Podcast Episode 130: Early 2017 News

We’re back with more updates all about what’s happening at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Disney Cruise Lines!  We’ve got dates for the new shows (Rivers of Light), new attraction openings (Pandora, anyone?), and more!

Happy listening!

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Trip Report Day 4: Second Day at Sea with More Waves and More Fun

015de0749fdaa818ef121ace7b752ce807ed4ab852So, yes this is the most drawn out trip report ever but it is keeping the memory and magic alive for me as I revisit each day we had on one of my favorite vacations ever. I hope the anticipation for each new day is not too much for all of you readers! I would love to hear from you about your trip or about your questions and how you are enjoying reading this trip report. You can comment or email me at dolewhipped@gmail.com (just think I may be able to write quicker with a bit of cheerleading!)

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Okay, so now on to day 4 of this trip which is our second full day and another full day at sea. If you remember from Day 3 (or want to remind yourself click HERE) we were going around a tropical depression and the seas were a bit rougher than normal. So, today the 01db60955c588ca699a92207ee53a17fd26a53d611_00001ship was rocky. I did not mind it. It was not crazy rocky and did not disturb walking or anything just made you feel like you were being rocked in your sleep type thing. I would say 99% of the guests had no issues with it and the 1% that did were maybe a tad dramatic (I heard stories afterwards on our cruise Facebook page that someone who had an interior room on a lower deck had slept on a lounge chair by the pool). Now, that is a bit non-productive as the higher you go the more it rocks but if it makes you feel better and they let you – why not sleep by the pool? So, it was a tad overcast but that did not stop the fun. We actually had one of the best days on the ship.

First, we started off with some room service for breakfast. We had decided with our friends the night before since the weather was not going to be as good as it was the rest of the week this would be the perfect day to sleep in, have room service and all huddle up in one room and watch a movie. It was the perfect morning.

Since we had built up an appetite (sea air and all) we headed to Cabanas for lunch and had a vast array of choices as always at Cabanas, along with several glasses of POG
juice. Excellent way to kick off the afternoon.01ed5e7e03650d8ced6764d4afe0c9d77cc2491f7f_00001

When we finally decided to join the rest of the ship we did something I had never done on a cruise ship in the past. We played BINGO! Bingo was in the D Lounge (though note the Navigator schedule had a mistake and said the Buena Vista Theatre so note to everyone if you are somewhere and no crew is around it may be a printed mistake). We figured it out though and we had a blast playing BINGO. Now, couple of BINGO things to note, the crew that runs it makes it fun. BINGO is not free and there are a few packages to choose from and you can do 0132759c33e725450fa4d4870285c1b448c4d7d9ab_00001one card or many and you can do it electronically or the old fashion where you poke the chad out. We decided to save our money and do it the old fashion way and bought two cards (one for each of us because on the first day we played BINGO only myself and one other companion thought it was worth it – this quickly changed and by the end of the week the whole group was playing!) So two cards were $40 and they had six games on each card. The ball scrambling machine is named Betty and when someone is having bad BINGO luck they yell out “SHAKE IT UP BETTY” and all the kids laugh (and a few adults). So, you hear “SHAKE IT UP BETTY” a lot. Oh, by the way, BINGO is open to all ages but because actual money is won if your kid is under 18 and wins you, as the adult, gets to take the winnings. If you want to give it to your child or if you want to keep it, well that is up to you. They also will randomly between games do a random name draw for prizes and though we did not win BINGO we DID win the random name. All of a sudden on the screen was my sailing companion and BINGO partner’s name! He graciously gave me most of the prize because I was more excited than probably I should have been. It was a tote bag that had several branded Disney Cruise Line gifts such as a hat, pen, lip gloss, and a phone charger. I never win anything so even though I did not win, I got the winnings and felt like a true champion.

The main show in the Walt Disney Theatre that evening was “Wishes” and I was looking forward to it and it did not disappoint. It was about three best friends that were graduating and each going their own way in life and before they do they go on a magical journey down a wishing well. Very cute and had a great message for everyone.

