Back to Back Cruising

I have had several people ask me how this Disney Cruise Line “back to back” cruising works. It’s a neat concept, and has it’s perks and downfalls.

First, let me explain. We went on two separate Disney cruises recently: a 4 night Bahamian sailing and a 3 night Bahamian sailing, back to back. Why do this instead of just a straight seven night cruise? For us, adding the 3 night was a last minute decision as we had already booked the 4 night with friends. Another perk for us was two stops at Disney’s private island: Castaway Cay. We love it there, and each sailing made a stop so we got two full days in our favorite place.

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Also, once you sail on a Disney cruise you become a member of what is called the Castaway Club. If you have completed 1-5 cruises you are a silver member, 6-10 is gold, and then platinum. Each level has different perks like gifts in your room, different booking windows for bookings excursions, and platinum cruisers even get a free meal at the adults only restaurant Palo, as well as the ability to board the ship with boarding group one. So, for us, doing two cruises instead of one “counted” twice and my next cruise, I will be platinum.

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It’s also fun to get on the boat before everyone else and get to your room first on the second cruise. Let me explain how it worked. The last night of our first cruise (the four night cruise) we had a letter in our room explaining the process. If you are staying in the same room, you can leave you luggage etc. in your room, and debark the ship by 9:15. If you are changing rooms (like us) just pack up, leave everything in the room, and the stateroom host will bring your bags to your new room for you. perfect!

The next morning we ate breakfast and were in no hurry to get off the ship. We actually stayed on closer to 10:00 because people were still getting off. We relaxed in the adults only coffee shop checking emails and doing work while we had a day in port (another perk to a back to back, ability to get on the internet halfway through your trip).

We got off, breezed through customs, then turned and went right back up the escalators to check in. The port wasn’t even open yet, so it was empty. We checked in and were given a special green ticket, and were told to go sit in the concierge/closed off area in the back of the terminal.

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We sat there just hanging out until 10:45, when a cast member led us through a side door to get back onto the ship. (to the right of the Mickey ears is the closed off area we sat in while waiting to board).

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It was weird being on the ship early (boarding usually starts around 11:45ish) because people were still cleaning and scurrying about getting things ready. The next perk was a big one, getting to our rooms early. The letter that was left on our bed started that our stateroom would be a top priority to get cleaned, and it would be ready by 11:30. FYI, for everyone else that gets on board, you can’t access your room until 1:30. We were able to get into ours just before 11:00, and our luggage was already in there, it was awesome.

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We unpacked, called our families, and hung out in the room until the lunch buffet opened at 11:45, and we were among the first to eat, and we simply went back to our room after, changed, and went to the pool. Normally we have to lug our day bags around, change in the public bathroom, etc. So this was a very nice perk.

Another fun thing was Disney kept us with our same dining room team, so it was nice to have familiar faces at dinner, it made it seem like a 7 night cruise.

We enjoyed experiencing the back to back, but I don’t know if we will make it a habit of sailing on them. One downfall is they only go to Nassau and castaway cay, so if you are looking to go to other ports this may not be for you. However, we use Nassau day to stay on a near empty ship anyway, so we didn’t mind. You lose a few hours on the day you get off and back on, having to get off then wait to get back on etc., but other than that we enjoyed ourselves!

If you have any questions about the process please let me know!

QOTD: Would you ever consider a back to back cruise?

Disney Cruise Recap 12/13

Hello! I am officially back home. I made it back late morning yesterday, and I have been playing catch up with work since then. I cannot believe Christmas eve is in a week, I feel so unprepared (my Christmas tree has NO GIFTS under it. I am so behind y’all). Anyway, we had a fabulous time on the cruise, and I plan to recap the Castaway Cay 5k (again) because I took some video this time. But for today, I wanted to share what we did the OTHER days of our cruise.

We did what is called a “back to back” which means we did a four night ailing followed by a three night sailing on the same ship. There is a certain procedure that you follow in order to do this which I will also be sharing about. So we were on the Disney Dream for a total of seven nights. We went to Nassau twice and Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island, twice.

We drove to Disney on Saturday and stayed with Jen and Jeff at Port Orleans Riverside in a royal room.

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We took the boat to Downtown Disney for dinner at Earl of Sandwich.

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The next day we drove to Port Canaveral and boarded the Dream. The ship looked gorgeous all dressed up for Christmas.

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We had lunch then went to check our our verandah stateroom. (Category 5C is anyone is curious)

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We then did some walking around and lounged at the pool until time for early dinner.

