Posts Tagged ‘disney cruise line’

25 Drinks of Christmas Countdown – Day 17: Balsamic Grande at Disney Cruise Line’s Palo

by on December 17, 2014

The Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of the year. Growing up, one of the little things I loved most was getting an Advent calendar and counting down the days until Santa would be coming down the chimney. As I grew older, I had to leave Advent calendars in the rear view mirror,* but I still miss that daily countdown building anticipation to the big day. So, we’re going to start a virtual Advent calendar here at TouringPlans. For 2014, we are going to countdown our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort.

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property as well as the Disney Cruise Line. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY SEVENTEEN: Balsamic Grand at Palo (Disney Cruise Line)

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Balsamic Grand at Palo. (photo by William Hirsch)

 

There were many aspects of the Disney Cruise that I sailed on earlier this year which gave me a better understanding of why so many people become “addicted” to cruising. One of the areas that stood out to me the most was the overall level of service that guests receive while on the ship, and the pinnacle of that service was at the ship’s upscale Italian restaurant Palo. To summarize: an amazing dining experience, one of the best I have had anywhere, land or sea. The signature cocktail of Palo is the Balsamic Grande, and it is the perfect drink to begin the journey you are about to take within this gorgeous restaurant.  Ingredients: 5 fresh strawberries, divided, 1 1/2 ounces agave nectar, 1/2 ounce balsamic vinegar (aged 8 years), and 5 ounces Grey Goose Vodka Muddle strawberries with agave and balsamic vinegar in a mixing glass. Add vodka and ice; shake and strain into chilled martini glass.

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Thanksgiving on the Disney Wonder and Castaway Cay

by on November 30, 2014

Let’s clear something up right away. If you’re caught up on the TouringPlans blog, or follow us on Twitter, you already know that the Bloom family won Thanksgiving. We’re all just battling for second place at this point.

This Thanksgiving, Len Testa and I were on a 5-night Western Caribbean Disney cruise on the Wonder. To be honest, cruising wasn’t my first choice for celebrating. My intent was always to spend the holiday in Palm Springs. Unfortunately, no one else in the family was keen on it, and airfare to California from North Carolina never dropped to within my comfort level. So with two weeks to spare, and having eliminated a few other options, I found restricted rates* on the Wonder for the 23rd to the 28th. This met my needs of warm weather, not having to cook, and price, so after finding favorable airfare, I booked it.

The atrium of the DCL Wonder decked out for Christmas in November. Photo - Laurel Stewart

The atrium of the DCL Wonder decked out for Christmas in November. Photo – Laurel Stewart

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10 Things to Know about Concierge Staterooms on Disney Cruise Line

by on November 11, 2014

Upgrading from your usual category stateroom is a dangerous game. You start off on your first cruise in an inside room thinking, “I’m just happy to be on the ship! How much time will I spend in my room anyway?” On your next cruise, you upgrade to an oceanview for one cruise and realize you can’t ever go back to a room where there are no real windows. Then, just once, you decide to splurge for a verandah—and now you never want the terrible inconvenience of walking up a few decks to be outside in the glorious ocean air. Well, let me tell you those upgrades were but a hop compared to the Grand Canyon jump that is concierge. After my recent sailing in a one-bedroom suite on the Dream (all the suites are “concierge” on Disney Cruise Line), I’m pretty sure I’m going to feel like I’m sailing in a closet in my oceanview stateroom on my upcoming Thanksgiving cruise!

Recently, I was lucky enough to split the cost of a one-bedroom suite on the Disney Dream with a friend on a 4-night, off-season cruise, and my cost wasn’t ridiculous. There are times when the additional cost has passed ridiculous and found full-blown disbelief. Price out the Roy Disney Suite on a longer summer cruise and you’ll be convinced there must be a typo or horrible glitch in the system. No one really pays that right? Actually they do. Concierge sells out all the time. There are reasons it costs more though. And for some people, it’s worth it.