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Dinner that evening was at Animator’s Palate and I was looking forward to it because though we were assigned there twice during the week, I knew the second time we were scheduled there we would be eating at Palo’s – so this was my one time at AP. I started my meal with the Baked Potato and Cheddar Cheese Soup and one of their specialty drinks a Bora Shake (Piña Colada, fresh Bananas and Blue Ocean). For my entree I had Ginger-Teriyaki dusted Angus beef Tenderloin with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes with 014bea22c2aab625799283d2f14002210198c5d4c0Bok Choy and a Tamarind–Barbecue Reduction. I can not recommend this dish more if I tried. I challenge you to not love it. It was perfectly cooked and seasoned and nothing like anyone expects from meals on a cruise ship. Bravo Disney. For dessert I went with a classic Mickey Bar. The entertainment and interaction was great and I enjoyed almost every moment. The moments I did not enjoy were unfortunately we were seated next to a large family of about 15 people and several small children. We choose late dinner, on purpose, as early dinner is usually better for the little ones. These little children were definitely tired and cranky and were throwing a fit. There were 3 or 4 that were throwing things off the table and screaming and running around and into the servers and it was quite the scene. But, luckily for the parents and grandparents of these kids, they were able to ignore it and continue their good time without worrying about anything or anyone else. For the rest of us seated near them it was not as easy. I felt really bad for the little ones because they were just tired, so you know, note to self maybe try early dinner if you have lots of little ones in your group or rotate one adult to watch them sleep each night. I am sure there is a better option for them and everyone else. SIGH. Moving on, but you all know what I am saying.

Next, we went to an adults only show! Ooh La La. No, nothing like that as this is Disney but it was in The Tube and it was the Ventriloquist and she was great. It was very crowded and hard to hear and see at points as it is an active bar but we got to see her again later that week as well and highlight of the week was her act.

So, though the day started slow and lazy it definitely got going and we did a lot that day! We did lots of new stuff like BINGO and adults only late shows (as usually I am zzzz’ing pretty early on cruises – again the sea air) but had a great time doing it all! Tomorrow Tortola and another GREAT day on the Disney Fantasy.

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Want to catch up?

Check Out

Day 1: The Who, What, Whens and Hows of our Disney Extravaganza Trip

Day 2: It Begins…With a Bang and a New Restaurant Experience

Day 3: First Day at Sea and It Was Filled with Fun, Food and Some Waves

 

 

Podcast Episode 122: 2017 Disney Resolutions

2016 is coming to a close and now it’s time to look forward to what the new year has in store for us.  To help make sure we make all our Disney dreams come true, we’ve come up with some Disney resolutions we hope to keep in 2017!  Listen in and see if you want to make some Disney resolutions of your own!

Happy listening!

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Podcast Episode 113: Jamie’s Disney Dream Cruise Trip Report

Recently Jamie sailed on the Disney Dream with her mom and daughter and she tells us all about her experience on board, especially how she experienced cruising with a toddler!

Happy listening!

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Trip Report Day 1: It Begins…with a Bang and a New Restaurant Experience


Okay, ladies and gents and all you other swashbuckler out there. Here we go. Day 1. If you are a cruiser (or just play one on TV) you all know Day 1 is not embark on your cruise day EVER. Why? Because you never, ever travel to your port to board your ship on the day the ship leaves. Why? Because you hate to be stranded in Baltimore waving at the webcam as it sails away because the mechanical delay or storm delay. There are so many other reasons (like the airline misplace your bag – happened to me 2 years ago prior to boarding Dream and lucky for me they brought me my bag in Port Canaveral before my ship sailed the next morning but I would have sailed without clothes if I did not buffer a day). So, what have we learned or reminded ourselves – buffer a day and travel to port early. Okay, so Day 1 is traveling to Florida. We have two staterooms that are important to this Trip Report. Stateroom 1 is me and my crazy Husband Scott and in Stateroom 2 is our best friend Chris and his two crazy teenager boys, Tom and Ben. Chris and I basically are the adults with 3 children on these trips (and laugh and love every minute of the silly!)
01ff01c4b90215e3bc9f64074ca4ddee34828cacdcSo, Chris, Tom and Ben traveled down to Florida from the Northeast early Friday morning so they could do a few things prior to us arriving (maybe tour a University as we all bribe and push the teens to go to school there so even more excuses for Disney trips!) Scott and I flew down and arrived mid afternoon and were picked up in the rental van that Chris had reserved. Here is what we did – we rented a minivan via Budget at MCO (Orlando’s airport) and used it to tool around Orlando that day and night and then drive us to the port on Saturday morning. The Budget car rental location is 1/2 mile from 01617ed0581e21282c9cfbb1f3e5df476786813e57port and has constant shuttles, once we got there we only waited 3 minutes for a nice, air-conditioned shuttle that took us to Disney’s port and some other people to their Carnival cruise which was docked next door. So, for us the minivan rental and transport saved us time and money from Disney’s transportation and private transport because we only paid $120 (includes taxes) for the rental and we needed it not only to get to PC but also to get to our Orlando hotel
because horrors we did not stay on property that night. WHAT? I know. But, we did get a 01261b032aa5a3d02bb855ae53ba45a92c7baee86fbang up deal and stay at the Hilton that is right next door to Disney Springs…literally 3 minutes over a walkway. I was hesitant and not overly excited. But, we are Diamond Hilton members and have lots of points and needed to burn some and this was a good time to do it because we were not going to a park. So, burn away and it turned out great. The property was great and convenient and recently (last 2-3 years is my guess) renovated. We had two rooms next to each other and because we are Diamond
we had private access to the Diamond breakfast that was a full buffet and very yummy (and empty so no waiting for breakfast – but that is Day 2 so let’s not skip!) Anyway, the Hilton is a great option and the rates (if we paid) that night were around $100 and that was a great deal. Also, the service was A+ and most of the peeps there were previous Disney Cast Members so very helpful and very service oriented.

