Travel not for the destination, but for the joy of the journey. – Sir Joseph Fresco

Disney Fantasy

In December, my family & I had the good fortune to sail on the Disney Fantasy cruise ship for 7 days in the Eastern Caribbean region.

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I learned several things on this vacation:

– Flights to Orlando from Boston are WAY cheaper than from Halifax!  Gives me a good reason to be happy to be moving to the Boston area this summer!

– Disney service is impeccable.  And you get a lot of “bang” for your buck.

– Disney vacations are NOT relaxing!  (At least not the way I do them.)  But they are fun.

The Fantasy is the newest of the Disney ships – and it is classed as a “mega ship” for good reason!  There is always a ton of things to do if you are so inclined, and our 10 & 12 year olds LOVED the kids clubs.  The immediately had new friends and were involved in all kinds of fun activities.  They decorated giant gingerbread cookies, went on scavenger hunts, played games, and even video games.  Once the kids discovered the pre-teen club called “Edge”, that is all they wanted to do!

We all enjoyed watching first-run Disney movies in the beautiful theatre & also some old Disney favourites on the giant outdoor screen by the pool.  The nightly evening shows were really good, too.  The musical “Aladdin” show was absolutely amazing.  The Genie could have been Robin Williams (well, unfortunately it couldn’t ACTUALLY have been him…I still miss him!) and was so funny (and he was so popular that he appeared in another of the evening shows later in the week).  The dancing & singing talent on that ship was quite amazing, and it definitely surpassed my expectations.

There were several character meet & greets all over the ship at various times during the day.  The kids and I spent a lot of time in lines waiting for pictures & autographs, but we got to meet some characters that we hadn’t before – like Genie!

IMG_1503My husband didn’t enjoy this part so much, so he usually disappeared to the room for a while, then came back much happier a little while later…with a rum & coke in his hand!  Speaking of which – if you would like to indulge in alcoholic beverages but do not want to pay high prices for each drink on the ship, Disney has a very lenient policy on bringing alcohol aboard.  You can bring any un-opened alcohol you want, as long as it is in your carry-on luggage.  So fill ‘er up!  I did indulge in a special drink one day by the pool, though.  Here is my Pina Colava!  (Pina Colada with raspberry sauce – yum!)

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My younger daughter’s favourite activity on the ship was solving mysteries!  There were computers onboard where you could sign up to complete a Disney-themed mystery, which was kind of like a Clue game where you go around the ship looking for clues to eliminate suspects, etc.  It was a fun activity on “at sea” days when we had time to kill.  (The picture in the photo below was playing a video clue for one of the mysteries.)

IMG_1496Food!  Of course, food is an important part of any cruise, and Disney does not disappoint.  The ship had three main dining rooms for the dinner rotation and each family can eat at each restaurant at least twice per week.  Your servers come with you each night to whichever restaurant you are assigned to, and they always remember your preferences from night to night.  Our servers always brought us our favourite beverages as we were sitting down.  My favourite restaurant was Animator’s Palate which had an artistic decor.  There were interactive screens where Crush (the turtle from Finding Nemo) would come around and have live conversations with guests.  My daughter actually had a conversation with him about the AquaDuck (the on-board waterslide) which was quite hilarious.    And my daughter particularly liked that you can order seconds of dessert!  Here is a picture of our awesome serving team at our last meal:

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As it was Christmas season, the ship was decked out with decorations & there were special holiday shows throughout the week.  They still had some of the “regular” non-holiday events, too, like the famous “pirate night” where there is a pirate party on deck in the evening, complete with Jack Sparrow and a fireworks show.  That day, the dinner menus are all pirate-themed, staff (and most guests) dress as pirates and even the characters are dressed as pirates all day long.

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We had three ports of call on our cruise:  San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Maarten; and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.

We really enjoyed each place we visited & they were all very different experiences.  In San Juan we took a horseback riding excursion through the rainforest which was a lot of fun & not something we do every day!  We also had some time to wander around the town a bit and do some shopping.  A lovely city!

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Our St. Maarten excursion took us to a beautiful and wavy beach where we all had a great time being attacked by the waves and getting drenched.  And before our excursion, we had time to visit a market near the port where there all kinds of souvenir stalls set up with some interesting items & there was surprisingly little pressure from the sales people, which was a pleasant surprise.  It was interesting to drive from the Dutch side of the island into the French side, where all of a sudden the signs are all in French!

