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Disney Wonder Day 3 – Or The Day We Learn We Are Stupid

So today is our Castaway Cay day, and we want to be up bright and early so we can get off the ship as early as possible.  This is easy for me, as I am up before dawn, sitting on my balcony, enjoying the quiet from inside the room and the ocean sounds from outside.  It’s a beautiful thing.

Once we are all up and dressed, we head to the dining room for breakfast.  We are standing behind another group of people, waiting to be seated, and we start talking about how similar the Magic and the Wonder are. 

Now, you’ve read my blog.  You know that I am certainly no rocket scientist (although I do know a NASA engineer – that’s close enough), but I can hold my own in a conversation, as long as the conversation doesn’t involve algebraic equations.  So as we’re standing there talking about how everything is laid out in a familiar manner, and we are having no trouble finding anything because of the similarities between the two ships, the gentleman in front of us turns around, and says, “You are so mistaken.  There is nothing about these ships that is similar.  One is art deco, the other is art nouveau – there are dramatic differences just right there!”  Well.  Then. There you have it.  We are complete idiots.  This man looked down his nose at us as if we had just farted in front of the Queen, and we feel like the Cracker Clan for not appreciating the subtle nuances that make the Wonder the Wonderful and the Magic the Magical.  We instead were just glad we could find the buffet. 

Castaway Cay, as you know if you’ve been there, is one of the most perfect ways to relax.  I am not an ocean/lake/pond type person, as I do not generally like to swim where one of God’s creatures goes to the bathroom, but I made all my kids go before we left the ship, so I feel comfortable moving one of the lower chairs to the edge of the water to watch Granuaile and Eilis play.  The water is so crystal clear, my fear of being surprise attacked by a Great White Shark (yes, I saw Jaws 6 times in the movie theater and was afraid to pee for fear of a shark attack through the toilet for months) seemed unlikely.  The water is a little cool, though.  I prefer my water bath water temperature, but I brave the cold and enjoy the cooling effect of sitting on the beach.  This is by far the kids’ favorite day. 

As this is our last night on board, we have to pack and get ready to leave, which generally entails prying our children off of the legs of the children’s club counselors as they scream all of those warning things you tell your children to scream when they are being carted off by strangers.  We enjoy a wonderful last dinner together, let the kids enjoy their final few hours in the club, and prepare our bags for departure the next morning.

The Disney Wonder – Day 2

On this first full day of our nothing is planned cruise, we wake up whenever we darn feel like it.  Oooh, that’s so nice!  Of course, Whenver I feel like it is always early, so I head out to the balcony to take some pictures of the rising sun.



We have no set plan for breakfast, other than we all want to eat in the dining room, so we’re not going to let anyone sleep too late.  A few of the gang was nauseous last night with the rocking, but they managed to get a good night’s sleep and they are up and awake and ready to go to breakfast.  Danny had Ann a little worried with his cruise ship freedom, and she ended up hunting him down pretty late last night.  Let’s just say a few ground rules were laid out over the Eggs Benedict this morning.

After a nice leisurely breakfast, we take the kids up to the kids club.  Ann and Brighid and I have decided to hit the shore and take in a few of the shops, and Jim decides to lounge on the ship, beeper in hand for the kids, and read his book.  On our way back from taking the kids to the club, however, he wants to stop by the spa. 

Our very first cruise ever was on the maiden voyage of the Disney Magic.  They offered something then called an exotic Rasul spa treatment, and it sounded like something I could live with.  Jim was all over the whole couples massage thing, but I don’t like hands I don’t know all over me, so I’m not a good spa person.  This, however, is something the couple does themselves.  We LOVED it on the Magic, and no other cruise ship we’ve been on has offered it, so we were thrilled it was still being offered on the Disney Wonder.  It was just as romantic as we remembered!

Basically, you have a private room in the spa for an hour.  You are given instructions as to what you are supposed to do.  A table filled with lotions and muds is laid out for you, and after taking turns exfoliating each other, showering off, and then applying mud to each other, you enter a steam room, where you can sit and relax while the steam opens your pores and the mud helps cleanse your body.  Well, it’s so erotic applying the lotions and the mud to each other, not to mention relaxing and peaceful, you never want it to end.  With about 10 minutes left in your hour, they knock on the door to let you know it’s nearly time for the experience to be over, and you can turn on the showers in the steam room and wash yourselves off.  There is moisturizer to apply when you’re done.  On this visit, after our showers, they escorted us to another area of the spa, where we were each given a glass of champagne as we sat and held hands and chatted.  Talk about your Special Experiences!  I might make this a whole separate blog post!