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So, rental car check, Hilton check in check, off to Disney Springs for a new restaurant experience that is Morimoto Asia. I will do a full review later but for now here is the mini

015102c7dd8401be958dc8ac88adcfb3c77bad1f2dreview. It is an upscale Asian restaurant that looks a bit like a night club (with lots of metallic and crystal strings making cylinder lights hanging down. It is two stories and lots of room for tables and guests. We had an early reservation at 5:30pm and we arrived a few minutes early and was sat right away and plenty of seating at that time. It filled up pretty good around 6:30 and was full by 7pm. We all tried lots of different items from sesame balls which were awesome and a first, to Orange Chicken (old stand by that was good), to Singapore Laksa noodles (curry coconut and chicken soup) that was a hit with the Curry lovers. The one thing we all agreed on was Churro Fondue was a huge pleaser and made the experience go from good to great. It is not going to be the least expensive meal you have and it is probably going to be a good but maybe not great meal, but worth a try!

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After dinner we walked around Disney Springs for a while and then went and took the 0150b50ec2729832aac73768e727d86e469980fc6eteenagers back to the hotel (they were tired teenagers tire way too quickly) and then Chris, Scott and I went out running a few last-minute errands to CVS, grocery store, and dropping off some goodies for a client staying at Pop (see I stalk you even while you are on vacation! haha).

After that, back to the room to watch some of Jurassic World 3 and realize the main raptor “Blue” reminds us a lot of our cat Walter. Good or bad it is the truth and it did make us miss our little Devil but we got lots of good texts and pictures from him and his brothers all week letting us know how they were doing and how they wished they were on the cruise!

Then we ran down stairs to the awesome market in the lobby and grabbed some ice cream (because it is vacation!) and made a few last calls to family.

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Off to sleep and ready for Day 2! Get on the ship and get started finally! JEEZE.

 

Want to see the Pre-Trip Report and catch up? Click HERE

 

Preparing for a Disney Cruise with a Baby

As I prepare for my young daughter’s first cruise I thought it might be helpful to talk through some of the ways I’ve tried to get ready for sailing with a baby! Anyone who has traveled with a baby knows it’s not easy, but something tells me all this preparation will be very much worth it in the end.

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  1. Think about the basics: diapers, baby food, cribs. How are you going to secure these things for your trip? First, once you’re paid in full you can call and request (or do it right online from your DCL account!) a pack and play for your stateroom, and a high chair for your dinner table. Older babies will be able to enjoy the wonderful Disney Cruise Line food, but make sure you pack some purees if that’s all your baby will eat. Kitchens on DCL cruise ships will puree vegetables for your baby in the main dining rooms and through room service, but it’s always good to have a backup! If the baby is still on formula you may want to consider carrying on or ordering bottled water for making the baby’s bottles. Diapers are available for purchase on the ship, but they are expensive so consider packing your own. Complimentary diaper disposal units, bottle warmers, and bottle sterilizers are also available through DCL guest services.
  2. Sign up for some time in the nursery. From your DCL account online you can sign your baby up for some time in the nursery under “My Cruise Activities”. This is a great way to ensure you still get to enjoy some of the adults only areas of the ship like Palo or Remy and the adults only pool!
  3. Easier said than done, I know, but try to pack light if you can. I’m still going to bring a stroller for my daughter, but a small one as space in the cabin to store things is limited.
  4. Excursions aren’t just for adults! Many port adventures have a minimum age of 6 months (the same age limit to sail on DCL), meaning the whole family can enjoy these activities together so make sure to plan some of these in advance.
  5. If you’re going to the beach at Castaway Cay there are complimentary wagons available on a first come first served basis. This will  help you contain all those baby necessities, so do pack whatever you need for the beach!