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A Mickey Bar was my dessert of choice most nights.

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After dinner Bobby and I went to one of the adult only areas to watch the Saints play on Sunday night football. (There was a HUGE screen to the right of this photo and we sat in recliners right in front of it. Aaahhh, bliss).

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The next day was a sea day and we went to the gym then had Palo Brunch reservations which was amazing as always. My favorite part: dessert.

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Bobby and I attended a special reception for gold and platinum castaway club members that afternoon. Free champagne? Of course I’m there! We got to hear from the captain which was neat.

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At dinner we may have all been craving cheese sticks…

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The next day in Nassau, the Disney Magic parked next to us. It was neat to see the ships side by side again and get some photos. A couple years ago I was on the MAGIC when we were next to the Dream. This time it was reversed!

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We didn’t get off in Nassau. it rained, so we just read books up on deck and took a nap.

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I love these guys

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The next day we were at Castaway Cay, and we ran the 5k.

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We had a great day on the island relaxing and also playing volleyball.

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We had Palo dinner that night which was amazing, even though poor Bobby had a migraine. Luckily, with a special concoction from the Palo Maître d’, he started feeling better. Even though said concoction was disgusting.

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The next day we had to get off the ship and say goodbye to our friends. Then, we got back on board shorty after.

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Our new room was a deluxe family verandah stateroom, a category 4B.

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We went to the hot tub, and honestly I don’t remember what else! We had late dining this time, so we got to see the sun set before dinner.

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Our cute dinner table

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The next day was Nassau day again, so we hung out at the pool, rode the AquaDuck waterslide, and took a 2.5 hour nap! We had dinner at Palo again that night, and I had the most amazing Crème Brule martini. Seriously. Order it. (The the way we had the same server for both Palo dinners and the brunch and he was amazing. his name is Matt he is from Poland. be sure to request him!)

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These two goofballs were eating at Palo that night as well and came and found us.293

Katherine, Amanda, and me.

The next day we were back at my beloved Castaway Cay for another day of fun in the sun. We had beautiful weather, high of maybe 80, crystal clear water, perfection.

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The next day it was a 10 hour drive to Louisiana to pick up the dogs then back to reality yesterday. We had a wonderful time, it was a great idea to give the cruise as a gift to each other, and I can’t wait to go back some day!

QOTD: Have you been on a cruise? Favorite thing about them? Favorite cruise line?

*WINNERS of the Runner’s Christmas gift guide giveaways are posted on the Rafflecopter widget. See if you won!

**If you would like me to help you plan your magical cruise on most any cruise line (at no extra cost!) email [email protected] I would love to help you!

 

My Christmas Gift

Good morning friends. I am on the move again! Bobby and I will be heading out of town tomorrow to go on a Disney cruise with our buds Jen and Jeff.

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I am SO excited, because over the past 5 years, we have tried twice to go on a cruise together. Once, I had to cancel because I got a new job, and once she had to cancel. So I can’t believe it’s finally happening!

We will be leaving Sunday on the Disney Dream for a four night cruise, then just Bobby and I will be staying on for a three night after that. Our Anniversary is January 6th, so we decided this would be our Christmas AND anniversary gift to each other (well, we are allowed to get each other one small gift just to have something under the tree).

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That’s fine with me, we love cruising and got a great rate we couldn’t pass up on the 2nd half, and a discount from rebooking onboard for the first one. I can’t wait to see our friends again, go to our favorite place on earth, Castaway Cay, and do a little unwinding before Christmas.

Don’t worry, I have been working on some posts and also have some great guest posters lined up, so things here on THLG will be business as usual. Also, when we get back into port Thursday before going out again, I will be able to check email, share photos, and catch up with the online world before going back out again.

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I will be taking tomorrow off per usual, then blogging again Sunday before we board the ship. I will be live posting Saturday and Sunday from Disney and the Dream on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. In the meantime, don’t forget about my giveaways I have going on:

Panera Bread backstory challenge and $100 gift card giveaway

Runner’s Christmas gift guide with TWO giveaways

*Winner of my Natural Bliss giveaway is Lauren Graback. Please email [email protected] to claim your prize!

Disney Dream Part 5 and Final Thoughts

A new week is before us! What fun things do you have planned? Me? Not a lot so far, but I am working on it!

