East Meets West - A Wonderful Journey

ForTheLoveOfDCL

A Dream is a wish your
Joined
Sep 17, 2008
Lovely update. I love the sea lion...how neat to see him/her. Also I particularly love the photo of you and Graham looking into each others eyes...how romantic!!
 
  • dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Day 17

    This was our last proper day of the cruise and it was another busy one. We had a bit of a slow start. The clocks had been put back one hour before we went to bed the night before and our first commitment was Walk A Mile at 9:00. So we got some extra sleep.

    Shortly before 9:00 AM, we went down to deck 4 for Walk A Mile. The turn out was quite good again. We had done two eventless and fairly quick laps around deck 4, when Graham suddenly spotted some movement in the sea at the end of the second lap. We had some dolphins checking us out. Everybody stopped to watch the dolphins. This was such a treat. Once the dolphins had moved out of sight, we finished our last lap.

    After Walk A Mile, we headed down to Parrot Cay for some breakfast. I had an omelette with sausage and breakfast potatoes and Graham had a full cooked breakfast. We ended up sharing the table with another couple and they asked if we were not interested in the pins. I told them that I would go up there as soon as I had my breakfast. They told me that when they came out of late dinner the night before, people were already standing in line. I heard later that people had started to get in line as early as 19:00 the previous evening.

    Despite what I had heard, I figured that it could not be as bad as it sounded. So I headed up to deck 4. Well, it was worse that my most fanciful nightmares, much worse. The line started at the entrance that is closest to the Walt Disney Theater, across the area in front the Walt Disney Theater, down the hallway and all the way around the area above the atrium. Initially I could not find the end of the line. It turned out that the end of the line was actually on the little balcony by the midship elevators. Graham took some video of the line. Needless to say, by the time I got to the front of the line, the pins had sold out. Fortunately, one of our table mates managed to get a spare pin, which she gave to me.

    http://youtu.be/_vTKATHulb4



    Once I had escaped the pin line, I quickly had to go back to the cabin to pick up the final gift for my Secret Mickey for the reveal meeting. Fortunately on the way, I bumped into somebody else from the cruise meet thread, who told me that there had been a last minute change of venue and that this would now take place at Cadillac Lounge instead of Animator's Palate. A lot of people did not come to this and that may well had something to do with the fact that the venue had changed at the last minute. I had met the organizer only about 30 minutes earlier and at that stage, she had not known anything about a change of venue. I was lucky and both the person I had given to and the person that had given to me were present. I received a Disneyland autograph book with a pen and a bag of Ghirardelli Peanut Butter Squares as my final gift. I loved my gift. I have never owned an autograph book before and this will be put to good use when we are going to Disneyland in September. The chocolates are my favourite treat and I can't get them in the UK, so they were very welcome.

    Once this meeting was over, I headed straight over to the Promenade Lounge. It was still a bit early for the jewellery workshop, but I was quite happy to just sit. This time I had a full compliment of people and I hope that everybody enjoyed it.

    Once the jewellery workshop was over, I quickly headed back to the cabin to drop of the jewellery making stuff and my gift and to pick up the crossing certificate. Somebody on our cruise meet thread had organized to have some crossing certificates printed. Unfortunately DCL was not able or willing to confirm which Captain would be on board ahead of time so this was simply left blank and we were going to have this signed by the Captain. The line for the Captain's signing was not quite as insane as the pin line, but not far off. Unfortunately it moved more slowly. I also noticed repeatedly that there was one person in the line and once we got closer to the front of the line, this person made a call on their Wave Phone and all over sudden 3 or 4 more people arrived. Eventually I did get to the front of the line and had my certificate signed and this has now been framed and has a special place in our living room.

    When I took the certificate back to the cabin, I had noticed that Graham's boat was no longer there. So I went up to deck 9 to meet him. The judging for Max and Goofy's Boat Building Bash was about to take place at the Mickey pool. Unfortunately the water was a little bit rougher that day, which caused some waves in the pool. This made the speed trial impossible. The competition was judged by the First Engineer and one of the staff captains. Goofy and Max were also in attendance. There were plenty of boats ranging from the weird to the wonderful. Initially everybody was asked to put their boat on the wooden decking surrounding the pool together with the number that they had been given when signing up. The judges then came round to have a look and also to make sure that there was nothing on the boats that could damage the pool. Then it was time to put the boats into the water to see if they floated. Part of the rules was that the boats had to float with a full can of coke on them. Graham's boat floated very well. It even managed to survive a couple if impressive waves. Unfortunately the glue that was provided proved to be not waterproof and some of the decorations started to come off. Unfortunately Graham's boat did not win anything, but everybody who had participated got an ESPN keyring and later that day a certificate signed by Goofy and Max had arrived in the cabin.









