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Re-imagined Disney Wonder – Day 4

Re-imagined Disney Wonder – Day 4

Today is our last full day aboard this beautiful ship, and also a sea day. While those are very relaxing, this morning is jam packed! We decided to add-on to our Disney Vacation Club membership by purchasing points at Disney’s Polynesian Resort Villas. We arrived for our 8:30 appointment to find that they did not have things ready and we had to come back at 12:30 to finalize our contract.

Next up was our Gingerbread House activity. It was full! They did not have a microphone or screen for the Chef demonstrating, so everyone was pretty much on their own unless they were right near the demonstration table. Crew members did walk around and offer assistance. We worked on ours for about 30 minutes and then were off to our Palo Brunch reservation.

Chef Vivek Demonstrating
Putting on the finishing touches
Our gingerbread house

Brunch at Palo is our favorite meal on board the ships. They now offer a menu of the freshly prepared meals, but it is still unlimited, and you can order at any time.

Salad, Fruit, Meat and Veggies
Seafood
More Cheese and Breads
Cheeses
Sweet Breads
Desserts
More Desserts
New Palo Brunch Menu

As Platinum Castaway members, we were also invited to see the dress rehearsal of the new Frozen, A Musical Spectacular show at 11:00 a.m. My daughter and my husband sped through brunch to attend, while I grazed over my meal until about 11:40 a.m. Of course, no photos were permitted of the dress rehearsal, but Chelsea loved it and was excited to see it again this evening.

Frozen!

We returned at 12:30 p.m. to sign our DVC paperwork and finally had a little downtime. The new show did live up to the hype! I wish we could share video or photos, but none are allowed in the Walt Disney Theater. You can learn more from a few clips and information online. After the performance, we finished this amazing cruise with dinner at Tiana’s Place.

I think Disney did a remarkable job re-imagining the Disney Wonder. Honestly, it may be my new favorite ship! I hope you have the opportunity to be on board for a Disney Cruise Line vacation soon!

— livingthedisneydream

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Re-Imagined Disney Wonder – Day 3

Re-Imagined Disney Wonder – Day 3

After breakfast on Cabanas outside deck, we went ashore in Cozumel. Being the typical tourists, we were looking for a few gifts. We purchased vanilla and salsa and were soon back aboard the ship. I found the shop owners were less bothersome than they had been in the past, which was a pleasant surprise.

Once aboard, I purchased a Rainforest Pass at the Senses Spa. The spa has been completely gutted and redone. The staff was eager to give tours and share the changes. I have to say it looks amazing! I was excited to enjoy the rainforest all to myself for about an hour. I tried all the showers and steam rooms, which were very nice. I especially liked the blue cool mist shower after sitting in the steam room.

Senses Spa
Senses Spa
Senses Spa
Senses Spa
Senses Spa Main Hallway
Senses Spa Main Hallway

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Main Hub in the Rainforest
Main Hub in the Rainforest
Rainforest Loungers
Rainforest Loungers
Water feature
Water feature
Towels and fresh iced water (cucumber or lemon infused)
Towels and fresh iced water (cucumber or lemon infused)
More Towels
More Towels
Steam Room
Steam Room
Showers
Showers
Shower and another towel area
Shower and another towel area
Sink area in Ladies' Room - they still have robes, slippers, razors, q-tips, cotton balls and other basics
Sink area in Ladies’ Room – they still have robes, slippers, razors, q-tips, cotton balls and other basics
Waiting area in Ladies' Room
Waiting area in Ladies’ Room
Locker's in Ladies' Room
Locker’s in Ladies’ Room
Showers in Ladies' Room
Showers in Ladies’ Room
Fitness area in Senses Spa
Fitness area in Senses Spa

Today was our first day of full sunshine, so I went to Deck 10 to spend some time in the sun. It was a beautiful day. I chose to be close to Funnel Vision so that I could watch The Princess and the Frog before our dinner at Tiana’s Place tomorrow evening. Later, I returned to the Spa for the Pamper Package. The package included a 50-minute massage and 25-minute facial. They were ready for me as soon as I checked in. The treatment was very relaxing. I also avoided the awkward hard-sell by requesting no sales pitch on my paperwork. I am not sure how they feel about that, but it makes my experience much nicer, and I leave an additional tip as a thank you.

