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A Year of Wonder! One More Time! (10/29/23-11/05/23... 7-Night, Eastern Caribbean)


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Nothing like starting the blog last minute! We fly out tomorrow and set sail this Sunday (10/29)!   🚢 🌴 🌞

I kept wavering on the title of this blog… trying to keep up with everyone’s clever titles (especially @Lovetocruise2002's 😆)! Should it be, “Return to Wonder”, “All the Wonder”, etc.

This year, my wife and I are experiencing some cruising firsts. This is the first time we were able to schedule two cruises in a calendar year. Also, the first time we sail the same ship twice. Finally, 2023 is a “Year of Wonder” because this will be our second time on Wonder! Our sad version of a B2B I guess 😃… instead of getting off and immediately reboarding, we had to wait almost 10 months to reboard Wonder! 🤣 A true B2B is definitely on the bucket list!

Once again, our only other cruise this year was on Wonder last January. We originally booked Harmony (CP balcony), but got to jump to Wonder due to the redeployments! Also, when they first posted Wonder’s new PC schedule right after the redeployment announcement, fares were very low at first (Harmony rates), so we booked this sailing (OV balcony) immediately!  😎

On this cruise, we’re sailing with 2/3 of our January traveling group. So, it will be my wife and I, and my wife’s uncle and GF!

We’re all so excited! This will be our second Halloween cruise!  🎃 👻 🎃 


Time for some trip details…

Cruise Details:  

  • Wonder of the Seas, 7-night, Eastern Caribbean & Perfect Day itinerary
  • Out of Port Canaveral, FL
  • 10/29/23-11/5/23


  • Day 1 (10/29):              Port Canaveral, FL
  • Day 2 (10/30):              PDCC, Bahamas
  • Day 3 (10/31):                (* At Sea *   HALLOWEEN!  🎃 👻 🎃)
  • Day 4 (11/01):              Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
  • Day 5 (11/02):              Philipsburg, St. Maarten
  • Day 6 (11/03):                (* At Sea *)
  • Day 7 (11/04):                (* At Sea *)
  • Day 8 (11/05):              Port Canaveral, FL

Cabin Details & General Plans/Stuff:

  • Oceanview balcony (Deck 9, Port side)… we love being just above Central Park!
  • Selected Traditional Dining (5:00PM according to Cruise Docs)
  • Purchased the Unlimited Dining Package… first time for us!
  • Purchased the Deluxe Beverage Package… expensive once again, but had to do it!
  • Purchased the Key… we’ll see if this is the last time!
  • Purchased the All Access Ship Tour… always wanted to do this!
  • Purchased the Pickleball at Sea (Intro Clinic)… I blame my wife on this one!
  • Purchased the Full Day Pass to Coco Beach Club (CocoCay).
  • Purchased “Mountain Top & Villa Botanica” excursion in St. Thomas.
  • Purchased “Philipsburg by Trolley Train” excursion in St. Maarten.
  • Booked all major entertainment via Cruise Planner (365 Seasons on Ice, The Effectors II: Crash & Burn, Tap Factory, Voices, inTENse, Adult Comedy LIVE).

We have other plans beyond the excursions while at port in St. Thomas and St. Maarten… we’ll see how that plays out!

Miscellaneous Stuff:

  • Flight on Southwest Airlines out of Islip/MacArthur Airport (ISP) on Long Island (NY) early on SAT (10/28/23) morning to Orlando (MCO).
  • Reservations were made for the Radisson Resort at the Port this time. We’ll be able to see the ship from the hotel once again! We all booked the “Fly, Stay, and Cruise” package which includes shuttle service from MCO to the hotel upon arrival on SAT, service from hotel to the port on embarkation day, and service from port directly back to MCO when we disembark.
  • We booked the 10:30-11:00 boarding period so we could board and take care of the specialty dining reservations, relax, explore, and start our vacation right away!


I guess that’s it for now... my wife had to work today 😔, so we’ll need to finish packing later! On to yardwork to prep for the trip!

*** Please let me know if you have any questions or would like me to post pictures of something you are interested in... I'll do my best to keep up throughout the sailing!

