The Joy of Concierge | Disney Cruise Line

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we are sharing what you need to know to start planning your Disney Cruise.


For my first cruise, a quick three night getaway while Mimi watched the babies, we stayed in a inside standard room. With the kids along we moved up to a secret porthole room and after several more years and celebrations, we’ve stayed in nearly every category of stateroom from inside standard stateroom to the Walter E. Disney suite. I enjoyed each and every cruise. I loved each stateroom for different reasons and our next cruise (a big family reunion) will be in a non-concierge stateroom with a verandah.
Frankly, I’d be happy if they let me sleep on deck!

Cruising with Mickey!

So why cruise concierge?

Why concierge is magical!
Why concierge is magical!

 

Let’s dive in and find out!

Anything from anniversaries to birthdays to family reunions makes an excellent excuse to try concierge. Concierge is addictive, consider yourself warned. After our first concierge cruise, we intended to go back to the simple life, but the perks brought us back!

Concierge offers many, many worthwhile perks while you soak up the sun and enjoy the suite life at sea. While some cruisers enjoy the royal suites and the square footage and amenities that those entail, the majority of the concierge rooms are comparable in size or only slightly larger than other verandah staterooms onboard.

Onshore Perks!

The concierge benefits begin before you ever set foot onboard. Shoreside concierge contact cruisers around 125 days before sailing to see what magical touches they will add to your vacation.

Hakuna matata in your own private tropical paradise.
Hakuna matata in your own private tropical paradise.

Everything from a romantic dinner at Palo, to massages or a private beach cabana can be pre-arranged through your concierge. If you’d like to try any of the port adventures or book anything through spa, dining, stateroom gifts, the shoreside concierge set the wheels in motion.

Embarkation Day!

It’s finally here! your countdown is done. The bags whisked out of sight at port and you’ve passed through security without a hitch. Where’s your concierge? Your concierge experience begins as soon as you reach the concierge check-in desk.

The Royal Treatment
On checking in, they may treat you to a surprise or two.

The concierge team swiftly verifies paperwork, fits your children with MagicBands for the kids clubs and shows you to a lounge. Short lines and reserved seats? It gets better. Before embarkation begins by boarding group, concierge guests are among the first shown onto the ship.

Reception(s)

On the classic ships, you’re instructed to arrive at the deck three forward lounge during the early afternoon to meet your personal concierge. Until then, you’re free to pop over to the restaurants for lunch if you’re feeling hungry or explore the ship at your leisure. On the Dream class ships on arrival in the atrium, cast member escort your family straight to the Concierge Lounge to meet your team. In both cases, snacks and drinks flow plentifully in the lounge while your concierge reviews your itinerary for the week, arranges for any ticketed events (meet and greets, wine tastings, tea parties) and then visits a bit to get to know your family.

 A few days in, your concierge lets you know that there will be a reception for the concierge guests. Don’t miss this!

Our family really quacks me up!
Quick meet and greet on the concierge sundeck. Disney Fantasy 2014

Yes, there is food everywhere on deck. This isn’t just a buffet. Save some time for this happy hour/meet and greet. We’ve seen Donald and Daisy each host, though any of the classic characters are possible.

Exclusively on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy

There are a couple extra perks for concierge guests staying on the Dream class ships:

Exhibit A:

Boarding Day
Concierge Sun Deck

Exhibit B:

Puerto Rico
Private Concierge Lounge

Concierge Cast Members

Words fail me when describing the concierge. If you crossed Mary Poppins with Genie and threw in a dash of Tinker Bell, you’d be in the right ballpark. Each detail of your vacation is important to them and they’ll bend over backwards to try to knock your socks off.

Plenty of other magic waits in store! I didn’t even touch on complimentary sodas stocked in your room to the amazing staterooms themselves to just plain old heaping doses of pixie dust which vary from cruise to cruise. I wouldn’t want to spoil all the surprises!

Is a concierge cruise on your bucket list?
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Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Blue | Disney Cruising 101 Loop:

The Royal Treatment | A Tale of Two Ships

Welcome to this month’s Magical Blogorail Blue loop. Today we are sharing what you can expect from some of the club level experiences at Disney Resorts and on the Disney Cruise Line.

Have you ever dreamed of cruising concierge?

What about in the royal suite?
Last year offered up a boatload of moms panel excitement, trip planning high spirits, beginning of homeschool jitters and also a ridiculous amount of pixie dust magic!



Boarding Day Verandah Disney Fantasy Royal Suite
Toes in the wind and off on an adventure!

In January, our family cruised in the Walt Disney Suite on the Disney Wonder to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary and our daughter’s fifth birthday.
Then in November, we upgraded at port to the Walt Disney Suite on the Disney Fantasy.
Just for fun.
(TONS of pixie dust, y’all!)
So what’s the difference between one royal suite and another?

