Sunday, February 26, 2023

Disney Wonder Cruise in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

On the fourth day of the Disney Wonder Cruise we took recently, (click here and here to see the prior posts) we woke up to see the beautiful sunrise and the land's end of the Baja California Peninsula outside from our veranda!

We decided to have an early light breakfast in the concierge lounge of the upper deck before departing for an excursion into the town of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and a cruise of the Gulf of California also known as the Sea of Cortez.

The Disney Wonder Cruise ship set anchor off the coastline so we had to tender off the ship on a ferry into the town. Cabo has many luxury resort hotels and we saw many expensive yachts in the port, as well as seals sleeping on one of the docks. 

We boarded a large catamaran ship and cruised along the shoreline.  This was the second time my husband and I saw these beautiful sights as we took a Princess Ctuiese in 2017 that also visited Cabo San Lucas--click here-- to see that post.  


The scenery was beautiful!

This time it was special to share the experience with our daughter and granddaughter!

We sailed to the land's end and then the catamaran made a turn around to the Pacific Ocean side of the Baja California peninsula.

Here is a short Youtube video of the view we had on the lands end of the Baja California Peninsula from the Pacific Ocean side:

There are many beaches on both sides of the peninsula and also along the Mexican coastline east of the peninsula.

After our catamaran sail was completed and we were back in Cabos San Lucas, a bus took us to the second half of our excursion, which was a beachside cafe and lounge area. There we were served lunch --we had delicious fish tacos.  Our granddaughter was able to play on the beach and wade in the water.

She had a wonderful time!

When we returned to the Disney Wonder it was time for dinner.  It was a special "Pirates of the Caribbean" night and everyone was given a red scarf to wear.  The restaurant waiters and many of the passengers were in full pirate costumes which were fun to see. Dinner was a selection of seafood and everything was fabulous!  The best part was that the waiters brought a special dessert for our granddaughter and sang Happy Birthday while the other patrons in the restaurant clapped.  She was so excited!

There was a fun pirate extravaganza celebration on the top deck that evening and a delightful Disney show in the ship's theater.  When we returned to our suite, exhausted after a long day, we found our blanket was shaped into a pirate accompanied by gold coin chocolates and was wearing its own red scarf which made us smile!   It was the end of a perfect day!

The next day we sailed all the way back to San Diego, another day at sea, and that will be my next and last Disney Cruise blog post.  Thanks for following along so far!

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Sunday, February 19, 2023

Disney Wonder Cruise Day Two Excursion and Day Three at Sea


As I wrote in my last blog post--click here--my husband and I, and our daughter and granddaughter, took a Disney Wonder Cruise from San Diego to the Baja California peninsula of Mexico to celebrate our granddaughter's tenth birthday.  Our first stop was the port of Ensenada, Mexico, where we left the ship to go on an excursion.  There was misty rain that morning, so ship personnel gave us plastic rain ponchos to wear as we waited to board a tour bus to travel into town.

We had signed up for a "Halloween-Day of the Dead Cultural Celebration" through Disney Wonder.  We were driven to the Riviera Centro Social, Civico y Cultural building It was built as a hotel and casino in 1930, but now is a museum and event center for the town.

We were given a short tour of the gardens and monuments.

Inside the building, one of the rooms had a traditional Day of the Dead altar on display and the guides told us about the "Día de los Muertos" holiday, which honors ancestors that have passed away by displaying their photos and other artifacts in a special altar style display during the holiday, and then decorating it with candles, flowers, and their favorite foods. Family members also share anecdotes and memories about their loved ones. The altar honors those who have passed away to show them we haven’t forgotten them and that they are still important in their families lives. 

 Disney has a popular movie called "Coco." whose storyline explains much the same tradition, and our granddaughter was able to appreciate the festivities as this is one of her favorite movies. 

The families on this excursion were able to partake in traditional games, and have their faces painted...

...and decorate and eat their own sugar skull cookies.

Brightly colored skulls represent the departed souls in the circle of life, and traditionally, sugar skulls are created as ornamental gifts for children and family members during Día de los Muertos.

The children were also given a chance to hit a pinata in the courtyard, and once it was broken share in the candy treats.

My husband and I went on a tour of the Riviera building to learn its history, and admire its architecture.

Vintage photos show that it was once waterfront with beach access and that many of the large rooms were used as a casino.

