Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Let the Memories Begin!

Monday, April 30, 2012

August 2011 Trip Report, Day 6

Our view of Nassau from the ship, that's Atlantis!
Our sixth vacation day was our fourth day on the Dream, and it was time for our stop at Nassau, in the Bahamas.  For those of you who have never been, Nassau is the most underwhelming port of all the Caribbean.  That said, we took our time getting off the ship, since we had no real plans for the island.  Once getting off the ship, we headed to the straw market, one of Nassau's biggest attractions.  It was extremely hot in August, however, so we soon left the market and headed to Senor Frog's.  (Unfortunately, I have no photos of this!)  After lunch and a yard-long margarita, we headed back since there wasn't much else to do.

We spent the rest of the afternoon lounging by the adult pool, and soon it was time to get ready for our dinner at Palo.  We were fast at getting ready, however, and to kill some time before our reservation, we walked around the ship and took some photos.

Nearly empty Mickey slide area
Pink champagne bar
We saw pirate Donald!
Glass door details at Meridian
Soon it was time to head up to Palo, but since our table was not yet ready, we were led into a bar called Meridian to wait.  After a very short time, we were called into Palo and met our waitress, the very same one that we'd had for brunch the day before!  She was fabulous, so we were very excited that we got to see her again.

Since I do plan on doing a full review of Palo dinner, I'll only show you a few of the things we ate on this night... all of it was delicious!

Antipasta course
And of course, the infamous chocolate souffle!
Lucky for us, although dinner ran long, there was no stage show this night for us to miss.  Instead, they were showing Cars 2 at the main theatre, but I wasn't interested in seeing it.  So after we finished eating, we headed to the top decks to see Buccaneer Blast, the pirate night fireworks show.  As far as I know, Disney is the only cruise line that does fireworks at sea, and it is amazing.

After the fireworks, we spent the rest of the night doing the usual, exploring the ship and enjoying the adult only areas.  Unfortunately, we only had one full day left on the Dream.

Friday, April 6, 2012

August 2011 Trip Report, Day 5

The fifth day of our August trip was the third day of our Dream cruise, and this was our day at sea.  On Disney cruises, days at sea are the only days that brunch is offered at Palo, one of the adult-only restaurants on the ships.  Since our sailing had only one day at sea, we were lucky to get a reservation for this brunch.

I have so many photos of our brunch at Palo that I'd like to do a full post reviewing the meal in the future.  In the meantime, here's a photo of the different brunch pizza options, to make you a little hungry...

Pizza display at Palo brunch
Artwork in Remy looks like a window to the kitchen in Ratatouille
After a delicious and filling brunch with James and my parents, we asked if we could walk next door and check out Remy, the other adult-only restaurants on the Dream.  I did a full review of our dinner at Remy, which would occur later in the week, here.  We took some pictures at Remy and marveled at all the understated Ratatouille accents.  I couldn't wait until we got to eat dinner there.

The suite has its own huge balcony with private hot tub
Next, we were lucky enough to see the Roy Disney suite, one of the two "category 1" staterooms on the Disney Dream.  A client of our travel agent's was staying here and offered his room up for a short time to be toured by the travel agent and his other clients. The suite was amazing.  It was huge, and the balcony was far larger than I could have imagined.  Surprisingly, the category 1 suites on the Dream only sleep four people however, I believe.  Regardless, it certainly made it hard to go back to our category 10 room.

Royal Palace bread basket
We spent the rest of the afternoon on our sea day relaxing, enjoying the activities, and especially enjoying the adult pool area, the Quiet Cove, until it was time for our formal night dinner at Royal Palace.  Again, as I've said in the past two installments, I hope to do a full review of our dinner at Royal Palace in a future post.  In the meantime, I have to say that we were very lucky to get Royal Palace as our dining rotation for formal night.  It was what we were hoping for, since the Royal Palace atmosphere seemed the best for the formal attire.

After dinner, as anyone who has taken a Disney Cruise knows, it was time for the show that always takes place on formal nights: the Golden Mickeys!  This is a stage show that essentially starts as an award show gone wrong.  The host is nowhere to be found, and the shy stage manager is forced to host the show... oh no!  I won't spoil the ending for you, but I'm sure you can imagine that everything turns out alright.  I love the Golden Mickeys, and it's always a must-see on a Disney Cruise for me.

That night, we spent it as we did every other night... exploring the ship, taking part in the many fun activities, and enjoying the District.  The cruise was turning out to be a great time!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Dream Chandelier and Lobby

Monday, April 2, 2012

August 2011 Trip Report, Day 4

Since our cruise was a "double dip" cruise, we visited Disney's private island, Castaway Cay, twice!  August 17 was our first visit, though the weather wasn't ideal.  It was raining in the morning, and it rained a bit while we were on the beach too.

We woke up that morning and ate breakfast at Cabanas, the buffet on the Dream.  As I mentioned in the last installment of the trip report, I love buffets, and Cabanas did not disappoint!  After eating, we got ready and headed onto the island.  It wasn't as hot on Castaway Cay on this day because of the rain.  Conveniently, there is a tram that takes you around the island, so we took it to Serenity Bay, the adult only beach.

For those of you who have never been to Castaway Cay (and you must!), there are quite a few different beaches.  First there is a large family beach, with two water playgrounds.  Then there is a kid's only beach, where parents can check-in and check-out their children, as if it was the kid's club on the ship.  There is a teen beach where kids ages 14 to 17 can hang out with their peers.  (Note that neither the kid-only nor teen-only beaches are actually on the water.  Both are set back on the island.)  And finally, there is Serenity Bay, the adult only beach.  And Serenity Bay is awesome!

We spent the late morning and early afternoon on the beach, and soon we were ready for lunch.  There are three places to eat on Castaway Cay: Cookies and Cookies Too on the family beach and the Serenity Bay BBQ on the adult beach.  All three are barbecue, though they have slightly different choices.  At Serenity Bay, there was a buffet featuring burgers, hot dogs, some type of fish (Mahi Mahi?), steak, chicken, and ribs.  In addition, there were various salads, fruits, and desserts to choose from.  I enjoy the barbecue on the island, and I was very happy with my meal.

A lovely candid shot of me at the animation class
After eating, we headed back to the Dream to shower, and then we just hung around the ship until it was time for dinner.  One thing we did before dinner was go to an animation class in D Lounge, the family lounge on board. Our instructor taught us how to draw Mickey Mouse, and although I don't have a picture of my drawing, you can take my word that it was great.  Soon after the class ended, it was time to head to Enchanted Garden for dinner.

Enchanted Garden menu
Dinner at Enchanted Garden was delicious, as it was at every restaurant on the Dream.  Again, I may do a full review on the various restaurants on the ship, so look for that in the future.  After dinner, we headed to the Walt Disney Theatre for the first Disney stage show of the cruise: Villains Tonight!  Although not everyone in our group enjoyed it, I actually really liked Villains Tonight!  I thought it was funny, and I liked it much more than the Hercules and Toy Story shows that I have seen on the other two ships.  If I went on another ship where they were showing Villains Tonight!, I would very likely want to see it again.  It appears that currently, this show is playing on the Disney Dream and Disney Magic.

Again, I can't remember the exact details of what we did that night, but each night we did much of the same things.  We either attended any events or activities, such as the night we saw the adults-only Newlywed Show type event, we walked around and explored the ship, or we hung out in the various bars and clubs in The District.  It wasn't terribly sad leaving Castaway Cay, knowing we'd be back in just a few days.  Tomorrow, however, would be a day at sea.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Second Birthday and the Year in Review

Happy Birthday cupcake!
I'd like to interrupt your regularly scheduled trip report to do a quick second birthday post.  The Disney College Blog was created on April 1, 2010, and it's been a great two years.  Since I was pretty bad at blogging for quite a bit of the past year, I am especially thankful for those of you who are still reading and following along.  As I said in last year's birthday post, anyone feeling sentimental can read my first ever blog post here.  And in the past 366 days (it was a leap year!), a lot has happened, so here is the Disney College Blog's second year in review.

In the past year:

  • I went on an epic 12 days Disney Dream/Walt Disney World extravaganza trip, and it was awesome!
  • I changed my Twitter name to @amandaenchanted and gained about 200 followers. 
  • The Disney College Blog Facebook page gained almost 100 new "likes."
  • I was accepted to the Disney College Program and will be moving to Florida in June!
  • I started a second blog about the College Program, called Amanda in Walt Disney World.
  • Most importantly, I met many amazing Disney friends in person, both in Walt Disney World and in New York, and I made even more new friends online.
I hope to make the next year even better than this one, so as I said last year... here's to another 365 days! Happy birthday DCB!

Friday, March 30, 2012

August 2011 Trip Report, Day 3

The magnificent Disney Dream

After years of waiting, when we woke up on the morning of August 16, 2011, we couldn't believe that the day had finally arrived.  The day that we had imagined since before the ship was even built.  We were finally going to sail on the Disney Dream!  None of us could sleep very well, and we woke up early and quickly got ready and packed our things.  We got drinks at the Starbucks inside the Four Points hotel, and then we crossed the street and ate breakfast at McDonald's.  We then checked out of our resort and headed to the Thrifty rental car building, where we would return our car and be driven to the port.

There was much controversy about the check-in process on the Dream, and I was nervous about getting on the ship in a reasonable amount of time.  I wanted to get into the terminal as early as possible, to get a low boarding number, and we arrived at the terminal around 10:50.  I don't remember exactly which boarding number we got, but it was low enough that we were on the ship within 20 minutes of boarding beginning.  Nothing like stepping onto the Dream and seeing this...

Disney Dream chandelier
Fountain in Enchanted Garden
After we were finished ogling the lobby, we immediately went to eat lunch at Enchanted Garden.  It was so good!  I love Disney Cruise buffets, and this one was no disappointment.  After lunch, we went to explore the ship a bit.  While exploring, we found my parents waiting on line to make a Palo brunch reservation, so we gave them our things.  We wanted to ride the Aquaduck!

We waited about 20-30 minutes on line for the Aquaduck.  It seemed a little excessive considering how short the ride itself is, but it was worth it! The ride is a lot of fun, even for a self-proclaimed ride wimp like myself.  We encountered a problem upon getting off of the Aquaduck, however.  My parents had all our stuff, including our phones (we were still docked at Port Canaveral, so our phones were still usable), and we had no idea where they were.  We wandered the ship for a while until we decided to try our staterooms.  Luckily, they were there with our things!

Where the Aquaduck passes the Mickey slide!
Our stateroom!
I'll do a full review on our stateroom in a future post, but we had two connecting deluxe inside staterooms for the six of us.  My parents stayed in one room, while the other four of us stayed in the second.  One of the coolest things about the inside stateroom was the virtual porthole!  At this point in the trip, however, we wanted nothing to do with the stateroom... we wanted to explore the ship more!  And the most important place to explore on the first day was the kid's area, where we wouldn't be allowed once the ship set sail.

Me with Mr. Potato Head!
The whole kid's area on the Disney Dream, called the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab, is amazing.  If you have kids, I promise they will not be disappointed.  There is a huge Monster's Inc section, a fairy dress up section, a science section, an interactive play floor, and most exciting to us, a Toy Story section!  There are kid-sized versions of all the characters of Toy Story to play with and climb on.  Mr. Potato Head's body parts even come off, so you can change his expression and outfits just like the real toy!  We wished we could stay and play, but unfortunately this area is only for kids ages 3-10.

