Monthly Archives: September 2011

Disney Wonder Pacific Cruise Part 4 PIN GIVEAWAY!!

Don’t miss Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 for my full trip report on the Disney Wonder Pacific Cruise, September 20-25th.

Notice I’m shortening the title? It’s getting a little unruly. But here we are on Part 4 of the cruise trip report and now, MYWTMouse fans, it’s time for a PIN GIVEAWAY!!!

But first, some chatting about our character breakfast. Our character breakfast was really a lot of fun, and because we were the second seating for dinner we didn’t have to get up insanely early to go to it either.

Theo was very excited!

Theo’s gotten really into characters lately, particularly Goofy, so it is always fun to meet the characters. I love character meals too. We had our first one at the Mouse-in-Law (Disneyworld for you newbies) and it was awesome. Such a great way to meet the characters in a low-key format, and you get to eat instead of just waiting in line!

Practicing our smile, sort of

Unfortunately the breakfast is a pretty packed house so you don’t get a lot of time with the characters (that was actually my main complaint of the whole trip was the availability of the characters. I actually wrote a big complaining email and got a very sincere apology for our disappointment, which was nice). Anyway,

This is Dale--you know because he's the one with the red nose

The characters had their pre-set route, and it seemed like we were the last table on the whole circuit so that was a little tough for Mr. Impatient (Theo, not Kevin). But one of my favorite moments was when Pluto came up behind Theo and Theo was completely unaware that he was there. Kevin had to tap him on the shoulder a few times to get his attention.

Hunh?

Pluto is so silly!

Chip swung by, like literally swung.

Chip is the one with the black nose, like a chocolate chip (I learned that on this blog!)

Theo has become a real Mickey and Minnie fan too.

Telling Minnie a story. Minnie is remaining strangely silent.

Mickey is definitely one of my favorites.

Hey big guy!

Gimme five!

We actually didn’t get to see Goofy given our location on the circuit and Theo’s attention level at the end of breakfast. We made up for it by seeing Goofy later though!

But now it’s time for the…

GIVEAWAY!!!

I never forget my loyal fans, even when I’m trying to! 😉 So I got a few souvenirs for my peeps. I looked for Disney Cruise Line exclusives, and I think you’re going to like…

Old-fashioned Captain Mickey!

I loved this little guy and can’t wait to send him to one of you! Now I’m not a pin trader–I have some pins I like so I don’t want to trade them–but I think this one will make a nice addition to anyone’s collection.

Disney Cruise Line logo

How do you enter? By doing any or all of these:

  • Leave a comment saying, “I want a Mickey pin!”
  • Like MYWTM on Facebook and leave a comment, or if you already do, let me know
  • Refer a friend on Facebook! They must leave a comment with your name!
  • Tweet this phrase: Enter to win a #DCL exclusive #Pin! http://wp.me/p1eVIB-xe (and don’t forget to leave a comment here!)
  • Use! Lots! Of! Exclamation! Points! (okay, not really an entry, but obviously I’m a fan of the exclamation point)

This giveaway ends 11:59pm Pacific time on Friday, September 30th. That’s two days, so get crackin’, and good luck!

Disney Wonder Pacific Cruise September 20-25, 2011–Part 3

Meals. I already mentioned the seating arrangements and the tricks we used to get Theo occupied (cars) and clean (long-sleeved bibs). So I’m going to talk about, uh, something else I guess.

Every other cruise I’ve been on has one giant dining room for the main meals. Disney has 3 less giant ones. They are Triton’s, which serves somewhat French food, Animator’s Palette, which serves a contemporary variety, and Parrot Cay, which serves an island flair type thing. You keep your same table mates (although our table mates ended up switching to the early seating so we just ate by ourselves, which was actually kind of nice) and your same wait staff and rotate among the three restaurants. Our rotation was Triton’s, Animator’s, Animator’s, Parrot Cay, Triton’s. I have to say that I thought the food at Triton’s was the weakest.  The bummer was that we ended up eating there twice and missing one of the Animator’s, which had this awesome show with Mickey Mouse running around.

