Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Day 2 - At Sea: Exploring and Character meets

We slept like the dead after our long journey the day before and still no signs of sea sickness , thank goodness. I felt the motion mostly while standing in the tiny bathroom. We could feel that the ship was really cruising along overnight but overall it was really smooth sailing.

Our alarm clock aka DD2 woke us up early at 7am. Come on, we're on vacation!! We decided to head on to the Beach Blanket Buffet on deck 9 for breakfast. Walking along on deck 3, which has the large portholes, we could no longer see land anywhere! It was a cloudy morning, cool and breezy.

  Deck 3 porthole Deck 3 porthole view

Check out some of the ship's interior, deck 3 (main deck where we came onboard)

Overhead light fixture
Disney Wonder

Mickey hand for the elevator:
Disney Wonder elevator

Triton's restaurant entrance, Ariel statue just outside:
Disney Wonder

Breakfast at the Beach Blanket Buffet
We took the mid-ship elevators up to deck 9, but to get to the Beach Blanket at the aft (back) of the ship, you need to walk across the open deck area. It was pretty cold in the wind! (We later learned to cross from mid-ship to aft on deck 5 or 6 to avoid the open air section).
Outside the restaurant, a crew member was handing out sani-wipes - I loved this about the cruise: upon entry to every restaurant, everyone is has to sanitize their hands. Unlike dinner, it's open seating, so we grabbed a table near the food...

Breakfast was great - a great selection of all of your typical breakfast fare and then some. Our kids honed in on the Froot Loops cereal, and I had a cereal I'm totally missing here in Canada ... Coco Pops (okay, they are 'Cocoa Krispies' on the US labels but my SA and UK readers know what I'm talking about! We have Cocoa Rice Krispies in Canada but they are so not chocolatey enough...)

Yes, we had some of the healthier fare, like scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, etc. too. We met a family with a five year old girl and two year old boy - they were sitting at the table next to us. They turned out to be fellow Canadians, from Calgary. 

After breakfast, DD1 was very eager to explore the "kids club". We went over to the Oceaneer's Club but it was still closed (it was that early still). There were a few other eager kids and parents waiting outside for the club to open at 9 am. In the mean time, we went to see Flounder's Nursery, to visit it with DD2 and have her meet the caregivers before her upcoming time there the next day (we had a Palo brunch reservation the next day, which is $25 per person). Palo is the adults-only restaurant onboard, so we had booked time for DD2 at Flounder's Nursery the next day and planned to leave DD1 at Oceaneer's Club.

The nursery was relatively small, but very clean. It was mid-ship, so there were no windows/ portholes. There were separate areas for diaper changes, sleeping (an area with a couple of cribs), and another area for eating. The main area had a soft play area and a TV, and the walls had shelves with infant and toddler books and toys. DD2 was quite comfortable and immediately grabbed some toys to play with. DD1 of course had to join in. We met the crew from the nursery (they were British and Welsh) and they told us that despite the booking system limiting the number of hours you can book for babysitting, they would take the kids as long as they had capacity.

DD1 rushed in to Oceaneer's when they opened the doors. It was an open house that morning (meaning you could not drop off your kids but had to stay and supervise them - the idea of the open house is for families to explore and see the kids' areas, as adults are not otherwise allowed in these kids-only areas). DD1 honed in on the craft room, and we made some Mickey wands before DD1 went to play on the computers (which were locked to kids games).

We had our Anna and Elsa meet and greet, so we didn't stay long, but went back to our stateroom to put on their Frozen dress up clothes.

Anna and Elsa Meet-and-Greet

The meet and greet was at the Animator's Palate restaurant. We took a couple of shots of our princesses just outside before going in to meet the newest Disney princesses.
Sisterly love

There was a very short wait (for the one family already there). Since it was our first official character meet, I completely forgot to bring the kids' autograph books :( DD2 was super excited and totally enthralled, but we had a hard time convincing her to take out her pacifier for the photograph.
Anna and Elsa meet and greet

Ship's photographer's photos:
Anna and Elsa meet and greet

Anna and Elsa meet and greet

The girls were given some "Frozen" activity and colouring sheets before we left, and that was it!

