Celebrate National Reading Month + Sweepstakes

This post was sponsored by Amazon as part of an Ambassador Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

Did you know that March is National Reading Month? I didn’t until the other day! Emma Kate can’t read quite yet, but we are still participating by using our Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet and the plethora of Audible books she can listen to! (Read on to enter to win one (1) of 10 Fire HD 8 Kids Edition tablets!)

The Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet can help aid your children in cultivating their love for reading with so many fun titles to explore! You can also access educational games that will help teach your kids how to read.

Here are some of Emma Kate’s favorite books available in Amazon FreeTime Unlimited:

  • A Day with Caillou – FreeTime Unlimited Edition
  • Daniel Tiger’s Stop & Go Potty – Freetime Unlimited Version
  • Disney Buddies: ABCs
  • Elmo Loves 123s – FreeTime Unlimited Edition
  • PINKFONG Dino World – FreeTime Unlimited Edition
  • Teach Your Monster to Read – FreeTime Unlimited Edition
  • Toca Lab – FreeTime Unlimited Edition
  • Wonster Words ABC Phonics – FreeTime Unlimited Edition

The Fire Kids Edition Tablets are the #1 kids’ tablets in the U.S. and come with a kid-proof case and a 2-year guarantee. You can get a replacement no questions asked. Each one comes with a one year subscription to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, which gives you and your child access to over 30,000 books, videos, audible books, apps, and games. There are also Spanish language books, plus thousands of kid-friendly websites and web videos.

You can have peace of mind using the Parental Control settings in FreeTime Unlimited, where parents can set time limits, change age filters, enable/disable web browser access, and you can even choose whether to allow in-app purchasing. Parents can also use Parent Dashboard to review the digital content their kids are using in FreeTime, determine how to manage time limits and educational goals, and remotely adjust their child’s FreeTime settings. I love helping Emma Kate set educational goals on her tablet. You can also see how much time your child is spending reading each day and see what books they are reading and listening to!

Discussion Cards offer parents a “family book club” approach with summaries and sample questions based on the books, videos, Audible books, educational apps and websites that are viewed within Amazon FreeTime. This could be a fun time to have a “game” where your child answers questions about the books they are reading.

You can also set up “Learn First” settings to encourage learning before play. These can be set up in the FreeTime settings on your child’s tablet, or remotely via Parent Dashboard. This way your kids can still have fun playing games, but after they have done their educational time with books or audible stories.

Also, please note parents don’t have to have a Fire Kids Edition tablet in order to access Amazon FreeTime Unlimited. The FreeTime Unlimited app is also available for download on iOS and Android! Also, once parents sign-up for Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, that very same subscription can be used on any compatible device including Fire tablets, Fire Kids Edition tablets, compatible Android and iOS phones and tablets, and compatible Echo devices, including Echo Dot for Kids. There are so many options!

Now, I would like to challenge you to participate in National Reading Month by completing a social activation below, and those readers who pledge their participation will be entered in to win one (1) of 10 Fire HD 8 Kids Edition tablets! There will be ten winners in total! Just check out the link below.

I-C will randomly select winners from all program entries and Amazon will facilitate fulfillment of the winning prizes of 10 Winners.

Amazon Fire Kids Edition Sweepstakes

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Get to reading!

Disney Wonder Kid’s Clubs

Disney cruises truly do have something for everyone, and my daughter Emma Kat loved the kid’s clubs! This post is an in-depth look at the Disney Wonder Kid’s clubs and what we liked (and would change) about them.

The Oceaneer Lab and Oceaneer Club are connected with a “secret passageway” and kids can go back and forth between the two unless there is an “open house” on one side. Then any kids checked in without adults present for open house are secured on one side. Emma Kate seemed to enjoy two area the most: The Frozen themed area and the Toy Story themed “Andy’s room” area. She legit went down the slinky dog slide about 1,000 times.

Disney wonder kid's clubs

Yes, they have tablets for the kids to play on, which I get, but I was like… ok kid, you can do that anytime, go play with the cool toys you don’t normally have!

As I mentioned, Andy’s room was a huge hit, Bobby and I even got roped into going down the slide!

