As our travel agency is affiliated with MAST, we were able to achieve the top ranking of all-star member for the first time this year. This special group of top agencies is invited on an annual trip and this fall the destination was Orlando and the beautiful Disney Wonder.
We arrived at the Grand Floridian for the first night ( no castle stay for us this time) and while we had toured the property before this was our first stay here. A great property with immaculate grounds located on the monorail just outside the Magic Kingdom. The room at the Floridian was slightly larger than an average hotel room with a balcony and a large bathroom, as well as a minifridge and coffeemaker in the room.
Luggage is transported by Disney from your room to the ship- but bags had to be ready to go at 8am! Our Disney Cruise motorcoach left at 11am for the 90 minute ride to Port Canaveral. The design and color scheme of the Disney ships make them stand out against the Carnival and Royal Caribbean ships in port that day-very distinctive.
As everyone had checked in on line prior to arrival ( make sure you do this), a quick trip through the security scanners brought us to the checkin counters. After verifying out passports we received our welcome packets and were directed to the photo counter where our pictures were taken and imbedded into our room key cards. Then Welcome Aboard! we gave our names to the hostess and were introduced to all those within earshot of the main atrium. But first things first it was on to the top deck buffet. Very good selection of food and eager bartenders to serve.
After the usual lifeboat drill, section O for us, it was time to sail away. I really enjoy this part as you slide out to sea with bystanders lining the shore and waving or honking goodbye-and the unique musical blasts from the Disney horn!
The cabins on board are great for couples or families. Our balcony cabin had a queen bed with a pullout sofa and above that a bed would pull out.This area could be separated by a privacy curtain. The bathroom was actually split in two with a shower and sink in one room and a sink and toilet in the other. Very handy if sleeping four in the room. See photos below-
We got to eat in the one specialty restaurant, Palo, that evening which is for adults only and requires reservations and an upcharge of $15.00 each. Having not tried this before on other cruise lines- hey the food is included why pay more, but after experiencing Palo it’s- why wouldn’t I want a nice relaxing atmosphere with great views by the window and a superb food and wine menu to choose from- excellent sea bass and rack of lamb,decadent desserts.
The dining onboard is a unique cruising experience as you get to enjoy each restaurant on board a different night. You rotate between each and your waitstaff goes with you from Parrot Cay to Tritons to Animators Palate.
Lots of choices to make after dinner, see a movie in the theater, or go topside to the pool deck and see what is playing on the giant outdoor screen, several lounges for adults with comedy,karaoke,newlywed type games and family entertainment. We chose to see the musical Toy Story brought to life onstage, long time since I saw Woody, Andy and Buzz Lightyear, great show!
Kids have loads of fun in there own program areas operated at 4 different age levels from age 3 to 17. We toured them all, met the enthusiastic crewmembers and looked at several of the projects being worked on in the labs. Of course, it would not be Disney without visits from various onboard characters including Mickey and Minnie who arrive in the atrium for photographs the last evening. Lots of little Princess’s that night.
You can’t miss Pirate Night as lots of make believe-maybe even some real pirates come out to celebrate on the pool deck beneath the big screen with Capt Hook and Mr Smee leading the singing and dancing- the whole deck is almost rocking until finally the fireworks begin – yes real fireworks at sea launched from the smokestack over the dark Atlantic Sea-what a sight, hope we didn’t wake any fish!
And then there is the awesome port of call at Disney’s own Bahamian Island Castaway Cay. The ship slips into its own dock early in the morning and you can either walk the 7 minute hike to the beach or take a tram. The tram services both the nearby large family beach or continues on to the other side of the island to the relaxing and quiet adults only beach. We tried both!
A great island meal is included- ribs,chicken, fish-load up! Sun, blue waters, good food and drink and friends- We’re on vacation now!
Sadly, we head for home late in the afternoon to arrive at Port Canaveral at 6:00am. Any checked bags have to be out of the room by 11pm the night before as they get to go through customs first. After a last breakfast on deck, or in the dining room if you prefer, the announcement came at 7:30am that we have cleared customs and we were now free to disembark. Very smooth.