In case you have been MIA this weekend…

Disney Dream part 4

Ice Cream Party and TNT

Ok ok, so those of you loathing the Disney posts can now rejoice, this is my last recap day of the trip. We woke up on the morning of our last full day back in Castaway Cay (well, pulling in, close enough.) We ate breakfast at the buffet (I think) and made our way out to the island.

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my dad pretending to steal the golf cart. We didn’t want to wait for the tram!

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Hello Serenity Bay, so we meet again!

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lots of relaxing ensued

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we read books, Bobby swam out to the sandbar, we walked on the beach, and once again, Bobby and I met at Pelican Point for some beach volleyball. We had a great time playing two on two with two other guys who were pretty good. Before we knew it, it was getting deserted, and we realized we needed to be on the boat in the next 15 minutes. whoops! I am always sad on Castaway Cay afternoon. When everything is shutting down and you are walking the empty paths. Means vacation is almost over. BOO!

So we get back on the ship and my mom is freaking out because we weren’t back yet and she thought the ship was going to leave us. I told her to think about how ridiculous it sounds for Disney to leave a guest on their own private island. ha!

We took some shots of the island with my stalker- I mean mega zoom lens.

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we went to the show, then came back and had a friend waiting for us.

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We decided to get dressed and go out on the deck and take some pictures.

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the wind was blowing like crazy!

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We were back in Animator’s Palate for our last dinner.

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Dessert was so yummy, baked Alaska and the celebration cake.

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We went to bed after we put our luggage in the hall. We had to get up at 5:30 for breakfast. When we woke up we were back in port. So sad! We ate breakfast in Animator’s, said goodbye to our servers and our room host, and got in line to get off the ship. There were so many people trying to get off, it took forever! We made it out and to the car, and back home safe and sound, and exhausted! Just like that, the trip we planned a year ago….was over. SO DEPRESSING!

FINAL THOUGHTS.

Ok, so having been on the magic for a 7 nighter, the wonder for a 5 night double dip and now the Dream for a 5 night double dip, I have a few thoughts on the new ship, the Dream.

Pros:

The ship is gorgeous! The lobby is amazing, the technology SO COOL. I love how now the in room movie system is a lot better (on demand instead of looped) and everything smelled so clean! This was on first time in a verandah room and we loved it. The restaurants were beautiful enchanted garden was so nice, the food was good, and plentiful, it was very ascetically pleasing. We loved how they revamped Cabanas, the buffet. It was much roomier and easier to get food. Instead waiting in a line you pop in and out to get what you want. All the crew members were very kind and pleasant enough. We got to see Pirates of the Caribbean 4 in 3D, so that was fun. The aquaduck was also way cool. I like how they separated the fireworks from the pirate show so we could go up just to see the fireworks. I loved looking at all of the intricate details of the ship So many things to see!

Cons:

Too many people for this gal. If you have never been on another Disney ship you may not notice, but the pool deck and restaurants felt VERY cramped. The adult pool was TINY, and because of where it was positioned on the ship, families with kids were always walking though, which kind of defeats the purpose if you ask me. The tables in the restaurants were SO close together, the servers couldn’t even get by to get us our food. Our serving team was SO SWEET, we loved them, but our head girl, it was her first cruise ever to be head server. She forgot a lot of our food, dropped food, service was slow, drink glasses stayed empty, all things we have never experienced before on a Disney cruise. me thinks maybe she wasn’t quite ready for the promotion. We had to wait in a line to get off the ship, never have we had to do that before. Serenity Bay was of course a lot more crowded because of all the extra people, and I could feel it. It wasn’t quite as “serene” with so many people. The fitness room was right over my parents room and they heard weights being dropped and treadmills being run on all hours of the day. Granted, none of these things are deal breakers, and we still had a great time, so if you are booked on the Dream please don’t freak out! You will still have an amazing time! These are just a few HONEST observations I had on my 3rd Disney cruise. I wish they would make a smaller boat with all the new technological advances. I think for adults with no kids, they will start going back on the magic and wonder. The kids clubs are awesome, but apparently super awesome on the Dream so I don’t see any of this being a deal breaker to people with kids. I was definitely amazed at the technology and beauty of the Dream, but just got a little anxious with all the people, but I know that doesn’t even bother some people, so take it with a grain of salt, mmk?

Would I go on the Dream again? of COURSE!! Thanks for reading all about my vacation!

 

QOTD: Do big crowds bother you? Have you sailed with Disney?