Okay, so I got way ahead of myself here.  We booked our appointment for the spa for later that day, and we met Ann and Brighid back up in the room.  Out we went to help boost the Bahamian economy!

  We left the ship and headed for a walk around Nassua to see if we could find any worthwhile souvenirs.  

I found EXACTLY what I had been looking for since we left Orlando.  Did you know there is a STARBUCKS in Nassau!!  How lucky is that?  We walked in and out of quite a few shops, and I was really tempted to pick up some tacky souvenirs for the kids, but really, with Christmas just minutes away, and my suitcases already bursting at the seams just with what I brought with me, packing in even more stuff became a bad idea.  Until….

Why, yes, that pirate IS holding a sign that says Tortuga Rum Cakes.  What you probably can’t see in this picture is how they lure you into the store innocently enough, but then a woman hands you a piece of rum cake in some absolutely luscious flavor, and you all of a sudden remember that if you leave ALL of your husband’s stuff in the Bahamas, you can pack in 6 or 8 of these cakes into your suitcases!  We sampled key lime rum cake inside the store, and ended up buying a sample pack that included the incredible key lime, banana, pineapple, chocolate, coconut, and the original cake.  We also picked up a can of conch chowder, because Brighid loves it and there weren’t any conch chowder vendors lining the streets (where did this kid think she was – Key West?).  They also have coffees, but with the six pack of cake, we are sufficiently overweight on all of our bags, so we walk away.  Brighid and her roommates will enjoy them, and I will not gain any weight from them.

After a bit more walking around, Ann buys a Harley Davidson t-shirt for her beau, Woody; and we buy, then lose, a straw kid’s handbag embroidered with Ariel.  No worries – we go back and buy another one.  They are everywhere.

This is the first governor of the Bahamas – well, a replica of the first governor, anyway.

And this is just a tree because, well, just because it is.

We head back to the ship, and we’re pretty hungry, but it’s nearly time for Jim and I to go to our mud bath/spa treatment.  Ann and Brighid head off in search of lunch, then they’re going to grab the kids, take them to the movies, and meet us back here in time for us to take them trick or treating.  How cool is that, that they can trick or treat on the ship??

So, we have a fabulous time at our treatment; Ann and Brighid find lunch, and we make it back in time to order something from room service to eat while we wait for the kids to come in.  Ann and Brighid drop the kids off, then they head off for a movie that they wanted to see.  We get everyone in costume, and we head out at precisely four to trick or treat.

 Once all of the trick or treat stations have been visited, there is a parade of all the kids in costume on the deck, and Eilis, Chris, and Granuaile made quite the impression.  They were all cheered when they walked up on stage, and they had a good time parading around with the other kids.  Of course, all of this took time out of the kids club, so they wanted to get out of their costumes, into their pirate gear, and out to the club ASAP.  Granuaile decided she wasn’t going to need to change out of her costume, and opted for the Ranger look for Pirate night.  With the dine and play, though, it really doesn’t matter, as they aren’t in the dining room by the time the pirate parade takes place.

We end the night relatively early – well, as early as you can after you have late seating at dinner.  This was a nice day – and I’m really enjoying the no plans made type of cruising!  It beats being up at the crack of dawn to race to an excursion, then trying to get to every shipboard activity.  This is, so far, a very relaxing trip.

Wrapping Up Day 1 on the Disney Wonder

So we have a lovely lunch, buffet style, at Parrot Cay; and by the time we are finished lunch here, it is time to check out our staterooms.  We have cruised on other cruise lines, but I have to say, the cabins on the Disney ships are laid out really well.  I especially like that the bathroom is divided, so if someone is in the shower, there is still another separate room with a toilet and a sink, so other people in the room can continue to get ready.

