Monday, May 21, 2018

West Coast, by Land and Sea - Day 9

Bummer... another awesome trip is over.

Today was our easiest ship departure ever!

We got up, and ready - packing up our last few items.
We left the room at 7:40 am, just as they announced the ship had been cleared and express walk off guest could disembark.

So we grabbed our bags and strolled off the ship - SOO EASY! No waiting in a lounge for our group to be called! No sorting through all the luggage looking for our stuff.

Our car was parked a short elevator ride away. Then we walked over to Tim Horton's for some TimBits.

Back in the car and on our way!
A small line at the border but we were still home before lunch.

I am tempted to always do Express Walk Off, but may be convinced otherwise in the future ;)

Last Glimpse of the Wonder, as we drive away. Bye!!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

West Coast, by Land and Sea - Day 8

Victoria BC

Good morning and Welcome to Canada.
We enjoyed breakfast on the ship and then left the ship to explore a bit.

Right at the port you can grab a tour, a pedicab, a taxi etc.
We grabbed a taxi and took it to the main part of town, by the government buildings. [Editor's note: There was a "shuttle" that they advertised on the ship that went to the main part of town and back for $13/person round trip. It seemed to me that since it was only 2 km, $52 for the four of us seemed like a bit much (I'm not sure if the $52 was Canadian or US.) Anyway, based on my research, I figured that a taxi would be much better. And it was: $10 (CAD) each way for all 4 of us, plus a tip.]

A few pics from the Harbor area. 

We walked around the harbor area for a little while, then took a horse drawn carriage ride.
The carriage ride was lovely. Our guide was great - she had fun and interesting info about the area, but also let us have time to just relax and enjoy the sights.

Getting to know Samson. 

Beacon Hill Park. 

Enjoying a relaxing ride. 
After our tour we caught a taxi back to the ship. We had been waiting to see Avengers: Infinity War on the ship and this afternoon was the showing that fit best into our schedule. After a relaxed lunch on board, we had plenty of time to get to the film. It was an opened caption showing, which was super for our young man... he prefers all TV and movies to be captioned.

This took us to dinner. Our last night with our serving team an our table mates. We had another great meal and said our goodbyes. Our young lady went to the clubs for some fun and farewells and I had some time to pack.
We got everything in order pretty easily and hubby was able to attend the late night comedy show.

We made the decision to do Express walk off the next morning... so we didn't put our bags out to be taken off the ship.  We will let you know how that goes :)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

West Coast, by Land and Sea - Day 7

Lazy family day on the ship.

We haven't done this before, but decided to take a day and spend it all together... at sea! The kids usually do this or that... clubs, movies etc. on sea days. But today we mixed it up.

Hubby and I got up and enjoyed breakfast up on deck. Then made up plates for the kids and brought them back to the room. Hubby and our young lady joined a drawing class that morning, our son and I met them partway through.

The cruise staff does a great job of planning low key events (as well as high energy events) on sea days. We followed the drawing with some origami.

Origami crowns in honor of the Royal Wedding. 

And we all lunched together in Triton's.
With more crafts in the afternoon and some games in the room it was a mellow but fun day at sea.
I expected our young lady to really struggle missing the clubs this day, but in the end she enjoyed it and asked if we could do that again on our next cruise (you heard that right ;) we have another in the works already!).

Enjoying an ocean view

Towel folding class!  How'd we do?

Dinner was at Triton's as well... but with a whole different menu and a small change to our serving team. Our main server was out sick today - fingers crossed he will be back tomorrow. In the meantime our assistant server did a great job filling in.

A word on our dining team... superb!
We had Joel as our main server with Darma as our assistant server. Both gentleman were wonderful. Balanced our mixed table excellently as well as all the other tables they had. Gave our young man his space... and let the kids float between the adult and kids menu without issue. To add to the great team, we had the most present Head server we have ever had, Kendell.  He stopped by every night and talked with us... not just talking as us... but with us. He also filled water... random but not something I had seen a head server do before.  Over all they were great!

Our young lady returned to the clubs after dinner. We once again skipped the show (we have seen all the rotation shows on the Wonder a few times by this point, so missing them wasn't a big deal for us.) Hubby attended the late night Michael Harrison show and an 80s music thing in the adult clubs.

Another great day at sea! Tomorrow, Victoria.

Friday, May 18, 2018

West Coast, by Land and Sea - Day 6

San Fran

We woke up this morning in San Francisco.. the city of..... huh, I thought I knew that? Sourdough, maybe? [Editor's note: "Your favorite radio city, the city by the bay, the city that rocks, the city that never sleeps." Although I usually refer to it as one of the last cities that I want to get sent to on a business trip, mostly because I have to travel to the bay area often and I'm kind of bored of it.]

Anyway. We are at our first port of the trip! Today we are winging it! Shocking, I know. We almost always do official cruise line excursions. But this trip, we decided to try our luck on our own. Our plans aren't too adventurous, so let get to the day.

After breakfast at Cabana's we were ready to walk off the ship a little after 10 am. Our first destination the Exploratorium - which is located at Pier 17. Our ship was docked at pier 27, so it was an easy walk.

This was my science muesem as a kid and going back (it's in a different location now) with my kids was soo fun.

I have memories of doing this as a kid. 

After some science fun, we caught a Streetcar down to Pier 39.

Authors Note: Our young man is a fan of many things...The show World's Toughest Fixes is a favorite of his. The host of the show is from SF and as we were walking to the Exploratorium our young man spotted something familiar.... the tugboat, the Delta Catherine. This boat was in the episode about a cruise ship overhaul and he recognized it immediately.

Delta Catherine 
The street car was fun, but more of a standard city bus feeling once on board than I was expecting. But it saved us some steps and a few minutes later we arrived at Pier 39.  We lunched at Boudin and had some fun shopping and exploring the Pier. The kids didn't believe me about the number of Sea Lions we would see ;)

Sea Lions! 

Silly Selfie - Outside a Cookie Dough shop...Yup, scoops up like Ice Cream!
It was crazy... and quite possibly the sweetest thing I have ever tried. 
From here we were ready to return to our floating home away from home.

Disney Wonder
The plan was for the ship to leave at 4:30... but we didn't.
From what we gleaned a family of 5 was still ashore... and we waited. Typically the ship doesn't wait a long time for stragglers... unless they are on a ship sponsored excursion. But we did. They had a few family members who were already on board, so I think they saved them. Its harder to leave when someone is there to argue. So we waited....
I was up on Deck 10 watching the city and waiting to pull out. Hubby was down of deck four watching from there.
About 5:15 I saw a family running across a street a block away..... Adults and kids in tow... they were clearly frantic - the missing people from our cruise. They made it back and around 5:25 we pulled away.

Our view from the ship in port. Not bad. 
Ok, I am going to be a little petty.... (hopefully it won't last long)... I was sooo looking forward to going under the Golden Gate Bridge. I love going under Lions Gate in Vancouver and getting to stand on Deck 10 and go under the Golden Gate, getting some great pics, was HIGH on my list for today. But our delayed departure meant that sailing under the bridge was now going to happen during our dinner seating :(
So, I decided I was going to be late for dinner. Hubby went down with the kids and I (determined to have my bridge experience) stayed on Deck 10.  Ok.. the petty part is, if the family had been on time... I wouldn't have had to be late. I know.... cry me a river. But I shook it off. It would be awful to be left behind, so I am glad they made it back on board.
Back to the bridge.... Sailing under was AWESOME! The energy on the top deck was crazy too. Everyone clearly was as excited as I was. And.... my camera died right as we started under the bridge... dead battery. (Ugh) After a hot second of AAahhhhhh! I put the silly thing away and just enjoyed the moment.
Then I rushed down to dinner to join my family and tell them how cool it was.
Little did I know that hubby had stopped by a large porthole on deck 3 and snapped a few pictures - Yay!!! What a prince!

A fun Gif

Hubby's great pic from deck 3. Soo awesome! 
The rest of the evening was uneventful. We skipped the show this evening as well and relaxed as the ship picked up speed - next stop Victoria BC.

Alcatraz... maybe next time we will do the tour? 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

West Coast, by Land and Sea - Day 5

Day at Sea.... ah, Relax time.

I was a planner and booked a "Fire and Ice Pedicure" for this morning several months ahead. So I knew my feet would get a little pampering after our days walking in the parks.
I got up and got ready enough to eat and get to the spa... the kids tagged along for breakfast then went back to the room to check on Hubby who was sound asleep when we left.

[Editor's note: This photo is from a nap later in the day...]
They hung out in the room while Dad woke up and got ready for the day.. but I was blissfully unaware of this. My pedicure chair had an amazing view of the pacific ocean.

Once my feet had been pampered I tracked down the family. Hubby and I had midday brunch reservations at Palo. We have decided over the handful of cruises that we enjoy Palo, but prefer the Brunch to the Dinner. Plus it means we still get to eat dinner with the kids.

In the meantime the kids went to the clubs and relaxed in the room...respectfully ;)
After an amazing meal (we may or may not have stuffed ourselves silly [Editor's note: Some of us were smart enough to sleep through breakfast.]), we had a relaxing afternoon. I was able to paint my nails... no not the toes.. that was already taken care of. And work on the blog.
Hubby was able to attend an afternoon comedy show.
Late afternoon our young lady had an appointment at Pirate League to turn her into a Pirate for Pirate Night. (When was the last time you used Pirate three times in one sentence?)

The Pirate Princess has arrived. 
We enjoyed dinner and the Michael Harrison show was fun. He is a great performer.
We followed the show with the Pirate Deck party. Our pirate princess was involved in the party with her group from the club.
After the deck party fun, we were treated to a late night buffet... 'cause who doesn't want crepes and baked potatoes at 11 at night?

To say this was a late night would be on over statement. But nights tend to be later for us on the cruise... so to be truthful.. the crepes helped ;)

A note on our Stateroom.... we always book rooms on the starboard side of the ship... it started by accident and now it's tradition, and you know what they say about tradition? Don't break it ;)
But this cruise we decided to skip the balcony and go for a porthole room as you may have noticed from the pictures. We also decided to go down a few floors and settled quite comfortably forward deck 2. Our first surprise was our stateroom host... it was Jhe (Jay) from our Alaska cruise last summer! He recognized us right away... maybe his paperwork had told him? It was fun to see him again and he already knew our kiddos which was nice.  I really enjoyed being on deck 2... we never NEVER had to wait for a second elevator because the first one was full. And I also really liked being forward - who knew?!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

West Coast, by Land and Sea - Day 4

Cruise Day!

The day we board a Disney Cruise is always a fun day. And we feel lucky to have done it a few times. We kind of have a routine down for part of it, but first we have to get to the ship!

Checking out of Anaheim was easy enough. Before we head south, we want breakfast at a family favorite - King's Hawaiian.

Yes, it was the wrong direction, but.....
enough said ;)
Now we head south to San Diego. After returning the rental we hopped a Lyft to the port.

First view of the ship! Disney Wonder
The port experience in San Diego is quite different from Port Canaveral or Vancouver. The baggage process is really laid back. Just leave your bags with the pile of bags outside. It was easy and fast, but if you have a tendency to worry... this requires a small amount of faith. The baggage workers had no uniforms or name tags to identify them as port employees...only your basic neon work vests. Anyway.. it was easy enough.

And boarding was quick. We arrived mid-day and they were boarding everyone, so once our paperwork was in order we boarded.

At this point we break into our "Embarkation day routine" - lunch up on deck at Cabanas. Then tour the ship - walk our young man through the club, just in case this cruise he decides to go. [Editor's Note: Ha!] And by the time we are done, our room is ready.

Ran into an old friend ;) Boy, this girl and her books. 
Our muster station was inside, which was a fun change. Then it's time to watch the ship set sail.

But we didn't leave when we expected to. The paperwork said we would depart at 5pm, but it was actually 6 pm. So we were at dinner by the time we started to move.

So long, San Diego!

We had table mates for this cruise. This was new for the kids, but was nice. They sat us with another family of four who had two kids the same age as ours. We enjoyed the chit chat and introductions the first night. Our kids hadn't had table mates on a cruise before. But the "B" family from Ontario, Canada was very nice.

As soon as possible our young lady hit the clubs. Being older now, she has more club options - which was very exciting.

We skipped the evening show - another first for us, and settled into the room. I always like to get unpacked the first day and do first run through the stores. Hubby and I have a new tradition of each getting a Tervis or waterbottle on the ship. We like to have something to keep filled with water, so we each picked up something for that.

So, after settling in and getting the young lady from the club... we slept.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

West Coast, by Land and Sea - Day 3

Early morning! Eeks the adventurous ones left early to hit rope drop and ride some roller coasters before the lines got too long. The young man and I were slightly lazier. We (I) took our time getting ready and had breakfast in the hotel at the restaurant. Then we wandered over to the parks and joined them for rides at Disneyland. Space Mountain ;)
We had another Bump (yes, with a capital B) when Big Thunder Mountain went down right before we boarded for a second ride. Our young man did not handle this well. Despite all the things to help make it better… he still was very upset. This trip has been a good reminder to all of us that things don’t always go as planned. And for us to work on strategies for how to handle it when they don’t.

We were able to get back to rides and then for lunch we left the park and went bowling. Bowling? Yup! They recently opened a Splitsville in Downtown Disney and this chain is by far my favorite bowling alley experience. The environment is clean, bright and modern. The lanes are in small groups and the food is tasty. You do pay for the upscale experience, but you are at Disney so you are probably prepared for the price tags.


Best Bowling balls ever!!

After a game an a half… you pay for a period of time and can play as much or as little as you like - we headed back to the parks. With a short detour for shopping for the ladies, We all met in California Adventure.

And wouldn’t you know it.. The ride we hoped to go on broke down while we waited….. This time our young man handled it a bit better - happy mom. So we got passes to come back when it was back online and rode Radiator Springs Racers again and got an afternoon snack. Then were able to return to Luigi’s for our ride. And it was a hoot - worth the wait in my opinion.

Hubby was able to ride Guardians a few more time and we all met up in Disneyland again.

Can you find Hubby? 
With a few more rides under our belts we ate and wandered back to the room. Our son and I first while the others hit a few last roller coasters before joining us.

Our time at Disneyland has been fun. We were able to use the new app and use a lot more Fastpasses each day than I expected. It worked really well and hubby is mad skilled at it ;)

The kids had a great time, desipte the hiccups or Bumps along the way. And even the bumps were a good conversation starter for both kids.

Tomorrow the second part of the trip…. The cruise! Can’t Wait!!!

It was a good day ;)

Monday, May 14, 2018

West Coast, by Land and Sea - Day 2

Can you say rocky start? We can but we don’t want to.

In all seriousness, we misunderstood our passes, which led us to make plans to start our day in DCA at 9 am. But due to the misunderstanding… we couldn’t get into that park until 10.

The short notes are sometimes Autism is hard - an unexpected change of plans can be hard on anyone. But for our young man he can get entrenched in an emotion and really struggle to move past it.
Checking out the Disneyland Trains exhibit at DL. 
We ended up going into Disneyland for a little bit. We grabbed breakfast and Hubby and daughter were able to get a ride on Space Mountain, while I worked with our son to shake off the frustration and move beyond it. He and I enjoyed another showing of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln - we had the place to ourselves. Then we met the others at the gate for DCA to restart that part of our day.

We were able to grab Fastpasses for Radiator Springs Racers as soon as we got into the parks, so we had Fastpass times of shortly after the park officially opened. Not entirely sure how hubby managed that… he has a way with Fastpasses that we all appreciate. [Editor's note: I could write a couple paragraphs on the ins and outs of the MaxPass feature at Disneyland, but let's just say that the ability to get Fastpasses for one of the parks while in the other park is really helpful.]  The Fastpasses were active from 10:00-11:00, so we rode Soarin' first before heading to Cars Land.

For some reason the fact these cars have working rear view mirrors was really interesting to me. 
He also grabbed fast passes for the new Guardians ride - so he ran off to that after we won our race. The kids and I went off to explore. We decided we wanted an slightly early lunch… so that became our focus. We all found something that worked and we had a nice relaxing lunch while we waited for hubby.

Once he found us we continued with rides - Jumping Jellyfish, Little Mermaid, Goofy’s Sky School and Toy Story. Along the way he had some lunch… we make sure he gets food.. Don’t worry. [Editor's note: Actually, I mainly snacked. There are lots of different snack foods at DL that I often want to eat, but usually I'm not hungry enough between meals to actually get them. I solved this problem by skipping the meals...]

I WON!!!!!  [Editor's note: ...]
The rest of the time in the park we all caught favorite rides, Grizzly River rapids, monsters Inc, Maters Junkyard Jamboree and the street car.

We left the park late afternoon to have a short break at the hotel before dinner.

Photobomb. Silly kids
After our mellow break in the room we drove to GardenWalk to meet some long time friends at CPK.

Huge props to the kids for enduring a long dinner of adults talking and a huge thanks to our friends for enduring the frequently interruptions that parents may find commonplace. You are all amazing and thank you.

OK. Now we have eaten our fill… and then some… now what?

The young man and I are heading back to the room for more chill time… I appreciate the time to write up the blog 😉. Hubby and our sweet girl are heading back to Disneyland with two fast passes burning a hole in their pocket… I am guessing they will do Big Thunder Mountain and the Matterhorn before calling it a day.

Last train of the night.... Big Thunder Mountain. 
Not sure the schedule tomorrow, but it's our last park day so we have a list of must do rides, wish us luck!