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Special Don't Miss Experiences on the Disney Wonder
Panama Cruise January 2011 - Last Trans-canal trip planned for the Disney Wonder at this time.
Although I have traveled on a number of Disney Cruises (this is our 9th), I am merely second fiddle to my wife's knowledge of the ships and what to do.
Over the years, we have tried to experience every opportunity aboard at least once in a while, if not on a regular basis. There are a few things that we always recommend for travelers aboard the Disney Wonder and Magic, events that everyone should experience once in a while.
Click to enlarge image
Waiting area that is seldom used and to the right, the desk of the most powerful person on board... the one that books Palo reservations.
The first of these is the meal experience at Palo's, the 18 and over restaurant located on deck 10, aft. There are a number of events that happen there, and in my opinion everyone should try them all at least once.
To get in to Palo's, you must have a reservation. Make your reservations as early as possible, don't put it off. You can book your Palo's experience on-line and at the reservation desk at the entrance to the restaurant. On the day you board the ship, the reservation desk moves to Wave Bands to make things easier that first afternoon.
Also, to get in to Palo's, you should plan to dress up. Don't wear shorts or jeans. A polo shirt or button shirt is also requested. We have frequently seen people sent back to their staterooms to change into more appropriate attire.
Once you get past the formality if getting in, the time you spend there should be first rate. The servers have smaller numbers of tables to manage so you should see your server more than you do in the regular rotational dining rooms. Also, the servers are the most knowledgeable you will have about wines, their menus and everything they offer. Also, they have a sommelier for your wine choosing experience.
There are three types of meals offered, though not on all cruises. Brunch and dinner are a standard, and on most longer cruises you will be able to schedule a high tea.
The brunch can be a most filling experience, and rest assured, your first time, you will easily overeat and be quite full. When you first walk in, you will be seated and introduced to your server. They will start with taking your drink order and include complimentary Champaign or mimosas. Go ahead and get your tea or soda ordered, too.
Once the drinks have been ordered, they should take you on a tour of the buffet. There is a wide selection of delicacies. It is a great opportunity to at least try anything you have never before had. Caviar, humus, crab legs, shrimp, cheeses and desserts will taunt you to try more throughout the hour or two you spend there. (Yeah, can you believe and hour or two? Really, it is quite easy.) There are 5 sections to the buffet, hors d'oeuvres, sea food, breads and cheese and two areas for desserts.
Also, during your tour you will be shown the menu offerings for the day, pizzas, egg dishes and other entrees. If you have your heart set on something you do not see, ASK! I had the absolute BEST omelet I could never have dreamed of by asking the chef to make an omelet for me, but all creativity was left up to him. I was presented with a dish that could only be rivaled in the finest eateries on earth. Later we found out that the chef, who presented the omelet personally, was a medalist in the culinary olympics. It was quite an honor for me!
There is a surcharge of $15 per person for the brunch, but it is well worth it. Everything else (except wines) is included in the one small fee.
Take full advantage of all the brunch has to offer.
The second event not to miss at Palo's is the dinner at Palo's We enjoy the diner so much that we generally ask for second and third diners for the trip. If there is space, it can be scheduled. If it can not be scheduled, you can contact Palo's throughout the cruise to see if any places have opened up. The same dress code applies.
The menu offered for the dinner is filled with a more specialized Italian dining experience in mind. Ask your server as many questions as you need and do not be afraid to try more than one thing if you are interested. The meals in Palo's are each prepared one by one, so you can ask for combinations of different dishes and they can make half-servings in needed.
Our favorite server on the Magic, Annie Marie, turned us on to our favorite wine on our first trip on the ship. The Gaierhof Trentino Muscato is a sweeter wine that is great with dessert. As a result of that experience, we always request our Annie Marie as a server and always our Muscato.
The third event that does not happen on shorter cruises is the high tea. Okay, guys, I know what you think. 'High tea' sounds kinda weird, but you really should try it once. Those of you who are married, your wives and daughters will love you for it... those who are not, your present or near future girlfriend will get a loving kick that you were up for such an experience. Even if you exclude the whims of the women in your life, it is an educational experience that will build character and an appreciation for cultural depth.
This filled up early on our cruise and does so frequently. Book this one early.
Another place for adults not to miss in the Disney Cruise experience is Cove Cafe and now the Outlook Cafe on the Disney Wonder. They offer a selection of drinks and coffees that easily beat any Starbucks fans taste buds into submission. My favorite thing about the Cove Cafe is the cafe card. When you purchase five coffees you qualify for a free sixth coffee. They give you a business card size card that gets stamped each time you make a purchase there. On this cruise, I managed to keep my partially complete card from last March and they are completing it for me. Two more and I am in FREE COFFEE land!
As adults, you may or may not be in the habit of hitting the spa. The massages offered on the ship are unbeatable. Hot stone, sweetish and even couples events that last hours. Leaving the spa after that is always difficult. Don't miss the Rainforest room, though. You will be asked to wait in there for your massage, but for a nominal fee you can go in any day. You can pay as you go or pay one price for a package. The Rain Forest room offers a sauna and steam room environment that is a great place to get rested up after brunch or before your big dinner. I do not know what the ratio is, but an hour in there is worth a few hours of healing sleep any time!
The spa also offers a comprehensive workout and fitness program with about all the equipment you could need. Trainers and nutritionists can help put you on a good path for personal fitness and wholeness. The best thing about the exercise room is that it is completely complementary with your cruise. They also keep things very clean and offer sanitizing wipes to clean your own equipment before and after your use for your own peace of mind.
2011 Disney Wonder Panama Canal Cruise Index
Daily Navigator/Iwa Published Schedule