We’re back from our Disney Alaskan Cruise on the Disney Wonder and what a week it’s been. This is the very first cruise I’ve ever been on and I have nothing else to compare it to but I have to say . . . Disney really knows how to do it.
EMBARKATION DAY (Canada Place Pier)
Talk about organization. From the drop off area to checking-in to getting onto the ship . . . everything worked like clockwork. And if for some reason you got lost along the way there were numerous Disney attendants wearing Mickey hands to guide you. What I loved was the excitement that these attendants portrayed that added to the overall experience.
When you check-in, you will take a photo and be given your Key to the World card. Not only does this card open your stateroom but it’s also used as your onboard credit card. You’ll also need to swipe this card every time you leave and reboard the ship at the various ports. Because it’s used frequently throughout the day, a lot of people wore them on lanyards around their necks.
After boarding, I recommend that you head directly to Guest Services to sign up for ship activities before they fill up. We signed up for Martini Tasting and Margarita Tasting which run an extra $20 per person for each class. But you’ll definitely make your money back in alcohol.
Another place to head straight for is the Port Adventures desk. This is not only for signing up for port excursions but you can also get your free tickets for Meet & Greets or Character Breakfasts which tend to fill up quickly.
A definite “can’t miss” event is the Bon Voyage Party up on Deck 9 Midship at 4pm. It’s a countdown celebration including music, dancing, and character appearances.
My boyfriend and I purchased some champagne and watched the party from Deck 10. It was a lot less crowded and just as much fun. It really set an exciting festive mood. Plus it was really cool to see the ship slowly pull away from the dock and all the people waving to us from ashore and the other cruise ships.
PLANNING YOUR DAY
Each afternoon you’ll receive a newsletter called The Navigator which highlights all of the next day’s activities in a TV Guide style layout. I actually found myself looking forward to receiving The Navigator so that I could start planning out the next day’s activities.
Most of the activities were complimentary but there were some that required an additional charge like Bingo.
Disney also offer a free app called the Disney Cruise Line Navigator. It came in really handy when trying to figure out the timing of all the activities we wanted to participate in. You’re able to “heart” the things you were interested in and view them in timeline order under the “favorites” tab. This showed me if there were any time conflicts. The app also has maps of the various decks as well as what time all the eating areas were operating for the day. However, the best part of this app was the Connecting Onboard feature. This will allow you to text other people, even without wifi, who have also downloaded the app. Each room has 2 portable complimentary Wave Phones which help you keep in touch with your family onboard the ship but they’re kind of confusing to use. Plus, the Wave Phones uses a telephone keypad for texting . . . takes forever to type a message. The app was much more convenient and user friendly.
Each stateroom door is magnetic and it’s pretty cool to bring your own magnets to personalize your door. Plus, it will help you find your room since they all look the same from the outside.
There’s also something called Fish Extenders. Outside of each stateroom is a metal fish-looking hook where Disney will place papers, tickets, etc. that they need to get to you. However, you can also hang your own decorative pouches that you bring from home for other guests to place goodies into. Fun!
The rooms were really spacious considering we were on a ship and there were lots of storage space for all of our things. I love how the bed was high enough off the ground so that we could store all of our empty luggage under it.
Apparently, Disney is the only cruise line that incorporates Rotational Dining. This means that you have a set schedule of which sit-down dinner establishments you’ll be dining at throughout the entire cruise. There are 2 seatings . . . 6:15pm and 8:15pm which you will select when you make your initial cruise reservations. When you receive your Key to the World card your restaurant schedule will be posted on it using letter abbreviations. For us it was Triton (T), Animator’s Palate (A) and Parrot Cay (p). Therefore, our dinner schedule looked like this . . . TAPTAPT.
On the very first evening, you’ll be seated at a numbered table (which will be your group’s table number for the entire cruise). On this evening you will meet your table mates for the first time. Get to know them because you’ll be having dinner with these same people for the entire cruise. If for some reason you absolutely do not care for some of them, you’re able to go to Guest Services to have your rotation changed or you can skip the sit-down dinners at instead eat at the informal Beach Blanket Buffet or other various fast-food type outlets.
