. None of our previous servers had managed to get a hat on Graham, but Daniel succeeded. Graham was decidely unimpressed.

    After breakfast, we headed up to the shop to see if they were selling copies of Kingdom Keepers. I figured that the shops would be extremely busy after the talk so I decided to get a head start. I had not managed to lay my hands on the third book in the Kingdom Keepers series, but I had managed to get the first two books in 2009. Graham suddenly mentioned that the books that I had previously owned had somehow ended up in the box for the charity shop and that is precisely where they had ended up. I could not believe this. I had a lot of trouble finding those books. Still, that gave me an excuse to buy the full set and have all three of them signed.

    Once I had purchased the books, I went to the Walt Disney Theater and found a seat. To my surprise, the theater was filling up from the back. So I got a seat near the front, which I liked a lot. While we were waiting for the talk to start, I chatted to some of the people from our cruise meet thread.

    I had first heard about the Kingdom Keepers books in 2009 when somebody on the DIS Boards recommended the books. I had never heard of Ridley Pearson, but a series of books set in Disney parks sounded good to me. They are aimed at children, but they are definitely a good read for adults, too. At the time when I first heard about them, two books had been released, one set in Magic Kingdom and one set in Animal Kingdom. The basic premise is that Disney has introduced holographic hosts to the Magic Kingdom. The teenagers who stood model for those hosts are transported to the Magic Kingdom at night. During the night, the characters and Audio-Animatronics come to life. The villains, known as the Overtakers are causing trouble and it is the task of the teenagers to stop them. Now there is a third book, which is set in Epcot and Hollywood Studios.

    The talk started with Ridley Pearson explaining how those books came to be. He is an award winning author of crime novels for adults. It surprised me that I had not heard of him because of this, as crime novels are my guilty pleasure. His publisher is a Disney company and they asked him if he was willing to write a book set in the parks. After a lot of backwards and forwards regarding access and research, they came to an agreement and Kingdom Keepers was born. He talked a bit about things that he came across while doing his research and people who acted as inspiration. This was interesting stuff. He then talked a bit about the future of the series. The next book will be out in April and will be set at Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Downtown Disney. For the first time, the “good” characters will get in on the action as well. There will be a total of 7 books. The 5th book will be set on Disney Cruise Line. I was very excited about this. I was always saying that I wished that there would be a Kingdom Keepers book set on one of the ships. The cruise for the book will be a Panama Canal Cruise, but the book will be set on the Disney Fantasy. This book will be released in April 2012, which will be fitting as this will be around the same time that the Disney Fantasy will be launched. The last two books will then be set at Disneyland and Disney’s Californian Adventure.

    The book signing was supposed to start 30 minutes after the talk finished, but everybody got straight in line. So I decided to do the same. The line was huge. The signing was taking place in Mickey’s Mates and I ended up right in front of the doors of the Walt Disney Theater. This was my first experience of standing in line this cruise. Once the signing had started, the line started to move very slowly. I chatted to the people around me so I did not mind too much. I had made the right decision to get my books straight after breakfast. A number of people complained that the first book had sold out. Eventually it was my turn to get my books signed. I had a brief chat with Ridley Pearson, had my photo taken with him and then he signed and personalized my books. I will treasure those forever.



    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Dec 25, 2007
    Once I was finally done, I headed back to our cabin and dropped off the books. I found Graham there and even though he was not hungry, he came with me to Beach Blanket Buffet to keep me company. I was not particularly hungry either, but because I had another tasting that day, I thought I better have something to eat to soak up the alcohol. I had every intention to have lunch at Parrot Cay, but the time I had my books signed, this was closed. Beach Blanket Buffet was not as busy as I had thought and we had no problem getting a table. The theme for lunch that day was Tex Mex and it was very yummy. I had Chicken Tender, Pulled Pork, Beef Burito, Beef Patty, Bean, Corn and Salsa Rice, Lettuce and Olives.

