Wonder-ful Mexico Riviera spring break, March 24-29 2019

mkkao924

Earning My Ears
Joined
Mar 18, 2018
First trip report from a first-time DCL cruiser!

We took a few cruises (Princess and Royal Caribbean) in the past, but this is our first Disney cruise. We surely had a wonderful time, and this trip proved that how a different itinerary can change the whole experience!

There are 4 of us, both my wife and I are in our 40s, we DD is 7, and our DS is 2. This is DD’s second cruise, and DS’ very first one.

We live in LA, so cruising to Mexico for us is like going to our backyard. We also have another backyard, which is called Las Vegas. My wife and I first cruised in 2008, and our first cruise was also Mexico Riviera. While we enjoyed the cruise, we got scared.

You see, with a 3-night cruise leaving on Friday afternoon, and returning on Monday morning 7am, you really can use this as a weekend getaway, and that’s what we did back then. Unfortunately, it was also many other people think as well, and their definition of “getaway” is just very different from ours.

Long story short, it was a complete madness with full of drunk young people (barely legal to drink). We stayed in an inside cabin, and we had to squeeze through tons of people yelling at us (though very “friendly”) “Hey, let’s parrrrty, bro!”

My wife has disapproved many repeated requests to go on another Mexico cruise.

[Planning]
I started planning for this trip in March 2018, so right around a year ago. DD just started first grade, and all of a sudden planning spring break activities becomes very important. Either we send her to a camp, or something else - that’s when Disney Cruise came to our mind. When I browsed the DCL website, I noticed this cruise is sailing out of San Diego, and I was like “Score!”

First, it completely overlap with DD’s spring break so she doesn’t need to be absent from school. Second, it’s leaving from San Diego so we don’t have to fly to somewhere. We can save at least a thousand dollars compare to fly to Florida for Caribbean cruise.

The only problem is, it’s a Mexico cruise! With Disney cruise, this is an easily solvable problem. For me, Disney cruise itself is the destination, not the port of calls. As soon as I sold this idea to my wife, we are set!

[Preparation]
Throughout the year, I started to read a lot of information regarding Disney cruise. That’s just who I am - always overly excited about traveling. Wow! So many things unique to Disney cruise!

  • Pin Trading: What a great idea! I know my daughter will love to trade pins with crew members and it’s a nice way to make friends too. I started to browse ShopDisney website and pay attention on any pins that are on sale. I don’t anticipate to become a hardcore collector, so at the end I bought two packs of pins, total 8 for her to play around.
  • Costumes: Many people on this forum say to bring as many costumes onboard as you can. So we also start to pay attention to costume sales. At the end DD got the Uma pirate costume from the “Descendants”, and another Aurora princess costume. The rest of us only got the pirate costume.
Next, our first day of the trip!
 

Magical_Suitcase

aka: kid-at-heart
Joined
Oct 9, 2018
Pin Trading: What a great idea! I know my daughter will love to trade pins with crew members and it’s a nice way to make friends too. I started to browse ShopDisney website and pay attention on any pins that are on sale. I don’t anticipate to become a hardcore collector, so at the end I bought two packs of pins, total 8 for her to play around.
So happy you are planning a trip report. Regarding pins, we were able to pick up loads of cheap pins from eBay, which our daughter used for trading.

Smiles,
Kate
 

LittleMissMagic

Victoria on Vacation
Joined
Dec 24, 2008
Following along! I have the Mexican Rivera on the Wonder booked for May, so I want all the details!
 
  • mkkao924

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Mar 18, 2018
    [Day 1] Sunday March 24, 2019

    We got up around 6:30AM, which is regular time for us. Maybe I should say, regular to our DS, which he has no hesitation to wake up the whole family - you know what a 2yr old can do.

    Though we did 95% of the packing the night before, we were still struggling to finish the last 5% on the day of the trip, and we didn’t hit the road until 9:30, which is 1 hour behind our original schedule. The kids definitely are excited about the trip.

    The drive to San Diego is about 1.5 hour, and I always enjoy the drive on I-5 down. It’s just so scenery, not to mention this is our first family road trip since DS was born.

    We parked our car at Wyndham hotel, which is right across the street from the cruise terminal. Highly Recommended! Indoor parking, very reasonable rate, and no shuttle transfer needed. They do sell out really fast. We make reservation in early January, and soon after it was sold out.

    This is the corner of the parking structure, and you can see Wonder right behind us!

