Saturday, January 15, 2005

2005---Disney Wonder Cruise (7 nt), Let's try again!--St. Maarten; St. Thomas; Castaway Cay

Feb. 2005- Disney Wonder 7 night Eastern Caribbean Cruise:

After the disastrous Disney Magic cruise the year before (where Dad tried to drown himself), I emailed Disney Cruise lines to see if they were aware of what happened on one of their sanctioned excursions. One of the things cruise lines boost about using their excursions is the "safety checks" they make on the providers. About a month later, I received a coupon in the mail for Buy One, Get One Free on another Disney Cruise. They certainly weren't obliged to do that, but we appreciated it and took them up on their offer to cruise with them again. This time, we elected to go on a 7 night cruise of the Eastern Caribbean and enjoyed an ocean view room.  (To check out that disastrous cruise, click here: Disastrous 1st cruise  )

The ocean view rooms were laid out slightly different---the bed was away from the window, so my Dad got it this time. But the fold down sofa was very comfortable. Being repeat customers, we were also given a gift of a Disney Cruise beach towel.

 Ingenious and comfortable fold down couch.

As with all the cruises, if you get there when boarding starts, you're ushered into lunch---even though we were able to check out our room ahead of time. The Disney buffets were consistantly good.

We were on the cruise at the time of football play-offs, so we did spend quite a bit of time in the sports bar watching the games. I, too, am a big sports fan, so this didn't bother me much (except for the time he decided we should stay in the sports bar and eat hotdogs and nachos for dinner instead of going to our regular dinner!). We also hung out here and played cribbage. My dad and I were avid cribbage players.

When we weren't hanging out in the sports bar, we spent a lot of time in the adult pool area. I loved the pool and he loved the jacuzzis. As you can see, not many people used the adult pool. Often I had it all to myself---especially on a couple rough sea days when the pool was making 4 foot waves! I also loved that the staff patrolled the pool area and did keep kids out of the adult area. For a Disney cruise, you would expect to be surrounded by kids all the time, but we found there were lots of adult only places and thoroughly enjoyed our cruise without the commotion of kids. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids, but they're grown now and I've grown to like serenity!
 The family pool did seem to get used a lot.

The evening shows were geared towards families---as you would expect. They were cute, but there really wasn't the splendor of fancy back drops or costumes. The backdrops seemed to be mostly flat and usually just shown onto a curtain.

We did enjoy the warm weather and beautiful sunsets.
 There was even a reception for returning passengers. At it we were treated to free drinks and snacks.
 Our first port was St. Maarten. I was rather impressed with this island. There were hills and beautiful beaches.
 We did a ship excursion around the island which also took us on a glass bottom boat trip. I wasn't too impressed with the glass bottom boat part----the water wasn't all that clear and the only thing we really saw was the few colorless fish by the scuba diver feeding them. But the tour of the island was pretty neat and we did have a little time on the other side of the island to shop wander around a modern mall.

The bus even stopped here and there for photo-ops.
We got back to St. Maarten with time to wander around the town near the port. It is a pretty area.
 Back on the ship, we enjoyed our dinners with our table mates. We were seated with 2 young families, but they were both very interesting and their kids were very well behaved. One of the nights was pirate night. Even the menues were made in that theme.
Also true to the theme we were given bandanas. Here's our server joking around with my Dad.
 Another night at dinner-
Our next port was St. Thomas. This was another impressive island, although we didn't spend much time here. We took and excursion that went to St. john.
View of Cruz Bay, St. John from an overlook above the town.
I had heard a lot about the snorkeling at Trunk Bay, so we went there----No, my Dad did not snorkel! Here is a stop we made on the way to Trunk Bay for another photo-op.
Trunk Bay was really beautiful. My Dad sat under a palm tree with a book, while I did a little snorkeling.

I was somewhat disappointed. They have a snorkel trail in the water, but the trail doesn't take you by much in the way of good coral and, therefore, good fish viewing. Many people were venturing past the snorkel trail and going by the little island where I imagine the snorkeling was better, but I figured I'd be good and stick with the area we were suppose to stay in (especially since we were on a discounted cruise due to a near drowning incident).
Back on board the Wonder, we partook in the beer tasting treat. I believe it was something like $15/person. It was held in our favorite spot---the sports bar.
Since Dad got his beer, I was able to get my tea! We elected not to do the Palo dinner this trip, but did go there for a high tea there. There was a fee of something like $5@ for it, but it was well worth it. Along with a choice of some really good teas, there were assortments of finger sandwiches and scones and such. It truely was a high tea--unlike the ones I've been to on a couple other cruises. I was born in England, and drinking tea was ingrained in me every since.
 Walking into the Palo restaurant.  We had reservations for another steak dinner here, but enjoyed our table mates so much that we ended up cancelling our Palo reservation. 
Another thing we did on board was the free tour of the bridge. Although they don't actually let you in the bridge, we were able to look down into it and a staff member talked to us.
Our last port was the treacherous Disney private island, Castaway Cay. This time we did not book an excursion. But we did find the adult area of the island. They do have a tram that runs there from near the ship, but we chose to walk. The area was beautiful! We found a couple lounge chairs and parked there for a good part of the day. I did do some snorkeling there and was surprised to find some wildlife in that area---a stingray, a barracuda, and a few other small fish.
 For the adventurous ones, they do have several water toys for rent, such as these Sea-Dos.
A couple more pictures around Castaway Cay-

 Our week ended too soon and soon we were getting off our cruise.

I wouldn't mind cruising on Disney cruiselines again, but I think the price will probably keep me from doing so. But this was a very good vacation. Thanks, Disney! Thanks, Dad! Thanks, God, for keeping us safe this time!

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