I went back to enjoy the rainforest after my massage, but it was full, with one couple even sharing a lounger, and people sitting around the non-heated lounge area. I thought I might try again later, but never did return.

I picked up our Disney Vacation Club gift (a card with a paper token to redeem was delivered to our stateroom the first day), which were new DVC hats. Tonight’s dinner was in Animator’s Palate and was the Animation Magic show. The menu has changed since our dinner on the Disney Magic this summer.

Animator's Menu from the DCL app
Animator’s Menu from the DCL app

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After dinner, we walked down to Azure for the game Intuition followed by the first appearance of Christina Bianco on Disney Cruise Line. She had a video on YouTube that went viral a while back. She is a very talented performer and I expect we will be seeing more of her aboard the ships in the future.

Day 4 is our last day at sea with Palo Brunch and Gingerbread house decorating!

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— livingthedisneydream

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Re-Imagined Disney Wonder – Day 2

Re-Imagined Disney Wonder – Day 2

On our first full sea day, I was surprised to awake to the sound of rain. When cruising to the Caribbean, one expects days of sunshine. However, it was rainy and chilly most of the morning.

We slept in a bit and then wandered up to Cabanas. After breakfast, we attended the Disney Vacation Club Member celebration where they offered a complimentary drink of the day or bottled water. Usually, there are also snacks, but none were offered today. During the talk, there were technical problems, so they presented information out of order and threw out a few of the blinking rubber bracelets. They offered free 25th anniversary buttons and gave away a $200 onboard credit. If you chose a time to meet with a DVC Sales Advisor, you received Fast Passes to use at Walt Disney World on your next trip. Surprisingly, the event was not very well attended; I think everyone was exploring the ship.

After the DVC meeting, I perused the shops. I thought the selection of merchandise was very nice compared to this summer’s offerings on the Disney Magic. Though it was on my calendar, I completely missed the Castaway Club reception! I didn’t realize it until after our usual lunch at Triton’s.

Still not enjoying the cloudy and overcast weather, I decided to catch up on rest while the family went to Trivia (where they won the coveted Mickey medals). After my nap, I walked around and took a few more pics of the refurbished areas.

Shutters is now all digital - no more prints unless you order them!
Shutters is now all digital – no more prints unless you order them!
Shutters also has a dedicated portrait studio where you can schedule your family portraits.
Shutters also has a dedicated portrait studio where you can schedule your family portraits.
New D Lounge
New D Lounge
D Lounge
D Lounge
Sitting area on Deck 4 by the cruise re-booking area.
Sitting area on Deck 4 by the cruise re-booking area.

This evening was Pirate Night, but we opted instead to dine at Palo. The menu was pretty much the same as during our summer sailing on the Disney Magic. As always, I ordered an extra dish of the Mushroom Risotto for sharing. We finished dinner just as the fireworks started.

The sun was setting as we were on our way in for dinner at Palo.
The sun was setting as we were on our way in for dinner at Palo.
Potato Gnocchi
Potato Gnocchi
Ciuppin Soup
Ciuppin Soup
Sea Scallops
Sea Scallops
Rack of Lamb
Rack of Lamb

After dinner, we visited Azure for Majority Rules and Match-Your-Mate. Attendees were pretty thin here again tonight. I am not sure if it is the shorter cruise and thus a different crowd, but it is rare to have so few people at the evening events. I do have to say how much I love After Hours on the Disney Wonder. It carries through the theming of being “under water” so well.

Azure entrance
Azure entrance
Azure looking towards the stage
Azure looking towards the stage
Azure booths
Azure booths

Next up – Cozumel!

