Dateline, Saturday, September 28.
Folks, we’ll get back to the Pauper Prince chapters soon enough, but meanwhile, here’s a True-Life Adventure of a Disney cruise. Specifically, the Wonder, which visited Key West, Castaway Cay, and Nassau. The latter two are part of the Bahamas. Disney owns Castaway Cay. Hilarity ensued on that day.
Passengers: myself, my mother, my oldest sister, and her friend. I’ll forgo using any names and just use Mom, Sister, Friend.
The port is in Galveston, TX, so we stayed there overnight. Here’s a view from the hotel room. You can’t see the Wonder from here.
The morning of departure there was a lot of confusion. Sister thought we were all set for our ride to the dock. It turned out that we were not, and had to be squeeeezed in at the last moment to the shuttle. Then she and Friend were going to take a cab. Then they weren’t. Then they were. Then they- Ah, F it, everyone ended up squeezing into the shuttle.
Fortunately the shuttle driver knew the way, because it seemed like he was driving inland the whole time to get to the port. From there it was Checkpoint / Securityville, with the highlight being the first sights of the ship while making our way through the terminal and up the gangplank.
When we got onboard, there were two lines of cruise staffers in dress uniforms. I learned later that they were the kids who ran all the onboard events. Mini Cruise Directors, if you will. We gave them the family name, and Mark from England announced us to applause from the crew. And they did that all. day. long as people boarded. Poor, unfortunate souls!
It was because of Sister that our staterooms had been converted to Concierge suites. They were the best rooms that mortals can have, next to the “named” suites. ie, the Walt Disney Suite, and I forget the other. I don’t know what manner of being you must be to get those suites. I don’t know how she pulls off such things, but she did (Okay, it’s Money. She has it). These pictures don’t do it justice. There’s a master bedroom that my mother stayed in. I slept most nights on the murphy bed you see to the right. No, it wasn’t down all day. The host comes in twice a day. The second time is for turndown service, like getting extra beds set up.
Instead of portholes we had a balcony.
Part of the turndown service included twisting our towels into animal shapes. Here’s a collection of them throughout the week. The glasses are Mom’s:
The grand finale, on our final day:
Concierge service started right off. In reality it had begun before we’d gotten on board, but this is the first time that I’d encountered any of it.
After boarding we were directed to a lounge stocked with lunch food and waited for someone to meet us. Sister and Friend talked to somebody for an hour, and it turned out that they were scheduling onboard Spa treatments for almost every day. Mind you, spa treatments are NOT complimentary. Mom and I skipped that.
Then the concierge arrived and gave an orientation. The Basics: call him for everything. He’s also the guy who books (non-complimentary) excursions at our destinations. Sister had ordered two already: an adult cabana at Castaway Cay, and a ride on the Waverunner, same location. Mom and I were talked into the latter. More on that for Day 4.
The Concierge business done, we joined Jilly the Cruise Staffer for a quick ship’s tour. Her nametag said England. If it had not said “England,” I would have never worked out her accent, because it was all over the place. Later on my suspicions were confirmed. One, she’s from Newcastle but has lived in eleven countries, and two, tones down her natural “geordie” accent so as not to frighten younger viewers (or something). She demonstrated it for me. I would have loved hearing it from the start!!
We first passed what appeared to be a nautical museum, and then passed our nemesis, a Carnival cruise ship. Occasionally I saw a dolphin swimming about, but got no pictures.
There are three main dining rooms onboard, and guests are assigned a rotating schedule so as to eventually eat in all of them at least once. Also, guests have assigned servers that follow the guests’ schedules, so, assuming you don’t go to the wrong place, you’ll get to know your servers throughout the week.
Sister subverted this by booking us on Day One in a fancy-schmancy, adults-only place with a dress code called Palo. She also booked three more dinners there during the Concierge overview. I was game for one dinner, but the meals there are not part of the cruise package. The other dining rooms are. Following me? Good!
Like I said, Palo was fancy-schmancy, where the staff was trained to speak with Italian accents whether they were Italian or not. Half of our group had food intolerances, so the chefs, etc, went nuts trying to accommodate. Ironically, no one had a nut intolerance. That’s Disney’s thing: don’t F with people’s food problems. The chef, who was an actual Italian, really got into the challenge and made it his life’s work to bake special breads that met the intolerance criteria. He gave us a tour and a talk about “his” kitchen, and it was an hour before our orders were taken! Not the drink orders, but the food. I don’t drink alcohol, so my expectations are different than for people who do. For example, I always want to order the food during the drink order phase.
Anyway, Palo is very nice, but I’m an anti-sophisticate who hates dressing up and hates being fussed over. I don’t want to call myself a “meat and potatoes” diner, because I don’t eat meat, and therefore things like escargot and caviar will never be on my dining list. This is ironic because I grew up upper middle class, and Mom did her best to make us all cultured and stuff, but my natural behavior is more “raised by wolves” than “silver spoon.”
Disney cruises have live shows each night in addition to the constant running of movies in their onboard theatre, and even on deck during the day. Mom and I attended the first live show, a kind of “Welcome Aboard!” skit about a twenty-something, wannabe Captain meeting Mickey and other characters, and learning to follow his dreams. Really, the theme of all the shows was “follow your dreams.”
After that, a ventriloquist came out to give a bowdlerized version of his usual act. It involved getting a volunteer kid from the audience and dressing him like a dummy. Hilarity ensued, but ventriloquists are an acquired taste which I’ve yet to acquire.
Sister, Friend and I visited the first Karaoke event of the cruise. Mom went to bed. Because it was the first night, pickings were slim, and three of us singers managed to have multiple times onstage. An Ariel-like singer started it with– well, whadda you know: “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid. But I should talk, because I followed that with “Be Prepared” from The Lion King. That’s the one that Jeremy Irons (Scar) sings. I did my best to sound like thirty years of whiskey and cigarettes. The third singer, a man, also had a sweet voice and complimented the other gal pretty well. My second song was “Kiss the Girl,” also from The Little Mermaid. My third choice was “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin, but they ran out of time. Put simply, I do character voices; the other two sang “straight,” for lack of a better term. There were other singers, too, with wildly disparate degrees of success.
Here’s a hint for successful Karaoke: try to actually know the song you’re singing, ‘k? The whole thing, not just the chorus.
And… scene for Day one.