That was because there’s also the adult-only special restaurant, Palo. I personally love the cruise special restaurants. You pay extra but the food is usually amazing and the individual seating is a nice break. I didn’t originally plan on eating at Palo because it didn’t occur to me that you can have your kids in the nursery until 10pm, but once I realized that I ran over to the Palo desk upon boarding and got us a reservation, along with a reservation for Theo at Flounder’s Reef (the nursery). I also had to adjust our spa treatment, and the best part was that the person I talked to on the phone to make all these arrangements ended up putting none of them (aside from Palo) into the computer, so we’d show up at the spa and Flounder’s and they’d be like “Well, we have you scheduled for…” Fortunately they were able to fit us in everywhere, and the moral of the story is to make sure all of your arrangements are set with each individual place.

Anyway, another thing I didn’t know about was that there’s a Pirate Night onboard. One thing that bugged me a bit about the Disney site is that they give almost no information beforehand. You have to look at other sites or have a knowledgeable travel agent or both to get this kind of information, and the fact that there’s a pirate night is a pretty big piece of info I wish I’d had. But what can you do? Except not make your Palo reservation on Pirate Night like I did. Oops! Ah well, live and learn.

We did not, however, miss semi-formal night.

Mr. Dapper!

Okay, yeah, technically it was SEMI-formal night. But I bought the tux for Halloween (Theo is going as Tuxedo Mickey which is pretty much going to skyrocket the Cute Chart all the way to the top) and I love dressing to the nines anyway. Plus Kevin owns his own tux (did I mention dressing to the nines?) so I turned semi-formal night into formal night.

He really wanted to touch the camera

Our (semi) formal night was in Parrot Cay, and was definitely my favorite meal of the trip (aside from Palo). But did I mention Palo’s chocolate souffle? Oh em gee, I am always a HUGE fan of souffle, but I’ve never had a chocolate souffle like the one at Palo. I’ve heard that they’ve gotten awards or something for this dessert and quite frankly, they deserve every single accolade. I mean, it was GOOD.

But back to (semi) formal night. There were different stations set up where you could take family pictures every night. I decided that it would be fun to have a family shot of the all of us, esp. the boys in their tux, so we had a few done against a white background. One in particular was so adorable and so completely caught Theo’s personality that we had to buy a few prints for fun.

Meanwhile, it was great to try to catch some moments of my favorite guys.

Tails!

I just LOVE this shot!

Theo’s like an Ambercrombie and Fitch ad with his hand in his little pocket there.

We got a picture with Tuxedo Mickey that was a lot of fun

We're ALL dressed up!

We ended up timing our photos just right, so we didn’t have to wait for the family picture and only had to wait a few minutes for Mickey. However, this did leave us some time to relax back in the room before dinner.

Kickin' back

I just love these pictures because even though we hadn’t had dinner yet, it still looks like the guys just got back from a night of dancing or a wedding and are exhausted.

It's not easy being this cute

All in all, our dinner experiences were fantastic and our (semi) formal night was one to keep for the ages!

Hooray!

Oh, and stay tuned tomorrow! I’ve got a giveaway that I think you’re going to like!!!

Disney Wonder Pacific Cruise September 20-25, 2011–Part 2

If you haven’t read Part 1 of our cruise trip report, be sure to start there!

The Disney Wonder is really a great ship. If you haven’t been on a cruise before, it’s hard to grasp the magnitude of such a giant floating thing bobbing around–well there’s another thing, on the large cruises you don’t do a lot of bobbing around. I’m really prone to motion sickness and tend to do quite well on cruises. We did have one day of choppy seas but I took a little Dramamine (hint: bring it from home because it’s pricey in the gift shop–shockingly) and had no problems. So if you’re thinking about cruising but are really worried about motion sickness, I would encourage you to try a cruise with some medicine in your toiletry bag. It’s a great trip!

Anyway, the Wonder is large.

Large

And even the masthead is adorable. You can see that the Wonder is constantly under improvement.

The fun permanent feature

The ship was is really great condition, speaking of “under improvement.” The Wonder is, I believe, the oldest ship in the Disney fleet (READER CORRECTION: the Wonder is the second oldest ship in the fleet–the Disney Magic is one year older), but you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at it. Disney does such a great job keeping everything neat and trim and in working order. Everything looked fantastic and the ship didn’t seem to show much wear at all. And that can’t be easy with 6 billion kids running around.

Kevin’s favorite part was the ship’s whistle. Rather than just a HOOOOONNNNNKKKKKK it blew a very nice “When you wish upon a star” to announce port comings and goings. Even the shipboard announcements were delivered to that tune, which was such a great Disney touch.

Seriously, they think of everything.

