Disney Mediterranean Cruise Trip Report: Day 1, Embarkation

This is Part 1 of a 10 part series on the Disney Magic Mediterranean/Greek Isles cruise. For links to the rest of the trip report please visit here

For over a year now my husband and I have been planning a trip to Alaska on the Disney Wonder. I had every port excursion planned out, knew what dinner rotation I wanted us to be on and even had our pre and post cruise hotels figured out. An unexpected change of events left us headed off to the Disney Magic on July 5th, 2014 for a Mediterranean cruise with absolutely no plans at all. This is the story of the best unplanned vacation we could have ever hoped for!

The morning of July 5th Brent (my husband) and I woke up in our hotel in Venice, Italy. We had flown in the day before and spent the afternoon exploring Venice in hopes of working through our jet lag. We had semi-success after some authentic Italian food and gelato and went to bed early, filled with excitement about the next day!

The view from the Hotel Olimpia in Venice

The view from the Hotel Olimpia in Venice

Let the vacation begin!

Let the vacation begin!

After checking out of our hotel we walked 2 minutes to Venice’s “People Mover” which is a monorail from the Piazalle Roma into the port area. After another few minutes walk we made it to Terminal 117, home of the Disney Magic! There was no wait to check in and receive our Key To The World cards, which are your lifeline on the ship. These cards are your door keys, your form of payment, your check-out and check-in when leaving and re-entering the ship after leaving for a port visit. We were assigned boarding group 12 and had about 45 minutes of wait time before our number was called.

Entry to the terminal, all dressed up for the Disney Magic

Entry to the terminal, all dressed up for the Disney Magic

Finally allowed onboard!

Finally allowed onboard!

First order of business once boarding the ship for me was to head to the adults only restaurant, Palo. Prior to boarding the ship I had been able to reserve a dinner at Palo, but not something I’d never tried there before, a brunch! Luckily for me there were a few spots left on our last day and I was able to nab one. Success! All that running around made us hungry so Brent and I decided to head to the buffet on the Magic, called Cabanas.

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After lunch we were able to get into our room. Brent and I were in room 6654, a category 06A cabin. This means that our cabin had a white wall as opposed to a see-through acrylic on the bottom. No big deal to us! This room is also handicapped accessible meaning that it is a bit different from a traditional verandah room: there is more space, the bed is lower to the ground (meaning no luggage can fit underneath), the balcony is oversized and so is the bathroom (which is not split).

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After we dropped off our bags in our room we checked the personal Navigator that we had been given upon boarding the Magic. Each night from then on we’d receive a Navigator on our beds for the following day. The Navigator is your guide to all the fun things happening on the ship each day, from which movies are playing in the Buena Vista Theater to adults only activities and plenty of family events too! Brent and I spotted sign ups for some alcohol tastings that we wanted to try so off we went to Promenade Lounge to sign up!

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Brent got a ticket for a whiskey tasting and we both signed up for the tequila tasting and a Mixology class. All this talk about drinks made us thirsty so we decided to check out Signals, the pool bar in the adults only area on Deck 9. Brent purchased the Disney Cruise Line beer mug for $14.95. This mug allowed him to get 22oz. of beer for the price of 16oz. for the rest of the cruise. Each visit to the bar he’d present his “token” (really a card) to the bartender and he’d receive a nice cold beer in return! I went for a Mai Tai this time.

Beer mug token

Beer mug token

Beer mug

Beer mug

Signals pool bar

Signals pool bar

Signals pool bar

Signals pool bar

As we were finishing our drinks we noticed that the pool deck was empty. It was getting close to safety drill time. On Disney Cruise Line you don’t need to bring your life vest to the safety drill so Brent and I headed right to our station to check in (there are signs set up all over deck 4 telling you how to get to your station, which corresponds to a letter on your Key to the World card). Our station was in Animator’s Palate, so we found our Assembly leader, checked in and listened to the safety presentation.

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Quick and painless, the safety drill was over just like that. Brent and I headed to deck 10 to watch the Sail Away party happening on Deck 9. It was a little crowded for our liking so we headed to the very back (aft) of deck 10 to watch our sail away from Venice instead. Brent got us both ice cream from the soft serve station on deck 9 to enjoy while we waited.

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Sail away ended up being delayed by over an hour so we decided to go to our room and enjoy from our own verandah since it was starting to get congested on Deck 10 now too. Our balcony had an amazing view! Sailing out of Venice took over an hour and the view was spectacular. The tugboat was there to help the Magic with the tight turns and small waterways on the way out of Venice.

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Apparently we weren’t as adjusted to the time change as we thought, because the next order of business was a nap. We slept for close to 2 hours before it was time to get up and ready for our dinner at Lumiere’s. We were on the second seating, which for this Mediterranean Cruise meant eating at 8:45pm. I thought that might be a little late for us but it ended out being perfect.

