Disney · Disney Cruise Line · Gluten Free Travel · Travel

Gluten Free Dining at Disney!

Mickey!

Are you traveling to Disney World with gluten intolerance, celiac, etc? I started a new group for those traveling to Disney gluten free. I needed a place to ask to see menus, offerings and recommendations. I was not finding what I needed, so I created a page on Facebook to handle that very need.

There are some amazing websites that are dedicated to eating around the World gluten free, but they obviously cannot cover EVERY restaurant. My favorites though are Gluten Free in Orlando and Dairy Free & Gluten Free in WDW.  My facebook group will, in my opinion, supplement those pages.

If you travel to, or will be traveling to Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Lines, or Adventures by Disney with celiac or are gluten intolerant, please check out Gluten Free Disney on Facebook.

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter to see my Disney destination travels!

What are your favorite places to eat at Walt Disney World gluten free? Comment below!

[To get to the facebook page- https://m.facebook.com/groups/448115108907206]

 

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Cruise · Disney Cruise Line · Gluten Free Travel · Travel

Our 2017 Travel Preview

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I’m pretty excited about the adventures that we have planned for 2017. We have some cruises, some Disney World (well let’s be honest, a lot of Disney World) and hopefully some other fun mixed in. I would definitely say this is the year of Disney vacations for us.

January
Disney World – Art of Animation. Our first trip is actually behind us. My son, mother and I spent 3 nights at the Art of Animation in Walt Disney World. This hotel is impeccably themed.  This trip was the result of my being cold with below average temperatures in southeast Michigan and my husband needing to be in Europe for almost a week for work. I decided that I didn’t want to parent alone for the week here in the cold so we asked my son if he’d rather be in Disney without Daddy, or home without Daddy. Fortunately he chose the right answer. We were off to Disney World 3 weeks after I started thinking about it.  Disney was kind enough to offer an annual pass deal that allowed for 13 months out of the annual pass for the price of 12. This worked out perfectly for us as our Disney trip started January 11th, and we intended to take another Disney vacation in early February 2018. Both of those outlying trips, plus as many as we put in the middle, will be covered under that AP.  As for the trip, I was really excited for my son to experience the Art of Animation. He is really into the movie Cars, and all things Lightening McQueen.  We stayed in a Cars Suite and it was a big hit for my kiddo.

End of January/early February
Carnival Vista cruise to the Southern Caribbean. From the moment Carnival Cruise line released information on the Vista I was intrigued and knew that I needed to find a place for it in my vacation schedule. It has so much to offer.  This is a ship for families or those without kids. There’s just so much to do. It’s a ship that has something for everyone. I’m really excited to visit new ports of call (Grand Turk and Aruba), and I just can’t wait to see what this ship has to offer. During this cruise we plan to take our son to the water park area and swim in the pools (this is the first cruise we will go on post potty training), we are planning on going to the aquarium in Curacao, checking out a beach in Aruba, and will probably stay on the ship in the Dominican Republic. We are all looking forward to this cruise and hopeful that we will enjoy ourselves during these 8 nights.

March
Disney Fantasy to the Western Caribbean with a Star Wars day at Sea; and Saratoga Springs Resort at Walt Disney World. My husband is a HUGE Star Wars fan, and we as a family are huge Disney Cruise Line fans. We picked this cruise based purely on price. I looked for the least expensive 7 night cruise from February through April, and this one came back the winner.  I can’t wait to cruise concierge once again on DCL. We plan to have a beach day in the Cayman Islands, visit a resort for a day at the pool and beach in Cozumel, and we may do a beach day in Jamaica or just stay on the ship. We will also spend the day at the beach on Castaway Cay.

Prior to the cruise we are spending 3 nights in a 2 bedroom villa at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort. I’m excited that we can walk, boat or quickly bus to Disney Springs. There are so many dining opportunities there and I’m looking forward to checking them out. We will for sure eat at my favorite, Raglan Road at least once during our stay as well. They have the most amazing gluten free options. Besides eating in Disney Springs we plan to visit the Magic Kingdom one day (those annual passes will come in handy) and we plan to swim with our son as much as possible.

