Debarkation Day – San Diego, CA
We had been assigned a breakfast seating of 7:30 am at Triton’s, but we opted to sleep a little later and eat at Cabanas. We had put out most of our luggage the night before, so we had mostly “carry-on” level luggage with us. After breakfast, they were starting to up the urgency of getting people off the boat.
We rode the elevators down to Deck 3, and the doors opened to a surprising level of chaos. This was our second cruise, so we didn’t have a lot of data points. However, this felt MUCH more chaotic than our cruise on the Magic. There was a huge long line going the length of the ship, trying to get off the boat. Even the castmembers seemed confused and surprised by the lines.
We eventually were able to get off the boat, head through security, and get our bags. It was not a fast process, but that was at least partially to do with normal security procedures.
Once outside, we were greeted by HEAVY rainfall and wind. We had originally planned on trying to get an Uber or Lyft to the airport but were unsure how easy that would be at the terminal. Our original backup plan was to go to a nearby hotel and hide from the weather there until we could get a rideshare. While going through the security process to get off the boat, we had strategized that we should look for the taxi stand outside. Who knows how long we’d have to wait for a rideshare or how wet we would get trying to walk to a nearby hotel!? As luck would have it, we saw some people that were waiting by the taxi stand, which were airport shuttles. They ended up offering $50 to get all five of us to the airport. The airport is super close, but we had spent more than that on the rideshares (needed 2 for all of the people and luggage) when we arrived in San Diego. It was a great option, as we never stopped walking and got straight in the shuttle.
We were at the airport (SAN) much earlier than needed, but we were happy to be somewhere warm and dry. Once the bags were checked we hung out in a food court area outside of the security checkpoint, to relax and eat some snacks. When we had originally landed in SAN, the gates seemed quite crowded and we were ready to have a little space.
Our flight home was fairly uneventful and it was great to be back home!
Reflections on the Trip
I’m going to start with some of the “bad”, but PLEASE keep reading past these topics! There is more to the story…
The ship definitely felt more crowded than our previous cruise, but that was expected going into it. Our prior cruise was a year earlier, and people were still going back to traveling. This was also a holiday week, which also leads one to expect it to be a busy itinerary. However, according to the Facebook group for our cruise, it might have been extra full:
I know some of the crew members were sick some of the days (couple of our favorites) and it was over capacity. <castmember> told us that we were sailing with over 2600 passengers. He said they consider 2400 full capacity.
Plus there were 900 kids on the cruise and others posted not enough to keep them entertained.
These are clearly on the level of rumor, but the consensus of seasoned cruisers in the group felt it was accurate. I am sure that DCL has been trying to ramp up its capacity again, and haven’t quite figured it all out yet. I suspect that there were indeed staffing issues, as there are in most places in the country (and/or the world). It sounds as if a lot of people gave this feedback to DCL directly, and hopefully will be addressed in future cruises.
Noise / Vibration
There were a lot of comments and complaints about the vibrations experienced on the cruise. It was definitely a bit more than we had experienced on the Magic but was not a huge problem for our stateroom. However, other guests posted videos and it seemed quite excessive. I could definitely understand their frustrations, based on what they shared. We also were able to notice it in some of the dining rooms. There were posts that indicated the Wonder was scheduled for a brief dry-dock, during its transition to Alaska. The expectation is that it was a known issue and might get resolved during that dry dock.
It seems reasonable that there might be a problem with the engine systems, which is causing this and it was exasperated by our itinerary. I did some quick calculations of the cruising and top speeds of the Wonder and related them to the distances we were going. It seems that the itinerary has a very little buffer, and basically requires the ship to be moving at full speed to make the ports as expected. If you combine these speed requirements with the rough waters and headwinds, I’m sure the boat was under extra stress to just arrive on time.
Lots of Fun!
Obviously, the crowding and noise were not positive aspects of the cruise. However, it was still a great trip and the whole family had a lot of fun! We knew the weather was going to be a big risk at that time of year. However, even though it wasn’t amazing weather, it was still better than what was happening back home and that’s about all you can ask for during a vacation.
We have now done one cruise on the Magic, and one on the Wonder. In comparison, we definitely enjoyed our trip on the Magic more. In a lot of ways, it isn’t a fair comparison, as they are very different trips. It is hard to compare with the fact that the Magic was a double-dip to Castaway Cay. It is unfortunate that there isn’t a similar offering on the west coast. It seems unlikely they will ever have a private island on the west coast. The weather in the Caribbean is also hard to beat, but our Magic trip was also months later in the year.
We have zero regrets about going on this cruise. It was the right cruise for this time period. Since we live in California, it was a cheap flight down to San Diego, and these cruises are generally more economical than those on the east coast. Our hope is that this could be a convenient option for years to come. We will likely take this cruise in the future, and try some new adventures at the ports.