2017 Disney Vacation Recap

This year for our anniversary, Dave and I did a 7 night Disney cruise out of New York City with stops at Castaway Cay and Disney World in Orlando. This is pretty much just for my memories, but you might find some useful information for your next Disney vacation 🙂

Day 1 (Flying to NYC)

The first day of our trip was a travel day, which is typically pretty stressful for me. I am a very anxious traveler, and spend most of the time worrying about what “might” go wrong. Thankfully Dave is an awesome travel hacker (shameless plug: if you want to learn how to travel in style for free, he is the guy to talk to) and he made it one of the most enjoyable travel experiences of my life. He upgraded our seats on the plane and scored us all sorts of free drinks and snacks, and he brought along an iPad loaded with all my favorite shows, and noise cancelling headphones. We had a long layover in Houston, but thanks again to his travel hacking we were able to kill time in the Centurion Lounge. We took advantage of the free buffet and bar, and were able to kick back in the loungers and relax until our flight into NYC. We got into NYC at night so we opted out of sight seeing and just took the scenic route to the hotel so we wouldn’t be tired the next day. We get free nights at the Ritz Carleton every year (for real guys, talk to Dave, he can hook you up) so we used one of our stays at the Ritz in Battery Park. When we checked in we were pleasantly surprised to be upgraded to an executive corner suit with views of the Statue of Liberty. We stayed up WAY too late running around the suite, and passed out some time after midnight.

nycflyday

Day 2 (NYC)

The next morning we got around leisurely, and spent some more time freaking out over how awesome the suite was. We spent a little while wandering around the Battery Park area, then grabbed an Uber to the port. Thankfully traffic was minimal so we got the port in plenty of time. Out of all the ports and terminals we have cruised out of, I have to say the Manhattan Cruise Terminal was my least favorite. It was a little bit smelly, the non-Disney employees were grouchy and disorganized, and the terminal itself was laid at poorly and not well equipped for the number of people in there. Thankfully as platinum Castaway Club members we were able to skip the check-in lines and use the concierge kiosk, and then we were in the first boarding group so we were able to walk on as soon as we were checked in. As soon as I stepped foot on the ship, all my worries melted away and I felt like I was finally home. We had lunch with my mom and sister, then went to our room to unpack. We got one of the “sideways” staterooms which was extremely spacious, and there was about twice as much storage as in a typical stateroom. After we got unpacked we went exploring, and then grabbed the prime spot at the bow of the ship for the sail away celebration. Sailing away from the city was pretty majestic, it was amazing being surrounded by skyline and then seeing the Statue of Liberty slowly come into view. After we passed Ellis Island we ran back inside from the cold (coming from the Deep South those 60 degree NYC temps were too much for us to handle!) and finished out the evening with dinner in Animator’s Palate and an amazing A Capella show.

sailawayday

Day 3 (At Sea)

For our first day at sea we took the morning to catch up on sleep, and then we headed down to the grand atrium for a meet and greet with the princesses. We got to meet Tiana, Belle, Cinderella, and Rapunzel. Engaging with the character performers is always so much fun, I love that they allow adults to still embrace their inner child and play along. After that we grabbed lunch up on deck, and then headed to the Mixology class. At that class we learned how to make six different complex cocktails, and hear some neat history. My favorite part of the class is the couple we sat with, Melissa and George. Like I said in a previous post, Disney people are cliquey people in the best possible way, and we ended up becoming fast friends. George and Melissa are from Nova Scotia, and are two of the kindest, sweetest people I have ever met. We ended up hanging out every day for the rest of the cruise. After the class Dave and I went back to our stateroom and ordered the “All Hands on Deck” cheese platter from room service and devoured that before heading to adult only trivia. After trivia we went to the store to buy my anniversary Dooney and Burke (a beautiful brown leather sketch model) and then we had dinner in Carioca’s then hung out with my family until bed.

firstdayatsea

Day 4 (At Sea)