The Disney Wonder

Disney’s classic ships, the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder feature nearly identical Royal Suites. Located on deck eight slightly forward of midship, the Walt comfortably sleeps seven between the two bedrooms, two and a half baths and ample living and dining space. There are three unique sleeping areas (two bedrooms and a sitting area) which can all be closed off individually to allow for quiet and privacy.




The Royal Treatment Disney Wonder
Although the Wonder’s verandah is quadruple wide, the bump out narrows it at the center..

The quadruple wide verandah is very wide, but not any deeper than a standard verandah. Oh and you get a butler pantry in case you bring someone with you who enjoys butling from time to time.

The Disney Fantasy

Disney’s Dream Class ships, the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy host two royal suites each, with minor differences in layout beyond the mirror imaging across the ship. They are far forward on deck 12, only steps away from the concierge lounge. The Walt sleeps up to five in one master bedroom suite with a large open living space. During turn down, two murphy beds fold out into the living room each in it’s own curtained area.



Disney Fantasy Verandah
At the aft of the verandah are two loungers, then a breakfast nook, the two forward loungers then a private hot tub.
Child for scale.
I’ve stayed in staterooms smaller than this verandah!

The spacious dining and living areas flow seamlessly onto the ample verandah including a hot tub (or as Kylee put it “our own little pool”). The second washroom in this suite features a shower so that the kids can shower off at the same time that I took a soak in the master bath’s Jacuzzi. Aside from the massive living area, there is also a full kitchen stocked with glassware, dishes, a full refrigerator with freezer and even a dishwasher, if you’re so inclined.

One of these Suites is Not Like the Other

Dive right in with me to compare the best staterooms on the high seas! Sounds “pretty suite” to me.



Disney Wonder vs. Disney Fantasy
Living Spaces
Disney Wonder on the left, Disney Fantasy on the right.

On first entering the Disney Wonder’s royal suite, Kylee promptly took off her shoes and shut them into the butler’s pantry. It took us ten minutes to find them because there were simply so many places to store things. Each of the two features enough nooks and crannies to store everything you could ever possibly bring and then some. Both feature entryway closets, walk in master closets, and pretty nearly every shiny wooden surface conceals a cabinet or drawer to tuck away everything from ball gowns to swimwear.




The Royal Treatment Disney Wonder
Disney Wonder Walt Disney Suite Master Bedroom
Snug and cozy!
We loved having our own separate bedroom and bathroom.
Boarding Day Disney Fantasy Master Suite Royal
Disney Fantasy Walt Disney Suite Master Bedroom
The Roy features the bedroom by the windows, as shown on the DCL site, but the Walt had our bedroom on the interior.
We loved the star lights over the bed twinkling on and off!

Both suites are large enough that you can (and occasionally do) lose someone in the suite itself. Before we knew that Kylee’s shoes were missing, Ben spent several minutes by the kid’s room calling for me and peeking around before he located me (unpacking toiletries in the master bathroom. I had not heard him. He was too far away and the sound proofing is simply too good.
It’s just that big.
We occasionally spent a few minutes rustling up the kids for dinner. (Silly as it may sound, you can walk a complete circle on the classics from front hall through the master walk-in through the master suite to the media library and back out through the living room to the front hall at the same speed as your child and spend quite a while looking for them. Yeah…)

Pixie Dusting

So what magic awaits you in the royal suites beyond the wonderful concierge services, luxurious surroundings and the perks of receptions with the rest of the concierge guests?
The first obvious perk is square footage. Space at sea is a commodity and in these suites, particularly on the Fantasy, you have it in spades. We loved both of these suites so much that we spent hardly any time at all in the adults only areas.



Sea Day 3 Private Royal Verandah
Why would we hit the adults only pool deck when we could lounge on our own private hot tub and watch the ocean drift by?

The second is the perk of an extended room service menu. If you’d like to order up any of the full sit down restaurant meals, you are more than welcome.



Palo in Pajamas
Some light antipasti from Palo.

If you’d rather eat Palo in pajamas with your kindergartener, that’s also a possibility, so long as you order Palo for room service through your concierge.

Disembark
Nothing like sunrise on your verandah.

The last perk of staying in the Royal Suite is the pixie dust. From free unlimited internet, to the concierge finding a last minute cabana massage (or even cabana) to Mickey Bars magically replacing themselves in your freezer, this suite is saturated in nothing short of the perfect Disney touch. Come time to disembark, you may seriously consider stowing away!

To hear the full story, check out our adventures on the Disney Wonder experiencing the Royal Treatment or our surprise concierge cruise on the Disney Fantasy!

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Blue | Club Level Stays at Disney Loop:

Pixie Dust and Stateroom Upgrades | Disney Cruise Line 101

Who wouldn’t love an upgrade? Moving from an interior stateroom to a verandah or from a verandah to a concierge suite doesn’t have to be only a Dream.



