Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Quick Catch Up Post for March

I’ve had such fun posting about our cruise that our day to day posts were put on the back burner.  Here’s a few things that we were up to in March.

Birthdays abounded!  I can’t believe that my ‘little’ niece Rebecca turned 15!!  (Seen here with her wonderful friend Janelle)IMG_2058

Grandpa celebrated his birthday in mid March.  (The girls did their own makeup.  Betcha couldn’t tell!! )IMG_2997

 

We’ve spent some fun times with my brother and his family this past month.  The consistent theme for the girls are their princess dresses.  Love this age!!IMG_2996

Nana celebrated her birthday too!IMG_2985

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At the end of the month Hannah enjoyed a wonderful afternoon celebrating at one of her little friend’s birthday at a party where they painted ceramics.  She loved this!!IMG_3096

Cuddle time with Papa. IMG_3007

St. Patrick’s Day

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Hannah took her Baby Simba to Show and Share at school.  She is to prepare clues about her friend to tell the class to help them guess.  Her clues were: 

  1. He is a boy
  2. He is yellow
  3. He has paws
  4. He has a tail

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Hannah and Makenna also found out something really exciting in March!!

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This evening my brother Dave babysat the kids while the mommies went out to plan our dining for our trip.  SO much fun to be making plans to be at Disney with my brother, SIL Trish, niece Makenna and nephew Kallen.  2 other families that we’re friends with will also be there the same week so we have bits of time planned with each of them too.  A wonderful combination of time with family and friends plus lots and lots of Hannah and Mommy time alone, something Hannah and I both cherish!

March in a nutshell.  Now, to work on April posts.

Easter Fun at a Local Farm

Saturday Hannah and I went to a local farm to enjoy the many activities they offered.  We’ve been a couple of other times and always enjoyed ourselves!
We started the morning decorating an Easter basket.  It was really neat to see how Hannah chose to decorate it.  I can say it was far more creative when she did herself than it would have been if Mommy had helped!  I was impressed to see that she cut pieces of ribbons and glued them on pieces of papers to spell her name.  Yup….I wouldn’t have thought of that one!  She’s my creative girl for sure!!IMG_3312
Face painting is always a hit with Hannah.IMG_3314
She tried out a few of the riding toys.  It’s neat to see how much her coordination and strength has changed this past year.  There are scooters in the kindergarten pen at school and it seems that’s her favourite thing to do each lunch hour.IMG_3322
The kids had such fun on this slide that was bumpy on the inside.  Heehee!
We eventually took a wagon ride out to a field where the kids could visit with bunnies and gather eggs.IMG_3325
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Getting comfy on the wagon rideIMG_3328
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Our time at the farm was a great way to share time together celebrating spring.  Easter is a 4 day weekend for us as work is closed for both Good Friday and Easter Monday and we cherish every single moment of this time together!!  Easter 2014
And, a blast from the past…
2011Easter 2011  2yo
2012Easter 2012  3yo
2013Easter 2013  4yo
2014IMG_3341
I love that while Hannah and I can enjoy time at the farm, hunting for Easter eggs and more, if you asked her what Easter was all about she would confidently tell you about Jesus dying on the cross for us and then rising 3 days later and now living in heaven with God!  Yes, she gets it and I’m so thankful we can celebrate Easter in many ways!

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Play Date with Auntie Japhia

Recently Auntie Japhia invited Hannah over for a play date and oh what fun they had!!  She’s a ‘Frozen’ fan too so we made cookies to take to her.IMG_3041_thumb

Hannah helped Auntie Japhia bake muffins that we later enjoyed for lunch.IMG_3044_thumb

Mmmm…licking the spatula.  Yum!IMG_3049

One of Mommy’s favourite parts was when Auntie Japhia asked Hannah to sign her recipe book showing that they’d made the recipe together and what date it was.  What a great idea!!IMG_3050_thumb

Auntie Japhia also had a couple crafts for Hannah to do while the muffins were in the oven.IMG_3052

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One of Auntie Japhia’s piano students gave her an Anna doll that she wasn’t too sure what to do with…until Hannah came over and brought her Anna doll.IMG_3064

Thank you Auntie Japhia for inviting me over for a play date!  I had such fun with you!!  Can’t wait until we do it again!  Love, Hannah xoIMG_3061

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Disney Cruising Q&A ~ Part 3

(You can find additional Q&A posts here:  Part 1, Part 2)

Let’s Go!

1.  (from Lindy) I've loved following along on your cruise. Would you recommend a Disney cruise for a couple without kids or even for a single person?

