A 1 Year Old’s Review of the Disney Dream

Today’s blog post is going to be a little different! You’re going to “hear” from my 16 month old daughter about her vacation on the Disney Dream. The best parts of our trip, from a baby’s perspective. Enjoy!

Stateroom: My mom sprang for a room with a verandah! Let me tell you, this thing is great. There’s not a whole lot I enjoyed more than sitting on the verandah with my apple juice early in the morning in my jammies, watching the water and feeling the ocean breeze in my hair. Opening and closing the balcony door over and over was a pretty fun game too. Disney gave my mom a pack and play for me to sleep in (I saw her queen bed and I have to say… mine was fine, but hers was better) and a diaper genie to dispose of the dirty diapers. There was a curtain that separated my sleeping space from mom’s so that my room could be nice and quiet and dark, just how I like it. I even slept in a few mornings! Figured it was the least I could do for my mom as a thanks for the trip. I’m a great daughter!

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Food: A+. My dinner server Andre kept the cookies coming (once I was finished with my dinner, of course!) I have a dairy allergy and they were very careful to make sure I didn’t get sick. Some of my favorites were the whole wheat penne pasta with red sauce that made a fantastic mess, the grilled chicken skewer with sweet potatoes, and cheese-free pizza! There was a high chair waiting in my spot each night, and a fresh cup of water with my name right on it. Talk about service! For breakfast I sampled a bit of everything from the buffet including: cereal, Mickey waffles, pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs (my favorite!), hash browns, yogurt, and LOTS of fruit. One day we even got room service and I ate my hot dog and french fries right there in our room!

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Activities: When we first got on the ship there was a small sheet waiting in our stateroom that said “Toddler Activities”. How did they know?! It was full of things tailored just to my interests. My very favorite thing to do on the ship was play in Nemo’s Reef. As I’m not yet potty trained (no judging please!) I’m not able to use the pools on the ship. At first I was a little sad, but then we went to Nemo’s Reef. This is WAY better than a pool! I spent so much time here while mom and Nana took turns enjoying fruity “grownup” drinks that they wouldn’t share with me. As a bonus, it was located right next to the Cabanas buffet, so when I was done playing and needed to replenish all that energy burned I could just pop over and have my mom get me some french fries (my favorite).

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Ship: This is one big ship. The first day my mom let me walk everywhere, it was great! I even climbed the stairs when the elevators were very busy. After the first day, I realized this walking thing was a lot of work and I needed to conserve my energy for making trouble. After that I let my mom carry me around. I did quite enjoy pushing the buttons on the elevator though!

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Castaway Cay: My favorite! I know what my mom means now when she says she’s going to her “happy place”! After getting off the ship and taking a tram to the beach my mom was able to snag one of the complimentary wagons available at Castaway Cay for me to sit in with all the stuff I needed for a successful day at the beach. The sand was perfect for digging, the water was bathtub temp and I got a kick out of the little fish swimming all around my feet! I could have spent all day there. Well, until nap time at least. And I did!

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it’s a small world nursery: Horrible, will never return. My mom isn’t allowed to have any fun without me. Ever. (Editor/Mom’s Note: it’s a small world is staffed by some of the sweetest and most patient caregivers on the ship. They were able to calm my dramatic high needs child long enough for me to enjoy a lovely brunch at Palo, with smiles on their faces. The children in the nursery looked like they were having so much fun! Fiona is just a little… difficult 😉 )

There you have it folks, Fiona’s review of the Disney Dream! Do you have a baby that has sailed the Dream or another Disney ship? We’d love to hear what they thought of it too!

Podcast Episode 101: Disney Cruise Line Overview

If you have general questions about Disney Cruise Line or you’re just not familiar with them in general, then this is the episode for you!  We give you a taste of everything that Disney Cruise Line has to offer including the ships, the entertainment, shore excursions, and the awesome Castaway Cay!  If cruising is next on your list, then you won’t want to miss this!

Happy listening!

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Podcast Episode 79: Disney Cruise Line Budget Comparisons

Have you ever thought about how far your money will travel aboard a Disney cruise?  We’ve got the answer for you!  We break different ships and itineraries down by cost amount so you can get a great idea of how much cruise your budget allows.  We’re positive there’s a cruise out there for you!

Happy listening!

