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Sailing, sailing, over the choppy sea

By Tara Zandra | March 20, 2011

Alternate titles- Adios California!; The Day I Cried 6 Times: How Dramamine Saved Me; or, my personal favorite, Good Grief Ships Creak A Lot.

Last year sometime, Disney started building a new cruise ship called The Dream. What that meant for us West Coasters was we were getting The Wonder for cruises on our side of the country. In June of last year, Disney had a Kids Sail Free promotion for their soon-to-be Mexican Riviera cruises. We jumped on it at that time and then started the months long countdown.

Finally the day was here. March 20, 2011 we were to set sail for Mexico! We got to the Port of Los Angeles around 10:30 and were quickly sent through 3 different areas to get to the waiting part of our journey. At this point I had already cried one time. Just a little tearing up though maybe one tear slipped past. I get real emotional for pretty much anything having to do with the kids. I cry when they go on stage too and they’ve been doing that for years.

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Anyway, everyone was real friendly, save for the one youth activities lady, and it was all easy. But then you sit and wait. And wait. And then you listen to announcements telling you to wait some more. But then people starting yelling out Mickey! and sure enough, the Big Cheese himself was out to meet guests. We hightailed it to the line because he was in a sailor costume. As we all know, I love the characters in different outfits. The line went rather quick, Mickey was happy to see my girls carrying their Duffy bears and I got a great picture. Then we sat and waited some more. Goofy and Pluto came through the waiting areas but didn’t do standard pictures. Minnie replaced Mickey, but the line was horrendous at that point so we figured we‘d get her on the ship later.

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Eventually boarding started which went fairly quick as we were in boarding group 6. I never actually got to see the boat from land so I don’t have a picture of that yet. Hopefully when we dock I’ll manage. Now, here came crying spell 2 and more than a couple tears got past this time. You see, when you enter the ship, many crew members are lined up waiting for you. They ask your family name and then over a microphone say “The Wonder welcomes the Anc Family!” and everyone cheers and claps. Geez, little tear in my eye just from the memory. I didn’t really get to take in the lobby but I will say, much smaller than I expected. It really looks bigger on all those Travel Channel shows but it’s not really large at all. Chris spotted Guest Services and jumped in line to grab coveted Tea Party passes while the girls and I continued on our way in the direction of the many, helpful crew members. We found ourselves being handed wet wipes and sent into a dining room for lunch. We had two different choices of restaurants and at this point, the lack of text messaging really hit home. I had no way of letting Chris know where we were and that was an odd feeling. He was smart enough to assume we went to the first restaurant and did join us, with Tea Party tickets in hand.

Lunch was a buffet and we ate fairly well. Kids were enamored with a build your own ice cream sundae bar and I took pictures of food. My camera has a food setting so I’m going to use it. The food was decent though nothing spectacular other than a particular dessert. It was a spice cake with a cream cheese frosting and dollop of what tasted like pure butter. I’m neither a dessert nor butter person but this was divine.

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During lunch their was an announcement that our rooms were ready so off we went to our new home. Let me tell you, it’s beautiful. We’re in a category 4, Deluxe Family Stateroom with a verandah. We’ve got a queen bed, a sofa turn twin bed, and pull down twin bed that comes out of the ceiling. It is amazing how much storage space they crammed in here. The only problem is finding spaces for our empty suitcases. There is ample space under the bed unlike hotel rooms but our suitcases are just a smidge too big. But we’re still figuring it out and it’s all good.

We then attempted to join the ship tour group, but unfortunately, the weather in LA that day was cold, windy, and rainy. Really horrid weather that made me long to be in my own home. Since the tour was meeting on the top deck we decided to forgo it and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was canceled anyway. Instead we did our own tour and wandered the entire ship to see where everything was located. Again, the thing that struck me the most is the ship is not giant. It is so much smaller than the picture in my mind’s eye and I’m still reconciling the reality with the imagined. It truly doesn’t take more than 5 minutes to get anywhere. Don’t mistake my observation with disappointment though, I don’t care that it’s smaller, just surprised.

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During our exploration we checked out the kids’ clubs. Before we set sail, we were under the impression there were 3 clubs- 1 for 13-17 year olds and the other 2 for 3-12 year olds. So essentially my girls would be in the same clubs. But the Wonder very recently converted a conference room into a tween club called The Edge. It’s for 11-14 year olds with activities that have so far proven very popular with Miss Tabitha. The two younger clubs are available to 3-10 year olds, but one is more geared to the 6 and under set and the other to 7 and older. When we toured the Oceaneer’s Club (the 3-6 year old club), Daisy was in awe. It’s designed to be Captain Hook’s ship which is truly perfect. Not only has Daisy always enjoyed Peter Pan she loves the new Jake and the Neverland Pirates show. It is everything she could desire. The best part, is parents are welcome to stay at any time which makes us feel more comfortable all around.

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We had the mandatory emergency drill where we learned where to go and how to put on life vests and then we headed to the bon voyage party. It’s normally in the pool area but they moved it inside and everyone seemed the get that memo except us so we were late to the party. This meant we couldn’t see and Daisy didn’t get a streamer which to a 6 year old, is a huge deal. But her big sister came to the rescue and found one for her at which point Daisy enjoyed herself much more. We were led by what I can only assume are ex-cheerleaders in a series of dances and generally ordered to have a good time. Then the characters came out to also order us to have a good time and I can’t resist them so I heartily joined in with YMCA.

