Live from 11 day Southern Cruise


#1

I am going to take a stab at this and post as the cruise goes along. Can’t promise updates everyday so we will see how it goes.

A bit of background on us, we are forty something couple without children by desire. I have been on 18 or so cruises, my wife many less because I cruised before we got together. I have gotten her addicted to. I am also along time Disneyphile, my wife, less so but she enjoys going to
WDW, etc. We have been on the Magic several years ago. The other lines we have been on Princess, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, and Carnival. I like Princess the best.

Anyway on with the trip so far. We had driven down the day before so we arrived at the terminal at about 11:30. We easily dropped off the luggage without any of the hassle that we usually experience. My wife proceeded to go through security while I parked the car.

You go through security as you enter the terminal and there were only a small line with two scanners in operation. After you through this, each party is given a card with a number and you proceed up an escalator, this is where I met up with my wife. I had done on-line check-in but was never given an option to print out the form (I think it was because I didn’t fill out the flight information because obviously we didn’t have any). So we had to fill out the forms again. We then proceeded to the checkin line. Except there was no line. :slight_smile: We just went to the agent. Since I had done the checkin online our information was already in the system so he didn’t really need the forms we just filled out. Since we were past guests, we received lanyards to hold our cruise cards and pins.

Now the card comes into play, instead of having to stand in line they call by the number on your card. As we were checking in they were calling the first groups. Our card number was 14. We were aboard the ship by 12:10, and the terminal was beginning to clear out, so obviously this was an initial rush. As we entered the ship they asked the name of our party where they announce of the PA system. All in all I think Disney has the best checkin procedure. I also think it is ironic that while Disney is known for their lines at the parks, They have virtually eliminated them at the terminal, while other cruiselines can have horrendous queues.


#2

We proceeded to go to the buffet. It was a nice selection including steamed shrimp (although they weren’t the large ones like we had on our prior cruise. Along with the shrimp, I got a cold cucumber/smoked salmon in dill dressing and some cheese. I recall macorroni and cheese, steamed salmon, fried fish, and they were carving a piece of meat (although I wasn’t paying attention to what it was, I will try to do better in the future). They also had a salad bar in the very rear.

We proceeded to tour the ship while we waited for our rooms to be ready. Overall the ship looked very well maintained. One of the biggest difference was where the Pub/Sports Bar is now. Prior it was a Dueling piano bar/Comedy Club and the décor to put it mildly was kind of tacky. They have put in high def screens and comfortable looking chairs. Since it was Sunday that had NFL games on, and had posted a chalkboard with the schedule of the games that were going to be shown, very nice touch. They also had a sideboard with chips, salsa, guacamole and other munchies. Other cruise lines don’t do this another nice touch. All-in-all moving the sports bar from the Stack to here is an improvement.

About now our bags had started to arrive so we began the unpacking. I will tell you more about the cabin in other postings. We did some more touring and bar hopping (I will tell you about them in other posts as this is already very long) until sail-a-way. We have gotten to a point where we are usually in a lounge overlooking the water when a cruise begins and do not partake in the on-deck activities. This time we did and had a good time. Think of a theme park stage show and you have an idea of what they do. Various dancers and singers and of course the characters. They also introduced the new “house band”. They are a Philipino group with two female singers, a male singer, a guitarist and drummer. I only bring up their nationality because my wife is Philipino. Man they are high energy with their dancing.


#3

Our first night’s dinner was in the Animator’s Palate. Depending on your dining rotation is what time you dine. For the early seating, which we had, it was 5:45, 6:00, or 6:15. Since we had AP, we ate at 6pm. I had the blue cheese soup, the mixed green salad and the lamb, while my wife started with the proscuito wrapped honey dew and then had the lobster pasta. The soup was very good, not too salty and actually lighter than I was expecting. The lamb was perfectly cooked. When the pasta was delivered it was a tail. The server then proceeded to remove the meat from the shell for my wife. Oh yes, even though this was an 11 day cruise they were offering the 7 day wine packages. Originally I wasn’t planning on ordering this (my wife doesn’t drink) but I figured this would work out to about ½ bottle per night so I ordered it.

After dinner, we took in the Welcome aboard show, and it was a typical welcome aboard show where they introduced the dances, the cruise director staff, the ship’s staff, including the Captain (who has a bit of showman in him). One thing that struck me is that usually on other lines the cruise director is also a performer, not here he seems to be more of a manager and an MC.

After the show, we took in a few of the entertainers. The Cadillac Lounge is the piano bar. According to the piano player they are going to do themes each night. This night it was Frank Sinatra night. He is nice player but I think his voice is more suited to Blues.


#4

I then took in the house band and again they are high energy. I got tired watching them. After this, I proceeded to take in the “couples” quiz. Usually on cruises they try to get a newlywed couple, a middle aged couple and then an older couple. But the makeup of this cruise with it being a longer cruise at the beginning of the school year, they quickly realized that this wasn’t going to happen. They did end up with a couple that were close to newlyweds and an older couple but the third couple was two lifetime committed men. Definitely a different twist, esp on a Disney cruise. The show ended up being hilarious. On other cruises how the couple reacts and answer questions have become fairly predictable. Not this one and not because of the gay couple, all three of the couples came up with some way out their answers. After this it was time for bed

Overall I have been having a good time and have been impressed with the staff and the food. About the make up of the passengers. I would say most are in their 30’s-50’s with a fair portion of older couple. As expected there are fewer children than you would probably find on a Disney Cruise. In fact in our dining room, we were seated at a 6 top, after waiting about 10 minutes without anyone joining us we asked if were dining alone and were told yes.

