Checking in on those Disney New Year’s (non) Resolutions

We’re a bit past the midway mark of 2017 already!  Hard to believe, isn’t it?  Goodness, how this year is flying by!  I don’t know about you and your family, but we have been crazy busy this year and there’s no slowing down in sight.  I took a quick peak back to my New Year’s post to see how I was keeping up with my plans…

Checking in on those Disney New Year’s (non) Resolutions

The SOUP!  I’m really not sure why I fall in love with soups in Disney restaurants more than any other type of food.  Last Christmas at Jiko I was crazy about the Curried Butternut Squash Bisque and tried my best (fairly successfully) to reproduce it at home sans duck confit and quince marmalade.  I’ve made it twice so far and it was very tasty both times and close, but not exactly right.  I’m waiting for the weather to cool off a bit before I give it another go and I’m still committed to trying to record an actual recipe to share.  I tend to produce my most successful creations by throwing a bunch of ingredients together without measuring anything.

The Dark Side CHALLENGE!  Joseph’s first runDisney events and my first ones not having to run alone.  Star Wars 10K and half marathon…check!  A good time was had by all.  Happy, happy memories.The MOVIES!  There’s just one movie left on my short list of must-sees this year…Star Wars: The Last Jedi (December 15th).  I thought Beauty and the Beast was good and Spider-Man: Homecoming was solidly entertaining (even with all the teen angst).  Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 was by far the best movie I’ve seen this year.  I’m a huge Guardians fan and spent a fair amount of time worrying about the sequel not living up to the original movie.  HA!  Worried for nothing.  Volume 2 was everything I’d hoped for.

Scuba School!  Joseph and I, then later, Megan and Lyndsey (Joe’s girlfriend) have all completed our PADI open water scuba certifications.  We’re now working on our advanced open water and rescue diver certifications as well.  Who knew this would be so much fun?!?!  We’ve got some diving in Florida coming up to practice our new skills.  One downside…I either had to buy new swimwear or continue on with the single, well-worn Target suit I’d purchased several years ago.  I waited until all the swimsuits at Dillard’s were 1/2-off and forced myself to go shopping.  It was just as horrible as I expected, but I now have two new suits for vacation.  And they’ll be covered up most of the time by my wetsuit.

Booking a Disney Cruise was on the list.  That one was so easy, we’ve got not one, but two cruises in our future.  This fall we’ll be sailing on the Fantasy’s 7-Night Eastern Caribbean itinerary.  Next fall, we’ll be on the Wonder’s 4-night repositioning cruise from Vancouver to San Diego.  Does this mean we will finally get to Disneyland?  I’m sure working on it and will keep you posted.

Last Item:  Disney Undersea Adventure.  On our upcoming Caribbean cruise, Raymond and I will be visiting Tortola, St. Thomas/St. John, and Castaway Cay.  We were able to book two scuba diving excursions through Disney Cruise Line.  In Tortola our adventure is the Certified Scuba Wreck & Reef Dive.  In St. Thomas we’re signed up for the rather boringly named St. Thomas Certified Scuba excursion.  Both adventures include two dives – one to view coral and wildlife, one to explore a shipwreck.  We’re super excited!  On this cruise we’ll also be celebrating our 28th wedding anniversary!

Did you make any Disney (non) Resolutions for 2017?  How are you doing with your list?

Have you done any of the scuba excursions on a Disney cruise?  Got any tips or feedback to share?

10 Little Things to Love About Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line ships are gorgeous with well-appointed and above average-sized staterooms.  Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island paradise) is absolutely amazing.  Disney Cruise Line’s award winning service and top notch amenities for all ages can’t be beat!  Yes, all of that is what keeps us coming back – Raymond and I are looking forward to our eighth Disney cruise and our first voyage on the Fantasy later this year.  But when I think about Disney cruises, I often find myself remembering particular, small details.  I’ve compiled a few for you here today…

10 Little Things to Love About Disney Cruise Line

Bath Products – I’m not alone here.  The interwebs are crowded with fellow fans (this article is great!).  The H2O line is awesome and makes us feel pampered.  The fragrance of those soaps, lotions, and shampoos brings back such happy memories!