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  • JohnK6404 changed the title to A Year of Wonder! One More Time! (10/29/23-11/05/23... 7-Night, Eastern Caribbean)
4 minutes ago, JohnK6404 said:

trying to keep up with everyone’s clever titles (especially @Lovetocruise2002's 😆)!

LOL!!! I have a hard time keeping up with my own! I don't know how it started, but I regret starting it now 🤣

5 minutes ago, JohnK6404 said:

Purchased the Pickleball at Sea (Intro Clinic)… I blame my wife on this one!

What's this? Was this on the cruise planner as an activity? Hubby would probably be really interested in this. I have never seen it before.

6 minutes ago, JohnK6404 said:
  • Purchased “Mountain Top & Villa Botanica” excursion in St. Thomas.
  • Purchased “Philipsburg by Trolley Train” excursion in St. Maarten.

Looking forward to your review on these excursions. These are two excursions that I always look at, but never bring myself to purchasing.

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Hi @Lovetocruise2002!  So funny!

The Pickleball at Sea popped up under the Onboard Activities section in the cruise planner maybe a couple of months ago. It's not listed yet for our Icon sailing next May. You also get a little RC swag (baseball cap) to keep.

We purchased it when it was much cheaper during a CP sale ($48.99), but here is the description:






Not that we don't like the island tours, but we did something similar on both islands back in 2015. We wanted to find something that all four of us could enjoy so we went with the tours. They're always nice overviews of the island. I'll definitely take pics and comment on these excursions!

I also plan on going to your favorite place on earth when we go to St. Maarten.... we've never been, and we're all fans, so it should be fun!  🤣

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15 minutes ago, Ampurp85 said:

Whoo a live blog about Wonder with the UDP, this will be me in January😍

Just an FYI they will move your traditional dining to MTD because of the UDP. We had 7:30 traditional dining all the way until we board on Allure on Oct 15th. Then our seapass cards had MTD on them. 

Thanks for the heads-up! I know, even without the packages, they've been moving the traditional dining times around over the last couple of years. 

You book the cruise at one dining time, the Cruise Docs state another time, and finally when you board the Sea Pass cards state yet another time! LOL! 🙂

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1 hour ago, HollyQueen said:

Woohoo! Looking forward to having another blogger on this cruise. Feel free to join us for dinner Saturday night if you’re in by then.  

Thank you so much for the invite, but we're meeting up with some local friends (that couldn't make this cruise 😐) and we'll be heading to Grills for a late lunch. I have a feeling we'll be going to the hotel restaurant for a late dinner too!

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Wife is home and packing... for the dogs! LOL!  

We're getting them ready to head over to my sister's house for the week. We'll have to complete our packing after we drop them off!

Time for the pet photos (thinking of you @WAAAYTOOO! 😀)... I think Bella (left, 11 years old) and Jake (right, 6 years old) do not approve of this trip!  😂

They'll be in very good hands at my sister's house. They too will need to go on a diet after this cruise as my sister will spoil them!  🤣



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17 hours ago, Ampurp85 said:

We had 7:30 traditional dining all the way until we board on Allure on Oct 15th. Then our seapass cards had MTD on them.

Sorry to get off-topic for a quick second but this happened to us & many others on Allure for the current sailing… without having the UDP. The MDR staff blamed IT (shocking I know). We had early seating & night 1 they told us to just go to deck 5 at 5:30 & we’d be seated after a short wait (we were, maybe 15 min wait). After that we were told go to deck 3 for the same thing. Last night it was maybe a 5 minute wait. So we sort of wound up with 5:30 MTD reservations. 🤷‍♂️ It sounds messy but the staff has handled it well.

Again, apologies @JohnK6404, enjoy Wonder part deux! We can’t wait for our 2nd sailing on her next year (and 3rd & 4th, lol).

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Uggghhh! 😬

Case in point… one of the golden rules of cruising! Arrive the day before your embarkation day! Thank God we always follow that rule!