Throughout the day, there will be scheduled programing like making slime, cooking, becoming a deputy with Woody and Jessie, or hanging out with Anna and Elsa. When your kids are in the club during one of these scheduled activities they do NOT have to participate. The only thing I hate is that parents can’t be in there unless it’s open house, so we didn’t get to see Emma Kate meet Anna and Elsa or get any photos. We did get to see Timon during open house though!

The bathrooms are super cute and kid sized, a pro tip is to show your kids where they are during open house so they aren’t running around at the last minute when they need to go trying to find it.

Check in procedures:

When your child wants to be dropped off at the kids club, they will scan their magic band and go in to either the club or the lab, at any time during operating hours. If there is anything you would like to tell the cast member checking them in, you can do so at that time.

Your child will then be asked to wash their hands at a hand washing station at check in before they go play.

You must keep your wave phone with you at all times, as this is how the clubs will communicate with you if there is an issue or if your child would like to be picked up. (It also works on the DCL app but I found there was a delay in it).

Pick up procedures

When you go to pick your child up, you go to the club or lab and show your key card. You must also say a special password that you have set up ahead of time, and I always had my ID with me as well.

They will then tell you which section your child is in, will give you a hand wipe and let you in to go get your child. You acnnot bring food or drinks in but they allow you to leave them at the counter until you come back.

Once you get your child they have to scan their magic band to get out and the doors will open so you can leave with them. We felt very safe leaving EK there since you have to have your card, ID and know the password. Plus the magic band acts as a tracker so their whereabouts are known at all times.

Meals were also provided at the clubs, however we only did this a couple of times because I know my child, and if given the choice to eat or play, she’s going to eat, and the cast members won’t force them to eat. (I DO force her, so it worked out better for her to eat with us most days.)

However at dinner (we are main seating) I would bring her up once she finished her meal because she was bored and then we could enjoy the rest of our meal without her whining. At the late seating, they have a cast member come to the dining room and will pick up any children that want to go to the club so you don’t have to leave the table.

What would I change

There are a couple of things I would change about the clubs, first being a note in their file after meals letting the parents know if they ate or not and how much. It’s hard to ask a barely 4 year old what they ate and how much.

The next thing is probably the biggest one, and that is any time the kid says “I want my mom” they will call you to come pick them up. For our family, this wasn’t good because Emma Kate goes to school all day and doesn’t have the OPTION of me being at her beck and call. Once she realized all she had to do was say the word and we would come running, she did it all. the. time. To tell us the slide was closed. To tell us she fell down. To tell us she wanted to see Mickey. I mean, ridiculous things. I feel like the cast members should be able to gauge a little better whether or not it was time to call.

After this happening a few times, we asked them to make a note in her file to only call us if she was bleeding or sick. We wanted to be clear that she was fine and was just playing games with us. We also had a talk with Emma Kate and told her she wouldn’t get to come back if she kept doing this. She finally took the hint and we got very few calls/texts the rest of the trip.

One thing they will do is if you tell them you are going to be at PALO, they will make a note so that they won’t call unless necessary. So we were like…why can’t we do this all the time not just when we are at PALO? Heh. So if you are like us and don’t want your kid to be able to call you every 5 seconds, you will have to let the CM know and ask them to make a note in the file.

Other than those minor things, we absolutely loved the club. It was great for everyone because she got to do fun things, make friends, see characters, and get energy out and Bobby and I were able to have some time alone on our vacation. How often did she go? Probably for a couple of hours during the day then an hour or so at night. Maybe a little more on days the weather was bad. If we had experienced sunnier/better weather, we would have been at the pool more and at the club less, but when it’s cold and windy there isn’t as much to do on the ship for a super high energy kid like mine after you have seen all the characters, done the dance parties, eaten ice cream, etc.

Overall we had an amazing experience and were so thankful she loved them and begged us to go back every day. If you have any questions about the clubs or need trip planning help, I would love to help you! Heather@travelwiththemagic.com

*These clubs are for kids ages 3 and up that are potty trained. They are included in the price of your cruise, and you child is given a magic band upon check in that they wear the whole cruise. You can return it at the end or keep it for a fee.

