Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thanksgiving at Disney - A Trip Report - Day 2 - Cruising Through Nassau

Sadly, I need to start this post with an apology: most of the events of this afternoon on the ship were in areas where I couldn't take photos either because I was in water or a movie.  The end of this post will have plenty of photos though, so hold on!  :)

After such a relaxing morning in the spa on the ship, my sister, mother, and I met up with the rest of the family to finally take a trip down the AquaDuck!  My mother is not a fan of swimming or roller coasters, but much to our surprise, she was excited to take a ride.  The first ride my sister, brother-in-law, and I took the kids while Mom watched out stuff.  The water was CHILLY, and when we were in the open air areas of the slide, I was definitely cold, but that's the price you pay for an awesome water-coaster!  The best part is that you circle the pool deck and have time to wave to your family on deck.  I wish I'd had the camera with me to take photos!

The one negative to this water slide is that people seemed to keep falling off their rafts (usually children riding alone).  When this happened, the water had to be turned off, and a CM had to walk through the slide to take the fallen rider by the hand and lead them out of the slide.  This happened numerous times when we were near the ride, and it stalled the queue for about 10-15 minutes while we were waiting.  Otherwise the queue moves fairly quickly.

After we rode, I was too cold to ride again, so Mom & LaRae took the kids once more.  Randy and I stayed behind and had some ice cream.  Near the pool there's yummy self-serve soft-serve ice cream!  I wish I'd taken advantage of this perk more.  I think every time Randy went somewhere to get something, he grabbed a banana ice cream cone though!

Cabanas is a buffet that's on the same deck as the pools and is very informal.  It's open for all meals, and it is tasty!  We opted to stay in our swimsuits and eat lunch there, and I didn't regret it.  The best part about buffets on the cruise was the variety of foods.  Yes, you can get cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets, and fries, but you can also try a plethora of new, gourmet foods.  My plates for buffets were always filled with a little of this and a little of that.  I highly recommend trying out this place when you cruise.

One of the things I love about Disney vacations is that you always get the chance, either in the resorts or on the cruise ships, to watch Disney movies.  Wreck-It Ralph had just been released in theaters when we set sail, so we got to see it in the Walt Disney Theater on board.  It was a small audience for the 3D film, but there was something super neat about watching a newly-released movie on board a cruise ship!  This movie as well as a few others like Lincoln showed multiple times a day throughout the cruise.

LaRae and I had been to Nassau on separate cruises in high school, and there was so much to do on board the ship that we didn't really want to get off to look around in port.  Mom and Dad, however, wanted to see what the Bahamas had to offer.  They went to the Straw Market while we watched the movie, but they said they weren't really impressed.  Mom got a Nassau hoodie for $25 though, so that was a fun souvenir for her.  I remember loving the Straw Market as a teenager.  Maybe it's cooler when you're younger?

Our parents met us all at the evening show, Villains Tonight.  I can't remember if both kids joined us.  I think Katelyn stayed in the kids' club since she's not a big villains fan... or maybe she joined us after all.  Perhaps my sister or brother-in-law can clear up that detail in the comments.  I enjoyed the show, but it wasn't The Golden Mickeys from the night before.  They added quite a few non-movie songs into the show, so we weren't able to sing along like the night before.  However, the show featured Yzma & Kronk in parts of it, and The Emperor's New Groove is one of my favorite Disney movies, so that made up for the new songs a bit.

After the show, we had a little while until dinner.  I wanted to explore the Dream some, so Mom and Dad joined me.  We looked around in the adult areas of the ship and visited the Pink lounge.  The art gallery on board was a great space to spend some time in since it's similar to my favorite in Park stores: the Art of Disney.

Some of these photos are blurry, but I liked them, so please forgive my amateur photography skills.

We took some photos near the main chandelier in the entry area.
Isn't it a gorgeous piece of art? This is my father & I.
Photos for everyone! I get to see my mom for my 30th birthday
which is tomorrow!  She'll be here tonight! Can't wait!
Hidden Mickey on the chandelier 
Messing around on the way to Pink

Our visit to Pink was fun!  My parents don't drink, so I did not get champagne while I was there, but I got some another night.  The lounge is set up to feel like you're inside a champagne bottle, so there are bubbles everywhere and dim champagne tinted lights.  I took quite a few photos with flash because I needed a tripod to get good flash-less photos.  However, don't get upset with me: there were no other patrons there with us, so I didn't disturb anyone.  :)  The bartender was a polite young woman from Europe, and my parents carried on a nice conversation with her while I was taking photos. They asked her lots of questions about working on the ship and where she lived.  She was happy to chat with them.