    After lunch, we both went our own way. I still had a bit of time before the tasting so I took some photos of Route 66. I have always preferred this area over Beat Street on the Magic, but never got around to take photos. So I made good use of the time.

    I had really looked forward to the tasting. We were having a private Mixology class. I had done this on the Magic during the Transatlantic and it was very educational and great fun. We had a selection of spirits, juices and other mixers with buckets of crushed ice and tools like shakers, spoons and muddlers on the table and we made a range of different small cocktails. We also got a small Pina Colada each. For each cocktail, we learned about the origin, the ingredients and how to make it and then had a go at these ourselves. I had great fun. So when the same was offered on the Wonder, I did not hesitate to sign up for this. There had been some confusion about the cost of this. Initially we were told it would be $15 per person, but once it was confirmed, it was suddenly only $5 per person. There was obviously something lost in conversation between the ship and shore side operations. Well, I rather would have paid $15 and got the full experience.

    It all started out pretty promising. A table had been set up at the back of the room with all kinds of spirits and mixers. On the bar, they had lots of shakers and glasses set up. The bartenders introduced the concept of mixology to us and then asked for volunteers who made some cocktails. We learned something about the tools of the trade, ingredients and origins of cocktails. Then it was time to make our own cocktail. We were all supposed to make our own Cosmopolitan. We had been advised that all the ingredients apart from the ice were in the shaker and we were supposed to go up to the bar, collect our shaker and glass and then go back to where we were sitting to make the cocktail. Of course, there are always people in a group that are either selectively deaf or just incapable of following instructions. People just sat or stood by the bar and the whole thing turned into a giant free for all. By the time I actually got close to the bar, all of the glasses had gone. The bartender got the couple of of us who had not managed to get shakers and glasses a shaker from the other end of the bar. Well, I think my shaker must have been missing the alcohol as the finished result just tasted of cranberry juice with a splash of lime.

    The last part of the tasting was that each person at each table was asked to write down an ingredient for a cocktail. I got to choose a spirit. I think we chose four spirits and two mixers. The bartenders then turned the mystery ingredients into a cocktail. This was a lot of fun and I loved our cocktail. We were shown how you can draw up a bit of the finished cocktail into a straw by creating a vacuum with your finger and that allowed us to each sample some of the various cocktails without them getting contaminated.

    Once the official tasting was over, we judged the Hawaiian shirt contest. I ended up as one of the judges. Unfortunately all the shirts I really liked got voted out in the preliminary rounds. Still, we had a worthy winner at the end.

    Once all of this was over, I decided to get my swim stuff and my eReader and head up to the Rainforest Room. This is were I found Graham. I spent some quality time in a heated tile lounger reading my book. Once I had enough heat, I retired to the lounge area of the changing rooms and relaxed on one of the loungers there. Once I had enough of this, I got showered and went back to the cabin to get changed.

    On the way to dinner, we spotted that one of our favourite photographers was taking photos against a black backdrop. So we decided to stop and have some photos taken.

    I was a bit dubious about dinner that day. Neither the theme (Taste of California) nor the actual menu had appealed to me when I looked at it earlier in the day. Still, this provided a real surprise. The food was absolutely fantastic. Graham had Olive Oil Marinated Artichokes with Micro Greens, Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Dungeress Crab Hallibut on Celleriac Mash. I chose Potato Croquettes filled with Basil and Italian Cheese, White Wine Sauce, Candied Walnut, Tomato and Cillantro Soup with Chipotle Cream and Somona Chicken Breast, Wild Rice, Roasted Sweet Carots and Asparagus. Our server had also brought out a portion of Portobello Mushroom Ravioli with a Brown Butter, Sage and Truffle Oil Sauce for Graham and me to share. All the flavours were absolutely divine. For dessert, Graham had Apple Strudel with Sugar-free Vanilla Ice Cream and I went with Chocolate Sundae with Honey Granola and Toasted Marshmallow.

    After dinner, we headed back to the cabin. A towel elephant was waiting for us and was guarding a present from Disney Cruise Line. We got a games set that was personalized with the details for the cruise. In the end only the box came home from this.