June
Disney Dream, Castaway Cay Double Dip; and the Polynesian Resort in a DVC studio. Disney’s Castaway Cay is my absolute favorite Caribbean location. They did such an amazing job with that island, it is always my favorite part of a Disney cruise.  During the summer I turn 40 (in August to be exact) and when Disney was releasing their schedule for the summer I was hoping that it would include some double dip cruises! I was geeked that they offered several choices of cruises 5 nights long and several 4 night cruises. I knew I wanted to do a 5 night, and since one of the cruises overlapped my son’s 4th birthday, I was hoping that would end up being the least expensive week, and it was! That cruise is all about the island. We will try and secure cabanas for our days on the island. I haven’t decided if we will do a day pass at a resort in Nassau or just stay on the ship; my son will be staying on the ship with his grandma either way.

We are then spending 3 nights at the Poly. I have always wanted to stay here, especially during a time where we would for sure be able to have pool time. Well early June is sure to fit that bill. I decided that since we have AP’s and since our cruise is over on a Wednesday that it would only cost us 2 more vacation days and we could get another half week at Disney in during the year. It seemed like a no brainer. I’m really excited about this whole trip!!!

November
Disney World- Beach Club Resort. Back in the fall this was our only planned trip for the year at Disney World, the rest of the trips just sort of happened. We are looking forward to enjoying mild weather (hopefully) and the Food & Wine Festival. We picked this resort so we could easily walk to Epcot via the International Gateway to enjoy food booths and yummy restaurants. It’s awesome that Epcot is just a quick 5 minute walk from this resort. This will be our longest trip to the World for the year. We plan to spend 6 or 7 nights here.

That’s what’s scheduled for the year. My husband will have to travel for work more and if he goes somewhere cool then I can tag along, or I suspect that we will sneak in an official adults only 40th birthday trip for me sometime this year. But first we have save money to pay for everything we have planned already.

Any questions about any of my travels? What do you have planned for the year??? Feel free to comment below.

Happy Travels!

Gluten Free Travel · Travel · Travel with kids · Vacation

2016 Travel Year in Review 

A recap of where I went and what we thought of it in 2016.

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January

Paris, France. My husband had to be in Europe for work and it saved his employer significant money for us to be in Paris for a few days before his work meeting. It was a remarkable adults only trip. While it was only 3 days, we hit all the major landmarks and really had a terrific time.

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Disney Cruise aboard the Fantasy to the Eastern Caribbean. We had a great week. Traveling was my husband, son, and mom. We all really enjoyed ourselves. We upgraded our cabin to a concierge 1 -bedroom suite at the pier and really enjoyed the concierge benefits and service. If you’re interested in upgrading at pier, here’s the information on how to do that. This cruise was originally booked as a Royal Caribbean Cruise with some extended family. But the family members had to cancel and we moved our cruise to Disney. I just picked the week with the least expensive 7 night cruise on the Fantasy. We had a terrific time and were glad we made the switch. Disney offers so many activities for kids under 3.

February/March

Cozumel, Mexico. Secrets Aura.  I have friends that married on Leap Year. Each Leap Year they celebrate their anniversary with a bunch of their friends at a new destination. Most of the group stayed a week, while we were there 3 nights. It was a terrific short getaway for my husband and I that included a lot of book reading at the pool.

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May

He’s free before he’s 3 Walt Disney World Vacation. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. The premise of this trip was that it was the last time my son could enter the parks for no charge (free) and could eat buffet meals for no charge. It was an amazing trip. However, it was our most challenging at Disney World with our son. He was one month shy of 3 and was very opinionated, plus a bit all over the place. I.e. one day he wanted to ride the train over everything else, until the train arrived, then he wanted nothing to do with it… But the trip overall was great. At some point you have to make a deluxe king room at the Grand Floridian work, even if it’s just a couple days. If you get one of the corner rooms you can hear the band and piano player play while you are in bed. It’s one of my favorite vacation memories of the year.