 

Disney Dream part 4

 

FFFFRRRIIIDDDAAYY! I am excited for today. The girls in my Sunday school class are coming over tonight for an ice cream party! Then tomorrow I am running 5 miles with my TNT group along the beach. Excited to train with them!

I know I said this before, but for those of you crazy kids loathing the Disney posts, they are almost over, and I will be back to regular running and healthy living posts!

In case you missed the first three…

Disney Dream part 1

Disney Dream part 2

Disney Dream part 3

Ok so the day after Nassau was our sea day. We knew the pools would be ridiculously crowded, so we avoided them. We had Palo brunch at 10:00, so we sat on the couches by the adult pool eating bananas to hold us over until then. Bobby and I did brunch on the Magic and were excited for my parents to experience it, and we of course has never done Palo brunch on the Dream.

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It was so nice and fancy! We were seated by the window, and introduced to our server.

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We were brought to the food, and the server showed us around to the different tables, then told us about the items we could order off the menu.

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We made our first go around and dug in!

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we ate….and ate…..and ate!

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then we had dessert!

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In case you didn’t know, Dessert is always my favorite.

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the bathroom was really, really pretty. I know I am a dork.

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elevators/lobby going into Palo and Remy

After we ate ourselves into a food coma, we all went into our room and watched Little Fockers. It was ok, not near as funny as the first one. They never really are, sadly.

We wandered around the ship to walk our food off that afternoon.

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and then sat on our verandahs and read books. So peaceful!

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I really can’t remember what we did the rest of the day. I am betting I took a nap HA! I think we may have gone to the show that night in the theatre. it was semi formal night, so we got semi-dressed-up (haha) for dinner.

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I borrowed this dress and it was a bit too big on me. whoops.

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Dinner was in the Royal Palace. Look how cute the bread basket is!

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ffffooooooddddd

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we had a friend hanging out in the room after dinner.

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yesterday I did a 3 mile speed workout on the treadmill while Bobby was getting a massage. poor thing can’t even sit in a car straight up without being in excruciating pain. He has been knocked out on and off all day!

Today I am doing cross training and maybe some weights or abs before my TNT run tomorrow. Now I am off to clean for the party tonight!

QOTD: what is your favorite ice cream topping?

Disney Dream Part 3

 

Gggoooodddddd morning! The next day of our cruise was less eventful (Nassau day in which we stayed on the boat)  We woke up the next morning after Castaway Cay  pulling into Nassau. Having already been here, we decided to take advantage of a less crowded boat.

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We ate breakfast at the Royal Palace

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watched the ship dock

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and rode the aquaduck! Funny story, my mom HATES roller coasters, anything of the sort. She hates the small drop on Pirates of the Caribbean. She was SO nervous about the aquaduck since it shoots you up and down. Two people ride together, they went after Bobby and I, and she screamed the whole way down. It was so cool to be above the ship looking out at the water! We then went to relax by the adult pool. of course all the chairs were taken so we went to the upper deck for an hour or so, then decided to head to the buffet to get lunch. After that, we did our shopping for souvenirs, and walked around the art galley where we both decided to get a cute print framed.

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There are a bunch of hidden mickey’s in it that are fun to find, and the frame has Mickey’s all on it. We hung it by our staircase so I always see it coming down the stairs!

As the ship left we used my super duper zoom lens and got some good shots.

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That night was pirate night, aaarrrggghhh! We are goofy and like to dress up and have fun with it.

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I know I don’t match and I really don’t care. Just so you know. Smile

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dad bought a sword in WDW so he would have one for pirate night. No lie.

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Nice one Bobby…

we had time to kill before fireworks, so we went back to the room for awhile, and look what we found! a towel birthday cake for Bobby and a card from our room host. Just don’t eat the towel.

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Fireworks at sea!

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There was a buffet after, but I was too tired and full so I went back to the room to watch a movie and fall asleep. bobby, of course, went to the buffet and came back with a Turkey leg, fajitas, and some dessert…ha!

next up is Day at sea and Palo brunch!

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So last night I was supposed to go on a run with TNT. It rained on and off all day and night, so I don’t even know if they ended up running. Bobby has been complaining of his back hurting all week, and that it was getting worse. It was so bad yesterday the only comfortable position was laying down. It hurt so bad to drive he could barely talk on the phone and had to pull over to get out and stand up on his way to work. I forced him to call a Dr. today and he finally found one who could see him today. Apparently it’s just a bad muscle strain but he is in bas shape and can barely walk, so I decided to stay home with him. Poor guy. They gave him some muscle relaxers and pain pills so hopefully it will start to heal!

