Rain? I thought we were on a vacation from the rain?

So in my previous post I mentioned... "and then the clouds rolled in..."

Unfortunately, this was no exaggeration.

When we woke up in our hotel room on Sunday morning, we were met with looming dark skies which did not look appealing. I am on vacation, darn it! The last thing I wanted to see was clouds and rain considering it rains 300 days a year up in Oregon. I was pretty bummed and hoping that this wasn't an indicator for what was to come for the rest of the trip, as I'd heard the weather wasn't great earlier in March along the Riviera.

We didn't have a ship boarding time until 1:00 in the afternoon, but Timothy and I woke up around 7:30am and couldn't get back to sleep. I decided to pull out my trusty go-to "Yelp" app on my phone and see which places around us were highly rated for breakfast (Yelp never lets me down). Lo and behold, what comes up at a 4* rating? None other than The Storytellers Cafe at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel! We were luckily able to get a reservation for 9:30am and I was excited because not only had I never eaten there before, but I LOVE the Grand Californian Hotel and wanted to get my fix of Disney hotels on this trip since we weren't staying in one. I could at least pretend...

If you've never been to the Storytellers Cafe before, I highly recommend it. They have a buffet (which we did not partake in), but we figured that we'd be eating enough buffet stuff on the cruise (plus it is $30/pp for breakfast). More reasonably priced however are their plated breakfasts and I had an AMAZING dish of Huevos Rancheros (best ever!), and my husband had a traditional bacon/eggs breakfast. The best part about this breakfast though were all of the characters that came around for hugs! I may be almost 30, but I am never too old for some hugs from my favorite characters. My morning was definitely an improvement from our experience the night before!!

Mistake #1 that I noticed that morning was that of all things, I forgot my makeup at home!! For some reason in the rush, I forgot the one thing that I never leave home without. Normally I would just not care and not wear makeup at all, but I wanted to look nice in the evenings, especially for formal night, so thank goodness we remembered there was a Sephora in Downtown Disney right outside of the GC Hotel, so we were able to pop in there really quickly and grab the essentials. Formal night saved.

We left Anaheim around 11:00am and figured that we'd have at least an hour drive to Long Beach given the traffic nightmare we experienced two days prior. However, we quickly realized that the highways were empty and we were cruising on down to Long Beach in no time! This was unfortunately when it began to downpour, and let me tell you: San Pedro in the rain is really not a pretty sight to see. In fact, even though it was exciting to see the Disney ship as we pulled up over the bridge, it was so gloomy outside that it kind of took away the "magic." (But not for long of course!!)

We drove our car into the cruise terminal parking lot where we had to leave it for the week (paying $12 a day... ouch). A nice service that was offered however was a shuttle bus that drove around picking us and our luggage up so we didn't have to get soaked in the rain. Thank you Disney!

When we brought our luggage to the loading dock, it was about 11:30am and we thought we'd have to wait another hour and a half to check in. However, it was so quiet and empty in the terminal that we just walked right up to a cast member at the registration desk! I couldn't believe it-- the process was SO quick and easy and smooth-- lightyears ahead of other cruise lines! (We waited over an hour just to "check in" with our previous cruise!). I asked the cast member if it was okay to check in an hour and a half early and he smiled and said, "Of course! You're home now!" This was when I knew it was going to be a magical experience with Disney.

We received boarding number 11, and it was on number 7 when we showed up in the waiting area. I know that the low boarding numbers are a hot commodity so that you get on the ship quickly, but honestly, we were in the ship within 15 minutes of sitting down-- plus they gave us the first day's Navigator (daily schedule guide) to pore over so I never felt like we were waiting for a long time. From leaving Anaheim to boarding the Wonder was about an hour total. I don't know if this is normal, but we sailed on Spring Break so we sure were impressed!

As we stood in line on the platform to board once our number was called, it drizzled all over us and I hadn't packed a windbreaker (even though it was on my to-pack list! Yikes!). I was feeling a bit chilled, but we were excited to be steps away from our vacation (and hopefully some sun on the horizon!). Finally, we were there: Swiping our first KTTW cards and hearing claps and cheers welcoming our party on board. We felt like mini-celebrities!! I can't believe how special Disney makes each of their guests feel when entering the ship. Their red carpet treatment is something else for sure!

Our rooms wouldn't be ready until 2:00, which was also when we were meeting up with some friends in the Promenade Lounge, so we had to find some various things to do in the meantime and we weren't particularly hungry since we'd just eaten breakfast at Storytellers. So, we decided to go on a spa tour (I had heard great things about the Vista Spa onboard and decided to check it out), and we also went on our own private tour of the ship, exploring everything there was to see and do. It took a good two hours for both of those activities! The downside though was that since it was pouring down rain, decks 9 and 10 were soaked and slightly flooded, so you couldn't really walk around without stepping in pools of water. We felt so bad for all of the lunch workers in Goofy's Galley and Pluto's restaurant serving quick service food because the rain was sideways blowing all over them!

Right before our fellow-cruiser meet-up we grabbed some chicken strips and ate up in the Cove Cafe which is an adults only coffee bar to escape the rain and relax a bit. The chicken strips were really delicious and very hot-- a good indicator of the food quality that was to come! I know they're just chicken strips... but hot chicken strips on a cold and rainy day definitely does the trip.

Next up: Meeting new friends, Spa Raffle and Seasickness...

(PS- I deliberately did not take any ship pictures this day because like I said, it was so cold and gloomy outside-- I didn't want to spoil any of the magic!)


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