On our second day at sea we had brunch up on the deck, then headed to the Champagne class. The class was very informative, and we tried five different kinds of champagne (well, Dave tried five different kinds twice, I am not much of a drinker). It was our least favorite class simply because it was more informative than fun, but it was still enjoyable. Then we went to hear the Disney Vacation Club presentation, and we ended up meeting with a representative to find out more and heading back to our room with a lot to think about (more on that later). After that we headed to the adult only pool to meet up with George and Melissa and spent a couple hours sun bathing and swimming and enjoying the hottubs. Then we headed back to the room to get ready for our big anniversary dinner in Palo, the ships adult only Italian restaurant. Like always, Palo was incredible. The service, ambiance, and cuisine were flawless. Dave decided to do the 7 course wine pairing, and I stuck to the traditional menu. I had way too much of the antipasti, then I had the Caprese, Pappardelle con Aragosta, and the Butternut Agnolotti. I can honestly say the Butternut Agnolotti was by far the best thing I have ever eaten in my life. I sampled Dave’s food items as they came out as well, and we were both blown away. I ended with the famous chocolate soufflé, and we left the restaurant just in time to enjoy the fireworks. We headed to the adult only club to see the comedic juggler, and he ended up bringing me onto the stage as his “apprentice” for the duration of the show, and I laughed so hard the whole time my stomach hurt. After that we ended up competing in the costume contest, and we won for the third year straight.

palodinner

Day 5 (Castaway Cay)

For our Castaway Cay day, Dave got up before me so that he could go run the Castaway 5 Cay (spelled that way on purpose!) so I slept in a little then headed to the adult only beach with my mom and sister. We were all able to get hammocks next to each other with no issues, and we sunbathed and played in the ocean until Dave, Melissa, and George finished the 5k. Then we all grabbed an early lunch together and had our fill of the fresh island grown produce and delicious BBQ. After that Dave and I spent the rest of the day biking around and snorkeling in the reef. We were among the last people to leave the island, and we stayed up on deck as we sailed away. We had dinner in Lumiere’s that night, then hung out with my family for a while in the portholes then went to bed early so we wouldn’t be tired for our day in the parks.

castawayday

Day 6 (WDW)

Our day at the parks was jam packed with magic. I was very excited for this day because while Dave had done the parks before, he had never done them “correctly.” He had always gone during peak seasons (holidays and summer break etc.) and stayed at low tier resorts, and didn’t know how to score extra fast passes. So I was ecstatic to show him how amazing the parks can be when you are connected. We disembarked with the earliest possible group and started our day off at Magic Kingdom. My lil/big bro Andrew is a cast member so he met up with us at MK and hooked us up with a ridiculous amount of fast passes for all the parks. Thanks to the fast passes we didn’t have to wait for more than ten minutes for any ride, so we rode every ride we wanted to in under two hours. We went on Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, Buzz Lightyear Ranger Spin, the People Mover, and we went on the Mine Train several times. The Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was closed for maintenance and we skipped Splash Mountain because we didn’t want to walk around wet, and neither of us like Space Mountain so we skipped that as well. Then Andrew took us on a mini tour of the park and told us some cool facts and trivia. After we had our fill of the Kingdom we hopped the monorail and headed to the Polynesian Village Resort. Since Dave was considering buying us into the Disney Vacation Club at the Polynesian, he wanted to actually see what he would be buying. We grabbed Dole Whips and strolled through the Poly grounds, and Dave was really impressed by the resort. After that we headed into Epcot where we parted ways with Andrew and connected with George and Melissa. We were at Epcot during the Food and Wine Festival, so we all made our way around the World Showcase and between the four of us we tried food from over 20 kiosks. George and Melissa then headed out to MK, and Dave and I rode Test Track a couple of times and then went on Soarin’ and Spaceship Earth. Then we headed over to Hollywood Studios to meet back up with Andrew and my mom and sister. Once we got to Hollywood we went on Toy Story Midway Mania, then did Tower of Terror and the Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster so many times I lost count. Dave and I then said our goodbyes to Andrew and headed back to MK for fireworks, but Main Street was so packed we decided to grab a shuttle back to the ship and not try to fight the crowds. We got back to Port Canaveral a little before 11PM so we were able to spend some time in the Disney terminal looking at the ship models, then we grabbed a late dinner and headed to bed. Trying to pack three parks and a resort into 12 hours is not for the faint of heart, but thanks to the perfect weather and Andrew hooking us up and giving us so many tips we were able to do and see so much, and still have time to sit back and enjoy where we were. Most people don’t even have that experience just doing one park in a day, so I am so grateful Andrew sprinkled us with so much pixie dust.

parkday

Day 7 (At Sea)

For our third day at sea we slept in a bit before heading to brunch up in Palo. Like always it was absolutely phenomenal, and we had our fill of King Crab legs, caviar, homemade pasta, and award winning Eggs Benedict. We chatted a lot about Disney Vacation Club over brunch, and since he had such a great experience at the parks Dave decided it would be worth it for us to become members. After brunch we headed to the DVC office and signed on the dotted line and paid up. Thankfully we were able to pay in full and didn’t have to finance, so we headed off to the hottubs to celebrate. We were at the pool for several hours and met some of the guest performers we had seen in the shows. Then we headed to dinner and prepared for Marvel Night at Sea. Without giving away too many spoilers: the night time show was amazing. Dave couldn’t care less about Marvel, and even he said the show was outstanding. The acting was spot on, and the special effects and fireworks were out of this world. Afterwards we went with my sister to a “Guardians of the Galaxy Dance Party” in the adult only club and danced with Starlord and Groot, then watched the late night show and headed to bed.

marvelday

Day 8 (At Sea)

For our last day at sea we started off with breakfast on deck, then went to the Disney Innovations seminar, then back to DVC to finalize our paperwork. After that we headed to the Chocolate and Liqueur tasting. This is my favorite class, mainly because Dave only takes little nibbles of the chocolate and gives the rest to me, and I give the liqueur to him. So far me it is just an amazing chocolate class. Did you know if you add a dash of olive oil to melted chocolate it makes it a million times better? I didn’t know, but now I do it all the time. After that we headed back on deck to enjoy our last day of oceanic views with my family. Then we went back to our room to pack up, and that is when I started crying. I will just say this: if you don’t get emotional disembarking a cruise, you weren’t on the right one. This is the cruise line I grew up on, the cruise line I got married on, the cruise line we celebrate our anniversaries on, the cruise line where the majority of my happy childhood memories were made. So yeah, I cried hard when we packed up. After that we headed to see Disney Dreams the Musical with my family, and I cried some more. And my mom cried. And my sister cried. And Dave just looked bewildered as to why all the women were crying. After that we went to dinner then headed to the adult club for the farewell show and to dance the night away with my family.

lastday

Day 9 (NYC)

On disembarkation day we met up with my family for one last breakfast. We ate very slowly, prolonging our last few moments on the ship. We were among the last people to disembark, and the second we stepped foot off the gangway reality came crashing in. We were no longer surrounded by pleasant cast members and luxurious and clean accommodations, we were in the bowels of the Manhattan Cruise Terminal. Everyone around us was loud and angry, the kids that we conveniently never saw or heard on the ship were suddenly everywhere, screaming at ear piercing decibels. We rushed through the customs process and ended up outside with my family, where we said more tearful goodbyes before hopping into separate Ubers. My mom and sister headed to the Amtrak station, and Dave and I headed to JFK. I was on the verge of a complete meltdown (due to leaving my ship and leaving my family) and Dave sensed that and whisked me through TSA pre-check and into the Delta lounge so I could blubber in privacy. After I pulled myself together he got me chocolate and popcorn and took me to the Delta Sky Deck (I cannot stress this enough: talk to Dave about travel hacking.) and we snuggled up in the sun on that abnormally warm autumn day in New York City. Whenever I started getting down again Dave would remind me that I would be seeing my family in New Orleans for Christmas, that we had another cruise booked with them in less than a year, and that with DVC we could go to Orlando more often to connect with Andrew. My husband is really the best at helping me keep perspective when my separation anxiety kicks in. We had uneventful flights home, and we were home and in bed before 9PM.

flyinghome

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