Solo On The 3-night Wonder
WDW Annual Passholders Cruise 1/23/03
Once upon a time, I fell in love (okay - I became infatuated) with a chipmunk named Chip. Yes, that is Chip of Disney's Chip & Dale. He captured my heart when I was a teenager and sat down on a bench at Disneyland. He came along, reclined with his plush head in my lap, and held my hand for several minutes. The gender of the person within the costume did not matter. My bonding with Chip took place at that moment. Along with everything else about Disney Cruise Line, Chip being aboard keeps me returning for more. The best thing about Chip on the ship is that he wears clothes - sailor suit, tropical shirt, etc. - and dances onstage in a way that convinces you he is real and not just someone in a character costume.
And so it was that a couple of weeks after returning from the November 10th 4-day Wonder, I became restless and booked myself solo for the January 23 sailing with special features for Walt Disney World® annual passholders. Although my first DCL cruise was in Category 5 (regular verandah) and all subsequent cruises were in Category 7 (Navigator Verandah - my favorite!), I needed to be economical on this one so I booked GTY Cat. 11 since no Cat. 7 were available. A few weeks before the cruise, I was assigned an upgrade to a Cat. 9. This was unacceptable to me because the particular stateroom was on Deck 2, forward, and beneath the nightclubs. I phoned DCL and ended up upgrading to Cat. 6, regular verandah, midship.
When I arrived (early, as usual) at Port Canaveral, numerous people came up to me and said, "Taswira." That is my DIS-board user name. Some of these people turned out to be DISers. Others were "lurkers" who had seen photos of me in my signature on the board or on my websites. But whether coming out of the restroom or sitting in the Walt Disney Theatre onboard, I encountered guests who knew me as Taswira . . and they were all very nice people.
My embarkation photo turned out halfway decent, so I bought it for my mother. I am SO camera-shy and not the least bit photogenic. It was cool and windy. The latter did not help with my long hair. As I headed to Parrot Cay for the embarkation buffet, I brushed my windblown tresses out of my face. As I passed a handsome Cast Member, he remarked, "Your hair is beautiful!" Yeah, right. It is amazing how these Cast Members are trained to make everyone feel special and beautiful . . . no matter how bad one's appearance may actually be. You never know if it is only because they want great tips and excellent reviews, or if they are truly being sincere. I have always had an inferiority complex about my looks. Anyway, his comment did make me feel a bit better.
Lunch was good. My tablemates were delightful - Larry and June (pictured at right) from Orlando. Like me, they were part of the AP cruise. Not wanting this journal excerpt to become a full-sized book, I will skip ahead now to dinner.
I was assigned my usual TAP (Triton's, Animator's Palate, Parrot Cay) rotation. As I entered the restaurant, I saw my favorite server, Marijo ("Mario from Croatia") Margan directly across the room. As I was being escorted to my table, I ignored the escort and headed straight for Mario who headed straight for me. After greetings and a hug, I explained that in spite of my persistent requests in advance, he was not to be my server. He said that was not right and that he would have me switched to his table. I told him if he could, he would receive a VERY good tip.
The one pleasant surprise was that at my assigned table, Larry and June (along with two other likeable couples) were my tablemates! But my server and his assistant were not efficient and could not compare to Mario in either service or personality. Perhaps I received bad service because they knew I'd rather be with Mario, as I sadly watched him serving others across the room. This team could have dazzled me if they had tried. Instead, when I asked for iced tea with no lemon, it arrived with lemon. Meals sat at the serving area far too long before being served. When Larry, June and I ordered a dessert that was supposed to have "whipped topping" according to the menu (and my prior dining experiences on the Wonder), it arrived without the topping. When I mentioned it to the server, he just shrugged and walked away. When I asked for an iced tea refill at 9:45 (had late seating), it was not delivered until after dessert, at 10:30 p.m. The joyful moment of my evening was when Mario came over to me and informed me that for the rest of the cruise he would be my server. Thank you!!! As much as I hated to leave Larry and June, I needed Mario as my server in order to have a happy and complete cruise experience. I could not spend each night watching him across the room, and it was obvious that the other serving team did not care enough about their work or their guests . . or especially not about me after discovering I preferred another server.
My experience on the Wonder is that every Croatian server I have had has been excellent. I do not know if this is coincidence, but be it breakfast, lunch or dinner, if the server is from Croatia I have no complaints and nothing but praise. Many servers from other countries are excellent as well, but it seems not all are. With Croatians, I never have any doubts.