Disney Mediterranean Cruise Trip Report: Day 5, Kusasdasi/Ephesus Turkey

This is Part 5 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

Our one Turkish port was the one I knew least about before heading on this Mediterranean adventure, but it ended up being one of my very favorite days of the entire trip!

We pulled into the gorgeous port town of Kusadasi early in the morning.


We were greeted by traditional Turkish dancers and music, what an awesome touch! And check out the view of the Disney Magic in the windows of the port building 🙂


Like the previous two days we again boarded a bus to our destination, this time to the ancient Greek city of Ephesus, Turkey. Our tour guide this day was extremely knowledgable and loved sharing the history of her homeland with us!


Ancient terra cotta water pipes:



There were lots of feral cats in Ephesus.

IMG_6259 IMG_6266

This is the gate into Ephesus, with my husband so helpfully modeling the distance between posts 😉 The gate was made wide enough for people and animals to walk through, but not chariots. Security!


Isn’t it gorgeous?

IMG_6272 IMG_6274

The Library of Celus, built in 135AD:


Our tour guide showing us where criminals would be handcuffed, right in the center of town for maximum embarrassment. Apparently it worked really well to deter people from committing crimes!


The theatre at Ephesus, able to seat 25,000 people, this theater is still functional and has been used even recently for concerts. The acoustics are such that a person can stand at the bottom and speak in normal tones, yet the people even in the last row would be able to hear just fine.


A collection of ancient road signs:


After our visit to Ephesus we were scheduled to go to a Turkish water park! I know, I know, we could easily do a water park at home. But this was so much fun! And a great way to wind down and cool off after hours out in the sun that morning. IMG_6369

We particularly enjoyed the lazy river:

IMG_6333 IMG_6340 IMG_6343

We spent a few hours at the water park, and grabbed a quick lunch (just burgers… yes in Turkey!) before it was time to get back on the bus. Our tour guide told us the next part of the excursion was an optional trip to a carpet making shop. Brent and I were pretty concerned that this was going to be a hard sell type of place, and we didn’t really want to go. Our tour guide assured us that she just wanted to be able to share more of her culture with us, and she’d really like for us to give it a shot. I am SO glad we went.

We were lead into a room upstairs in the shop and offered something to eat and drink. I had cold apple tea (it was delicious!) and Brent had Turkish coffee. We were able to see the process of making carpets, and man, as expensive as they are they’re worth every penny! Such hard work, but such a beautiful product.

IMG_6379 IMG_6382 IMG_6385 IMG_6387 IMG_6388 IMG_6392 IMG_6393


After stomping around (encouraged!) on some carpets Brent and I decided it was time to head back to the boat, since we wanted to stop at the Duty Free stop in port before sail away. Our hosts at the carpet shop said goodbye, and we told them we were so glad we were able to come and witness more of the Turkish culture. I’m so happy we didn’t skip out on it.

IMG_6395  IMG_6399

I finally got a picture of something I’d been meaning to share with you since our very first port day! Today these stations were set up outside, but the other days they were just inside, past security. We were offered cold glasses of water or lemonade, and cold wet towels for our neck and head. Such a nice touch, I think! Both the drink and the towel were welcome after all that time out in the hot sun. IMG_6407 IMG_6409



On our way back to our stateroom to watch sail away from our balcony we stopped at Cove cafe for iced coffees to enjoy on our verandah.IMG_6411 IMG_6417 IMG_6435

We were sad to see Kusadasi go! What a lovely place. My husband has now decided a return trip to Turkey is in order. I say only if it’s on another Disney Cruise 😉 Sailing to our next destination we followed the coastline very closely! It was amazing to see the scenery as we sailed past.

IMG_6465 IMG_6467

We soon decided on pre-dinner drinks at O’Gills pub. I was saving my appetite for dinner but Brent enjoyed the snack buffet. There was cheese and crackers, veggies, nachos, meat pies and more.

IMG_6479 IMG_6480 IMG_6481 IMG_6482


Yes, I did order a margarita at an Irish bar 😉


And here I am diligently working on my notes for the day, so that I’d be able to remember and blog for you, Dole Whippies!IMG_6493

Dinner tonight was again in Animator’s Palate, with the Prince and Princess Menu. Not only that, but it was animation night! Everyone received a template to draw their character, like this:


I chose to draw a cat! I don’t know why, I’m not an artist. My husband made Iron Man and his was much better… so I’m not posting it here 😉IMG_6502

Special napkins for Prince and Princess night!IMG_6503

I honestly have no idea what either of these appetizers were. But I’m sure they were delicious!

