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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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Blue Lagoon & Reykjavik Highlights

Blue Lagoon & Reykjavik Highlights

Once again, I had an early morning excursion, this time to the Blue Lagoon. Keith left shortly after me on the Reykjavik Highlights tour, while the boys wandered around town.

The Blue Lagoon is a large, very clean facility, somewhat in the middle of nowhere, or so it seemed. In the lagoon, I was able to do a silica mud mask. It wasn’t as warm as the one yesterday, and it was also much colder outside with cloud cover. Disney brought four motor coaches here (240 guests), and there was another bus and a few cars when we arrived. The trip was about 45 minutes from the port. We had about 1.5 hours here too. The water is supposed to have healing powers with many minerals in the water. The water is a milky blue color, and you cannot see anything in the water. I enjoyed the lagoon but preferred the temperature and lack of crowds at the secret lagoon yesterday more. We were asked to remove jewelry as the minerals could damage it. They also suggested you put conditioner in your hair before going in too, as the water can make your hair very dry. Most of us just tried to keep it from getting in the water. They are building a new luxury hotel and expanding the size of the lagoon. If I were guessing, I would say there were close to 500 people here by 10:00 a.m. As we left at 10:15 the buses and cars were filling the parking lot – if you go, go early! I understand many people book layovers in Iceland when flying to Europe. They do offer day tours here directly from the airport. It was cold today, but tolerable when getting in and out of the building. When we arrived back to the ship, crew members were in the lobby handing out hot chocolate – a very nice touch.

Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon

Reykjavik is one of the largest cities in Iceland and the Highlights tour covered much of the area via bus.  One of the stops was at the home where Gorbachev and Reagan met to discuss the fall of the Berlin wall.  A portion of the wall is on site to commemorate the contribution of Iceland to this historic event.

Rekjavik, Iceland

The next stop was at a Lutheran Church.  In front was a statue of Leif Erikson sent by America to Iceland.

Rekjavik, Iceland
Church
Rekjavik, Iceland
Statue of Leif Erikson

One of the stops was at a museum with a recreation of the helmet and armor of a Viking.  It weighs 12 kg (26.4 pounds).

Viking apparel
Viking apparel

Also at the museum was a statue uncovered in Iceland that may represent Thor (or Jesus).

Rekjavik, Iceland
Thor or Jesus?

Iceland has an abundance of geothermal energy and several water towers hold hot water for the city.  On top of these towers, they have built an observation platform providing commanding views of the city.

Rekjavik, Iceland
Geothermal Water Towers
Rekjavik, Iceland
Geothermal Water Towers

The final stop was at an outdoor museum holding many of the original structures from early days in Iceland.  These included a church and original homestead.

Rekjavik, Iceland
Reykjavik, Iceland
Rekjavik, Iceland
Church
Rekjavik, Iceland
Church
Rekjavik, Iceland
Homestead

We were scheduled to leave port at 11:45 a.m. today, however, tours were still arriving back. The gangway was full with people getting back on the ship. We went down to Lumiere’s for lunch and found a long line. Our head server told us they typically serve 200-300 there for lunch – today may have been their biggest day ever at 600+.  They were filling every seat (putting together people who didn’t come in together) to try to accommodate everyone.

This afternoon, I did laundry, played trivia, and went to the evening adult shows with the boys. We saw Finding Dory in the Walt Disney Theater tonight too (a perk of Disney owning movies!). Tonight was another time change, moving forward one hour. Tomorrow we stop at our last port in Iceland, Akureyri.

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— livingthedisneydream

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That Time I Thought I Would Die In Iceland

That Time I Thought I Would Die In Iceland

Today’s tour, Hot Golden Circle, was booked with Gateway to Iceland. We met our driver just after 10:30 a.m. and were the last ones on the mini-bus. The mini-bus wasn’t as comfortable as it could have been, and he didn’t want to turn on the air (it was hot in the back) – we had to ask multiple times. However, the driver was informative and did a good job of getting us everywhere and staying on track.

The first stop was Thingvellir National Park. You could stand on both the North American and Euro-Asian sides. We had about 45 minutes this site.

Rekjavik Golden Circle
Countryside
Rekjavik Golden Circle
Countryside
Rekjavik Golden Circle
Countryside
Rekjavik Golden Circle
Tectonic Plates
Rekjavik Golden Circle
In the divide, can you find me?
Rekjavik Golden Circle
Waterfall at Thingvellir

Next, we were off to Geysir. Geysir erupts every few minutes, shooting boiling water. We were able to get a couple of photos and then run to grab lunch. We had a little time in the shops too. Lunch (4 hamburgers, three drinks, and two fries were about $64).

Rekjavik Golden Circle
Geysir area
Rekjavik Golden Circle
Geysir

Gullfoss Waterfall was our next stop. You could walk right up to the edge of the waterfall, which was beautiful – that would never be allowed in the USA! However, it was quite the climb to the lookout and then back up the stairs to parking. I earned the Ferris Wheel badge on my Fitbit today for 75 floors! It was then that I thought I might die and not make it back to the minibus. I did take a couple of breaks on my journey.

