Our cruise started out with 6 days at sea in a row before our first port of call.
Sea Day 1
Every day for the first six sea days, there was a special presentation by Ian Gooding who works for Disney animation. He was the production engineer for Moana. He is an artist and animator and has worked on many Disney animated movies. The topic for his first talk was "Bringing Characters to Life." He spoke about how they researched Moana, came up with characters and the work that goes into creating the look for each of them. No photos were allowed at any of the presentations but I always took a photo of the starting slide before the presentation began.
e Our next activity of the day was seeing the Disney Nature movie, Born in China. We usually see all the Disney nature movies and had missed this one when it came out a few week ago but figured we would catch it on the ship. We weren't alone as it was pretty crowded. It was a nice little movie and we enjoyed it.
The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing, reading and there may have been an afternoon nap.
Our evening activities included the show, Twice Charmed which is a Disney musical production show that is a twist on the Cinderella story. We have seen it before and enjoyed it. It was just as good this time. Our dinner tonight was at Carioca's which replaced Parrot's Cay when the ship was remodeled so it was our first time dining there.
The Navigator's and menus for Sea Day 1 are below:
Sea Day 2
Started out today attending an "Anyone Can Cook" presentation. I have attended these presentations before on Disney cruises. A chef will prepare a dish in front of you and you receive the recipe and a sample to taste. The recipe today was for Pistachio Baklava. It was fun to watch and the chef was funny as he explained how to make it. It is not something I would make at home as I know that working with phyllo dough is a pain. We each got a little taste and it was really really good.
By the time this ended, I had enough time to meet Chris for the second presentation of Ian Gooding. (He did a 10 am and an 11:15 am session daily. And if you missed it, they showed the presentations on a loop on the stateroom televisions.) Today's topic was Costume Design. The amount of detail and research that went into the costumes for Moana was amazing. Because of the use of computers now, they actually research the weight of the fabrics and then input that information into the computer. Then when the character moves, the clothing moves the correct way in terms of the size and weight of the fabric.
We moved right from the presentation to Champagne Tasting. Disney Cruise Line offers a variety of beverage tasting throughout the cruise. Typically, you can book the tastings when you board or at any time at Guest Services. In this case, I was part of a Facebook group of people that were all going on this cruise. The woman who organized the Facebook group also organized several on board activities. Chris and I have always wanted to do champagne tasting but have always found it to be sold out on previous cruises. So when we saw we could sign up through this Facebook group, we went ahead with it.
We met our group at Keys, one of the adult clubs on board, There was about 20 participants and our places were set with 4 samples of champagne. We had 2 more samples added later as they needed to be kept chilled. The session was led by a bartender who gave information about champagne in general and then started the tasting. He wanted us to try to guess the brand name of each champagne. We don't really know brands so we weren't very good at that, but we enjoyed the tastes.
Wow, looking back now, this was a busy day. We finished the tasting and went to a cheese seminar. Each place setting had 5 little cups with a sample of different cheeses. In the center of the table, there was a plate with some crackers and grapes. It turned out to be a very popular activity and they had to keep adding seats for guests until the room was completely full. When it started, a chef gave a presentation about cheese in general and then some information about each specific cheese while we tasted. I was hoping to try some cheeses that I had never tried before. Unfortunately, there was nothing really exotic but it was still a good activity.
It was about 2:30 when we finished, so we still had time to relax a bit and get in an afternoon nap.
The evening show was "The Edge Effect," which was an acapella music group of five guys. They did a mix of pop music and some Disney songs. I am a fan of acapella music and I enjoyed the show. Our dinner that night was at Lumiere's and we had their menu there.
That evening they offered a Star Gazing activity on the top deck. One of the officers led the group and said he had charted out four stars that we should be able to see clearly. The lights from the ships and some cloud cover made it challenging so he ended up having us walk to each end of the ship to see if we could improve our view. We didn't see as much as we probably could have but we did see a lot of stars and found two of the four that he had charted out. It was a fun activity to offer.
After over a year of waiting, it was time to get on the Disney Magic.! We used Disney transfers, which means the first step was having someone pick up our luggage from our room at around 8 am. You don't need to be present, but I was there when the gentleman from bell services arrived to take our bags. The next time we would see them would be at our stateroom on board!
Our bus pick up time wasn't until 12:30 so I had some breakfast and walked around the resort a bit and then we left the room about 11 and just hung out in the lobby area. The representatives from Disney Cruise Line were already there so I was able to check in with them. Right on time, our bus arrived. We were surprised to find that our resort was the only pick up location and the bus wasn't full so we had plenty of room to spread out and had a nice leisurely ride to the port.
