Solo On The 4-night Wonder

May 12-16 2002

Shari in DCL Captain's Hat

As a married woman cruising solo on the Disney Wonder for four nights, I experienced a world of pixie dust and a gamut of emotions.

I was the second to check in at the Castaway Club desk in the DCL terminal. Just after I sat down in the lobby, DISers Mark and Mary (MarkRG and WDWLVR) approached and sat down right behind me. I stared at them briefly and they immediately asked, "Are you Shari?"

Later, standing in line, we also met DISer "Link."

Upon boarding, the usual embarkation photo was shot. This time mine could not have turned out better, so it is a great keepsake.

Mark and Mary invited me to join them for lunch outside at Beach Blanket Buffet. I enjoyed their company. The food was good and the weather was beautiful. Like me, Mark and Mary were on Deck 7 in a Navigator's Verandah stateroom, but on the other (port) side of the ship. Mine was starboard, Stateroom 7628.

For our scheduled 3 p.m. "DIS Meet," only Mark, Mary, pin collectors Brad and Jenn, and myself showed up, even though others had said they would. We even checked our alternate meeting area . . . No DISers.

It turned out that Brad and Jenn had been upgraded and were right next door to me. They are a young and beautiful couple. He works in jewelry. She is a dental worker. I don't know why, but I had somehow expected them to be much older.

Later, I photographed stageside at the sailaway party, then got chicken strips from Pluto's Dog House and ice cream from Scoops. I made hot mint tea at the drink station on Deck 9 and added ice. Then I went back to my stateroom to relax and enjoy my verandah.

Dinner at Triton's was excellent, although I could hardly have been more mismatched with my table mates. There were three families from New York and Maryland, both with children who were exhausted and disinterested in their late seating dinner. These people conversed about the hassles of air travel, dieting, the behavior of kids, and finally Disney. Only for the latter did I interject any comments or opinions. I got along okay with them, but felt extremely misplaced since I was in a long dress and they were all in very casual (as in shorts and tee shirts) attire.

At Triton's I had the seasonal melon, herb crusted sea bass (excellent as usual), and the chocolate mousse cake (which was good). After dinner I photographed Brad and Jenn in front of the mermaid mural in the restaurant. Since the staff was busy clearing tables in the area, I did not move the chairs aside, which would have made a better shot.

I went to the drink station on Deck 9 again to make mint iced tea to take back to my stateroom and enjoy on the verandah. It became a pleasant ritual.

I went to bed about 11:30 p.m. and had my alarm set for 6:30 a.m. but slept right through it. I awoke at 7 and rushed to shower and apply makeup before my room service breakfast arrived. Scheduled for 7:30-8:00, it didn't arrived until 8:15. The gorgeous guy who delivered it was so handsome and nice that I forgave the tardiness and tipped him quite well.

From my verandah I photographed our docking in Nassau as I sipped Colombian coffee. Then I walked around the ship, shooting the pools, Quartermasters Arcade, ESPN Skybox and more.

Lunch was alone at Triton's. I had a wonderful shrimp cocktail, followed by rigotti and then a delicious slice of banana cream pie. My server from Thailand seemed very interested in conversing with me and appeared fascinated that I was cruising alone. My assistant server from Germany was also very pleasant and we spoke of her hometown of Frankfurt, where I have spent much time. Again, I found myself better dressed than most, but that was okay. I am not comfortable wearing shorts and tee shirt in a nice restaurant.

After lunch I continued wandering the ship to take pictures, sat by the Goofy pool listening to music for awhile, then returned to my stateroom.

Stateroom impressions: I LOVE the Navigator's Verandah. It is comfortable, the huge open porthole (bigger here on the Wonder than the Magic) offers a great view and nice breeze, yet provides some protection from any high winds or excessive harsh sunlight. There is a built-in, cushioned bench that I found to be quite comfortable, as well as a cushioned wooden chair and a wooden table that is larger than the table on the regular verandahs. I also like the quiet atmosphere of a far aft stateroom. Although I noticed some vibration and roll, I don't think it was any worse than when I was in a Category 5 mid-ship on the same deck.