Appetizers:

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Farmhouse Salad: Lettuce, Asparagus, Cherry Tomatoes and Fingerling Potatoes served with a Cheese Crostini and Olive Vinaigrette

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French Onion Soup: with Gruyere Cheese Crouton

Main Course:

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Lobster Macaroni: Elbow Pasta Mixed with Lobster Meat, Tarragon, Gruyere and Cheddar Cheese Sauce, drizzled with a White Truffle Oil

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Chateaubriant-Roasted Filet Steak: Roasted Filet Steak, Crushed New Potatoes with Shallots, Buttered Green Beans, Red Wine Jus, and a Béarnaise Sauce on the Side

Dessert:

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Peanut Butter Mousse: Dark Chocolate infused Peaunt Butter, Chocolate Crisp Base and Whipped Cream

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Strawberry Shortcake Sundae: Strawberries, Vanilla Ice Cream, Whipped Cream and Shortcake

After dinner we headed back to our stateroom to upload our photos from the day and decompress. Waiting on our bed was tomorrow’s Navigator, maps of each of our ports and the first of many towel animals, a swan!

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Up next, a Day at Sea!

Guest Blogger: Michelle K’s Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort – Why You Want to Visit!

Want a vacation so good that you contemplate picking up everything to move there? We had the chance to spend a night at the Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort and that is exactly what we found!  Wondering if this destination is right for you?  We’re sharing our trip report; let’s dive into the fun and amenities this resort has to offer.

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We had added a one night stay at Disney’s Hilton Head Resort at the end of a vacation on the island.  Because we only had one day to try everything out, we arrived bright and early at the resort at 9 am to make the most of our time.  Check-in was a breeze and the room was ready even though we were there so early; talk about Disney magic!!

As the room was ready, we dropped off of our things off before jumping into the resort activities.  Curious about the rooms?  We were too!  We had booked a studio and were pleasantly surprised at how well laid out the room was.  The room had a small kitchenette which was separated from the main room.  For sleeping arrangements, the room had a queen bed comfortable enough to turn us all into Sleeping Beauties and a double sized sleeper sofa.

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The real knockout of the room was the view from the patio.  Both the scenery and rocking chairs on the patio provide a serene oasis, perfect for vacation R&R!

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After dropping off luggage, it was time to sign up for activities and hit the pool!  The resort offers several activities, many that change daily.  These offer something for everyone: nature lovers, those seeking relaxation, kids, and adults alike.  Activities include guided kayaking, bike rentals, golf lessons, wildlife classes, fishing, crafts, and nightly s’mores making, just to name a few.

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We decided on the secrets of the marsh tour, renting a fishing pole, and pool games.  As we had a little time before the marsh tour, we hit the pool and it was fantastic.  Be prepared for children to sing along with Dory, “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming!”

The water slide at the pool is similar to slides at other Disney resorts and they have Disney trained life guards (bonus – this is great as Disney takes safety very seriously!)  In addition to the pool, the swimming area also has a kiddie pool for the young ones and a hot tub.

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Next up, the marsh tour!  We checked in, put on boots provided by the Activities Center, and headed out into the salt water marsh with the Disney nature guide.  The tour was the perfect length at less than an hour.  We enjoyed learning about plants and viewing thousands of crabs.  It was a great mix of edutainment and hands-on learning!

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The tour wrapped up in time to join in the Mickey tie-die activity.  We could make paw print or Mickey shirts – of course you know what we chose – Mickey!!

After finishing the shirts, it was time for pool games!  The games were held at the pool and led by lifegaurds; these cast members brought so much energy and fun to the games.  This activity rocked and had the kids laughing from preschool to middle school age!  Games included ice water relays, hula hoop contests, and hot potato with water balloons.  Guess what happens when you get caught with the hot potato?!

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After pool games and a few more trips down the water slide, we were on a mission to Signals, a seasonal restaurant at the Disney Beach House.  Why the importance?  DOLE WHIPS!  Yes, this Disney Theme Parks treat is available at the resort!

The Disney Beach House is located in the Palmetto Dunes resort; shuttles run between the main Disney resort and Beach House throughout the day and parking is also available.  The Beach House is amazing and makes the perfect home base for a day at the shore!

Amenities include a pool with volleyball net (water volleyball for a hot day anyone?), splash pad area, game tables (including pool, ping pong and foosball), a beautiful indoor area (complete with game tables, flat screen TV, couches, and fireplace), Surfman’s Sand Bar for tropical drinks and snacks, and the counter service restaurant Signals.

