Browsing Category:

Trip Reports

Disney During COVID

You want to visit Disney World during COVID but you’re unsure how safe it is. Well, this blog is for you. In July 2020, Disney World opened its doors with limited capacity and many new safety protocols were in place to keep their guests safe. Temperature checks at entrances, social distancing in lines, sanitizer stations, partitioned stantions, and limited bus seating are some of the new experiences at Disney parks.

We arrived at Disney early evening. Since we were staying at the Yacht Club we decided to take a stroll on the Boardwalk over to restaurant Trattoria al Forno. The evening was warm with clearing skies, and the walk over was quiet. It was almost as if we had the Boardwalk to ourselves.

Empty Boardwalk

Our first full-day was a visit to Hollywood Studios to check out the newly opened Mickey and Minnie Runaway Railway and the possibility of getting a Boarding Group number for Star Wars’ Rise of the Resistance. 

On our walk to Hollywood Studios, we passed the Skyliner. This is where we first saw the new social distancing placards on the ground. The placards identified the safe waiting distances between guests, as was the case for this extended waiting line at the Skyliner. 

Please Wait Here

Before entering any of the Disney parks, guests must pass through a temperature check point. Wearing masks was mandatory. The only time you were not required to wear a mask was when you were eating or drinking while stationary…this rule was strictly, but politely, enforced.

Temperature Check Point

Masks Mandatory

Masks? Check.

Time to get our Mickey on, so we begin our wait for Runaway Railroad! Aside from the temperature checks and mandatory mask wearing, the most noticeable COVID protocol was the expanded social distancing measures. Remember those “Please Wait Here" placards? Well, they are everywhere. The placement of placards extended wait lines swirling down sidewalks and streets. The extended lines create an image that wait times are forever, but the lines actually move fairly quickly.

The image below illustrates the area where the Runaway Railway spilled out to the vast concrete areas in front of the former Chinese Theatre. There are patio umbrellas strategically placed to provide shade for waiting guests.

See placards on ground.

Once inside the Runaway Railway, the permanent stantions were outfitted with sturdy plexi-glass and metal framing.

Here we go! Notice the cast members are masked up with face shields.

If you haven’t seen or experienced the new Skyliner, here’s a quick pic. The Skyliner connects EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and the resorts of Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, and Riviera. 

Once back at the Yacht Club, we decided to have some relaxation time. Even the pool area was COVID-proof. There were signs reminding guests of COVID regulations and plenty of space between lounge chairs for social distance….which we didn’t have to worry about because we had the quiet pool to ourselves!

Yacht Club Quiet Pool

Later in the afternoon we headed back to Hollywood Studios for our #42 Boarding Group (2:40 PM) for Stars Wars Rise of the Resistance. Social distancing was still in full effect.

Tammy was admiring the Stars Wars gear along the route to help the Resistance. Psst…she’s not a big Star Wars fan so this photo was staged.

Guests ultimately end up outside prior to boarding an escape pod. Everyone was assigned a numbers for proper social distancing. This was your number throughout the remainder of the ride.

I’m not easily impressed but Disney…WOW…you really impressed me with the Death Star hanger bay. It was stunning.

Death Star Hanger Bay

Even the storm troopers were masked up.

After Rise of the Resistance, we headed over to Rock’n Rollercoaster. My hair is proof I was obviously still shocked from my experience on the Death Star.

If you’ve ridden Rock’n Rollercoaster before, you know this scene is out of the ordinary. Never before has the line spiraled like this. With the heat index at 99 degrees, this was the hottest wait of the day. Everybody below was socially distanced in line.

The permanent plexi-glass closest to the boarding area really complemented the “city" feel.

After a long, hot, exhausting day, it was time to head over to Disney Springs for dinner. This was our opportunity to see the COVID measures on the Disney buses. All of the seats were numbered and dividers were added in between seats grouped together. Before stepping onto the bus, the driver would ask how many people are in your party, then assign you a seat number. The straps hanging from the overhead rails were zip tied unusable, so there is no standing allowed. The days of seeing 50 people crammed on a bus are over for now.

Well, that concludes our hot, late summer, visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You can also check out our visit to EPCOT for the Food and Wine Festival. We hope our story and pictures help you feel comfortable and safe visiting Disney during COVID. If you’re excited and want to book a trip, you know the best person to call is my talented wife and Disney-expert, Tammy.  

Disney World’s Food & Wine Festival 2020

Hey traveling couples, Eddie here. I decided to give Tammy a break and handle this blog myself. In September, Tammy and I decided to take a quick trip to Disney World for the International Food and Wine Festival. COVID obvisouly made it a different experience from year’s past but it was worth it!

Safety first, so before entering every park, each guest must walk through a health tent.

Taking Temperatures at Entrance

Plenty of social distancing

We entered EPCOT via the International Gateway near Boardwalk, so we started our food and beverage tasting in France. What better way to start than with a drink!

Grey Goose Slushy

I’ll cut to the chase. There were several food favorites but Brazil has the best option: Crispy Pork Belly and Cheesy Bread. 

Crispy Pork Belly

A very close second was Morocco’s hummus fries. Morocco also has the Kefka Pocket (ground beef with carmalized onions, garlic, and spicy tomato).