This is Disney's signature Tattinger Prestige Rose Champagne. It was
sweet but not too sweet (when I got a glass later).

Yay for pink bubble!
I read that this is supposed to give the impression of cascading
champagne.  I dig it. ;-) 
More of the lounge
I'm telling you, no matter where you were on the ship, the light
fixtures were all gorgeous! Love the details of the Dream!
A menu
My parents in one area of the lounge - I like how this area
is spherical in shape.
I could really go for a bottle of this right now!

After we left the lounge, my parents wanted to stop in the nearby restrooms.  I amused myself by attempting to take selfies with the DSLR.  Obviously it proved to be a bit more of a challenge than the oh so flattering iPhone selfies I usually take. ;-)

Blurry but look - I flat ironed my hair, and it needed documentation! :)

They both came out at different times, but they both said the exact same thing when they approached me, "Joanna! You've got to go in the bathrooms! You're going to love them!"  Side note: when I was a kid and we visited new places, I drove my mom crazy by always needing to go to the bathroom.  It wasn't that I had to potty, it was that I wanted to see the bathroom.  No idea why... but this proved to be the coolest one yet!  Thank goodness I was in there alone because for the first time EVER, I couldn't help but photograph the bathroom!

That's right, y'all! Everything in this bathroom was round!  It was
a thing of beauty! I think all bathrooms should be built like this!
I didn't need to "go", but I couldn't help but go in the stall and shut the door
which completed the cylindrical stall perfectly.  Then I looked
up and, y'all, the ceiling was a mirror!  I have about 6 shots like this
that I refuse to delete.  It was freaking cool!  

Another side note: this was the ONLY public bathroom I went in on the ship.  I didn't have anything against them, I just never needed one.  My brother-in-law later mentioned the signs in the bathrooms about not touching the door handle with bare hands due to the cruise ship virus thing that has been passing through ships like wildfire in some cases.  After hearing that, I was thankful I didn't need the restrooms... haha!

On the way to dinner in the Royal Palace, we went out on a random deck and found it deserted.  If it were warm, this would be a perfect place to relax.  As it was, it was very cold and windy because we had left Nassau and were really cruising along at this point!

We'll stop here, but come back on Monday to get a photo tour of our meal at the Royal Palace.  It was Pirate Night too, so you'll get to see fireworks at sea!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Thanksgiving at Disney - A Trip Report - Day 2 - A Visit to the Rainforest

We woke fairly early the next morning.  Randy had taken the kids to play some Goofy Golf and work on the Midship Detective Agency, so LaRae and I could sleep in a bit and get ready in peace.  When we went out on the deck to join them, we could see land!  We were already in the Bahamas!

A tugboat came along beside us and waved at us. :)
It was chilly on deck again, but I really wanted to get to wear a sundress
on the cruise! 
I'm told I made my family look into the sun to take this photo of them! Whoops! 
I promise we could see land... somewhere...
Waiting for Grammer & Granddaddy
to come meet us for breakfast!
After a quick breakfast in the Enchanted Garden (it was right next to our cabins), we went back to the cabins to get ready for the day.  Randy, Dad, and the kids went off to other activities while Mom, LaRae, and I grabbed our swimsuits to go relax in the Rainforest Room.  LaRae had researched day passes to the spa's Rainforest Room, and when we first got to our cabins, Mom & I discovered that LaRae had treated us to a day!  It was a super sweet surprise.

I kid you not, this was the view in our Magical Porthole all day.
If you don't know why this made us laugh hysterically,
it's probably best that you don't know. Sorry... it's bad.  LOL!

Once in the spa, we were shown to the areas we could visit.  This included hot tubs, heated loungers, the actual Rainforest Room including the craziest showers I've ever been in and multiple saunas, and the locker room with the best showers on the ship.  Want a photo tour?  Well of course you do!