1. Embarkation Day is Super Smooth – For those of you that are frustrated by picking arrival times to the port, you may like to know that concierge guests do not pick an arrival time, they can arrive at their leisure. Once there, they also have a separate check-in with minimal to no waits. After concierge guests check in, they are welcomed into a separate lounge reserved just for them while awaiting boarding. When the ship is cleared, before boarding numbers begin to be called, the concierge guests are led through a side door and up the gangway. When we boarded the Dream, we took our boarding picture quickly and were literally the first guests onboard the ship. The concierge guests gather in an empty lobby and are then escorted upstairs to the concierge lounge on Deck 12 by one of the concierge hosts. They are met there by some of the ship’s officers and the rest of the concierge team. There are snacks and drinks (both non-alcoholic and fully alcoholic), and the concierge hosts meet with each family to go over everything they have booked beforehand to see if they would like to add anything. It’s quite the luxurious way to start a cruise.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Surprises of the Disney Cruise Line

by on November 8, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Surprises of the Disney Cruise Line. Several weeks ago we posted an article on Six Reasons To Go On a Disney Cruise, which covered the “big picture” of why you should consider setting sail with The Mouse, but this week we’ll take a look some of the smaller details that made a significant impact on my vacation. Leading up to the cruise, I had done a decent amount of research on TouringPlans, the Disney Cruise Line Blog, and reading Erin Foster’s numerous DCL posts on the blog, but once I stepped onto the deck of the Disney Wonder I still had one surprise after another.  Here are my six favorite surprises of the trip (remember, you can click on any picture to see it in full size)…

# 6 – DCL Beer Mug Card

DCL_BeerMug2

DCL Beer Mug.

 

I’m a big fan of souvenir glasses (and we covered several of options available in the photo reports of the DCL gift shops and Castaway Cay) so I was definitely drawn to the DCL Beer Mug. Aside from being a neat souvenir, the mug has two benefits that come along with it. The first benefit is the fact that each time you get a beer in the mug you are given a 22 oz serving, but only charged for 16 oz.  Secondly, the mug itself has a good amount of weight to it, so it was a nice surprise to find out you don’t have to carry it around with you during the cruise. When you are done drinking, you hand the mug back to your server/bartender, and they will give you a card which you can then exchange for another mug when you are ready to drink again. This option became so handy and convenient throughout the trip, that I began to wish there was some practical way the theme parks could incorporate it into their day-to-day operations.

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Travel Warnings Issued for Nassau

by on November 7, 2014

The U.S. Embassy in Nassau, Bahamas has issued a Security Awareness memo for the holiday season 2014, advising U.S. citizens traveling to the Bahamas to “be aware of their surroundings and remain on heightened alert to avoid being the victims of crime.” This is the fourth memo on this topic issued during calendar 2014. The Canadian government posted similar warnings earlier this fall.

Nassau Harbor

Nassau Harbor

Other than Castaway Cay, Nassau is the most visited port for Disney Cruise Line.

The Embassy memo goes on to state, “Three armed robberies of U.S. citizens have occurred in daylight hours in heavily frequented tourist areas.” Other reports include notes about sexual assaults perpetrated by unregulated jet ski operators on Paradise Island. The advisory mentions monitoring local news stations for updates and maintaining a high level of vigilance when out and about.

The Nassau Guardian newspaper denies the credibility of the Embassy reports, claiming that the local police were unaware of some of the alleged crimes.

The Atlantis resort, site of many of the DCL Nassau port adventures, has increased their security in recent weeks.

We’ve never had any problems in Nassau, but as with any travel, caution is recommended. If you’re on a three or four night cruise and relaxation is a key vacation component for you, you may want to consider remaining on board your ship during the Nassau port stop. (We’ve recommended this prior to any warnings.) The ship’s amenities cannot all be experienced during a brief sailing. Staying on the ship may allow you to more time to visit the spa, participate in the children’s programming, or stuff yourself at the buffet. Remember that many activities on board are included in the cost of your sailing, so staying on board can be an easy way to economize.

If you plan to explore Nassau, be cognizant of your surroundings and interact with only reputable excursion operators. You may also want to consider letting family remaining on board or guest relations cast members know of your on shore plans.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Disney Cruise Line Photos

by on November 5, 2014

Whenever you visit a Disney theme park, you can expect to find photographers available to take your picture at key spots during your vacation. The same is true when you travel on Disney Cruise Line. Here’s what you need to know about Disney Cruise Line photo packages and options.