Today was a crazy travel day! We had a 9:40 AM scheduled non-stop flight from Islip/MacArthur (ISP) to Orlando (MCO) that was supposed to arrive at 12:25 PM.

We arrived at the airport at 8:15 AM (less than 10 minutes from home on a bad day) and flew through security (got to break in the TSA PreCheck) as there was no one on line when we entered the Southwest terminal. Right before they lined us up for boarding, they announced that there will be a delay due to some mechanical issue… the bags were of course already loaded onto the plane.

After waiting some time, they decided to switch planes and moved us from Gate A7 to the adjacent gate (A6). Now, of course, the bags had to be unloaded/reloaded onto the new plane.


There’s more… the new plane (confirmed by the Captain later) had a smaller passenger capacity (23 fewer seats). I’m assuming the 737-700 has a lower capacity than the 737-800. They made the announcement that they were looking for volunteers to switch flights (offered in the end $500 credit), but of course not enough people accepted the offer and they had to bump people from the flight which took time. Thankfully, we all were A boarding group with Early Bird. So, they loaded us on the plane, but we sat there for some time while they unloaded the bags for the folks that switched or were bumped. Finally, at 12:30 PM we took off and landed in Orlando at 2:55 PM.

There’s more! 😆 We land, but there were no available gates! So, we sat outside the gate area for almost 25 minutes before we were cleared to pull up to a gate and disembark the plane at 3:20 PM. We made our way to the baggage pick-up area and collected our bags after waiting a bit.

Our original shuttle service to the hotel (included in the Radisson package through Cocoa Beach Express) was scheduled for 2:00 PM… So, we ran over to the pick-up area and arrived just in time as the 4:00 PM shuttle was getting ready to leave. Thankfully, the driver squeezed us in as we would have had to wait until 5:00 PM for the next shuttle to arrive. By the time we arrived at the Radisson, checked in, and went to the room it was almost 5:30 PM.

OK, thanks for letting me vent! I know, this was nothing compared to the numerous horror stories we all have heard! 😄

Random pic. What a weird cloud pattern! No clouds over the water!

Maybe just an optical illusion since the land is darker?


Originally, we had planned on meeting our local friends and cruising buddies for lunch at Grills. Due to the travel delay, they had to cancel and just the four of us made our way to Grills. We all enjoyed the food and the chance to relax and to finally start our vacation!

Only Mariner was in port today (for Royal), but not in Cruise Terminal 1… She was at the other terminal (I think Terminal 5) near the Disney Fantasy when we arrived in Port Canaveral. Just a few night outdoor shots of Grills (closest restaurant to Cruise Terminal 1).



Looks like a full moon tonight!


We went back to the Radisson and they had a tiki pool party with a live DJ going on until 10:00 PM. The pool area looks nice and they have a large outdoor bar as well. We were all wiped out and just headed back to our rooms. 







Now, if you are not familiar with this resort, the rooms open up to the outside. Think motel-style rooms with very nice landscaping and amenities. Our room was relatively small and very dated, but clean. It will do the job! The restaurant (Flamingos) looks nice and we’ll be having our breakfast there tomorrow. The restaurant is open for breakfast (6:30am-11:00am) and dinner (5:00pm-10:00pm).

I’m wiped! Time for bed… one last sleep until we board! 😎

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We've stayed at the Radison for 7 of our 8 cruises, and have always enjoyed it.  

It is getting so expensive, though.  I have a friend who lives close by and I think

I'll see about staying the night before our next cruise in Feb and ubering to the port.

He works at KSC and has offered, so I think I'm going to take him up on it.

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6 hours ago, Floski said:

We've stayed at the Radison for 7 of our 8 cruises, and have always enjoyed it.  

It is getting so expensive, though.  I have a friend who lives close by and I think

I do like the grounds and amenities for sure. We wish we would have arrived earlier yesterday to enjoy the pool and grounds.

Just starting to get used to the yellow textured walls and worn/dated colonial furniture in the rooms. 😃

It’s nice that the room has a microwave, refrigerator, and a basic coffee maker.

I agree, not cheap, but the Fly, Stay & Cruise package made it reasonable and well worth it.

We stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn nearby last January. Nicer rooms, but fewer amenities and no full service restaurant on site (assuming because it has a kitchen, LOL!).

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The pool area looks amazing.  Grills has been mentioned by several posters whenever Port Canaveral is talked about.  Must be a pretty decent restaurant?  Maybe we’ll get to try it next September when we cruise from there for the first time!

Hope breakfast went well…looking forward to embarkation thoughts and everything that follows!

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43 minutes ago, PPPJJ-GCVAB said:

The pool area looks amazing.  Grills has been mentioned by several posters whenever Port Canaveral is talked about.  Must be a pretty decent restaurant?  Maybe we’ll get to try it next September when we cruise from there for the first time!

Hope breakfast went well…looking forward to embarkation thoughts and everything that follows!


Yes, they have two outdoor common areas… the pool and bar area just outside the main lobby and another courtyard area with a tennis court, garden, and gazebo. The pool area also has a hot tub and a koi pond. 

Grills has become our traditional go-to. We’ve tried the other restaurants during past visits to PC with our local friends and all of them were also very good. It’s definitely casual as you would expect with indoor and outdoor seating. They had a live band last night as well. We all had the fish taco dinner and enjoyed it! 

Here is the link to their PC location menu: https://www.grillsseafood.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/Grills-Port-Menu-Web-July2023.pdf

Here’s a shot of Grills from Wonder (green roof) just before sail away last January (next to the Ultimate Abyss)…



Breakfast at the Radisson was buffet style… typical fare with an omelet station, Belgian waffle maker, etc. Our waitress was excellent!

Back at the room packing up and getting ready to meet up in the lobby for our shuttle to the port! 😎

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12 hours ago, JohnK6404 said:

OK, thanks for letting me vent! I know, this was nothing compared to the numerous horror stories we all have heard! 😄

Ya! At least you didn't have to drive yourself halfway to Orlando! LOL!

12 hours ago, JohnK6404 said:

We went back to the Radisson and they had a tiki pool party with a live DJ going on until 10:00 PM. The pool area looks nice and they have a large outdoor bar as well.

That looks like a nice way to unwind after a long travel day.

Happy Cruise Day!

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DAY 1Embarkation Day - Port Canaveral (SUN, 10/29)

The shuttle ride to the port was quick with no traffic. Approaching Cruise Terminal 1 and Wonder!



The whole process was very efficient. We got off the shuttle, handed our tagged/checked bags directly to the porter, and walked to the entrance of the terminal. Once again, we have the Key and the 10:30am-11:00am boarding window for this sailing.

The outside of the terminal had a short, quick moving line…


Once we entered the terminal, we were surprised that it was completely full this early! I doubt people were adhering to the boarding times!

The regular security lines snaked throughout the terminal. Thankfully, there was signage to the left for the Key which had no line. In this pic, we’re near the beginning of the line for the dedicated security station assigned for the Key guests. You can see there was no line (on the right) for the Key behind us at that time. I think these folks were wondering why we were flying by them!


We went through security and up the escalator to check in with the folks handling the Key guests. The ship had already started boarding, so we walked right through and onto the ship. So excited to see the ship again as we approached!


Next, we went directly to Izumi to make all of our specialty reservations. We could not believe how long the line was before 11:00am! Once again, this is the first time we have purchased the Unlimited Dining Package.

All of our specialty dining reservations were made except for Izumi Hibachi. By the time we got to the podium, they only had late night (9:15pm) available reservations! They explained that the hibachi side (both lunch and dinner) was mostly booked pre-cruise (folks that purchased a-la-carte through the planner). So, we decided to make reservations for Izumi Sushi (table service side) for multiple dates. 😄

Next, we headed to MDR and checked in with the Key station. We dropped off our carry-ons and headed into the MDR for our Key lunch (still the same Chops Grille menu). We all had the wild mushroom soup and filet mignon. For dessert, we had the Royal chocolate cake or New York cheese cake.