    The embarkation was a bit confusing. Not sure if that’s because there was another ship in port (HAL Nieuw Amsterdam). From the entrance, the Wonder is on our left hand side, but the security building is on our right. We had to haul our luggage to the ship side to the porter, then walk back to security building.

    We made it through though. The check-in process was smooth, and DD got her wristband at the check-in counter.

    I already knew this was a completely sold out cruise, but I was hoping some miracle that we could pay to upgrade, and sure enough, it was sold out. :(

    As first time DCL cruiser, I didn’t have any expectation on boarding early. We are group 11, and the boarding process was fairly quick. We just snapped some pictures and it's our turn!

    After boarding, we didn’t aim for the food, but went to Oceaneer Club on decl 5 to register DD’s wristband, then It’s A Small World Nursery to check out the environment as well as signing up additional hours for DS. You can only book up to 10 hours online, but if there is space available, you can book them with nursery staff.

    After taking care of the nursery hour, thinking Cabana may be crowded, we went to Triton’s for sit-down lunch. From deck 5 looking down, we noticed Pluto at deck 4, so DD went to have some picture with him. Apparently we are not the only ones hungry because Pluto was trying to eat DD’s donut ear!

    Here are some picture of the food at Triton's, and we all love the Gumbo! The sundae was…meh.




    After lunch, we went to check out our stateroom 2506. I believe it’s slightly larger because the shape of the ship. We got a nice platform that we can sit and look outside the window. Kids also love this spot!

    We also surprised our DD with the Royal Court Royal Tea. The invitation was already in the stateroom, and we just had her read it and she was very excited!

    We also learned that DCL recently changed one time use toiletries bottle to these reusable pump style bottle. I am all for the environmental friendly solution so I am happy to see this change. The only minor complaint is that it only dispenses small amount every time you push down, so I need to press like 3-4 times to get the amount I need…

    Once we unpacked the items in our carry on, it was around 3pm, we decided to check out deck 9. We found the table, and got some fruits, then went down to participate the muster drill. We were in group A, which the meet location is in Walt Disney Theater, nice! I asked wife to take some pictures since not very often you can snap a picture of a completely empty theater! What a beauty!

    After muster drill, we went back to deck to participate the sail-a-wave party.


    This year the weather in California is weird, still wet and chilly in March - I know we are super spoiled because on our cruise’s FB page I see many people’s hometown is still covered in snow, and I am complaining 65 degree as chilly…We stayed a while, then decided to get indoor and explored the ship a little bit more then headed to Animator’s Palate for dinner. We chose early dining because of the little one, and because he skipped nap today, the dinner was bit chaos, but we still snapped some pictures. Both Pork Wellington and Steak was good. We skipped desert because DS can’t sit tight anymore. We headed back to our room and call it a night.






    Next up, Day 2 At Sea!
     

    Magical_Suitcase

    aka: kid-at-heart
    Joined
    Oct 9, 2018
    Great start to a trip, smiles, Mickey clothes, and food. Questions, did you just park your car at Wyndham hotel or did you come in the day before? Also, the Mickey clothing, I have not seen your shirt at WDW or on the cruises, did you buy it at Disneyland?

     

    bcwife76

    DisneyMomma
    Joined
    Dec 10, 2014
    The port was a bit of a cluster that day because of the HAL ship. When we sailed out of SD in May of last year there were two ships in as well, but the Wonder was docked on the side where HAL was this time and boarding was a lot smoother. Oh well. We sailed in concierge this cruise (our first time doing C class and maybe only time because of cost lol) and even that was a bit of a cluster. They sent us to general boarding area and after 15 minutes a CM noticed our KTTW cards (which are gold if you are sailing C class) and led us over the waiting area for concierge. It was still a bit buggered up from there, too! Silly SD ;0)

    Haha, I see my husband and I in one of your photos from the Sail a Wave party :banana::cheer2:
     
  • mkkao924

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Mar 18, 2018
    Great start to a trip, smiles, Mickey clothes, and food. Questions, did you just park your car at Wyndham hotel or did you come in the day before? Also, the Mickey clothing, I have not seen your shirt at WDW or on the cruises, did you buy it at Disneyland?
    We just drove down SD and parked there on the day of embarkation. We didn’t stay there so I can’t rate their hotel.