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And finally, we came to Castaway Cay.  It is a small island with a huge beach on one side, several DIsney stores, a bike / walking trail, and food (included in price, except specialty beverages, of course).  We booked a snorkeling adventure here, which was the kids’ first time snorkeling.  It was fun, but in retrospect, we needn’t have bothered with an excursion on this island as the entire island is an excursion on its own!  The kids were happy to play all day at the beach and do a bit of shopping and walking around.  You can rent snorkel gear, bikes, and various other water & land activities on the beach,  and of course, the unlimited ice cream was a hit (both on the boat and at Castaway Cay!).

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So, would I recommend a Disney Cruise?  Definitely yes…IF:

– You have children, or don’t mind being surrounded in tons of young children all decked out in princess and/or pirate outfits all the time.  I thought they were quite cute, and never had problems with any misbehaviour or anything like that.  But there are A LOT of people on the ship, so the decks can be a little crowded on “at sea” days.

– You love Disney.  All the shows & movies are, of course, Disney.  The restaurants are Disney-themed.  The music is Disney.  I loved it, but you might not!

– You aren’t bothered by seasickness.  There is medication for this of course, so if you’re not sure, why not give it a try?  I actually LOVED being rocked to sleep at night by the boat.  I slept like a baby!  My husband was woken up a couple of times by the rocking, however.

– You have kids but would like some adult time as well (there are several adults-only areas, nightclubs, and restaurants to choose from).  The kids clubs are so popular with kids of all ages, that you are likely to get a good mix of family time as well as adult time on this vacation.  You can also opt to have your childrens’ meals served first so they can eat quickly and run off to their kids’ club, leaving you to enjoy a leisurely meal without kids!  If you are like us, that almost never happens anywhere else.

My kids and I would definitely go back for another cruise, but my husband wasn’t as thrilled with it.  He liked the excursions more than the cruise itself.  When given the choice between a Disney Cruise & a Disney World vacation, my 12 year old voted for Disney Cruise and my 10 year old voted for Disney World.  So there you have it!  They are both winners!  🙂

What would you choose?

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New Year, New Plan

I know, right?!  How long has it been since I have visited my own blog?  I don’t even want to know.  But it’s a new year, and I have a new plan.  My plan is to blog more.  And drink more.  But that’s a different story.

So what’s new with you since I blogged last?  As for me, my husband got a new job working in Massachusetts – a whole other country!, we put the house on the market this week, we took a family vacation (Disney Cruise!) between my husband’s jobs in December, spent lots of time getting the house ready for sale, and had Christmas & birthdays & work & playdates in between to keep me busy.

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(This is my family getting into trouble with pirate Stitch on The Disney Fantasy last month.)

I’m sure this will be another busy year, as we’ll be moving from Canada to the USA at some point in 2016.  But in the meantime I’m going to do my best to say “hi” a little more often and I will fill you in on our recent Disney Cruise and other shenanigans.

Drop me a line and let me know what you’ve been up to and where your travels have been taking you lately!

Here we are, in good ol’ 2015.  Also known as “the future” in Back to the Future II!  What, no hoverboards??  No cars that fly?  I really wanted that clothing that custom fits itself to my own size – that would make shopping a whole lot easier!  Even though we might not have everything that was envisioned in Marty McFly’s future, we did end up with some pretty nifty futuristic things.

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(That’s me in 2013 with Doc Brown!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I am still amazed by the fact that we all have “Smart Phones” that respond to your touch or your voice that you can use wherever you are (mostly) – it’s like Star Trek!  (I super want the “beam me up” feature, though – maybe someone will come up with an app for that!)  And the internet…you can find anything you want to know about anything on there!  Crazy stuff.  We can video chat with friends and family…for FREE (well, not including the internet subscription and smart device) anytime we want.

So now that we have all these crazy convenient tools and information at our fingertips, what should we do with all that free time that used to be spent driving to the library to look up information in the encyclopedia, or typing your reports on a typewriter…only to discover a mistake on page 2 that requires you to re-type the entire thing!

