(Note: This post was written in January but I am back-dating it so that it will be easier to follow!)
I am SO behind! I guess Instagram really is proving to be the new blog. :(
I am SO behind! I guess Instagram really is proving to be the new blog. :(
Not sure how I feel about that but I guess I'm just thankful there's a way (or app?) to document our lives; without my iPhone camera I would have no pictures of our day-to-day, that's for sure.
I'm going to try my best to update more this year. If it didn't take so long to upload the pictures I think I'd blog way more. It literally takes almost a day to get a posts' worth of pictures, especially when you are documenting a vacation. I'm spoiled by the instant upload-ability of Instagram!
Anyhow, Im here to document the FINAL day of our Disney Dream cruise that we took back in October. This was day 4 on the ship, our day at sea. Although this was the most crowded day as far as the boat goes, it ended up being the most relaxing day for us because we let our kids go to the kids' clubs for almost the entire day! Whoop whoop! A vacay for everyone! (We were kinda disappointed we didn't do this earlier in the week!)
*If you are a new reader, I always highlight tips and tricks in blue italics!*
We started the day by getting up and getting dressed to go see the princesses in the atrium.
This gathering happened twice on our cruise, and I think both times it was in the morning. I was told to wait until the second gathering because it would be far less crowded. We did get a little bit of a late start but we still arrived in the atrium about 10 minutes before they were supposed to begin. Well, the line was already about 10 miles long. (See the picture above? The line starts over on the right beside the pumpkin tree; and you can see people lines up over there on the right... the neverending line!) So we decided to just watch from the balcony and forego the line to get pictures and autographs. I knew we would have a chance to see all of them individually at some point, and some we had already seen, so we just watched them twirl and "sing" and flaunt their pretty dresses, then we went on to breakfast.
You WILL get a chance to see all the princesses if you pay attention to character greeting times on your cruise navigator. They will be at random places at random times, but they give you exact location and time so that you can see them and get pictures. But if you want to do it all at once, go to one of these gatherings, and get there early - I'd say anywhere from 20 minutes to a half hour early so that you can be first in line and get done! This is more of a "one-stop shop" if you don't want to worry about having to catch them individually at all the other random times.
We enjoyed a tasty breakfast up at Cabanas and then went out to the pools for a bit. The pools were way more crowded on this day since we were at sea, so after a little bit the kids were asking to go to "Andy's Room." We had already reserved Emma Kate some time in the nursery anyway so we decided to take them all early, and they all ran in without hesitating.
Chad and I decided to check out the adult-only areas, which were on the front end of the ship. WOW! It was like a completely different ship! It was so serene and quiet and relaxing. You could definitely tell you were on a Disney cruise, because the adult-only areas were scarcely populated. There were hundreds of empty chairs and even the pool was pretty empty. Here are a few pictures I snapped.
This is the front end of the ship, and this is where the teens pool is located. I love the colors and the funky chairs! How fun would it be to go on a Disney cruise as a teen and have this area to yourself! Apparently there were no teens on our ship.
We relaxed in the sun all morning and enjoyed the breeze while the boat cruised back to the mainland.
Chad and I went back to Cabanas for lunch and enjoyed our last buffet of the trip, which did not disappoint. I will take an endless supply of shrimp and short ribs any day.
And at the last minute I decided to indulge and get a pedicure and a massage. My birthday was 48 hours away so I justified it by saying this was an early present to myself. And before this, I'd only had one massage in my entire life, and it was over 10 years ago. To be honest I'm really not that crazy about massages, and this one was good but I wouldn't say I'd do it again. I guess I'm just a little too tense because they tend to hurt more than they help. I did love the facial part and of course the hands and feet part - that was very relaxing and definitely made me feel refreshed!
And I couldn't complain about the view:
One thing I didn't like about the spa services was they give you a card to fill out at the beginning with all these questions - where do you hurt? What do you do to relax? Where are your problem areas that ache? etc. You fill out the form thinking it is just an innocent questionnaire and that it will help them personalize your treatment a little more, and then at the end of your treatment they say, "Did you like the way that cream felt? Do you think you could try some of this at home so that you won't be so tense and stressed?" And then they bring you all these products and try to make you buy them. (i.e. 'Oh, Ms. Morgan, since you have back pain sometimes let me rub this cream on your back, and here's a bottle of it that you can take home, and we will just add it to your cruise bill for $88.) UM, NO THANKS. I'm not a fan of product-pushing. And I'm one of those people who don't like to say no. So it made it extra uncomfortable for me. But I left and told myself not to feel bad for not buying all of their stuff. They were just doing their job, I guess. But just FYI if you decide to do the spa stuff, they will try to get you to buy products!!!