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Disney Cruise aboard the Fantasy to the Eastern Caribbean. (Yes, we did this itinerary twice in 1 year.) This cruise was immediately following the DW vacation. That was the first time we combined both a land and cruise trip together and we really liked it. My mom joined us for the cruise and we all had a great time. We booked this cruise as a 5 year anniversary vacation for us and we were booked in a 1 bedroom concierge cabin. The concierge hosts really make it a remarkable cruise.

June

Fort Lauderdale. The Westin Beach Resort. I attended the Signature Travel Network regional meeting and spent 2 nights here. I had a whole 3 hours to myself before the start of programming and I did my best to enjoy my time. I was not overly impressed by the size of the pool for this “resort”, but I was very impressed with their gluten free offerings. I ate a convention meal, as well as 2 meals at the pool and a breakfast from room service. They even offer gluten free bread here. Anyone who eats gluten free knows this is a fun find.

July

Jupiter Beach, Florida. Jupiter Beach Resort. We were invited to a wedding for one of my husband’s friends. We honestly had such a good 24 hours at this hotel.  The food was great- very gluten free friendly. The beach was awesome, as was the pool and bar service. We really packed in a lot during this quick night away. I would definitely return here for a family vacation in the future.

August

Disney World. The Swan & Dolphin, and Disney’s Grand Floridian. I was thrilled to be selected to attend Disney’s Agent Education Program which is a 3 day training program held at their resorts. My husband and I added on an adult only quickie trip the 24 hours before my programming began. We really crammed in the fun. Our day included fun at Epcot where I was able to ride the new Soarin’ Around the World, as well as Frozen Ever After, plus we enjoyed the Dessert Party for the Star Wars Fireworks at Hollywood Studios. We never spent so little time in a hotel (the Swan.)  The next day we hit Downtown Disney – Disney Springs, which was all revamped before I began my training that afternoon. It was such a great trip. Part of our programming included dinner at Tiffins, in Animal Kingdom. It was a remarkable and memorable meal- I want to return here for sure.

October

Disney World. Four Seasons Orlando. I thought that I needed one more flight in order to secure gold medallion status with Delta Airlines for the year, so we booked this trip about 3 weeks prior to departure. Hurricane Matthew ended up pushing us back a day, but it still turned out to be an incredible 2.5 days away. We managed to enjoy some pool time at the adults only pool at the resort, spend the day at Epcot, have an amazing birthday dinner for my husband at Yachtsman Steakhouse, and catch Wishes (the Magic Kingdom fireworks) from the rooftop balcony at the Four Seasons. This truly is a luxury property. Their attention to detail puts them at the top of the list of Orlando hotels. No one compares.

November

Beaches Turks and Caicos. Sometime during the summer I decided that I needed one more family vacation for us. I booked us at this family resort and didn’t regret it. It is a large property, and they move a bit like they are on an island with no where to be, but we really enjoyed our 5 nights here. The resort offered many activities but we didn’t participate in many really. It was my goal to scuba dive here as it is included, but I had a nasty chest cold that wouldn’t go away. I did register though in case I was better, but it didn’t work out. We swam. For 5 days and nights, we swam. We loved the many pools and swam in 4 of them.  When we weren’t swimming, we were eating or napping. We really enjoyed this trip with just the 3 of us.

Wow, what a year. It looks like the only months we didn’t have a trip was April, September, and December. (And I’m guessing my husband may have traveled some of those months for work- I don’t track his trips, just my own.) This was a record year of travel for us. Check out more of our vacation photos on Instagram and on Facebook.  How did your year pan out??  What was your most memorable vacation memory or trip?

Gluten Free Travel · Travel

Gluten Free at Beaches Turks and Caicos

We recently returned from a 5 night stay at Beaches Turks and Caicos. The resort is absolutely beautiful. The color of the ocean is really as turquoise as it appears in the pictures. Traveling was myself, my husband and our 3 year old. I’m celiac so I medically have to eat gluten free. Beaches did a great job with my “allergy”. Yes, it’s not technically an allergy, but it is easier to call it that. People understand allergy. I would not hesitate to recommend this property to someone with a food allergy and definitely to someone with celiac. This article will describe my experience eating gluten free at the resort, plus our overall thoughts regarding each venue.