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Disney is committed to providing great experiences for all guests, including guests with mobility disabilities.  The Disney Beach House had two amenities that were great to see.  The first was a wheelchair designed for sand (make sure to check with the Front Desk if you need one as there are limited quantities).  The second amenity was one we had never seen before; it was a flat, matted pathway to make walking and wheeling to the beach easier.  Having traveled with a family member in a wheelchair, this is such a game changer to making the beach a possibility!

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After an early dinner, we headed back to the resort to play shuffle board and hit the water slide a few more times.  Did we mention how fun the pool was?!

Next up was the Broad Creek Mercantile store at the resort.  Here you can find sundries, snacks, and super cute Disney souvenirs; make sure to check it out! p14

We picked up some of our favorite Disney treats including Mickey Ice Cream Bars and Disney Main Street caramel corn for movie night.  The Mercantile had every Disney movie we had ever heard of available for free check out.  The movies were a great mix of films, with choices for everyone ranging from documentaries to animated films.  We finally settled on Brother Bear, a film none of us had seen, and finished up the evening with movie night.

The next morning it was Mickey waffles for everyone at Tide Me Over, the resort counter service restaurant.  Tide Me Over serves meals throughout the day and can also provide carry out service, just in case you need to get back to one of the hammocks scattered through the resort!  Last stop was back to the Broad Creek Mercantile for a little pin trading before checking out.

Disney’s Hilton Head Resort was different from what we had expected, but actually better than what we had envisioned.  The Disney customer service level was even more top-notch than what we have experienced in the parks, maybe we can call it Pixie Dust Plus!

I would recommend the resort as a fantastic home base for just about any type of traveler or group.  It is sure to not disappoint for laid back R&R trips, family vacations, and group trips.  The only negative from our trip was having to leave so quickly!

Below are things to consider and a few tips if you decide to check out the magic!

  1. Kid’s Night In and Teen’s Night In – Two great options for the kids to have their own fun while the grownups get their own time to check out Hilton Head Island. Everyone is a winner with this one!
  2. Pin Trading – Make sure to bring your Disney pins! Pin trading is available at the Activities Center, Front Desk, Broad Creek Mercantile, and with other guests.
  3. Grab a Dole Whip – Signals closed at 5 the day we were there; plan accordingly!
  4. Activities – With so many daily activities to choose from, check out the resort guide for a complete listing help plan your stay.
  5. Groceries – Stop by one of the grocery stores on the island to get supplies if you plan to do any cooking. Broad Creek Mercantile has a small groceries section to tide you over if you aren’t able to make it to the grocery store on the first day or two.
  6. Vacation Planning – Use an authorized Disney vacation planner if you are not a Disney Vacation Club member. Tara McClure, one of the Dole Whipped ladies, made planning the trip a breeze.  Disney vacation planners are compensated by Disney and are a great resource in planning the best possible trip for you!
  7. Have concrete plans the day after you get home that can’t be changed; this will keep thoughts of never coming back home to a minimum. Just kidding here!  However, you will probably have such a great time that coming back is definitely in the future!

 

Podcast Episode 81: Girls Trip Report

Last episode we covered the planning of a girls trip and this week we have a trip report!  Jamie, Tara, and Shannon made the girls trip happen and they’ve come back to let you all know about the fun and informative things they did.  There’s even a segment on recon over at the Dark Side, aka Universal.  Don’t miss it!

Happy listening!

Listen to Desktop

Listen to iTunes

Disney’s Polynesian Resort Club Level Room Review

Last week, we stayed two nights at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort in a club level room.  We actually reserved a garden view room but got a surprise upgrade to theme park view!  We had a great time and really enjoyed this resort.

The club level food offerings were delicious.  They offered a continental breakfast with pastries, oatmeal, and fruit each  morning.  Midday was snacks like goldfish, popcorn, and trail mix.  Evenings were hot appetizers like chicken wings, sushi, fruit and cheese, and even wine and cocktails.  We never did make it to the cocktail hour service, but I’m sure it was fabulous as well.

Pros:

-Location, location, location!  It was so convenient to be right there on the monorail line.

-The club level rooms all being located in the Hawaii building, we were close to both the pool and the lobby.

-Our room was situated three doors down from the club level lounge so we could just pop down whenever we wanted a drink or a snack.  Very easy!

-Ohana is onsite, so it’s very easy to enjoy a great character meal within the resort.

-Amazing pool!  My kids just loved the water slide and the splash pad!

Cons:

-Price.  The Polynesian is one of the most expensive resorts on property.

Now some photos!

2 queen beds

2 queen beds

sofa converts to single bed

sofa converts to single bed

bathroom with double sinks

bathroom with double sinks

Our view!

Our view!

Club level snacks during midday

Club level snacks during midday

Sodas and coffee

Sodas and coffee

Tea, lemonade, and POG juice!

Tea, lemonade, and POG juice!