There were just a few negatives we encountered that I’ll cover. One was our first shore excursion, or what Disney calls a “Port Adventure.” We stopped in Victoria, Canada (our trip started in Vancouver, stopped in Victoria, had 2 days at sea, stopped in Ensenada, and ended in LA) and the excursion I signed us up for sounded like it was going to be fun–a horse-drawn trolley tour through the city. Unfortunately, it turned out to be kind of boring, especially for Theo, and since it was an hour with no stops, he got really squirrely and tantrumy at the end. It put a damper on the morning because it was so tough for him and we spent most of the tour trying to prevent him from standing up or losing his toy cars. So if you’ve got an antsy little one like we do, the tour of Victoria is not the excursion I’d recommend.

Getting started on the excursion

Our weather was pretty much overcast the whole time. Rain had been predicted for the Canada portions but we never got more than a sprinkle here and there. Unfortunately, even all the way down to Ensenada we had dark skies and a chilly wind. The nice thing was that the pool was really heated to a very comfortable temperature, so you could go swimming. As long as you stayed in the pool everything was just fine, but getting out–brrrrrrrr. Poor Theo, the last day (in Mexico!) he and Kevin went swimming and had a blast, but then he cried when Kevin got him out of the pool, even a couple of big towel-hugs afterwards, and went on a plaintive “Daddy carry? Daddy carry?” back to the room. But for the most part the weather didn’t bother me too much. It’s not like Disney can control the weather either.

Yesterday I posted about some of the door decorations–this room was particularly cute:

Mouse ears!

A few of the rooms had those little fabric hanging bags. They were SO cute and really a lot of fun! Reader Update: The hanging bags are called “Fish Extenders” and they’re for all kinds of goodies! If Theo had been a bit older I likely would have gone to the nines with the door decorations. Next time for sure.

I also showed you the MYWTM magnets I had–it was very fun walking past a room seeing one of those too :).

Not our room

And of course, the best part of the Disney cruise was really our family time. It’s such a great vacation if you want to slow down and spend some good time together while still having other things to do during the day. I’ll admit, though, some of my favorite moments were ones like this:

Theo is naming the various engines in his Thomas the Tank Engine book


Disney Wonder Pacific Cruise September 20-25, 2011–Part 1

How’s that for a title?

I loved our cruise. LOVED IT. I know, that’s a shocker–me loving something Disney–but it’s true. I have to say, if you have kids and are thinking about a cruise, Disney is THE way to go. And I’ve been on other boats too, all very nice, but there’s nothing like the Disney cruise. Let’s throw in a picture:

I can't remember why this was an important picture to take

In this entry I’m going to talk a little bit about the kids stuff. Just to warn you, this isn’t all chronological and stuff. In true MYWTM fashion, it will be disorganized and random.

*ahem*

There are a few things that make a WORLD of difference between Disney and other cruises when it comes to kids, and I’m not just talking about the kid’s programming (which looked very awesome but Theo was ever-so-slightly too young for it). But first I’m going to toss in another picture.

Foolin' around

Now anyone who has ever vacationed with a child can tell you that being together in cramped quarters like a hotel room or cruise cabin can get pretty grating. Theo absolutely needs space of his own to be able to fall asleep, or else we’re reduced to laying on the bed in the dark waiting for him to fall asleep in our shared room, which kind of bites. So that brings me to our first really awesome thing about the Disney cruise:

Curtains!

No, seriously–there’s a curtain cutting the room in half, so you can create a quiet, dark kid space, draw the curtain, and still have some lights on in the rest of the cabin, and most importantly, bathroom access, so you never need to disturb your sleeping darling(s). This is so awesome that, in fact, it was pretty much one of our biggest deciding factors into whether or not to take this cruise in the first place. But while I’m speaking of the bathroom (in the sentence before that last one), another Disney bonus:

Bathtub!

Yep, a small but handy bath tub for all of your kid-bathing needs. Theo is still at that age where showers are kind of scary and he’d prefer not to take them, so the bath tub was awesome. And the tub/shower is in a separate little room from the toilet as well. It’s these little kinds of details that make a huge difference when you’re actually onboard and needing these amenities.

Eating is fabulous. Like all cruises, you are assigned a “seating” time for dinner–we were in second seating so our dinner was at 8:15. That’s pretty late for a lot of people, but for a family of night owls like ours, it was perfect.