5 Tips for Running on the Beach

It’s almost spring break! While I will not be frolicking in the sand this month, a good bit of you will be so I thought this would be timely. When I travel,  I get excited to have a new scenic place to run. Let’s face it, friends, Jackson Mississippi isn’t exactly a “pretty” place to run. No mountains, no beach, not many trails. This is why when I go on vacation or work travel, I try to take every opportunity to go for a run in my new surroundings.

tips running beach

Below I have complied a few tips to help you make the most out of your ocean side run.

1.) Run on an even surface: There are a lot of slanted places at the beach, it hurts my ankles just walking on the slanted parts after awhile so I can’t imagine running like that! Sometimes, depending on the tide, this means I can run in packed sand right down by the water, and sometimes it means going up a bit further to find that flat land.

asics shoes

2.) Wear Shoes: I know a lot of people will disagree with me on this one, and that’s ok. Personally though, getting a shell in my foot or stepping on a jellyfish barefoot do not sound like a good time. I especially recommend wearing shoes if you have arch or foot problems, running shoes for plantar fasciitis are still needed even when running on sand. I require a more stable shoe due to weak ankles and high arches so I most definitely need shoes on the beach!

3.) Keep your run short: It may be tempting to run forever in such a scenic place, but if you aren’t used to beach running, you will realize that you get sore and tired MUCH more quickly than usual. It’s a great calorie torching workout, but don’t overdo it.

DSC_0176 (2)

4.) Protect yourself from the sun: In Destin, the sugar white sandy beaches are beautiful, but boy does the sun reflect off of it! I am always careful to wear sunglasses, and depending on the time of day a hat as well. I also wear plenty of sunscreen when I run on the beach, even if it’s early in the morning. No one wants to be red for the rest of their trip!

5.) Body Glide your feet: One thing I quickly noticed while taking my running shoes out to say hello to the ocean was that sand. gets. everywhere. It’s inevitable, so to protect your feet from getting blisters, try wearing dri-fit socks and putting body glide on your feet to help with rubbing.

running at the beach

Happy running and enjoy the view!

QOTD: Anything I left off? Do you ever run on the beach?

FASTer Way to Fat Loss® Before and After

During the second half of last year, I did not take good care of my body. We were in dealing with some personal stuff that caused me to be depressed and in turn, I had no desire to eat right or work out. Couple that with the holidays, traveling, being sick, and moving into a rental house, and I gained weight and lost muscle and fitness. After Christmas, I realized what I had done and I was pretty upset with myself.

I knew I needed a change, and it had to be something that dealt with the way I was eating, and it had to be something I could sustain long term, or I knew I would just go right back to my old ways. I was nervous but also pretty desperate, so when my friend Jen told me about FASTer Way to Fat Loss®, I thought this could be my answer. She had great results and promised it wasn’t that hard and that I could do it. I trust her, so I jumped into prep week at the beginning of January and the rest is history!

In 6 weeks, I lost over 7 pounds and over 5 inches! Here is WHAT I DID:

  • Intermittent fasting
  • Carb Cycling
  • Marco counting
  • Workouts 4-5 days a week (optional!)
  • Enjoyed a cheat meal every week
  • Ate over 2000 calories most days
  • Was full every day
  • Experienced more energy, better sleep and clearer skin
  • Gained CONFIDENCE in myself and my ability to take control of my eating
  • Learned more about what is actually IN the foods I am eating, learned about macronutrients and how they fuel my body in the proper way

Here is what I DID NOT DO:

  • Calorie count
  • Kill myself in the gym every day or for hours at a time
  • Long cardio sessions of steady state running etc (you can if you love it but not required!)
  • Starve
  • Feel deprived
  • Feel gross or bloated after eating
  • Weight myself often- the scale lies!
  • Didn’t hate it! Learned to love this new lifestyle!

The FASTer Way to Fat Loss ® has honestly done more for me than I imagined it could do in 6 short weeks (which flew by!) I was SO nervous about things like low carb day (now I love them!) and intermittent fasting. I learned I can do so much more than I thought I could, and I love being in control of the choices I make, the food I put into my mouth, and how I choose to spend my time. A positive mindset is so important, and I would love to help you get there!

The program consists of 7 weeks. The first week is a prep week where I teach you everything you know to be successful in the program. We have a closed Facebook group where I chat with you daily, help you set goals, and hold you accountable. There are videos and plenty of time to ask questions. You will also have access to a portal full of info, workouts, and videos. No you do NOT have to have a gym membership! There are 3 sets of workouts for each time: beginner, home, and gym. If you are doing a home workout all you need are a couple of sets of dumbells and nothing else!

