Preparing for A Disney Cruise

Today is a very big day, Pascal!

No, I’m not leaving for a Disney cruise today, but I will be this time next week, and I can’t wait to be back on the sea, sailing on the Disney Dream.

This will be my second Disney cruise, and having had the experience from my cruise last year, I feel somewhat more prepared than I did last time. I know what to expect now, I know what I wish I’d done differently on my last cruise, and I’m ready to have the best time at sea feeling fully ready for it! If you’ve never done a Disney cruise before and need a little guidance, or are just interested in seeing how I do it, here are a few of the things I’ve done to get ready for this sailing:

Deciding how to decorate the stateroom door

The stateroom doors on Disney cruise ships are metal, so anything magnetic sticks to them and people really take advantage of this by decorating their doors to the max! We didn’t decorate our door last time, so I really wanted to get involved this year, and ordered some personalised decorations for our group so that we have even just a little something! It also makes things so much easier when you can’t remember what number room you’re in and all the floors and doors look them same..

Researching ports

For our Mediterranean cruise last year, I didn’t do ANY research on our ports or excursions, and relied purely on the rest of my group to decide what to do. Sure, I still had a great time and I was pretty happy doing whatever, but this time I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos of Castaway Cay in preparation!

Packing important things

As well as the usual holiday essentials, and the cruise booklet that you are sent in advance of your trip, there are a couple of things that I would highly recommend packing for a smoother cruise experience. Pack a lanyard or passholder for your room key if you don’t want to carry a bag all the time, I like to bring a travel cup (like the refillable ones you get at the parks, or a travel mug type) to fill up with drinks on deck so you don’t have to use a paper cup every time, and if you are going to decorate your door, don’t forget the decs!

Download the Disney Cruise app

Although it doesn’t do much before your cruise, once you’re onboard the ship and connected to the wifi, the Disney Cruise app becomes your guide to the boat, with daily schedules and timings, plus it has a cute messenger feature where you can chat to your group on the boat!

Plan your outfits

Even if you don’t meticulously plan your holiday wardrobe like I do, there are a couple of things you should prepare for. Every Disney cruise has a Pirate Night, where dressing up is highly recommended – seriously, everyone does it! – so you won’t want to miss out on that, and some sailings also have optional formal or semi-formal nights so plan accordingly. I’ve also planned a special outfit for the sailaway party as ours was cancelled on the last cruise so I want this one to be more special!

Have you ever done a Disney cruise before?

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The Perfect Cabin Suitcase

For someone who travels quite a lot, I’m almost ashamed to say that I have never used a cabin-sized suitcase until now. Whenever I’ve travelled hand luggage only I’ve kept myself to backpacks and holdalls, and while that has always been fine for me as I don’t do it often, I figured that as I now have the advantage of using Matthew’s staff travel to get super cheap flights, I’ll be going hand luggage only quite a bit more from here on out!

Another thing that swayed me was how adorable this suitcase is, so I decided to treat myself to the Minnie Mouse suitcase by American Tourister from the Disney Store website, and isn’t it a beaut?! I already have a large American Tourister case which I got for Christmas last year and I LOVE, so I knew that it would be a great investment.

Its a hard shell case with four wheels, and a built in 3-digit combination lock that the zip pulls click into, so you can secure it without having to worry about having a lock that needs a key.

The inside of the case it just as pretty as the outside, with its pretty pink and blue lining and details, and what I love about the AT cases compared to other brands I’ve seen is that it was a proper zipped divider that fully separates the top section of the case, and also has a big pocket built into it, which is the perfect size for 3-4 pairs of Mickey ears. The main compartment also has a little side pocket, which is perfect for charging cables and other little bits, and the strap keeps everything nicely packed in place!

The first outing of my case was my Disneyland Paris trip last month, and I easily managed to fit all my clothes and other bits for 4 days and still have a good amount of space, which given that I was packing summery clothes means I don’t think I’d have any problems packing 3-4 days of thicker wintery clothes.

The size of the case of course meets the size requirements of a cabin bag with most, if not all airlines, and I had absolutely no problem fitting it into an overhead locker on my EasyJet flight. The case wheels like a dream so walking through airports is no problem at all and it is just the cutest case ever, so if you do ever check it into the hold then you’ll have no problem spotting it on a luggage belt!

American Tourister do quite a big range of Disney designs, as well as normal styles, which you can usually get cheapest on Amazon. As I mentioned earlier, I also have a large Donald Duck suitcase which is the perfect size for a 2 week trip and just as amazing as this one, so I definitely sing the praises of all of their cases!