Water in the spa 
Two hot tubs side by side held 2 people each. Swimsuits were
mandatory.  The windows were open allowing a cool
breeze and affording us a beautiful view.
Thankfully no one else came in while we were in the hot tubs,
so Mom, LaRae, and I had them to ourselves. They were perfect!
I went back to take a few photos with the good camera. The view
was amazing from the hot tubs!

These heated loungers were amazing post-hot tubs.  We stayed on
them for quite a while!
The showers in the Rainforest Room
The showers in the Rainforest Room were something else! There were 3 or 4 showers of various sizes with no shower curtains.  They featured shower heads coming from both the ceiling and walls and had multiple settings like Southern Storm and Rainforest.  Most of the time we spent in the showers were full of squealing (when it soaked you with ice water) and laughter and us darting from one shower to the next with each other!  It was one of my favorite memories from the cruise.  We were the only ones in there, so we were free to just have fun!

Thursday I'll share what we did the rest of the second day, and next Monday you'll get another post full of food photos as we dine at Royal Palace!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thanksgiving at Disney - A Trip Report - Day 1 - Dining in the Enchanted Garden

Before I share all the food photos, I'm going to make a quick disclaimer!  First, I didn't think to write down the names of all the foods we ate.  I believe the menu can change, but I've looked up the menus for your benefit here.  Either way, just enjoy the pics, ok?  ;-)  Second, this meal I was having major issues with my head making a shadow in my photos.  Like I mentioned before, I'm not a professional photographer, and I definitely need to work on my food photography skills!  That said... bon appatit!

My family was seated almost immediately at a large table away from the windows.  Our server was a sweet, young man named Niks. He absolutely did not understand my brother-in-law's sense of humor which made things quite humorous to us but not so much to Niks. I think he thought we were insane! Our drink server was Bima.  Both were very attentive.  The first night Mom asked for a glass of skim milk, and so every night after Bima brought her a glass with her other beverage.  Bima, on the other hand, could not seem to understand Dad's heavy southern accent which also made us all giggle. We were a table full of miscommunications!

On a side note: The waters were very choppy many times during our cruise, and this night was one of those times.  The captain made an announcement to our rooms about it and let us know that Guest Services was giving away free Dramamine.  While I did not have any issues with seasickness during my high school cruise, it got me this trip. Thankfully I was only mildly nauseous, but it lasted pretty much the entire cruise (whenever the boat was in motion and not docked).  Dramamine did help when I could remember to take it.  This meal Mom and I were both really feeling the movement of the boat.

The menu at the Enchanted Garden looked fantastic, and we all found items we were eager to taste.  Instead of describing it all, here are the photos of our meal:

This was my favorite spread for bread of all 3 nights - it was
pretty much hummus, but oh my goodness, it was perfection!
It was called Chickpea-Garlic Puree.
The North Atlantic Lobster Ravioli was delicious!
The broth was light and made for the perfect appetizer.
See what I mean about my head's shadow being in
my shots? I've got to work on that! 
Mom had the Thyme and Garlic Brioche.  It was yummy, but I'm not a big
mushroom fan, so I was glad I got ravioli!
I also had a Heirloom Tomato Soup. It was more of a tomato basil soup than
your basic tomato, but it wasn't anything special. I still very
much so enjoyed it.
Mom enjoyed a Spinach and Raspberry salad. While I'm talking about my mother's and
my meals so far, it's mostly just because we all ordered the same items.

One of the great things for the kids (and everyone else in our party) was that they served the kids much quicker than the adults, so they could leave around 9 to go to the kids' club.  They were picked up at the front of the dining room, and then we could pick them up after dinner.  This meant with the late seating, the kids didn't sit there starving, waiting for their food, and they didn't have to wait for us to finish our leisurely dinner.  No one was rushed this way.  I highly recommend using this perk!  Even if the kiddos are tired, remember the photos of the kids' club showed there were plenty of places of them to lie down to watch a movie.