So due to this I went out and ran an easy 2 by myself. in the rain. and the humidity. It was gggrrrooosss! I also did level one of 6 weeks to 6 pack. my abs are already getting flabby again. I worked to hard for that to happen!

QOTD: Would you rather have awful back pain or awful knee pain?

Disney Dream part 2

 

Back to the Dream! Ok I left off the afternoon we got on the ship. That night we had dinner at Animator’s Palate.

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and the next morning we woke up pulling into Castaway Cay!

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I know, I look very very sleepy. I literally jumped out of bed, threw on my swimsuit and was ready to hit the beach!

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Serenity Bay. aaahhhhh

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adults only…bliss!

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a great day!

we lounged around that evening

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and had dinner at Enchanted Garden

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and for fun, of course, an “eat your salad” picture.

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Our next cruise day is Nassau!

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Last night, Bobby and I went to the gym and did chest, tri’s, and legs, and 20 minutes on the bike. It STORMED thunder and lightning while we were there, and the power even went out. On Twitter this morning I said I was going to do a rain dance…I guess it worked! We have needed rain! Tonight I meet up with my TNT group for a run, it will be my first time getting to run with them!

QOTD: What is your favorite food to eat at the beach?

The Disney Dream Part I

Hola! Happy Saturday friends! I hope you are staying cool wherever you are. it is hellaciously (is that a word?) hot down here….heat indexes of 108ish. So yucky! So, let’s think about something fun, like my Disney cruise! So, Memorial day weekend Sunday, we woke up ready to get on the Mickey boat! we ate breakfast, packed up, and headed out. But not before feeding my ducky friends a farewell snack.

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is it safe? should we trust her? She has macaroons!!! YES!

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yes I was totally feeding the ducks macaroons from Narcoossees. Don’t judge. They enjoyed it. My mom kept freaking out waiting for one to spontaneously combust or something. Oh, mother….

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we even tried to get them to come into the room…but apparently guests have tried this number before. We thought it would be a fun surprise for the maid. I’m kidding. sort of.

Anyway, so we drove the hour or so to the port, and got our first glimpse of the Dream! Now funny story time. When you get to the port and check in, you are given a card with your boarding number on it. numbers go from 1 to maybe late teens early twenties? I don’t even know. Anyway, 1-3 are coveted and hard to get. I think 1 may even be concierge only? Anyway, we have gotten 6-9 in the past, and we get there about 30 minutes after the dang port opens, some people are just nuts and get there before it even opens! Anyway, since this ship is SO BIG, Disney decided to try something new and make people sign up for arrival times in 30 minute blocks to help not have so many people arrive at once. BUT, they were totally NOT enforcing it, which drives me bananas. So, we got the second earliest boarding time and even got there a few minutes early. When we checked in, I told the lady that we had been given a 9 and how upset I was because I got up early on the morning we could pick arrival times so I could get the earliest time, hoping to be able to get an early boarding pass. I was really nice to her, and told her we even wore our matching name shirts hoping to get lucky and be given a good number. She then says “don’t worry I will take care of it” and opens a drawer and PULLS OUT A NUMBER ONE PASS! I tried to say calm but I was FREAKING OUT on the inside!!! I thanked her profusely, I was SO EXCITED to be among the first people out of 4,000 on the boat!
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holding up my boarding pass which I held onto the whole morning with a death grip.

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It was so comical, people started gathering around the ropes in herds, like it mattered where you stood. You can’t get on until your group is called, and NO ONE from that huge herd of people had a number one pass! When they called our number we had to wade through a sea of people to get to the ropes. We were the SEVENTH family to get onboard. eeekkk!

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oh, dad. So silly.

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we immediately went to find food at the buffet.

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then my mom and I snagged us Palo brunch reservations, and then we were off exploring!

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interesting.

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I looked at my watch and realized it was time to go find our rooms! we were on deck ten, in verandah rooms.

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funnily enough, our rooms were also connecting rooms, which I didn’t know but was nice.

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we explored some more…this ship is gorgeous.

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ok that’s all for now because…well…I’m sleepy. Smile Legit excuse, huh? More next time! Oh and for those of you loathing the Disney posts…we will get back to regular fitness topics soon, I promise, hang in there! (but seriously, how can you loathe Disney? Does not compute.) Oh, and 3 months from today I am going back. heh.

QOTD: Have you ever been on a cruise? Which line? did you like it?