As we are admiring our balcony, and my nephews are enjoying their balcony next door, the luggage begins to arrive.  So far, only two bags from our cabin, but I get nervous when none of the luggage from Ann’s room shows up.  Without acting to anxious, I ring guest services to see when I should truly begin to panic, and they assure me that the luggage was probably picked up, and it will be in the cabin by 5 that evening.  Back to enjoying our balcony…

Something we have never seen on any of our other cruises is the door magnets!  We love them!  Jim had made me promise for this cruise we would decorate our door with magnets, and I, of course, agreed that we should have stuff from top to bottom adorning our stateroom door.  So a few days before we leave, with no magnets in hand, Jim hauls us down to Office Depot to pick up magnet sheets, and after I send him some files to work with, he prints us up a bunch of magnets that I love.  Gotta love his attention to detail.  The kids have a great time putting the magnets on the door – well, most of the kids.  Danny didn’t find our efforts terribly amusing, as you can plainly tell by the look on his face when we made too much noise knocking on the door to their cabin!

Another great thing on the Disney ships is the swag they always leave you when you are a return cruiser!  We have gotten umbrellas and tote bags on other lines, but Disney’s stuff is always much cooler.  The kids loved the goodie bag we got this time around!

By the time we do the lifeboat drill, it’s time to head on deck for the sail away party.  This is Jim’s first opportunity to indulge in his favorite cruise activity – testing the drink of the day!  We end up getting a couple of non-alcoholic versions of the drink of the day for the kids to enjoy, and Jim gets the rum punch concoction for he and I to share.  The sail away special drinks come in a souvenir cup, and the best idea EVER – when you are headed back down to your stateroom, you can exchange your dirty cup for a clean, plastic wrapped one to pack in your bag!  That was such a nice touch! 

The sail away party was a hit with the kids – who especially loved seeing the characters up close and personal, dancing into the early evening hours.  It was great fun for everyone!




Let the Sailing Begin!
Let the Sailing Begin!

My gang has been up since oh my goodness this is early AM, and I know I’m tired, since I got up an hour before the girls did.  But after the sail away party, they want to head to the show, which tonight is the Golden Mickeys.  I love this show, because it really does showcase all of our favorite Disney movies, and the kids sit really well through it, but they are hungry and tired, and I’m so glad it’s nearly time for dinner.

Our first night is at Animators Palette, a restaurant that transforms before your eyes from a stark black and white to a burst of color and warmth by the end of your meal.  Everything from the walls around you to the waitstaff undergoes the change, and it’s a sight to behold.  We imbibe in one more drink of the day – again, a fruity and delicious rum punch.

  If I wasn’t sufficiently tired before dinner, I am now!  We opt to have the kids participate in the Dine and Play program, which is AWESOME.  If your kids order from the children’s menu, they expedite the delivery of their meals, and counselors from the kids club come to the dining room at 9 PM to pick them up.  My kids LOVED it – especially Brighid, who was usually nominated at dinners past to be the one to drop the younger girls off.  This is both good and bad.  None of the kids hung around to see the complete effect of the changing of the dining room, which was kind of sad, because I think they might have enjoyed it.  On the other hand, they loved getting to go to the kids club, where they NEVER wanted to leave!

We finished our dinner, and headed out of the dining room.  After a quick trip around the ship, it was off to pick the kids up and head to bed.  We have no plans this cruise – no excursions booked, no agenda to follow.  The word of the weekend – RELAXATION!

A Wonder – Ful Weekend with Disney Cruise Line

 So the family is embarking on a fall getaway on the Disney Wonder!  This trip will be Jim and I; all three girls; my stepmom Ann; and two nephews, Danny and Christian.  We have gone back and forth on how to make this trip possible, and decided a weekend where the kids would miss the least amount of school worked just perfectly.  My girls have Thursday off, the nephews have Monday off, so the most school anyone is missing is two days.  Jim is flying down to Orlando on Wednesday night, and he and Brighid are meeting the rest of us at the airport on Thursday morning, where we will caravan in a rental car and Brighid’s car with a mountain of luggage to Port Canaveral. 

To start the trip off properly, Jim and Brighid meet us inside MCO.  How cute are they, with their homemade limo service signs?

Let’s first meet Brighid’s car.  Cute.  Downright adorable.  Lovely little cream colored creature known as a Mini Cooper. 

Adorable, right?  But we are a party of eight.  With loads of luggage.  Jim rented a comfortable car, and fortunately, we are able to fit nearly all of the larger bags in the trunk of his car, but the back of Brighid’s car is jam packed with overnight bags we don’t necessarily need on the cruise.  We hope.  I am praying all the way to the port that no one has packed life sustaining medication into a bag that looked like a bag they didn’t need on the trip.