Pixie Dust Upgrade
Live the dream.
Upgrading is easier than you think!

The question, of course, is when and how exactly to score an upgrade.
Before the Sail Date
There are two ways to score an upgrade in advance of packing your bags.

1.) Pixie Dust!
Imagine logging in to your reservation one day and the stateroom number doesn’t match your memories. You go to look up if they’ve moved you down the hall to an identical porthole room. No, the room is up a deck and seems to be a verandah stateroom.
That can’t be right.
That’s not what you paid for so you call up Disney Cruise Line only to find out “Surprise!” they’ve sprinkled pixie dust on your stateroom and you will be enjoying ocean breezes from the privacy of your very own verandah at no additional cost. More often you will shift staterooms to one within a similar size and category.
On our “second honeymoon” cruise, our standard inside stateroom became a deluxe interior stateroom and we gained a split bath and some extra square footage. They sometimes shift rooms up by a category or even just down the hall to allow for maintenance to be performed on the ship. Any reason for an upgrade is good by me!

2.) Pay for an upgrade.
Although not as thrilling as pixie dust upgrades, most itineraries offer many opportunities to upgrade any time from when you book your cruise until a few days before sailing.
Either contact Disney Cruise Line directly by calling (800) 951-3532 (or your travel agent if you’re using one) and ask about available upgrades or log-in to your reservation. Under your reservation summary you can modify your room selection and upgrade to your hearts content (or downgrade if that’s your cup of tea.)

The modification page lets you view available staterooms, categories and price points.

See the porthole on the right?
By modifying my reservation, we snagged a Secret Porthole Room* when it came available.
Secret Porthole Room (SPH) are a few of the staterooms on deck five of the classic ships that have obstructed porthole views and are priced as interior staterooms but with the benefit of a porthole. These six rooms, 5020, 5022, 5024, 5520, 5522 and 5524, are listed mixed in with the other 10A staterooms under interior staterooms.

If you do upgrade, the increase in the deposit will be due on confirming the upgrade.

Embarkation Day
1.) Pay for an upgrade.
After you check in at the desk in the cruise terminal, ask if any upgrades are available. They’ll send you down to the supervisor desk at the end of the counter.
They don’t allow many upgrades per cruise even if it’s not particularly full so getting to port early is a must. (Making sure to be on the very first bus from the airport helps.) They may only let one or two staterooms upgrade and then close the desk.
They often quote a considerably lower price to upgrade at port than they do ahead of time.



Boarding Day
Ahead of time, the Walt Disney Suite runs around $25,000 for the week.
On the day of the cruise, the upgrade cost checked in at $3,000, putting it in reach for our very own Fantasy vacation!

If you agree to the price, they will ask if you’d like to charge it to the card linked to you account and you’ll settle that out then they will change your room keys out for new ones coded to your new stateroom.
Keep in mind, over our last five years of cruising the supervisor desk allowed us to upgrade exactly once. Every other time we arrived right at the port arrival starting time and discovered that it already had closed and in one case that the supervisor’s computer was down, so there is a certain element of luck.

2.) Pixie Dust!
In the hubbub of receiving your key to the world card, boarding and taking in the ship, you fail to notice that you’ve been assigned a different stateroom number than you’d booked. (The agent checking you in at the terminal may also let you know you’ve been upgraded.)
You go to the room listed on your key cards to quickly drop off your carry-ons before hitting the pool when suddenly you realize your room has natural lighting and a verandah.
Is this a mistake?
Nope, just good old fashioned pixie dust.

Never tell me the odds!
What’s the likelihood of a pixie dust upgrade?
Before embarkation, these upgrades are rare but hardly unheard of, but once you’re to the day of the cruise, it’s about as common as running into real pixie dust. I’ve heard it reported a handful of times, almost always told at the check-in counter. I’ve heard one account of finding out by opening a stateroom door.

Isn’t there any way to stack the odds in my favor?
You may be surprised to find out that noting that it is your birthday, anniversary, honeymoon or even holding a wedding onboard won’t guaranty a pixie-dusting. First time cruiser or longtime Castaway Club member, family of four or solo sailor, celebrating a milestone anniversary or just celebrating vacation time? Your odds seem to be pretty even. I’ve even heard of accounts of only one of a pair of connecting staterooms getting upgraded or both getting upgraded together.
Pixies are terribly unpredictable, aren’t they?

Rule of thumb, never book a stateroom if you won’t find it magical for the length of your itinerary.

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Do you upgrade or not?

A New Ship | Throwback Thursday Trip Report

Have you ever fantasized about spending a week cruising the Eastern Caribbean in the Walter E. Disney Suite? Come along for the ride as we rewind back to our Very MerryTime cruise courtesy of the Disney Cruise Line. Beware, jellyfish ahead!
 