Hummus Fries

My mother’s side of the family is Italian, so I crave pasta, cheese, onions, and ham. And what better place to taste all those food ingredients mixed together than in Germany. Germany? Oh yeah! Do yourself a favor and get you some Schinkennudeln. Delicious! 

Grubbing on Schinkennudeln

We originally walked past the Spain kiosk but my curiosity turned us around and we decided to try the Shrimp Paella. This dish was surprisingly delicious. The spices were subtle and flavorful. Wait, maybe this should’ve been my #1 option. Hmmm.

Shrimp Paella

The Festival Market used different kiosk spread througout the World Showcase. Several of the kiosk contained merchandise from the Flower and Garden Festival too.

Grape Themed Mickey Ears

Grab a growler

This year’s festival was great, even with the COVID limitations. The weather was warm the day we visited (99 degree heat index) but we made sure we stayed hydrated and paced ourselves accordingly. The crowds picked up mid-afternoon but there was plenty of space to socially distance, sit, and enjoy our food and wine selections in the shade. Always a must do!

UNICO 20.87. Arrival Day

To read about our covid travel experience, click here.  

Unico is a fabulous resort. Our visit was during the Summer of COVID and the resort had taken all the necessary precautions to keep their guest safe. The fabulous staff were always wearing their mask. Our room host, Adriano, met us in the lobby upon arrival.

Adriano goes over details with Tammy

When you arrive, guests are welcomed with a refreshing beverage – Jade (cucumber and mint). I later had some vodka added to mine. 

Aromatherapy menu for guest room diffuser

After discussing the aromatherapy options, spa treatments, and dinner reservations, Ernesto took care of our bags and escorted us to the room.

Ernesto was super helpful

We passed through Bar Balam, then proceed outside through covered walkways on the way to the room.

 

Bar Balam

Beautiful display cases in Balam Bar

Pool table in Bar Balam

Anticipation was building with each turn on the way to the room.  All we wanted to do was unpack and go poolside.

The grand lobby

Corridor leading to the resort restaurants.

Breezeway view

After a pleasant walk to the room with Ernesto, we arrived!  And it was amazing.  But first, Ernesto showed us some of the room’s amenities.

Fridge stocked w/ soda, water & beer.

And now, the big reveal…..and it was spectacular!

Fabulous bedroom with a view

A HUGE bathroom

The unbelievable balcony view

Plenty of balcony space

View of sunrise from the balcony

This was the start of a great vacation.  Stay tuned for more resort photographs and a review of resort restaurants and menus.  

COVIDcation Travel? No Problem – Riveria Maya, Mexico

So, COVID-19 has you down and out? Don’t fret. There are still lots of travel options available, including international destinations. Most amusement or resort destinations have reduced capacity numbers, making you feel like royalty when you arrive.

The airports were empty. It felt like we were in an episode of The Walking Dead.

Charlotte International Airport’s main passenger hub. Pre-COVID, there would be thousands of people in this areas hustling to their gate:

We had a connecting flight in Miami. We were curious if Miami International would like the similar to Charlotte.  Yep. To our surprise, even at 10:00 am, Miami International was eerily similar to Charlotte. Empty, vast corridors allowed families to skip without obstacles as far as the eye could see.

Even the more narrow corridors where food kiosk operate feel voluminous.

The casual emptiness allowed us time to enjoy the many art decorations throughout the airport.

 

Social distancing and masks were common in all the public areas.

Starbucks had well-established 6′ apart markings on their floor.

 

How were the flights, you ask? Great! We flew American Airlines to-and-from Mexico with no problems at all. Drink and snack services were suspended but most people brought their own food and drink onboard.

The flight to Cancun was half full.  

Mask were mandatory, even if worn upside down!

We made it!  Let the COVIDcation begin.  

Arriving in Cancun International is uneventful. Everyone flows like cattle toward immigration and customs. The entry process is easy. Once through customs, you will pass through a corridor, bordered with resort and hospitality businesses on each side. There is really no need to stop or speak with individuals unless you have no clue what your plans will be in Cancun.

One of these passenger vans is ours! My lovely wife, Tammy, will hook you up with the best transportation options available.

Public transportation area outside the arrival terminal:

 

 

This COVIDcation was to the all-inclusive resort, UNICO 20.87, just a short 70-minute drive south of the airport. UNICO provides several safety precautions for guests.  

There’s a digital imaging thermometer at the welcome counter, and staff are masked up to welcome guests.

Guest step onto a disinfectant tray and staff provides hand sanitizer as guest arrive.

Let the fun begin!  

WHY WE TOOK OUR KIDS TO THE GRAND CANYON

The Grand Canyon. Enormous. Majestic. Kid friendly? Believe it or not, the answer is yes!

Despite the fact that our children, ranging from 10 to 18 years old, were less than enthusiastic about adding the Grand Canyon to our family vacation this year, it turned out to be one of their favorite parts of the trip out west. What do I mean by less than enthusiastic? I believe the word “boring” was used once or twice. As far as they were concerned, they’d already seen the Grand Canyon time and time again in photographs. But a photograph isn’t the same as seeing it in person, and seeing this incredible landscape in person is anything but boring.