    And yes, I got my shirt at Disneyland a few years back.
     

    ofcabbagesandkings

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 16, 2014
    Following along! My kids are the same ages at yours. Looking forward to seeing how your little one liked the nursery. We board the Wonder in May.
     

    mkkao924

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Mar 18, 2018
    Ahhh...Does anyone know how the "draft" function work? I had my day 2 content saved as draft, only I don't know how to load it back and finish them...@@
     

    mkkao924

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Mar 18, 2018
    [Day 2] At Sea

    Since I can't get my draft content back, I just have to write it all over again...Ahh

    We had a good night sleep, DD was super excited about the bunk bed since this is the first time she sleeps in one. We definitely felt the movement, but considering our cabin was all the way forward, I considered it’s normal.

    After our morning routine to get ready, we went to Cabana to have breakfast. We knew where Cabana is on day 1, but we didn’t step in to know how the flow works. There are two entrances, one on each side of the ship. For some reasons, we felt the left entrance is always less crowded. Throughout the cruise we always took the left one and the line was always shorter. We finished our breakfast around 8:30am, and we were on our way to have our first activity, princess meet and greet, at 9am.

    When I checked in online before the cruise, I was able to book all the activities I liked without any issues, even though we were first time DCL cruiser. I heard people are crazy about alcohol tasting and they are hard to get, but since we travelled with young kid, I didn’t even bother to check.

    We met 4 princesses, Cinderella, Ariel, Tiana, and Belle. All princesses were very nice and really spent time to talk to DD, she felt so special that she got to be with so many princesses altogether! One interesting thing that I noticed is that these princesses are always posed by the same crew member throughout the cruise, except the ones that need to perform, like Tiana in Tiana’s Place. We also found out that when they are not princesses, they are companion of the other characters, like Mickey or Minnie.

    After the princess meet and greet, my wife took DD to Oceaneer Club while I took DS to It’s a Small World nursery. This is my first and very few complaint about DCL cruise. We LOVE the nursery, the activity area is huge, and the staff are very nice, but the entrance design was just not very good. We booked the nursery from 10am to noon, and I arrived the nursery at 9:45am, only to find out there are like 10 people in front of me, and there was only one crew member working at front desk. We spent our time on day 1 to pre-register DS, obtained the wristband, and understand the flow, but apparently we were the only few. People in front of us are either 1) spent 10 minutes to fill out the form, 2) other parent trying to pick up their baby only to find out she doesn’t know the “secret” word setup by her spouse, and 3) browse through the entire 5 day schedule to reserver nursery time while everyone behind her were waiting. When it’s finally my turn, it’s already 10:15am. I casually mentioned that the line was very long, and the crew member replied “we suggested parent to arrive 5 minutes before the scheduled time”. Obviously I was pissed, since I was there 15 minutes before the scheduled time, but I didn’t feel like arguing.


    To be fair, that was the only time I have someone else before me at nursery front desk, other times I was always the only one. However, I still believe that they should have at least two crew members working, one for reserved passenger and one for everyone else.

    After we dropped DS, wifey and I finally can sit down and enjoy some relax time since we boarded the ship (without kids)! Only to find out there is no adult activities between 10am and noon?! This is another thing that I felt weird about the nursery system. DCL allows nursery time to be booked before the cruise, but at that time the navigator information is not released yet, so we kind of guessing how we should book the nursery time, and we were mostly wrong, haha. I am not complaining, but I do feel this is something that DCL can consider in the future.


    Wife and I use the time to slowly walk through the ship, which is a completely satisfying thing. We sat on deck 9 and enjoy our coffee while enjoy the endless sea.

    We picked up DS from nursery at noon, and took him to Cabana to have some lunch. After that, I took him back to the room to take a nap while wife took DD to the gift shop where she did her first pin trading. In the beginning she was a little bit hesitant to do it, but after the first trade she just kept asking “can we go back to trade more?”

    After DS woke up, I took him to see more characters and we took quite a bit of pictures. When I saw Donald and Minnie both dressed up, I started to get worried “Why do they all dress up? Is today formal night?” Then I checked my navigator app and it was indeed “cruise casual”. I still don’t know why they all dressed up that day.


    After that, more character meeting and photo ops :) DS and I ended up met all the cartoon characters except Chip and Dale. For Marvel characters we only met black widow. The line for Captain America and Spiderman were just too crazy!

    Tonight we have dinner at Tiana’s Place, and it’s Mardi Gras! We booked nursery for DS from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. To us, the dinner time nursery was a god send. We get to enjoy tons more without the baby.

    When we lined up to enter the restaurant, we saw Tiana greeting us.


    The food was really good, but the performance and 100 times better than food! In the beginning DD was too shy to dance in front of stage, but once she warmed up, we couldn’t see her until the parade ended!