If I don’t make another little trip before then, the next trip this case will make will be to Walt Disney World in January!

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Disneyland Paris Day 1

Well gang, it’s been a little while but I am safely back on magical property! It’s been pretty much a year since I was last in Disneyland Paris, and being a fairly spontaneous trip I was super excited to get back, plus this will also be the longest DLP trip I’ve been on since I was a child, if not ever!

We’re staying offsite, so started the morning by getting the bus in, which was pretty exciting for me because I’m so used to walking in through Disney Village, rather than through the gates, so that was cool. We were both getting annual passes, so we had to go to the ticket booth first and then could skip the queue of people waiting for park opening and take advantage of what was left of early magic hours! We did Hyperspace Mountain and Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, then got to the annual pass office for when it opened at 10am to sort out passes out before getting breakfast at Market House Deli.

Fuelled up, we visited the dragon under the castle before going into Fantasyland and starting off with a teacup ride.

After teacups, we hit Its a Small World, Le Pays des Contes de Fees and Casey Jr Train all pretty much as walk ons, and then walked into Adventureland and queued for Pirates of the Caribbeans, which was surprisingly marked as an hour wait time, although we only waited about half an hour. It was then lunch time, so we went to Restaurant Hakuna Matata for chicken strips.

Right after lunch, we figured it wasn’t the best idea to go straight on a fast ride, but we got fastpass for Bug Thunder Mountain and then decided that as the wait time was 45 minutes we might as well get in line anyway – I’d forgotten how much I like BTM in Paris, so I have no issues at all doing it twice in a day! From there we went back to Fantasyland and queued to meet Mickey Mouse, and then as our little feet are somewhat out of practice from Disney parks, we went to the Disneyland Hotel to have a sit down and a drink in Cafe Fantasia.

Rested and recovered, we were back in the park and on our way back to Big Thunder Mountain for our fastpass slot – annoyingly it was at the same time as Stars on Parade so we’ll save parade for another day! After that, we did Indiana Jones as practically a walk on (does anyone else sometimes forget this ride exists?) and then went back out of the park to wander round the shops in Disney Village, and grabbed an Earl of Sandwich for dinner. We decided to get the shuttle back to our hotel inside of going back for Illuminations as Matthew was developing some pretty nasty blisters and we’ve still got three more days to get everything done, so we’re in no rush to squeeze it all in!

Tomorrow we’ll be starting off in Walt Disney Studios and seeing where the day takes us!

Paris, I’m coming back!

Happy Thursday y’all! (I had to check that it’s actually Thursday because working from home means I have no sense of what day of the week it is!)

I’m in a pretty great mood today because last night Matthew and I booked ourselves a little trip to.. Disneyland Paris! Eeek!

Believe it or not, I actually haven’t stepped foot into a Disney park at all this year, and I honestly have found it much harder than I thought I would – especially after spoiling myself with so many trips over the last few years! Anyway, with Matthew officially starting with easyJet on September 17th, we had wanted to get away on a little trip in the week before then, and had played around with the idea of a couple of places in Europe, then last night he called me up and said he’d found a pretty good deal on 4 nights in Paris, and next thing I knew it was booked!

We’re staying offsite, which I’m actually quite excited about because I haven’t actually stayed offsite before, and as I’m getting an annual pass (yay!), I plan on squeezing in a whole bunch of trips in the next year and doing them as cheaply as possible, I know that offsite is gonna be the way to do it. I’m so psyched to be becoming an AP holder again, especially now I’ll be able to take advantage of Matthew’s staff travel to fly super cheap and go more often than I have done before!

It’ll also be our first trip to Paris together, and believe it or not, only actually our second time in a Disney park together! I haven’t been to Paris in almost a year, and as that was for a RunDisney weekend it wasn’t really a proper park trip, so I can’t wait to just be in the parks with my favourite person and not have to worry about running a half marathon the next morning!

Oh, and did I mention it’s only 25 days away?! I’m so excited!

Things to do on Disney Cruise Sea Days

I’m in shock with the realisation that it’s been almost a whole year since I went on my first Disney Cruise. Where has that time gone?! Disney Cruise Line opened my eyes to a world of holidays that I’d previously considered boring, and now I’m just buzzing to get back on the next ship in January!

One thing that I’ve been asked quite a few times is ‘what do you even do on a cruise when you can’t get off?’, and to be honest I always used to think the same before I actually experienced DCL, and now I live for sea days and all the fun that comes with them. Disney ships are a Dream, full of Magic, Fantasy and Wonder (see what I did there), and there are so many things that you can do on board, aside from lounging at the pool, to fill your days from waking up to passing out.