Mid-meal and the kids already had their Mickey bars! They devoured one
of these treats every single night!  Both agreed that the best part
was that the Mickey bars came out with sprinkles and chocolate! 
This was the Caramelized Sea Scallops dish.  Mom only ate about half of it, but she really
wasn't feeling well.  She said she didn't really like this entree, but
she wasn't tasting much at that point.
This was the table favorite: Slow Roasted Prime Rib! We all loved it, and it was by far
my favorite meal of the entire trip (on both land and sea)!
LaRae got the Roasted Pork Tenderloin seasoned with Smoked Salt.
While tasty, it was no prime rib. ;-)
Niks brought us an off-menu chef special while we waited for our
desserts: fresh truffles. They were chocolate and mango. You know
me and my weird fruit thing, so I stuck to the chocolate ones!
Mom never could really decide on one dessert. She always got the
dessert trio, so she could taste more than one!  This one is the Sweet Temptations
which had a Passion Fruit Tart, Strawberry Cheesecake, and Sacher Torte.
Most of the desserts on this menu had fruit in them which is a big no-no
for LaRae & I.  Thankfully it was Mickey's birthday, so we were able
to order a piece of his birthday cake!  It was not the best dessert
of the trip, but the prime rib was so amazing that I hardly noticed!
Dad had a Banana Foster Sundae.
Randy had the Sacher Torte... it has some sort of fruit in it...
LaRae and Randy in the Garden

While I really enjoyed the meal in the Enchanted Garden, I did not notice many "enchanted" items in it.   The lights changed colors a bit, and the room seemed to change times of day.  The lights looked like flowers and each petal had a small pulley.  I thought for sure that the flowers would open and close, but they remained static all night.  Other than that, the meal itself was phenomenal.  I can already tell I'm going to need my thesaurus to describe the rest of our meals!

After dinner we picked up the kids and went back to our cabins to go to bed.  Since we dined so late, we never really wanted to visit the late night buffets.  Besides the beds were like sleeping on a cloud!  The quicker I could get in mine, the better!  Oh, and can I add that the interior cabins are deliciously dark at night, so sleeping is absolutely wonderful (once you get past the rocking of the ship)!

Join me on Monday for the start of Day 2 and a tour of the Rainforest Room in the Dream's spa.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Thanksgiving at Disney - A Trip Report - Day 1 - Sailing Away

Last trip report post I ended with some photos of our cabin, but I forgot to mention the Wave Phones, so I'll start there.  Disney provides two courtesy phones called Wave Phones per cabin. They are basically very old style cell phones that only work on the ship and at Castaway Cay. While it was nice to have phones to carry along to keep in touch with those in our party, there were some major drawbacks: the phones only worked on silent, and we typically didn't feel the vibrations when they rang. We quickly figured out that they were not programable which was only a problem when we forgot our parents' cabin number and spent half the first day calling the wrong room... whoops!  The nice feature was that if no one answered the Wave Phone, it rang the cabin for you before going to voice mail.  While the Wave Phones were good to have on hand, we usually met with frustration while using them.

So after settling in to our cabins, we decided to take to the deck to enjoy the sailing away party. This took place on the pool deck, and it was super crowded.
We could see the back of the party perfectly through this window...
Cruise Director Minnie!
That's "Captain Mickey Mouse" to you. ;-)
Look at this crowd!

Mom & Dad called to tell us they were on the adult deck, and there was no one there, so LaRae and I joined them for a while.  It was a bit chilly, but the sunset was absolutely gorgeous!

So cold! The adult pool stayed close to empty the whole cruise!
Mom & Dad set sail on their first cruise!
This boat looked tiny next to us!
The timing of sailing away fit perfectly with sunset.
This really was the best location for sailing away.
Some people had children up here just to sail away.

We were all very cold after setting sail, so we hurried back out of the wind to get ready to go to our first show of the trip: The Golden Mickeys. This was by far my favorite of the three shows; although, all of them were very entertaining. We sat in the balcony all three nights as we liked the view from there best. The theater never felt super crowded even though the cruise was full.  I highly recommend NOT skipping the shows.  I thought a quick photo tour of the Walt Disney Theater could be desired by my readers.  How many Hidden Mickeys can you find?

These box seats were first come, first serve. We never sat in them
but you can see you didn't have to be there super early to snag them!
The stage
That curtained off box there is an extension of the stage. Characters come
out there on both sides of the stage.
Above the stage at Walt Disney Theater
The sides of the stage held some of my favorite details.

We had a late seating for dinner each night at 8:15, so after the show we made our way to the Enchanted Garden, our first dining room of the cruise.  Come back Thursday to get a full photo tour of our dining experience!