As soon as we arrived, they quickly realized that the pictures didn’t do it justice. They were in awe. Imagine that, a 10-year-old in awe of something over a million years old. Now, that same 10-year-old girl is learning about the Grand Canyon in school, and she proudly tells her classmates, “I’ve been there!” Not only has she been there, but she’s taken photos there (some goofier than others) and she’s made memories there—memories that she’ll cherish for the rest of her life.

So yes, your kids may groan about how “boring” a bunch of rocks may be, but don’t rule it out. We didn’t, and we’re so glad because of it.

With that said, the Grand Canyon probably isn’t the ONLY place you want to visit on a vacation to the Southwest, as two days there is more than enough for your children. That’s why I recommend visiting any of the many places close by. In fact, we took a day trip out to the Canyon from Las Vegas!

If you’re interested in learning more about building a family vacation around the Grand Canyon (or adding it to your already-planned vacation in the area), contact me for a quote today!

Review:  Passholder Play Time at Toy Story Land – BEST PARK DAY EVER!

My husband and I recently attended the Passholder Play Time event at Toy Story Land.  This was our first time ever passholder event and let me tell you – it did not disappoint!!! 

Our event time was scheduled from 7am – 8am, with entry to begin around 6:45am.  We got to our bus stop that morning right at 6:00am and a bus came up immediately (just like the sign says!):

disney bus times
These signs are stationed at the Disney resort bus stops to let you know how approximately how long you’ll have to wait. We always found them to be pretty accurate!

hollywood bus
We were the only ones on the bus!!

We were at the entrance by 6:20am and were greeted with the sight of all of the Cast Members awaiting our arrival:

hollywood studios opening

This was super cool; we were only the 3rd or 4th people to arrive.  We waited up front talking to a nice cast member until it was time to let us in.  The cast member told us that it was open to 300 passholders, but we weren’t sure if that was per hour, or for the entire 2 hours. 

park opening
First in line!

Once open, the cast members walked us over to Toy Story Land.  The sun was just beginning to rise, so it was still all lit up which was pretty cool. 

passholder play time passholder play time passholder play time

passholder play time

 

We headed straight for Slinky Dog Dash.  We did have to tap our magic bands (similar to a fastpass) but only had to do that the first time.  After that we went through a separate line. Pics of the empty queue:

passholder play time Slinky Dog Dash Queue Slinky Dog Dash Ride

Our first ride:

first slinky dog ride

Our 3rd ride:

Third ride

Our 5th ride:

5th ride

Our 7th (and final) ride:

7th ride passholder playtime

passholder play time passholder play time

By the time we finished our 7th ride (we thought about going for 10, but we were both feeling a little nauseous after the 7th time), it was only 7:30am.  We walked over to Alien Swirling Saucers for our first ride.  On the way over we stopped for some PhotoPass pics:

alien swirling photopass
The CLAW!!!

Slinky Dog Dash Ride

We walked right on to Alien Swirling Saucers.  This wasn’t our favorite ride and wasn’t something we wanted to ride a second time, even though we could have walked right back on. 

alien saucer passholder play time

alien saucer passholder play time

alien saucer passholder play time

We stopped for a bathroom break and then took some more pics:

passholder play time passholder play time passholder play time passholder play time

As you can see, the park was pretty empty – it was amazing!!

passholder play time passholder play time passholder play time

Afterwards we headed over to the Woody & Jessie meet and greet.  This would be our longest line of the day…..which was about 10 minutes total.  The characters are out in the sun with no shade cover, so they take breaks frequently.  We had some cute interaction with them and ended up with a shirt full of stickers:

Next we were off to meet Buzz and to get our Photopass picture by the entrance sign:

After meeting Buzz, we decided to head over to Woody’s Lunch Box for breakfast.  I have heard good things about this quick service meal, and it did not disappoint.  You can check out their menu here.  

woody's lunch box 1

Eddie ordered the Breakfast Bowl:

woody's lunch box breakfast bowl
Breakfast bowl with potato barrels, eggs, green onion, and smoked brisket country gravy

I ordered the Smoked Turkey breakfast sandwich on sourdough:

woody's lunch box smoked turkey
Smoked turkey, swiss cheese and egg on sourdough bread – yummy!

Everything was really good.  We decided to go ride Toy Story Mania next.  It was another walk on. 

passholder play time passholder play time passholder play time

toy story mania selfie

toy story mania score
Eddie beat me. Ugh!

We were hoping the cast member would let us stay on for a second ride (because some of the queue lines were empty), but there was someone at our number, so we had to get off and get back in line.  No worries though – we walked right back on again!  On our way out we took some more pics:

disney wall toy story land

disney wall toy story land

disney wall toy story land

Then ran into a Photopass photographer who offered to take our picture:

At this point it was around 9:00am so we decided to leave Toy Story Land now that the park had opened to everyone else and it was getting crowded.  As we walked out right at 9am, we saw that the line for Slinky Dog Dash was at a 60 minute wait! 