  • cannp123165

    <font color=green>Very Quizzical<font color=teal>
    Oct 17, 2005
    Sounds like a great day! I love the Kingdom Keepers series - I can't wait for the next book. :)


    Bahama Mama Time !!
    Mar 8, 2003
    I love the idea of the Mixology Class, it sounds like lots of fun ::yes::

    Another great day :thumbsup2


    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Dec 25, 2007
    Sounds like a great day! I love the Kingdom Keepers series - I can't wait for the next book. :)
    I have the next book on pre-order. I can't wait to read this. Amazon and Waterstones.com will both sell the 4th book.

    I love the idea of the Mixology Class, it sounds like lots of fun ::yes::

    Another great day :thumbsup2
    The idea behind it is great and it was a lot of fun on the Magic. One the Wonder, it could best be described as a waste of space. Still, I am going to give this another go on our Mexican Riviera cruise.

  • dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Dec 25, 2007
    Day 11

    We had another fairly early start. This day was the day I had looked
    forward to the most apart from the actual Panama Canal crossing. When we
    got up, we were docked at Puntarenas, Costa Rica. I have visited some
    amazing places over the last few years, but Costa Rica is definitely the
    most exotic of those.

    This was another private excursion that somebody on the DIS Boards had
    kindly organized. We were supposed to meet at 7:45 by the aft gangway.
    When we got off the ship shortly before 7:30, there were buses parked
    right by the ship. The whole thing was organized chaos. We bumped into
    some people I knew that were on the same excursion and they advised us
    that the tour operator was actually waiting for us just outside the
    port entrance, which was in the opposite direction from our meeting
    point. Quite a few people were already there and more arrived in due

    Just outside the port by the beach, a little market with various
    tourist goods had sprung up. Some people headed across the road to
    have a look while we were waiting for the rest of the group to appear.
    I decided to stay in the shade of a big tree. Even that early in the
    morning it was hot and the sun was strong.

    Once everybody had arrived, we walked the few steps to the buses. The
    group was divided into two and our bus was adults only. We were
    introduced to our guide Andres and our driver, whose name I could not

    Formalities out of the way, we set off on our long drive to the Manuel
    Antonio National Park. The park is about 2.5 hours away from Puntarenas.
    During the drive, our guide told us a bit about Puntarenas
    and Costa Rica in general. I was quite surprised that the literacy
    rates were much higher than in the UK.

    I soon realized that I had a problem. I associate Costa Rica with coffee
    and that is indeed their most famous export crop. They do however also
    grow just about every exotic fruit that you can think of: mangoes,
    papayas and unfortunately also bananas. I am severely allergic to
    bananas. It is mainly ingesting even the tiniest amount of banana that
    is causing problems, but banana pollen also leads to coughing fits,
    sneezing and runny eyes and nose. This put a little bit of a damper on
    the day.

    On the way to Manuel Antonio, we stopped briefly at the restaurant where
    we would have lunch after our visit to the park. We had chosen our food
    on the bus and we had to drop off the list with our food choices so that
    our lunch would be ready for us when we returned. This also gave people
    the opportunity to use the bathroom. Some people had headed for the
    garden behind the restaurant and had spotted monkeys. So soon everybody
    was in the garden. The monkeys that we saw there were white-faced


    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Dec 25, 2007
    Once everybody had seen the monkeys, we headed back to the bus for the
    short drive to the national park. Our guide paid our admission and then
    we hiked into the rainforest. We stopped every few meters to watch the
    wildlife. I have to say I did not see a great deal. Between my less than
    perfect eyesight, the slight twilight, lots of greenery for the wildlife
    to hide in and the quick movements of most of said wildlife, I mainly
    saw plantlife. Still, I enjoyed the walk and the fresh air and the
    distinct absence of banana plants. The others saw frogs, various birds
    including humming birds, white-faced and howler monkeys and some
    wildlife that I was glad that I did not see - snakes. I did spot some
    toucans and the highlight of the hike, a sloth.