Another option is Palo . . . a contemporary adult-only Northern Italian cuisine restaurant which offers ocean views and an elegant Venetian decor. This restaurant is not included in the price of the cruise and runs an extra $30 per person. However, like the rest of the Disney Wonder’s sit-down restaurants you can order as much as you want. Craving Osso Buco? Order 2 of them! Have a sweet tooth? Order every single dessert on the menu . . . no extra charge. How cool is that? However, what does cost extra is any alcohol you consume. Palo is open for brunch and dinner and gives you the opportunity to really dress up and have a grown-up night out.
We were lucky . . . we really enjoyed the company of the other 3 couples and couldn’t wait to meet up with them at dinner to find out what they participated in throughout the day. In fact, one night after dinner we all hung out at the “adult only” lounge together. It was a great way to meet people from all over.
I was told that water bottles were really expensive on-board and thought of bringing our own but I’m so glad we didn’t. There’s a soft drink station with free drinks which also included a water spout. We just kept refilling our water bottle free of charge.
You can bring onboard unopened containers of alcohol on Embarktation Day (only in your carry-on baggage) or those purchased at the various ports. We were initially told that your own alcohol could only be consumed in your stateroom but we found that we were able to drink them pretty much anywhere on the ship. If you prefer to purchase your alcohol onboard there are various wine and beer packages. We purchased both. The cool thing about the wine package is that if you don’t finish your bottle at dinner you have the option of having it recorked and presented at the next dinner or you can take it back to your room with you. Wine and beer packages may be purchased online or at any restaurant/bar on the ship.
There are so many photo opportunities onboard the ship. There are many character encounters, photos taken of families/couples at dinners, as well as backdrops which relate to that day’s port. All of these photos are printed as 8 x 10′s and placed in the Shutters Photo Library. Just tap your key card (room key and onboard credit card) at the kiosk and it will show your photos digitally as well as give you the color/number of your specific folder in the library. As expected, purchasing these photos are pretty expensive. Each individual 8 x 10 runs about $20.
On the evening before Disembarkation Day, you will need to place your luggage outside your stateroom by 10pm. You keep your carry-on . . . which contains what you’ll need for overnight and the next morning . . . in your room. You’ll be assigned a breakfast time and place where you’ll have your very last meal onboard. This was a very bittersweet moment especially if you really bonded with your servers and table mates. It was kind of sad to say goodbye to everyone and we all exchanged email addresses to keep in touch.
Disney Cruises exceeded my every expectation and I don’t know how we’ll ever be able to go on any other cruise line. In fact, we’re already looking into taking the whole family some time next year. It was definitely a vacation to remember.
I love music. Everywhere I go I make sure I have access to my playlists just in case a little downtime comes along. However, the one place that can sometimes pose a problem is when I’m near the water . . . like at the pool or in the shower. I’ve already dropped and cracked 2 phones this year and I really prefer not to lose another one to water damage. So when I heard about the Boom Swimmer Bluetooth Speaker from AT&T I figured I’d give it a try.
The Boom Swimmer is very lightweight and portable . . . only 2 inches tall and 2.5 inches in diameter. It’s covered in a soft rubber and is IPX7 Rated which means that it can be placed in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. Of course, this makes the Boom Swimmer waterproof.
The device can be fully charged within 2 hours and hold 8 hours of playback . . . perfect for a full day at the pool or beach.
When our Boom Swimmer arrived I was pleasantly surprised at how small it actually was. I liked the comfortable rubbery exterior and that all the control buttons were easy to push and activate.
It came with 2 different attachments . . . a tail-looking hook which allowed me to easily attach the speaker to my shower head or a beach chair.
There’s also a suction cup attachment which will secure the Boom Swimmer to any flat surface.