We walked towards Rock ‘n Rollercoaster and stopped for some Photopass pics since the streets were pretty empty:

We walked right on Rock ‘n Rollercoaster.  When I say walked right on – I mean it!  We didn’t even see the pre-show with Aerosmith!  That has never happened!! Check out this EMPTY queue!!  Now keep in mind – passholder play time had ended and the park was open to everyone!  I cannot stress the importance of early park arrival!!!

Next we walked over to Tower of Terror.  Another walk on, although we did see the pre-show Twilight Zone video. 

We finished up around 9:35am and decided to go into the shops to look at the Toy Story Land pins (my husband has a severe Disney pin addiction), along with anything else we might want, lol.  

We were out at the bus stop by 10:15am, and back at our resort (Port Orleans French Quarter) by 10:40am. 

Did I mention this was the BEST.PARK.DAY.EVER?!!   We were so lucky to be able to get tickets to experience this event – I wish we could experience all of the parks like this!  

Click here to read my other Trip Reports!

As an Independent Travel Agent with Mouse Counselors, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, I offer concierge travel planning for Walt Disney World® Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland® Resort, Adventures by Disney®, Aulani and all other destinations at no cost to you.  Message me today if I can help book a magical vacation for you.  

Disney Alaskan Cruise – Disembarkation Day and Vancouver Sightseeing

In case you missed it, click hereto start with Day 1 of the Trip Report.

Disembarkation Day – Vancouver Sightseeing

This morning our breakfast was scheduled for 7:00am since we were on the Main Dining schedule.  We knew we didn’t have to be off the ship until 9:00am (out of our room by 8:30), so we left our bags in our room and headed to breakfast.  We were sad to say goodbye to Svetlana and Istvan and told them we would be sure to request them as our servers next time we are on the Wonder.   Breakfast went pretty quick, and we went back to the room and did a final sweep of the room before heading out around 8:00am or so.  Walking out we had to stop by this table to pick up the knives they had “confiscated” that we had purchased in Alaska.  Once you return on ship from a port, they take anything you’ve purchased that is not allowed on the ship (such as alcohol or knives, etc) and give you a card with a number on it.  You give that card to the staff at the table to collect your items.  It was a seamless and quick process.

disney cruise item pick up

It was a beautiful sunny day in Vancouver.  We had a Vancouver Delights tour scheduled with LandSea Tours, but we weren’t due to meet the representative until 9:30am.  So we found a bench and just enjoyed the beautiful weather and seeing some behind the scenes action for the Wonder:

disney cruise behind the scenes

disney cruise behind the scenes
Loading food and supplies for the next sailing

disney cruise behind the scenes

About 9:15am we headed to the front entrance to meet our LandSea representative.  He asked us to walk across the street with him just because it was easier for the driver to navigate to that side.  I had done a lot of research, and there was a Vancouver tour that Disney was offering for the same price, but that tour didn’t have as many stops as this tour, and this tour also delivered us to the airport and stored our bags.  They had a regular Vancouver City Tour that was around 4 hours long, and this one (Vancouver Delights Tour) which was 7 hours long.  We didn’t have to be at the airport until 8:00pm, so this one worked perfect for us. 

Vancouver Landsea Tours

Our driver picked us up and then made some stops at a few other hotels and then we were on our way.  Our driver, Summer, was a local and very informative.  Our first stop was at the Granville Public Market.  We had heard this was very similar to Pike Place Market in Seattle which we loved, and this was an accurate description.  In fact, I think I enjoyed Granville Market a little more, and would love to go back and spend a full day there.  We were given an hour to shop, eat, etc.  I wished we had stopped here closer to lunch, because they had so much that looked delicious that I would have loved to try!  We did buy a scone and some chocolate chip cookies to snack on later.  Here are some pics of the market area:

Granville Public Market

Granville Public Market Granville Public Market Granville Public Market Granville Public Market Granville Public Market Granville Public Market Granville Public Market Granville Public Market Granville Public Market Granville Public Market Granville Public Market

After we left here, our next stop was the Vancouver Lookout.  Admission was included in the price of the tour which was awesome.  It would have been $17.50 (CAD) each otherwise.  We had great 360 degree views from the lookout, and there were signs posted all over giving some history of the sights in Vancouver.  We spent about 30 minutes here before heading out. 

Vancouver Lookout

Vancouver Lookout Vancouver Lookout Vancouver Lookout Vancouver Lookout Vancouver Lookout

Vancouver Lookout
View of Canada Place and the Disney Wonder from the Vancouver Lookout Tower

Vancouver Lookout

While driving to each location, Summer was great about pointing out other areas and giving us some history or details (such as the beach area with logs placed all around to watch the sunset, the Rogers Centre stadium, the Olympic Cauldron, etc). 

Our next stop was at Stanley Park where the totem poles were located.  Stanley Park was PACKED and Eddie and I were so glad that we had got up early the first morning of our cruise and experienced Stanley Park where we felt like we were the only ones there! 

Stanley Park

Our next stop in Stanley Park was at Prospect Point.  This offers beautiful views of Lions Gate Bridge and Vancouver.  They have a café there and some outside tables as well.  On the way to Prospect Point we passed a Stanley Park Brewery that is being built.  We can’t wait to come back to Vancouver and spend more time. 