Next we explored the opposite of the kid's club... the adult area, called the District!  The District consisted of many different clubs and bars, from a sports bar to a champagne bar to a dance club and more!  (Plus the bathrooms are really cool!)  This area is for adults 18 and over at night, but during the day, my sister and cousin could join us as well.  Finally, before we headed back to the room to get ready for the muster drill, we decided to get some snacks at Flo's V8 Cafe.  I had pepperoni pizza, and I was in heaven.  I have unhealthy cravings for Disney Cruise pizza on a regular basis, and I was finally able to satisfy them!

One of our decorated doors!
After our snack, we returned to the room and decorated our doors with magnets we had made for the trip.  Then we headed to the muster drill.  For those who aren't aware, the muster drill is essentially where you visit your lifeboat stations, learn what to do in case of an emergency situation, and then you get to leave.  You used to have to wear your life jacket to the muster drill, but this is no longer required.  Our muster station was in Evolution, the dance club, and the drill lasted no more than twenty minutes.  Soon we were ready to head back to the room, but before dinner, we had to attend the sail away party!  After singing, dancing, and counting down until we left port (and the Dream played "A Dream is a Wish your Heart Makes" on its horn!), we were off to sea and off to get ready for dinner.  Our first night's dinner would be in Animator's Palate!

Crush talking to guests at Animator's Palate
Perhaps I'll do a full review of Animator's Palate in the future, but it was very good!  Plus Crush came and talked to a bunch of the tables, which was a lot of fun.  And he had us all up and dancing around.  After dinner, it was time for the show.  If I'm not mistaken, the show on the first night was a duo of comedians/jugglers.  It was a lot of fun.

I can't remember exactly what we did that night, but most likely we explored the different bars and clubs in the District.  I'm not positive, but we likely went to bed relatively early... we had a big day coming up at Castaway Cay!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Disney Dream

Sunday, March 25, 2012

August 2011 Trip Report, Days 1 and 2

My sister, me, and my cousin - about to leave for the airport and very excited!
As you may or may not remember, seven months ago, I went on an amazing Disney vacation... on the Disney Dream and to Walt Disney World!  Although this trip report is a little late, and as a result, may not be as detailed as one may desire, is it really ever too late to talk Disney?  I didn't think so either...  Just a note:  I'm going to combine days 1 and 2 of the trip into one blog post because they aren't super eventful, and then I'll most likely give each subsequent day its own post.

Day 1:
This journey starts on August 14, 2011.  We left my house late morning - my parents, my sister (Samantha), my cousin (Jessie), my at-the-time boyfriend (James), and me - and headed to the airport!  After a nondescript flight, we were in Orlando International Airport before we knew it!  We grabbed Starbucks in the airport and headed to rent a minivan (the most comfortable type of rental car that would fit all six of us).  Soon we were in the minivan, listening to the Disney music CD my sister burned for us, pulling up to our hotel for the night: the Four Points Orlando Studio City.

The resort was fine, nothing special, and after checking in, we didn't stay for long.  We left to head to my grandma's house for a short visit before we headed to the Beach Club for dinner!  (Now we're getting to the good stuff!)

Since we were a party of eight (we were joined by two family friends), we had to wait an hour for two tables to seat us all at Beaches and Cream.  But we (at least the Disney-obsessed ones of us) declared that this was worth it, so we sat around and chatted, watched a little bit of Gnomeo and Juliet on the Beach Club beach, and we were even able to see some of IllumiNations from where we were sitting on the beach!  After an hour, our tables were ready, and we got down to eating.  I had a cheeseburger, and it was good as usual.  And since we were celebrating my sister's birthday, we decided that there was no other acceptable way to end the meal besides a Kitchen Sink.

Samantha and the Kitchen Sink!  They even put a candle on top for her birthday!
Yes that's right, the Kitchen Sink.  Eight scoops of ice cream, all the toppings in the house, and a whooooole can of whipped cream!  Between the four of us that were at the table with her, we scarfed the thing down.  It was so good!  At that point, it was getting late, so we headed back to the hotel and got some rest.  Although not all of us would be back to Walt Disney World at the end of the trip, James and I would!