     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    By the time the judging was over, we were both hungry. Lunchtime was well and truly over by then. However, the food outlets by the pools were open. I had a veggie burger with fries from Pluto's Dog House and Graham had a roast beef sandwich on sour dough bread from Goofy's Galley and we both had some frozen yoghurt. On my way to deck 3, I spotted that Goofy was at the gazebo by the family pool and he was wearing his Mexican outfit. He even had a photographer with him and this was simply too good to pass up.





    Next up for me was the galley tour. I had never had a chance to do this before. The meeting point for this was the back entrance for Triton's. I could not believe it when I got there and found another impressive line. I had to sign up for this at the beginning of the cruise and tickets were issued for this activity so I really did not expect a line. The wait was not long though and the tour was interesting. We started off with a short introductory talk in Triton's where we learned about the structure of the food and beverage operation and the staff involved. We also learned that when the ships are sailing out of Port Canaveral, the food is sourced by Walt Disney World and quality control also takes place there before it gets put on trucks and is taken to the ship. When the Wonder is sailing out of Los Angeles, Disneyland will source and do quality control for the food for the Wonder. We also learned that the ships are not allowed to bring food onboard at anywhere other than the port they are departing from for cruises of up to 7 days. For longer cruises, they will bring fruit, vegetables and fresh herbs onboard at some of the ports of call. We were then introduced to our guide, who was the Chef de Cuisine for Palo. The Wonder has 5 Chefs de Cuisine, one for each of the main dining rooms, one for Palo and one for Beach Blanket Buffet and the deck 9 food outlets. We entered the galley for Triton's and were shown the different areas including the area where the assistant servers get the drinks from, the area where the servers collect the plated meals from, vegetable preparation, area for sauces and soups and the pastry and dessert area. When we got to this area, we were offered a freshly baked cookie each. As I had only just had my lunch, I declined. Other aspects that I found interesting is that they have photos of every single dish and dessert on the walls. They are there as reference so that the presentation of the food is always identical. Another interesting fac was that on nights were all the restaurants are serving the same menu, each galley will prepare on aspect for all the restaurants. So one galley makes all the soups, another all the sauces,etc. This is done to ensure consistent quality in every restaurant. We walked through to the galley for Parrot Cay. I had always been told that Triton's and Parrot Cay are sharing a galley. They both have their own galley, but the two galleys have a connecting door. We quickly walked through the galley and were let out at Parrot Cay. It was strange to see Parrot Cay completely empty.

    The next activity is my least favourite on a cruise, packing. This was more challenging than usual. Between the various souvenir glasses that we had ended up with and the gifts that we had received, it took a couple of attempts until everything fitted in the suitcase and I managed to close it. Let's just say, I was quite glad that I had received a luggage strap as part of those gifts.

    Once we were all packed, we headed for the Rainforest Room for one last visit. There were a couple of other people around when we first got there, but they soon left and we had the place to ourselves. I took turns between the heated tile loungers and the warm sauna. We ended up staying up there until the spa closed.

    When we got back to our cabin, we quickly got changed and put our suitcases out for collection. Then we headed downstairs for dinner. Dinner that night was the Till We Meet Again menu. Graham had Grilled Chicken Satays with a mint-yoghurt sauce and spicy cucumber salad, Crawfish and Lobster Bisque served with roasted corn-chili relish
    and Seafood Linguini Pasta Lobster, scallops, shrimp, clams and asparagus white wine sauce. For dessert he had chosen Deep Dish Apple Cranberry Pie served warm with vanilla ice cream. I had gone for Grilled Chicken Satays with a mint-yoghurt sauce and spicy cucumber salad, Grilled Beef Tenderloin served with Williams potatoes, asparagus spears, baby vegetables and a Béarnaise sauce and Baked Alaska for dessert. We enjoyed our last dinner with our table mates and we were laughing throughout the meal. Before dessert was served, we had the only show that I enjoy in the dining rooms. They brought out the traditional flaming Baked Alaska and then the serving team came out waving flags representing all the different nationalities on the ship. The soundtrack for this is a Caribbean version of It's A Small World. I had missed this on our Transatlantic Cruise and I was glad to get to experience this again.