Jillian’s DCL Trip Report Day 5 and 6

This day was a big one! When I woke up I went to the window to see a giant Christmas tree on the pier at Castaway Cay! Of course after getting ready in a rush we applied sunscreen and headed to Beach Blanket Buffett for a quick breakfast outside on the deck. I was a bit worried as it was pretty windy and not exactly hot and sunny for our beach day. In quick order we had our Key to the World card and were off the ship and on a tram to the family beach. There were a number of character meets on the way to the tram but we bypassed them as the lines were a bit long.


Luckily once we got to the first beach we were able to meet Mickey and Pluto with no line! We continued on to the beach and tried out the water. It was pretty chilly this coming from a northerner. We had brought our own bucket and shovel for Petra to play. You can purchase them there but we decided to bring our own since we had an abundance of space in the suitcases.

After getting comfortable in my beach chair Petra decided she was ready to attempt Pelican Plunge. Apparently I wasn’t thinking because I failed to warn her that the water was salty as well as cold. Well we took our turn and the slide was pretty awesome but when a five year old gets salt water up her nose you are all done. So we dried off and she said she was ready for Scuttle’s Cove. Scuttle’s Cove is the youth club on Castaway Cay. This is a HUGE perk since you can drop your kid off and they have lots of things to play with. I didn’t take pictures but I did explore it, it has a splash pad, toys, soccer nets and other things to keep kids happy while parents can enjoy some adult time. In fact she even was able to eat lunch there in the company with other kids.

Also some other things to do are games, live music, character meets, water slides, Monstro’s Point (whale bone dig), adult drinks, massages, crab races, adults only beach and even a 5K. There is really something for everyone.

With my daughter having lots of fun we went to Cookies BBQ for some delicious lunch. And decided to take the tram to Serenity Bay the adult’s only beach. This beach was amazingly quiet. All you hear is the ocean and the occasional conversation from other people. It is perfect and romantic and I highly suggest at least a quick trip that way just to check it out. We explored and laid in hammocks and basically had a very relaxing day.

But like all good things it had to come to an end. Petra had expressed interested in doing a program with the youth club called “Friendship Rocks”. They were doing the prep at 4:15 and then would be on stage at 5. So at 3pm we rounded up our child who did not want to leave Scuttles’ Cove but finally agreed and we left the island after a few stops for pictures along the way.

After cleaning up Petra and I wanted to check out the “secret” deck. On deck 7 aft there is a deck that not many people know about and since I knew it would have a great view of the island we checked it out. Once Petra and I checked out this little secret she went again to the kids club for practice.

We went to the Walt Disney Theatre to watch Friendship Rocks along with Mickey and Minnie. She seemed to enjoy the stage and was having a lovely time in the club so she decided to stay. We had plans for Palo this night so I knew she had to be there for a while longer. She did not seem torn up about it.

We got ourselves gussied up for our Palo reservation at 6. We arrived a bit early and had to wait for it to open along with a few people. This dinner was amazing. I think it is well worth the $25 per person charge. Our server Toni was from Coatia and was very talkative. He spend lots of time answering our questions and did a splendid job! First we had the cheeses, meat and olives, it was delicious! For appetizers we both started with the calamari and it did not disappoint. After our lemon sorbet palate cleanser we were onto the main course. I had the wild mushroom risotto and the Beef Tenderloin “Palo” both were amazing and delicious. Chelsey had the grilled tuna which I was able to try and it was also so so good. When our entrees came out we also ordered the chocolate soufflé as our waiter said it takes some time to make. Chelsey wasn’t sold on the soufflé but decided to order anyway. He did order the Panna cotta with strawberries and while he meant to order this as his only dessert but both were brought out. I gladly finished mine but was too full to help with his. It was really one of the best desserts I’ve ever had.

We rolled ourselves out of Palo and went to get Petra from the kids club where she was participating in Pluto’s Pajama Party. We then went go to see the last stage show, “Disney Dreams: an Enchanted Classic”. This one featured Peter Pan, princesses and lots of amazing singing. This was my favorite show of them all. So if you could only see one show the entire cruise this is the one I would not miss.

Petra got ready for bet but said she was hungry so we thought we would order room service to check it out. She got chicken fingers, grapes and French fries plus a bowl of cereal. She said it was all very tasty. While Petra was served dinner on a silver plate I was working hard to pack our suitcases. The suitcases have to be in the hall by 11pm so I was trying to pack and repack our cases so that we would have the things were needed for the next morning and our luggage would be ready to fly in the morning.

Day 6

Sadly, our breakfast for the next morning was scheduled for 6:45am and we were definitely not getting up for that. We decided to wake up when we would. Since Disney wants you to leave your room empty before breakfast we went over the room a couple times before gathering up our things. We thought we had it all and then get breakfast at Beach Blanket Buffett again for breakfast.