Day 2:
Day two of the trip was relatively boring.  We woke up from the Four Points Orlando, and after breakfast, we packed up all our belongings, got back in the minivan, and headed for another family visit. After an hour or two visiting my other grandma, uncle, and aunt, we were on our way to the shore!  That night, we stayed at the Four Points Cocoa Beach, near the port.  We were to be getting on the Dream the following day, so we wanted to stay in a hotel nearby.

At Cocoa Beach!
We ate a late lunch at the restaurant in the hotel, and it was pretty good!  We also visited the Ron Jon store that was next to our hotel.  Then, after a rainstorm passed over us, we walked to the beach.  Cocoa Beach was only a few blocks from the Four Points, and it was about a five minute walk.  Since it had been raining earlier, the beach was virtually empty.  The weather was warm, and even though we didn't bring our bathing suits, we waded in the water up to our thighs.  We took some pictures, generally messed around on the beach, and soon we were ready to head back to the hotel.

Being silly on the beach.
That night, we were joined by two of my parents' friends that they had met on a previous Disney cruise.  They lived in the area and came by our hotel to catch up.  Since we had eaten a late lunch earlier, we hadn't eaten dinner, so we ordered some food to-go from the hotel restaurant and brought it up to the room.  We enjoyed our late night snack, chatted, and soon it was time for bed.  We had a very eventful day coming up...  Soon we would be getting on the Disney Dream!

To see all the photos from this trip on Picasa, click here!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Where Dreams Come True

Monday, January 30, 2012

Review: Remy

Bam!  I bet you weren't expecting this one, huh?  I'm not sure if I'm back for good, but since I've been kind of obsessing over Disney lately, I thought I'd pop in and write something.  And this is a big something that I'd been meaning to share with people who care for a long time!  Remy!  For those of you who don't know, Remy is one of the two adult only specialty restaurants on the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy cruise ships (the other being Palo).  This is the more elegant/fine of the two specialty restaurants, and as such, it's $75 per person (plus tip).  But it was certainly worth it.  Hang on for a long post, folks, because I have many pictures and rave reviews to share from this dining experience.

Remy chair detail
I came into Remy a little nervous because I am a picky eater, and I've never had a fine dining experience.  But relative to land, $75 per person is nothing for a meal like this, so I booked the dinner and hoped for the best.  We dressed nice (it is a fancy restaurant after all), and we headed over to the restaurant on one of the top decks at our assigned time.  Check in for both Remy and Palo is in front of the Meridian bar, in which you can wait while your table is being readied.  We were seated about ten minutes after we checked in, and the restaurant was nearly empty.  Each table is seated only once per night, and at staggered times.  The restaurant never feels overly crowded, and we had a great table by the window.  I was given a lovely red rose at the table, a white napkin to match my dress, and a small stool on which to place my bag and camera.  Great service!

If the menu hasn't changed in style (I'm certain it's changed in exact dishes, at least somewhat), there were two ways of selecting how to order.  One can either order each dish individually, or one can order one of the two five-course "tasting menus."  The saveur menu is considered the French one, and the gout menu is considered the American one.  Since we were a party of two, our waiter suggested we order one of each tasting menu, so we can try each dish.  We agreed, and I ordered the American menu for myself. My dinner date ordered the French menu.

Before we even had the chance to order, however, we were treated to complimentary pre-dinner cocktails.  I honestly can't remember what was in either, but I remember mine was non-alcoholic (I was 19 at the time), fruity, and absolutely delicious.  I didn't try the alcoholic version, but it looked good.  The alcoholic cocktail was called the Colette, after the character in Remy... sweet but a little tart, if I remember correctly.  We were offered additional cocktails/wine or sparkling/bottled water at an additional cost, but we decided to stick with the "Disney water," since it was free.