    After dinner we made a quick exit. We had always missed the Till We Meet Again Character Farewell and I was determined that this time we would make it. I was bitterly disappointed. I had happened upon the end of this during other cruises and they had characters out from all the shows and there was Mickey head confetti. This time round, there did not seem much by the way of character interaction. I managed to see Captain Mickey and Graham took a photo of us, but that was about it.



    We headed back to our cabin. Our stateroom host had left us a towel chick. I took a quick photo of this and for the last time we settled down and went to sleep.




     

    jen_uk

    <font color=6666cc>Eurovision Nut !!<font color=33
    Joined
    Mar 1, 2005
    Great day, can't believe how many activities you manage to squeeze into each day! :thumbsup2
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Great day, can't believe how many activities you manage to squeeze into each day! :thumbsup2
    Yes, I like to keep busy even when I am on holiday. Our next holiday will take some getting used to. We are going to Dubai for 9 days on Friday and this will be very much a lazy holiday involving plenty of beach and pool time. I wonder if I am actually cut out for this. I love Dubai though.

    Corinna
     
  • dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Day 18

    We got up at our normal time and got ready. I could not believe that the cruise was already over. I really do not know where the time had gone. We got up, got ready, took our handluggage and left the cabin. On the way out, we managed to catch up with our stateroom host to say goodbye to her . We then headed up to deck 4 to retrieve our Photo CD. There were a few people at Shutters doing the same, but the line moved quickly and this time I checked very carefully that all of the photos I expected were on the print out.

    Because we managed to pick up our CD so quickly, it was still a little while until it was our allloted time for breakfast. Thinks were absolutely manic. They had just changed the debarkation process and this was showing some teething problems. At dinner the previous night, we were each given a sticker with a character on. Rather than everybody being able to get off when they were good and ready, they were now calling groups by character for disembarkation. The idea for this is good, but the problem was that people were not cooperating with this. Rather than waiting for their character to be called, people where just lining up. The line stretched the whole length of deck 3. They then called a couple of characters and asked them to come and wait in some of the entertainment venues, but the success rate of this was not wonderful either. We sat down on the landing on the stairs going up to deck 4 and watched the chaos.

    One thing that they had sorted out very well is that they had roped off a separate line for Triton’s so that people going to breakfast did not get mixed up with the debarkation crowd. So when it was time for us to go for breakfast, we had no problem getting to the dining room. They also seemed to have learned something else from the earlier chaos. Breakfast was much slower than this is normally the case on the last morning. I am pretty sure that they slowed the service down to allow for the lines to go down. We were nearly finished when we were told that we could disembark as soon as we were finished. Graham had fresh fruit followed by scrambled eggs, sausages, ham, bacon and hash brown and I had a open-faced omelette topped with barbecued chicken, green peppers, onion and melted Swiss cheese. Once we had finished our food, we said goodbye to our table mates and our serving team, took our handluggage and headed towards the gangway. By this time there was noline at all until we were well clear of the ship.

    Immigration in Los Angeles is much for formal than this is the case at Port Canaveral, but was also much better organized. Port staff separated US citizens from non-US citizens and sent them to separate lines. When we got to the front of the line, staff checked how many people were waiting to clear immigration and would call small groups of people forward to enter the immigration hall. Once we were in there, we only had a minimal wait. Immigration was much like at the airport. We had our finger prints and photo taken. However, we did not get a new stamp, but the immigration official just signed the stamp that we got in Florida. Nobody asked us for the ESTA form. Considering how much trouble the fact that we did not have this on us at Port Canaveral, this was a let down. The immigration offical was very nice. He had cruise on the Magic before and was really excited that the Wonder is now sailing out of Los Angeles. We compared notes ranging from the cost of cruising to our favourite dishes at Palo.

    Once we had cleared the immigration formalities, we went downstairs to collect our luggage. Somehow they managed to put our suitcases in different areas of the room even though we had the same luggage tag. I found my suitcase straightaway, but Graham took a bit longer to find his suitcase. When we had all of our stuff, we went to the customs desk and were waived through. At the other side of the customs desks, members of staff from the port directed people in the right direction. The bus transfers left from one exit and people who had a car at the port or where picked up by car were directed to another exit. Two of our table mates from our Med cruise last year live in Los Angeles and one of them had offered to pick us up from the port and to spend the day with us. Shortly after we had come out of the terminal building, she arrived. This could not have worked out any better.

