Ah, the start of our next adventure! We did something awesome leading up to this cruise. We packed our suitcase last weekend which meant once I packed up my carry on bag, we could start our vacation. I left the house and headed out to pick up our friends who were staying at Port Orleans then headed back to pick up the family to make our way to Port Canaveral.
It was a smooth ride to the port and we ended up arriving a little bit too early, about 10:30, as the port was not yet open for guests to go through the drive through luggage drop off, but we were able to park. As we normally do, we pre-paid for our parking at Port Canaveral. I know there are plenty of cheaper options, but I cannot pass up on the ease of parking a few hundred yards from the terminal.
We dropped our luggage off at the curb luggage drop and proceeded into the terminal which due to the time, the lines were pretty much nonexistent. One of the awesome perks of being a Platinum Castaway Club member is being able to check in at the same spot as concierge in the back right of the DCL terminal. Now, truth be told this is not always the best way to check in. If the regular Castaway Club line is empty it can be faster given all the extra check in desks available. However, the part that sets the Concierge/Platinum line apart is the ability to also get the OceaneerBands (AKA MagicBands) for the Oceaneer Club & Oceaneer Lab without having to go into that separate line in the terminal.
Now, we are all checked in and just waiting for boarding to begin. As a Platinum cruiser, you get to board in boarding group #1. We took this opportunity to fulfill a request from 2x runDisney Castaway Cay 5k medal winner and STORYblogger, Derek Burgan. Derek has been eager to get his hands on a set of the Disney Cruise Line pressed pennies which are available in the terminal and Isabelle was more than willing to dig through her father’s change jar and find 6 pennies and 12 quarters… I mean she was more than eager to press the six pennies. The designs are the bow characters for each ship, one for Castaway Cay and a general DCL design.
We still had some time before boarding, but that time flew looking over the Personal Navigator and chatting with Heather and Tony — our friends who I mentioned earlier and if you are a regular reader of our trip reports, may recall from our 11-Night Norwegian Fjords and Iceland cruise in 2015.
It was time to board and to finally see for the first time with our own eyes all the changes to the Disney Wonder. First up, was the welcoming of our family onto the ship having our name called as we entered the new atrium. After sailing on the Disney Magic a few times since her re-imagination, I’m well over the loss of the second staircase and the Chihuly chandeliers. As a result, I entered the atrium with an open mind and fell in love with the chandelier.
We all decided that the first order of business would be lunch. The Disney Wonder offers two embarkation lunch options, a sit down experience with a menu in Triton’s and a buffet in Cabanas. I’ve long been a fan of the Cabanas layout and it makes a huge difference on the classic ships. During dry dock, hand washing stations were added at the entrances of Cabanas. The hand washing stations (while awesome) create a real bottleneck when there is a rush. Rather than giving guests an option for the hand wipes, the cast member at the door began telling guests that they could go in and get a table them come back out to wash their hands. I cringed, but what are you going to do? I am interested to see how things go later in the cruise.
Following lunch, we did a drive by of the rebooking desk or as is now called, the Disney Vacation Planning Desk, to drop off our rebooking form and headed off on our way to check out After Hours.
After Hours, previously Route 66, is not a carbon copy of the district on the Disney Magic. In fact, the hallway looks incredible with the LED lighting and the cool wave like feature along the walkway. The first venue we entered was Azure.
WOW!! Azure, looks huge with the light color. It is literally a night and day difference from Fathoms, which in this case you could say a deep water and above water difference… While Fathoms looks cool on the Magic, I felt Azure was much more inviting and open.
The next stop was the Cadillac Lounge, the carry over from Route 66. It makes me wonder how much Disney paid to use the Cadillac brand to keep the name. If anyone knows anything about that please share in the comments or drop me an email. I will admit, it has been a while since we last sailed on the Wonder and as a result I am not as familiar with this venue, but it is obvious by the look of the place it was restored and returned from dry dock a show bar.
Rounding out After Hours, is Crown & Fin Pub. This pub is full of stuff to look at on the walls with subtle nods to Disney films set in England. The seating area along the portholes is so much better than the chairs in O’Gills. Overall, I felt Crown & Fin kept itself closer to the fond memories I have of Diversions.
It was about 1:30 when we headed towards our stateroom to drop off and unpack our carry on bags. Upon entering our stateroom I was elated to see the addition of a 4-port USB charger by the desk outlets and a new alarm clock with two USB ports.
I realized I did not bring any USB wall chargers. This was not planned, but I was aware of the new USB charging options within the stateroom so I just brought the cables figuring between those and my laptop we’d be fine. It turns out Isabelle did bring a USB wall charger for her iPod, which is great because there is an outlet on the side of the bed with the phone.
Our stateroom Castaway Club gift was on the bed. The Platinum gift is the tote bag and two DCL tumblers.
Time to explore the ship’s new stuff starting with the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab. I have some video and stuff to share later so I am going to gloss over some of the spaces and do a more verbose overview when we get home.
