disney cruise · travel

Castaway Cay, The Bahamas

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On most Disney cruises to the Bahamas and Caribbean, you will make a stop at Disney’s private island – Castaway Cay. The island is approximately three miles long and two miles wide, so its not very big! Disney have also left a lot of the island to be undeveloped.

The island is almost broken into two – Castaway Family beach and Serenity Bay – Serenity Bay is an adults only beach!!

There is food on the island for lunch (it’s a bbq which is included in the cruise price), a few shops, (exclusive merch!), character meets and lots of things to do. There is a tram provided for you to get around, or you can walk. We have now tried both options.

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I also found out recently that it won an award – 2017 Cruisers’ Choice top-rated cruise line private island destination.

On our most recent cruise, we had two stops at Castaway Cay due to a change of itinerary. So we explored a lot more of the island as we wasn’t so pressed for time. On the first stop, we hired the bikes.

The bike trail is also the 5k trail (You can sign up for free for the 5K and get a medal!). The price to hire (current of March 2018) was $12 for the hours hire. We cycled all round, found a few photo ops, and went to the Observation tower.

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It is a nice trail, it’s all flat, the pavements are wide and you can cycle at whatever speed you wish. We went all the way down to the other lookout at the end of Serenity Bay.

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After all my exercise and lunch, we treated ourselves to the cocktail of the day, which that day was a Bahamamama.

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On the second stop we hired a kayak. It was slightly windy so it was hard work, we was only out twenty minutes! But we did get a different view of the ship, and I attempted some photos on my partners phone. After we found a hammock, and just chilled. It was lovely, we could hear the music, the sun was shining, it was one of those moments you don’t forget.

Its a very pretty island with amazing blue seas( I can never get over the colour!) and photos needing to be taken around every corner! I hope I get to return again.

Have you been to Castaway Cay? What was your favourite part? Do you want to go?

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disney cruise · travel · walt disney world

Disney Cruise Number 2 – Disney Wonder

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It’s been a while since I blogged, I was so ill for 6 weeks and then cracked two ribs – so I didn’t get out much, or have much energy! But I have bounced back, and managed to get well for my holiday.

I’ve recently returned from my second Disney Cruise, this time aboard the Disney Wonder. We chose the Eastern Caribbean itinerary but unfortunately due to weather, a change was made and we didn’t stop at St Maarten. I was quite upset about it, as I like exploring new places, and this route had the two Caribbean islands, so in the end it was Puerto Rico (as planned) and two stops at Castaway Cay.

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It was very rocky on the first night! Our table mates couldn’t even stay for dinner, I was offered tablets but declined to see how I was. So I think I can safely say now, I don’t suffer from sea sickness!

We had a stateroom on deck 7 with a verandah, we was at the aft of the ship, which I don’t think is as comfy as mid! But as you know to have those holidays, you need to save money where you can.

I liked that the ship was smaller as quicker to get to places, but I definitely preferred the grandiose of the Fantasy, I was totally blown away by the lobby of the Fantasy, so this one felt so small in comparison!

We saw all of the shows – they are such Broadway quality!The Frozen, A Musical spectacular was over an hour long! My favourite shows are the ones where they mix all the films and songs in and you get a bit of everything. One was called The Golden Mickeys which is a play on the Oscars, which was funny as the Oscars was actually on the night before! They are all performed perfectly and get you so emotional. We also watched JunNk, a British group of performers who sing, play instruments and have a wide rang of talents – they was great. Also a new show called acrobatrix, and it was their first time on the Disney Cruise Line.

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There was amazing cast members on board (as always), I feel like the ships CMs are the tip top ones. Lots of English too, and there wasn’t too many brits on-board as passengers so it was nice to talk to them, and they then recognise you and say hi a lot round the ship.

One thing I love to do is watch The Morning show. Another of my favourite things is the tour round the ship! LOVE this, if you like backstage tours at the parks, this is a must do.

You don’t go backstage on the ship, but you learn a lot of design information and knowledge. For instance, the Disney Wonder is the only ship in the fleet where the lobby is based round the statue – which is The Little Mermaid. So the restaurant is Tritons behind her, and the big light is red to symbolise her hair, the carpets are yellow and blue for the sea and seabed’s. I just love details like this!!

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We played trivia, watched Disney Innovations, played shuffleboard, went to a Mixology  class, went to the cinema, character meets, shopped, drank, ate, made new friends, etc – we did it all.