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And we were off! Except not. Despite a supposed sailing time of 5pm we stayed in port for a while longer as people had delayed flights. So we didn’t see the ship set sail quite yet. At this point Daisy decided she wanted food so we went out in the rain to get her a veggie burger. Scratch that, a really good veggie burger. When we returned to our room with it, Tabitha took one look and decided she too wanted food. So off to the rain we went again and got her a tomato, mozzarella, pesto, grilled sandwich. It was as delicious as it sounds and I will definitely be getting one for myself at some point.

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Next we headed to the theatre for the Welcome Aboard show. It was cute and informative and led by our Activities Director who was not named Julie and did not direct us to the Lido deck. He is named Clayton though and did lead us through a vacation dance based on The Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel Air fame Now that’s a party.

Dressing for dinner came next and off we went with a quick stop to see Goofy in the lobby first.

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Our first night’s dinner was in Triton’s, as in Ariel’s father. There’s a gorgeous mosaic on one wall that I hope to get a picture of soon. The cuisine is touted as Continental with a French flair. The menu looked good, but here’s the bad part. We left port while we were in the Welcome Aboard show. Apparently the weather made finding a good direction difficult and the water was really rough. Food didn’t so much sound like a good idea to me and I was feeling pretty miserable at that point. Chris went to the gift shop for Dramamine and Wayan, our assistant server, got me crackers for dinner. This time all I wanted to do was curl up in my bed and cry so the tears were not of the good variety. I even forwent drinking my Diet Coke and just stuck to water. It took a long while but I did eventually start to feel normal though there was still no way I was eating a bite of food. By the way, the servers were not so happy that I wouldn’t eat and might as well been concerned mothers. Since I loves me some pampering, their caring attitudes were welcome.

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Everyone else enjoyed their dinners and then it was time for kid fun. Now, our dinner is the second seating which means we don’t even get into the restaurant until 8:15pm. So to go do activities afterwards is crazy but I guess that’s life on the ship! So Tabitha went to play ice breaker games at The Edge and Daisy asked us to take her to the club and follow her around. There were plenty of other parents there as I’m sure it’s a common request on the first night. After a bit though, the Dramamine side effect kicked in and I was ready to curl up on their nap mats and drop off. So we talked Daisy into leaving and came back to our room where a towel animal in the form of a swan awaited us. Daisy was thrilled because it was accompanied by bedtime chocolates. We got her in bed and Chris and I also jumped into bed but stayed awake as we were waiting for Tabitha to come back. I guess I should mention the ship has phones, 2 to a cabin, that keep us in touch with one another. So she checks in with us and we can call her or text her and keep track of her. Tabitha is very good about following the boundaries we’ve set up for her so we feel comfortable with giving her some autonomy.

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Once we had Tabitha back and we were all settled into bed, roughly 11ish at this point, we realized that sleep was not going to come easily. The ship rolled and rocked and creaked and moaned and groaned. We would rock to the starboard side and get, creeeeeaaaaaaaak, bang! Then roll to the port side in near silence. Then creeeeeeaaaaaaaak, bang! To the starboard side again. Over and over. And then the erroneous phone call came as well as the knock at the door because there was a mix up with some room that wanted extra blankets. I felt like crying again and for the second time that day, not in a good way. Sleep did take over but man was it a horrible night for everyone except Daisy who has literally slept through a marching band in the past.

At this point, I really was questioning why I was on a boat. It was cold, wet, wobbly, and generally not a lot of fun. Thankfully, it could only get better.

Topics: Life, Disney Cruise |

4 Responses to “Sailing, sailing, over the choppy sea”

  1. Mandi Says:
    April 2nd, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    Had no idea things were so structured on cruises. I can’t wait to hear how the rest of your trip went. :)

  2. Vanessa Says:
    April 2nd, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    Man, the more I hear about the seasickness, the worse it sounds. :( I’m so sorry you had to deal with that. At least you got to eat the spice cake first?

    Having the 11-14 club sounds like a good idea - I can’t imagine that it would be easy to come up with activities to please everyone in a group that ranged from 3-12 years old, or even 7-12 years old. The one time we went on a cruise, Gillian was only 7, so I still had to sign her in and out of the kids’ club, but she would definitely enjoy having the freedom to come and go now.

  3. Kari Says:
    April 4th, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    How awful for you having all that seasickness. Sounds like the girls were having a great time, hoefully Chris was also. Reading your descriptions made me feel like I was right there.

  4. Mel Says:
    April 16th, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Sounds fun despite some drawbacks. I remember the first cruise I went on, a quick 2 day one down to Ensenada from San Diego. I was so sick I wanted to die!! Longest 2 days of my life! I spent the entire time on the top deck out in the fresh air with all the other sickies or curled up in the cabin while my date went to gamble by himself. So on the second one I went to which was 5 days I was well prepared with my sea bands and 24 hour Dramamine and had zero sickness at all. I think once it starts it’s hard to get over even if you take the meds. Anyway, fun to hear about it. I was always curious about a Disney cruise. The tween club sounds awesome!

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