The CLAB (as I often refer to the Oceaneer spaces) is set up the same way as the Magic with themed spaces surrounding an open area in the Club and pretty much a carbon copy of the Lab with some minor changes mostly in the Wheel House area (area where you can captain a ship or play video games).
Additionally, there is the open walkway for the kids to freely move between the two spaces.
We also stopped in its a small world nursery to check out the new look.
The tween space, Edge on the Disney Wonder was also relocated from deck 2 to the space previously occupied by the Quartermasters Arcade on the pool deck.
Edge has a similar 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea vibe like the Magic, but this space feels much more open with a better layout. I will need to compare pictures of both versions, but I think there is a false wall missing on the Wonder that may have been used for storage or something on the Magic. Alternatively, I could just be wrong and I need to get some espresso from the Cove Cafe to get my brain back on track.
I tell ya, the teen area, ViBE is great and this has nothing to do with the fact Captain America was playing on the venue’s multiple televisions when we arrived. The space is great and looks like a great play to hang out and play some games with fellow cruisers.
Moving along the whirlwind tour, to Senses Spa and Salon for an overview of the offerings. We took the mini-tour and hung around for the spa raffle, because who in their right mind wouldn’t want to sign up to win free spa services.
Full disclosure, I never spent anytime in the Disney Wonder’s previous spa so I’d be fabricating an opinion if I tried to compare new versus old. I will say, the venue looks great and the Rainforest room looks like Len Testa’s bathroom. If I can find the link to the newspaper article this will not seem as creepy.
UPDATE: After speaking to a buddy, I can say the Wonder’s spa received an overhaul unlike the Disney Magic. The Wonder’s Senses Spa is closer to the Dream class leaving the Magic and the only rainforest room in classic mode.
One of the other spaces added was BBB and as you leave the spa there is a wonderful yet subtle themed carpet leading up a deck to the boutique. As for the venue, it looks just like the space which was added to the Magic.
It was getting closer to muster drill time. We returned to our stateroom to find our suitcase was delivered. After unpacking, it was time to muster. We were assigned to a muster station in Animator’s Palate. While I’d never pick a stateroom based on muster station, it is nice to be in an inside area instead of being packed in like sardines on deck 4 with the sun beating down on you; or in some cases, rain.
For the sail away party I went up on deck and Periscoped the show. If you did not watch live, you can checkout the replay below
— Scott Sanders (@TheDCLBlog) February 16, 2017
I was trilled to find out our first night’s dinner would be in Tiana’s Place!!! For anyone else wondering (it has been bugging me for weeks) how DCL would list the restaurants on the KTTW cards they are using a two letter abbreviation. TP = Tiana’s Place, TR = Triton’s, and AP = Animator’s Palate.
Anyways, Tiana’s Place is the bees knees and I am not just saying this because it sounds good. The entire evening was extraordinary with the Crawfish Crooners playing live music, a visit by Tiana, Louis walking about, and a full on Mardi Gras parade to end the evening.
Then there was the food. WOW. I was really impressed, Tiana’s Place is not just a themed rotational restaurant; it is a full on dinner show experience not to be missed. A full review with videos will be posted sometime in the next decade, I can promise you that. In the mean time, if you have an opportunity to sail on the Disney Wonder, do not skip Tiana’s Place on the regular menu night.
Isabelle has been waiting for this moment for a few weeks and a Disney Gift card has been burning a hole in her pocket. She was laser focused and could not wait for the shops to open to buy a set of the DCL Tsum Tsums. To her dismay they were all GONE. I repeat the DCL TSUM TSUM supply on the Disney Wonder is nonexistent.
It was next level bonkers in the shops after dinner and before The Golden Mickeys which is normally the case at these times, so I stood to the side and made the decision to check back on our sea day when the shops are shopable.
As the evening was waning, we stopped in to see our friends’ sideways inside stateroom. I seem to like these different layouts as the tend to offer a bit more space to walk around although sometimes it comes with a bit of a loss of storage space.
To close out the day we headed back to our stateroom, where it seems like the channel of the cruise is the Marvel channel. So far today, we’ve caught parts of Captain America, Ant-Man, Avengers, and Avengers Age of Ultron.
One thing to note, we have Palo Brunch booked for tomorrow, but we did not get the dress code phone call nor the reminder card in our stateroom. We tried to look up our reservation on DCL’s website cruise planning center, but since the ship sailed the website did not offer a view of our pre-booked activities. I realized at this point there was no self service way to check on these things so it may be a good idea to print out a copy of your cruise planning center activities just in case since they are no longer viewable once the cruise sails. It does appear in the cruise documents that are mailed to you, but Emily tosses this after taking out our luggage tags. While I’d like to leave this as a cliffhanger, I will jump ahead and say I came to the realization after a trip to Guest Services to verify we still had the reservation, that since we have linked main dining reservations with our friends who we are joining for brunch, they received the reminder card and the phone call for our entire party.