First night

Also like all cruises, you have your designated server who stays with your table. Our assistant server (the guy who does all the grunt work), Goran from Croatia, was just amazing. He was SO good with Theo and had a great memory for all of our preferences (remembering that I prefer water without ice, for example). One huge kid amenity was…

Kid’s meals are served instantly!

I know, this is something that non-parents don’t even think about, or at least I didn’t think about until I became a parent, but it’s SO hard for a little one to sit down, order, and then have to wait for everyone else’s food to be ready and brought out at the same time. The kids had kid’s menus of course, from which you could order whatever you like–standard fare of mac and cheese, mini burger, pizza, chicken strips, etc. plus some “chef’s choice” closer to the adult menu of the evening. The kids menus were for coloring, and they cleverly used washable crayons so coloring on the nice white tablecloths was no problem. But back to the food–so you would order for the kids and within just a few minutes the kid’s plate would appear–one of those nice partitioned plates too, so foods don’t mix. The adult food was served in a more leisurely manner, but it was really helpful to have Theo get started and not have to wait for us. Plus, dessert!

Chocolate pudding--Theo is a fan.

I forgot to add up there that there are actually 3 different restaurants (plus one adult-only restaurant), and you rotate between the three of them. You actually keep your same server with you the whole time, so that was really nice.

We did a couple of things that really helped Theo with the sit-down dinners, which can be a challenge for a busy boy like ours who so rarely sits still. First, we strapped him into a high chair. I know many kids his age are out of the high chairs but believe me, when he’s not in a chair we spend the entire meal getting him to sit down. Second, we used bribery–that is, Theo is really into toy cars, so we got a 10-pack of Matchbox cars and every night, right before dinner, he got a brand-new car. The novelty of a new toy really held his attention and he loved showing each new car to our server, Goran. The third thing I was so glad we did was bringing sleeved bibs. The ones we got, made by Bumkins, are really the best–great coverage and really waterproof. I also love that they tie in the back instead of velcro. For us there’s no choking danger with the tie and it’s a bit harder for Theo to rip off on his own. I did dress Theo up a bit for each dinner and it was so nice to have maximum coverage to give his clothes a fighting chance to get clean again.

Speaking of which, my new favorite travel item is the Oxi Clean Max Force Pre-Treater Gel Stick. It’s in a bottle and is, obviously, a stain stick. The nice thing is that you can apply it when the stain is fresh and then wait up to a week to launder. When we travel, I bring this bad boy along and whenever we get a stain I rub it in and then toss the item with the rest of the dirty laundry and it works SO well once we get home instead of trying to treat week-old stains at home. The only thing it doesn’t really work very well on is grease stains, for which you need blue Dawn once you get home. But other than that–LOVE.

Anywho, even chocolate pudding is no match for that stuff.

OMG HE'S EATING MICKEY'S HEAD

Was I talking about kid amenities? Can’t remember. Anyway, another nice thing is the Wave Phones in each room. They are basically onboard cell phones and there are two of them. You can send one off with the kids and keep one for yourself and stay in touch whenever you’re separated. It’s very cool and I would imagine extremely handy for families with older kids, though we did use it when we had Theo in Flounder’s Reef Nursery.

Another fun thing about the Disney cruise is that the cabin doors are metal. I know, doesn’t sound like fun, but…you can decorate your door with magnets!! There were a lot of really cute door decorations we saw. I also had some MYWTM magnets made up and stuck them all over the door with a sign inviting people to take a couple. I thought it would be a fun way to publicize the blog a bit as well as giving people a chance to dress up their doors a little. They seemed to be pretty popular, given that I went on the trip with 100 of them and returned with ~15. Very fun! And if you made your way here via a magnet–welcome! I hope you enjoyed the cruise as much as we did!

Share the MYWTM love!

One of the things I love about cruises is the turn-down services at night. Every night they come in and made your bed all nice and cozy and ready for sleeping, while also dropping off the next day’s schedule, a couple of chocolates, and an artful towel sculpture

Like this swan

The towels were really awesome–a new one every night and so much fun!

Theo had to immediately try out the chocolates.

Notice the lack of stains on his shirt!

He approved.

Yum!

I had also read that you can order milk and cookies from room service right before bed. That would have been a very fun thing to do, but Theo was a bit too young for that and we basically went right from dinner to bed so we wouldn’t have had time. But with some older kids, and especially with an early dinner seating, that would be a fabulous way to wrap up the night.

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