Towel Animals – Those stateroom hosts are artistic geniuses!  Leave for dinner and a show, return to your room and voila!  It may be a swan or an elephant.  It could be a rabbit, monkey, or lobster – that is what’s so fun about those towel animals – you never know what it will be!  They’re always adorable and are waiting every evening with your Personal Navigators (schedules, news, etc.) for the next day.  And chocolate.  There’s chocolate, too!Things to Love on a Disney Cruise

Entertaining Dining – Disney’s rotational dining is unique.  Each evening you (and your wait staff) visit one of three completely different, creatively themed restaurants.  The menus change along with some of the Disney magic in each location throughout your cruise – makes for some very special and memorable dinners.  Besides the themed dining rooms, the ships’ casual, quick-serve windows are fun in their own way, too.  From pizza to sandwiches, soft-serve ice cream, breakfast items and fresh fruit – there’s always something available when you’re feeling hungry (and even when you’re not).

Multiple Theaters – Want to watch a movie or a live show?  The Walt Disney Theater becomes THE place to be every evening (two shows a night) for Broadway style entertainment.  Seriously, the shows are fantastic!  In the Buena Vista Theater, classic favorites and the latest movie releases are shown daily – an especially fun activity on at-sea days.

Mixology, Cooking Demonstrations and Animation Classes – Whatever you’re interested in, there’s something for everyone.  Kids may have their own onboard clubs, but adults and families have plenty of choices for group activities.  Now that our children are adults, we like to attend a mixology class or martini tasting together (upcharges apply), check out a cooking demo by some of the ships’ amazing chefs, or learn to draw a favorite Disney character.  There are so many choices, it’s hard to fit it all in!

Live Music – It’s available here and there throughout each cruise and includes performances by musicians like violin and piano players and small bands.  One group in particular stands out in my mind.  It was on our cruise in Norway aboard the Disney Magic.  The group performed Irish music in one of the ship’s pubs (O’Gills) and they were amazing.  We became regulars at their evening show and ending the day with excellent music in a low-key, relaxing way was absolutely perfect.

Door Magnets – While I love personalizing our stateroom door with my own magnetic décor, I also love seeing all the fun, creative ways everyone else does as well.  Store-bought or homemade, there are magnets galore and I love walking around exploring door decorations.  Gives me ideas for next time.

Fancy Finishes – From light fixtures to carpeting, railings to artwork – every detail on a Disney ship is unique and special.  If you take the “Art of the Theme Show Tour” you can learn quite a bit about what it takes to make ships designed to the Disney standard.  This tour is kid-free and at no extra charge and it made us look at the ship with new appreciation.  Very cool.

Castaway Club Gifts – After your first Disney Cruise, you’re automatically enrolled in the cruise line’s Castaway Club.  Every time you take another cruise, there’s a gift waiting for you in your stateroom.  We love this perk and have found the gifts thoughtful and of great quality.  Last year we received a large beach bag with some goodies inside and were happy to have it for our stop at Castaway Cay.

Pin Trading – I should have outgrown this by now (ha!), but I’m still up for some serious Disney pin scouting from time to time (as is the rest of The Fam).  The ships have scheduled pin trading times and we’ve found some of our favorite pins during those events.  During the last one we attended, the ships officers had lanyards full of pins and as they traded, their lanyards were refreshed from time to time.  We found some pins we’d been looking for and some we’d never seen before.  Go prepared with some pins to trade so you don’t have to buy them on the ship.

This is but a small sampling of what we enjoy so much about Disney Cruise Line!  Most of all, it still feels like a Disney vacation (even without theme park attractions).  Have you sailed on Disney Cruise Line?  What did you like most about your experience?

Disney Cruising – At Sea Day Tips

Before the first Disney cruise we took that had an at sea day on the itinerary, we wondered what the heck that would be like.  At SEA.  You’re stuck on a ship, floating around in the ocean with typically no land in sight.  What does one DO under such conditions?  Sleep in?  Lay by the pool?  Honestly, we are simply not the kind of family that would be excited by either one of those options!  This caused us no small measure of concern initially.  Seven Disney cruises later, we think we’ve got a pretty good handle on exactly how to make use of an at sea day to the best advantage.