Prospect Point Prospect Point Prospect Point Prospect Point

Prospect Point Prospect Point

There was a gift shop at Prospect Point so of course I had to buy a Christmas tree ornament:

Prospect Point

After our scenic pictures, we got back on the bus and headed to Capilano Salmon Hatchery and then the Capilano Suspension Bridge.  Admission was also included in the price of the tour.  The Salmon Hatchery was neat and had some beautiful trails:

Capilano Salmon Hatchery Capilano Salmon Hatchery Capilano Salmon Hatchery

Next was the Suspension Bridge:

Capilano Suspension Bridge

The Suspension Bridge was so crowded! 

Capilano Suspension Bridge
Canada Day was the day before which is why they had the flag up. That was pretty cool to see.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano Suspension Bridge Capilano Suspension Bridge Capilano Suspension Bridge Capilano Suspension Bridge Capilano Suspension Bridge

We walked the bridge across and back and then got some lunch.  It was around 3:00pm at this point and we hadn’t ate since breakfast on the ship.  We stopped at Logger’s and got a huge hot dog and fries.  Eddie and I split one, but Hunter had his own, lol. 

Capilano Suspension Bridge
This was their indoor sit-down restaurant

Capilano Suspension Bridge Capilano Suspension Bridge Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano Suspension Bridge
Definitely big enough to share (unless you’re a teenage boy, lol!)

We were all given these certificates when we were getting ready to leave Capilano Suspension Bridge:

Capilano Suspension Bridge
Isn’t he cute?

Our driver dropped off the others at their hotels (there were about 4 stops).  That was another great thing about this tour….we were given priority at the Vancouver Lookout and at the Capilano Suspension Bridge (no waiting in line) and the bus was small, we had 19 people in our group.  We were dropped off last at the airport, and we did tip Summer well.  Not only was she a great tour guide, we would have had to pay around $43 for a taxi to take us to the airport, not to mention all the admission fees we would have had to pay to the sites we visited.  This tour can’t be beat, and I am definitely recommending this to all of my clients who go to Vancouver, either for a cruise or just to visit Vancouver. 

By the time we got to the airport, we were starting to get tired.  We arrived around 6:00 or 6:30pm, and we couldn’t check in until 3 hours before our flight (8:00pm).  Luckily Vancouver airport has a nice food court outside the terminals where we sat and relaxed until we could check in.  We decided to wait to get something to eat until we had went through security since we had a late lunch.  The process was a little quirky, we used the kiosk to check-in, then were told to take our bags to another location in the airport to be checked.  Once we got there, we were told that once we arrived in Chicago (our layover), that we would need to collect our bags and re-check them.  We were a little frustrated by this because we only had a 1 hour and 20 minute layover.  It was something to do with being late at night and security, etc.  Thankfully once we got to Chicago everything went pretty quickly, but it was a hassle having to go through security again.  Especially when it was 5:00am and our bodies were functioning on very little sleep. 

We made it back to our home airport around 9:30am and were home by 11:00am.  We immediately took a nap and set our alarms for 2:00pm so we wouldn’t sleep all day.  That worked well.  We were ready to go to bed at our usual time of 10:00pm that night.  We did sleep pretty late the following day, but we needed it.  We are glad we had that extra day to readjust before heading back to work. 

Well this is the end of this report, I hope you enjoyed it!  Please send me a message if you have any questions about Alaska!  We absolutely loved this cruise and are already trying to figure out when we can go back again.  Eddie said he never wants to do another Caribbean cruise again, LOL (I wouldn’t go that far, haha!).  But seriously, the scenery cannot be beat.  God’s creation is absolutely stunning and we were very fortunate to be able to go on this adventure. 

Click here to read my other Trip Reports!

As an Independent Travel Agent with Mouse Counselors, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, I offer concierge travel planning for Walt Disney World® Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland® Resort, Adventures by Disney®, Aulani and all other destinations at no cost to you.  Message me today if I can help book a magical vacation for you.  

 

Disney Alaskan Cruise – Day 7 at Sea

In case you missed it, click here to start with Day 1 of the Trip Report.  

Day 7 – Last Day at Sea

How did this day arrive so quickly?!  At this point Hunter said he was ready to go home, while Eddie and I looked at each other and said “I could do another 7 days.”  We slept in again until around 9:00am.  Then it was off to Cabana’s for breakfast for our usual fare, although this time we also tried the biscuits and gravy that we kept wanting to try.  They were actually really good!   We got back to the room and showered and it was already time to head for Bingo.  There were two rounds of Bingo scheduled today and we had planned to go to both (we have won the jackpot before, so now we are hooked!).   We got there early knowing it would be crowded, to get our seats and cards/handsets.  We didn’t have any luck this session.  The people behind us won a door prize and also won some money on the first game, but they were pretty disappointed when 6 other people also won!  One of the people who won that split jackpot actually had Bingo on two of her handsets, so she got 2/7 of the payout.  First time I had seen that happen!