There are no pills, shakes, or pre-packaged meals. We eat whole foods that are great for fueling your body, with treats thrown in of course! You will never be left to figure this out on your own during the program, and if you follow my instructions, it is IMPOSSIBLE to gain fat on the program. I started seeing results after two weeks! It really happens that fast yall. Here are some of my before and after pictures:

Before and After (6 weeks):

FASTer Way to Fat Loss

6 weeks yall. 6 weeks of fueling my body properly, working out on average 4 times a week for 30-40 minutes each time (optional! You will still get results without them!) and this is even with me being VERY sick for a week where I did not hit my macros most days that week and didn’t workout at all for a week.

As we get into spring and summer, tank tops and swimsuits now is the PERFECT time to make this decision for your health. There will always be “something” standing in your way. A vacation, an illness, a kids birthday party or busy time at work. You deserve more, so don’t put this off! My round starts May 27th with prep week, and we “officially” start the following Monday. If you have any questions PLEASE email me at FWTFLwithHeather@gmail.com, shoot me a DM on Instagram, etc.

ALSO, if you can get a friend, coworker, etc to sign up with you, I will have you use an affiliate link for the friend and I will give you $50 back for every friend you refer to my group! So it’s great to have a real life accountability partner and earn some money. This really works guys, I am a believer, and the proof is in my photos. I would love to help you. You can do this. Click this link for more info my friends. It’s time to make a change you will be happy you made 7 weeks from now!

Weekend in New Orleans February 2019

Last weekend we had the opportunity to drive to New Orleans to spend some time with our amazing friends who moved there last summer. I grew up in a suburb of NOLA, but haven’t been back since we moved away from Mississippi at the end of 2016. It was so great to be back and to see our friends, and we had amazing weather for February. It was very laid back which was exactly what we needed. Here is a quick recap and some photos from our trip:

Friday night we arrived about 8:00 to our friends house. We were tired but still managed to stay up past 11:00 catching up and loving on their sweet pups. Saturday morning, we slept in and made our way to the French Quarter around lunch time.

It was a pretty busy day downtown, but we eventually found a brunch spot with no wait. I had never eaten at The Governor before, but it was delicious!

After brunch/lunch, we just walked around. We made our way by the cathedral, then down to the french market.

I was also able to snag my beloved PJ’s King Cafe coffee!

Then we drove over to Magazine street to do a little shopping at the adorable stores. We also grabbed a drink outside at Dat Dog.

I also found Haydel’s Bakery who made our wedding cake! We bought dessert for later.

We had dinner at The Rum House which was delicious.

We were pretty wiped out from all the food and drinks and walking, so we then headed back to their house to hang out. Yes, that would be a 75 pound lap dog!

We stayed up late again and slept in before heading back home. It was a quick visit but was so wonderful to see Kelley and Jordan and have a nice relaxing kid free weekend. I love that we weren’t rushing around doing all kinds of crazy things. I’m getting way too old for that my friends. This was just what we needed and we are so thankful for them!

5 Tips for Working out on Vacation

Ah, vacation. A great time to connect with family and friends, eat amazing food, and go somewhere new. Luckily, you can do all of these things and also not forget about your health and your workouts. Here are 5 tips for working out on vacation that have worked for me over the years. I leave for a trip in less than two months, so I’m gearing up for my workouts while I’m away!tips for working out on vacation

1.) Don’t Stress out about it. You are on vacation! If you don’t work out as hard or as much, it’s ok! Just do what you can, when you can.

2.) Take advantage of your new surroundings. One of the reasons I love working out on vacation is that it’s somewhere new to run, with new scenery and places to visit. It makes the workout go by faster!

                                          

3.) Mix it up: If you have access to a pool, swim or tread water while your family catches some rays. Or, you could go for a walk and explore a new city, your resort, or the beach. Surf or snorkel in a tropical paradise. Play golf on a new to you course, or make new friends and play beach volleyball.

asics shoes


4.) Check out the hotel gym. Sometimes you will be pleasantly surprised at the nice equipment or a great view out the windows. It makes a difference!

