Join us this week as we talk about Shannon’s most recent Disney Cruise Line adventure! We hear all about the fun, dining, activities, and entertainment to be found aboard the Disney Wonder!
Dole Whipped’s own Tara recently took a cruise to Cuba on Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas ship. Listen in as she tells us all about what she did, how she liked the ship, and what she ate while cruising. At the end of the episode, we compare Royal Caribbean to Disney Cruise Lines to see how the two compare!
A few weeks ago, we spoke with the Koster-Smith family about planning their very first Disney parks vacation. This week, we followed up with them to see how all their planning paid off. They told us what worked, what didn’t, what they loved, what they didn’t love, and if they plan on going back again!
Disney Cruise Lines has some of the best cruises in the industry, but did you know they also do specialty cruises at certain times of the year? If there’s a holiday, there’s a good chance Disney has a cruise for it! If you love Star Wars and Marvel, listen up because we have good news for you too!
A true Disney fan knows the moment that they first fell in love with Disney parks. You can remember everything about it, where you were, how you felt, what you were doing. Join us as we share our origin stories of how we came by our love of Disney parks and what we plan for to foster that love in the future.
So, we woke up the next morning raring to go and so we went downstairs and got to indulge in the special, complimentary breakfast for Platinum members at the Hilton. It was good, just the usual eggs, bacon, waffles, muffins, etc. It was good and easy and a nice perk. After that we packed up leisurely because although we had a port arrival time for around 10am we knew that was just “suggested” and we decided based on others info and reviews that to us it was more important to avoid long check in lines and waiting around for nothing. So, we planned it perfect for us! We drove over to Port Canaveral,
returned the rental car to Budget, shuttled over to the Fantasy, got baggage handlers, went through security, checked in the special Castaway Club line and walked right on to the boat. It actually went that easy without any hiccups. We boarded the ship around noon and discussed telling the person who took our last name to announce and welcome a few options as we had a few last names going so we thought about being the “Awesome” family or the “Disney” family but in the end we went with all of our last names…next time.
We had already decided to go to Enchanted Gardens for lunch. Everyone knows about Cabanas lunch but did you know Enchanted Gardens has a buffet on embarkation day? Well, they do and we did. Interesting enough when we boarded we asked a crew member where to go and he told us Enchanted Gardens was full and turning people away and over to Cabanas. We discussed amongst ourselves and decided to ask another crew member, who did say the same thing, but when we said what would happen if we went anyway he said probably nothing! So, we went down and somehow lines were miscommunicated because it was only half full and no line. That was odd – I have no idea but clearly something got muddled. So, we were sat and went and had a great lunch with cold cuts, shrimp, salads, sides and yummy ice cream and lots of other desserts.
After lunch, we headed to find our staterooms and get our Castaway Club gifts. This was our second cruise, so first as a CC member. The gift was AMAZING and seriously high value. I not only used the tote the whole week but have used it for several quick overnights since home. Also, we had brought our nice lanyard wallets we had gotten for the last cruise so we just switched out the lanyard so we could use our nice little key holder with a pocket but still have the CC lanyard. After, admiring our gifts my OCD husband insisted on unpacking and getting the luggage stored under the bed and everything in its place. I was glad we did but it was hard not to skip that and run crazy over the ship doing more exciting things than unpacking.
We had a Verandah room and it was exactly like the last room on the Dream, though turned the other day. I love the staterooms on Disney because they have adequate space and it makes it much nicer!
After that we went to our own “Sail Away” Party on the back of the ship on the outdoor deck of Meridian lounge, outside of Palo and Remy. They had the same area on the Dream and we enjoyed having cocktails there on the Dream at night and the servers on the Dream were fun and helpful so we looked forward to the same good times. We watched the ship sail off and enjoyed the beautiful weather and peace on the deck.
We went to “A Fantasy Come True” for the early show (since we had late dinner) and it was cute. It was a little “salesy” and we were a tad bit turned off at first but it got better and ended up being a cute show.
Dinner that night was at Enchanted Gardens, so since we already knew where we were going it was easy to get there! When we were seated there were already people at our table. What? On the Dream our party was our own table and it just did not occur to me that we would be seated with others. But, we were and though it was a little nervous and quiet at first it turned out great of course. They were very nice and we had a good time hearing about the different things they did and watching their teen son watch the clock to escape back to the teen club every night! So, food – yesssss! So, I skipped the appetizer that night and had a soup and salad because the Heirloom Tomato Soup is a must for me and the Romaine Wedge was also calling my name. I had for my entrée Slow Roasted Prime Rib: Thyme-roasted Vegetables, Double-baked Potato, Horseradish, and Natural Jus and it was amazing. I am not a huge Prime Rib fan and when it first came it was way too red for me so servers noted and brought me a bit more medium well version and I loved it. My husband had the pork tenderloin and one of the teens had the sea scallops and the rest of the table went prime rib. Everyone was very happy that night with their dinner choices and for dessert I chose the Esterhazy Cake because it mentioned almond meringue and I love almond dessert flavors. It was yummy and a good choice for me. Chocolate lovers would like the Sacher Torte and those at our table did!