Bingo ended around 11:45am and Eddie and I wanted to go look in the gift shops since our first day we were specifically shopping for Alaska merchandise and didn’t look at the regular items.  We didn’t find anything that we had to have this time.  We were scheduled to meet with the DVC rep at 1:30 and there was a ventriloquist (Michael Harrison) scheduled for 2:00pm in the Walt Disney Theater that we were hoping to go see, but we didn’t make it out in time.  We met with Rob with DVC and were really seriously thinking about buying in since we go to Disney so much.  We took the information so we could go and talk about it and told him we would get back with him.  We headed upstairs to meet Hunter after the show (we had told him we would be waiting in Preludes outside the theater).  The show let out around 2:45 but we never saw Hunter, and apparently he forgot that he was supposed to meet us.  We stayed there in our seats and had a discussion about DVC, but ultimately decided we weren’t going to pursue.  We felt like all of our vacation money would be tied up into DVC, and we really enjoy traveling – and not just with Disney.  You can exchange points and use them at other hotels, so it isn’t strictly Disney, but I’ve always heard those points don’t transfer well and didn’t want to take any chances.  We headed back to the room and then grabbed Hunter for another round of Bingo!  This was the last Bingo session for this cruise, and the payout is highest on that last day.  I don’t think I realized up until this point that the prices of the packages change with each session.  On my 3-night cruise, I remembered paying $60 for the “Family Pack” which includes 2 electronic sets and 1 pack of paper cards.  This cruise it had been $80 both times we’d played, but for this last session it was $120!  Ouch.  Note:  there are smaller packages you can buy.  In the middle of bingo games they give away some door prizes by flashing names of everyone who has purchased a bingo package and if it stops on your name, you win.  Well, Eddie’s name was called!  We won this Disney Cruise Line lunch bag which also had a cute sailor Mickey luggage tag and a cruise key chain inside:

disney cruise bingo door prize

Unfortunately that was the only thing we won this session, but we can’t complain.  We won $88 the first game and then a door prize, and like I said, we have won the jackpot before on another cruise. 

After bingo, we headed for another Pub Quiz with Rod.  Afterwards we stopped in the gift shop “Sea Treasures” and bought an Alaska t-shirt (one for me and one for Eddie). 

By this time it was time for dinner and tonight was Tiana’s Place with the regular Mardi Gras menu and I was really excited.  I had really enjoyed Tiana’s on my girls cruise in March.   Since this was our last night we made sure to take some pics:

Tiana's Place

Tiana's Place

For my appetizer I ordered the Sausage Andouille Fritters:  (I had ordered these on my last cruise and really enjoyed them).  I liked them again this time, but the guys tried it and they didn’t like them:

Tiana's Appetizer

The guys both ordered the Shrimp & Grits and really liked them:

Tiana's Shrimp and grits

Eddie and I also tried the tomato bisque (very good):

Tiana's Tomato Bisque

For my entrée I ordered the Roasted Pork Tenderloin which I really enjoyed:

Tiana's pork tenderloin

Eddie & Hunter tried the Cajun Spiced Sea Bass on Shrimp Jambalaya:  (I had this on my last cruise and enjoyed it):

Tiana's cajun seabass

Svetlana also brought the table some Artichoke Ravioli to try:  It was pretty good, but nothing I’d want for my meal:

tiana's artichoke ravioli

The desserts were what I had been waiting on!  I told Svetlana we wanted one of each:  Beingets, Banana Foster Sundae and White Chocolate Bread Pudding.  They were all so good, just like I had remembered:

tiana's beingets

tiana's bread pudding

Tiana's banana foster sundae

This was the last night in the dining rooms so I asked Svetlana and Istvan if I could take a picture of them:

disney cruise servers
Best Servers Ever!!

Istvan was so great!

After dinner we walked outside to check out the beautiful scenery again and take some pics since this was our last night of the cruise. 

Alaska Day at Sea Alaska Day at Sea Alaska Day at Sea Alaska Day at Sea Alaska Day at Sea

We were greeted with this beautiful sight as well:

Alaska Day at Sea Alaska Day at Sea Alaska Day at Sea

 

We decided to skip Dreams (we’ve seen it before) and the adult shows tonight and get packed up and to bed early for our early morning debarkation.

Sunset on our final cruise night – so sad to be leaving!!!  

Alaska Day at Sea Alaska Day at Sea

 

On the way to the room I took this picture:

disney cruise carpet

This is what is on the carpet in the hallways of the ships, and it helps you navigate where you are headed (Forward or Aft).  If the map is upside down, you are headed Aft (back of the ship).  If the map is facing you, you are headed Forward (front of the ship).  Pretty cool and only took me 6 cruises to figure that out, LOL. 

We were greeted with this on the bed (not sure exactly what it is?)  Something with its legs crossed.  Either a human or Gumby, LOL.

disney cruise towel animal

We packed everything up except what we needed for the next day and headed to bed.  

Click here to read my other Trip Reports!

As an Independent Travel Agent with Mouse Counselors, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, I offer concierge travel planning for Walt Disney World® Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland® Resort, Adventures by Disney®, Aulani and all other destinations at no cost to you.  Message me today if I can help book a magical vacation for you.  

