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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!

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— 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!

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— 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

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— 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:

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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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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.

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— livingthedisneydream

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Fjords, Yachts and Royalty

Fjords, Yachts and Royalty

We set an alarm for this morning so that we could do a little shopping before our excursion. The Cruise Director announced that the King and Queen of Norway were celebrating their 25th year and were in town today. They had arrived on their royal yacht. Since they were expecting congestion due to celebration activities, they extended our port time to 7:00 p.m.

Royal Yacht
Royal Yacht

We had breakfast at Lumiere’s followed by a quick shopping trip off the ship. There were several touristy shops right at the port, with other available shops just up the street.

At 11:15 we met for our Lysefjord Cruise excursion. This included a HUGE group of people, probably the largest excursion I have ever been a part of. The crowd was mostly families, with many small children. The walk to the boat was only about 5 minutes. We grabbed one of the last available window seats. We had a good view of the scenery along with quick access to the back deck. After about an hour and half, we stopped for traditional Norwegian waffles which were delicious. Coffee was available on the table, or you could go to the main table for hot tea.  Hot cocoa was available but never made it to our room. Another half hour back and we spent a lazy afternoon on the ship.

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Our boat for the Fjords Cruise.
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Fjords

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Houses in the Fjords. Most people here own boats for transportation to the other islands to work.
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Waffles

The boys went to figure out the Anna’s Chocolate Chase Clues. However, we apparently had to do them day by day as the first day’s clues were gone. Fortunately, we got the chocolate anyway!

The boys decided to go to the movies while I updated my blog posts and worked on some photos. Dinner tonight is at Animator’s Palette. The guys are excited to draw for the Animation Magic show. This show allows you to create a drawing that is later animated into a show at the end of dinner. It is one of the best dining room experiences on Disney Cruise Line.

After dinner, the boys went to Shuffleboard while I went to Ice Breakers and the adult Taylor Mason show in Fathoms. He is always entertaining, though his show is mostly the same. He did not have a feature night on this cruise but is doing smaller sessions on Tuesday afternoon.

Off to bed, one last sea day!

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— livingthedisneydream

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Shopping and Music in Bergen, Norway

Shopping and Music in Bergen, Norway

I woke up this morning realizing we had to be close to the port. Sure enough, the ship was pulling into Bergen an hour and a half early! The port time was very short here, so many were excited.

Bergen, Norway
Bergen, Norway
Bergen, Norway
Bergen, Norway

We grabbed breakfast at Cabanas and then walked in the rain to the local area to shop. The shops were less than 10 minutes from the dock. There were several souvenir stores and one included a Christmas shop. I was able to pick up a gnome Santa and a few minor gifts.

Bergen, Norway
Shopping area along the waterfront

We headed back to the ship to grab some lunch. They were delivering fresh seafood to the ship as we were boarding.

We went to O’Gills to check-in for our excursion to Troldhaugen, home of composer Edvard Grieg. Will chose this port adventure and was excited about the tour. Our bus was not full, which was nice. We had an excellent tour guide who told us about life in Bergen. Upon arriving, we walked down a short path and then to his home. We attended a 30-minute performance of Grieg music in the concert hall. After the concert, we had another 30 minutes to view sites on the property including his writing cottage, grave site, museum, and gift shop. Will purchased sheet music in the gift shop.

Bergen, Norway
The road leading to Edvard Grieg’s summer home.
Bergen, Norway
Greig’s summer home.
Bergen, Norway
Music in the home.

Bergen, Norway

Bergen, Norway
They built the concert hall and put grass on the roof to help the building blend with the rest of the area.
Bergen, Norway
Concert hall.
Bergen, Norway
Grieg was very short. It is a life-sized statue.
Bergen, Norway
The path down to the writing cottage.
Bergen, Norway
Writing cottage.
Bergen, Norway
More views – absolutely gorgeous here!

Bergen was a nice city. I really enjoyed our time here, even though it was a rainy day.

We had a quiet evening. Tomorrow we visit Stavanger, Norway!

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— livingthedisneydream

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Thugs Rule the Disney Magic & Desserts!

Thugs Rule the Disney Magic & Desserts!

After three port days in a row and the fact that we lost two hours over the last two days, we were ready for a relaxing sea day. We slept In, so late that we almost missed breakfast! They kept Cabanas open until 10:30. We had breakfast and then went to trivia at Promenade Lounge.

We grabbed some lunch at Lumiere’s just before they closed and then went to the 2:00 showing of Tangled the Musical, along with half of the passengers on the ship! It was good, and fun to see a new show on the ships.

After dinner, we headed over to the Snuggly Duckling thug take over of O’Gills Pub. We played a game of Thugo (bingo) and won (Snuggly Duckling tattos). The place was absolutely packed. As soon as the takeover ended, we all moved to Fathoms for the Hector is Magic show. He performed three magic tricks that were excellent.

Since today was pretty quiet, I will leave you with photos of various desserts from the cruise.

Tomorrow we arrive in Bergen, Norway!

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— livingthedisneydream

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The Beauty of Iceland

The Beauty of Iceland

Today we are in Akureyri, Iceland. I decided to use a day of my Rainforest Pass, so after breakfast at Lumiere’s I headed to Senses Spa, and the boys went off to walk around the town and shopping area.  I had the Rainforest completely to myself, which was fabulous! I mostly relaxed on a lounger and read.

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Heated Loungers
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Dry Sauna
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Rainforest Shower
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Hot Steam Room
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Mild Steam Room
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Rainforest Fountain
Akureyri, Iceland
Sign in town
Akureyri, Iceland
Akureyri, Iceland
Akuryeri, Iceland
Akureyri, Iceland
Akureyri, Iceland
Disney Magic in Akureyri, Iceland

We met up for a quick lunch in Lumiere’s and then boarded our bus for our excursion to Godafoss Falls. Our guide had a little bit of trouble finding her words in English but told a lot of stories about local life. Once at Godafoss, we exited the bus and took photos. We had a short walk to a shop to meet the bus at the end. Once again, I was amazed at the fact that you could walk right up to the edge of the falls. They did warn that the cliff edges could be weak and encouraged everyone to stay back. It was a beautiful sunny day, and the falls were gorgeous.

Akureyri, Iceland
Akureyri, Iceland
Akureyri, Iceland
Akureyri, Iceland
Akureyri, Iceland
Godafoss Waterfall
Akureyri, Iceland
Godafoss Waterfall

On the way back, we had a short tour and history of the town and a 30-minute stop at the botanical gardens, which are free and within walking distance of the ship.

Akureyri, Iceland
Most of the red lights here are in the shape of a heart. This was done after a financial crisis to help cheer up the residents.

After dinner, we participated in Majority Rules and watched a second Match your Mate. We moved forward another hour tonight (oh the time changes!). Tomorrow is another relaxing sea day!

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— livingthedisneydream

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