After dinner, a few of the group went to the 10:15 movie, “The Jungle Book” but I was being rocked to sleep. So, I went up to the adult only deck for a minute and watched the night waters and then turned in and slept so well it was like I was on vacation.
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!)
So, 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 port 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 bang 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.
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
review. 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!
After dinner we walked around Disney Springs for a while and then went and took the teenagers 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.
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
Did you know there is more to do on Disney’s Castaway Cay than is shown on the map? Well, there is! Disney also offers excursions for their adventurous cruisers. Here are some of their offerings:
We all know that taking kids on a vacation will lead to a lot of fun, but sometimes we encounter some education along the way. Walt Disney said “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we are curious, and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” All of us agree with that philosophy that you can learn a lot and still have fun. Some of us have done this and probably will again but sometimes we have to take our kids out of school for a vacation. While you have the make this personal decision based on your own situation we are not here to judge either way! But we do know that when kids miss school they sometimes have to make up that missed time with what they learned while away from school, so I wanted to give some ideas of where your kids could learn while on a Disney vacation.
You will be able to do some first hand research and experiencing and then when you are finished with your vacation your student will be able to do the research that will help them put together a report.
California Adventure Park: Learn about the history of California on the basis of the different lands such as Paradise Pier, Grizzly Peaks, Buena Vista Street or Hollywood Land. These lands are themed around real places in California.
Disneyland Railroad: Check out the original steam trains and Presidential Train Car the Lilly Belle.
Sleeping Beauty Castle: Enjoy this walk through attraction of the story of Sleeping Beauty. A fun way to compare would be to read other versions and see how they compare
Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln: This attraction has nothing but history in it from the 1964 World’s Fare to the subject itself, Abraham Lincoln.
Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters: If you want something really modern check out this trackless attraction. How do the cars move? Where do they get commands? These are just a couple questions you can find out on this attraction.
Walt Disney World
Wilderness Explorers: Learn all about different animals and explore the entire park with this fun scavenger hunt!
Rafiki’s Planet Watch: You can watch veterinarians at work here, not to mention get up close to a few animals. This is a great opportunity for those kids that are wild about animals.
Kilimanjaro Safari’s: This is another obvious choice, but you can see so many unusual animals that could spark an interest in one and then lead to a fact finding mission about a species.
Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular: It will give you a very basic idea of how movies are made. This is great for young kids since they will love the special effects and they way you feel like you are looking backstage.
World Showcase: This entire part of the park is a learning experience. Talk to Cast Members from all over the world, try new foods, listen to new music. The possibilities are endless whether you choose one of many countries to explore.
The Land: Take the Behind the Seeds tour in the Land Pavilion and you can find out some really interesting things about greenhouses, growing crops and even where those plants grown there end up!
The Seas: This pavilion is similar to the Kilimanjaro Safari as you can learn to much about many types of fish or larger sea life. If you are old enough you can even swim with dolphins!
Spaceship Earth: This classic attraction takes you through communication in world history from caves to computers. You are sure to learn something new along the way.
Hall of Presidents: Like Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln this is definitely the place to get a presidential history lesson.
The Haunted Mansion: Pepper’s Ghost is the main attraction here, not it isn’t a real ghost but an effect that is used and it is really fascinating. If your student is one who always wants to know “how do they do that” this is a great subject to study. You’ll need to ride more than once of course.
People Mover: Did you know this has a real life application at the George Bush Airport in Houston? That is the only other place in the world this technology is used for the people mover.
Sword in the Stone: Do you have a kid interested in stories and fairy tales? This a great place for them to research the stories of King Arthur. And if you have to rewatch Sword in the Stone that wouldn’t be too bad either.
Swiss Family Robinson and Tom Sawyer’s Island: Again if you have a reader they will love to do a report on either of these stories and how they are portrayed at Walt Disney World.
Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel: This carousel is something special. Originally called Liberty with an Americana theme it was lovingly restored by the Walt Disney World Company. Check out the history of carousel and you will have plenty of research fodder to write a paper on!
Adventures by Disney
This entire vacation will be a learning experience, particularly if you are traveling to a foreign country. So many new things to experience even if you travel on an Adventure by Disney within the United States. New cultures, foods and experiences will be everything here. For instance if you travel to Italy you can learn to make pasta, in Germany, pretzels. You will tour castles and historic sites. Meet amazing local guides who can tell you anything you ever wanted to know about the country you are visiting.
Disney Cruise Line
Like Adventures by Disney this entire experience can be one big learning experience while having so much fun. In port you can take excursions of the historic, foodie and adventurer types. Or you can check out local museums, forts, ruins, or cultural centers.
There is plenty of edutainment to be had on any Disney vacation so we hope this article can help get the creative process moving in choosing something to research. And who know, this may be the start of the next Disney Imagineer career!