If you are a person or couple who enjoys children and the excitement and busyness that they bring then my answer is a resounding ‘Yes!!!’  If you’re planning a relaxed cruise where you can stroll at leisure without little ones around then a Disney cruise might not be for you.  Our ship was almost at capacity (we were 3800 guests + crew, max is 4,000 + crew) and I would hazard to guess that at least 40% of the guests were children, tweens and teens.

Hannah, Nana and I had a ton of fun together and there were times that we too enjoyed watching other families.  This was a cute event called ‘Jack Jack’s Diaper Crawl.’   You can see how many people stopped to cheer on these 2 little cuties!   

I saw tables in the dining room of only adults and they were thoroughly enjoying themselves! 

(One day I had one of those classic ‘foot in mouth’ experiences!   Hannah and I were waiting to meet one of the characters and I was chatting with the lady behind us.  She was on her own but this wasn’t unusual as one parent often waited in line while the other one took the kids elsewhere during the wait.  As we talked she said that she and her husband were on the cruise on their own as they weren’t sure their children would really enjoy a Disney cruise.  I asked how old her kids were, thinking she’d say ‘babies’ but instead she said they were 4 and 6 years old!  And….this was their 4th Disney cruise without their children!!!  I was shocked to say the least but kept it together and didn’t say anything other than that my 4yo was having the time of her life! 

Now…for my moment.  Shortly after that we were in an elevator and I shared with Sharon about the lady that I’d met who had left her young children home for the 4th time and was on the cruise alone with her hubby.  This time I didn’t hide my shock!  Well…the lady beside me (a different lady thankfully!) looked at me and said in a serious tone, ‘My husband and I are here alone and left our children at home.’  Oye!!  Thankfully she got off at the next floor! 

Will I never learn to wait until we’re in the cabin to share this stuff?  LOL – reminds me of our other infamous faux pas on my part when I was out with Sharon!)

On Disney cruises there are also many opportunities for adults to do things that do not involve children.  There are adult only decks and a pool.  I was only their once but there was lots of room and it was not crowded.  There are some other parts of the pool/deck area that I didn’t take the time to see but wish that I had.  Another time. Smile

There are 2 fine dining adult exclusive restaurants on the Fantasy that are available for brunch and supper for an additional cost.  Palo offers Italian dining and Remy is French.  We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Palo!! 

There are many spa experiences available for an additional charge.  We did not participate in these but I’m sure they are wonderful!

There are also a number of nightclubs and lounges that are restricted to adults. 

The one thing to keep in mind for some is that Disney ships do not have casinos onboard.  This might make a difference to some so is something to note.

I hope this helps!  I believe couples and singles without children could have a great time on a Disney cruise as long as they enjoy being around other people’s children! Winking smile

2.  (from my sweet friend Circe) I had friends who went on a Disney Caribbean cruise in February and didn't like it! They said it was loud and chaotic, and there were way too many kids, etc. My question is, can you imagine anyone not liking the cruise?

Hmmm, it seems my experience was much different than theirs.  I will agree that there are times that it is loud and you could possibly call it chaotic but they chose a Disney cruise! 

I will say though that very rarely did I find it crowded.  I was surprised over and over again at how uncrowded (is that even a word??) the ship was!  The two main exceptions to this would be the pool area anytime that the sun was shining and, in the main atrium lobby from about 5:00 – 8:00.  The pools are fairly small and there are A LOT of children on the ship so the children’s pools and in turn the decks around the pools were often very busy!   That being said, we could always find a place to sit quite easily. 

The lobby atrium area was busy each evening as it was the location that people gathered for professional photographs, to wait for their supper reservations, to listen to live entertainment and to meet some characters.  It was a busy time but oh so exciting!  How nice to see people dress up for dinner and photos!  We live in a day when people dress up so rarely that I was excited to see the dress code so many set for themselves and it was a beautiful sight!

Other than that, I was surprised at how spacious the ship felt considering there were almost 5,500 people on board!  The Disney Fantasy is approximately 4 football fields long and 14 decks high.  That’s a big ship and yet I was still surprised that you could easily walk around only seeing a few people in many locations. 

The kids clubs had many children in them but never appeared overcrowded and Hannah never complained about there being too many kids and not being able to do something.   The live shows were presented 3 times each day.  While the theater had a lot of people in it we never had any problems finding a seat and there were always empty seats available.

I find Walt Disney World in August to be crowded and at times like park closing it near impossible to move yet I never felt anything like that at all on the cruise!  I guess it’s all personal interpretation and expectations but for me I was nothing but impressed by how spacious and open the ship felt!

