All posts by lainey.melnick@gmail.com

Disney Wonder Merry Chrismastime Cruise – posted December 25, 2015

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I took my two youngest children on the Disney Wonder cruise to Key West and Castaway Caye over the winter school break. We had a ton of fun. There is a reason why Disney charges so much more for their cruises, it is a full family experience. The shows are all fabulous, Broadway-quality Disney entertainment, plus they show first run movies. We were lucky enough to be on the ship for the premiere of the new Star Wars which they showed on board many times to enthusiastic crowds.

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The shows are great, really entertaining and different nightly.

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The cabins are set up well for families. Our oceanview cabin had a curtain to separate the couch from the king size bed and we had a split bathroom which made it great for all of us to get up and ready in the morning.
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Castaway Caye (pronounced Key) is Disney’s private island in the Bahamas. There are lots of activities you can do and they serve a bbq lunch on the island. You can snorkel in the lagoon, my daughter saw a squid, which is really unusual. We also did the extreme adventure package so we could also have the stingray encounter which was very cool.
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You get to feed the stingray and then you snorkel in the lagoon with them.
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These stingrays don’t have stingers and so it is very safe.

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There are deck parties at night, the pirate party is the big one when everyone comes out wearing their pirate costumes. The fireworks show follows and is the only fireworks show at sea at this point. There was also a Frozen party where the Frozen characters come out to sing and dance.

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The dining is unique in that you are assigned different restaurants each night but you keep your servers so they get to know you and your table mates over the cruise. The food is exceptional, the best I’ve had on a cruise ship without needing to pay for specialty dining. The one specialty restaurant, Palo, was wonderful. It is adults only, and they do a brunch on sea days, which is when I went. The food was amazing and delicious.
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The Disney characters are all over the ship all the time so your kids can be sure to get pictures and autographs with all of them.
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There is a free character breakfast, be sure to reserve as soon as you’re on board. This is for the Disney Jr characters although Mickey does make an appearance.

Disney is definitely a great value vacation for a family of all ages.

An Epic Cruise – Posted on February 4, 2013

Norwegian Epic – Western Mediterranean October 2012

The best thIMG_20121019_103616ing about this cruise is the itinerary. I loved all of the ports: Barcelona, Rome, French Riviera, and Naples. They were all wonderful. There are tips for enjoying each that are important and definitely protect your valuables, theft is high in all the ports. The thing I liked best about the Epic is the Norwegian service is always top notch, they really care about pleasing their customers and get to know you and your needs.

The entertainmenIMAG0186 (2)t was fantastic. I loved Blue Man Group especially and the Cirque Dreams dinner is well worth the cost, get the seating in the upper level for the best experience. All of the shows in the Epic Theater are free but you do need reservations. There was confusion about this and some people missed out on these wonderful shows because they thought there was a cost.

My biggest disappointment was the food choice. They have absolutely wonderful specialty restaurants which cost extra, but for the included meals, although the quality is good, there is not much variety for a long cruise. I am a chocolate lover and didn’t find anything the whole week to satisfy that craving. Norwegian has great entry prices, but they do charge extra for a lot of things. If you want to go to the ice bar, there’s a cover, to bowl, and other activities, plus the great specialty restaurants. Plus at some ports, you are not allowed to walk off of the ship and you need to either have an excursion booked or use their shuttle which they charge for. Still the overall value is very good, just be ready to pay a little extra on board to make the most of the experience.

I am a travel agent and took my mother who uses a walker, we booked a balcony cabin and we were disappointed with the size of the cabin. We needed to walk sideways around the bed to get to the couch near the bIMG_6620-1alcony and the walker was seriously in the way most of the time. If you have any mobility issues, you should get the accessible cabins for more space. Having the balcony was wonderful. I spent many serene moments sitting on the balcony watching the ocean and scenery. I can’t imagine cruising any other way. I would be happy to answer any questions about any cruises you may be interested in taking.  IMG_6621-1 (2) IMG_6737-1 IMG_6747 IMG_6782IMG_6799-2  IMG_6899-1 IMG_6926 IMG_6932 IMG_6984_edit0 IMG_20121018_062122_edit0IMG_20121018_064142-1  IMG_20121018_070221-1

Resorts of Nassau – Posted on August 31, 2011

I cruise2_99_69 (2)don’t always travel by cruise, I actually love to have a good resort experience in one special spot. My kids have been urging me to go to the Atlantis to try out their incredible water park, so I had to take a water taxi over to see what the fuss was all about. First of all, the option of just walking from the pier to shop first, then drop packages off in the cabin before heading back to the water taxi worked out great. There is rum, diamonds, watches, rumcake and lots of duty free goods within walking distance from the ships.

If you didn’t pre-book a shore excursion there were plenty to choose from alocruise2_99_17 (2)ng the pier. The water taxi cost $6 for a round trip from the pier to Paradise Island. There is a short walk involved. There are normal taxis for $4 which would take you door to door, but I love boats.

There is a definite difference between the tourist trap ship area and the more upscalecruise2_99_127 tourist trap Atlantis area. Atlantis is amazing, huge, beautiful, palacial. When you walk through the guest areas, it’s very private, quiet and the streams have sea turtles swimming tcruise2_99_98hrough.

The Atlantis has an aquarium, water park, private beach, upscale shopping, casino, entertainment, kids programs and lots of activities. Next door is the Riu, an all-inclusive resort.

The Riu sharecruise2_99_103s the view, beach and general area of the Atlantis. It’s smaller, more quiet, but the pool and beach area of all the resorts were packed with people.

Coming soon will be the largest complex with a resort and casino by Melia. They have had many delays so we’re unsure of the opening date at this point.

For those interestecruise2_99_81d in saving some money, you can book a hotel room at the Comfort Suites of Paraside Island and use the facilities of the Atlantis.

Bahama Mama – posted Aug 11, 2011

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The best way to launch a travel business is with travel. Thanks to Norwegian Cruise Line, we were able to float into total relaxation on the Sky. Even after the hurricane, Nassau was beautiful, crystal clear refreshing waters.

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We docked alongside Royal Caribbean’s huge Oasis of the Sea,some may think that it’s too big, but it is designed with neighborhoods in mind to make the big seem smaller. We also had two Carnival Fun Ships in port, the Dream and the Imagination.

We enjoyed the dinners in the specialty restaurants, we tried the French restaurant and the steakhouse, and both didn’t disappoint. I’d recommend the escargot and creme brulet at the French restaurant, and the Filet Mignon and apple crisp at Cagney’s. We felt like VIPs with the special service from Norwegian, and didn’t even mind that we couldn’t dock our first day due to Hurricane Irene.