Episode VI: A New Ship
Disney Fantasy
November 29, 2014
Seven Night Eastern Caribbean

  1. A New Ship
  2. The Journey Begins
  3. Glacial Breakfast
  4. First Terrarium
  5. Second Terrarium
  6. Good Morning!
  7. Raspberry Dust and Botanists
  8. I Spy
  9. Personal Flurries
  10. Bobbing Along
  11. Meanwhile Back on St. John
  12. Meanwhile Back on the Ship
  13. Palo in Pajamas
  14. Have Fun Storming the Castle!
  15. Heffalumps and Sea Turtles
  16. Something About Apples
  17. Little Paper Cabana
  18. Cabana 18
  19. Kisses and Castaways

Now with added mice!

Puerto Rico
Jaq and Gus!

To answer the obvious question, Episode I, aka our first cruise (in which the kids are left ashore in the tender care of their grandparents) is not written or linked anywhere yet! Episode II and V can also be read in their entirety.

For other trip reports, check out the Trip Reports tab at the top of the page!

A New Ship | Kisses and Castaways

Kylee and I parted ways with Ben and Chris in front of Mount Rustmore.



IMG_2992
As the sun began to lower behind our friends.

Kylee cried for a minute or two when she realized Ben and Chris wouldn’t be at the cabana the remainder of the afternoon. Then she realized that meant she got a whole cabana almost entirely to herself.

Castaway Cay
Yes, Chris went back to the ship without his sneakers.
Boys.

I told her she could play in the sand for a bit while I gathered up the remainder of our sandals and scooped them into our beach bag. Everything ready for our last minute departure of the cabana, with the exception of our IDs in the room safe. I laid out our dry clothes and towels so that once we were good and dry we could take the time to get redressed to go back to the ship.

I decided to pop out on the porch, let Kylee swim and I could snap some pictures.


Castaway Cay
So peaceful.
See how they are drilling with the lifeboat at midship?

Unfortunately this is when everything fell apart.

Almost everyone had left the new cabanas shortly after one (odd, but it is what it is) so Kylee had our whole little body of water to herself. I asked if she wanted her water shoes as the shore still had quite a few sharp shells in this area and she’d cut her feet up a bit wading during the morning. Being a tough little princess, she said no and ran into the water barefoot with a floating lounge. No sooner had she plunged in than she squealed and pulled herself entirely out of the water onto the raft and would not put her feet or legs back in the water.

She was floating about ten feet from shore, in four feet of water that she could easily swim in but she refused to put her feet in the water. Figuring she’d gotten sand in one of her cut feet, I sighed and waded into the cool water and dragged her back in. She refused to walk on the sand so I carried her over to our shower to see what was troubling her so much. I rinsed her feet off. That’s when I noticed a line of welts on the top of her foot.

She got stung by a jellyfish.

I showed her how to push the shower button to keep the water running on her foot while I washed the extra sand off of her hands and legs. I calmed her down explaining that getting kissed by a jellyfish wasn’t fun, but we talked about the part in “Finding Nemo” when Dory wants to keep the tiny jellyfish all for her own and ends up having to give it up and yell “Bad Squishy!” That got some laughs and gave me a moment to pull everything together and fish her cover-up out of our bag. After easing her foot into her flip flops, we headed slowly back to the shuttle. By the time the shuttle reached the part of the island closest to First Aid, Kylee wanted to get back to our stateroom more than visit a medical center.

Castaway Cay
Chris enjoying another Mickey Bar and movie kind of afternoon.

We made it back to our stateroom barely forty-five minutes later than the guys and all but collapsed onto the sofa to watch the end of The Lion King. First, though I showered off and changed into dry clothes.

While Ben supervised Kylee’s fifth re-enactment of her misadventure (this time while showering off the sand), I packed up the majority of our stateroom and poked in all the odd cabinets to pull together our luggage so that all we would need to do that evening would be change into night clothes and put the bags out. Kylee, much impressed at her own adventure,  told our concierge staff all about her encounter with the stingray.

Castaway Cay
Last pictures with his favorite Chipmunks!

We headed down to the atrium late that afternoon to catch “See Ya’ Real Soon” with all of our favorite Disney characters. Chris stood for this for about two characters before he begged for just a little more time in the Oceaneer Club.

IMG_3039
Ariel was very understanding about jellyfish.
IMG_3050
I think Daisy would love Jazz class as much as Little Miss Jazzhands.

Kylee had to tell Ariel all about her aquatic mishap with Squishy then give hugs to Minnie and Daisy and Chip and Dale and Jasmine and and of course Daisy!


