Kynie and I are both pretty big Disney fans. Perhaps Kynie a little more than me, but I’ve certainly been known to watch an animated cartoon or two in my time. We’ve been to Disneyland both together and separately. So while researching things to do after our time in Miami in 2014, the moment I suggested a Disney Cruise in the Bahamas I knew there would be no turning back.
The fact that we didn’t have kids at this point in time meant nothing to us in regard to the cruise. It wasn’t even a consideration. It wasn’t until we were questioned by just about every single person we told did we consider that maybe it would be a bit weird; two adults on a Disney cruise without kids. But you know what? As we initially expected, it was completely fine, almost better.
Sure, the cruise had loads of entertainment for the littlies, but there was also plenty of space for the adults to not only escape, but to be entertained as adults. There was an adults only pool area and adults only dining rooms (at an extra charge), so at a moment’s notice it was easy to switch it all off. Even the stage shows were very adult friendly, but I’ll get to that.
Embarking the Disney Wonder
So the moment arrived for our time on Miami Beach to end and for the cruise to begin. We dumped our gear in the stateroom and as is customary on a cruise ship, began exploring. But not before hitting the buffet: another tried and true cruise tradition.
The buffet was enjoyed on the 10th deck aft, with a spectacular view over Miami, Miami Beach, and Biscayne Bay, and it included what seemed to be every type of cuisine imaginable. This was just the beginning of the 4-day degustation.
What I loved about the ship, the Disney Wonder, is that every detail, no matter how insignificant has been Disney-fied wherever possible. Some are subtle, like Mickey’s gloved hand indicating the elevator level for the lifts. Other’s were not so subtle, like the kids pool being the shape of Mickey’s head, or the ship’s horn blasting out a deep, deafening cover of “When you wish upon a star”. The hallways are lined with Disney themed artworks, and atriums with statues paying homage to some of the animated greats.
But it was the dining rooms that really took it up a notch. This first night we dined in Animators Palate (pun appreciated). The entire room paid tribute to the animating process in which Disney traces its roots. The walls are covered in sketches of characters, both on the wall and in frames.
The evening’s activities was a play in the Walt Disney Theatre and titled “The Golden Mickey’s”. The plot was a thinly veiled attempt at fitting as many Disney dances into a one hour production as possible. No plot tried and none gained, and they even threw in a “follow your dreams and you can achieve anything” line right at the end. I’d expect nothing less from Disney, to be honest.
First port: Castaway Cay
Castaway Cay is Disney’s very own private island. It’s a small clump of land somewhere in The Bahamas, with a huge sandy bay at the front for the families, and a quieter beach out the back for anyone wishing to escape.
We opted to begin at the latter and headed around to Serenity Bay, where we ran into none other than Captain Jack Sparrow. Obviously marooned and taking a break from lashing a raft together with his own hair, wondering why all the rum was gone. Despite the heat, it was very unsheltered and the excessive wind became a bit of a bother so after a couple of hours we headed back around to the main part for a grand BBQ lunch.
The main beach was quintessential Bahamas. Beautiful white sand and turquoise waters from one side to the other. It was packed full of kids (as expected), but they actually weren’t too bad. It was a very relaxing day because, unlike most ports of call, with the exception of a few standard water sports there isn’t actually all that much to do but lie on the beach, swim in the waters, and play on the floating pontoon. Just like a cruise ship, but in island form.
You can read the full account of our day at Castaway Cay here.
Back on board, we saw ‘Toy Story the Musical” in the Walt Disney theatre. A highlight of the trip I must say. While shorter than feature film length, as a big Toy Story fan as a kid/adult kid, it was really fun to see the movie and the characters come to life. Though I must admit I spent the whole time trying to work if Andy was being played by a girl.
Second stop: Nassau
My first impression of Nassau is that it doesn’t really exemplify the Bahamas that you picture in your mind, certainly not in the way that Castaway Cay did. In fact, I question why it is on the cruise route at all since it didn’t really feel like there is a whole lot to do there unless you have hundreds to drop at the Atlantis Casino and water park.