5.) Workout early: Get your workout done before your day starts so then you have extra energy and don’t have the thought of exercise weighing on you all day. Then you can just focus on your family, friends, and creating memories.

QOTD: What is your favorite vacation workout?

Disney Wonder Cruise 2018: Part 7

Missed part 6? Check it out here.

One last day of our cruise, and honestly guys, the day time part, I really can’t remember! This is why I used to take notes when I did lots of trip reports! It was a sea day, and the water was a bit rough. I know we went to the pool because occasionally the lifeguard would make all the kids stand up since the water in the pool was whitecapping and it made it hard to see the kids. (Photo below of them all standing up).

It was chilly, way too cold for me to swim, but of course the kids didn’t mind. I really don’t remember what else we did that day. I am sure Emma Kate went to the kids club at some point, and I probably read a book or took a nap, I’m very good at those things.

That night we took photos one last time before heading in to dinner.

We said our farewells to our dining team at dinner, and I just wasn’t very hungry. I was served a big piece of chicken and I barely ate, it just didn’t seem appetizing to me.

We brought EK to the club one more time, and I told Bobby I didn’t feel great and just wanted to stay in the room. My stomach felt upset and full, but I wasn’t nauseated. It was a strange feeling, I knew something wasn’t right. EK had been given a gift that was left on our bed, and she was so excited to open her new DUmbo stuffed animal when we picked her up from the club.

At this point I was feeling worse and worse, but I was able to fall asleep. Then I woke up an hour later feeling very sick to my stomach, and let’s just say I felt SO much better after being able to throw up in the sink. (don’t judge, it is what it is.) I laid back down and took an anti nausea pill that thankfully our doctor had given to us before we left. I barely slept all night, and was wondering how I was going to get off the ship in the morning. I felt like death when we woke up, but thankfully we had put our luggage out the night before so we didn’t have a lot to pack up. Bobby took Emma Kate to breakfast while I tried to get dressed and composed. I dry heaved a couple times but never threw up again, but I felt miserable and nauseated and weak. I still to this day don’t know how I managed to get out of bed, get dressed, and help carry bags to the lobby and wait in line to get off the ship, through customs, and to the car. I slept most of the way home in the car, and only ate crackers and rice for four or five days. Then I was finally able to start eating more food but it took way longer than I anticipated. Come to find out several people in our cruise FB group had norovirus, so I’m guessing I picked it up on the ship. I’m so careful with hand washing, so thinking maybe it happened when someone prepared my food? We aren’t really sure, and obviously it could happen to anyone on any cruise line. I’m just so thankful it happened the last day because like I said, I was laid up and not eating for four or five days after. So obviously I have no photos from the last morning or getting off the ship.

We love cruising and DCL, but I think I am done cruising in winter. There is a higher chance for rough waters, gloomy and cold weather, and norovirus in the winter months. We have now missed Castaway Cay twice and both times in winter, so now I feel like I need a “redo” cruise in the spring or summer, especially since Emma Kate missed my favorite part, Castaway Cay. We will be back, and we learned a lot about cruising with a kid. It was so fun to see things through her eyes, and she is already asking to go back. I’m so glad we got to go on a family vacation just the three of us last year!

I would love to answer your Disney cruise questions! heather@travelwiththemagic.com

Disney Wonder Cruise 2018: Part 6

Did you miss part 5? check it out then come back here!

We were headed back to port, but still had two sea days ahead of us. We found out Santa was going to be taking photos in the lobby that morning, so of course that was our first stop.



She signed the nice list (I wasn’t so sure about that ha) and got to meet the big guy.

They even had a cute table set up with cookies.

After that, Emma Kate went to the kids club because Bobby and I had a reservation for one of our favorite things, PALO brunch!

We had a table with a great view and we ate all. of. the. food. It was amazing as usual, something I would never miss on a Disney cruise!

After brunch, we picked up Emma Kate from the club, got in our swimsuits and went to the pool. It was a bit chilly but EK didn’t seem to mind.

Before we knew it, it was time for pictures and dinner again!

We ran into Mickey in the hallway and he grabbed Emma Kate’s hand and walked around with her, and she was SO excited. I love how the character interations are random and plentiful on the ship!

We were in Tiana’s again, and it still remains my favorite restaurant of the three!