We stopped at the photo kiosks to see if we wanted to purchase anything, but we did not so we made our way to the atrium to get off the ship. On our way we noticed that we could not find our daughter’s Key to the World card. In order to get off the ship you have to show and have your card scanned so I was pretty concerned at this point. I asked a cast member what we should do and she said called over her manager. Her manager said that it would be okay since our photos were all one file. We check out with no issues and went to collect our luggage. It went fairly quickly and were in line for customs. We didn’t have anything to claim so we had a painless experience and went out to grab a taxi. There in lies the end of our Disney Cruise experience but since we still had a good number of hours for our flight we dropped our luggage at the airport and then decided to check out the Miami Children’s Museum and get lunch before heading back home to Michigan.

We had an amazing time and had a wonderful, relaxing vacation. If you are interested in a Disney vacation that is much more relaxing this is the trip for you!   Don’t worry if you are still wanting more about Disney Cruise Line you can check out some of our other trip reports and articles about Disney Cruise Line!  Thanks for joining us on our adventure!

If you missed the beginning here is Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4.

Jillian’s DCL Trip Report- Day 4

After going strong for a few days we slept in this morning.  And dear reader, please forgive me I didn’t take many pictures today. Plus with it being a sea day we knew we had nowhere to be. Breakfast as at Beach Blanket Buffet with your typical buffet food: eggs, Mickey waffles, bacon, sausage, donuts, yogurt, cereal. I personally loved the corned beef hash and chocolate croissants with lots of fresh fruit and coffee.

As usual Petra was back to the kids club and I opted to do “Disney’s Innovations: Theme Parks”. This was put on by Briana who talked about things in Disney Parks that were completely innovative at the time. They were things like a single entry point, hub and spoke set up, single ticket and others. The room was filled by your classic Disney nerds, people like me who are always wanting to learn more about the interesting history of Disney. We were able to ask the Cast Member questions after and I talked to some other guests who were cast members at Walt Disney World.

Next I dragged my family to Wonder Quest. This is an interactive scavenger hunt where your group is given a number and the first person to bring the Cast Member the item he is asking for gets 3 points, the next 2 and everyone else before time is up gets 1. This was a lot of fun even if we didn’t win.

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By this time it was getting close to lunch and so we had Beach Blanket Buffet again then did some more swimming. Do you see a pattern? My daughter pretty much adored going to the kids clubs and swimming! So after our swim we got an appointment for her to have her hair braided and she was ready to go back to the kids club.

With her off doing her own thing it was time for me to check out the “Art of the Theme Show Tour”. We started in Palo and were lead by Mark around the ship taking in all the little details. If you want to know more about the ship you are on like the style, little details or lesser known thing I would suggest you take a similar tour. The ships are a lot like the parks where you have to look up and down and all around and you might be pleasantly surprised at the little things you see that others miss. Mark was very knowledgeable about Disney and I really enjoyed talking to him. While I did this my husband signed up for a beer tasting class. The cost was $15 and it included a very nice cup to take home with you. We both finished up and it was time to get Petra and get her to Deck 9 for her hair braiding appointment. If you have never had it done before, my 5 year old says it does hurt a bit, but she loves the outcome so she suffers through. I believe it was a few dollars per braid.IMG_0814

This was our formal night and were had dinner at Triton’s. So we all went back to get dressed up! We thought ahead and decided to use our dress clothes for our formal dinner and then hang them back up to wear again for our Palo night. This saved us having to pack two nice outfits when we were just wearing them for a total of 4 hours. For dinner I had the breaded and baked brie, farmhouse salad, duck comfit and a dessert trio. Petra had macaroni and cheese (she is a creature of habit!) and a Mickey bar. Chelsey had shrimp, duck comfit, and a chocolate mousse. And I will tell you it was delicious! It was probably one of my favorite meals for the trip.

Per usual Petra was ready to go back to the kids club and off she went. We decided to take a break in the Cadillac Lounge for Music and Martinis with Tom Moss. We did indeed have martinis and listened to some amazing piano music. He played a combination of Christmas and pop music and we enjoyed relaxing a bit. Soon it was time to get Petra though because tonight was the first night she was going to see a show!


We topped off our night with “The Golden Mickey’s”. This is an “awards” show that a backstage cast member takes on even though she doesn’t want to. It was a cute show about conquering your fears but done in the amazing Disney way. Plus you get to see your classic characters throughout the show.

Tomorrow was another exciting day, Castaway Cay and Palo were on deck! Would they live up to my expectations?

Jillian’s DCL Trip Report- Day 3

If you haven’t read Day 1 or Day 2 check them out!