I know some folks don't like Disney transfers because you arrive at the port on the later side, but we like the luggage service and the fact that it is usually open boarding and no check in line when you arrive. That was also the case this time as well. We were checked in and on board in less than 10 minutes.
Our stateroom for this cruise was 7122 which is a Navigator's Verandah. As you see from the pictures, the balcony is enclosed but open to the air with a large porthole window. We had the same category room when we cruised to Alaska and liked the enclosed area for the cooler weather. Since we thought we may have cooler weather on this cruise, we went with this category again.
We got settled in, had some lunch, participated in the mandatory muster drill and by then all of our bags had arrived. I was able to get everything unpacked by the time our evening activities began.
The show for the night was "Be Our Guest." It was a variety show with a short sample of some of the different acts that would be performing on the cruise as well as musical performance of "Be Our Guest." with Disney characters.
We went back to our room to change and then headed to dinner. For those new to Disney Cruise Line, you are assigned a dinner rotation and two servers that will follow you to each restaurant. We started our rotation at Animator's Palate and the menu for the evening was "Let the Magic Begin."
I took photos of all the Navigators (which are the daily schedules) and the menus. I will post them at the bottom of each day's report.
We (my husband and I) have returned from our transatlantic cruise. It was amazing and I have so much to share! I took about 500 pictures and want to make sure I cover as much as I can so I am going to take each day at a time.
As I always recommend with any cruise, we went down to Orlando the day before. You definitely don't want to deal with any flight issues on the day your ship is scheduled to leave port. I also like to use my pre-night as a chance to try a Disney resort that I haven't stayed at before. I am on a mission to stay at all of them.
So for this stay, we were at a Little Mermaid standard room at the Art of Animation resort. The Art of Animation is considered a value resort but the Little Mermaid rooms are really the only ones that fall into the value price range. All of the other rooms are family suites and have a higher price tag. They are in sections themed for Cars, The Lion King and Finding Nemo.
I had checked in online at home and we were on the Magical Express bus heading to the resort when I received a text that our room was ready! We had our room number and were able to head right there when we arrived which worked out great. I was excited to see the theming of the room and it didn't disappoint. So cute!!
We stopped at our room to change into cooler clothes and headed to Animal Kingdom. It was already about 2 pm when we arrived at the park and we had a tour scheduled for 4 pm so our only plan was to get something eat. We went Harambe Market and enjoyed a flatbread and some shade before checking in for our tour.
The tour was called Caring for Giants and was about the elephants that reside at the Animal Kingdom safari area. There was only 4 of us on the tour, Chris and myself and another couple which was great. We were taken backstage to a small bus that drove us to a viewing area. At the viewing area, a cast member was there to give us information about the elephants that live at the Animal Kingdom. He pointed out each one by name and told us about their daily lives there and about their species in general. It was very funny to hear about their individual personalities. About halfway through, an ambassador from Africa came to speak about conservation efforts for the elephants in Africa. We each received a button because a portion of our tour cost goes to conservation efforts. Then it was back on the bus to return to the park. It was only an hour long and it was simple but I really enjoyed it. The cost is listed as $30 per adult but we paid less than that with an annual pass discount. I thought it was worth the cost.
We then did a few inside attractions to stay cool (it was about 88 degrees) while we waited for it to get dark. We had a fastpass to do the safari between 7 pm and 8 pm and then we had a fastpass for Rivers of Light. We waited as long as we could to get online for the safari so it would be as dark as possible. I have done the nighttime safari before and enjoyed it. I liked it this time as well, even though the lions were just relaxing this time - the last time I got to hear them roaring. When we came out, we realized we had cut it a little close for Rivers of LIght so we quickly made our way over there. We went in the fastpass entrance and it was pretty full but we were able to find seats. This was my first time seeing the show. Overall I thought it was good. When the water projections were clear, they were awesome but the problem was they weren't always clear. Still I think it is a good addition to night time activities at Animal Kingdom.
The park was closed by the time the show was over so we exited with everyone else. We did get lucky to get right on a bus back to our resort without a wait.
Growing up, every summer included a trip to the Bronx Zoo. My grandmother and mom would pack a cooler and we were spend the day at the zoo. As an adult, I continued to visit and over the past several years, I have continued the tradition by taking my nieces each summer.