Prior to my trip I emailed the resort to alert them of my allergy and to figure out the process. I was advised to contact btcfoodconcierge@grp.sandals.com. I sent them my reservation number, arrival date, and my allergy. I received this detailed response in return.

btc-allergy-emailMy flight happened to be arriving to the island at 4:50- means we wouldn’t get to the property and checked in until 5:30. During my pre-trip research I learned that the culinary concierge is open until 5:30 pm each day. I knew my son would be starving from his long day of travel so I emailed back requesting to have my first dinner and breakfast lined up in advance so that I wouldn’t have to worry about jetting across the property upon my late arrival to secure a dinner. I also requested to eat at Mario’s. It is located in Italian Village and is centrally located on the property. Andrea, the head culinary concierge, responded that they will have everything set up for me to dine that first night at Mario’s and the first morning at Barefoot by the Sea. I was then advised to meet with Andrea in the Culinary Concierge office before 10:30 a.m. to set up my next set of meals.

I will admit that the first meals were slightly disappointing to all of us. (My husband and son included. They are not gluten free.) The ease of Mario’s didn’t outweigh the incredibly disappointing meal. And Barefoot by the sea, with its picnic tables and sandy floor (it is literally just sand) made for a bit of a messy meal, especially with a 3 year old. Although the location of Barefoot by the Sea was gorgeous, the meal was just so-so.

Fortunately, the remainder of our meals were great. I’ll be honest, we were concerned after those first couple of meals, but the meals after were mostly quite good to excellent. But back to the process. After breakfast, I went over to the Caribbean Beach lobby, which is where the Culinary office is located. I met with Andrea. She was terrific.  They print off sheets for each meal of the day during your stay, plus one for a snack. The sheets have your name, allergy, and room number. You then pick where you want to dine for the next 24 hours. (Due to my lack of desire to do this every day, I did 2.5 days at a time.) You fill out when you think you will arrive and what you would like for that meal. They have the menus of all of the restaurants to look at. They can basically make whatever you request with the proper advanced warning. The only item that I couldn’t get was onion rings at Bobby Dee’s, the old time soda shop restaurant.

I will list out my dining choices, and my thoughts about each place below:

Sunday Lunch – Dino’s, Italian Village. I ordered the nachos. This would have probably been better as a snack. None of us loved this restaurant choice. My son’s gluten containing pizza was good according to my husband but it literally took a half hour to come out. (To their credit, we were warned that that would be the case.) The service in this restaurant was incredibly slow. It took them over 10 minutes to seat us and we were the only ones waiting. This was not because the place was full, they just didn’t have enough staff. My nachos were good, but again, it would have been better enjoyed pool side. A point regarding snacks- you can pick up a snack of really good cupcakes and 2 cookies at the Culinary office off the Caribbean Beach lobby, or you can pick a place that is open to receive a snack each day if you want one. You just need to fill out the form to indicate your choice.

Sunday Dinner- Neptunes, located in Key West, right on the water. This was one of our favorite meals of the trip. I highly recommend this restaurant. The service was excellent as was the food. I had an amazing lamb shank with mashed potatoes and vegetables. The lamb included a delicious gravy. Mmmm… my mouth is watering over the memory!

Monday Breakfast- I had prearranged our family to eat at the Sesame Street Character Breakfast, at Le Petit Chateau in French Village. There is an additional charge for this experience. For my family of 3, the charge was $40. My husband and I both felt it was reasonable for the experience. They had Sesame Street plates, and a fun cup for the kids to take away which included a sticker and a whistle (maybe not the best gift for little kids, well at least from their parents’ perspective). Each character in attendance came to our table, and they had a dance party at the end. I would recommend arriving early because they have characters in the courtyard before the breakfast begins. The breakfast meal itself was nothing to write home about, but it was fine.

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Sesame Street Character Breakfast
Monday Lunch – we were supposed to go to Bella Napoli which I believe is the place that only has pizza, nothing else, not a salad to go with it, just pizza. We were swimming though in a pool in Key West and didn’t want to go all the way over to Caribbean Village for lunch so I asked to speak to the chef at Bayside to see if I could eat there. This was a buffet and the selection was great, most of the food was naturally gluten free and the view was outstanding! This ended up being where we would dine for most of our remaining lunches and breakfasts.

Monday Snack- I choose to have a snack of a milk shake at Bobby Dee’s as my snack. They scooped my ice cream from a fresh container, with a new spoon, and made my shake in a cleaned out and sanitized blender. It was a fun treat that we don’t always get to enjoy gluten free.

Monday Dinner- Kimonos, (a traditional hibachi grill Japanese Steak house) in French Village. This is the only place that you can actually make a reservation for dining. They handled my allergy really well here. They just used gluten free soy sauce for the whole table’s meal. Once he served my meal, he added additional sauces to the food on the grill for the others. I thought my meal was excellent, but my husband did comment that theirs had more flavor than my meal. My 3 year old loved his meal as well which made us all really happy.

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Kimonos
Tuesday Breakfast – Sky, Key West. Sky, on the roof of Bayside, is adults only in the evening but is open to all for breakfast. The view was stunning, and the food was really good here. They had a seafood eggs benedict that is probably a big crowd pleaser for many. I choose not to eat seafood because I don’t like the taste so I ordered traditional eggs benedict. It was really tasty. My husband had a gluten filled stuffed French toast that looked amazing. The day we ate here was completely blue skies and warm.  It would not be my first choice again on a sunny day, we all were cooking a little up there even with the umbrellas over the tables.

Tuesday Lunch- Bayside, Key West. This was covered above. Although I did not mention that they serve sushi here at lunch and it was really good! They had gluten free soy sauce as well which is always nice.

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Amazing views!
Tuesday Dinner- Arizonas, Caribbean Village. This is a tex-mex restaurant. The food was really good, but the service started out incredibly slow. I am not sure it is possible to walk slower than these servers were moving. It is a huge departure from what I am used to – cruising where the crew practically runs wherever they are headed. The meal starts with chips, salsa and guacamole. I also ordered the queso appetizer and a small serving of it was included with our chips and salsa. My husband and I both ordered steaks that were served with mashed potatoes. It was a very good meal that we were all pleased with.

Wednesday and Thursday Breakfast- Bayside, Key West. We just loved the location and the offerings. The view is incredible as well.

Wednesday Lunch- Bobby Dee’s, French Village. This was your typical burger, fries, ice cream type meal. We all enjoyed it. My son LOVES the popcorn machine and would get a small bag whenever we were here.

Wednesday Dinner- Schooners, Caribbean Village. This was another favorite meal by the 3 of us. Although my steak was slightly overcooked, it was flavorful and the service was excellent. The ambiance made for a really lovely last dinner on property.

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Schooners
Thursday lunch- Bobby Dee’s and Bayside. We had to be in the lobby to head to the airport at 12:30 so we needed an early and quick lunch. Our plan was to get carryout from Bobby Dee’s to eat in the room, and then I would get a to go order of sushi to have as a supplement to my lunch to eat on the way to the airport. Bayside was kind enough to accommodate my gluten free carry out sushi just a few minutes before they opened, and my chicken sandwich from Bobby Dee’s was a good start to my farewell lunch.

I would absolutely feel comfortable returning here and I was incredibly happy that I was not glutened during the trip! Have you already traveled to Beaches gluten free? What were your favorite places to dine? Or are you getting ready to travel to Beaches gluten free or a with a different food allergy?  I hope this article takes away some of your concerns about traveling to Beaches Turks and Caicos gluten free or with a food allergy.

Safe Travels.

Cruise · Cruise Tips · Disney Cruise Line · Gluten Free Travel · Travel · Travel Tips · Travel with kids

Fantasy becomes Reality- a trip report of our family cruise on the Disney Fantasy

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This is my trip report/review of my family vacation aboard the Disney Fantasy. We traveled mid-July 2015 in cabin 5650. Traveling was myself, my husband and our two-year old son. Grandma also came with us and was in a handicapped accessible cabin (8184) by herself.