    I was actually quite surprised how much wildlife was around as there
    were wall to wall people and they did not make any attempt to tread
    quietly. I also doubted the sanity of some people who had brought
    toddlers and even babies to the park. The heat and humidity were brutal
    and would have been unbearable for young children.


    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Dec 25, 2007
    Once we could tear ourselves away from the sloth, we walked down the
    hill to the beach. This is where I did my wildlife watching. There were
    monkeys all over the beach area. One family had the clever idea to hang
    their beach bag from the branches of a tree and they only just managed
    to get it back before a monkey ran away with this. Other people were not
    so lucky and a group of monkeys made off with their belongings.

    The real surprise was the raccoons that were everywhere. I always had
    associated raccoons with colder climates like the northern states of the
    USA and Canada. Apparently they are native to Costa Rica, too. I had
    great fun watching them for a while.

    In the end the sea proved too much of a temptation for me. Graham had
    headed for a swim as soon as we got to the beach. The water was
    beautifully warm. I could not understand that most people in our group
    did decide against going in the water.



    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Dec 25, 2007
    All to soon, it was time to leave. On the way back to our bus, we walked
    on a path that had the rainforest on one side and the sea on the other.
    We saw more interesting wildlife, including an agouti, which looks like
    an overgrown rat, but is about the size of a pig. What made me laugh
    though was a little scheme that the local raccoon population has thought
    up. One of them was walking in front of the people looking incredibly
    cute, while its friends were raiding the bags and picnic baskets behind
    people's backs.

    The walk back to the bus was a lot quicker than the hike to the beach.
    We had to climb down a short stretch of steep and rocky path and cross a
    little stream, but soon we were back at the bus. We went back to the
    restaurant for our lunch and by now I was more than ready for it as I
    had not eaten anything that day. Shortly before we reached the
    restaurant, our bus had to make a sudden emergency stop. A huge iguana
    had decided to slowly walk out right in front of our bus.

    Despite the excitement, we soon arrived at the restaurant. As soon as we
    sat down, we were served corn chips with various different salsas. They
    also came round with jugs with some kind of fruity drinks. I am always
    nervous if I don't know what precisely I am served, but after smelling
    Graham's drink, I decided that this was probably OK. Fortunately I was
    right. It was some red concoction that was very sweet, but tasty and I
    still don't know what I was drinking, but as I did not get a reaction,
    it did not contain banana. Graham also tried some white juice and he was
    pretty sure that this contained banana so I gave this a wide berth.

    The food was gorgeous. We both had Rice with Pork and Chicken which was
    served with Salad, Plantain and Yuka. I was a bit angry about the
    plantain on my plate. When we stopped at the restaurant earlier in the
    day, I had explained to our guide that I am severely allergic to bananas
    and even though I had never eaten plantain and therefore do not know for
    sure that I would get an allergic reaction, as they are part of the
    banana family I should avoid coming in contact with them. He did not
    overly concerned and sure enough, there was plantain on my plate. Graham
    took them off me together to the food that had been touched by them and
    I did not suffer any consequences. I was not sure what precisely Yuka
    is, so I gave this a wide berth as well. People on our table had started
    to order margaritas so we decided to have a margarita each as well,
    which was very nice. For pudding we had some traditional sponge cake,
    which was very nice.


    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Dec 25, 2007
    When we left the restaurant there was heavy rain. Our guide was really
    surprised as January is at the beginning of the dry season and normally
    they do not get any rain at this time of year. I was quite grateful as
    the rain kept the pollen levels down. It rained on and off all the way
    back to Puntarenas.

    The original plan had been to stop at an open air museum on the way back
    to give people a chance to buy souvenirs and coffee. However, as we took
    longer than planned at the national park, this part of the itinerary was
    scrapped. We just made a quick stop by a river where crocodiles are
    plentiful. The bus dropped those of us who wanted to see the crocodiles
    off at one end of the bridge and then waited for us at the other end of
    the bridge. The people who were not interested in seeing the crocodiles
    just stayed on the bus.