The Bronx Zoo offers many programs for kids and I looking around Facebook one day when I saw an announcement for a new program, Zoo Camp for Adults. It was a 3 hour morning program that had three dates available. I was able to sign up and attend the very first one a few weeks ago.
The experience was divided into three segments. First, we went to the ambassador building where we got to get up close with a few animal ambassadors. That was followed by a tour of the hospital facilities and then we ended our day with a hands on experience.,
To start with our ambassador program, all 16 of us went to the ambassador building and were seated in one room to wait for the animals to be brought in one at a time by the keepers. We were visited by a porcupine, a bear cat and a kangaroo. The keepers would tell us how the animals came to be a part of program and also about the species in general. We were able to observe them but not touch them and, of course, we could ask as many questions as we would like.
While I could have stayed at the ambassador building all day and seen even more animals, after about an hour, our time there was over and we were on to our next stop which was the hospital area. We were given a tour of the facility but unfortunately pictures were not allowed. We saw the areas where they exam any animal that passes away in their care. They are meticulous in their studies so that they can determine not only why that particular animal passed away but what they could be doing to improve the care of the other animals currently on exhibit.
We also got to see the areas in which they keep animals that are sick and operating rooms where they will perform procedures on animals. If you saw "The Zoo" on Animal Planet, you would have been very familiar with our guide and the areas that we visited.
Our last stop was at the aviary for our hand on experience. We were tasked with preparing all the fish that are needed to feed the birds for the day. There were several jobs to do, including counting out different types of fish for each exhibit, cutting fish into smaller pieces, weighing out and bagging fish and placing vitamins into some fish. We were divided into teams and each team had a job. My team did the "pilling" which involved tipping back the head of the fish and sliding a vitamin into the gills area.
When we had all finished, we were able to go into the aviary and up to the keeper area and put some fish out for the birds. They came down to eat which gave us some close up views.
The 3 hours went by so quickly! It was great to get a behind the scenes experience at a place I have been coming to since I was a child. Being the very first time they were doing this, I had expected that there may be some bumps or missteps but that was not the case. It was very well thought out, planned and executed. I hope that they do more and expand their programming for adults in the future.
Like many people, I am obsessed with the Broadway show, "Hamilton." I was fortunate enough to see it last summer and even more fortunate to be seeing it again in August.
Back in December, my brother and I decided to head into NYC and visit some locations that have a Hamilton connection.
Our first stop was Trinity Church Wall Street to visit the church yard. In the church yard, you can find the grave site of Alexander Hamilton, Eliza Hamilton and Hercules Mulligan. There is a marker stating that Phillip Hamilton is know to be buried in that graveyard as well but the exact location is not known. We also knew that Angelica was buried there but we were unable to find her grave. (We did some further research later on and found information that she is in another section.)
Our next stop was Federal Hall. Federal Hall was the site of the inauguration of George Washington. The original building was built in 1700 and was also the site of the first Congress. The building was demolished in 1812 but then rebuilt in 1842 as the US Custom House and part of the treasury. It is now part of the National Park Service.
There are several exhibits inside, including a slab of concrete that is thought to be where George Washington stood at his inauguration. If you visit, be sure to go downstairs to where the restrooms are located. There are vaults there from when it was the treasury building..
Our third stop was to the Museum of American Finance to see a special exhibit about Alexander Hamilton. The exhibit was small but did include some original writings and had a replica of the dueling pistols used by Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr.
Our last stop was Fraunces Tavern. The tavern was built in 1719 and was frequently visited by Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and George Washington. Currently, the downstairs is still an operating tavern / restaurant. In fact, we had lunch there. Upstairs is a small museum with the highlight being the long room where George Washington gave his farewell address to his troops in 1783.
It was a fun day to plan and enjoy. We already have our sites set on new locations to visit this spring.
The Culinary Institute of America is a premier culinary college for the food industry. It is located in Hyde Park, NY, right along the Hudson. Every semester, they offer “chef enthusiasts” the opportunity to take a class there on the weekend. They have several Saturdays available each semester with courses that cover baking, cooking and even knife and food preparation techniques. The sessions are from 9:30 – 2:30 and include a continental breakfast, a CIA apron and lunch.
My sister and I have been fortunate enough to take a few of the baking classes but this past Saturday we ventured into cooking with a class called “Delicious Vegetables.”
We arrived around 8:45 and reported to the dining area at Roth Hall. There was coffee, juice and some pastry and fruit. The pastries are all baked by the CIA students so they were very good!