Disney Signature

— livingthedisneydream

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Laissez les bons temps rouler at Tiana’s Place

Laissez les bons temps rouler at Tiana’s Place

One of the things I was most looking forward to on the re-imagined Disney Wonder was the new restaurant, Tiana’s Place. Formerly Parrot Cay, it was in need of an update. Tiana’s Place is based on the movie The Princess and The Frog. While not changing the overall layout and fundamentals of the restaurant, it was completely re-designed. With a New Orleans Mardi Gras feel, this dining experience was almost a party.

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The menu features Cajun-style cuisine but was not too spicy. Between the four of us, we tried almost everything on the menu!

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Dessert Menu
Dessert Menu
Boudin Sausage Fritters
Boudin Sausage Fritters
Ahi Tuna Tartare
Ahi Tuna Tartare
Sauteed Gulf Shrimp & Grits
Sauteed Gulf Shrimp & Grits
New Orleans Seafood Pepper Pot
New Orleans Seafood Pepper Pot
Mama Odie's Creamy Tomato Soup
Mama Odie’s Creamy Tomato Soup
Big Daddy's Roasted Prime-Rib of Beef
Big Daddy’s Roasted Prime-Rib of Beef
Roasted Creole Half Chicken
Roasted Creole Half Chicken
Cajun Spiced Sea Bass
Cajun Spiced Sea Bass
James's Roasted Pork Tenderloin
James’s Roasted Pork Tenderloin
Dessert Menu
Dessert Menu
Dessert Menu
Dessert Menu
Chocolate Doberge Gateau
Chocolate Doberge Gateau
New Orleans Bananas Foster Sundae
New Orleans Bananas Foster Sundae
Southern Style Pecan Nut Tart
Southern Style Pecan Nut Tart
Tiana's Buttermilk Beignets
Tiana’s Buttermilk Beignets – Always order the beignets!
Mama Odie's White Chocolate Bread Pudding
Mama Odie’s White Chocolate Bread Pudding

In another Disney first, Tiana’s features the namesake herself, hosting the evening’s events. She introduces The Crawfish Crooners who perform as she visits with her guests, and then returns for a festive parade to end the evening.

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We loved this new addition and cannot wait to experience it again!

Disney Signature

— livingthedisneydream

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Our First Day Aboard The Re-Imagined Disney Wonder

Our First Day Aboard The Re-Imagined Disney Wonder

A few months ago, as I decided to launch this blog, I knew I wanted to be one of the first on the re-imagined Disney Wonder. The Disney Wonder was home for our very first cruise back in 2003. That cruise made us fall even more in love with Disney and cruising. Our children were amazed and in awe of the fun and activities offered in the kids club. We love that we can have an extended family vacation with special activities for each member of the family. Sixteen cruises later, we still love cruising with Disney and looked forward to seeing the ship updates.

We spent the night before the cruise at the Tremont House in Galveston. It is a lovely hotel, just a couple of blocks from the ship. The hotel features a café that offers a small food selection (average breakfast item was $10 and included a side of fresh fruit) and a Starbucks. Parking is available along the street. If we sail from Galveston in the future, I will plan to arrive a couple of days early to explore the area.

We had a rental car and had prepaid for port parking ($5 discount). I dropped the family curbside around 10:10 a.m. and had a porter take our bags. My family entered the line outside the port while I parked the car and rode the shuttle back. We were let into the port area around 10:35 and were able to go straight to a check-in Cast Member (we are Platinum Castaways). We were told rooms would not be available until 1:30 p.m. and that no upgrades were available as this sailing was completely full.

The waiting area is upstairs, and we were one of the first to arrive. I was second in line for the character photos and Mickey came out very soon. Around 11:30 they started boarding concierge. There was some confusion with boarding as this was the first time back in Galveston in a few months. People were told to go different places, but it was quickly worked out. Everyone was so excited to get on the ship that most of the Group 1 boarding skipped the boarding photo.

Upon boarding, a crew member did not follow us, so we had to stop and ask if Tiana’s Place was available for lunch. We were told Cabanas was open and Triton’s would open at noon. We decided to go to Cabanas rather than wait. We were also told we could go directly to our rooms as the ship was empty before this cruise!