As the Hotel Riviera was built in 1930, it became a popular destination for movie stars and wealthy Americans of that time who wanted to drink alcohol during the American prohibition and gamble.  Desi Arnez, Lucille Ball, Johnny Weismuler (Tarzan), William Hearst, Myrna Loy, James Cagney, Jack Dempsey, Lana Turner, Ali Khan, and many more were frequent guests.

One interesting legend is that the Bar Analuz, which is located inside the Riviera building, is where the Margarita drink was invented! It was supposedly named after Margarita King, owner of the hotel during the late 1940s.  

Before returning to the cruise ship we were allowed to walk in town for an hour, but we found the calls from street vendors to buy their goods a bit overwhelming, so instead, we sat in a local Mcdonald's and had ice cream--smile.

When we were back on the ship, we relaxed awhile on our veranda. We had a silvery cloudy view of the California Baja coastline as we sailed away.

That evening we ate at Tiana's Place Restaurant on the ship.  The name Tiana comes from the Disney movie "The Princess and the Frog"  It takes place in New Orleans in the roaring twenties and tells the story of a young woman who dreams about opening her own restaurant.  She meets a frog, who is really a prince that has a spell placed on him and he wants to return to being a human.  Together they have adventures in the Louisiana bayous until their dreams come true.  As we dined there was music and singing on stage and then a parade.  Tiana came around every table and our granddaughter was excited to meet her!

Our dinner was New Orleans quality good! 

After dinner, we went to the theater and saw a Mickey Golden Globe Show--a very fun look at different Disney movie characters from the heroes to the villains up for awards.

Our stateroom blanket was transformed into a rabbit that evening!

The next day was spent at sea.  My husband and I walked the decks of the ship and enjoyed exploring the shops and lounges inside.

We made arts and crafts and had a cartoon drawing lesson and our granddaughter enjoyed swimming in the ship's pool and going down the large slide.  There were many opportunities to take photos with Disney characters that day.  Dinner was at the French-themed Triton's Restaurant, named after the Disney Movie Little Mermaid's father. 

That evening we saw a Broadway show quality musical spectacular  Frozen show in the theater, which is based on the very popular Disney Frozen movie. 

Our stateroom blanket was a bear this evening, and like tired little teddy bears we all slept well as the cruise ship continued on towards day four, where we arrived at very scenic lands end of the Baja --more in my next post.

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Monday, February 13, 2023

Disney Wonder Cruise Along the Baja California Sur Part One

 Disney Wonder Cruise Ship
Our oldest granddaughter was turning 10 in February and our daughter had the wonderful idea to celebrate her birthday on a five-day Disney Cruise along the Baja California Sur in Mexico. Our granddaughter's 5th birthday happened to occur on a trip to Disneyworld--click here to read that blog post--so a Disney Cruise would make this birthday five years later extra special. 

My husband and I decided to go along on the cruise.  We have been very careful the last three years and have not traveled out of state because of worries about the Covid-19 virus, but we decided it was time to begin to travel again as we were fully vaccinated and boosted and had our family physician's approval. Since this was a last-minute trip we were the only ones in our family that could go along on the cruise since the rest of our family had work and school obligations. 

San Diego Harbor

We flew from Denver to San Diego, California. the day before the cruise was to depart and visited the San Diego Zoo--see my last blog post about that visit here.

Our last-minute plans meant we decided to take a cruise ship stateroom together on the Disney Wonder Cruise Ship.  It had a queen size bed and also a murphy bed and another bed that lowered from the ceiling that the cruise crew assigned to our floor set up every evening, so it easily slept four people  What we were delighted to learn was that this larger verandah room on the 8th deck is accompanied by "concierge service" which meant many perks for the entire cruise! As concierge members, we were the first group to board the ship and also depart the ship at the end of the cruise,  and there was a wonderful private lounge we were able to visit all day on an upper deck.  It served delicious snacks and hot and cold beverages during the day.  We all enjoyed this lounge and private sun deck that was part of it throughout the cruise as places to relax. 

After boarding the ship we were served a light lunch in one of the restaurants on board. All passengers have a choice of eating breakfast and lunch individually served in a restaurant or at the large buffet dining area.

The Disney Wonder cruise ship "Sail A Wave Party"  took place on one of the top decks with songs and dance and many Disney character appearances on the stage. It was lots of fun!