Rekjavik Golden Circle
Countryside
Rekjavik Golden Circle
Gullfoss Waterfall
Rekjavik Golden Circle
Gullfoss Waterfall – we really were so close!
Rekjavik Golden Circle
Gullfoss Waterfall
Rekjavik, Iceland
Gullfoss Waterfall

After the waterfall, we were taken to a “secret lagoon”. We had 1.5 hours here to relax. There were clean dressing rooms and lockers. Pool noodles were available for use, but only as a comfort item, the lagoon was not that deep (approximately five foot), and you could see all the way to the bottom. I made a floaty and got a little bit of a sunburn as we had a gorgeous sunny day. Ice cream, drinks, and food were also available here. The lagoon had very few visitors – maybe 30, and 20 of those were from our tour. This tour was 9 hours total, but most of it was in the van.

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Lagoon
Temperature Warning
Temperature Warning
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One of the springs that fed the lagoon, you can see the water boiling!

After dinner, we went to Fathoms for a Pop Culture Quiz and 80’s music trivia contest, where my husband and Josh lost their minds and were having a great time. Will and I were almost doubled-over laughing the whole time. I am sorry I didn’t think to video tape it, but I was laughing too hard even to think about it. That really would have been excellent blackmail material!  The crowd was pretty small as we were overnighting in Reykjavik and many were out enjoying the evening.

We had a long, but very enjoyable day. Tomorrow we will see more sites of Reykjavik!

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— livingthedisneydream

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Characters, Brunch and the Wide Open Sea

Characters, Brunch and the Wide Open Sea

We were supposed to attend a character breakfast on our first sea day, but I neglected to look at our tickets, and we missed it! However, the kind crew members at Guest Services were happy to give us new ones for today. We had brunch reservations at Palo, so we mostly went for the photos and a snack. Characters came through very quickly, so we were there less than an hour.

Goofy
Goofy
Goofy
Goofy
Pluto
Pluto
Minnie
Minnie
Mickey
Mickey

After breakfast, we went to Disney trivia and then on to brunch. We had our same server, Neilson. He told us that many people had cancelled brunch today because they were not feeling well from all the ship motion. Both Josh and I were feeling a little peckish, but the food at Palo helped us quickly recover.

Palo
Palo
Spreads
Spreads
Seafood and more
Seafood and more
Pastries
Pastries
Lunch Plates
Lunch Plates
Breakfast Plates
Breakfast Plates
Palo Brunch
Palo Brunch
Desserts
Desserts
Pizzas
Pizzas
Chicken Parmigana
Chicken Parmigiana on a bed of Risotto
Buttermilk Pancakes
Buttermilk Pancakes
Lasagna
Lasagna
Dessert Selections
Dessert Selections
Gorgonzola and Grape Pizza - So good!
Gorgonzola and Grape Pizza – So good!

After Palo, we went to Cruising for Trivia where our team won, though I did want to protest one of the answers, which said the Wonder had only been to Alaska for three years. We did Alaska in 2013, and we were not the first sailing there. Regardless, we won and got the coveted Mickey medallions.

DCL Trivia Winner
DCL Trivia Winner

After that we took naps, the ship motion is taking a toll, even though I am not sick. But cruising is for relaxing anyway, right?

Later in the afternoon, I took the Art of the Theme Show tour. There was a large group of maybe 30 guests. Our guide was excited as they normally have 3-4 attendees. It was interesting, and I learned a couple of new things. We ended at O’Gill’s Pub, where I stayed for an Innovations talk regarding the parks.  After, I hit up deck 9 for a snack. I have been looking for the elusive Mickey pretzel but haven’t found one yet.

The rest of the evening was pretty quiet with dinner and some reading. It was a good day to relax. Tomorrow we arrive in Iceland!

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— livingthedisneydream

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A day fit for a Queen – Kirkwall, Scotland

A day fit for a Queen – Kirkwall, Scotland

My tour, “A Special Invitation to Balfour Castle” left at 9:00 a.m. We had a 5-minute bus ride to the docks where we waited for our ferry to Shapinsay Island. It was windy and rained on the bus and ferry rides, but stopped, and the sun came out while we were on the island.

When we arrived on the small island, our guide led us down the main street and through the gardens towards the castle. It was built in 1847 as a personal residence, but has since changed hands twice and is now owned by a family from Scotland. They restored and repaired many things and now rent out the whole property ($3,000/day) and rooms by the night. We had a short tour followed by tea in the dining room. The tea included banana bread, fruit bread, peanut butter cookies, egg and tuna salad sandwiches, and freshly baked scones. It was very yummy. I was ready to move in!