I sent the family ahead while I stopped at Guest Services to acquire the complimentary Gingerbread House tickets (those were gone by early afternoon). Cabanas was very empty. It was very nice to have it so quiet! I was able to take photos and shoot a quick live video. I think most people were running around checking out the new areas of the ship before it filled up.

After lunch, we were able to make a change to our Palo dining (with no wait!). I spent the afternoon taking pics around the ship and grabbing a quick nap. The crew members were very excited to have passengers on board and for everyone to see the changes on the ship.

Tonight’s show was The Golden Mickey’s. There were changes and updates to the show. A cast member told me new segments for the show were filmed just earlier this week! After dinner we went to the evening shows at Azure. It was surprisingly very empty. I think most people had long travel days and skipped the evening activities. My plan for warm cookies and milk were replaced with my stronger desire for sleep.

Tomorrow is our first sea day!

Disney Signature

— livingthedisneydream

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New Children’s Areas on the re-imagined Disney Wonder

New Children’s Areas on the re-imagined Disney Wonder

The children’s areas aboard Disney Cruise Line ships are famous for providing hours of endless entertainment. Most kiddos love the clubs so much that parents have a difficult time getting them to leave! These new areas further exceed the expectations of even the most seasoned Disney cruiser, with visits from superheroes and princesses, I want to stay there too. Fortunately, there are many Open House hours where adults and siblings can also check out the club spaces.

it’s a small world nursery! is available for ages 6 months – 4 years (3-4 year olds who are not potty-trained or would feel more comfortable in these spaces) for $9 an hour. You can sign up in advance for the care or register once on the ship.

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs
Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs
Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

The Oceaneer Lab and Oceaneer Club are for ages 3-12 and have many activities throughout the day. They are included with the cruise at no additional cost!

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs
Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs
Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Wonder Kids Clubs

Disney Signature

— livingthedisneydream

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The WONDERful new Disney Wonder!

The WONDERful new Disney Wonder!

We recently disembarked from the first public sailing of the re-imagined Disney Wonder. She spent over a month in Cadiz, Spain receiving the largest update in Disney Cruise Line history. I will post more photos and information soon. Here are 30+ (before on the left, other than the first two pics) and after (on the right) photos from my personal collection. Note, in some pics there isn’t a color difference, it is a difference in the lighting. Most of the before photos are from our Alaska cruise in 2013. I hope you enjoy this quick peek at the changes. It looks amazing!

Disney Wonder Old Lobby

Disney Wonder New Lobby
They removed the staircase on the left. Ariel’s new home is now to the left by the remaining staircase. New carpet was added throughout the ship. There is now a much better “under the sea” theming throughout.
Disney Wonder Chandelier Before and After
The new chandelier looks similar to the Chihuly-style. The design was crafted with the help of Disney Imagineers.
Disney Wonder Port Adventures Before and After
The murals behind Guest Services and Port Adventures are now related to The Little Mermaid.
Disney Wonder Guest Services Before and After
The murals behind Guest Services and Port Adventures are now scenes related to The Little Mermaid.
Disney Wonder Secret Deck 7 now gone
The “Secret Deck 7” is no more with the addition of the ducktail. This area now provides room for a new generator.

Disney Wonder Staircase Before and After Disney Wonder Lobby Before and After Disney Wonder Mid-Ship Before and After Disney Wonder After Hours Before and After Disney Wonder After Hours Before and After Disney Wonder After Hours Before and After Disney Wonder After Hours Before and After Disney Wonder After Hours Before and After Disney Wonder After Hours Before and After Disney Wonder After Hours Before and After Disney Wonder After Hours Before and After Disney Wonder Spa Before and After Disney Wonder Spa Before and After Disney Wonder Spa Before and After Disney Wonder Family Pool Before and After Disney Wonder Children's Area Before and After Disney Wonder Sports Deck - No changes noted

Area outside of the Disney Sports Deck - now empty?
Thanks to Lori at AdventurerMom, she tells me that the foosball and ping-pong tables are back!
Disney Wonder Arcade now Edge

 

Note the walls were all replaced and now are the same as on the newer ships.
Note the walls were all replaced and now are the same as on the newer ships.