 

Disney Alaskan Cruise – Day 5 Part 2 (Endicott Arm/Dawes Glacier)

Day 5:  Part 2 Endicott Arm/Dawes Glacier

When I left off on Part 1 we had just finished up the afternoon game of Bingo and the Captain had announced that viewing of Endicott Arm had begun.  We headed up to the top deck after grabbing our camera and coats.  It was cold and windy!  Crew members were passing out blankets (which I gladly accepted).  Some of the pics we took:

We started seeing icebergs right away

We went back inside to get Hunter and grab some dinner – but first we stopped for more pics!

We were skipping the dining room tonight and decided to just eat from the pool deck.  We ate fast to rush back out for more pics because we were at the glacier!

Seals on the iceberg

We figured we had enough pictures at this point and it was still pretty cold, so we headed back inside to meet up with Mr. Incredible before the 8:15 showing of Incredibles 2 in the Walt Disney Theater:

After the showing of Incredibles, we headed to Azure for “intuition”, followed by a variety act with Billy Kidd.  We didn’t love the show, but it was okay.  After the show, there was an 80’s Flashback Dance that was a lot of fun.  As usual Eddie jumped right in and busted a move.  I did a few dances and Hunter sneaked out and went back to the room, lol!  We stayed for a few dances and then went back to the room as we were pretty tired at this point.  Up next – Ketchikan!    

Click here to read my other Trip Reports!

As an Independent Travel Agent with Mouse Counselors, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, I offer concierge travel planning for Walt Disney World® Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland® Resort, Adventures by Disney®, Aulani and all other destinations at no cost to you.  Message me today if I can help book a magical vacation for you.  

Disney Alaskan Cruise – Day 6 (Ketchikan)

In case you missed it, click here to start with Day 1 of the Trip Report.  

Day 6 – Ketchikan, Alaska

I originally started out thinking that Ketchikan would be my least favorite port based on all the research I’d done, but it ended up being our favorite! 

We slept in this morning, all those late night adult activities were catching up to us and all ashore wasn’t until 11:15am, so we were all happy to get a little extra rest. 

Eddie and I woke up around 9:00am and went to Cabana’s to grab breakfast.  We found ourselves going to the same thing each day to eat.  For me, one slice of French toast, custom ordered omelet, 2 slices of bacon, and diced potatoes (no wonder I gained weight on this cruise!).  For Eddie – bowl of oatmeal with fruit, granola, etc., eggs, bacon or sausage, and a hash brown patty.  (Sorry, never took pictures of our breakfast!).  After Cabana’s, I went straight to work out (3 miles on the treadmill).  Eddie went back to the room first, and by the time he was ready to go work out, I had already finished and was back in the room.  Hunter was just waking up.  I took a shower and then caught up on my trip notes.  Our shore excursion tickets listed our meeting place in the Azure Club at 12:00 noon.  Knowing we wouldn’t be eating soon, we went upstairs and grabbed a quick bite – even though it hadn’t been that long since we’d ate.  I grabbed a roast beef sandwich from Daisy’s Delights and Eddie and Hunter had a couple slices of pepperoni pizza from Pinocchio’s. 

Our excursion today in Ketchikan was booked through Disney (booking direct is less expensive, but it was sold out – we booked in April, so kind of last minute for an Alaskan cruise – so I had to purchase through Disney to get it).  The excursion was the Bering Sea Crab Fisherman’s Tour, and it was on the Aleutian Ballad crab boat, which had been featured on Deadliest Catch in Season 2.  The boat sustained major damage when capsized by a 60 foot rogue wave, and was given a complete overhaul and made into a tour boat.  Pretty cool, huh? 

We headed for Azure around 11:45 and there was a table set up inside signing people in for the different excursions booked through Disney.  We were given an Elsa sticker to wear and were told to listen for our group to be called.  We were called right at noon and followed our guide outside.  We met up with a representative of the tour, and followed her over to the Aleutian Ballad.   We got to the boat and noticed there were already people onboard (I assume those that booked direct), but most of them were upstairs.  I don’t know if they were made to go to the top and the bottom was saved for Disney?  Even though all seats are great, I was glad to be on the lower level.  The temperature wasn’t bad (mid-50’s) and it was nice and partly sunny, but on the water it does tend to get cool and I thought being lower might help with that. 

Following our guide over to the Aleutian Ballad

Once onboard, Captain Paul introduced himself and his crew, including fishermen Dave & Terry.  These guys were awesome!  They kept us captivated with their personal stories on the sea and were great story tellers and very funny.  I started to get cold and one of the ladies (working there for summer / college) brought me an extra coat and started passing them out to other guests.  They had hot tea, hot chocolate and coffee for guests onboard as well.  The boat is outfitted with several bathrooms, a gift shop that shows a rotating loop on the tv of the wave that took down the Aleutian Ballad.   My husband will be doing a full review of the excursion that you can find on our blog soon under Reviews.  Here’s just a few pics of the highlights – but be sure to go and read his review – this was the best excursion ever – and when we go back to Alaska (yes – we are already talking about our next trip), we plan to do this excursion again!

 

Passing out heavy coats for those that needed them

There were bald eagles EVERYWHERE!