Jamon Wrapped Shrimp
Langoustine Royale

Our first course arrived after a small appetizer compliments of the chef (a small breaded crouton-type thing with tomato sauce inside, I didn't snap of picture of that one).  I had shrimp wrapped in ham, and my date had lobster.  Both were delicious, and this was around the point when we realized that we were both pleased with the menus we had chosen, and we didn't really desire to do much sharing.

Tomato Ratatouille
Asperge Verte
The asparagus was an exception however.  Although I'm not a huge asparagus fan, I like it.  This asparagus, however, I could have eaten all day long.  It was on top of a black truffle sauce and topped with a white truffle sauce... so good!  On the American menu, I had tomato ratatouille... also delicious!  Can't go wrong with the dish so popular, a movie was named after it!

Duck Breast

Sea Bass Atlantique
Our third course was duck three ways for me and Atlantic sea bass for my date.  I don't eat much seafood, so I was very pleased with my choice of menu at this point.  I am told, however, that the bass was delicious.  I quite enjoyed my duck as well, which was surprising to me because it's not something that I generally eat.  I wish I remembered the three ways that the duck was prepared (I should have taken better notes!), but I do remember that the type on the left was my favorite.  Also the type in the middle was a kind of duck sausage.

Australian Wagyu Tenderloin

Poularde Rotie
Next was the course I had been waiting for all along.  The Wagyu beef!  With delicious potatoes!  Wagyu beef is a type of awesome beef from, in this case, Australia.  And it was everything I had dreamed of and more.  So delicious!  On the French menu, the fourth course item was "poularde rotie," which is a fancy French way of saying chicken.  Also delicious, but not as good as my beef.  And don't think you're going to be getting one bite of it!

Up next was the cheese course.  I'm no cheese connoisseur, but our waiter described each and every cheese to us.  He then let us/helped us choose based on what we told him we liked.  I honestly wasn't a fan of any of the cheese, but hey, I have the palette of a seven year old.  It was a lovely experience nonetheless!

Tanzanie Chocolate
Vacherin Framboise
At long last, dessert came along, and once again I was pleased with the results of the American menu.  Chocolate mousse!  Ice cream!  Chocolate!  Yum!  The French menu had a type of raspberry cake, which I'm sure was also delicious.  But I was too busy trying to stuff my face with a super rich chocolate mousse.  I could barely get down half of the mousse before it was just too rich for me to handle.  In a good way!  And just when we thought we were done, we weren't!  In addition to the desserts on the menu, our waiter brought out two tins of different types of handmade candies.  From marshmallows to lollipops to chocolate truffles, I was in heaven.
Candy tin number one

Remy was an unforgettable dinner experience, especially out on the open seas on a Disney Cruise.  In my opinion, it was well worth the $75 per person, and anyone who has the opportunity to do it, should.  Save up the money if you must; it's a once in a lifetime kinda meal!  At least it was to poor, college student me!  The atmosphere was awesome, and it was nice to be away from the kids and the chaos and have some quiet adult time.  The service was also amazing; our waiter didn't even get a second table until we were about halfway through our meal!

Candy tin number two
Which reminds me, it is important to note that this is a dining experience, not a quick dinner.  The whole thing lasted about three hours for us, though it didn't seem to drag at all.  The more courses you order, the longer it will take, and I recommend ordering as many courses as they'll allow.  You're paying one price either way!

And spoiler alert: if you don't mind a nice surprise being stolen, when we arrived back at our stateroom after dinner, there was a thank you note and a small box of chocolates waiting for us.  Thanks, Remy!

Have you been to Remy on the Dream?  Planning to visit on an upcoming Dream or Fantasy cruise?  Loved it?  Hated it?  Too surprised that I even wrote this blog to speak?  I can't blame you, but if you have any feedback, leave a comment, send a tweet (@amandaenchanted), or write on our Facebook page!