After a delicious dinner, EK went back to the club and Bobby and I played foosball and ping pong on the pool deck. We were the only ones up there and it was a lot of fun. We had one more day coming up, and that one would end on a low note, so stay tuned to see what happend.

Disney Wonder Cruise 2018: Part 5

Check out part 4 if you missed that one then come back here!

The next day we woke up in Nassau. We had no plans to get off the ship, and wanted to take advantage of having less people on board to hang out and relax.

Unfortunately it was gloomy and chilly, so we didn’t make it to the pool. I was starting to think the bad weather was just following us around everywhere we went at this point.

However, we were parked next to the Disney Dream which was kind of cool. We did lots of waving at other people on the Dream and I secretly told EK we would take her on that ship next.

We decided to take Emma Kate to her first ever “big girl movie” in the movie theater that day. The new Wreck it Ralph movie was out, and she was so excited to eat her popcorn and watch the movie. I love that the price of the movies is included in the cruise price! See as many as you want!

She loved it, and did really well! I was afraid she would talk and ask questions nonstop (like sh does at home, omg) but she sat so still and did awesome.

We had lunch then brought her to the kids club. Once again I don’t remember exactly what we did, but Bobby probably went to the gym and I probably read a book. We are SUCH exciting cruisers.

We got dressed for dinner which was in Animator’s Palate again. It was the night of the drawings and the show which is always fun!

I mean, how cute is this kid?

After dinner, we had a delicious surprise from the pastry chef in our room! Emma Kate went crazy over them!

We then took Emma Kate to the kids club and explored the ship again.

It’s so nice and quiet during second dinner when the early diners are at the show. We felt like we had the ship to ourselves! Then it was Elf, one more time (starting to dislike the movie at this point!) and then bed. We still had two sea days of fun and adventure left!

Disney Wonder Cruise 2018: Part 4

In case you missed part 3, jump back and read that first!

We left off last time at the end of our Key West Day. The next day was to be Castaway Cay, and let me tell you I was PUMPED.

Castaway Cay is my favorite place on earth, and I couldn’t wait to share it with Emma Kate. I had been talking it up big time. We woke up and I thought it odd that we weren’t pulling into the island. They said something over the speakers about a late arrival, and I couldn’t really hear the rest. Come to find out, we had somehow lost a generator in the night. Never fear, we were still getting to the island just a little later. However, I had a huge pit in my stomach and a bad feeling. The water was a little choppy (I’ve seen much worse) and it was gloomy and windy. The captain tried twice to get us docked, to no avail. It was one of the saddest things to be standing on the edge of the ship, with all the workers standing on the island waiting to greet us, and we inched closer and closer and closer, only to get aallmmosssttt there and then have the captain pull away. I will admit, I cried.

See, I have kind of a sour history as of late with Castaway Cay. In 2016, my husband and I sailed for the first time since 2013. We were SO excited to be going back to the island….only to have bad weather that made us not able to dock. I was so so so upset. Them last January I went on a girls trip, and while we were able to dock, it was FREEZING and super windy. The sand was pelting people in the face and they closed down Serenity bay it was such terrible weather conditions. So this year was going to be my redemption year. Having not been to the island since 2013, I was sssooo ready to be in my happy place…and then to have it happen again was just crushing. Maybe one day we will get to take Emma Kate to Castaway. (silently cries in the corner.) ANYWAY, moving on. The staff did their best to keep us happy and upbeat, adding in character meet and greets and activities. Emma Kate had fun, and I guess she just didn’t realize what she was missing which was probably a good thing at this point.

I honestly don’t remember what we did the rest of the day. I’m guessing we ate lunch at the buffet, and put EK in the kids club. Bobby probably went to the gym, and I probably took a nap (heh.) We did go to a Disney Jr. dance party but EK wasn’t really into it so we walked around the ship instead.

That night was also pirate night…and PALO night for Bobby and me. We took some cute pre dinner photos before dropping Emma Kate off and heading up to the adults only restaurant.

PALO was lovely as usual, a highlight of the trip. It’s just a great time to slow down, relax, and eat a nice meal in peace. Our waiter was amazing and we ate #AllTheFood

We went to bed quite full, watching Elf yet again, ready for a day in Nassau that was coming up next.

Email heather@travelwiththemagic.com for questions about Disney Cruise Line!