The soup and dessert were excellent, but the filet mignon was just decent (temperature, tenderness, and taste not as good this time). Also, I found it strange that they eliminated the mashed potatoes and mac & cheese and substituted french fries! Overall, it still was a nice way to kick off the cruise, but we remember having a much better experience pre-Covid. We booked Chops Grille for lunch so we’ll have a chance to really experience the difference later this week. I missed when the Key lunch was actually in Chops Grille!

The rooms were ready before we finished lunch. We completed the phone app portion of the safety exercise and checked in at our muster station. We cut through the Royal Promenade to grab some Starbucks from the Cafe Promenade (included in the beverage package unlike the actual Starbucks kiosk near Spotlight Karaoke and Boleros).

Here is the menu for products available in the Cafe Promenade:


You enter a separate line on the left side of the Cafe Promenade to order from this station. I had a Caramel Frappuccino and my wife had a Caramel Cappuccino.



A couple of random shots of the Promenade with the balloons prepped for the midnight drop!



… one of the quirky murals in the bathrooms… remember this ship was originally designed for deployment in Asia…


We headed back to the cabin to unpack and settled in before meeting up with the rest of our group for Sail Away! We met at the aft of the ship near the Ultimate Abyss. This time, unlike during our JAN cruise, the ship was positioned with the bow facing Grills Restaurant. Not much of a view while we waited for the ship to head out. 

We ordered a few of our favorites at the Wipeout Bar… First, Lava Flows with a Kraken rum floater (more lava than anything else apparently!).  🤣 

… and then frozen mojitos!



A couple shots of the coast as we headed out…




I’m running out of gas and we have an early day tomorrow at PDCC!

I’ll finish up Day 1 when I have the chance. 

Have a good night everyone! 😃

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DAY 1Embarkation Day - (SUN, 10/29)… Continued…

Let me wrap up Day 1 before we head to the Coco Beach Club for the day!

Last night we went to Izumi (Sushi/Restaurant side) for dinner. Our waiter was excellent!

With the UDP, you can choose one “small plate”, two “large plates”, and one dessert. If you want to skip dessert, you can pick another “small plate”.

I ordered the Shrimp and Pork Wonton Soup, Spicy Crispy Shrimp Roll, Champagne Lobster in Yuzu Wrap Roll, and the Crispy Sesame Balls.

The waiter also brought out Edamame, Miso Soup, and 3 different kinds of sake during our meal.






My wife the chocoholic went with the Chocolate Lava Cake!




The food and service was excellent!!! We have another dinner and a lunch here during this sailing. Can’t wait to try something different!

After dinner, we explored the ship and headed to the Boardwalk to watch some football. Love the ship st night!











After spending some time at Playmakers, we explored a little more and headed back to the cabin.

We skipped Tap Factory this evening (9:45pm) since we’ve seen it twice (once on Odyssey and again on Wonder last January).

OK, time to get off the ship!

Have a great day everyone!

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DAY 2: Perfect Day Coco Cay - (MON, 10/30)

Just returned to the ship, so let’s see if I can catch up a little before I need to get ready for dinner tonight!

I got up early enough to watch the ship dock. Thank God the winds/waves were not severe enough to cause Wonder to skip PDCC!

Photo dump!







A bunch of pics of the area under construction for Hideaway Beach… sorry about the smoke from the exhaust trail!







After we docked, I met many wife at El Loco Fresh for breakfast. I wish we have known about this mini-breakfast buffet last January! We usually rotate through the Windjammer, Solarium Bistro, Johnny Rockets, and Central Park Cafe. Why did you all hide this from us? 🤣

I spoke to a crew member and he explained they serve breakfast starting at 6:00am on port days and 8:00am on sea days. A solid selection of basic hot breakfast items including: huevos rancheros, scrambled eggs, ham & cheese omelets, cheese omelets, pork sausage, chicken sausage, bacon, corned beef hash, sautéed mushrooms, hash browns, pancakes, French toast, waffles, etc. They have a selection of baked goods including: danish, muffins, bread, rolls, fruit cups, parfaits, etc. Also, coffee and juices of course!