Balfour Castle
Balfour Castle
Balfour Castle
Balfour Castle
Tea in Balfour Castle
Tea in Balfour Castle
Shapinsay, Scotland with the Disney Magic in the distance
Shapinsay, Scotland with the Disney Magic in the distance

We were given a couple of hours to roam the castle, the grounds, and the island. There are multiple gardens and a greenhouse, as they grew most of their food. The island has a few small buildings that were the homes of the castle tenant farmers/workers. Now some of them house a town museum and gift shop, with locally made crafts.  The town has just over 300 citizens with 27 elementary school students. The students travel to Kirkwall, Scotland to attend secondary school.

After the tour, as we waited for the ferry, a cat found us and went from person-to-person wanting food and attention. The fur on the cat was a sure sign of how cold the island usually is, as I have never seen it so thick on a cat before. (On second thought, I probably cannot live here). We took the ferry back and then walked to “town” where there were many little shops and several historical buildings.

Will shares about the boys afternoon tour, “Standing Stones and Dramatic Cliffs”. The tour was an excellent opportunity to additionally see the quaint Scottish countryside. The majority of this tour is spent being transported by bus, with historical and modern-life info provided by a tour guide. Along the way, you can see authentic farmlands filled with grazing livestock, among them hairy cows. The bus dropped us off at a large standing stone monument, briefly idling by a smaller stone circle along the way. We were alotted some time to not only explore the stone henge but also get a great view of the countryside from several large mounds outside the circle. After approximately 15 minutes of free time at the large monument, we were shuttled to a location featuring rocky, steep cliffs which overlooked the brilliant ocean. We again were allotted approximately 15 minutes before returning to the ship. Overall, it was one of my favorite port adventures yet.

Standing Stones
Standing Stones
Standing Stones
Standing Stones
Standing Stones
Standing Stones
Kirkwall, Scotland
Cliffs in the Orkneys

This afternoon the captain came over the speakers in our room to let us know we were going to be heading out into the North Atlantic and through a low-pressure system which was going to cause more movement on the ship through noon tomorrow. The ship started rocking, and you could hear the waves crashing into the bow. I decided to put on a scopolamine patch, just in case.  I am so glad I did! These were not the worst waves I have experienced on a cruise, but it was constant, and the rooms were creaking and popping all evening loudly.

We enjoyed a fun show by AbbaFab in the Walt Disney Theater. After the show, they were taking photos with fans. Tonight’s activities included 70’s music trivia, dinner, some character photos, and Match Your Mate in Fathoms.  We ended the night with warm cookies from room service.

Tonight we move the clocks back an hour for our sea day tomorrow!

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— livingthedisneydream

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A Sleepy Sea Day – But PALO!

A Sleepy Sea Day – But PALO!

I woke up this morning to realize it was 9:30 (3:30 a.m. at home for those keeping track)! I wanted to go back to sleep but realized my day would soon be gone if I did.

Yesterday I downloaded the free 50mb package for the internet, but it was still on after I signed off. The guys had the same problem. I visited the Connect At Sea desk and was told the sign on was hung up in the computer. He reset my package, but I had the same problem all day. I wanted to buy a package to upload pics for my blog, but I worried it would run out without me even using it!

After breakfast, I attended the lecture on Newcastle and Kirkwall in the Walt Disney Theater. Then I met the guys in the Promenade Lounge for The Feud. One of our answers to a question was mow the lawn. Apparently, this did not equate with our Brazilian friend running the computer, as cut the grass was an answer, but we got buzzed!

We had lunch at Lumiere’s. However, afterward, I needed a nap. This time change is still kicking me! Tonight was a formal night, but I hate taking formal clothes. Instead, I always book dinner at the adult-exclusive restaurant, Palo. We had the first reservation at 6:00 p.m. and Neilson was our server.

Palo Lobby
Palo Entry

The Palo menu was updated since we last dined there on the Fantasy last June. My favorites were still there, though. Josh was fascinated with the open kitchen. Neilson saw his interest and had Chef Matteo come out to say hi. Later the Chef came back and offered to introduce Josh to the staff and show how the kitchen works. Two thumbs up for Chef Matteo! Dinner was superb – I cannot say enough good things about Palo.

End of dinner photo - Keith had just left
End of dinner photo – Keith had just left

My sleepy day, combined with too much good food, meant it was time to get in a two-mile walk. I changed clothes and popped down to Deck 4. After a mostly cloudy day, the sun was shining. It was cool, with a breeze, but perfect for my walk. Many people were out taking photos in their formal attire. They closed half of Deck 4 for cleaning, so I just walked back and forth in the open section.

Out for my walk
Out for my walk

Josh and I went to Team Trivia and the adult-only show in Fathoms. Tonight’s show was again Max Winfrey, who was very entertaining. His mother is on board, which has to be great fun for her to see him featured.

The seas today have been a little choppy (average 8 foot), with a lot of rocking and creaking at times. I heard several people mention they were taking sea sickness medication. Tomorrow we are off to our first port of call in Newcastle, England!

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— livingthedisneydream

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