    After this last stop, we returned to Puntarenas and the port. We were
    dropped off just outside the port entrance. We were met by a
    representative from the tour operator and we paid four our excursion. We
    said goodbye to our driver and our guide and headed back to the ship. By
    the port entrance, a large number of families with children were waiting
    looking longingly at the ship. Some of the children kept saying Mickey
    Mouse. They were hoping to get some kind of souvenir. Unfortunately I
    had nothing at all on me that I could have given to the children.

    When we got back on the ship, we dropped our stuff off in our cabin and
    then we headed up to deck 9. We sat down and enjoyed the view. I treated
    myself to a Melon Mojito and Graham had a Virgin Pina Colada. We enjoyed
    our drinks and once we had left Puntarenas and I had heard the ship's
    horn, we headed back downstairs.

    As soon as the shop opened the limited edition pin for Puntarenas had
    been released. When we got down there, there was hardly a line. I joined
    the line in front of the Walt Disney portrait. The line was moving fast
    and 5 minutes later, I had my pin.

    My treasure in hand, we headed back to the cabin to drop off the pin and
    to get our swim stuff. We then headed up to the Rainforest Room to
    relax. I made good use of the Tropical Rain Shower and the Fog Shower to
    get the last bits of banana pollen off my skin and hair. Once that was
    achieved, I settled down on the heated tile lounger to relax and dry


    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Dec 25, 2007
    A little while later, I left Graham there and headed back to the cabin
    to get changed. We arranged that we would meet at dinner and I made sure
    that he knew what restaurant we would be eating at. That evening the Fab
    5 (Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald and Pluto) would be in the atrium
    together for photos. I have a red silk dress with white polka dots,
    which bears some resemblance to Minnie's traditional dress. So I decided
    to wear this for the occasion. I went to the atrium right at the
    beginning of the allotted time to find a huge line. I was told that the
    line was closed. Two of my table mates were in the line and I suggested
    that I should join them, but I could not bring myself to do so. Instead
    I headed up to deck 4 where one of our favourite photographers was
    taking photos in front of a light blue backdrop.

    Photos done, I headed for dinner. That night we had the Around the World
    Menu. We had the same menu on the Transatlantic cruise and even though
    the menu looked very promising, the execution had been somewhat lacking.
    I was in for a lovely surprise. On the Wonder everything was cooked to
    perfection and I loved everything I had. Graham ended up with Beef
    Empanadas, Pea Soup with Potato and Knockwurst and Pork Tenderloin with
    Spaetzle, Red Wine Sauce and Spinach. He passed on dessert as nothing
    appealed to him. I chose Beef Empanadas, Cheddar Cheese and Bacon Soup,
    Pork Tenderloin with Spaetzle and Red Wine Sauce. I had a Butter Pecan
    Sundae with Brioche and Maple Cream for dessert.

    Once dinner was over, we were both stuffed and tired. We headed back to
    the cabin where we found a towel heart and settled down to sleep.



    A Dream is a wish your
    Sep 17, 2008
    Sounds so much fun! Some crazy wild animals...they all freak me out! Your server was Daniel? We had a Daniel on the Western cruise. He was from Hungary and absolutely fabulous! Love reading and following your trip!


    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Dec 25, 2007
    Sounds so much fun! Some crazy wild animals...they all freak me out! Your server was Daniel? We had a Daniel on the Western cruise. He was from Hungary and absolutely fabulous! Love reading and following your trip!
    Hi, I was just about to leave you a message on Facebook that I have posted an update.

    Yes, our server was called Daniel, but he is not the same server that you had. Our server comes from Manchester in the UK (same as us) and was on his first contract with DCL. I am hoping that he will be on the Wonder in October as he was fantastic.



    <font color=blue><marquee>Am I the only one who lo
    Nov 3, 2006
    so many amazing animals to see. lovely place to discover. I don't like Bananas either but they don't make me ill, thank goodness it wasn't to bad for you.


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