    Once we had loaded our luggage in the boot and had said “hello” to each other, we decided what we would do with the day. In the end we decided to head for Santa Monica. We might have been surrounded by the sea for the last 15 days, but it still had a powerful pull. We parked a short distance away from Santa Monica pier and walked along the seafront. It was kind of amusing watching people on rollerblades. Some even had dogs with them. When we got to the pier, we enjoyed the scenary and generally soaked up the atmosphere. There were even two people in obviously fake Mickey and Minnie costumes that offered to have their photos taken with people for a small fee. I could not believe the cheek of this especially as we were so close to Disneyland. The costumes were also spectacularly bad. I would have loved to take some photos, but was worried that they would try to charge me.















    When we got to the end of the pier, we decided that it was time to think about some lunch. At the end of the pier there was a Mexican restaurant and we decided to give this a go. The food was simply but nice. We all had a combination platter of some sort. I am still not entirely sure what I was eating, but it was tasty. I also finally managed to get some orange soda. I love the American orange soda, but unfortunately they do not offer this on the ships.

    After lunch we discussed what we could do with the rest of the afternoon as we still had a couple of hours until we had to make our way to the airport. Graham suggested that we could have a look at the La Brea Tar Pits. He had been there previously when I spend the day at the Disney parks, but for me it was the first time. I had heard about the La Brea Tar pits before, but had no clear idea of what to expect. The area around this is the new museum quarter for Los Angeles. This development is fairly recent and our friend had not seen this before either. This is definitely worth another look in future. The actual tar pits are surrounded by a beautiful park. Asphalt or tar has seeped up from the ground in this area for tens of thousands of years. The tar is often covered with water. This is what we encountered that day. Essentially it looked like a pond that had a thin film of oil on the top. Animals would wander in to drink, become trapped, and eventually die. Predators would also enter to eat the trapped animals and become stuck. This has been recreated by a couple of scenes of mammoth becoming stuck in the tar pits. The skeletons of the animals that were found in the tar pits are on display in a museum that is also in the park. Methane is also present in the tar pits, which causes them to bubble. The whole thing is very fascinating.









     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    All too soon it was time to head for the airport. It is a little while ago since we had last flown out of Los Angeles and there had always been long lines. So I was more than a little surprised when we got to airport and there was no line at all. They checked our passports and weighed our suitcases before we even got to the check in desks and my suitcase was overweight. I was advised that I would have to pay $50 for this and I was more than happy to do so. However, when I got to the check in desk, the check in desk looked at something on her computer and then advised us that as the flight was not full, they would not charge me for the excess weight. The last time I had flown with Virgin Atlantic, we flew on a staff travel ticket and Graham was absolutely certain that they had something in the system that flagged me as airline staff.

    Once we had checked in, we had to clear security. There was a short hold up with this, but as we had arrived in plenty of time, this did not pose any problems. Once we had cleared security we found a seat in the gate area. We were lucky to find a seat right by some floor to ceiling picture windows. We had a fantastic view over the forefield and the runway, but also had a beautiful view of Los Angeles. The Hollywood sign was right across from us. We were also blessed with a beautiful sunset that day.





























    I had a quick look around the shops and found a Starbucks in the process. So I could have one last Green Tea Frappuccino before we had to get on the plane. The rest of the time, I spent reading my new Kingdom Keepers book that I had bought on the ship and had on purpose saved for the flight home. Even though we had arrived at the airport nearly 4 hours before our flight, the time had flown and we were soon asked to board the flight. The service between Los Angeles and London is operated by A340-600s, which are amongst the newest planes that Virgin Atlantic operates. So we finally got to experience their V Port entertainment system. Well, I was not impressed. I supposed I am spoiled by the entertainment system that the airline that I work for has. There were no films that I wanted to watch so I played some of the games, listened to some music, read and napped.

    The flight was uneventful and we arrived at London Heathrow slightly ahead of schedule. We then had to change terminals from Terminal 3 to Terminal 1. This was easier than I had expected. The transit routes were well signposted and when we arrived at the area where the shuttle buses that link the terminals depart from, a bus was just about to leave. We were the last two people to get on. When we got to terminal 1, we had to clear a security checkpoint, where they took fingerprints, photos and an iris scan. We were then issued with a piece of paper with a bar code. This took a bit longer as I would have liked as we had a family with young children in front of us and the children got scared. I was surprised that they did the security screening even with children. One of the children was maybe a year old and the other 2 or 3 years old. They hardly would pose a security risk. Once we had cleared this area, we had our hand luggage x-rayed and had to walk through a metal detector. We then had to clear customs, which was a bit of a pointless exercise as our suitcases had been checked through to Manchester and we just had our hand luggage.