Disney Wonder Stateroom Before and After Disney Wonder TV Before and After

This area looks mostly the same, but did receive new carpet.
This area looks mostly the same, but did receive new carpet.

Disney Wonder Internet Cafe to Toddler Play Area

Just new carpet in this area.
Just new carpet in this area.

Disney Wonder Buffet Before and After Disney Wonder Buffet Before and After Disney Wonder Parrot Cay to Tiana's Place Disney Wonder Parrot Cay to Tiana's Disney Wonder Parrot Cay Chandelier to Tiana's Place Chandelier

In all fairness these made be different areas of Deck 1. The second picture is Deck 1 aft currently.
These may be different areas of Deck 1. The second picture is Deck 1 aft currently.

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— livingthedisneydream

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Disney Cruise Line and Hurricane Season: What You Need To Know

Disney Cruise Line and Hurricane Season: What You Need To Know

So you finally booked your dream cruise only to find out there is a hurricane barreling toward one or more of your destinations. Before panic sets in, let me assure you that this can be an excellent time to cruise and you can still enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime vacation experience. Cruise lines continuously monitor weather conditions and prepare for these yearly conditions.

Some of the lowest rates for cruises are in the fall after school has started. What most new cruisers do not realize is that this is also hurricane season. Here are some comparison rates for 2017:

May may-17-western

July july-17-western

September september-17-western

As you can see, it certainly makes financial sense to cruise in September!

And then something like this happens:

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It looks like Hurricane Matthew will be on the path toward Disney’s Private Island, Castaway Cay. Of course, Disney Cruise Line is monitoring the storm and posting advisories on the website:advisory-update-1016

We have been on multiple cruises during hurricanes. The captain and crew have done everything possible to keep us informed of the weather conditions. Often itineraries are altered before the start of your cruise. We sometimes received notifications before we left home, once at the port, and during one particularly strong hurricane season, had daily itinerary changes as we cruised. I can say I never felt in any danger and we experienced plenty of sunny, relaxing days in the Caribbean. If you choose to book during hurricane season, here are a few suggestions to make your cruise go more smoothly:

  1. As my husband says, “Flexible expectations are the key to happiness.” Yes, you spent hours choosing those perfect excursions, and now you are not even visiting that port of call! No worries, the Port Adventures desk will have a list of newly available tours and will help you pick the right one for your family. Any excursions booked through Disney Cruise Line will be automatically cancelled and refunded to your account. If you booked with an outside vendor, they might cancel your excursion if your ship is unable to make the port of call, however, read the fine print to see what you may be responsible for in those cases.
  2. Trip insurance is a must-buy. There have been times in the past where cruises have not been able to return to the scheduled debarkation port. Cruises have been known to extend days at sea or debark in a different port. Very rarely, a cruise can even be cancelled. While these are unusual events, it does happen. Trip insurance will help reimburse changed airline flights, rental cars, etc. that you may need to reschedule your trip or return home. I purchase trip insurance for every cruise because, let’s face it, things happen! Again, though, read the fine print as not all trip insurance is equal and not everything is covered.
  3. Pack a few extra things. Throw in rain gear, a long pair of pants, and a sweater. The great thing about being on a ship is the ability to maneuver away from the storms. Of course, sometimes that is not entirely possible. Be prepared with an umbrella and/or rain jacket. It is very unlikely you will have multiple days of rainy weather, but being prepared can help. Also, the weather tends to cool off quite a bit after a storm passes, so having a couple of items of warm clothing can be helpful.

While I cannot promise your cruise will be perfect, it will be a vacation you won’t soon forget!