IMG_3064
Daddy Daughter Happy Hour

Then she asked Ben for one last trip to happy hour in the Concierge Lounge. Miss Julia brought Kylee a non-dairy cocoa with Mickey Sprinkles and explained the process for expedited debarkation the following morning. This is a perk that we hadn’t really though about or used on our previous concierge cruise, but would learn to love very shortly.

IMG_3073
The under rail lighting did not block our view of the stars, but did keep us from tripping over the loungers.

Our final dinner onboard returned us to Animator’s Palate. Wherein, the children each ate as quickly as humanly possible so that they could go back to the Oceaneer’s Lab for a final visit. Our room already turned down, Ben and I flipped on the porch lights and went out onto our verandah for some last night star gazing.

Disembark
These are impossible when you cruise concierge.
No matter how “excellent” our servers were, our concierge excelled far above that.

And standardized testing.

Castaway Cay
Kylee loved her last little peacock towel animal and decided to snuggle with it rather than add to her menagerie.

These reviews always take me back to the SATs and pulling out sharpened number two pencils.
We fetched the children around nine so that we could change everyone into jammies with plenty of time to return our bags to the hallway.

Castaway Cay
Chris delighted in his “Oswald”

Kylee and Chris quickly dropped off to sleep while Ben and I headed back to our room to enjoy the starlight for one last evening.

Disembark
Lining up for debarkation.
Before six in the morning.
That’s dedication.

Very early the next morning, I cut past the atrium on a walk with Kylee as we set out to see what cereal boxes we could scrape together for an early breakfast. We were amazed to see anybody lined up so early when debarkation wouldn’t begin for at least an hour.

Disembark
Good Morning!

We enjoyed our sunrise breakfast and hung out on our verandah.

Disembark
Sunrise in Port Canaveral

It is hard not to want to linger, but I maintain that knowing that it is “See Ya’ Real Soon” rather than goodbye makes it much easier. We arrived in the Concierge Lounge just before they appointed time and followed our group down through the forward elevators with Julia leading us around, past the Guest Services desk and showed us directly off of the ship. I have never disembarked so smoothly and quickly. After collecting our children by the hand and walking straight to the customs agent (we wouldn’t see our luggage until we arrived in Houston) we left the terminal and boarded the porthole buses. The whole bus alternated dozing and half watching Disney cartoons when suddenly, it was time to get off of the bus. Breezing through airport security (we were waved into a fast line and could keep on our shoes and jackets!) we had plenty of time to relax at the gate, collect some snacks for our flight and reminisce.
Kylee re-enacted her stingray adventure, this time with swords and dragons thrown in for good measure. Chris eagerly anticipated our flight as he got to enjoy the window seat on the way home and another round of “I Spy” in the SkyMall Magazine. Ben and I compared pictures and notes and dreaded checking our email. Kylee spent the entire two hours of the flight home talking to the little girl across the aisle. She had just finished up a week at Walt Disney World Resort, and they happily chatted the miles away.
While we were waiting for our luggage, Kylee discovered that not only were they the same age, but they even live in the same neighborhood of the same suburb. The more we travel the more we realize it really is a small world after all.

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This is Part 19 of an Ongoing Trip Report “A New Ship.”
Additional sections will be found on the Trip Reports page after they are posted!

A New Ship | Cabana 18

Predawn running and a little room service breakfast out of the way, the kids sat and watched as the Fantasy backed into Castaway Cay. I tried to slather sunscreen onto the kids, packed the swim bag and wished Ben the best of luck as he ducked out to go join the other runners preparing for the 5K.

Castaway Cay
What do you get for Fish Extender gifts?
Here’s our gifts for the week!

Kylee and Chris dug through all of their FE gifts, amazed at all of the perfect and thoughtful gifts. (Chris still loves the Star Wars book!) All ashore called, we headed down to the forward gangway to debark.

IMG_2960
Pre-race selfie!

Ben enjoyed nearly perfect racing weather for his first Castaway Cay 5K, while Kylee and Chris squinted into the sun ready to run off on the beautiful island.

 

Castaway Cay
It is really bright out on this island.

We rode two tram stops into the island to hop off right next to the Cabana Check-In desk.

Castaway Cay
Is all of this ours?

After checking our names and that we had our cabana bands, they showed us to a golf cart and dropped us off right at our own little piece of the sunshine.

 

Castaway Cay
It’s the little details, really.

Cabana 18 and 19 are uniquely situated to be well used as a pair, they are very close together with most of the beach space shared.

Luckily our neighbors were pretty awesome people.

 

Castaway Cay
That smear of green you can just see through the handrail is Chris out in his own lagoon.

Kylee changed in the corner of our cabana behind a privacy curtain while Chris pulled off his shirt and made a beeline straight for the water. Julia dropped by to explain the amenities of the cabana and ask if we needed anything else. Noticing Kylee and Ben missing, she inquired if they were around the island some where. Kylee, having the modesty of your average five year old, popped around the curtain in her birthday suit and told her Ben was running in the 5K.

