First Disney Cruise: Day One – Boarding

If you love Disney, you probably have a Disney Bucket List. A list of Disney-related things and places that you want to experience. For us, first on our list was a couples trip to Walt Disney World, and that was checked off in 2007. Next was Disneyland, and that was checked off in 2012. Both of these experiences were amazing!

Next on the list was a Disney Cruise, and we just returned from our first one this past Thursday. So this too has now been crossed off the Disney Bucket List. Unfortunately, this was not an amazing experience. We took a 5-night Caribbean cruise aboard the Disney Wonder and probably had one of the worst vacations of our lives!

To be fair, we did book on the off-season, so the bad weather we experienced couldn’t be blamed on Disney. And we did get sick, which is always a danger when traveling. But even putting these things aside, the cruise was substandard. But I’m getting ahead of myself! Let’s start at the beginning of Day One:

Our first glimpse of the Disney Wonder

We had a great flight on JetBlue out of Buffalo and a seamless transfer from the Orlando Airport to our Hertz rental car. From there it was a quick visit to Downtown Disney for some food and shopping and then off to the house of Karen’s parents for the night. We got up well refreshed the next morning, the morning of our cruise departure, and drove to Miami. We deposited the rental car at the Hertz depot and were driven to the Miami Port (see picture above). We were on time for our 3pm boarding and started the exciting walk to the ship:

    

This is when it became real!

We were announced as we entered on deck 4 and made our way into the main lobby. We were greeted with the amazing theming of the Disney Wonder:

The Miami skyline, and almost the only clear blue sky we saw on this trip

We had an hour or so before the Adventures Away Family Deck Party so decided to check out our stateroom:

    

Deck 6, Amidships

We have no complaint about the stateroom. It was dead center of the ship and so we experienced minimal rocking from the movement of the ship at sea. Each day we would get a Personal Navigator placed in our stateroom which listed every activity for the next day. These were invaluable and a nice feature. We checked things out briefly and then headed off to explore the ship before the away party started. When it did, it looked something like this:

    

Loud fun was had by all!

We had the late sitting for dining and so we did a little more exploring of the ship and then headed to the Walt Disney Theatre to see the first of the three Broadway-style shows: All Aboard! Let the Magic Begin! at 6:15 pm.

No photography is allowed during the show so I have no pictures to share with you. I’d rate this show a 6 out of 10 but the act that followed was a perfect 10! The physical comedy of Max Winfrey was amazing with juggling and audience participation. We would see more of him later in the sailing.

Next it was off to Animator’s Palate for the second seating at 8:15 pm where we met two amazing couples. But this is where we began to become disillusioned:

Although this was a cool restaurant, the sitting took over 2 hours to complete, which we felt ate into (pun intended) our overall time on the ship. Karen has a gluten allergy and so asked for one of the two meals on the menu she could eat, but she was brought the wrong dish. Instead of well-done beef tenderloin, she was brought a medium-rare steak. I ordered the veal and was brought a 1/2″ thick pork chop on a big bone with some batter on it. It was tough and not tender as I am used to veal being. We made the best of it and assumed things would get better. They didn’t, but more on that as the posts continue.

We didn’t leave the dining room until just after 10:30 pm leaving little time for entertainment. But because it was the first night, we decided to watch the end of Mary Poppins on the Funnel Vision and ended up arriving back at our stateroom just after midnight.

One day down and we were looking forward with optimism to Day Two at sea. But we were to see a downward trend develop as more of our time was wasted and, ultimately, a big chunk of the cruise was lost.

Ariel mural behind the elevators on Deck 6, near our stateroom, midships

Be sure to check out the next post entitled First Disney Cruise: Day Two – Sailing.