Tigger Travels - Family Adventure Journal
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Getting to Your Cruise.
Panama Cruise January 2011 - Last Trans-canal trip planned for the Disney Wonder at this time.
Planning a nice cruise vacation involves an investment in time and money. We are not talking about a short cruise that cost a couple hundred dollars, but one that goes to destinations that will educate, inspire and build a lifetime of memories. Much like building a fine home, an investment of a few more dollars can make a difference in something half-rate and a thing properly done.
Too often on our trips, we meet fellow travelers that slept in their own bed thousands of miles away, then jump on a plane then on the ship in one day. Air travel and weather alone are unreliable enough that some never make it to the embarkation and catching a flight to the next available port of call.
From personal experience, this may make for some great tales down the road, but the stress of that type of beginning effects the whole trip to some extent. Our first cruise, we made such a mistake and we made the ship at the dock, but that stress is the most impactful memory of the whole trip.
When you plan a good cruise, plan to arrive in the area of the ship the day before emarkation. Personally, if we are going a long distance, over several hundred miles, we plan am extra day in between in case we have to drive in place of the plane ride. For this Panama Disney Wonder cruise, we are scheduled in the winter. For this reason we were unsure if any airports would even be open when we scheduled in the middle of last spring.
An extra day can cost very little and help make memories the kind of treasured memories that will last an entire lifetime. For this trip, we found the Clarion at the Disney Main gate in Kissimmee offered our room for $43 per night. Two nights stay was under $100. For us, that was a small investment for the peace of mind we got knowing we were in the area and could get to our ship with plenty of time to spare.
We spent the extra day at Orlando/Kissimmee out and about. Being on a bit more of a budget than usual this trip, we were determined to stick to window shopping as much as possible. Downtown Disney offers free parking in a large lot. We cruised Downtown, looked in all the windows and enjoyed the warm day.
Next, we found the Best of British Sports pub. Located on International drive on the west side of the road, they offer a fantastic and highly rated pub menu. Our favorite requirement for such a stop was for a couple of Shandys and a bit of football (that's soccer for the Americans). Manchester City and Arsenal, still no score when we finally left near the end of the second half.
After the pub, we stopped by The Peabody to see the duck walk. Yeah, it sounds strange, but go to any Peabody at 5:00 and watch.
Another favorite of ours was a stop at Tony Roma's for an onion loaf and a slab of Bountiful Beef ribs with the incredibel Blue Ridge Smokey sauce. Now, trust me, we have never had a bad experience at a Tony Roma's, but this one was exceptional. Our server, Michelle was as attentive as the finest servers we ever had the pleasure in classy cruises and high rated restaurants. She was great! If you stop by, tell her to visit this site... we are the couple that are leaving on the Panama Cruise after her dinner. Chris, the manager even came over and made sure we had the meal we always wanted. As far as I am concerned, that Tony Roma's has won another star in their current six star rating (my rating, not the pro's rating).
In the morning, we enjoyed a stop at the Dunkin Donuts across from the hotel. For a total investment of under $180 (not including car rental at $165) we added another day to our vacation that allowed us to board the ship as calm and relaxed as we could hope. This means we will enjoy every moment of our Panama Disney Wonder cruise.
One more thing that we have made a habbit of is to get to the terminal early. There is always a bit of a rush in the biginning, but it is less than what happens two hours later. We are able to find a place to sit and read or watch a movie on the iTouch or iPad, even the laptop. Also, because we arrived early, we get to board the ship earlier and therefore get to the buffet when it starts... once again, ensuring that every moment of the cruise is spent the way we want.
2011 Disney Wonder Panama Canal Cruise Index
Daily Navigator/Iwa Published Schedule