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Podcast Episode 77: Disney Cruises With Kids

If you’ve been dreaming of a Disney cruise but aren’t sure what’s on board for your children, then you’ll definitely want to tune in this week!  We discuss all the awesome things about Disney Cruise Line for infants, small children, tweens, and teens!  You’ll hear about the nursery, the kids clubs, and the teen hangouts.  We guarantee there’s something for everyone!

Happy listening!

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Guest Blogger: Chris Gardiner’s DCL Excursion review – Atlantis Aquaventure, Nassau

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Last July, I went on my first Disney Cruise with my two tween sons and my two best friends. There were many decisions and choices to make and excursions were no exception! We did the 4-night cruise on the Disney Dream with a stop in Nassau, Bahamas.  After reviewing all of the excursion choices, my boys said that they really wanted to see Atlantis (probably based on all of the TV commercials they had seen is my guess) and so the decision was made.  We signed up for the “Atlantis Aquaventure” and all were excited for the day.  The 4-6 hour excursion included transportation to and from Atlantis, passes to use their water park, a tour of the property, and lunch.

The morning we arrived in Nassau, all who had signed up for this excursion met in the IMG_0003 (1)
Walt Disney Theater.  This is where they checked us in and gave us our ‘admission bracelets’ and lunch vouchers.  From there we disembarked the Dream and walked through the port till we got to a series of buses, which is where we waited to take the bus to Atlantis.  One thing to note is that there was quite a bit of walking involved with this excursion – so I would recommend wearing sneakers or comfortable swim shoes.

When we arrived at Atlantis, we were met by a tour guide and given an ‘orientation tour’ of the resort as we walked to the ‘Aquaventure’ water park.  I must say that the resort is extremely large but was truly beautiful!  We walked through the huge lobby of the Royal Towers (which is a site to behold in itself), through the hotel grounds and various marine exhibits and over to the water park.  The water park is the best I have ever been to.  It is 141 acres in size and features state of the art water slides, river rapids, waterfalls and IMG_0005pools.  Our personal favorite in which we spent most of our time was their ‘Aquaventure river’ that went around the entire water park.  Unlike ‘Typhoon Lagoon’s ‘lazy river’, this one at Atlantis actually uses special escalators and waves to transport you around it.  It was a great way to spend a good deal of the day and kept us nice and cool in the hot July sun!  Traveling in the ‘Aquaventure river’ is also a great way to see the entire water park and figure out where you want to explore next.

After we spent a good deal of time in the lazy river and exploring some of the water slides we got hungry and decided it was time for lunch.  The lunch vouchers we were given were good for any one of the quick service restaurants that were located around the water park.  The food was pretty standard fare (burgers, wraps, pizza and salads) but it hit the spot.  One thing I did notice is that there was not a lot of tables or seating for the quick service restaurants; but, I assume that most people get their food and go back to their beach chairs.

When we were done with lunch we hit the water park again. We ended up spending some more time on the Aquaventure river and then the (somewhat) famous water slides that go through the shark tank!  The wait times were not very long for the water slides, in my opinion, and there were so many of them it spaced everyone out evenly.

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Once we were thoroughly waterlogged, we decided we would check out the ‘ruins’ of Atlantis called “The Dig” before heading back to catch the bus. Buses left every half hour back to the port, which was nice, because it really did allow you to spend as much time as you wanted at Atlantis and gave you some flexibility. “The Dig” was an amazing themed walk-through labyrinth of sea life in large viewing windows.  The added benefit is that it was cool and these areas were air conditioned which made for a welcome relief from the hot sun.  The marine life and presentation was truly wonderful and very extensive.

As we made our way out of “The Dig” we walked back through the lobby of the Royal Towers and rested a little in the lobby, taking in all of the grand architecture and design.  We then headed back to the bus, where we were brought back to the port, and boarded the Dream again.

Atlantis is so large that we could go there again for another excursion and probably not doIMG_0007 the same things twice.  There are actually many Atlantis excursions to choose from.  So if you are not a big water park fan you can book the “Discover Atlantis Tour” and basically walk around and look at the marine exhibits, shop, play at the casino and eat.  There are also Atlantis excursions that feature Dolphin interactions at their Dolphin Cay, snorkeling and golf options as well.

In my opinion the Atlantis excursion was well worth the money –especially if you have tweens, teens or older kids. The orientation tour at the beginning was good for first timers to the resort but a bit long – if I booked another Nassau excursion I would probably bypass the tour.