IMG_6508 IMG_6509

For dinner I had the Roasted Portobello Mushroom Triangoli Pasta:IMG_6510


And Brent had the Peppercorn Crusted NY Strip:


After dinner but before dessert we were treated to an animation show, with all of our characters! It was really cute. They danced and twirled and it was just really cool seeing our creations come to life. Disney magic on the Disney Magic!IMG_6518

They even put our names up on screen:


Then dinner was served. Brent and I both got the Princess Jasmine Banana Bread Pudding:


And then we got our drawings back, with an official guest animator sticker!IMG_6525


Today was a long and exhausting but amazing day. So back to bed we went, where we were greeted by a scorpion towel animal… and the realization that our vacation was already half over!



Disney Mediterranean Cruise Trip Report: Day 2, At Sea

This is Part 2 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

Today was a day at sea, so we decided to take advantage of having nowhere to be (this would not be the case for the next 5 days!) and slept in until 9:30. After taking our time getting ready we headed to Cabanas for breakfast. The food is a little bit different since there are different suppliers in the Mediterranean but it was still very good. I didn’t even care that the donuts weren’t Krispy Kreme!


Check out that view!


After breakfast we decided to do a little bit of shopping. I had no intention of buying anything, I just wanted to gather some ideas for later, but as I walked into one of the shops on deck 4 I spotted them. Animators’ Collection Elsa dolls. With zero hesitation I grabbed two, one we gave away on this blog a few weeks ago! Always thinking of the Dole Whippers, even when I’m on vacation ;).


I also picked up some adorable pins. I was looking forward to this since I had purchased one during my last cruise and loved it! These pins are sold by the register in black bags for only $2.95 with a minimum purchase of $30. Last time I got a Mickey anchor, this time I was lucky enough to get two different ones, a Dumbo and a Donald Duck!


Upon returning to our room we found out that we were locked out! Our view for the next hour while we waited to figure out what was wrong (the batteries in the card reader on the door had run out) and for the carpenter to fix it was this:


As soon as we got back into the room we got changed and headed for the adults only pool and pool bar!


IMG_3643 IMG_3644

The temperature of the pool was perfect. Just cool enough to be refreshing but not unpleasant to get in to. Some liquid courage had Brent ready to try the Aqua Dunk. Me, not so much. Now if you don’t know, the Aqua Dunk is one of the water slides on the Disney Magic. This particular slide starts off with the floor dropping out from underneath you, then shoots you out over the side of the boat before coming to a stop. No thank you! Brent said it was an absolute blast though, and worth the short wait he’d endured on this sea day.


Checking on the time, I realized that we needed to head back to our stateroom to shower and get dressed if we wanted to make our meeting at Keys at 2:00. This was a prearranged meet up of people who had joined a Facebook group about this particular cruise. It was nice to put some names to faces at this event! Brent and I enjoyed a few drinks and some conversation before we decided we were very hungry and needed to head back to Cabanas for some lunch. I do wish we’d decided just a bit earlier that we wanted lunch, as then we would have been able to get something at one of the sit down restaurants instead of the buffet but oh well! IMG_3482 IMG_3484

Since we’d been so late getting lunch by the time we wanted dessert they’d already starting putting it away, so we headed to Deck 9 to the self serve ice cream station. Over the course of this trip there were many different flavors of ice cream that were rotated every few days. I saw: mango, strawberry, blueberry and banana. Of course there was always chocolate and vanilla! They also had Mickey sprinkles and chocolate sauce to add to your ice cream if you so chose.



Following dessert we went back to our stateroom to read books out on our balcony.

IMG_6045 IMG_6046

In what you’ll soon see develop into a theme 😉 we took a nap before it was time to get ready for formal night and the Captain’s Gala. We headed down to Deck 3 mid ship for one of the best parts of the Captain’s Gala: free drinks! The line to have your photo taken with the Captain was very long so we just enjoyed our drinks, then headed outside of Deck 4 to watch the sun set.

IMG_3487 IMG_3489 IMG_3491 IMG_3493 IMG_3495

Dinner this night was at Animator’s Palate. On my previous cruise I’d been underwhelmed by my meal at Animator’s Palate, but this night was much better! The food was fabulous and dessert was one of my favorites.