Julia, every bit the professional didn’t bat an eye and Kylee remembered herself and popped back behind the curtain to get in her swim suit very quickly after that.

Castaway Cay
Kylee enjoyed the complimentary pool floats and inner tubes but kept forgetting to only drag one into the water at a time.

While Kylee joined Chris in romping in the water, Ben showed up having already completed his 5K. Well that was fast.
He changed into his swim suit then hopped out into the fresh water shower and claimed a hammock for his own.

Castaway Cay
Ours is the red one, fourth from the left with the yellow umbrella.

While Ben showered off, Kylee wanted to walk “all the way down the cabana beach” and explore. We saw a couple other kids as we went closer to the main family beach, but for the most part, it was like we were the only ones out there. A few of our FE friends were splitting a cabana a few down from ours, so we waved hello. On our walk back from the main cabana beach to the tidal pool back by the new cabanas, a lifeguard came up to warn us that swimming in the pool in front of the new family beach cabanas is strictly “at your own risk” and that they have not completed all the dredging they would like to as of yet.

Cabana life
Ours is the cabana on the far right.
I cropped this photo to remove our neighboring cabana guest from the left edge of the photo.

Chris spent most of the morning building an “epic sand castle” and enjoying himself until such time as the toddlers in the cabana next door wanted to build as well. He surrendered his territory and most of the sand toys that came with the cabana. Instead, he decided to investigate this monster lobster our cabana neighbors had just fished out of the water. It was the size of a large cat. I have never in my life seen such a large lobster living or on a plate.

IMG_2973
Watching the mammoth lobster from a safe distance.

Eventually, the lobster was freed well on the other side of the water, down by cabana 21’s beach which, since it was awaiting furnishings, was still under construction.

IMG_2986
Days like this are fleeting and golden.
I appreciate it all the more for the remembrance of the blessed peace well after the tans fade.

Ben and I enjoyed laying out enjoying the warm Bahamian breezes despite the calendar believing it was December. After Chris and Kylee ran in and out of the water for the better part of an hour, the view still does not get old. Kylee did however decide she was starving.

We decided she and I should wander up to Cookies Too and pick up lunch for our whole cabana and Chris could keep wading in and out. Ben agreed not to doze off while Chris explored and poked at shells along the shore.

After fetching two trays of food from Cookies and some assistance carrying it back to our cabana, I settled our picnic lunch around on the table and called Chris in from the water. Lunch, though simple burgers (veggie, chicken or beef) and sides, tasted delicious from the perfect seasoning of running, wading, swimming and sand castle construction. Chris and Kylee hadn’t tried out Scuttles Cove on their previous visits and wolfed down their lunches so they could go see what the counselors brought to shore with them.

IMG_2965
Perfect for a nap.

Ben and I went back to snooze and sunbathe on our green loungers. After an hour or two, Ben felt like he’d had about as much sun as he could stand, so we went to pick up the children for our planned divide and conquer afternoon.
We discovered the kids ankle deep in a game of boys versus girls tug-of-war. They were both wet (from the splash pad in Scuttles Cove), sandy, happy and more than a little tired. Chris eagerly headed back to the ship with Ben, while Kylee and I headed back to our cabana for a relaxing beachy afternoon.
If only we knew what awaited us, we might have called it and headed back with the guys.

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This is Part 18 of an Ongoing Trip Report “A New Ship.”
Additional sections will be found on the Trip Reports page after they are posted!

A New Ship | Little Paper Cabana

As we went forth from Rizzo’s room to solve who stole the Muppet Show, we were glad to discover that there are different villains and clues, so if you see someone else solve the mystery, you can still enjoy the thrill of the game.

Sea Day 3
Our view for most of the afternoon.

After solving the caper and staying tuned for the grand finale, we headed back to our room, our free drinks, the view and some quality time reading my Kindle.
On a trip back in to grab some bottled waters, I noticed that the concierge left us a present.

Sea Day 3
Little Paper Cabana

A perfect little replica of our cabana!

Sea Day 3
A map of the locations of the new family beach cabanas?
How helpful.

Ben and I headed off to the Cove Café, since we had neglected to visit it so far. It was oddly empty for mid-afternoon. After poking back into the clubs to retrieve our kiddos for the concierge reception, we popped back into the lounge.

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I can see my room from here!

With fruity beverages (and a non-dairy hot cocoa with Mickey head sprinkles) we headed up to the sun deck. Our concierge hosts mingled to check on us and hand out buttons.



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Tracy assured us that they had cancelled Kylee’s Stingray meet and greet (we decided to forgo that for more time in our cabana, the stingrays will have to wait to meet Kylee until our next trip) and that that was all squared away.

Our family really quacks me up!