The ships really are amazing, I’m a total convert to Cruise life now and am desperate for more. Bucket list item is to go on all four ships and I’ve seen the information about the new upcoming ships and definitely want to try one of them!

Have you been on a Disney Cruise? Did you love it? Or do you want to?

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Disney World

Walt Disney World – Saratoga Springs Resort

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I thought I would write about Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort. We stayed here previously in the year for the first time, and we have recently booked for next year.

According to Disney website, they describe the resort as “Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa is an equestrian-themed, Victorian-style Resort hotel”.

We chose this resort as there was five adults and a baby travelling. We saved more money by booking a two bedroom villa then two separate standard rooms.

Out of the Disney villa resorts, Saratoga Springs consistently came up the cheapest, and none of us had stayed at this resort, so it was chosen (another one off the list!).

In our villa, we had two double bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, the front room (which also was my bedroom as I slept on the pull out sofabed) and a patio. (We was on the ground floor). The rooms also come with washer/dryer, one of the baths is a whirlpool. There was plenty of room for all of us, and technically it could sleep up to eight people! I liked the Maximus pillows!

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We had a room in The Grandstand section, this had benefits/disadvantages. This is the first stop for buses, so we often got a seat, but then had to amuse a one year old and add extra travel time to the journey whilst it went all the way around the resort! It was very time consuming, as it’s such a large resort!

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You check in at The Carriage House, this is also where quick service (Artist’s Palette) and a sit down restaurant is (The Turf Club Bar & Grill). I only had a few breakfast’s here… Mickey Waffles! And a not so great lunch. We didn’t go to the sit down restaurant, so I can’t comment on that. (There’s just too much other choice).

We visited Disney springs a lot, as there is a lovely boat ride to the Springs. There is walkways, I myself didn’t walk it, but my family did and said it was quite a walk. We think it’s because we was on the far end of the resort.

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There was lots of photo ops around the resort, but I just didn’t get the chance to get to them! Maybe next year, when I have a bit of spare time. This particular one is right outside the main doors to the reception, so I got this one!

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I think there was five pools. This was the one nearest to our room block. There was also a big main pool by The Carriage House. I didn’t go, but my family did! All very family friendly.

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I would really recommended if there are groups/families travelling together. We made use of the kitchen mostly in the mornings, as we bought cereal/bread and used the coffee machine. Which if we was in a rush (I had four backstage tours – so saved time in the morning!), or if you wasn’t on the dining plan, could definitely save money for food.

It’s definitely not my favourite resort, (The Polynesian has my heart) but it did grow on me. I am looking forward to next year already!

 

 

 

travel

Flashback Friday – Luxembourg

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A few weeks ago we went to Luxembourg for three nights. The flights were ridiculously cheap, it was £39 each! And for the first time ever, I did hand luggage only!

The first evening was the usual of walking around and just seeing near your hotel. I also had an awful cold and cough, so I had no energy and we didn’t explore too far.

The next day, we took a bus into the centre. We wondered around and saw a kind of look out point, so we walked over. This was good views of the Adolphe Bridge (see top picture).

Before going I had read about a hot chocolate shop that I wanted to visit, and it was in the area we was in! Its called Chocolate House by Nathalie Bonn, and it was amazing! In the shop was lots of chocolate’s, and cakes, and also a wall of chocolate spoons! The lady suggested having our hot chocolate in the shop. So you choose a spoon, took it upstairs, they offer you milk (they had everything – lacto free, soya etc.), you are then given the mug of hot milk, which you stir your chosen spoon into, with a little tub of cream and a marshmallow each. It was delicious!

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On my list of things to do was the Casemates du Bock – these are underground tunnel’s from years ago which was built under a castle. The castle is no longer there, but the passages couldn’t be destroyed as part of the city would have been lost! So they have been kept open for visitors as a UNESCO world heritage site. It was super cold down there!

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We wondered and walked all round the old part (which is also the centre), this was definitely the prettiest part. We ended up going to a supermarket on the way back to the hotel and having a chill night.

The next day, we went back to the centre and I wanted to go to the new observational lift. Pfaffenthal lift takes you down to ‘the grund’. We expected queue or something – but was quiet. So we did that, and there was nothing open on the bottom! You could walk back up the long and winding steep hill, but I refused! So used the lift back up.

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We saw the statue of Grand Duchess Charlotte, we went to Notre Damn, and had more food out.