We made our way back to deck 3, and ended up on deck 5, between Oceaneer's Club and Oceaneer's Lab which, although also for ages 3-12, seemed to cater for the older kids. Oceaneer's Club was more of a indoor playground that had an open area with a stage, and a craft/ computer room. Oceaneer's Lab was more 'high tech' with computers, science lab/ kitchen and tables with seating. There was a desk outside where people were signing up their kids for the Youth Activities. Since I had already completed all the 'paperwork' online, I simply had to verify the information (which included a security codeword that you would use when picking up your child from Oceaneer's Club or Lab). Now that she was officially signed up for Youth Activities onboard, DD1 was given an Oceaneer band, a wristband for identification. It is a bright yellow band which they secured to her wrist with a Mickey zip tie. We were told that it is waterproof, so she could swim and bath with it.

From the deck, we spotted lineups to meet characters - most of the scheduled character appearances are on deck 3 outside Triton's, or on deck 4 by Studio Sea, which is open to the main mid-ship area below. We rushed off to join the lines!

First up was Princess Sofia:
Sofia the First Sofia the First
Sofia the First

Followed by Doc McStuffins:
Doc McStuffins Doc McStuffins
Doc McStuffins Doc McStuffins

Doc McStuffins

After that, DD1 wanted to go to Oceaneer's Club. I checked her in and met Karli, South African crew member #3. Keeping with the good sanitation procedures onboard, they squirt liquid soap in all the kids' hands upon entry to the kids area, and they have to go straight to the sink to wash their hands. No longer open house, I was not allowed in with DD1, but was allowed to escort her in for this first time - I was given a visitor tag to hang around my neck. I made sure that DD1 knew where the washrooms were and then she all but told me to leave her so that she could go play!

I met up with DH and we went off with DD2 to continue exploring. Jake was doing photos and autographs and there was a very short line. DD2 went very eagerly, even though she had no clue who Jake was!

Jake and the Neverland Pirates  Jake and the Neverland Pirates  Jake and the Neverland Pirates

I headed back to Oceaneer's Club to check whether or not DD1 wanted to come with us, but she did not! You can peek in through a window that is right by the club entrance, and she was pretty busy. When I went in to talk to her, she practically ignored me as she was so engrossed with her craft.

A bit more about the setup at the Youth Activities: when I approached the front desk at Oceaneer's Club, I told them that I wanted to check in on my daughter and I gave them her name. The crew member looked it up on their system and told me that she was in the craft room. So, every time the kids move from one secured area to another, they scan their Oceaneer band and they are therefore able to give you a pretty accurate indication of where your child is. They are also able to tell you what else your child has been up to in their time at the club, including whether or not they were served a meal.

DH, DD2 and I wandered around some more and came across another character appearance outside the Walt Disney Theatre. Now these characters DD2 definitely recognized!

Minnie Mouse  Minnie Mouse

Captain Mickey  Captain Mickey

Captain Mickey

We picked up DD1 from Oceaneer's Club and went back to the Beach Blanket Buffet for lunch. I honestly cannot remember much about the food, except that it was good. There were always simple options for the kids, and the mini desserts were absolutely scrumptious!

After lunch, we visited Shutters to find out about the photography packages. We decided to buy the package since we figured this way we wouldn't have to worry as much about getting the shots at the character meets, and we decided to get in front of the ship's photographers at every opportunity to take full advantage of the package!

After a busy afternoon of character appearances, DH took DD2 back to our stateroom for a nap, while DD1 and I explored a little more.

We met Donald, all dressed up for dinner (since it was formal night).

Formal Donald  Formal Donald

Daisy was also around, and we stood in line to meet her, but by the time we were halfway there, Daisy left and Pluto arrived. This was really disappointing - we weren't told anything, the character just changed. This was very unlike earlier in the day in the Sofia line - the crew members cut off the line and told us we were the last ones to meet Sofia, and that anyone else lining up behind us would be for Doc McStuffins. (Daisy proved to be very difficult to meet - there were no other scheduled appearances we could make, until the very last day.)

Pluto  Pluto

Next - our second evening onboard.

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