We booked this cruise less than 4 weeks before the departure date. As a result we were forced into second seating for dinner which just wouldn’t work with my toddler. [Dinner would have started a half hour after his bedtime.] We were placed on a wait list and I am very happy to report that our request was approved and we were moved into main/early dining before the start of the cruise. [I was able to confirm this by logging into my account and reviewing the cruise details. Under the cruise details it indicated we were in main dining.] I received this information about 3 days before the cruise. This took so much stress away for that first day. Had I not secured main dining before the cruise we would have had to go to the designated area the first day of the cruise to make the request one more time. The one time we experienced this in the past we were moved, but not until the second day of the cruise. [If you have any questions about how this works, feel free to ask me in the comments. I also have a full post on moving your dining time here.]

The ship:

We were on the Fantasy, the newest of the Disney ships. She is stunning. Her atrium is absolutely gorgeous. There is a whole peacock feathers theme going that is just beautiful.

Disney Fantasy Lobby
My son & Daisy off the atrium. See the chandelier and the carpet? They have the peacock theme throughout.

Our cabin:

5650 is an extended verandah cabin on the 5th floor on the Disney Fantasy. (Category 5E.) The Disney literature indicates this is a ‘family stateroom’ meaning the interior of the cabin is larger than the standard sized cabins. It was wrong! The cabin itself may be smaller than a standard verandah cabin but I cannot be sure. It was small and tight in the cabin. The balcony however is amazing! It is one of the largest I’ve seen. It has two chaise lounge chairs, 2 regular chairs with a small table, and 2 lounging type chairs with adjustable backs. Plus there was room for my little one to run around. (And the running track was beneath us and not another cabin so we weren’t disrupting anyone.)

Disney Fantasy - Cabin 5650
Disney Fantasy – Cabin 5650

As you can see, the cabin is tight. On our first Disney cruise on the Fantasy, we were in a family verandah cabin. Our umbrella stroller could fit open next to the closet- that would not have been the case in this cabin. There was also a coffee table in front of the couch, as well as our son’s pack and play that made moving around the cabin impossible. We eventually opted to have the chair under the desk removed, where the coffee table (which we doubled as a toy box because it had storage space) fit perfectly. We also removed the pack and play and our son slept on the couch with bed rails. That ended up working really well and gave us much-needed floor space.

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This cabin is adjacent to a portion of the kids club. The hallway actually dead ends into the kids club, Disney’s Oceaneer Lab; however, it is not accessible from this end of the hallway.  Outside in the hallway you can hear ruckus from the kids club but rarely in the cabin. The biggest problem was at night when they would clean the Oceaneer Lab. We use a sleep machine at night in our house so we have an app that does something similar when we travel. [The app we use is Sleep Machine Lite, version 3.0] The sleep machine mostly quieted the noise, but there were a couple of nights where the late night cleaning woke me from sleeping in the middle of the night.

The best part of this cabin was the balcony size. The size of the interior of the cabin made it a little tough overall. (We definitely prefer a cabin with at least a little more square footage.) The location, except for the kids club noise, was good too!

Extended Balcony for Cabin 5650
Extended Balcony for Cabin 5650

Sailing in the summer vs Winter:

I’ve been on a LOT of cruises and this was my first in the summer. The biggest difference was how calm the seas were. There was no weather really to speak of. As of the 5th day of this cruise, it only really rained significantly once. And that was at about 6:30 p.m. It also rained really hard for 25 minutes or so when we were at Castaway Cay. One of the other main differences is the heat of course. It is much hotter and more humid in the summer than the winter. Finally there is the amount of daylight. It doesn’t get dark until later which is nice. It was often a surprise to walk back to the cabin after dinner and still be able to see outside. When you cruise in the winter it is always dark by 6 p.m.

Activities on Board and Random Bits of Information:

As soon as we booked the cruise I went online to Disneycruiselineblog.com to look for postings of the Navigators (Disney’s daily paper with times of activities, among other things) from a recent previous cruise with the same itinerary. I noted that they had a Disney Jr. character breakfast and I also noted the times of the shows, etc.The itineraries won’t be exactly the same, for example the same character won’t be in the same location on the cruise from week to week, but they remain similar.