Then it was the last day, we checked out of the hotel and went back into the centre, only to discover all the shops were shut! (it was a Sunday), so we stopped outside the Grand Ducal palace so I could take a few photos. They also do tours inside, but only in the summer. So we took a slow walk (about 20 minute’s or so) to the bus garage so we could get a bus to the airport (it cost 2 euros!).

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I’m going to be honest in this post… I wouldn’t recommend Luxembourg. The flight was lovely and short, 50 minutes! But the cab to the hotel was fifty two euros, just because we wasn’t in the centre of luxeumbourg city (which I hadn’t booked as wanted a cheap break). Everything was expensive, and we did most of the tourist stuff in 1 day. It was also strange that it was such a mash up of other countries, it didn’t feel like it had its own identity. There are much nicer cities in Europe with more to do.

 

Outings · travel

Day out in Brighton!

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We had a voucher for Christmas for something we didn’t want to do, so we exchanged it!

I chose a tour for the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, with a cream tea included.

So my boyfriend and I drove down, and spent an hour or two in there. I have been to Brighton plenty of times throughout my childhood and as an a adult but have never been to there or inside!

You get given a headset, which you click once inside each room, and then gives you information. It reminded me of a mini Buckingham Palace.

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The exterior has indian influences and the interior has Chinese influences. The palace was used as a pleasure palace for royals. So was essentially a getaway from London and other palaces! Some of them loved it, others hated it as too gaudy for them. its quite a big palace, bigger than I was expecting.

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It is now all been preserved, and some pieces are on loan from the Queen!

One of my favourite’s was in a bedroom, the bathroom door was disguised in the wall!

The cream tea you could have when you liked/preferred. We had in the middle of the tour as the tea room is in the middle of the tour! But you can have at the beginning or the end etc. Was the usual tea – scone with clotted cream and jam with a pot of tea.

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After our tour, we headed to Brighton Pier, I hadn’t walked along this in years! The wind and the salty air was so refreshing. Its such a cheesy place, but feels like a proper English tradition.

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I love being by the sea, living in a town, its always so nice to get away for a little bit. The sea always calms and relaxes me. I could watch it for hours!

We had a nice August day too, so the sun was out and we was in tshirts. We did some window shopping and browsed some of the smaller lanes.

I always find it mind boggling too, how much water there is on earth!

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What about you guys, what have you been up to? Do you love the sea?

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travel

Flashback Friday – Route 101 Road Trip, West Coast USA

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So this was the trip that kick started it all. Once I was back from this trip, I was hooked on travelling and holidays. I mean, I always was before – but this ignited some kind of fire!

This was one of my favourite holiday’s ever. It’s actually been 4 years next month that we did this amazing adventure.

Road trips and cruises are the way forward – you see so much!

We drove over 1000 miles, across 3 states and stayed in 7 hotels over 15 nights. We even got matching Route 101 signs tattooed during the trip!

I honestly don’t even know how it came about, one minute it was being discussed and joked about, then I got serious and started looking and planning!

I’m not going to lie, it was costly. The flights was about £750 each as we flew in and out of different airports. The car hire was also a big amount, they charge a flat non refundable fee of $300 just to drop the car off at a different state. That was on top of the car hire amount!

The hotels we stayed in, with the exception of one wasn’t too expensive or luxurious.

We flew into Seattle, and flew out of LAX. I did want to do the whole route of 101, but struggled to find a flight out of San Diego, so our trip ended in LA. I also booked all the hotels before we left, so I knew we always had a destination to put in the sat nav and a warm bed for the night.

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We did and saw and experienced too much for this one blog post, so I’m just going to stick to the highlights.

We stayed in Seattle 3 nights before moving on. We went to Pike Place Market, and went into the original Starbucks, (I bought a mug!), we went on the Seattle monorail and up the space needle. We walked all round the city and explored. It wasn’t my favourite place, and I probably wouldn’t go back here.

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We headed to a hotel on the coast for one night, still in the Washington State. We drove through the town where Kurt Cobain was from. After we drove to Oregon, we stayed at a few hotels along this state.

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I also ended up buying a jacket from Wal Mart as it was so chilly, windy and rainy! The weather was awful in parts, and we was driving metres from the water at some points. It really was scary, we missed a tree being blown down across a road by minutes.

We drove to and stayed in a cute little town called Seaside, and had a lunch in Tsunami café! There was signs everywhere pointing to safe sites, and with the weather the way it was – it was a bit worrying!