They asked if this was problem and said no, we actually preferred this, that is one reason why we take Princess, with anytime dining you can request a two-top. Looking around the dining room there were many other couples like not necessary sitting at 6 tops, because the dining room has many 4 tops much more than other cruiselines where 8 tops are the norm.

Anyway, I hope you are enjoying this, and hopefully I can keep this up, although each report may not be as long since, I had to cover a lot of introductory stuff.


#5

Random thoughts and observations and follow-up information.

A little more detail when you arrived by vehicle. There are two “checkpoints where you will need a picture ID. The first is just to make sure you have it. The second one they check your name against a manifest list. Both parties are required to present their ID’s, so have them out.

After dropping off the luggage, you follow the signs. Several people will tell you to make note of the white awning that covers the crosswalk. Once you get into the parking area this becomes more apparent. Try to park near the crosswalks that are in the middle of the lot. As all cruise ports they require prepayment and they take cash, Visa and Mastercard. No American Express or Discover.


#6

About the cabin. The main cabin is as spacious as I remember. The beds were put together and are very comfortable. I am not sure if they have started the upgrade process on the beds but if they haven’t, the new bedding will be outstanding. If we have some of the new bedding it is among the best on any cruiseline I have sailed on. I like the two bathroom layout. I think it will make getting ready in the morning on port days very convenient.

Now for a quibble, Princess has storage down to near perfection. Let me try to paint a virtual picture. Take the bathroom where the tub and remove all of the bath/sink thing. Now on the wall between this room and the cabin place the hanging closet pole etc. On the wall between your cabin and the other cabin place a set of shelves that have decent height between them. The safe is also here. Remove the closet in the walkway leading to rest of the cabin and you pretty much got it. This creates a much more robust storage solution than the relatively great amount of shallow (height-wise) storage spaces that the Wonder has.


#7

The Cove. This is also a new addition, and I love it. It is a combination coffee, wine bar, and Internet café. If you have a laptop there are one or two power plugs on the wall overlooking the walkway that follows side of the ship. However, there are two outlets behind the couch that is more poolside. This allows up to 4 laptops to access power. Also, every so often when I have been logged into the Net, I get the “I agree/don’t agree” screen when this happens make sure you exit all IE windows and and then go back to the http;\1.1.1.1 to make sure you are loggoed out. If you just use an existing window, you get prompted with the login screen, where once you respond, you are informed that you are already logged in, even thought you can’t go anywhere on the NET

The crew (cast) members are very friendly and almost always respond with a smile. I would put them up against the crew members on Holland America which I consider the best in the business.


#8

Oh by the way: The seas were extremely smooth this morning it was glassy, calm around noon and is now glassy again, It is litterly like sailing on a lake on a calm day. I have only seen the ocean so calm only a couple of times.


#9

Sounds like this is going to be a wonderful cruise.

Filled with lots of boat drinks.

Those are, of course, the best kind.

Glad to know the Disney Line crew and cast are up to snuff!


#10

I hope you have a great time. My DW just got off the 10 night, they had a blast. They had internet problems the entire time, I hope they got that fixed for you!


#11

I love live trip reports! Can’t wait to live it with you as you go.


#12

Gatour! I’m loving it. I can see every place you are in my mind. Oh, how I love the Disney Magic!


#13

wow gatour, keep it up if you can. Post your daily notes before going to the bar :laugh:


#14

I am glad people are enjoying them. Is the formatting okay? I know when I read long trip reports if they have long paragraphs they tend to be hard to read so I a breaking them up more than normal, and also splitting between posts

What I am doing is offline I am composing in Word and then cutting and pasting. So for those that caught on to my bar theme, so you should be allright. :smile: Also I have been doing this in the morning.


#15

I am an early riser, so was up at around 6:30 am. After getting myself somewhat presentable, headed up for my morning cold caffeine fix. I LOVE the serve-your-self soda dispenser. I am normally a Diet Pepsi drinker but will drink Diet Coke in pinch. I also like my soda in the morning, like a morning coffee drinker. One problem is on most cruiselines, although they offer different versions of a soda card type program, the first bars don’t open until about 9:30, by then I am in serious withdrawal. What I normally do is bring a few cans with me and have one to tide me over until the first bar opens. I then replenish as we hit the ports. The soda dispenser solves this issue. Although if it wasn’t there, the Cove does open at 7am to serve the Starbuck type afficianados so you would have that as a fall back since it is also a full bar.