To sync the speaker to my iPhone all I had to do was activate the bluetooth feather on my phone and within seconds I was hooked up and ready to go.
But most importantly, the sound was pretty amazing. It was loud, clear and full of depth. I couldn’t believe that rich a sound was coming from such a small speaker. And my kids loved it! They had so much fun singing and dancing around the pool as they listened to their favorite songs. It made being in the water that much more fun for them.
The Boom Swimmer Bluetooth Speaker is priced at $50.99 and is available at Hawaii AT&T Stores and online at att.com. Get yours for your next trip to the beach, the pool, or if you’re like me . . . to enjoy your favorite songs in the shower.
This post was written for AT&T who provided the complimentary product for review and giveaway in exchange for my honest review.
We are giving away a Boom Swimmer Speaker to (1) lucky winner!
Be sure to like An Island Life on Facebook for our latest giveaways,
Valid for US residents and addresses only. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. No purchase necessary to enter. Winner will be randomly selected. Void where prohibited. We will announce the winner on this post and make contact via email. The winner will then have 48 hours to claim their prize.
If you have young children then I’m positive you have a stash of bandages in every size, shape and color. What is it with bandages that makes a child feel better the instant it’s applied? My problem is that we haven’t really found any bandages that could withstand the amount of time my children spend in the water. So when the Nexcare Brand asked if we wanted to give their waterproof bandages a try I figured . . . why not?
Since my youngest loves bandages and is at the pool pretty much every day I knew she would be the perfect kid to try it out. The result? Nexcare Waterproof Bandages hung on through all the sweating, swimming and playing.
And if it could withstand all of that then just imagine how much germs and dirt was kept away from her cut as well.
The Nexcare Brand recently hosted a campaign called “What Will Nana Do Next?” where they invited Americans to submit their ideas on what type of challenging activity Nexcare Nana (87-year old stuntwoman and unexpected product tester) should participate in next. The example ideas were:
The winning idea will be made into a video and released to the public in September.
So if you’re looking for a bandage that can withstand everything your kids will put it through check out Nexcare Waterproof Bandages. It’s the only one our family needs.
Connect with Nexcare:
- Nexcare™ Brand Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Nexcare
- Nexcare™ Brand Twitter: @Nexcare
- Nexcare™ Brand Instagram: @Nexcare
- Nexcare™ Brand YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/nexcare
- Campaign Hashtag: #NexcareNana
This post was written for 3M who provided the complimentary product in exchange for this honest review. #sponsor #ad
Located in eastern Kyoto, the Kiyomizu (pure water) Buddist Temple draws 11 million visitors annually from all over the world.
The popular expression “to jump off the stage at Kiyomizu” refers to an ancient practice of plunging off the temple platform 13 meters high. It was believed that if you survive your wish would come true. I don’t know about you but I think I would rather make a wish on a wish bone.
Along with “the stage” one of the other main draws of the temple is the Otowa Waterfall where you’ll find 3 streams of mountain water which is also believed to have wish granting powers if you drink the water.
My favorite area was the Jishu Shrine which houses 2 “love stones” placed 18 meters apart. If you are able to walk from one stone to the other with your eyes closed you will find true love. I thought about giving it a try but with so many visitors jam packed into the area I would more likely find myself bumping into someone of the opposite sex. Hey, maybe that’s the way this was intended to work?
During the Summer Obon season, you’ll find many young Japanese girls braving the intense heat and showing their respect to Buddha by wearing their colorful kimonos. I don’t know how they could handle the humidity being fully covered in thick fabric. I was suffering in just my tank top and shorts.
And like with any other visitor attraction, there are roads leading up to the temple filled with stores selling local foods and souveniers like fans, kimonos, toys and household items.
A definite must stop is the one store offering free samples of cold green tea (in real tea cups) and rows of mochi in every flavor imaginable.
This was my very first visit to the Kiyomizu Temple and it was definitely a wonderful experience.
294 Kiyomizu 1-chome, Higashiyama
Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture