When I woke up just after 7:00am, I could hardly feel any movement of the ship at all so I knew we were getting close to Cozumel. From the verandah, I watched as the pilot boat approached just before 7:30am and as it was a clear day, I could see over to the Mexican mainland in the distance. After being offline since we left Galveston, I switched on my iPhone to try and get some data but the 3G signal was incredibly poor.
I sat on the verandah until we docked just before 8:00am – I had hoped that we would dock the other side of the pier (as the Disney Wonder had done on its two previous visits) as that would have meant not only would we get a view of Cozumel from our room, we would also be able to get a good photo of the Disney Wonder docked in Cozumel too. As soon as we had docked, there was a constant stream of tour boats sailing past the ship all day. Our plan for the day was simple and that was to have a relaxed lazy day as neither of us were bothered about visiting Cozumel and we were not in a rush to do anything.
After having a shower and getting dressed, we headed up to Cabanas for breakfast just after 9:00am. We had no problem getting a table outside so we ate our breakfast in the sunshine with a little view looking towards Cozumel – I say little as the Marella Discovery 2 that was docked next to us blocked most of the view of Cozumel the whole day no matter where you were standing on the ship.
After breakfast we walked around Deck 10 and it was clearly obvious how empty the ship was as there was no one to be seen anywhere as everyone had already left on their Port Adventures and excursions. Out of curiosity, I had looked up in advance what there was to do in Cozumel and it seemed it was all beach breaks or several awful swim with dolphin experiences. After seeing dolphins in the wild several times, nothing makes me sadder and more upset than seeing dolphins in captivity. No matter where it is in the world, there is nothing worse than seeing dolphins being made to swim with humans and perform tricks in tiny little swimming pools. It’s cruel and I wish these places would be shut down for good.
Despite having no plans in Cozumel, we still knew that we wanted to get off the ship and have a little walk around. After collecting our passports and cameras from our room, we walked down to the gangway on Deck 1 Aft (they were also using Deck 1 Fwd) and disembarked the Disney Wonder at 10:15am.
The dock area between the Disney Wonder and the Marella Discovery 2 was very busy as we disembarked. One of the photos that I wanted to take was of Donald Duck and his nephews on the stern of the ship but the pier did not extend that far to be able to get the picture.
After getting some photos of the Disney Wonder which was not easy as a lot of the ship was in the shade due to the Marella Discovery 2 blocking the sun, we walked along the Punta Langosta pier towards the cruise terminal – there were also rickshaws waiting by the gangways that would take you along the pier to the terminal building if you wanted and I do not believe there is a charge as they work for tips. It was also absolutely fascinating as we were slowly walking along to listen to some British passengers who had disembarked off the other ship who were talking loudly about Disney ships – none of what they said was correct!
As you reach the end of the pier, there are two “Cozumel” sign photo opportunities just before you reach the terminal building.
Once you get to the terminal building, you take an escalator upstairs before walking across a bridge into the Punta Langosta shopping mall where you will find stores selling every kind of tacky overpriced souvenir you could ever want (or not want) – they even had plenty of Mexican-themed Texas merchandise out so they knew that a ship from Galveston was in Cozumel that day!
There was also plenty of those horrible jewellery stores such as Diamonds and Tanzanite International that blight every cruise port around the world along with a Starbucks, Hooters and a Senor Frogs. As it was December, the whole area was also decorated for Christmas. Some of the other restaurants were touting for business but why would you want to eat there and pay for an expensive meal when you have a much better lunch waiting for you back on the ship that you have already paid for?
Our original plan for our time off the ship in Cozumel was to grab a Starbucks and walk along the seafront and take some photos of the Disney Wonder. Sadly that was impossible due to one of the ugliest cruise ships I’ve ever seen blocking our view. As it was so hot that day and my boyfriend had not had a good night’s sleep and was not feeling great, we decided to head back to the ship.
On our way back through the Punta Langosta Mall, we stopped by the giant Cozumel letters to get a photo. We waited a few minutes whilst a huge family each draped themselves over each of the letters to get their Christmas card photo and when we finally went to get our photo, another family walked straight behind us to get their own photo and ruining ours in the process. Everyone else was waiting their turn so why couldn’t they?
Getting back to the ship was very easy as there were plenty of signs in the mall. We had to show our Key to the World cards (but were never asked for any form of photo ID) before taking the escalator back down to the pier where there was also a duty free shop. We lasted a grand total of twenty five minutes in Cozumel itself and could not wait to get back onboard to sanity. The only way I would describe Cozumel is “the Nassau of Mexico” – somewhere where I would much rather stay onboard the ship as I did not enjoy it at all and have no plans or desire to ever go back.
It was very quiet back on the pier as we walked towards the ship. My boyfriend went ahead back onto the ship as he wanted to go back to sleep for another hour whilst I stayed on the pier for a little longer taking some more photos of the Disney Wonder.
Once back onboard, I walked up the stairs from Deck 1 to the After Hours adult area on Deck 3. It was completely empty so I took a few minutes to look around whilst it was quiet. The last time we sailed on the Wonder, it was called Route 66 and the decor was very loud and in your face but since its reimagining, it is simply beautiful and I loved the chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.
My boyfriend was fast asleep when I got back up to our room so I very quietly dropped my bag off before going to explore the ship with my camera. My first stop was Deck 5 as it was currently open house at the Oceaneer Lab. I had already visited here on the Disney Magic during our Transatlantic cruise but I wanted to see if there were any differences between the ships. At this time, it was also completely empty!
The Oceaneer Lab is where Captain Mary Oceaneer’s collection of artifacts and treasures from her explorations around the world are on display for you to enjoy. She is a member of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers who are also represented at Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea, Typhoon Lagoon and Magic Kingdom.
There are newspapers and paintings on the wall of fellow members of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers including Harrison Hightower from Tower of Terror at Tokyo DisneySea and Lord Henry Mystic and Albert the Monkey from Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland.
Around the lab are many pictures of Captain Mary Oceaneer and the adorable Salty the Parrot on their adventures sailing around the world including one of the “Inaugural Pirate Night” in 1898 (add 100 years to that date to make it 1998 which is when Disney Cruise Line first started sailing) and one of the “Maiden Voyage of the Oceaneer Lab” on the 15th August 1899 (again add 100 years and the maiden voyage of the Disney Wonder was 15th August 1999). I seriously cannot get enough of the details like this that Disney put into their parks and their ships.
After leaving the Oceaneer Lab, I walked down to Deck 4 where the area around both Mickey’s Mainsail and White Caps as well as the Walt Disney Theatre was also completely empty. It really did feel like having the whole ship to yourself.
For me one of the best bits about the ship being empty was that I was able to get as many photos as I wanted of the beautiful lobby atrium, the gingerbread house and the rest of the Christmas decorations without anyone in them. They are some of my favourite photos I took during the cruise. Some people say that the ships are always busy and there’s always people everywhere and photos are difficult to get but I could not disagree more as easily proved here – I even managed to get photos of an empty lobby atrium on a sea day on a very busy cruise on the Disney Dream.
I was starting to feel hungry at this point so after a walk out on an empty Deck 4 with only a view of the ship docked next to ours, I walked up to Cabanas to get some lunch which I then took with me to eat at one of the tables in the shade by the Quiet Cove Pool. It was so peaceful out on the decks and I sat there with my food, a cold drink chatting online to friends and family back home – the 3G signal was a little better than earlier in the day but not great and there definitely was no 4G to be found anywhere.
After I had finished my lunch, I walked some more around Decks 9 and 10. It was very sunny and it was starting to feel very humid. There were some people on the pier walking to and from the ships but not many and the Wonder was still deserted. I was seriously loving how quiet it was – a day onboard an empty cruise ship is better than a day in an uninspiring port that you have absolutely no interest in.
I made two cups of tea on Deck 9 and headed back to our stateroom to wake my boyfriend up after his nap – he was feeling much better after some extra much-needed sleep. He was hungry so as Cabanas was still open, we made our way there where he got some lunch and I found some dessert which we ate outside on Deck 9.
We still had just under two hours to go before the all aboard time so after another walk around the ship, we grabbed one of the comfortable chairs outside of Cove Cafe and sat there with a nice coffee as well as some of their vanilla cupcakes (always going to happen) whilst watching the world go by on the dock below.
The first of two Santa’s Winter Wonderland Balls was due to start in the lobby atrium at 4:30pm so we headed down to our usual spot on Deck 4 just after 4:00pm and there was only a handful of people there already but we knew it would get a little busier soon once we left Cozumel. We left the dock about five minutes later so I quickly ran outside to take a few photos and I was lucky enough to hear my very first horn battle which naturally, the Disney Wonder won.
Santa’s Winter Wonderland Ball started with the Walt Disney Theatre performers appearing and singing and dancing to Walking in a Winter Wonderland, Sleigh Ride, I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas and Frosty the Snowman. Santa Claus arrived and introduced Mrs Claus (who had always wanted to see the Caribbean) who was carrying the Naughty and Nice list – Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Daisy and Chip and Dale was all on the Nice side whilst Captain Hook, Ursula, Gaston and Grumpy were all on the Naughty side.
Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Donald and Daisy then arrived wearing their Christmas jumpers which were the costumes I was most excited about seeing on this cruise. Anna and Elsa then arrived before Elsa worked her magic powers and made it snow in the lobby atrium. The characters then stayed out for another twenty minutes so you could get photos with them but they were also going to be out for proper appearances during the evening so we were going to get our photos then as it was a little busy on Deck 3 at this time.
After looking at the Personal Navigator, we worked out a plan for the rest of the day to try and get the majority of the character photos we wanted on this night. It was 4:45pm at this time and Minnie was due out at 5:30pm so we quickly ran back to our stateroom to have a shower and get changed.
Minnie was meeting on Deck 5 which is possibly the worst place on the ship for character photos as it is dark, the ceiling is low and there is not much room for the characters or anyone else to move compared to Decks 3 and 4. There was already quite a line when we got there which moved slowly due to the amount of tat that people were wanting to get autographed. After four cruises, I am still yet to understand why people want pillowcases signed – what is the point?! Again all Etsy sellers did well with the amount of rubbish that they sold people on this cruise for autographs. I wish that they would stop autographs when the line is long like they did on my first cruise on the Disney Wonder.
I loved meeting Minnie and her Christmas jumper was absolutely amazing. Just like a photo of her in her Alaskan costume a few years ago, it was a photo of Minnie in this outfit that had made me really want to book a Very Merrytime Cruise. After meeting Minnie, we walked to Preludes on Deck 4 where the line to meet Goofy was incredibly short so we only waited a few minutes. His Christmas outfit was adorable and I love that all my favourite character photos no matter where I am, are always with Goofy.
After meeting Goofy, we had another look around Mickey’s Mainsail and White Caps and I ended up buying the Donald and Daisy Pandora charms for my bracelet – they were $50 each and the fact that there is no sales tax at sea meant that I could not resist getting them.
As there were no more characters out until 7:15pm, we headed back to our stateroom to sit on our verandah and watch the sunset with a glass of the Rosa Regale sparkling wine that we had brought onboard with us.
Our next characters of the evening were Chip and Dale who were scheduled to be out on Deck 5 at 7:15pm. Now if there was hardly any room to move just meeting one character on Deck 5, you can only begin to imagine what it was like with two chipmunks. Chip and Dale need room to mess around and be themselves and they just cannot do that on Deck 5. The photos only came out so-so and we made a mental note to see if they were meeting in a different place later on in the cruise.
We made our way down to Deck 4 and we were close to the front of the line to meet Mickey who was due out 7:45pm. The line moved incredibly quickly as thankfully most people had already got Mickey’s autograph in the previous few days – that line really was the way it should always be.
Our last character before dinner was Pluto who was on Deck 3 at 8:00pm. There was not a long line when we joined the queue and we even said hello to Captain Daniele as we were waiting.
Our dinner on this evening was in Triton’s which was the only restaurant that did not seem to have changed at all since our last cruise on the Disney Wonder and once again, we had a really good table near the centre of the restaurant. I had a Ginger Ale to drink and for my starters, I ordered the Iced Lobster and Jumbo Shrimp as well as the Farmhouse Salad. One thing we had noticed on the previous nights but was even more prevalent on this night in the dining room was the number of people asking for tomato ketchup for everything they were eating – even the escargot!
For my main course I asked if I could have a bigger portion of the Breaded and Deep Fried Brie as I always enjoy it so much thinking I would get a double portion so four pieces altogether. However I could not stop laughing when a quadruple portion appeared in front of me so eight pieces of Brie in total. I love cheese and as hard as I tried, I could not finish it all but I did manage to eat seven pieces of it which was not a bad attempt! As expected with a belly full of cheese, there was no way I could even attempt a dessert.
After we had finished our dinner, there was another Santa’s Winter Wonderland Ball in the lobby atrium. We got there about fifteen minutes before it was due to start and once again had no problem getting our normal spot on Deck 4 – Deck 3 was a lot busier but it always is. There also seemed to be a lot more snow than during the afternoon.
After making a cup of tea on Deck 9, we headed back to our stateroom. There was a show on in the Azure lounge but nothing sounds more cringeworthy than an “Adult Ventriloquist Comedy Show” which is how it was described. We had a towel bear waiting for us on our bed who already had hold of our Ghiradelli chocolates.
Once I got into bed, I took some time to study the Personal Navigator for the following day as well as read the information about how the tendering process worked at Grand Cayman as we had never tendered before.
Next stop – the Cayman Islands!