Disney Cruising – At Sea Day Tips

Plan ahead – At sea days provide the perfect opportunity to splurge!  Book in advance both spa treatments and adults-only dining.  Both of these are wonderfully relaxing experiences.  We’ve enjoyed massages and both brunch and dinner this way many times.  We strongly recommend making this part of every at sea day opportunity!Disney Cruise Sunrise

Get UP!  You are on a Disney cruise – this is most definitely not the time to sleep in.  Get your patootie out of bed and embrace the day!  There is food to eat and activities to try.  Sleeping late is for wimps and ne’er do wells (I’ve always wanted to say that!) – you’ve paid good money for the amenities Disney Cruise Line offers and there’s no better opportunity to make the most of that investment like an at sea day.Disney Dream Children's Play Area

Walk around a bit, breathe in the sea air, grab some grub and make some decisions.  Your personal navigator (offered in both print and through the DCL app) will detail the day’s schedule.  Plenty of fun for all ages will be on the agenda. We find there’s usually not enough time in the day for us to do everything that appeals to us.Disney Dream Gym

Consider activity – Explore the ship, work out in the exercise room, play games like ping-pong, basketball or shuffleboard.  The astoundingly plentiful cruise food makes burning some excess calories very appealing.  We thought the Midship Detective Agency was awesome on the Disney Dream!  It was a lot like a scavenger hunt that took us all over the ship.  Word of caution – if you feel strongly about hanging out by the pool, get there early for a lounge chair!  If you want to try the AquaDuck or AquaDunk slides (depends on the ship), be prepared to wait in long queues.Disney Dream Pool

Learn something new or see a movie – Both options are available.  Attend a cooking demonstration.  Learn to draw a Disney character or create towel animals.  Mixology and other adult beverage seminars are loads of fun!  First run movies will be shown in the very comfortable and spacious on-board theater.  I haven’t even mentioned the Disney character meet-and-greets or the trivia games!  So much to do in one day!Disney-Dream-Cooking-DemoMovie-on-the-Disney-Magic

Are you a Disney Cruise fan?  What’s your favorite at sea day activity?

 

 

Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Club Review

Disney Cruise Line ShipThe more you cruise, the better the perks!  Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Club is a pretty sweet deal for people like us – we love Disney cruises and plan on taking many, many more.  If you’ve not yet taken that first Disney cruise and you’re wondering how to become a member of this particular club, it’s easy!  Simply take one Disney cruise and you’re in!  No application necessary.  The more you cruise, the better the perks of membership.  Membership levels determine the benefits.

After the first cruise, Silver level membership benefits apply.  After five cruises, Gold level is earned and after the tenth Disney sailing, cruisers reach the highly coveted Platinum level.  A helpful chart for all Castaway Club benefits can be found here.

Here’s what we’ve enjoyed most about our Castaway Club membership IMG_1853

Our first cruise (December 2006) was only three days long and boom!  We were in the club.  As we arrived for our second cruise (New Year’s week 2008), we were ushered into the special check-in line for members and were given our Castaway Club lanyards and, once we reached our stateroom, our Castaway Club gift.  Over the years, the gifts have varied, but are usually tote bags or backpacks of some sort, which come in handy right away for shore excursions.  Silver level’s good, but Gold is much better!Magic-Smoke-Stack

When sailing on popular itineraries, the ability to book activities earlier than the general public is very helpful!  Gold level membership allows booking 105 days before sailing (Silver can book at 90 days, Platinum at 120).  I’ll use our Norway cruise on the Disney Magic (June 2015) as an example – we did extensive research and knew exactly what excursions and specialty dining options we wanted.  At precisely 105 days pre-cruise, we booked exactly what we wanted excursion-wise without issue.  When it came to the Palo brunch and dinner we wanted, we did get reservations, but not at the exact times we’d hoped for.  As it turns out, we were told at the Gold and Platinum member reception (another awesome perk!) on the cruise that there were hundreds of Platinum members on board (it was the inaugural sailing in Norway).  Platinum is where we want to be!Magic-on-Deck

On the way to Platinum, every cruise counts regardless of length.  3 and 4-day voyages count just as much as the longer, more exotic cruises.  Our dream is to someday enjoy Platinum membership, but it’s going to take a while to get there since we’ve got to get our Walt Disney World regular fixes and are planning to visit Disney’s Hawaiian resort, Aulani, late next year (if possible).  Magic-on-Deck2

Disney Cruises are a great way to see the world while remaining in the Disney Bubble!  With two more ships to be added to the fleet in 2021 and 2023, we’re looking forward to letting Disney take us to many, many more places!

Where we’ve been:

  • 2006 – Bahamas (3-night)
  • 2008 – Western Caribbean  (7-night)
  • 2010 – Bahamas (5-night Castaway Cay Double Dip)
  • 2011 – Alaska (7-night)
  • 2013 – Mediterranean (7-night)
  • 2015 – Fjords of Norway (7-night)
  • 2016 – Bahamas (4-night)

While on our last cruise, we booked a place-holder for the next one.  We have 24 months sail away on a new adventure.  I have no idea where we’ll go!  Any suggestions?