The crew took this pic with everyone onboard who wanted one at the end

The tour lasted about 3 hours, so we arrived back to town around 3:15pm.  We went over to one of the gift shops and they had these reversible coats outside listed for $19.99.  There were several colors, and some had “Alaska” embroidered on the front, but the one that we liked had a “Ketchikan Alaska” patch on it.  Eddie and I both got one and Hunter went inside and found an “Alaska” camouflage hat that he liked.  We love gift shops and spent quite a bit of time in here.  We bought the other kids some candy to take back and Hunter also bought an “Ulu Knife” and Eddie bought a t-shirt and hat combo that was only $14.99.  We left there and it was starting to drizzle a little bit, so we put our new coats on.  We walked over to another gift shop and Hunter found an Alaska hoodie there.  After leaving there we went to find the “Welcome to Ketchikan” sign and stopped for some pictures.  At this point it was around 4:30 so we started to walk back to the ship and get freshened up for dinner. 

Lots of rain in Ketchikan

Wearing our new Alaska Jackets!

I looked at the navigator once back onboard and saw that Mickey & Minnie were doing meet and greets.  Since we had not yet met them in their Alaskan gear, I really wanted to go.  They were also meeting later in the night, and we were too late for the afternoon meet with Mickey, but we went to get in line for Minnie.  We did get to see Mickey leaving, so I snapped this pic:

 

We were towards the front of the line for Minnie so that didn’t take long.  I had really wanted a pic with Mickey & Minnie outside in their Alaskan gear, but they were never outside for photos like I’ve seen on other sailings.  I had one photographer tell me it had something to do with this sailing combining Juneau day / Endicott Arm the same day.  So I was a little bummed about that, but I do think our extra stop in Icy Strait Point (Hoonah) was worth it. 

 

Eddie and I stopped for more pictures in the atriumwith the Ketchikan background and then headed to dinner at Animator’s Palate. 

Tonight was the animation magic show which is truly amazing!  When you are seated, your server gives everyone these to draw their own character (even the adults!). 

We all participated and Svetlana took our drawings when we were finished and gave us the menu’s.  This was a new menu, so I did take some pics:

Svetlana had told us the night before that there were new additions to the menu (before it was very limited with only one appetizer choice) and I was glad, because what I saw on the app didn’t appeal to me.  The meal ended up being our favorite meal served in the dining rooms of the trip!  We loved the Malaysian Chicken Satay (skews of chicken with a peanut sauce and cucumber (delicious)!

 

We all also had the Lobster Bisque (very tasty!):

I got the Garlic Marinated Shrimp & Pasta (very good):

Eddie got the Blackened Chicken salad (My favorite!  We switched plates halfway through, lol – although he loved the salad too).

Hunter got the Chicken Schnitzel which he loved:

Before our desserts came, the animation show started and we really enjoyed seeing our characters, and the creativity of others come to life! 

For dessert, I had the Amaretto Cheesecake with sour cream (really good):

Eddie had planned to get the Regional Inspiration of some Alaskan bread budding with strawberry.  Svetlana advised him against it, and brought him some White Chocolate Bread pudding from Tiana’s instead.  I had that on my cruise in March and knew it was a great choice!  Hunter got a repeat of his dessert from the night before – chocolate lava cake with ice cream. 

After dinner we went to Crown & Fin for some more trivia before heading to see the Family Magic Show with Billie Kidd in Azure.  I didn’t take any pictures, but we enjoyed her family show much more than her adult show. 

Then it was time for the meet & greet with Mickey in his Alaskan gear:

We stopped by the DVC desk to see if we could make an appointment for the next day.  After going to the presentation, we had a few more questions.  While waiting for the cast member to check schedules, Daisy was walking up the hall (Belle was also walking down the other end of the hall) and she stopped for a quick pic:

 

Afterwards we headed back to Azure for more adult games.  I was really ready to go to bed, but Hunter really enjoyed going to the activities at night, and they were doing Match Your Mate.  Eddie and I tried to get picked again, but they usually take the couple who has been married the least amount of time (there was a honeymoon couple onboard), the couple that has been married the longest, then for the middle couple, they make you do a dance-off contest.  Well, Eddie definitely carries me in these contest, because I have ZERO rhythm, not to mention I don’t love being up in front of a crowd anyway, much less showing off my dance skills (that I was not blessed with, lol).  But I figured, hey, I’m never going to see these people again, just do it.  So I got up there and did the sprinkler, the robot, etc. while Eddie was unbuttoning his shirt (he had a t-shirt on underneath) while dancing to “I’m Sexy and I Know it.”  It was hilarious and the crowd loved him.  We were up against about six other couples and we were second in line and got a ton of cheers.  The last couple in line had a big family group with them and Rod called them the winners. Boo!  Oh well, one of these days we’ll get picked.   We stayed until the end and then headed off to bed around 11:00pm.  Tomorrow was a sea day, so we were happy that we would be able to sleep in again. 

Click here to read my other Trip Reports!

As an Independent Travel Agent with Mouse Counselors, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, I offer concierge travel planning for Walt Disney World® Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland® Resort, Adventures by Disney®, Aulani and all other destinations at no cost to you.  Message me today if I can help book a magical vacation for you.