Despite the solicitations for spa goodies, I did feel REALLY good after my pedi and massage. I took a hot shower and got dressed, and then Chad and I packed our suitcases since the kids were still having fun at the club. We didn't realize it at the time but this proved to be such a great help! Take an hour out of your last day to go ahead and pack, preferably while your kids are in the club. You have to have your bags (all except your carry-ons) outside your stateroom door by midnight on the last night of the cruise, because they pick them up then. Because we did this earlier in the day, we were able to enjoy our last night after dinner and the show instead of rushing back to the room to get packed. We were able to walk around the ship and just enjoy ourselves! And crowds were LOW because everyone else was busy packing. :)
After packing and getting ready, we picked the kids up and headed to dinner. We met Captain Mickey in the atrium and were able to get one last family picture with him.
This was our last night on the cruise and we were assigned again to the Enchanted Garden restaurant. The menu was totally different on this night. (If you remember, the night before was Pirate Night and so the menu was pirate-themed.) On the 4-night cruise you will eat at one of the restaurants twice, but the menu will be completely different!
Once again the kiddos were welcomed with their beverage of choice and plenty of crayons and coloring sheets.
This is off the subject, but in the picture below you can see Sam's arm band. The kids wear these for the entire cruise. This is what they scan to let them in and out of the kids' areas. They have photos of each child and each parent and you are also required to have a password when picking them up. I was very impressed at their security and even at the end of the trip, when they knew who we were, they still asked for passwords and looked up our pictures.
Emma Kate enjoyed her Mickey Mouse ketchup again, this time maybe too much. :)
This night's menu was absolutely delicious and the entree was my favorite of the trip - sea bass on a creamy risotto. It was absolutely delicious and of course visually stunning as well.
Dessert was some sort of sticky pudding - oh my word, divine!
And because it was our last night, our servers brought out a special spooky dessert: a chocolate ganache spider! The kids loved this of course and although it was very rich, it was super yummy.
We were sad to say goodbye to our wonderful servers that night. They truly made our trip extra magical and extra relaxing! Dinner with little ones can be such a frustrating experience, and they went to great efforts to ensure that we as parents were as relaxed as possible and that our meals were stress-free! If a drink was spilled, we were not allowed to clean it up; if food needed cutting up, we were not allowed to pick up our knives to help. If an entree was not liked, it was immediately exchanged for something different, no questions asked. If an extra dessert was desired, they brought out two! I cannot complain one bit. Disney does it RIGHT!
As I said before, we knew that a couple of the princesses would be making an appearance around 7pm in the D-Lounge which is a small theater where they have game shows and stuff. So the girls and I left dinner a few minutes early and headed there. This time we were early! Mary Ella was thrilled to get big hugs and autographs from Cinderella and Belle.
Another thing I love about the cruise is that each princess is the same person every time you see them. So by the end of our trip, a couple of them knew Mary Ella's name and recognized her in the halls and would tell her hello! Which of course made her day.
After this we headed to meet everyone else at the theater for the final show of the cruise. This one was called "Believe" and it was my favorite of all. This one brought tears - partly because it included all of my kids favorite characters, and partly because of the storyline. It is about a little girl who is trying to get her busy dad to believe in magic. The lyrics to the original songs were so good and held so much meaning. Probably the reason I cried. The kids loved it too and I couldn't help but snap some pictures because I was so sad this was our last night. :(
After the show, EK was tuckered out so Chad took her back to the room and she watched Disney cartoons before falling asleep. I took Sam and Mary Ella back to the atrium and we walked around looking for character friends.
A cast member told us that on the last night, a bunch of characters will come into the atrium and station themselves in different spots, and, unlike other nights on the cruise, there are no Disney photographers during this last character gathering, so basically no lines, because you are just using your own camera and don't have cast members making sure everyone is in line. This was so nice! And this is another reason to go ahead and pack earlier in the day - we would have totally missed this. And there were very few people in the atrium at this time - maybe 50-80 people total - because everyone else was packing I guess. We were able to get photos with Goofy, Donald, Chip & Dale, Ariel, and Pluto, all in a matter of minutes. Sam was actually thrilled to see the characters on the last night.
We finally called it a night and headed up to the room for bed. We had an early wake up call the next day - we had to be in the lobby around 7:30am I think? We were all pretty exhausted and I was so sad that it was over. Some of the kids club counselors were at the gangway of the ship and they told the kids goodbye and "See ya real soon!" of course. My kids loved their counselors!
We headed out and there were people there to help get our bags and wheel them out for us. You WILL need help because it is a long walk - especially if you have small kids and no stroller - so take the help! And you will need cash for tips here as well, because these folks don't work for the cruise line.
It didn't take long before we were back on our shuttle headed for the hotel. I'll admit, it was kind of sad leaving just as the sun was coming up. I kept saying "Just ONE more day!" but alas, our cruise had come to an end. Here's a picture I snapped of the front of the ship as we were driving away.
Luckily, I had planned just one more little night of magic for our family. I couldn't just leave the Disney Dream at 8am and then get in the car and drive home... that's no way to end a Disney vacation...
(more to come!)
Click here to read about our cruise from the beginning.
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