The third day of our cruise we all woke up nice and early! I apparently wasn’t alone in my “I can’t sleep at Disney” mode.  We were already in port at Cozumel, Mexico. This day we had planned for a special character meet and greet, the Disney Junior characters. This meet had Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, and Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates. If you have a kid under seven years old this is one meet and greet you will not want to miss out on. So again get those tickets first thing when you get on the ship. My daughter was wearing a custom Sofia-inspired dress and Sofia thought that was the bee’s knees! Doc and Jake were great as well and this is a great place to meet these characters as they only appear at Hollywood Studios so it is a rare thing to meet them in the parks.


After our morning meet we went to breakfast at Triton’s. This restaurant ended up being one of my favorites. It was just so pretty and the food and service were exceptional. I had eggs benedict, Petra had Mickey Waffles and Chelsey had something, probably food, but I didn’t snap a picture so I am just guessing.

After breakfast, Petra was wanting to visit the Oceaneer’s Club, but at this time there was an Open House which means you can come and play but parents have to stay with the children. We walked in and she said she wanted to color so we went in and to our surprise there were some princesses in there. Cinderella, Ariel and Tiana were just hanging out coloring with kids. Peter Pan soon joined them and we had a lot of fun just chatting. We learned that Michigan is the first star to the right according to Peter Pan. Soon, a Youth Activities Cast Member asked if they wanted to play Memory Wall. It is basically the game Memory with Disney characters but played on the wall instead of the floor. Petra thought this was pretty neat too as she got to really interact with the princesses and Peter Pan. It was absolutely hands down my favorite part of our cruise. I was probably more excited than the kid.

We decided to drop Petra off at the Oceaneer’s Lab and we would go check out Quiet Cove-the adult’s only pool. I will say it was a cool day but that wasn’t stopping me from getting in the pool and I had the thing to myself! It was quiet and empty and the loungers are beautifully padded. I could have stayed all day long. It was pretty glorious to be on a cruise ship of a couple thousand people and be the only one in a pool. But my kid apparently wanted to swim too so a quick stop to the kids club to pick her up and then another to the room and we were at the Goofy pool watching Aladdin while we paddled around in the very full pool. Not nearly as fun as having it to oneself but the movie made up for it.

The day before we settled on the Ocean View Explorer Tour.   This tour is for all ages, last 2-2.5 hours and costs $47 for adults and $36 for kids 0-9. Our excursion started at 11:45am and we met in Promenade Lounge for our excursion to leave. When they called our group up they also told us the sea was pretty rough so they said we could take the anti-nausea medication and we did pick up two packets just in case. We went off the ship and were immediately greeted by the excursion company employee, Adrian who gathered us all up and walked us to the pier where we were met by our tour guide whose name eludes me. He broke us into groups of 8 and loaded us into taxis. The taxi ride to and from was also included in the price of the excursion. We rode a short way towards another pier and were soon boarding our mini-submarine. You are in a boat about four feet underwater and you take a tour around Paradise Reef. First we went to a shallower reef and we circled it twice so that each side of the boat could see it. After that we went out a little further and again circled it twice.


Once we were done we headed back to the pier. There was a person who took pictures before we got on the boat and when were returned they were selling a framed copy. My daughter refused to look at the camera so we didn’t opt to purchase it. We then loaded onto taxis and returned to our pier. Instead of getting right back on the ship we did a little shopping and walking around. So what did I think of this excursion? I think it was very nice! I liked how it was great for all ages, it was affordable, I didn’t have to pack a backpack full of extra clothes, towels sunscreen and so on. It was short and sweet but so neat! We saw a ton of neat fish and even a giant eagle stingray! I would recommend this one to people with young kids in particular. It is not outside a lot which can help if it is hot or really sunny. The only downside we had was it was pretty rough seas so that made us all feel a little weird even after taking the medication.


On our way back to the ship I walked under something that was dripping grease, I have no idea but the ground was super slippery and I almost fell too so it was time to get back. The laundry was really close to our room so I decided to do a quick load of laundry. I am not one who likes to do laundry on vacations on purpose but it worked out well! It cost $3 including the soap and you can use your key to the world card to pay for it. No one else was there so I had my pick of machines. In the laundry there is also a large sink for rinsing and ironing boards and irons for communal use! So don’t be afraid to take that nice shirt or dress for formal night.

After our excursion we had a late lunch of pizza, hot dogs and drinks. Petra again wanted to go to the kid’s club and they did an activity called “Hats off to Peter Pan” where she met him again. She didn’t last long and soon she wanted to swim so we let her go in the Mickey pool where she made lots of new friends while we tried to stay warm on deck. Soon it was time to get dressed and ready for dinner.  Don’t laugh I am a northerner but it was chilly and the pool emptied quickly.