Could someone not like the cruise?  Yes, but they’d need to put a lot of effort into that or….forget that it was a Disney cruise they chose to take!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Disney Cruising Q&A ~ Part 2

(Continuation of Part I)

Without further adieu….Part 2!

1. What are some of the things that were not included on your cruise and you had to pay extra for? Is the spa included?

Here are some of the extras that have additional charges:

  • Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
  • Palo – fine dining, adults only restaurant where we celebrated Nana’s retirement
  • Remy – fine dining adults only restaurant
  • Internet
  • Phone calls to numbers off the ship
  • Gratuities ($12/day per person).  We chose to add additional funds to these because our servers and stateroom steward were exceptional!!
  • Port Adventures/Excursions
  • Excursion tips
  • Professional Portraits
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Specialty coffees
  • Alcohol
  • Mixology classes and wine tastings
  • Bottled water
  • BINGO
  • Arcade
  • Souvenir shopping
  • Tips for room service
  • Cabana rental on Castaway Cay
  • Hair Braiding
  • Spa services
  • Nursery services for babies under 3 years of age
  • Children’s MagicBands if you choose to take it home
  • Virtual Sports Simulators
  • Snacks and popcorn sold outside the theatres
  • Art
  • Welcome Aboard/Birthday packages
  • Onboard/Castaway Cay wedding ceremonies
  • Vow renewals
  • Laundry
  • Parking/port transportation
  • Port Porters
  • Deposit for next cruise Open-mouthed smile

One thing Disney does include that I don’t believe any other cruise line does is complimentary soft drinks.  There is a soda machine on the 11th deck that I believe is open 24 hours a day that has pop, iced tea, lemonade and more.  There is also complimentary coffee and tea at the same location.

I know the list above is extensive but in reality there weren’t  many of those that we chose to partake in and most of those that we did we planned for in advance and went prepared.   Sharon and I both chose to take cash with us that we applied to our onboard accounts soon after boarding.  Rather than having anything charged to our credit cards we were able to pay for everything before leaving the ship.

Aside from gratuities I’ve heard of some people paying as little as $50 in additional charges to others who pay thousands!  Yikes!!!  You truly can have a very enjoyable cruise without paying for many things that require additional charges.  This year Nana and I treated Hannah to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, went to Palo for lunch, purchased a few professional photos and used a porter when we left the ship.  We were happy with all of these choices!

Here are the professional portraits I chose to purchase.  I have a frame for the first one and will hang it alongside a picture of Hannah with Mickey and the photo mat that was signed by all the characters.Shutters pic Hannah and Mommy

There were many opportunities to have pictures taken by professional photographers and they took beautiful pictures!  If you go on a cruise I highly recommend preparing for a family picture as they are beautiful keepsakes of your time together.  (The photographers can also be booked for family sessions outside of the times that they are available for all.  We saw many families doing this and it was a great way to gather many people into a beautiful photo!)Shutters pic Hannah, Nana and Mommy

2. What did you enjoy most about the cruise?

Hands down I would say it was the time we spent together as a family!  Hannah, Sharon and I travel really well together and sharing this time together was the best!!  There was nothing else to take our time away from each other (eg. cooking, house work, work, etc.) so we focused on each other.  Perfect!!  Our preference was to eat in dining rooms for the majority of our meals which gave us quiet times together each day when we could talk in a quieter atmosphere, enjoy great food and discuss our upcoming plans.

Aside from that I think it would be the way the cruise allowed us to relax, and at the same time do a lot, all in the time frames that suited us best.  

Here is a typical ‘at sea’ day for our family:

- wake up between 7 and 8 and prepare for the day

- breakfast in the dining room

- character greetings or clubs for Hannah.  Sharon would often go for walk on the 4th floor walk/run track at this time.

- if Hannah chose not to go to clubs we would either play Midship Detective or go for a swim

- lunch in a dining room

- most afternoons we spent at the pool although a couple of afternoons went to a cooking display or galley tour

- supper

- photos and/or character greetings

- live show in the theatre

- AquaDuck and swim in the Mickey pool

- crash sometime between 11 and 12pm, excited to start again the next day!


3. How does the dinning with another family work? I never heard of this.

Dining with another family is optional and quite common on cruises.  You can request a table on your own if you wish and Disney will do their best to fulfill your request.  We chose to dine with other people and it worked out wonderfully for us!  It was great to meet Tonya and her family and we continue to keep in touch. 

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