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We drove through the Red Forest, which was amazing. They are tallest trees in the world! We parked up the car, and got out to take photos. We didn’t see anyone else the whole time. We also stopped and paid to do the SkyTrail – which is a gondola ride through part of the forest. Its meant to offer amazing views, but sadly the weather stopped our views at the top! We also was now in California!

We stayed in a family run hotel where they put up a notice where people are from each evening, and we sat with a cool older couple who was doing a road trip on a motorbike.

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We then stayed 3 nights in San Francisco – I drove across the Golden Gate bridge! I felt a little let down by San fran, I know we didn’t have much time, but it wasn’t what I was expecting.

The biggest disappointment  was at the time, there was polictical issues happening and all national parks was shut, this included Alcatraz! Which we had tickets for. So we swapped to a boat ride under the bridge, and around the Alcatraz island.

But we did ride a cable car, we went to Fisherman’s Wharf – saw the Seals (got the tattoo), had an ice cream at the original Ghiradelli’s and went to The Walt Disney Family Museum! I loved this place , and we spent a few hours one afternoon there. Any Walt / Disney fan should go see it.

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After San Francisco, I had a request to stay at The Madonna inn – I had wanted to for years since I read Belinda Jones book – The California Club.

Take a look at the rooms – each one is individual and themed! We stayed in one of the famous rock fall shower rooms – Bridal Falls. Its a very pink hotel – the exterior, all the finishing touches, even the sugar for your coffee!

http://www.madonnainn.com/features.php

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After our stay here, we headed further south in California, where we had 3 nights in Anaheim. That’s right we managed to squeeze in two days at Disneyland! I was desperate to see the newly opened Carsland, which fitted in perfectly with our road trip! I was not let down by that! Sheer genius and amazing Imagineering at work there.

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But the day before that we had a spare day in California with no plans. So an impromptu whale watching boat trip was booked up. And OH MY GOD we saw a blue whale! It was incredible, I got all choked up. Dolphins swam along and played with the boat. It was an amazing 2 hours. (I was also in t-shirt and shorts by this time in our trip!). Also later that night we had dinner at Medieval Times where our blue team won – woo!).

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I mean, just wow, there’s probably loads I’ve missed out, but honestly such an amazing eye opening experience. Being on the open road, not knowing what each day would bring.

I would LOVE to do another road trip again, and definitely different states. I loved the planning and researching, and when it all came together so well, I felt so proud of myself.

Have you ever taken a road trip? Would you want to?

 

Disney World · walt disney world

My Favourite Disney Resort at Walt Disney World

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I’ve decided to write about my favourite Disney resort – Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. I know everyone has their own preferences and beloved bases, and this is mine.

I have stayed here twice before. Years and years ago (aah the good old fountain lobby – which I still miss), I stayed with my family for two weeks! (I think this is before sky high rates!), and the second time was five of us in one room. Both times we had ground floor rooms. The first one we even had a view of the monorail.

I haven’t stayed since, as I’m on a quest to stay at ALL the Disney resorts! It’s top of my Disney Bucket List.

So many reasons I love this place.

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This resort is perfect to me because it’s chilled, and it never feels crowed – it’s got that  relaxed vibe going on.  All the cast members say Aloha to you, and wear great shirts.

The restaurants available are all great choices for all meals options – Kona cafe, Ohana, Captain Cooks. Kona Café used to be my favourite breakfast – but they took the Big Kahuna off the menu, I was not impressed. I do love the Kona coffee there.

The great bars/lounges – Tambu Lounge has unique drinks, and of course my favourite Trader Sam’s!

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There is a beach, which has chairs and hammocks, you can rest and observe the view – Cinderella’s Castle, and if you pop back to that same place at evening, you can watch the fireworks.

The new addition is the Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows – which I think topped everyone’s bucket list as soon as they was announced! I doubt I will ever afford to stay in one – but a girl can dream.

I also love wondering the biggest shop – BouTiki. This year I even bought a kids Polynesian resort shirt!

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In the evening, all the tiki torches are lit, and as soon as you’re back from the parks and the crowds, you instantly relax, and get a second wind, and go and grab a coffee (or cocktail).

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Even when we don’t stay there, I make a point of booking a restaurant there, or just going to visit the resort. My holiday doesn’t feel complete without it!

So if you haven’t considered this resort before, or if costs are too much, maybe try for it a few nights, and maybe like me, your fall in love with the place?

What’s your favourite Disney resort?

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