There was also the mandatory attendance safety drill which is held on every cruise ship after everyone boards, where lifejackets and lifeboat loading stations are discussed.  My husband and I have been on three cruises before this one. Our first was in the maiden year of the Queen Mary 2, which departed from New York to Quebec Canada, and the second was on the Princess Cruise line to the Mexican Riveria--click here to see the first of a few posts I wrote about that enjoyable cruise, and the third on a Princess Cruise line where we had a land and sea Alaska Adventure--click here to read about the unusual beginning we had on that cruise trip. Many more Alaska posts follow which you can read under the Alaska blog label--click here-- if you keep clicking "next" after each post.

Before we knew it was time for dinner! Everything we ordered was so delicious.  I particularly enjoyed trying all the different soups each night from the menu, as I often make soup as our dinner at home. 

That evening, we attended the show at the Walt Disney Theater and saw a magician, Siegfried Tieber perform. He was very entertaining and personable. We really enjoyed the show!  Disney Wonder does not allow photos or videos of the show to be taken, but we were able to meet the magician afterward for photos.  He actually had called our daughter onto the stage to take part in a skit during the show and also called on my husband to check out one of his props for the audience.

After the show, we were all tired and went back to our ship's stateroom where we saw our bed's blanket throw twisted into a shape--this night was a swan--and chocolates were provided.  

It was the end of a wonderful day on the Disney Wonder Cruise Ship and we were sailing away towards our first stop on the Baja California in Mexico, the town of Ensenada, which will be in my next blog post.

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Monday, February 6, 2023

The San Diego Zoo is also a Botanical Garden

I was away last week with my husband, daughter, and oldest granddaughter on a special early birthday celebration for our granddaughter who is turning ten years old this week. Five years ago we happened to celebrate her fifth birthday at Disney World in Florida and this time we went on a Disney Cruise Line trip from San Diego, California, to San Luis Los Cabos in Mexico.  We flew into San Diego a day early and that afternoon we visited the world-renowned San Diego Zoo!

The San Diego Zoo is a 100-acre wildlife park and home to over 12,000 rare and endangered animals, representing more than 650 species and subspecies, and is located just north of downtown San Diego in Balboa Park.  It was actually the second time I visited the zoo--I blogged about it in 2008--click here to read that post--but this was to be a first-time visit for our daughter and granddaughter. 

The Zoo is also an accredited botanical garden, caring for more than 700,000 individual plants, including a prominent curated assemblage of close to 13,000 specimens, representing 3,100 species.
On your visit to the zoo, you will see towering acacias, sturdy conifers, and stately palms to rare succulents, California natives, and an astonishing array of blossoms vying for the attention of pollinators.

Some of the flowers I saw at the zoo

San Diego’s mild climate makes it possible to grow many different types of plants than almost anywhere else in the United States. The Zoo and Safari Park also act as “rescue centers” for rare and endangered plants.

Information from the zoo website

"TheSan Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is saving and protecting wildlife—including plants—worldwide. As habitats have dwindled and disappeared around the globe, plants have their own place in the conservation spotlight. Without plants to provide oxygen, moisture, food, and shelter, ecosystems cannot survive, and neither can their inhabitants. San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s plant conservation efforts are international in scope, working with partners to help save some of the most endangered plants, including coral trees, palms, cycads, and orchids that are nearly extinct in their native habitats. As part of these efforts, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance maintains the Native Plant Seed Bank, a collection of preserved seeds from plants all over the world, and partners with the Center for Plant Conservation, a consortium of botanical gardens that collaborate on plant conservation initiatives."

When we entered the zoo the first thing we did was take the Skyfari Aerial Tram to the far end of the zoo so we could walk downhill from the higher elevation at the rear of the zoo, and that was when I fell in love with all the magnificent trees and foliage we passed over. 

Perhaps because we left our home in a snowy and cold Colorado, seeing all these lush tropical trees filled me with awe and wonder!

I think I took more photos of the trees than of the animals.

We did see many of the animal exhibits and since we visited in the late afternoon many of the animals seemed to be getting a restful "after lunch" nap.

I was happy to see the new elephant 2.5-acre area that was being built on my last visit in 2008. There are many activities inside it for the elephants to enjoy.

The very best part of our visit to the zoo was seeing our granddaughter have a good time! 

We were all excited to know that the next day we would be beginning our Disney Cruise--more about that in my next post.

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