Hands down though, the best part of the day was being able to walk back onto the Disney Dream (we were greeted at the port with ice cold lemon water and frozen facecloths to wipe our faces with – heaven after a day in the hot sun!).

Have you been to Atlantis? What excursions have you done with DCL and what did you like best?

Valentine’s Day Blog Special: Jeannine & Vinny’s Disney World Engagement!

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Love is in the air! Today I had the honor of interviewing one of my best friends on her amazing 2011 Walt Disney World engagement. Jeannine has been a Disneyphile since she was a young child and enjoyed regular trips with her family. She was able to convert her now-husband Vinny easily after their very first trip together to Walt Disney World. Soon Jeannine and Vinny were enjoying regular trips to the World, but this trip in 2011 was just a little bit different! Here is their engagement story and then some questions and answers directly from the bride.

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Early on the morning of December 3, 2011, Jeannine and Vinny flew from Boston to Orlando for their stay at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside resort. They spent the afternoon shopping at Downtown Disney, where Vinny was feeling particularly generous and kept offering to buy anything Jeannine’s heart desired. Jeannine says in hindsight this was her first (but not only!) hint about what was going to happen on this trip. The hints kept on coming when they headed back to their resort to get changed for dinner and night-touring at the Magic Kingdom. Vinny came out of the bathroom dressed in nicer clothing than usual, and urged Jeannine to change into something other than her usual attire of yoga pants. She declined, not knowing what was to come. At the Magic Kingdom they rode some rides, where Vinny always placed Jeannine on his left which was later explained by the fact that he had the ring in his right pocket. I can’t imagine walking around the Magic Kingdom with such a precious and priceless item in your pocket. I don’t know how Vinny did it without passing out!

Finally they headed to Cinderella’s Royal Table where Vinny had pulled some strings and changed their 5:30pm reservation to 9:15pm to coincide with the evening’s fireworks show. This was another very big hint that Jeannine had explained away (because any regular Walt Disney World visitor knows you can’t just “change” your Cinderella’s Royal Table reservation at will… especially not to fireworks time). Though she did become suspicious upon being seated at a window front table, wondering exactly what Vinny had done to score that prime seating. Jeannine and Vinny were lucky enough to be waited on by Jay, a waited with whom they’d been seated twice in the past (and, spoiler alert!) would later be seated with on their honeymoon when they ate again at Cinderella’s Royal Table. Disney magic! Vinny barely ate his dinner, but Jeannine helped him out, clearly not feeling the nerves that he was at the time. The princesses were making their way around the restaurant but soon that stopped, the lighting went down and music began to play for the Wishes fireworks show.

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Immediately after the fireworks ended Jay delivered a white dessert plate with a cover, which Jeannine didn’t see coming but she DID hear a gasp from a nearby table. When she turned she saw Jay delivering a white dessert plate… only they hadn’t ordered dessert! The plate held a glass slipper and a gorgeous engagement ring. Vinny slipped Jay the ring during one of Jeannine’s dinner restroom breaks so it was all set and done perfectly. Jeannine turned back and Vinny was on one knee. Things around them got very loud as people were cheering and a PhotoPass photographer had appeared to capture the moment. It was so loud, in fact, that neither Jeannine nor Vinny are sure he actually asked her to marry him OR if she said yes. Regardless and most importantly Jeannine ended up with a ring on her finger and they were engaged!

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“Real” dessert and two champagne flutes were delivered to the table and Ariel came over to take a celebratory photo with the couple. The PhotoPass photographer did some posed photos of Jeannine and Vinny and her new bling. While the photos were being taken, Cast members at Cinderella’s Royal Table took their champagne flutes and the glass slipper to wrap them up securely for them to take home and keep forever. The cast members at Cinderella’s Royal Table also delivered two of the coveted “Just Engaged” buttons for them to wear around the parks for the rest of their trip. At the end (or beginning) Jeannine and Vinny headed into the parks to start their happily ever after!

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What did you do after you got engaged, anything special to celebrate?

“The first thing we did was ride Haunted Mansion, it’s Vinny’s favorite! We then spent the next 4 days at Disney World, where we got tons of special attention (free ice creams, better seating for shows, go to the FastPass line even though we didn’t have the passes), At the end of the 4 days we boarded the Disney Dream for our very first cruise.”

Did you buy anything to commemorate the occasion?