Amenities: For being a return cruiser, I received a nice DCL bag with sports bottle. Also awaiting me (but apparently not returning cruiser gifts) was a DCL porcelain mug, a Plush Ahoy Mickey, and a Sorcerer Mickey flower arrangement in a special Mickey pot that was NOT actually of a sorcerer design, but I liked it anyway.

Minor problems: When I first stepped into my stateroom, I saw that the handle on the door to the verandah was hanging nearly upside down by a single screw. No way could I get the door open. Anxious to step onto my verandah, I called Maintenance. There was no answer. I phoned Guest Services. They said they would send someone in about half an hour. While on the line with them, my room steward arrived. Guest Services told me to ask him to try to open the verandah door. He took one look at the dangling handle and decided not to make an attempt. Awhile later, a CM from Maintenance arrived with his tool kit. He tried for some time to remedy the situation, until he decided he would have to completely replace the handle. Eventually he had to leave for parts, returning half an hour later. While he was installing the new handle, two CMs with a wet/dry vacuum came in to vacuum a large puddle of water left on the verandah when they washed the deck. About an hour and a half after my initial call for maintenance, I was able to go out on my verandah.

An important note: The verandah doors on the Disney ships require you to rotate a lock high on the door, then pull down the main door handle and pull to the right to slide open the door. The printed instructions on the door can be somewhat confusing. It was obvious that the previous occupant had become so frustrated with the lock system that he tried to force open the locked door and broke off the handle, then must have been too embarrassed to tell anyone. The best advice: If you do not understand the instructions, call your room steward to demonstrate the procedure for you. PLEASE don't try to force the door.

At dinner the second evening, my table mates were dressed a bit better for Animator's Palate than they had been for the even more formal Triton's. They also seemed friendlier with me, although I am sure I came across as somewhat aloof. The kids were in better shape than the previous night, but still hardly ate anything.

I went to the late-night tropical deck party, mainly to photograph all the dancing characters. Then at midnight I went to my stateroom, relaxed on the verandah as we left Nassau, and finally I went to bed.

On Castaway Cay morning I awoke about 6:30 as we approached the island and began docking - Another photo opportunity.

I had croissants, coffee and mint tea in my stateroom at 9 a.m., while most people were going ashore. I stepped onto the island around 10:00. I stood in line in front of the Castaway Cay Post Office to be photographed with Chip and Dale, only to have Captain Hook run them off before it was my turn. So I ventured further, observing everyone, listening to the island tunes, and photographing everything in sight.

It was really hot on the island that afternoon. As I watched Goofy actively leading the kids in jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups and more, I was baffled by his ability to withstand the heat inside that costume. Whether or not it has a fan in the headpiece, I don't see how he kept from fainting from heat exhaustion. I bought a Conk Cooler at the Conched Out Bar. Next time I'll be sure to get the non-alcohol version, as the alcohol in this one really raised my already high body temperature.

I really wasn't hungry for Cookie's B-B-Q this time. I just had some fruit and cookies and ate some chicken tenders back on the ship later.

At She Sells I bought five identical postcards to mail, including one to myself as a memento as usual. After mailing them, I waited patiently for another attempt at a photo with Chip and Dale. This time it paid off. I was the first to be photographed. I got my hugs and kisses from them and a great photo.

From 5:15 to 6 p.m. was the Castaway Club reception for returning cruisers, at the Cadillac Lounge. Mike entertained at the piano. There were free drinks and lots of good food. When the Captain came around, we talked of the morning docking at Castaway Cay. Then I mentioned the Freeport stop being discontinued after July. He said he was not aware of that and that it seemed he would be the first to know. Mark and Mary, sitting across from me, had also heard the news. So I mentioned it to Colleen, who is in charge of cruise bookings onboard. Both she and a CM standing with her who works with the Captain had heard the Freeport stop was being discontinued. However, several weeks later, suddenly DCL online booking was showing Freeport on future itineraries again. So of course, Captain Tom was right!

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