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Does photography on the Disney Cruise Line ships work the same as PhotoPass or Memory Maker at Walt Disney World?

While there are some similarities, there are many differences as well. The first thing to note is that the shipboard photography and the parks photography are run by different vendors. The pricing structure is completely different. There’s no such thing as an all-in-one photo package for guests doing Land & Sea vacations. If you’re traveling to WDW and on DCL, you’ll have to purchase photos from each half of your vacation separately.

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Menu Monday: Desserts Aboard the Disney Wonder

by on November 3, 2014

Disney Wonder Desserts

A Work Of Art – It tasted as good as it looks!

If you’ve been following along you probably already know by now that I was lucky enough to enjoy a spectacular Disney Alaska Cruise this summer aboard the Disney Wonder. Between rounds of bingo and incredible Port Adventures like dog sledding, riding the rails and soaring in a floatplane, I managed to fit in some time to eat. Talking to several cruisers during my planning, I discovered that dining onboard the cruise ship was a large part of the vacation for most people. Being an extremely picky eater myself, I planned on focusing my meals mainly on dessert.

Please continue on to see my dessert lover’s photo diary as I ate my way around the Disney Wonder!

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Disney Cruise Line Updates Onboard Rebooking Terms

by on October 28, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

One of the best ways to get a discount on a Disney Cruise is to book your next one while you’re already on a Disney Cruise. If you book during your cruise with at the Future Cruises desk, you’ll receive a 10% discount off the published fare, a reduced deposit for 7-night or longer cruises, and a $100 to $200 onboard credit depending on the length of your cruise. Guests who name a travel agent to “own” the reservation at the time of rebooking are also eligible for any onboard credits the agency may offer.

Today Disney updated the terms for rebooking offers. It’s a fairly well known tactic for guests who know they’ll be cruising again, but aren’t sure exactly when, to book a cruise while onboard and rebook it at the date they know they can cruise later to keep the booking incentives. At one time, there was no limit on how many times and how far out you could rebook, which lead some guests to “walk” their reservations as far out as five years from the date originally booked.

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Disney Cruise Line Announces Early 2016 Itineraries

by on October 28, 2014

Disney Magic in port at San Juan. Photo - Seth Kubersky

Disney Magic in port at San Juan. Photo – Seth Kubersky

Beginning January 2016, Disney Cruise Line will add Tortola, B.V.I., and Martinique to its Eastern and Southern Caribbean itineraries respectively. The Southern Caribbean cruises were new this year – you can read more from Seth Kubersky on his cruise from San Juan on the Magic this month.

Eastern Caribbean routes are nothing new to Disney with the Fantasy cruising it every other week for seven-night trips nearly year around, but the new itinerary will replace St. Martin or San Juan with Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. Ports for this cruise are Tortola, St. Thomas in the U.S.V.I., and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay in the Bahamas. With three days at sea, the seven night Eastern Caribbean on the Fantasy is a favorite itinerary here at TouringPlans.

Sailing dates on the Fantasy for this cruise in 2016 are:

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TouringPlans #Everywhere: Disney Magic Observations from a DCL First-Timer

by on October 23, 2014

Disney Magic observations

There’s nothing like your first look at your first Disney cruise ship! (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

As part of the fantastic TouringPlans #Everywhere project, I recently had the amazing opportunity to experience my very first Disney Cruise Line vacation aboard the Disney Magic, on an unusual 7-day itinerary out of Puerto Rico. While I’ve previously stayed on-site in both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, and traveled with some of Disney’s competitors in the cruising and all-inclusive resort industries, this was my initial experience as a guest of DCL. Overall, I have to say that I went in with sky-high expectations, almost all of which I can happily report were met or exceeded. But that’s not to say there weren’t a few surprises along the way. Here are a handful of Disney Magic observations and advice from this first-time (but hopefully not last-time) DCL cruiser that may may your vigin voyage a little smoother.

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