First Disney Cruise: Day Five – Castaway Cay

So Day Five begins with the breakfast buffet at Beach Blanket Buffet:

As usual, Karen couldn’t eat here because of her gluten allergy, so she had to go scouting for a piece of fruit. I had a Mickey Waffle and french toast (both of which were rock hard), sausage and eggs (which were very good), and coffee (not so good. What is it with Disney and bad coffee?)

Well, the little black rain cloud did indeed find us, and grey skies quickly turned to rain. But before the sprinkles hit, I was able to take a few pictures from the boat:

Our excursion wasn’t until 12:45 pm, so we decided to brave the elements and do a walking tour of the Island. We walked, we saw, we visited the gift shop ($36.95 for a T-shirt???) and we took some more photographs:

    

    

Even though the weather was less than ideal, they still had the characters out and posing for pictures with the guests. If you ever want to find your way around Castaway Cay, just use this handy map:

The weather turned for the worse so we decided to head back to the ship, as did many other guests. So by 10:30 am we were back on board and looking for something to do. A quick nibble and it was back on shore for our glass-bottom boat excursion. At 12:30 pm we were told it may be canceled due to rain, but at 1 pm it was “All Aboard!” and away we went. In the rain:

Our guide did her best but only two types of fish out of the promised 20 possibles showed up and the view of the sea bed was minimal due to the weather conditions. But I did get one great shot of these colorful Snappers:

And I also got some cool shots of the Disney Wonder:

On the way back in, I got this next shot of Castaway Cay:

Keeping in mind this was the off-season, the tour was still pretty underwhelming, and later we learned that the cost had been refunded, which was a nice gesture as compensation for what must have been a disappointing day on the Cay for everyone.

Being as this was our last day on the ship, we decided not to waste over 2 hours on our dining rotation, so instead tried to find as many activities and shows to enjoy as possible. The first was at 5:45 pm in the Buena Vista Theatre for a viewing of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Vacation… er, Day! This was a hilarious movie and a real treat to see in this onboard theatre!

Next we thought we’d do the last of our shopping on board, but we were so discouraged by our trip, we just couldn’t muster any enthusiasm for Disney Wonder/Disney Cruise Line merchandise! So we browsed until it was time to enter the Walt Disney Theatre for the last of the broadway-style shows Dreams An Enchanted Classic. This was the best of the shows we saw and I’ll gladly give it a 10 out of 10.

The show ended at 9:30 pm and we made our way to the main lobby to see the concluding character parade called ‘Til We Meet Again at 10 pm. After this we made our way back to our stateroom to pack for the next day’s disembarkment. On the way, I caught a Princess on the move:

The vacation was thankfully close to ending. In the next, and last, post I’ll share one more post in this series summing up and giving our overall view of the Disney Wonder and cruising in general. You may be surprised by what you read!

See ya real soon!

First Disney Cruise: Day Four – Touring the Ship

Welcome back! We’re still in quarantine at this point, alternating between sleeping and trying to watch some TV. Some basic room service breaks up the monotony but we are obviously looking forward to 5 pm and the end of our exile! This was a sea day:

We received several calls from different departments checking in on us, which was nice. But as the quarantine came to an end at 5 pm, we noticed that we had forgotten to send out our soiled laundry, which is done for you free if due to your illness. However, Customer Service informed us that because we waited to make the call minutes after our quarantine ended, we were no longer eligible for this service. After Karen discussed the matter for a while they did offer to give us free detergent. After I called Customer Service back and had my own discussion with them, they sent a Crew Member to collect our laundry, which was then done for us.

So around 5:30 pm we headed back out into the general population. We did a little browsing in the shops before attending the 6:00 pm showing of The Golden Mickeys. Again, no photography was allowed, but I can say it was a good show, which I would give an 8 out of 10. At 7:30 pm we ended up at WaveBands for the So You Think You Know Your Family show. This is where parents and their children have to match each other’s guesses to a series of questions. It was mildly amusing and a nice, relaxing diversion. Next, it was more time to explore the ship:

At 10:15 pm it was back to WaveBands for the physical comedy of Max Winfrey. This bar has a rather small stage, so imagine a man on a 6′ high unicycle, juggling machetes thrown to him by a woman picked from the audience. Yup. This guy was crazy! But again, as I mentioned in Day One, I’d give this guy a 10 out of 10 any day! By far he was among the best entertainment on the ship.

Day Five was our 25th Wedding Anniversary, which we were looking forward to spending on Disney’s private Island, Castaway Cay. So we shuffled off to our stateroom, which by now, we were on intimate terms with!

Were we due to catch a break and have at least one great day on this cruise? After all, we were feeling much better and had an excursion planned. Well, if we didn’t have a little black rain cloud following us around so far on this vacation, it would find us on Castaway Cay! Be sure to join us tomorrow for Day Five of our First Disney Cruise.

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.