“We got a “Just Engaged” ornament at the Magic Kingdom, which Disney personalized with our names and the date for free. Also when we went back to our room we discovered that Disney sent a congratulations card to our room.” (Note from Jamie: Jeannine collects ornaments from Disney, so this came as no surprise to me! She has an amazing collection)

How did Vinny set up the engagement?

“Vinny got in touch with Disney’s Fairytale Weddings & Honeymoons who helped him set everything up. They were the ones who changed our dining reservation time, had the glass slipper made and personalized for us, and set up the PhotoPass person to be there for the moment. There was a fee for their services, but they were there to help Vinny every step of the way!”

What made Vinny choose Disney?

“Lots of hinting! 😉 Disney is our favorite place, it really just made sense. I’ve always wanted to see the fireworks from inside Cinderella’s Royal Table so clearly Vinny was paying attention to that! Cinderella’s Royal Table was also the first place we ate together on our very first vacation together. There’s a lot of meaning behind his choice!”

Did you research Disney weddings?

“Yes, when we got home. We did end up having our wedding closer to home because of family. But we immediately got started planning our two week Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line honeymoon!”

What would you recommend to other people planning a Disney World engagement?

“Get in touch with Disney Fairytale Weddings & Honeymoons! They’ll help you personalize it and make it special for both of you. Oh, and make sure to get your “Just Engaged” buttons and add your engagement celebration to any dining reservations you have planned for the rest of the trip!”

Thanks so much for sharing with us, Jeannine! If you have stories of your own Disney engagement or honeymoon, or are simply dreaming of these things we’d LOVE to hear  about it! Tell us in the comments section here or head to our Facebook page!

Dreaming of your OWN Disney proposal? We’ve got the link for you! Head to Disney Weddings and submit a video telling them why you and your significant other deserve a dream Disney proposal.  One winner will receive a five day, four night trip to either the Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort, tickets to the Park and a Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings “proposal package” including the help of an engagement planner to create and execute a custom surprise proposal! 

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Adults Only on Disney Cruise Line!

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What? Disney without the kids…”Never” you say (don’t say that) but even if you HAVE to drag the little one’s along with you on a Disney Cruise well, then that is okay because Disney has taken care of you and set aside several excellent escapes where no one under 18 can find you!

Recently, I went on the 4 night Disney Dream, with a couple of adults and a couple of teenagers. I realized quickly that even though our group did not have any small loved ones running around, that many other groups did and sometimes you want Disney to take you away from all that right? So, first thing I did was research and map out a few escape options if needed. First, and probably the most important (to me) was the adults only swimming pool. Nestled away behind some covert dividers is a wonderful pool with lounge chairs and a bar with stools in the water! It is a  beautiful site but not as quiet as one may think! On the Dream it is right IMG_3633beside the entrance to the Cove Cafe, an internet and coffee bar (and adults only!). As I basked on the adults only deck right above the pool I was provided with multiple servers and cold towels…it was very relaxing and even though part of the adults only pool area a little quieter than right beside the pool.

 

Another great adults only escape is Senses Spa. Oh yes, please do not skip the spa on senseathis trip as you will regret it. Now, I know the prices can be daunting so a little tip is wait until you are on the cruise and book a spa special to save a few dollars. I did the “recovery package” for $99 and it was 60 minutes of a scalp massage, foot massage and hands massage. It was the best massage I have ever had (and believe you me –  I love my massages!) Plus having the use of the showers and all the high-end spa products at my disposal afterwards was a huge bonus to getting dressed for dinner (and in a spacious shower and not in the smaller one in the stateroom)! A hidden gem (or Mickey) I had not even planned on.

My last favorite adults only area was the Palo area (and Remy I am sure would fit as well but sadly, I did not get to partake on this trip at Remy’s but next time). If you read my Palo review, you will know I enjoyed the Palo brunch immensely. Outside Palo and Remy on the Dream is Meridian Bar. So, even if you are not able to partake in Palo or Remy or in addition to these meals come have a drink at Meridian Bar. It is an upscale, quieter bar with a great atmosphere and very comfortable chairs. Just in case you need reminding of how excellent Palo brunch is…check out this plate!IMG_3284

I know we all know about the District (and if you don’t then let us know because we can help book you a Disney Cruise so you can find out) and all the lounges and bars in the district as well, and yes on Disney cruises these are adults only (but my three favorite adults only spots are a little quieter, opened most of the time and give me a little extra escape!)

What have you found is a great escape on a Disney vacation or cruise?