After visiting for a bit with our buds, we were pleased to meet our new best friend! He really quacks us up. We all hung around and watched a bit of Lion King in our suite, then it was time to head down to dinner.

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Perusing her menu

Kylee and Chris ate considerably better when we forgot about the kid’s menu, so we let Chris order off the adult menu. As for Kylee, she decided to “have some of mom’s” since that had been working out so well on this vacation.



Sea Day 3
Never say no to indian food on a cruise ship. The chefs don’t mess around. This is the good stuff.

Kylee dug into this delectable curry. Ben thought that the naan bread was a bit odd. He’s traveled to India for work several times, so I’m inclined to believe him. Still, it was yummy and warm and perfectly sopped up extra bits of the spicy, sweet stew.

Chris wanted to return to the club immediately, sensing that with the next day being a port day, his opportunities to beat his personal best at Lego Pirates of the Caribbean were dwindling.

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Kylee wanted to visit her towel animal before heading to the theatre for the evening.

On seeing her comfy cozy bed, Kylee decided she wanted to change into her pajamas and slippers. She still wanted to go to believe, mind you. Just in rather more casual dress than normal.

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Oh, the drama.

Kylee loved Believe “best of all” the Disney shows. I loved that Genie came back for the show. He brings a certain humor and pizzazz to any scene. Kylee, too tired to walk back to the room, dozed on Ben’s shoulder while I doubled back to Oceaneer’s Lab for Christopher.

He wasn’t thrilled to be picked up, but all thoughts of complaining soon disappeared. As we walked to the forward elevators on deck five, Peter Pan leapt around the corner of the hallway, weaving between other guests and yelling for his shadow. He stopped, whirled into a crouch next to Chris asking if he’d seen his shadow. Chris said no and off Peter, nearly literally, flew.

Five seconds of pure, unadulterated unscripted magic that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
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This is Part 17 of an Ongoing Trip Report “A New Ship.”
Additional sections will be found on the Trip Reports page after they are posted!

A New Ship | Something About Apples

On fetching our cereal boxes and fruit from the lounge, Julia mentioned that they happened to recently complete the cabanas at the end of the family beach if we happened to be interested.

Sea Day 3
The Lounge Hallway

Intrigued, I let her know I’d check with Ben and get back to her.
We ate breakfast.
Thought it over.
Looked at the bill for the cruise so far (it had been delivered either the night before or early that morning and was still well within our budget) and decided to go for it.

Sea Day 3
Kylee takes Jazz.
Not that you can tell or anything.

Since we had gone back a time zone, (back to eastern from Atlantic) we were up very early. After wandering around the ship, we decided to drop off the last of the Fish Extender gifts. Ben joined us for handing out gifts, usually he sits out and we both remarked how the halls jagged to the right and left as you walked up the passenger decks. At the Art of Animation tour, the cast member had explained this was to avoid the endless hallway effect. We just felt it made it difficult to tell how far down a deck you had travelled and how much was left.



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Because Moped!

After a brief stop in La Piazza to play with the moped we queued with our tickets for the Gingerbread House construction.

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It’s up!
It hasn’t fallen over yet!
Quick take a picture!

Another of the “free but limited tickets” events, this one took us back into Animator’s Palate. The gingerbread is made fresh onboard and smells amazing! After very little in the way of instructions (other than everything is edible) off we went on the construction and decoration.

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Do you want to build a snowman?
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There *may* have been some snacking involved.

Despite having massive amounts of space in which to display our gingerbread house in our stateroom, as you may’ve noticed in the above photo, Chris had already begun disassembling/snacking on the gingerbread house while Ben was distracted by the frosting.
(Chimney first, of course.)
Chris had enjoyed the gingerbread house immensely, but because of the previous two port days, was feeling rather low on Oceaneer’s Lab…so he went back to get a refill.

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There never needs to be a reason to make crafts.

Kylee hung out to make some lovely door hangers while she was waiting for our appointed audience with the princesses. Then we went to the main atrium.

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Yay! Ariel!

After fifteen minutes of waiting, Kylee took a minute to warm up to Cinderella, but she was eager to meet Ariel. On our previous couple of cruises, Ariel kept swimming around in the ocean with Flounder, so Triton’s youngest was on my princesses must meet list.

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Unlike Kylee, I am not scared of Cinderella, she let Ben and I eat in her castle on our honeymoon and everything.

And K and Tiana go way back, naturally.

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K still talks about dancing with Tiana on her first cruise back when she was three.

Kylee eagerly told Jasmine how much she liked seeing her in Aladdin.

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Kylee especially loved the magic carpet in the musical.

She asked her where Aladdin was. Apparently he was busy. Something about apples.
Then, worn out from her royal engagements, Kylee wanted to head back to the comfort of the Oceaneer’s Lab and all the crafts.

