As we boarded the Disney Wonder on December 21, 2014, we were set for a Christmas adventure to Cozumel and Castaway Cay. The Wonder was bedecked for the Very Merrytime Cruise theme this year, and the joy of the season filled the ship. The one thing I have always wanted to do was take a tour of the bridge. But that experience only comes along when Tink shakes a lot of fairy dust. Truly, a bridge tour is not impossible, but neither is it guaranteed. So, after spending Christmas Day on Castaway Cay, which was an absolute dream (no pun intended) when spent in a private cabana, I was shocked when one of our cruise buddies shouted, “Can you be ready in 15 minutes? They just called me and told me we’re getting a bridge tour!!”
I wasn’t sure I believed him. But just in case, I rushed to the shower to freshen up and grab a camera. We strolled up to Deck 8 Forward and waited. And waited. And waited. I began to believe that we would not be seeing the bridge. We checked both sides of the corridors, just to make sure that we did not miss someone … and there we found Tannith, one of the bridge crew, who ushered us through an “authorized personnel only” door to meet Kevin, a bridge officer. Turns out that Captain Guus Verhulst opened his bridge to our party of seven, and to my amazement, Kevin obligingly offered, “Take all the pictures you want.”
Our little group was warmly welcomed. All of the bridge officers smiled and wished us a happy holiday. Not one moment was rushed. Of course, everyone knows that the thing to see is where the horn is. It has its own special place on the main console and it just begs to be pressed. (No one pressed it for fear of being ushered out of this magical experience). Kevin explained the way the horn works and everything that goes into making the big announcements.
While we may have been docked at Castaway Cay, we felt as if we were navigating the high seas. (And yes, I may have even felt a bit like Captain Jack Sparrow as I looked over the navigational equipment.) While I had fun looking at the weather and GPS computer systems, my daughter, with permission, took the wheel and “drove” the ship. While it may have been only a short time on the bridge, it felt like our own special port adventure, like we made our own Disney Cruise Line commercial. Kevin also took us out on the observation deck, which allowed me to take some keen shots of the tree on Castaway Cay, as well as the anchor.
As our time on the bridge drew to a close, Tannith showed us a few more little special parts on our adventurous bridge tour. The flag cabinet held all the semaphore flags, a method of communicating at sea, as well as the flags of various nations and territories that the ship uses when in ports of call. On the actual Disney trivia tour of the ship, handled by cast members, there is a more detailed explanation of semaphore and symbolism, but for now, the picture serves as a thousand words. Before we exited the secure area of the bridge, we had a glimpse of the Captain’s quarters. Granted, we did not go inside, as that is his room, but we did get to see the door. Yes, the door is blue, as are the doors for the quarters of other bridge crew. For us, this was just a little extra fun that makes the cruise take on a new level of magic and wonder. (You see what I did there)?
We said goodbye to Tannith and Kevin with gratitude and a bit of humility for the awesome responsibility that accrues in that small part of the ship. We returned to our “quarters” to change for Christmas dinner, our last night on the ship, and you could actually see the twinkles in our eyes as we left port, knowing how it all gets done.
The Disney Wonder is the second oldest ship the Disney fleet, entering service in 1999. She is nearly identical in construction to her fleet mate, the Disney Magic. The interior of Disney Wonder is decorated in the art nouveau style and has 11 public decks. She can accommodate 2,400 passengers in 875 staterooms, and has a crew of approximately 950. Her maiden voyage was a four-night Bahamian cruise that commenced on August 15, 1999. She is scheduled to enter dry dock in 2016 for updates and refurbishments similar to the Disney Magic.