Julia’s Best Week Ever, February 23, 2017: A Wonder-ful Week

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Living as close as we do to the parks has huge advantages. Relaxed lifestyle. Ability to go to Disney for a quick visit whenever we want. Being surrounded by people who really “get” the magic. It does have the disadvantage that going to Walt Disney World, even when staying on property, doesn’t have that same “vacation” vibe that we used to get when visiting from elsewhere. It’s still magical, but a different kind of magic. Every once in a while, it is important for us to recharge that vibe, and our preferred method for doing so is a Disney cruise. It also has the added benefit of keeping us (mostly) out of contact with work. This year, our goal is to do an Ultimate Grand Slam of all four Disney ships in one year. In the past, we’ve only done the “big ships” — the Fantasy and the Dream. Because of this, I was very excited to see how a “small ship” like the Wonder would stack up. After picking our daughter up from school, off we went to Port Canaveral. We arrived around noon and the terminal was fairly empty.

Within moments, we were on board and chowing down at Cabanas while waiting for our room to be ready.

While we were eating, I realized that we had booked the room so long ago that I couldn’t remember what type of room we had booked. When the rooms were ready, we walked inside to see what our accommodations would be.

Because I’m afraid of heights, I rarely get much use out of a verandah, but seeing that the Wonder does not have the window seat with the large porthole, I almost wished that we had booked a verandah room. For three nights, this was ideal for us–for a longer cruise, I think we might go for a verandah. One of our suitcases had arrived, but we all wanted to explore instead of unpack. In particular, we all wanted to see the kids’ space on board, the Oceaneer’s Club and Oceaneer’s Lab. I spent most of my time gawking at the new Avengers room.

Our daughter was all about Andy’s Room from Toy Story, which was very different from the other ships she had been on–especially the Slinky Dog slide.

I could have spent a lot of time wandering around the clubs, including lots of nods to Disney parks overseas.

Before long, it was time for the safety drill and the sailaway party. Farewell, Port Canaveral!

We wandered the ship a bit more before heading to our first night’s dinner at Tiana’s Place. All the buzz I had heard about this restaurant made me super excited. If you are on the Wonder, this is the one meal that you absolutely should not miss. The food was spot-on, the entertainment was wonderful, and the entire immersive experience was one of the best experiences I’ve had on Disney Cruise Line. And you never know who might show up, too.

Our daughter also enjoyed the meal, and went all grown-up by ordering from the adult menu for her entrée, and her dessert.

If there’s anyone in Disney merchandising reading this, please sell those water glasses from Tiana’s Place! They came in all sorts of festive colors and were really well made. (At first I thought they were plastic, but they really are glass.)

The next morning was a sea day, and we woke up to a sunrise of blinding light.

We took a pretty quiet day overall. Our daughter spent time in the kids’ club, and we had brunch at Palo planned. Getting there was a little interesting as we ran into some…trouble…in the elevator.

Brunch at Palo was exceptional as always. If you have the option to do it, I prefer it to dinner at Palo. Having so many small dishes to try is my speed, and I still manage to eat way too much.

For the afternoon, we spent some time lounging around the pool, and I may have snuck in a nap somewhere along the line.

Night 2 was my daughter’s favorite event, Pluto’s PJ Party, so she knew she wanted to skip dinner at Triton’s. Because we hadn’t seen that night’s show (Disney Dreams), we had hoped to all go and see it, but Lily really needed a nap. I told my husband to go along and see it without me, and I watched it on the TV in the room. Overall, I didn’t feel that I missed much by skipping it. Overall, it wasn’t my favorite show.

After dropping our daughter at the kids’ club, we headed to Tritons. Overall, the meal was good, but I was really waiting for the dessert–the Grand Marnier soufflé–which is one of my favorite desserts of all time.

Our table had a beautiful view of the mosaic in Triton’s. Our server told us that five ladies from Italy made the entire mural over a period of a few months. It is truly stunning work.

That night was Pirate Night, which seemed to be a shorter version of the show that I was used to from the Dream and the Fantasy. Still, nothing beats having Mickey zip line onto the ship.

The next morning, I woke up incredibly early. We had arrived at Castaway Cay very early, and were already docked before dawn. I couldn’t resist the chance to get some sunrise shots at Castaway Cay, so I stumbled up to the upper decks (literally, tripping a bit on one of the stairs) for some pictures.

I wasn’t the only person up there at that hour either.

Once the announcement was made that we could go ashore, we headed down and took Lily to the kids’ club on shore while we headed out to Serenity Bay. On the way, we saw a lot of the Castaway Cay 5k runners finishing up their run.

The water was a little cold for us to really get in, so we decided to walk down a hiking trail for a while. I have no idea where the trail eventually ends, but after what felt like a little over a mile, we turned around.

Off to the side of the trail, I noticed this odd item. Perhaps this is a Geocache site? Anyone know?

The water had warmed up a little bit, so we did a short walk on the beach. Serenity Bay truly earns its name every time we visit.

Eventually, we picked up our daughter and grabbed some lunch on the island. We saw a hummingbirds, and lots of these small birds, which I think are called “bananaquits” (or sugar birds). They really do love fruit juices.

Eventually, we headed back to the ship to get a bit of rest before the afternoon’s activities.

The newest stage show on the Wonder is based on Frozen, and because it was expected to be incredibly popular, they had an afternoon matinee. I really loved having the afternoon show, and wish that it could be done for other shows during the cruise.

For our final night, dinner was at Animator’s Palate. In general, this is my least favorite restaurant on board the ships, but the show on the Wonder is different–and has some extra special magic to it.

Three-night cruises are always so short. Just when you start to relax, the cruise is coming to an end. Still, it is a very useful break from day-to-day life and I’m so thrilled that we’re able to take them. Having now sailed on a smaller ship, I would gladly book a longer cruise on one again. Even though there didn’t seem to be as much to do, the crew on board were the best that I had experienced anywhere in Disney Cruise Line. (Special shout out to our head server Kendell–by far the best of the best when it comes to Disney!) One last “see ya real soon”, and it was time to call it a night.

There’s so much more I’d love to share and show, but that will have to wait for another time–or another cruise. It’s time to get back to “real life”, but getting off the ship and knowing that we’re headed to Walt Disney World’s backyard does help the sting of leaving.

So wherever you are, or wherever you go, keep making your week the Best Week Ever!



Julia Mascardo

Freelance writer and editor, living the dream in Central Florida with my husband, cats, and spirited nine-year-old daughter.

2 thoughts on “Julia’s Best Week Ever, February 23, 2017: A Wonder-ful Week

  • February 23, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    Thank you so much for this wonderful blog! My husband and I have been on two Disney Cruises and your report makes me want to book another one! You don’t have to twist my arm too much though – ha!!

  • February 24, 2017 at 9:19 am

    That was a very satisfying read, thank you for sharing!


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