Monday, December 17, 2012

Eastbound Panama Canal Cruise, Part 1

Several months ago, Hallie booked a cruise on the Disney Wonder for its repositioning from its home port of San Pedro, California, to Miami, Florida. We had been saving to go to Walt Disney World, but Hallie’s friend Sara told Hallie about a special on the cruise, so we opted to do that instead. The timing was pretty good, and the ports of call sounded really great. So, with that background, we wanted to share with you what two weeks on the Disney Wonder going from Cali to Florida by way of the Panama Canal looked like from our perspective.

2012-12-09 Sunday: Embarkation Day. We got all our gear together and the two sets of grandparents saw the kids off at San Pedro. The Disney Wonder is immense. It’s basically a self-contained floating hotel and entertainment complex that hosts thousands of people (about 1900 passengers of a capacity 2,400 in our case, along with 945 crew). And yet it and the Magic are now outsized by the Dream and Fantasy, which can hold up to 4,000 passengers. At port, we went through security and waited at a large holding area until our boarding group was asked to come aboard, then we walked down a series of ramps to the Deck 4 Atrium where we were announced and applauded by the service crew. We had a little time to wait before our cabin would be ready, so we joined the many others at the Beach Blanket Buffet on Deck 9. At 2:00 PM, we went to our stateroom. Unbeknownst to Mike, Hallie upgraded our cabin to a stateroom with a view out the starboard side. At 4:30, the ship set sail to fanfare and a party outside the pools on Decks 9 and 10. After the party, we went to Animator’s Palate, one of three themed restaurants we will rotate between, for dinner. We met our hosting and wait staff, Charles from India and Sandor from Hungary. Now that we were truly underway, we could really feel and hear the ship and the ocean moving all around us. At first the constant feeling of movement was a little unnerving, but everyone seemed to get used to it.

Waiting to board at port:


We were greeted by the crew with cheers and applause when we boarded. This display was in the Deck 4 Atrium:

Here is our "home" for two weeks:

Cruise Director Christiaan (yes, with two As) getting the crowd riled up

The first of our three dining rooms for the voyage

The first of many, many glasses of chocolate milk

The first of many, many Mickey Bars

The first of many, many "towelgami" animals made by Nyoman, our stateroom host from Bali

2012-12-10 Monday: At sea. Landon spent most of the day at the Oceaneers Club and Lab.  While Landon was busy playing, the three of us were busy working. We spent a large portion of our time finishing our fish extender gifts to hand out. In the evening, Landon and Mike watched part of Finding Nemo in 3D before they started falling asleep and called it a night.
Mike and Eliza would take early walks on Deck 10. She was under the weather, so she fell back asleep today.

Views of the Mexican coast

Funnel Vision, visible from the Goofy pool

Mickey Pool and slide on Deck 9. We spent many hours here. 

View of the Pacific from our veranda

Looking south toward the bow

North toward the stern

Better view from the veranda

Deck 4 Atrium tree

Dinner at Parrot Cay (pronounced "key"), our second restaurant

We had a "Celebrating Mexico" theme, complete with Minnie.

Landon with typical dinner fare: Mac & cheese, fries, veggies, and chocolate milk

Typical dessert: Mickey Bar with "pixie dust"

Typical "grown up" dessert: Triple temptations

Fish extender replete with gifts

This angel towelgami became another bedtime toy for Eliza during the voyage.

2012-12-11 Tuesday: Cabo San Lucas, Baja California. We debarked at our first port of call in the late morning. Mike and Landon swam with a dolphin named Aqua. Our guide Mariú from Buenos Aires had us ride, kiss, and feed the dolphin. Afterwards, they went up to the Deck 9 Mickey pool for more swimming. Hallie and Eliza went on a village and shopping tour that turned out to be more about shopping than touring. After dinner, everyone crashed in the stateroom.
Ready to go ashore

Our first real views of the ship. It's huge!

We used tenders to go back and forth.

Looking out at Puerto Vallarta from the Beach Blanket Buffet outdoor dining area on the ship

The port from our cabin

Going back to shore

With Mariú after the dolphin swim

Mosaic at Triton's, our third dine-in restaurant

Landon and Eliza enjoyed sitting in these large porthole windows.

Fancy decorated stateroom doors

More fish extender gifts!

2012-12-12 Wednesday: Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco. We spent most of the day on shore participating in a Mexican cooking port adventure. Today happened to be the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe; thus, many people in town made a pilgrimage to the main church downtown. As a result, we didn’t end up spending much time in the town proper. We made a short shopping stop then another stop at a set of neighborhood food shops to get some of the ingredients for the adventure, including handmade tortillas. Joana and Mari explained a lot about essential ingredients and techniques of Mexican cooking. From the city, we took another bus up into the jungle up in the Sierra Madre Mountains to the Canopy River excursion stop and the restaurant. We made salsa, tortillas, and chiles rellenos. After we returned to port, we delivered some of our fish extender gifts. We dined at Animator’s Palate, and the wait staff gave a floor show.
Coming into port

The view from our stateroom veranda


Crowds mulling about, many heading to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Joana and Mari, our guides

A few Christmas decorations

Landon used some of his birthday gift money from the grandparents to buy a flute.

Local restaurant

A handful of hominy (white corn) ready to be ground to make fresh tortillas

View outside the tortilla shop

Joana explaining the different types of beans, corn, and spices at a local dry goods shop

Buying fresh produce 

Piñatas overhead 

Into the Sirerra Madre selva (jungle)

It's just fruit juice

Our restaurant


Special Delivery!

Special effects at Animator's Palate

Sorcerer Mickey!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yay! I love the detail & the pics! (It's moments like this that I'll deal with the verbose dialogue about mint for the benefit of getting an abundance of details about Disney!)