As I indicated, upon boarding the first day, we would have had to change request to be changed to first seating, but the cruise line had us on a wait list and they had moved us before the cruise- that was a fun surprise.

That first day we also went to get our tickets from guest services. They did, in fact, offer a Disney Junior breakfast. They also offered tickets for the Princess meet and greets and for Anna and Elsa.

In our room was a schedule for toddler specific activities. We went to Wake Up with Disney Junior, The Disney Junior Pirate and Princess Party, and Jake and the Neverland Pirates. There was also ‘toddler time’ advertised that we never made it to. (At toddler times on past cruises they would have various toys or games out specific for toddler aged cruisers. The parents could participate with the kids or watch from afar.) Wake up with Disney Jr. was our favorite. There were a bunch of songs and dances that were enjoyed by the 4-5 and under crowd. My son loved watching the songs with movements, but didn’t participate much. Spoiler alert: during this cruise and the previous one, there was a character that would make an appearance at the end for the last couple of songs during Wake Up with Disney Jr.

My son, mostly with his grandma, did a few character meet and greets as well. There are decent sized lines for them, but he really enjoys them, and it is a good activity for he and grandma to do together.

We visited Nemo’s reef- the splash pad for diapered babies and toddlers. Officially from Disney it is for children under 8 (which is a bit old in my opinion) and is the only water area that can be used by those in diapers. We found it was the calmest and the least crowded before lunch. There would be older kids there that would run free and I personally wish Disney would do something to limit that. If your child doesn’t need to be supervised, they shouldn’t also be where the diapered children are. There is another splash pad for older children.

On the morning of the last sea day my son just wanted to take it easy and hang in our cabin. Grandma wanted to take him somewhere (I believe to see the princesses) but he wasn’t having it, so we just watched a couple Disney movies on their on demand system. There is no additional charge to watch the on demand movies. I believe this service is just available on the newer ships- the Dream and Fantasy.

We took a couple of opportunities for family pictures towards the end of the cruise. You don’t have to pay for these pictures either, but you can purchase them if you want. They were even able to crop one of the pictures to make it better suited for us.

The Ports of Call: Our cruise stopped at St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Castaway Cay (Disney’s private Island.)

St. Maarten:
We got off around 9 a.m. and went to the beach in the downtown area that is a water taxi away. It was $7 per adult and children 3 and under (I think) were free. Blake was for sure free, I am just not sure at what age you have to start paying for kids.

This particular beach is right off the ferry. A pushy lady immediately stalked us to buy a chair from her, which we ultimately did but on our terms. She wanted $25 for 2 chairs with an umbrella and pushed us towards the edge. We moved over more (where we wanted to be) and I told her we would pay $15- she tried for $20 but I stuck to $15 and that is what we paid. Honestly, they gave us great service because we wanted a larger umbrella and it would close or needing adjusting, and they were there for that. We also received wifi- it was not that great of a signal on the beach, and so that might be something that others would want to look into before committing to a restaurant/bar to buy the beach chairs from. I also went into their bathroom and it was not better than an outhouse. I was not impressed, but it was better than not having one I guess. We were only at the beach for a couple of hours (which is why we chose this particular beach location) because we wanted to be back on the ship for lunch and then to put my son down for a nap.

St. Thomas:
On this day we were also out early and went to a resort. I was able to set up a day pass ahead of time as a travel agent, but you could contact your travel agent to have them book you a day pass at a hotel/resort offering day passes in the area. We went to Dreams. Our son really enjoyed playing at the pool a little and on the beach. We had some issues with them not being able to handle food allergies, so we couldn’t stay long. My husband also wasn’t a fan of their food at all. Initially we were going to have my son just nap in the stroller but we ended up having to get back for me to have lunch and so we put my son down for a nap on the ship.

 

Other Misc. things:

We did take our car seat because we needed it for the plane and transportation to the ship. In a standard room – not a family sized room, there would have been no place out-of-the-way to store the car seat in the cabin… We were fortunate that we just put it in my mother’s room. We really were happy to have the car seat. We used it in St. Thomas and that made me more comfortable than the open air taxis which are the norm there. To get a standard taxi we just asked the person directing people where a standard taxi was located. It was about a block away.