Black Truffle Pasta Purseittes: Pasta Purses filled with Truffle-scented Cheese and coated with a Champagne Sauce


Baked Potato and Cheddar Cheese Soup with Bacon Bits and Chives


Creamy Butternut Squash Soup garnished with Chives and drizzled with Sour Cream


Lemon-Thyme Marinated All Natural Chicken Breast with Sour Cream mashed potatoes, roasted root vegetables and grain mustard au jus


Pennete Bolognese: Pennete Pasta mixed with a rich Bolognese Sauce garnished with Shaved Parmesan Reggiano and Toasted Garlic Ciabatta


Crunchy Walnut Cake: Dark Chocolate Mousse and Raspberry Coulis


Cookies ’n Cream Sundae Cookies & Cream Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce and Chocolate Chip Cookies

This night was “show” night at Animator’s Palate. I tried to take some photos but really none of them would have done the show any justice. The restaurant starts out black and white, with black and white drawings on the screens. As the meal goes on color starts being added and by dessert the whole restaurant is in full color (even the serving teams, who’d previously been wearing black and white) and there is a visit from Mickey himself!




After dinner we made a quick dash to our stateroom to get changed out of our formal clothes. There was an adults only show at the Walt Disney theater, ventriloquist Paul Zerdin. It was so funny! We were glad we’d stayed up late to see it. Following the show we went straight to bed, since it was up early the next morning for an excursion. Tonight’s towel animal was one of my favorites, an elephant. Our stateroom host Jojo had even used my sunglasses for the elephants eyes! Love it.





Up next, our first port day: Katakolon/Olympia, Greece!

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!

Listen to Desktop

Listen to iTunes

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!

Listen to Desktop

Listen to iTunes

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!

Listen to Desktop

Listen to iTunes

Podcast Episode 57: The Character Queen

Have you guys seen that guy on Facebook that does those awesome Dubsmash videos with characters at Disney World?  We have and that’s why we asked him to be a special guest on our podcast this week! He is so funny and he has some great insider tips on how to make the most of your character meet and greets at Disney!  Don’t miss it!

Happy listening!

Listen to Desktop

Listen to iTunes

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!

DCL Disney “Magic” – Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah: A Tour



Back in January, I got to take a cruise on the Disney Magic, my first one ever!  I’ve cruised on Carnival before so I wasn’t new to cruising in general, but nothing could have prepared me for the luxury that is Disney Cruise Line!

Since the cruise was an agent education program, I got to have a much nicer room than I could have afforded otherwise (I have three kids, we’re limited!).  We were given a Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah for just two of us.  I was floored!  I’ve always been in interior cabins way in the bowels of the ship so this was sheer luxury.  Our stateroom was 8084, and is on Deck 8 aft, the highest deck that has staterooms.  We were directly under Cabana’s, which was very convenient.

Let me tell you a little about the room and later you can watch a video tour I did of it. This room is 304 sq ft including the verandah and sleeps 5.  As you walk in the room from the hallway you’ll see a bank of closets on your left.  There are ample hangers and shelves for clothes and suitcases.  There’s also a safe where you can store your valuables.  It’s operated by your room key card.  On your right, is the famous Disney Cruise Line split bath.  The first door on the right is the room housing the toilet and a sink.  If you pass that up, you’ll come to the door with the bathtub/shower and another sink.  I cannot stress to you how genius Disney is for thinking of this.  Cruise ship bathrooms are notoriously small so no more than one person can be in them at a time.  By splitting them up, you can have at least two people getting dressed at once.  What a time saver!  Plus, both bathrooms have tons of storage space and mirrors.  Both are very well-thought out spaces.

Once you walk into the main part of the room, there’s a queen sized bed with built in nightstands on each side.  A word on this bed.  Most cruise lines have twin sized (or smaller!) beds that they push together to make one big bed.  This is problematic because as you’re sleeping, the beds shift and someone ends up in that crack and that just isn’t comfortable.  DCL gives you a real, honest to goodness, queen size bed.  No cracks!  And the mattress is comfortable! Oh, and the bed is raised so you’ve got plenty more storage for luggage and duty free purchases.

Past that bed is a small flat screen TV on your left and a vanity with lots of storage, even a small refrigerator.  On the right is a sofa that converts to a twin size bed, and above that is a pull down bunk. Across from the sofa is a dresser with plenty of drawers for all your stuff.   At the foot of the sofa is another Murphy style pull down bed, twin size. There is a bed for everyone you know.  Invite your friends to sleep over.

Now the good stuff.  The verandah.  It’s a thing of beauty.  Slide open those glass doors and let the ocean air in.  Savor it.  Sit out in one of the deck chairs provided and just drink it in.  Maybe wake your roommate at the crack of dawn to watch the sun rise.  No seriously, look at it.

Is this not a thing of beauty?

Is this not a thing of beauty?

There are so many touches in these rooms that I literally cannot list them all.  Every little thing has been thought of and I truly think that’s what makes DCL the leader in the cruise industry.  Their ships are amazing.

Here’s a video tour.  Check it out!