Wait…what?!  You still don’t have any free time?  How can that be?

It’s interesting that one of the big vacation requests is that people want to get away and “unplug” for a week – escape the technology that is so handy & cool, yet so encompassing & smothering at the same time.

When the kids & I sit down to watch a movie, it is not unusual to look around the room and find everyone with a device in their hands…half watching the movie and half playing video games or checking Facebook, or whatever.

But recently I was on a 7-day cruise with no internet access.  None at all!  I watched movies…and just WATCHED them.  I admit that I felt a little antsy at first, like I was supposed to be doing something other than just sitting there.  But then I realized that I was on vacation…from my electronics!  And it was kinda nice!

So, long story short, don’t be afraid to unplug for a week.  Go somewhere new and experience it without checking Facebook to find out what your neighbour had for breakfast that morning.  When you get home, Facebook will still be there, ready to post your vacation photos and to let everyone know what YOU had for breakfast this morning!  Make it something good!

Mickey Ears!

It’s been a crazy, busy month, and I have definitely been an unfaithful blogger…but I just had to say “hi” and show you what I harvested from my garden today…

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Even my carrots have Mickey ears!!!  🙂

Another special experience at Disney World for your little princesses!

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We surprised Daughter with a visit to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Cinderella’s castle.  She freaked out she was so excited.  And she loved it!

The reservation was hard to score. It took me several times to find an opening at the castle.  You need to call for reservations at:

(407) WDW-STYLE or (407) 939-7895
I purchased her costume on the Disney shopping website after Halloween.  That made the experience much more reasonable.  We dressed her in her costume in a park bathroom and made our way over to the castle.  We had a short wait before we were taken back for her visit.
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We went with the “crown package” for this trip which is…
The Crown Package (starting at $59.95, plus tax)
  • Hairstyling
  • Shimmering make-up, face gem
  • Princess sash and tote
  • Nail polish

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She was able to pick out her nail polish color and take the rest of the…

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A unique experience for your child at Disney World!

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We surprised Daughter with a visit to the Pirates League in the Magic Kingdom.  Its located right next to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.  This was much more of an experience than the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique was.  This also took much longer! The makeup for the pirate is much bolder than the Boutique if that is a concern.

You check in and record where you are from.

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Next you are given a new pirate name. My child was now Rachael Gunsco!

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Then at your muster station your makeover begins.

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We went with the “Empress” package:

The First Mate and Empress Packages (starting at $34.95 plus tax):

  • Your choice of facial effect: Cursed Pirate, Captain Hook, Captain Jack, Blackeyed Jack or shimmering makeup*
  • Reversible bandana
  • Earring and eye patch
  • Sword and sheath
  • The Pirate League bag
  • Temporary tattoo
  • Unique pirate coin necklace
  • Personalized pirate oath
  • Official pirate name
  • Participation in…

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Caribbean Colours

While vacationing in Jamaica this spring, I vowed to bring that amazing Caribbean water colour home with me.

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I wanted to paint the entire house in turquoise blue, refurnish all the rooms with hammocks and beach chairs, and drink fancy, frozen rum beverages all day long.  Of course, we would also need a beach in the backyard (maybe a great pool would do), and I would DEFINITELY need to bring the made-to-order pasta bar (and pasta prince!) home with me.  Can’t drink on an empty stomach, after all!

The real trick will be figuring out how to bring the year-round summery weather to Nova Scotia, Canada.  But I can worry about that later!

The great news is, we already have two cats, so we are already one step ahead on re-creating our resort experience at home.

Unfortunately, now that I’m home and still somehow not a billionaire, I think I am going to have to ratchet down on my home reconstruction plans.  I’m afraid that the old cat-scratched furniture will have to stay a while longer, and there most definitely will not be a pool in our backyard anytime soon (sorry kids!).

But wait!  There is one touch of vacation that I might be able to re-create at home.  Ocean colours!  No, I won’t be painting the entire house turquoise blue until I manage to get all those hammocks installed, but I CAN do my little office space.  What better way to work in the travel biz than in a room that screams VACATION!  I love it!  Now I just have to narrow down the colour…

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Anyone else have a Caribbean-inspired room in their house?  I’d love to see pictures & ideas!

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