All the classes meet in the same location so there was quite a crowd by the time everything was ready to begin. All of the CIA chefs that are teaching gather in the front of the room and then each class is called one at a time. You all gather together, meet your chef and are then escorted to your room for the day.
We had 17 people in our class and Chef Sean led us to our classroom.
We started off with introductions and a tour of the room. It is a commercial kitchen with multiple burners and stoves on both sides of the room. There were racks with pots and pans and a closet with bowls and other appliances. Each of us had a station with a cutting board, two knives, our aprons and chef hats and our recipe booklet. We also had 3 CIA students that were the classes’ assistants for the day.
In all of the classes we have taken, the chefs and the student assistants have been awesome and this day was no exception. They are very friendly and helpful throughout the class. And the best part… you don’t wash any dishes! The students do all of the cleaning for you.
Once we had the lay of the land, we chose our stations. Our stations were already set up at 4 tables which made us into 4 teams. Each team was assigned a set of recipes that we would be responsible for creating. My team assignment was to make fresh ravioli with three different filling and three different sauces. Once the recipes were assigned, it was off to the races.
Honestly, my sister and I were pretty confused for the first 20-30 minutes. Our team had divided up the tasks and we were going to make the spinach filling but there was some confusion about the recipe in our booklet. We got some help from one of the students and then it started coming together. The chef would come by each table and share a technique or help out with whatever we were doing. Since we were making ravioli, he came over to show us out to make pasta from scratch. He did one batch as a demonstration and then we got to try it as well.
The goal was for us all to finish our recipes by 1 pm and then we would make a big buffet with all of the dishes and enjoy a lunch of sampling everything.
My favorite part of the day was actually making the ravioli. The chef showed us how to roll out the dough using a machine to make it super thin and then use a mold to form the ravioli. After we had everything done, he cooked the ravioli and combined it with the different sauces we made.
We had quite a buffet and once we made our plates with samples of everything, we went to the dining room to eat. The chef came and sat with us to answer questions and just talk about cooking / restaurants in general.
It was a fun day though I think I realized that my comfort zone is definitely more in the baking department. Hope to take a class there again in the future.
Our next stop on our travel agent education program was the new Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando. This beautiful resort has 1000 rooms available. They have kids suites where the kids will have a separate room with twins beds and their own television right off the main room so they are not able to exit to the hallway on their own.
The pool area is beautiful and there are private cabanas available for daily rentals.
I also enjoyed dinner and a rum tasting at one of their restaurants, Strong Water Tavern.
Enjoy my pictures and contact me if you have any questions.
The first tour of our agent education trip was to Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas. The ship was huge! We were able to explore the public areas and see a few different staterooms. I was impressed with how many different options there were for dining and entertainment. You will always be able to find something to do!
I am happy to answer any questions!
I have returned from a 6 day trip to Walt Disney World for a travel agent education program. It was a very busy and informative trip and I have a lot to share.
We were fortunate enough to stay at the Grand Floridian for the 5 nights of our trip. It was my first time ever at the resort.
The property is beautiful and it is only one monorail stop away from the Magic Kingdom. It is also so convenient to resort hop over to the Contemporary or Polynesian for shopping and dining.
Before my 2017 adventures begin, I wanted to go back in time a bit and finally report back on my Oct 2016 cruise on the Disney Fantasy.
My husband, my sister and I went on a 7 night cruise to Eastern Caribbean ports. My husband and I had done this itinerary before but it was the first time for my sister.
The cruise was great and we all had a great time but the part I wanted to especially share was the theme of the cruise. During the fall months, Disney designates certain sailings as “Halloween on the High Seas.” Our cruise fell into these dates and it was truly a great experience.
The theming starts as soon as you enter the ship. Everything is decorated in the atrium and there were little touches everywhere. There were many special events through the entire cruise. We made sure to read through the Navigator each day (that is the daily schedule) to make sure we didn’t miss anything. I believe we did most of everything that was themed to Halloween. I will talk about each one below.
Overall, I found the theme to be immersive but not over the top. There were definitely enough Halloween activities to enjoy, but if you weren’t into celebrating Halloween, you could easily find other activities to enjoy. There was still a Pirates Night so the Halloween theme did not interfere with that.
I would definitely do this cruise again and now I would like to try a 7 night Christmas themed cruise!
I have been a huge Disney and travel fan since childhood. I love going to new places and, of course, heading to Disney as often as I can.