I drove my wife crazy constantly playing the Wonder of the Seas commercial this year between the two sailings. I tease her and compare her excitement level to the little girl in the commercial, so she did her best attempt at a re-enactment! LOL! 🤣



I’ll pick up later with our day at Coco Beach Club!

Time to start getting ready for dinner before my wife kills me!

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DAY 2: Perfect Day Coco Cay - (MON, 10/30)… continued…

We disembarked after breakfast… it was a little windy and the waves were crashing into the pier.


We decided the grab the tram from the pier that takes you to the main hub and then took another tram to Coco Beach Club. This will be the third time in the last four sailings that we have visited PDCC, so we spent the day at the beach club. Also, 3 for 3 with just our ship in port! The balloon was grounded, so no shots of it in the background this visit. What a beautiful day! 😎

Photo dump!


















At noon, we headed for the restaurant for the included lunch. We’ve always enjoyed the Beach Club restaurant lunch!



So many hens, roosters, and even peacocks!




They always bring out the starters for the entire table (you do not order these individually). Of course, I forgot to take pictures!

I ordered the Surf & Turf (not listed on the printed menu, but always available and suggested by the waiter) and the Tropical Fruit Sorbet (mango). My wife ordered the Caramel & Chocolate Brownie. 



We all enjoyed our meals and the excellent service! My wife’s uncle and GF went back to the ship and we went back into the infinity pool for the rest of the afternoon before returning to the ship ourselves.






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DAY 2: Perfect Day Coco Cay - (MON, 10/30)… continued…

Wow! I think I can wrap up today right now before heading to bed! 😃

Once we boarded the ship we just relaxed and showered before our dinner this evening at Hooked Seafood.



I ordered the Maryland Crab Cake, The Captain’s Platter (grilled, with lobster tail, blackened cod filet, and shrimp), Lobster Mac & Cheese, and the Coconut Cream Pie. My wife ordered the Clam & Crab Chowder, Captain’s Platter, Lobster Mac & Cheese, and the Decadent Chocolate Brownie (surprise, surprise).




Had to take advantage of the offer to bring out additional tails!





We all enjoyed our meals. Just remember that this is not going to rival the seafood you eat in the Northeast, Florida, etc., in nice seafood restaurants!

We walked around the Royal Promenade to kill some calories and time before the Aqua Theater show (inTENse) which we had scheduled this evening for the 8:30pm showing. However, just like the performances scheduled for last night, they had to cancel the show due to the wind and rocky seas. Our performance was rescheduled for the final evening of the sailing.

We explored some more and finally settled down in Central Park to relax and listen to the musician (guitarist) playing the evening. When he concluded his performance, we all headed back to our cabins.

Getting ready to hit the sack… my wife scheduled the Pickleball beginner’s clinic in the morning. I guess we should eat a very light breakfast!

Have a good night everyone! 🥱 💤


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those beach clubs pics 😍😍😍😍 my favorite royal excursion 😂

8 hours ago, JohnK6404 said:

Just remember that this is not going to rival the seafood you eat in the Northeast

i still remember you saying this when we were thinking of booking it for symphony in the spring and i was so glad you did. hooked was great! was it as great as my local seafood place here in NJ, on the water? maybe not, but they did serve me a giant lobster that nearly took me down for good, so i can’t complain!!! 😂

8 hours ago, JohnK6404 said:

We explored some more and finally settled down in Central Park to relax and listen to the musician (guitarist) playing the evening. When he concluded his performance, we all headed back to our cabins.


thank you for sharing the gorgeous PDCC pics!!! what a treat that you were solo yesterday in port 💚💚

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DAY 3: *SEA DAY* - (TUE, 10/31)

Good morning!

You never, ever, get tired of waking up to this view in your cabin!





We had a quick breakfast in the Central Park Cafe… need to keep it light with Pickleball looming! 

I always take that pic of the medallion in Central Park! 


Grabbed some Starbucks coffee and a cold brew in the Cafe Promenade (have to max that DBP!)…


I thought it was strange that they did not decorate for Halloween. I remember back in 2015, Liberty was completely decked out for Halloween!

They must have started last night after hours…





OK, time to head to the Sports Court for pickleball!


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