    After dinner, we picked up DS from nursery, and went back to our room. Tonight is the Golden Mickey show that I really wanted to go, so wife agreed to watch DS while I can take DD to the show. Unfortunately, as soon as we seated, my wife called me saying DS can’t sleep without me, so I had to go back to cabin to switch with my wife. According to her, that was the best show of the three production show!! (the other two are Frozen and Disney Dream) Oh well, I know only one of us can enjoy the show, but I really hope it was me!

    This concludes our day 2.

    Next up, Day 3 at Cabo San Lucas!
     
  • Magical_Suitcase

    aka: kid-at-heart
    Joined
    Oct 9, 2018
    that was the only time I have someone else before me at nursery front desk, other times I was always the only one. However, I still believe that they should have at least two crew members working, one for reserved passenger and one for everyone else.
    We no longer have small children and have never used the nursery but it would make sense to have two CMs at the desk on the first full day doing exactly what you suggested, one for reserved and one for "questions".

    my wife called me saying DS can’t sleep without me, so I had to go back to cabin to switch with my wife. According to her, that was the best show of the three production show!
    Sounds like the perfect excuse to cruise again when your son is a wee bit older. Did you reserve a placeholder while onboard?
     

    TestingH2O

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 10, 2014
    got up around 6:30AM, which is regular time for us. Maybe I should say, regular to our DS, which he has no hesitation to wake up the whole family - you know what a 2yr old can do.
    Oh yes. DD is 6 now, but we have still only been able to negotiate a 7:00 wake up time.

    After lunch, we went to check out our stateroom 2506. I believe it’s slightly larger because the shape of the ship. We got a nice platform that we can sit and look outside the window. Kids also love this spot!
    I love that book! I think DD would close the curtains and read in there.

    Loving your report so far. Thanks for sharing!
     

    mkkao924

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Mar 18, 2018
    We no longer have small children and have never used the nursery but it would make sense to have two CMs at the desk on the first full day doing exactly what you suggested, one for reserved and one for "questions".



    Sounds like the perfect excuse to cruise again when your son is a wee bit older. Did you reserve a placeholder while onboard?
    Unfortunately we did not.

    It's actually weird to me, since I have been thinking about putting down a placeholder, and my wife was on the fence. I kind of just roll with it, thinking if there is an announcement for some sort of incentive, or just have some crew member wave us down and talk to us, we might do it.

    However, that never happened. No one mentioned about the future cruise planning to us, and little one kept us busy, and we just let it slip.

    On another end, the main reason we did DCL this year, is that I don't know if DD will grow out of Disney if we wait longer, knowing DS will very likely not remember this. That being said, I also don't think within 2 years (which is the expiration of the placeholder if I remember correctly?), DS will grow to fully memorize the DCL experience. I am thinking we may take another one when he is 5 or 6 years old.
     

    bcwife76

    DisneyMomma
    Joined
    Dec 10, 2014
    I know it's after the fact but you can actually watch the live stage productions on your stateroom tv so you could have watched the Golden Mickeys.....something to think about for your next cruise ;-)
     

    mkkao924

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Mar 18, 2018
    I know it's after the fact but you can actually watch the live stage productions on your stateroom tv so you could have watched the Golden Mickeys.....something to think about for your next cruise ;-)
    Ah, good point. Interesting though, we didn't turn on TV even once except on the last sea day I was trying to see if I can view onboard account balance but I couldn't find it. Later on I figured out how to do so in the navigator app, not a very intuitive place to put that information. Maybe they purposely do so to get us spend more. :)
     

    disneyfaninaz

    It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!
    Joined
    Apr 19, 2007
    Ah, good point. Interesting though, we didn't turn on TV even once except on the last sea day I was trying to see if I can view onboard account balance but I couldn't find it. Later on I figured out how to do so in the navigator app, not a very intuitive place to put that information. Maybe they purposely do so to get us spend more. :)
    The Wonder doesn't yet have the smart tvs that you can see your balance like on the Magic. However, DCL is really pushing everybody to use their app, so it actuallly makes sense that your onboard statement would be on it.
     

    mkkao924

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Mar 18, 2018
    The Wonder doesn't yet have the smart tvs that you can see your balance like on the Magic. However, DCL is really pushing everybody to use their app, so it actuallly makes sense that your onboard statement would be on it.
    I agree. I think app is the way to go, it's just the statement link was not very obvious to me and it took me some time to finally find it.
     

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