Sea Day 3
#Team RizzoTheRat

I wanted to finish out the Muppet Midship Detective Agency, to Ben’s amusement, so we took a good picture of Pepe’s door (trust me, having the details off of this door, keeps you from needing to double back later.)
And headed off to seek the dastardly villain who stole the Muppet Show.

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This is Part 16 of an Ongoing Trip Report “A New Ship.”
Additional sections will be found on the Trip Reports page after they are posted!

A New Ship | Heffalumps and Sea Turtles

After a lovely whole family morning hiking to and from the fort with the whole family, Chris  decided to retreat to the club. Kylee hung out with Julia coloring in the concierge lounge while Tracy called up the future cruises desk to book us a “dummy date” for 2016. (We hope to float this spring date to a September Eastbound Panama Canal cruise when dates are released.)

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Our own little family café.

Kylee talked her way into another non-dairy hot cocoa with Mickey sprinkles. Julia also gave her a coloring book of all of her favorite princesses just for her very own. Settled into coloring and cartoons, we finished rebooking onboard before Kylee finished her cocoa. We sat and watched the new Mickey cartoons while she sipped.
I thought that they were a bit of a combination of cool retro Mickey with the gross out factor common to many modern cartoons.
Not my favorite, but I sure like them better than Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

Kylee, finished with her cocoa, was ready to hit the club.



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When what to our wondering eyes should appear…

And stumbled upon Mrs. Claus reading stories on the way. I love that they do so many little special things for Christmas all through the month of December. It makes for a really unique cruise.

Puerto Rico

Afterwards, Kylee joined in with the fun in the club and Ben and I went off to try to find Mickey hidden in the clubs.



Puerto Rico

No sign of Darby O’Gill or Mickey in O’Gills Pub, so we were off to Skyline Lounge.

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My favorite lounge on the Fantasy, Skyline is vaguely hypnotic. As much as I knew that we were at sea, the perpetually moving people and cars out of the “windows” said differently.

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If you look closely, you can see Mickey Mouse walking past the windows in the buildings just across the Skyline from you…and some characters from a galaxy far, far away too.

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The men’s room has an awesome matador mosaic, reportedly.
Ben declined my encouragement to take photos of said mosaic.

Did I mention the bathrooms in the District are absolutely gorgeous?
After a while, we decided to retreat to our own private paradise and enjoy the lounge chairs and the sun. I *may* have taken a really long nap and slightly burned. I woke up to the announcement that we would be pulling away from port shortly.

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I suppose the sky alone was worth waking up.

We experienced a second dinner in the Enchanted Garden, but the highlight of this evening was heading back to the Walt Disney Theatre to Disney’s Wishes. Chris preferred to head back to the club and so we agreed to pick him up on our way back.

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Waiting for the drama to begin.

Ben and Kylee and I queued early in hopes of sitting in the box seats in the balcony. Kylee loved Wishes. I thought it was precious (although Dreams is still my absolute favorite.)
I do not recommend sitting in the side box seats as many of the effects don’t work very well from this angle.

Puerto Rico

Chris and Kylee were tickled pink to each get their own (different!) towel animal at turn down service.

Puerto Rico

Kylee shot toward her elephant and added it to the growing towel-menagerie on the shelves next to her bedside.
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This is Part 15 of an Ongoing Trip Report “A New Ship.”
Additional sections will be found on the Trip Reports page after they are posted!

The Royal Treatment | A Throwback Thursday Trip Report!

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to cruise concierge?
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to stay in the royal Walter E. Disney royal suite?
Hop aboard and enjoy a throwback trip report in it’s entirety.
 

Episode V: The Royal Treatment
Disney Wonder
January 4, 2014
Four Night Western Caribbean

  1. Royal Treatment Redux
  2. R is for Roll Call
  3. R is for Ready, Set, Go!
  4. R is for Reception
  5. R is for Royal Suite
  6. Diana’s Journal ~ Saturday
  7. R is for Running Around in Circles
  8. R is for Recreation
  9. R is for Reservations
  10. R is for Room Service
  11. Diana’s Journal ~ Sunday
  12. R is for Roja
  13. R is for Rain Delay
  14. R is for Rice Krispy Treats
  15. Diana’s Journal ~ Monday
  16. Diana’s Journal ~ Very Early Tuesday
  17. R is for Random Roaming
  18. R is for Rollin’
  19. R is for Rapunzel
  20. R is for Reflections
  21. Diana’s Journal ~ Tuesday
  22. R is for Recollections
  23. Diana’s Journal ~ Wednesday

See ya real soon!

For other trip reports, check out the Trip Reports tab at the top of the page!

To answer the obvious question, Episode I, aka our first cruise (in which the kids are left ashore in the tender care of their grandparents) is not yet finished and is not linked yet!