This night we were at Parrott Cay again but with a different menu. This dinner was much better than the previous night but we were all pretty tired from the medication and busy day. I had the Tuna Salad, artichoke dip, and Creole Crusted Grouper, Petra stuck with macaroni and cheese and Chelsey had a St. Maarten Stack and Slow Roasted Prime Rib. For dessert Petra had a Mickey Bar, I had a warm sticky date pudding and Chelsey went with a sorbet.

After dinner we split up again, Petra to the club (who is shocked?) I went to the gift shop and Chelsey went for a martini. But we were soon together again, tonight was “Toy Story: the Musical” and I knew we would all like it. Who doesn’t love a stage show with singing featuring some of your favorite Disney characters? She said this was her favorite show and I will admit it was a very close second to being my favorite. It was just so adorable! They really make the shows so that the entire family can see them down the littlest ones so they are well worth taking in! And really who doesn’t love to eat popcorn and listen to your favorite sarcastic potato.

Not related to the content but we were all so tired we were about falling asleep during this show so we went straight back to our room since we were all pretty much exhausted and were out in no time at all.  We had another full sea day ahead!  I’m sure you can guess there will be more swimming, kids clubs and food!

Jillian’s DCL Trip Report- Day 2

This morning we woke up and were ready for a full day at sea! The first order of business was breakfast at Beach Blanket Buffet! We all had a bit of everything, the clear favorite was the Mickey Waffles! I really enjoy the chocolate croissants and fresh fruit!

We went to the Lobby Atrium to meet some princesses next! We were a little early for our ticketed meet and greet so we went to meet Cinderella first. She quite enjoyed Petra’s dress as it lit up when she turned. After this meet we saw Rapunzel, Ariel, Tiana and Belle. They all adored the dress and asked if she had a Fairy Godmother who made it. After a quick wardrobe change we headed to our next meet and greet with Anna and Elsa from Frozen. I knew this one would be a hit with her because whose kid isn’t obsessed with Frozen still? While we waited in line they had us sit at a table and color so the line didn’t get too long.

Meeting princesses is fun and all but it was time for a swim. My daughter and husband hit up the pool while I went to the Buena Vista Theatre to see Big Hero 6!

When the movie was done my daughter was in the club and it was lunch time. We decided to check out Triton’s. I had the gingered-infused carrot soup, glazed meatloaf and key lime pie. Chelsey had the assorted sea food sampler, turkey melt sandwich, and the key lime pie as well. I have no idea what my daughter ate because she ate in the club which actually led to her trying new things!

At this point we signed up for a Mixology class! The cost is $15 per person but you get 5 drinks to try while you learn some mixing techniques and drink recipes!

Petra wasn’t tired of swimming just yet so we went again but this time to the Goofy Pool. It was really nice that Disney has swim vests so you can save the room in your suitcase! I particularly love how you can watch a movie while you swim around too, Teen Beach Movie happened to be on this time. Of course since we were so close we had to stop for ice cream and fruit!

This night was Pirates in the Caribbean so when we arrived in our room we had some bandannas and chocolate coins waiting for us. Dinner this night was not my favorite. The food just wasn’t good and we left with a feeling of meh. To eat I had Pirate’s golden pot stickers, Dutchman’s Dijon crusted sirloin of beef, and the sweet temptations sampler. My daughter enjoyed the macaroni and cheese with fries and broccoli.  My husband it looks like he had a crab cake and some steak.  Sorry about the lack of notes, but he too found the food lacking.

When dinner was done we went up to Deck 9 to check out the activities there. They were doing the challenge of Davy Jones, an interactive video game on the big screen. We played for a while before checking out the arcade. It is a smallish arcade, but it is fun if you want something else to do. The pirate party was starting complete with visits from many of the Disney characters. Is was pretty neat to see the type of show they put on complete with pirates coming down on ropes and Mickey flying over the deck to defeat Captain Hook! We watched fireworks (how awesome is that!) from Deck 10 before calling it a night.

Jillian’s Disney Cruise Line Western Caribbean Trip Report- Day 1

My family and I recently returned from a cruise aboard the Disney Wonder. It was a 5 night Western Caribbean from December 7-12th, 2014.   We made our plans pretty late, about two weeks before sailing! Since cruising doesn’t require a huge amount of preplanning it worked out very well for us, almost instant gratification in the form of fun, sun and of course some Disney magic!

You can hear the condensed version on our podcast .https://dolewhipped.com/2014/12/22/podcast-episode-35-jillians-dcl-wonder-trip-report/  This trip report will have much more detail and pictures too!

First things first, we did not tell our daughter, Petra, that we were going on a cruise. In fact we told her we were going to go to Detroit for a few days just for fun. We woke her up very early and surprised her. In typical kid fashion she was way more excited about her new Anna and Elsa headphones but she perked up after she had some breakfast and it sank in that we were really going.

Here is a video of our low-key surprise.