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— livingthedisneydream

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Debarkation & Denmark

Debarkation & Denmark

Today is the saddest day of any cruise – debarkation. After a quick breakfast at Cabanas, we made our way off the ship. We signed up for a tour of Copenhagen before we were dropped at the airport to return to London. The cruise port is relatively new (approximately two years old), built on the outskirts of town.

We were on the second motorcoach of the day. The first one was full, but there were only around 20 people on our coach. The first stop on our tour was the famed Little Mermaid statue inspired by Hans Christian Anderson.

The Little Mermaid at Copenhagen Harbour
The Little Mermaid at Copenhagen Harbour
The Little Mermaid at Copenhagen Harbour
The Little Mermaid at Copenhagen Harbour
The Little Mermaid at Copenhagen Harbour
The Little Mermaid at Copenhagen Harbour

After seeing many sites through town, our next stop was Amalienborg Palace. There we were able to see the summer royal residences and changing of the guard. It also started to rain while we were here, and we were drenched!

Amalienborg Palace
Amalienborg Palace

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Royal Danish Guard
Royal Danish Guard

 

Back on the motorcoach, we saw more of the city, including the Nyhavn Canal, which is the quintessential area represented in photos of Copenhagen. We saw Tivoli Gardens, which inspired Walt Disney to build Disneyland.

Canal
Canal

There are many bicycles in Copenhagen. They have also made a large investment purchasing electric bikes for rental by the hour or by the day. There are many stations around town to pick up or return a bike.

Bike Rental
Bike Rental

Our next stop was Christiansborg Palace. It is still used by the Queen to entertain foreign dignitaries and for government business.

Christiansborg Palace
Christiansborg Palace

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After a short drive, we arrived at the airport. The security line was very long and I was randomly chosen to have my bag search. It was my carry-on bag that was full of junk. They very thoroughly dumped the bag, and all of the contents to check it. It took me another 10 minutes after they finished to get it all back together and throw away trash. Once through security, we were making our way to the gate. On our way, we noticed a long line and thought it was a popular restaurant. Unfortunately, it was a passport check line, and it took well over an hour to process through to get to our gate. Allow plenty of time if you fly out of Copenhagen! After our flight to London, we navigated the terminals of Heathrow to get to our hotel (attached to the airport). By the time we arrived, we had decided to order room service and call it a night.

It was a wonderful cruise! I enjoyed exploring the ports of call and hope to visit Scotland again one day soon. Thanks for taking this journey with us!

Disney Signature

 

— livingthedisneydream

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Stars Among Us – Best Sea Day Ever!

Stars Among Us – Best Sea Day Ever!

Today was our last day at sea. I was woken up by my alarm reminding me of our character meet and greets. Fortunately, they were an hour early (my phone time is all messed up with the time changes). That gave me time to drag myself out of bed (Will skipped it all) and to get ready. We had pictures with the Princesses (Rapunzel, Belle, Cinderella, and Merida). After those, we had tickets to the Frozen Meet and Greet (Olaf and Anna & Elsa) with a bonus Daisy Duck thrown in there.

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We went to breakfast at Cabanas around 10:30. After, we went to O’Gills to pay TV Tunes trivia. We did pretty well but did not win. After trivia we went back to the room to start packing. Packing up 12 days worth of life is a big job! Once we had everything ready to start packing, we decided to grab lunch at Lumiere’s.  Lunch was pretty busy and took a little longer than anticipated, but was good.

We had an exciting surprise in our Navigator today – A Frozen Magical Journey featuring Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez – the songwriting team for Frozen (and so much more!). It was a fantastic program with them sharing early storyboard ideas, songs that didn’t make the movie, and upcoming plans (Frozen II and Frozen on Broadway in 2018). Unfortunately, there were no cameras allowed for this event. Those who skipped this missed a very special event.

I am going to run around the ship and take a few last pictures. It has been a great cruise, but I am ready to head toward home.

Tomorrow we are doing a Disembarkation tour of Copenhagen, Denmark and will fly to London for one last night in Europe.

Disney Signature

— livingthedisneydream

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