Character meets

Sea days are the best days for character meets, as they’re the days that they put the most characters out during the day. As well as the standard meets that you’ll be able to find the times for on your navigator, there are often special meets put on which you can book in advance of the cruise, such as Frozen and princess meets.

Kids club openings

While normally I wouldn’t want to go anywhere near a room full of kids, the kids clubs are without a doubt the coolest places on the ships, with themed areas like Andy’s Room, Pixie Hollow and Mickey Mouse Club. These clubs are strictly kids only, but during scheduled ‘open houses’, anyone can go inside to see what’s going on and admire the adorableness!

Catch a movie

If you’re in the mood for a movie, you can either hang out by the pool and watch what’s on the big screen at Funnelvision, or if an outdoor screening doesn’t take your fancy, you can go to the onboard cinema! It’s bigger than most of the screens at my local cinema, and it even plays some of the newest film releases.

Fill your boots!

Sea days are the best days for food. Well, you’ve got more opportunities to take advantage of all that free food that’s included in your booking. You could snack on nuggets and pizza between buffet meals, and don’t forget the self-serve ice cream machines..

Try out the gym

After all that food, you might not want to move, but if you haven’t lived on ice cream all day and fancy it, the onboard gym is fully kitted out for your workout needs.

Pub? Pub.

Pub quizzes, bingo, talks and so much more goes on in the pubs and clubs on the ships, so there’s always something going on for you to do.

Exploring the ship

Sea days are the perfect time to just explore these amazing ships, so have fun!

A Look Around Aulani’s Deluxe Studios

Staying at Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii has been an absolute dream of mine for years now, and part of me still can’t believe that I’ve actually ticked it off the great Disney bucket list now.

During our stay in paradise, we actually stayed in two different rooms, both of which were Deluxe Studios, which is the second level of room at Aulani after a standard hotel room. There are several options in terms of the view you can have – standard view, garden view, pool view and ocean view – and we spent 6 nights in a standard view and our last night in an ocean view. Put simply, the better the view, the more you pay, whether that’s in cash or DVC points.

Each deluxe studio sleeps up to 4 people, with a regular double bed and a sofa that converts into a double bed, and there’s a large bathroom and a little kitchenette which is equipped with a fridge, microwave, coffee maker and toaster. They also all have a balcony/terrace area with chairs and a little table so you can sit out and enjoy the sunshine.

Of course this is still Disney, so the decor of the rooms perfect, including the amazing Mickey table lamp and hidden Mickey bedspread..

But also just look at the view that we had from our ocean view room on the last night:

Can I go back now please?

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Scooting Around San Francisco

When we were in San Francisco back in April, we made an incredible discovery that changed our trip. Scattered all around the city streets are electric scooters, and although we dismissed them as something rather odd at first, on the second day of our trip I decided to Google what was going on.

These scooters are available to rent by the general public, and its sorta like a cross between Uber and Pokemon Go. There are three companies – Bird, Lime and Spin – who have scooters in the city, and all you need to do is download their apps to get started (some will require your driving licence number). Each scooter has a GPS tracker, so you can use the app to locate nearby scooters, and then when you find one, you simply scan the QR code on the scooter to unlock it, and you’re good to go!

It costs $1 to unlock your scooter, and then its 15c a minute to ride, and you’ll be told when you unlock your scooter how much battery it has left so you know how far you can get before you unlock it. Their super simple to operate – you just give it a few manual pushes with your foot, then hold down the little accelerator button on the handlebars to activate the electric motor, and there’s a brake fitted to the handlebar too.

Riding around the city on these scooters is the most fun! Technically, they’re only supposed to be ridden on the road in designated cycle lanes as they’re actually road legal vehicles, but most people use them on the pavements. They don’t handle the infamous San Francisco hills all too well, but if you’re journey is fairly flat then you won’t have any problems! And when you’re done, you just leave your scooter wherever you are, lock it through the app and you’ll be charged for your time.

If you’re a local, you can also use these scooters to make a bit of cash by becoming a ‘charger’ – the companies use normal people to collect up scooters when the batteries are running low, and pay about $10 per scooter that they charge up!

I honestly really wish we had more things like this in the UK – I guess they’re the scooter equivalent of a Boris bike, but its way more fun being on a scooter! These companies operate in quite a few cities in the US, so if you’ve got a trip coming up, definitely hit their websites and find out where you might be able to get a scooter!

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