So, in my normally disorganized state, I did not put our Disney Cruise Line tags on the suitcases I packed.  Ann, who is way more organized than I am, did put her tags on.  We took a bit longer than we should have getting to baggage claim, by the time everyone went to the bathroom, and when we got down there, my suitcases are the only ones still on the belt, moving around.  Ann’s suitcases are no where to be found.  I head over to the “Where the Hell is My Luggage” office for US Airways to find out Where The Hell Our Luggage is.  It turns out, the Mouse is SO efficient, his team even picks up bags they aren’t supposed to pick up just because it has a tag on it that says it is a cruise line piece of luggage!  With some faith, trust, and pixie dust, we leave the baggage claim (or un-claim as the case may be) area and hope the rest of the luggage arrives at the Port.

Brighid has Ann and a couple of kids with her, and Jim and I take two more kids with us, and relying on her GPS, Brighid heads off to find the ship.  Jim and I detour into a Starbucks, because the Philly airport doesn’t have one on the side I leave from, and we barely had time this morning to make our flight.  We literally arrived at the gate in time to get in line to board the plane. 

Our detour means we beat Brighid to the port by only a few minutes, instead of the length of time that Jim anticipated.  There is construction at the port, and I’m not sure where Ann and Brighid and their two kids are, but Jim drops off me, my two kids, and a mountain of luggage off at the curb in the passenger drop off zone, and he heads of to return the rented vehicle.  Brighid has dropped Ann off somewhere – where I’m not sure – and she has headed off to park her car.

As I am standing there with my mountain of luggage and two kids, a porter gathers a group of us overburdened looking souls together.  He promises salvation by way of taking our luggage from us and insuring it’s arrival onto the proper ship before said ship leaves the port.  In exchange, he requests that we look into the depths of our souls and the kindness of our hearts.  He explains that they are poorly compensated and over worked, and they suffer chronic back pain because tourists like us pack 482 pounds of luggage to bring on a trip where we will spend 3 days sitting on a beach or poolside in a bathing suit.  He tells us that while he himself is an overweight white guy, many of the employees are underfed foreigners with incredibly large families back in their native countries, all of whom need to be supported.  He begs, no, pleads with us to empty our wallets and tip generously for the effort they will put forth on our behalf.  I, of course, overtip. 

I finally get Brighid on the phone, and she tells me Ann is somewhere.  She doesn’t know where.  I call Ann, and she tells me she is already inside the terminal, relaxing peacefully with whatever children she is in charge of.  I figure I might as well go in with the children I have, and I phone Jim to tell him to meet me inside.  As always, he either does not have his phone on or readily available.  I hope he finds us.

We breeze through security, and we meet Ann upstairs.  After a few minutes, Brighid joins us.  Still no sign of Jim, but they are boarding people on the ship.  Ann suggests we try to go check in, and I don’t know if they’ll let me do that without Jim in tow.  I check with information, and they advise me that as long as he has his passport and stuff with him, all he has to do is check himself in, and get his photo taken, and he can join us. 

We head over to get into line, and the wonderful Cast Member there directing us to the proper line has something very special in common with one of the members of our sailing party!!  That member of our crew was so excited, she made this poor unsuspecting cast member pose for a photo.

Our Brighid met this Brighid.  Yep, both Brighid, both spelled Brighid.  The Disney Brighid said in all of her years (and yeah, I know she barely looks out of college herself), she has only ever met one B-R-I-G-H-I-D and it was a woman from Ireland, who pronounced the name correctly – which is BREED.  Our Brighid was so thrilled to meet in person someone with the same exact name, she could have left the port right then and considered the vacation a success.

By the time we were just about to wrap up our check in, Jim came over, checked in with us, and we were ready to go.  We went over and the kids got wristbanded for the kids’ club, and we picked up our piece of “Come Get Your Crabby Kid” beeping technology, and we were on board this beautiful ship in no time flat. 

I love the part where you walk onboard, and they call out your name and welcome the Skamarakas Family onboard, with crew members waving Mickey hands at you as you walk on.  Very cool.

I glance up at what is one of my favorite parts of the ship – the chandelier – and we head to a lovely lunch at Parrot Cay.  The table behind is us is filled with heavily armed military looking people.  I think they are the kids’ club counselors.  God bless them and the terrific job they do, no matter what kind of ammuntion it takes.

 (this is the chandelier up close)