Against my own advice, we flew in the morning of our cruise. Typically, I do not suggest this, but being it was a direct flight and then a short drive to the port, I knew we would have hours to spare. Spoiler alert, it all worked out. We arrived at the airport and since it is a lot warmer in Miami than Michigan we changed into warm weather clothes and shoes. I also took this opportunity to re-pack our bags. I moved everything we would need or had to carry on into our backpack and put everything else in the suitcases.

We had decided to try out Uber, a ride sharing service, and we got to the port in no time at all! We dropped our bags with the porters and walked in to check in.   Check it went pretty quickly, I was the designated documentation carrier (highly suggest if you have more than 2 people to do this) and we had our pictures taken. When we finished with this my family left to go to the Youth Activities line while I finished up. Once in the next line my daughter got her cruise band and we checked her into the youth activities.

At this point we got in line to see Captain Mickey, sadly he was off for a break so we did get to meet Minnie! After a quick photo we were ready to board. As we walked to the ship none other than Mickey Mouse was walking in by us! What an awesome moment that was!

We were announced and then I knew what I had to do! I sent my family off to lunch while I went to the Port Adventures Desk to get tickets for character meets. If you don’t get these tickets you cannot get in line, so while you are waiting read the Navigator for this information. I got tickets for a Princess Meet and Greet, Disney Junior Meet and Greet and Anna and Elsa Meet and Greet. After this I met my family for a quick buffet lunch at Parrot Cay. I know my husband and I ate a lot of shrimp, but also salad, breads and fish, but sadly we were so hungry I forgot to take pictures!

With our bellies full and time to spare before our room was ready we did the other big thing I was worried about, changing our dining. We were assigned to second seating which is 8:20pm. Well if you have a 5 year old this can be really hard so we went to Studio Sea (this info was also in the Navigator) and were able to make the change to the earlier seating at 5:45pm. We also decided to keep our Palo dinner reservation instead of changing it to a brunch.

After the boring stuff was all done we went to check out the ship. Our first stop was the Oceaneer’s Club and Lab. Petra was immediately enchanted with the Club and couldn’t wait for them to open so she could play. We also headed up to the pool deck to check out the 3 pools on ship. There were plenty of people already swimming! We did some more exploring of the ship and saw it was time for our room to be ready!

While my husband generously offered to unpack our suitcases (all 3!) my daughter and I went to the pool! She loved splashing in the Mickey pool and trying out the (kids only) slide. At this point it was time for us to head back to our room to get ready for muster. This is mandatory and doesn’t take too long but you have to check in when you are there.

Then it is all hands on deck for the Sail Away Party! This is high energy dance party and is pretty fun! Plus it is always a good time to wave to people on shore or on other ships as you leave.

Our next stop was dinner at Animator’s Palate. Here we met our dining team Jojo and Joselyn.They were both so, so great. Petra can be shy and she loved recognizing our hard working servers around the ship and adored their magic tricks. Animator’s Palate is such a cool restaurant, it changes color and it is so awesome watch the pictures gain color and dimension throughout dinner.

I had Arugula and Endive Salad and sliced serrano ham for starters, red snapper for the main course and a white chocolate fudge cheesecake for dessert. Chelsey chose truffle purses and butternut soup, red snapper and the cheesecake. My daughter chose a cheese burger which came with broccoli and fries, and a Mickey Premium Ice Cream bar for dessert. I was looking over the menus and said I thought the Mickey Bar sounded good but ordered the cheesecake, well Jojo had other ideas and also brought me a Mickey bar. I will say it is delicious, and knowing how much they cost in the parks and having it included is pretty darn awesome! To top off dinner Sorcerer Mickey put in an appearance and we were all pretty excited about that!

By now the open houses for the youth clubs were done so we went to the Oceaneer’s Club to let Petra have some fun with other kids. According to the Navigator there was some Disney Trivia going on so of course I had to do that and drag my poor spouse along. We checked out the shops and I picked up an ornament for our Christmas tree as I like to do with all my travels. After this we went to the Walt Disney Theatre to watch “All Aboard! Let the Magic Begin!” but we left early after we received a text on our wave phone that Petra was ready to be picked up. I will say right here they are so very handy but it will be pretty great when you can text via the Navigator app on the Magic and Wonder. We all headed back to the room but decided we needed water before bed. I knew early on that I wanted to bring some refillable mugs with us just to make transporting around easier. I made the quick trip the Deck 9 filled up with water and we were off to bed.

All this in just a few short hours we had been on ship! Our next day was a sea day so we would have plenty of time to get things in this day!

Podcast Episode 24: Dana’s DCL Fantasy Trip Report

Join us this week as we hear all about Dana’s fabulous trip aboard the Disney Fantasy!  She fills us in on visiting St. Martin/St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Castaway Cay.  There’s even some info on Halloween on the High Seas!

Happy listening!

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