The breakfast buffet has been opening at 7:30, although that may be different tomorrow since it is St Thomas day and our shore excursion leaves at 7:45 am. On the buffet they have cold cuts (ham, turkey, etc), cheeses, smoked salmon and smoked trout along with capers, onions etc that go with the lox. They also have scrambled eggs, a frittata, bacon, sausages, oatmeal, biscuits and gravy. They also have waffles and dry cereal with milk. In the rear they have cooked to order omelets. This is something that Disney does well, instead of making you stand in line, they give you this stand thingy with a number on it. They ask which side of the ship you are sitting. They then bring it out to you.

Oh yes they also had home fries and various fresh fruit


#16

At home I am not much of a breakfast person, but on a cruise, I have a standard selection, if offered each morning. So I grabbed my smoked salmon, dumped some capers and onions on top. I also grab whatever cheese is available. So far they have had the salmon out each morning, so I am very happy. Princess will alternate smoked salmon with some other smoke fish each day. I also normally like grapefruit juice but alas Disney only serves O.J. and apple juice.

After breakfast, we got fully cleaned up and headed to the Cove for my morning bloody mary and to type some of the stuff I posted yesterday. As I was finishing up they announced that they were going to have a cooking demonstration in Studio Sea. The kicker it was Michael Jordan, the General Manager/Sommelier from the Napa Rose at the Grand California at Disneyland. In a prior lifetime he was also chef. His presentation was a delight. It was on appetizer and consisted of him preparing seviche, mixed seafood tostada, and pico de gallo cucumber. During the presentation they passes small servings of the things he was fixing on-stage. They also gave a small sampling of white wine. Other cruiselines just do the demonstration and you do not get to sample what was fixed. Like other lines they do pass out the recipes. All in all a very good time

I believe he is going to do some of the presentations at EPCOT’s Food and Wine festival. For those people attending his events, they are in for delightful time.


#17

My wife decided to go see Da Vinci in the theater while I eventually ended up in the lunch buffet. I think the best I can do is giving you the theme and maybe a few of the items. Yesterdays theme was Italian. In the rear cooking station they had cooks making freshly prepared pasta in wok like pans. They had red sauce, various pasta shapes, and other mix-ins. There were probably a couple of other sauces but I don’t particularly recall them.

One thing I would recommend is to go to the back cooking station to see what they are fixing there as it may influence what you select from the rest of the buffet

On the buffet they generally have various cold salad (like potato salads, cold tortalini in a pest sauce, etc), wraps, subs, various breads and green salad fixin’s. As the week goes, if I notice other standard type offerings I will post them. I just grabbed some marinated artichokes, some pitted nicoise olives, fresh mozzerella and some cheese. One thing you will notice about me is I love my olives, cheese, and soups. :smile: I also recall roasted red peppers and various salami’s


#18

I haven’t chimed in yet, but I am loving this ‘real time’ TR :slight_smile: Enjoy the rest of the day gatour!


#19

After this I headed to the Cove for a glass of wine and to some trip reporting. At 2 I thought they had an art auction in the Promenade Lounge so I proceeded there. I found out it was actually a seminar on the Masters. In Junior/Senior High School I took a couple of years of art class and had and in-depth lesson on the various eras of art. So instead I half listened while I typed up some of the things I uploaded while I sipped on some wines. It was mildly interesting consisting of a video and then a power point slide. They also had drawings where they gave away three painting each valued at about $650. Unfortunately one of my tickets was one number off and the other they choice one that two of my number transposed. I had two tickets because my wife’s movie had ended and she had showed up for a short while.

I then worked on the uploading. I wondered the ship taking various shots with my camera. I ended up at Signals, the bar at the adult pool. Decided to buy the beer mug, wasn’t until afterwords that I did the math. The deal is you pay $12 for the 16 oz mug and they fill it with draft beer at the 12 oz price. The beer costs 3.95 so it will take 12 beers to break even. Off to the side they had set up station where you could fix a Caesar salad. I also noticed that they had a station in the Promenade Lounge but haven’t noticed anything there yet, but that may just be a matter of timing.


#20

It was time for dinner. This night we ate at Parrot Caye. We were seated at a 4 top which I found less “weird” than the six top the previous night. My wife started with crab imperial while it was good their was little crab in the cream sauce. I started with “Salmon 3 ways” It was slices of cold smoked salmon, hot smoked salmon with a pepper crust and a small chunk poached salmon. The smoked salmon was good but the poached salmon was slightly overcooked. I then had a creamy onion soup (see I told you I like my soup :smile: ). It is a take off of the normal French onion soup but instead of straight broth it was more cream based. One of the top restaurants in Jacksonville fix this soup the same way and it is in fact one of their signature dishes, this one was every bit as good.

For an entrée my wife had a perfectly cooked piece of grouper and I had “grilled meat 3 ways” I guess I was in a “3” mood. It was steak, lamb chop, and pork chop. I thought the steak was mediocre tasting but the other meats were very good. I forgot one thing, both tonight with the lamb they offered mint jelly. I am not a big fan of that so declined. At the end, they gave us small mariachi’s and had a little show.

As an aside, I have heard some people are not overly fond of the décor in Parot Caye. I however enjoy it. Animator Palate is neat with the color change, but Triton’s décor can be found on any cruise ship so I would put Parott Caye in second place.