Have fun! If you go into your Disney Cruise knowing there’s no way you can be prepared for all situations your baby is going to throw at you, you’re going to have a great time. What could be better!

Castaway Cay Excursions for the Not So Adventurous

We’ve talked about Castaway Cay excursions for the adventurous, but what about those of us who’d rather take it easy on Disney’s private island? Well we’ve got you covered there too!

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  • Glass Bottom Boat Scenic Voyage ($42 for ages 10+, $29.50 for 0-9) For this excursion you’ll board a glass bottom boat for a voyage to the north side of the island. There you’ll experience Castaway Cay’s barrier reef system. The boat has viewing windows at the bottoms where you’ll have  a great view of the coral reefs and all the tropical fish and other sea creatures that live there! All without even getting wet.
  • Castaway Ray’s Stingray Adventure ($51 for 10+, $40 for 5-9) Ok, this excursion does have “adventure” right in the title, but it’s of the very mild variety! First you’ll hear some educational facts about sting rays and have a quick orientation before heading out to feed and even pet these amazing animals! After your sting ray experience you’ll be able to enjoy some time snorkeling further in the lagoon where you’ll find even more rays.
  • Equipment Rentals: If you really want to relax, rent an inner tube or float to use in the ocean all day long! Only $10.75 for an entire day’s relaxation isn’t bad at all! If you’d rather do some leisurely snorkeling there is also snorkel equipment for rent at a cost of $31.18 for ages 10+ or $15.05 for ages 5-9
  •  For adults only you have the option for the ultimate in relaxation at Serenity Bay, a massage at an open air cabana! Not a typical “excursion” these are booked through the spa on the ship.

Trip Report: The Who, What, Whens and Hows of our Disney Extravaganza Trip

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So, I am really excited to write my very first real trip report! I have wanted to do this so many times before but really it is a big undertaking that you plan a bit in advance and make sure you take lots of notes and pictures as you go! Otherwise not a great report, eh?

Scott dancing around like he did all week!

Scott dancing around like he did all week!

Who: My husband – Scott, one of our best friends and frequent podcast guest – Chris, two teenage boys that belong to Chris – named Tom and Ben (they have also been podcast guests if the names sound familiar!) Oh and me – one of your Dolewhippie ladies!

We all went together on the Disney Dream about two years ago on the 4 night and loved it. Ever since then we wanted to go again and do another cruise but a longer one! We decided to go on the 7 night Disney Fantasy and depending on schedules and availability we really wanted the Eastern Caribbean. One thing that we did this time, that was different from last time, was we decided we did not have to have connecting rooms and so therefore I could take advantage of a special Travel Agent rate. The reason I share this is because it also means we could not book or plan until the rates became available which is about 6-8 weeks or so prior to sailing. We

Tom, Chris and Ben ready to go in Tortola!

Tom, Chris and Ben ready to go in Tortola!

had limited time, based on so many different schedules, and so we had narrowed it down to one week we could go. So if a TA rate did not come out for July 30th sailing then we could not go. BOO! So we waited and watched and half planned (just in case!) and luckily I called on the right day and we got a balcony room and then went to book the second (regular rate) stateroom and got lucky by finding a GTY rate for a Verandah room so hooray savings all around! We hoped to be close but with a TA rate and a GTY rate your stateroom is assigned and you can not request anything at all, not even to be near. So, all we knew was both staterooms were on the Fantasy on July 30th and would have a balcony. We were thrilled!

We left and flew down to Orlando on July 29th (definitely arrive at least a day prior to sailing) and had a fun pre-cruise night at Disney Springs and ate at a new and now favorite restaurant (keep reading the trip report to find out more!)

We sailed on the Fantasy July 30th through August 6th and when we disembarked on the

Bay Lake Tower for a night!

Bay Lake Tower for a night!

6th we headed to Walt Disney World for two park days and one night at Disney. We stayed at a new to us resort which I have a review of coming (I will give this one away as it was Bay Lake Tower – so keep reading if you want to here what I thought and you may be surprised).

We left Orlando on Sunday night and went home to a lot of dirty laundry, happy fur babies and were so exhausted we could barely make it to the bed. It was an amazing trip and so many new and special things it definitely was an extravaganza! I hope you keep reading because there are so many things we did that were awesome and will definitely help you when planning your next Disney trip.

 

 

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!

Podcast Episode 106: Tara’s Disney Cruise Line Trip Report

Join us this week as Tara tells us all about her latest Disney Cruise Line adventure!  Find out what new shows, food, and fun she experienced all aboard a fabulous Disney ship!

Happy listening!

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