This was also the first time that we had my son not sleep in a pack and play when we traveled. On Disney the couch folds down/flips over and there is a bed for kids to sleep. We put on bed rails and used pillows across the top and bottom and my son slept pretty well there. He was apprehensive at first but it worked out.

We did participate in some adult only activities during the cruise. They usually have a singer or duo that play and sing a variety of songs and this cruise was no different. The woman on our particular cruise played in various lounges around the ship.  We also participated in trivia one day.

Our favorite was dining at Palo for dinner and brunch. Palo is for guests 18 and up and is an extra charge restaurant. The food is terrific. Brunch is offered on sea days and has a buffet of breads, meats, cheeses, cold seafood, and desserts. Then they do made to order breakfast and lunch. The portions are such that you can order several different choices and they are all amazing. My favorites are the eggs benedict and chicken parmesan with risotto. SO GOOD!

Dinner at Palo is all sit down plated dining. Our favorite meal is the filet of beef. It is just amazing. We also always really look forward to the chocolate souffle. The best part is they are able to do a gluten-free option for me!

For most Disney cruises you are able to find a facebook group for your particular sailing. The group for this cruise organized a private mixology class for the adults. It was nice to do it with the group because it gives you instant friends. We learned about bar tending and drink making. During the class we made and drank 5 drinks (some are half servings…) The cast members doing the class were great and interactive. There is a surcharge for this of $20, and it is usually customary to add a small tip. One drink had to be modified to be gluten-free for me and they had no problem doing this.

Final thoughts.

Overall I think Disney ships carry noise a lot more than on other cruise lines. Or people let their kids go crazy more on Disney lines. One thing to remember is that kids can have fun without interfering with the enjoyment of others. So no loud behavior in the halls (is true for both adults and children), no allowing your kids to run through the halls, or play on the staircase, etc. Sadly people feel their children are on vacation and can just be kids. They forget that they are on a luxury cruise ship and it is not their entire playground.

All in all it was a great family vacation and we would not hesitate to cruise again in the summer. For more of my thoughts on cruising in the summer, check out this post.

For more information about cruising Disney, check out this post which goes in-depth about Disney and also compares it to Royal Caribbean.

Safe Travels!

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Gluten Free Travel · Travel

Gluten Free in Vegas – the McCarran International Airport

  
I recently traveled to Las Vegas for a trade show. A city that has 41,126,512 visitors (according to the visitor’s bureau) each year, had VERY limited gluten free options.
It took 40 minutes of running from one restaurant to another to find somewhere to eat that would accommodate a gluten free meal. A whole entire meal, not a snack. Thank you random airport employee for telling me to go check out Sammy’s Pizza & Grill.

  
Thank god for this restaurant. There was really no other gluten free option in terminal D that I could find. I expected food to just be mediocre and it was phenomenal. The service is great. The atmosphere was great and my salad was awesome! Please Sammy’s continue to provide gluten free options for those traveling with a true medical need! My caesar salad had fresh shaved/sliced Parmesan and excellent made to order fresh chicken. I know I’m gushing but the food was excellent!

Some obnoxious employee at California Pizza Kitchen was convinced that there was cross contamination. (Which all started because at first I went there knowing they have a gluten free menu at the location by my house. And she informed me that there would not be anywhere gluten to eat in the entire airport.) I was concerned that maybe there was cross contamination (because my meal was soooo good) until she gave me the reason- that eggs and beef were cooked in the same spot as the chicken. I’m not looking for a kosher meal, I needed a meal without wheat, and other forms of gluten. I really dislike when people confuse dairy with an inability to eat gluten. They aren’t the same people! Okay, my rant is over. But either way, I had zero reaction to my meal at Sammy’s, and I am very sensitive. Thank God! Getting on a plane after being glutened would be one of the worst things that could happen while flying!

There were some alternatives to a meal of you are looking for something in addition to a tummy salad. Hudson News had cheese sticks and packaged gluten free snacks.

 What has been your experience traveling gluten free at the airport in Vegas?