The main shopping district is overly touristy and filled with those duty free shops peddling the same diamonds and watches at every cruise port; stuff I don’t really care about.
But Nassau certainly had its own character. We took a tour from a lady at the cruise terminal (something I would generally never do out of principle), but she was very good.
The first stop was to the Atlantis mega-complex, though without paying any money they don’t let you see much more than the casino. She then took us through the ghetto and to Victoria’s Stairs (above). The stairs were built by slaves, and since Queen Vic helped emancipate them they dedicated it to her.
Then she drove us over to the rich area for some nice views of other islands and where ‘the Chinese’ are building a hotel complex bigger and better than Atlantis. It’s going to be ridiculous, even though it’s run into some problems recently.
Our driver dropped us back in town and we walked a short way to Junkanoo Beach. This was the highlight for me as it had a few locals in huts along the beach selling beers, coconuts, foods, and conch fritters. I’d never heard of a conch fritter before so naturally, I had to give it a go. Conch is a type of mollusc, which is then battered and deep fried. It’s as genius as it is delicious.
We had a couple of beers and wandered back into town and bought some insanely cheap Bahamian banana rum to remember the place by.
We had a snack on board and sat by the pool briefly then I actually had a nap, a rarity for me, especially on vacation. I woke up to the delightful sounds of Toy Story on my stateroom television. What a time to be alive.
Dinner was in Parrots Cay: a Pirates of the Caribbean-themed restaurant, where diners were encouraged to dress the part. I believe we waived that particular right. This one was very much aimed at the kiddies.
Last port of call: Key West
Our last full day on the Disney Wonder was spent at Key West. Another place which is unashamedly built around tourism. It is the southernmost point of continental USA (it’s actually closer to Cuba), and has the big statue of a buoy to prove it, of which you can line up for about 20 minutes to take a photo with. We decided to pass.
When we arrived we literally didn’t know what we should do and see. We walked through a shipwreck museum to Mallory Square which is a big open space by the water, not far from the port. We walked through an arcade of souvenir shops then through some more and I began to detect a common theme about this place: lots of shops.
We bought some perfume and walked through some more shops before realising how hot it was so we stopped for a drink at a bar. Feeling tired, we looked at the map to see our progress and realised we’d gone one entire block.
Big effort guys.
We continued down what felt like the main street and found a Banana Republic outlet and dropped a cool hundo there on clothes before being stopped by a guy selling watersports activities. After we made it clear we didn’t want to spend stupid amounts of money on a jet ski tour he dropped the sales act and actually gave us some helpful advice.
We followed Drury Street down to the aforementioned buoy and took a right. It was still really hot and energy was waning but when we walked past the Little White House (with free exhibits), I thought this was a good box to check.
With that US history lesson completed, we made our way back to the ship, had a swim then a late lunch on deck. Cars was showing on the big screen outside but after our snack from Pinocchio’s Pizzeria we headed back to our stateroom and watched Toy Story until dinner. It must have been on a continuous loop and I am completely fine with that.
Dinner was at Tritons, which was easily the best decorated and themed restaurant due in large part to the enormous mosaic of Ariel and Triton under the sea along the back wall. They told us it took 5 women 5 months to construct that bad boy. Absolutely incredible.
Later that night I went for a whisky tasting and Kynie went to the Buena Vista theatre to watch the Muppets new movie. I actually learnt a lot from it. For example, the different types of whisky (scotch, Kentucky bourbon, Canadian whisky, Irish whisky etc) are differentiated by the different grains used, much like beer (corn, rye etc). Though the distilling process still makes the huge difference between the two. We were also shown that adding a touch of water to the whisky prior to tasting makes a huge difference and this is the correct way to drink it.
Disembarking the Disney Cruise
Sadly, that ended the cruise, it was a short trip, but very memorable. Like everything they do, Disney held their cruise to the highest possible standard; a standard that has now been set for all future cruises we inevitably sail. Everything is of the highest quality, and if something can be Disney-fied, it will be. And I’m sure that one day when the piggy bank has been refilled, we will be back with a few little ones in tow.
Have you been on a Disney Cruise? What did you think?
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