    We still had to go to the transit desk for BMI to get new boarding cards. Virgin Atlantic in Los Angeles had not been able to print boarding cards for the Heathrow Manchester flight. This ended up causing a further hold up as somehow our biometric data had not been linked to the boarding pass when we got to the final security check point where the boarding passes and passports were scanned. We got to the gate at the time boarding was supposed to start, but they were a bit behind as well and we sat down for about 20 minutes until they started to board the plane. We had been given emergency exit seats and had 3 seats between the two of us. The flight to Manchester was very quick. We were a little worried if our luggage had made it, but shortly after we got to the luggage carousel, our suitcases arrived. To our surprise there was no customs area. I suppose as far as Manchester airport is concerned, we arrived on a domestic flight. We got a taxi home and fell into bed as soon as we got there.
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Epilogue

    And with this another holiday has come to its conclusion. The cruise was a fantastic experience and I am glad that I had the opportunity to experience this. However, I rather suspect that this will remain a once in a life time experience. I had a wonderful time, but do not feel the urge to repeat this. This was a different experience from the Transatlantic cruise, which I am hoping to repeat at some stage either with Graham or without.

    With this cruise I have come a little bit closer to my dream to go once around the world on a cruise ship. We have now covered the distance from Malta to Los Angeles on a ship and will extend this further West when we will go to our cruise to Hawaii next year. I have also managed to cross off something else from my bucket list. I have still got the Eastern Med, Baltic, Alaska, Far East and Hawaii on there. I am optimistic that I will be able to tick them off one at a time.

    I will miss working on this trip report, but with our next holiday being only 4 days away and two further cruises booked, it will not be too long before I will have another trip report to work on. I hope you have enjoyed reading this trip report.
     

    mkmommy

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 13, 2006
    Thank you for sharing, your pictures and story telling make for an entertaining read, I have even gone back and read some of your older trip reports.

    My I ask why you would not do the Panama Canal cruise again, it looks like you had a good time?


    For your around the World Cruise yearning, this gentleman has just finished an around the World Cruise on HAL and his pictures are amazing, something I would like to do one day.

    http://amazingvoyages.blogspot.com/
     
  • mandymouse

    Bahama Mama Time !!
    Joined
    Mar 8, 2003
    Thanks for sharing your fab trip report Corinna, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it and seeing your photos

    I can't wait to hear all about your Hawaiian adventures, as that is one cruise I would love to do, and I hope Disney make more stops there in the future ::yes::
     

    jen_uk

    <font color=6666cc>Eurovision Nut !!<font color=33
    Joined
    Mar 1, 2005
    Loved your report :thumbsup2 Cool photos of Hollywood taken from the airport :cool1:
     

    cannp123165

    <font color=green>Very Quizzical<font color=teal>
    Joined
    Oct 17, 2005
    Thank you so much for sharing your trip with us - it sounds like an amazing cruise! :)
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Thank you for sharing, your pictures and story telling make for an entertaining read, I have even gone back and read some of your older trip reports.

    My I ask why you would not do the Panama Canal cruise again, it looks like you had a good time?


    For your around the World Cruise yearning, this gentleman has just finished an around the World Cruise on HAL and his pictures are amazing, something I would like to do one day.

    http://amazingvoyages.blogspot.com/
    I had a fantastic cruise and therein lies a certain danger. This cruise was not cheap and they have raised the prices everytime they offered a Panama Canal Cruise. Because we had such a great time, I would be worried that I would not enjoy it as much second time round. We had a lot of people on that cruise who had done a Panama Canal cruise on DCL previously and were constantly comparing their past experience to this one and our cruise did not come out very favourable. There were some issues that I picked up on as well, but we loved the cruise.

    I will have a look at the blog when I come back from Dubai. I can't believe that I will only have 3 more sleeps until Dubai.

    Thanks for sharing your fab trip report Corinna, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it and seeing your photos

    I can't wait to hear all about your Hawaiian adventures, as that is one cruise I would love to do, and I hope Disney make more stops there in the future ::yes::
    I think much depends on how the first Hawaii cruise will go. If it is a success, then I am sure there will be more in future. I am so looking forward to this one.

    Corinna
     



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