Alaska on the Disney Wonder

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If you are considering taking a cruise through Alaska,  if you are dreaming of taking a cruise through Alaska, if taking a cruise through Alaska is a top bucket list item, if you have heard about cruises through Alaska and you thought to yourself, “hmmm… that might be something I want to do some day”… Stop whatever planning you have for your next family vacation (you know it’s probably somewhere Caribbean…), and book a freaking cruise through Alaska!!

We decided, on a whim, to make the trek to the opposite coast to catch the Disney Wonder for a 7 night cruise out of Vancouver, B.C. and I can’t even begin to describe how great it was!  We stayed in a hotel that was connected to the boat terminal called Pan Pacific and they all but carried us to the boat.  They brought our Disney luggage tags, transported our luggage to the boat so we didn’t have to hassle with them, and we just went down the elevator the morning of departure, checked in, and got right on!  Not one issue whatsoever!  Here is a view from our room of the boat:

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Now, I did not have the highest expectations for this cruise even though everything I had heard about Disney Cruise Line was extremely positive.  To be honest, I’m just not a cruise person.  I like to plan my own trips, be able to rent a car and just go.  I don’t like the idea of being confined on a big ol’ boat, around thousands of people I don’t know, in a shoebox sized room, with germs everywhere… ewww…. but y’all, this Disney cruise exceeded every single expectation… by a lot!

From the moment we set foot on the boat and they introduced our family to the whole entire boat our experience started.  We went and ate fine dining, which you would think with kids would be a complete sh*t show, but for some reason it was like a dream.  Disney sure knows how to pick their employees, they all seemed to LOVE my children!  I mean, my kids are no angels, and I don’t even pretend that they are.  They can be real a**holes sometimes.  But the staff, literally every single one, pretended to LOVE my kids.  It was a little weird at first, but you get used to it.

Next, we explored the ship.  First things first, the kids club and nursery. This is where you can drop your kids pretty much any time of day (if not all day ;)) and they can play and be entertained with children their own ages!  DREAM!!!!  So if you and your hunny want to frolic around like teenagers, go see a movie, get drunk… kids club is what’s up!  If you scroll up to where you see Bennett in a area that looks like “Andy’s Room” from Toy Story, he literally would wake up wanting to go to kids club.  And surprisingly, Remy didn’t mind the nursery!  Again, all of the workers were super friendly, always knew my kids names, the check in and check out was super secure, and if the kids were ever not 100% happy and wanted us, they would call us on our portable ship phone which is in every stateroom.

Speaking of stateroom, they were cleaned twice a day, spotless.  One night we ordered room service (because it doesn’t cost anything on the boat- yeah, you heard that correctly) and Bennett accidentally spilled BBQ sauce on the carpet.   I quickly cleaned it up and thought no one could see where it was, well, I have no idea how they knew, but our carpets were professionally cleaned the next morning while we were out on an excursion.  CRAZY!!!  We had a veranda were we had plenty of whale sightings.  We even witnessed a baby Orka learning life strategies from it’s mama!  It was amazing!  We also saw icebergs, up close and personal, going through the Tracy Arm Fjord to Sawyer Glacier (pictured above).  Just stunning!

We did plenty of excursions, I cannot even remember them all.  One of our favorites was the train ride via White Pass and Yukon Railway (starting from Skagway) which takes you across the U.S./ Canadian boarder.  The views from the train cars are incredible. Bennett especially enjoyed this!  Remy participated, but chose to take a nap instead of enjoy the scenery.

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  Another thing we really loved was the seaplane!  It was about an hour long ride in and out of the misty fjords.  It was stunning!  We couldn’t get out (which was the plan) because of the rain, but it was still a great experience.  It’s all Bennett could talk about for weeks!

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Again, Remy participated, but chose to sleep instead of enjoy the views.

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For the seaplane excursion, we got to ride in this trolley to the Docks!

The other excursion we really loved was whale watching in Juneau! Unfortunately, it was a longer excursion, I think it was about 6 hours total, and Remy was not able to participate (age) so he had to stay in the nursery.  Which, again, he didn’t mind ;).  So it was just  husband, Bennett, & I!

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We also got to hike a little bit to see Mendenhall Glacier!

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But every day we would get back on the boat, have a fun dinner, see something entertaining, and enjoyed it to the fullest!  I hope this post inspires some of you to take the adventure to Alaska.  Even with small children, it was truly remarkable!

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Sweetfields Farm, 2018

We just love Sweetfields Farm!  This was our third year to go (previous trips are here and here), and each year, as the boys get a little bit older, they love it more and more!  I mean… what’s not to love about getting lost in corn mazes, feeding goats, rubber ducky races, and big bales of hay??? Enjoy the pictures, y’all!

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Vancouver, B.C.

Hi there!  Hi! Hi! Hi! :)

I want to start this post off with a little apology.  Majority of the photos that were taken in Vancouver were captured with my iPhone and the quality is horrendous.  I think it’s because my phone was on “portrait mode” which if the subject is not entirely still while the picture is being taken, it’s going to turn out blurry… so there’s that.  Sorry.  BUT, aside from the poor photo quality, goodness gracious!  This was an amazing family trip!

A few months ago, I had a sudden urge to go on a Disney cruise… and not just the easy peasy, catch the boat right here in Florida, go straight to the Caribbean for a few days and come back Disney cruise, because that would just be too convenient… <insert sarcastic voice here>.  No, we decided to be crazy and fly across the country to catch the Disney Wonder out of Vancouver!  We arrived 3 days early so that we could adjust to the time difference, which was actually really smart of us to do.  Then we were on the boat for seven days!

My next post will be all about the crusie but for now, I want to chat about Vancouver and how much I love Canada in general.  I think if I could vacation in Canada every summer I would.  The weather is incredible, the people are SO FREAKING NICE, and there is so much to do and see!  This was my first time in Vancouver.  I had did some research to see what the most family friendly places to see and things to do were and with three days I feel like we didn’t even scratch the surface.
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The first thing we did was explore Stanley Park… isn’t that the first stop for everyone who visits Vancouver?

We visited the Vancouver Aquarium which was located right inside the park.  It’s always such a treat for the boys when we go to aquariums because they are so fascinated with all the fish.  To be totally honest, I don’t think it was as good as the Florida Aquarium which is located right here in Tampa where we live, but… that’s just my own personal opinion.  To me, it didn’t seem as clean and it didn’t have enough unique exhibits.  Overall, it was entertaining especially since it rained almost the entire day, so we made the most of it!

Next, we had to ride the train.  Bennett is currently obsessed with trains.  My mom recently found a bunch of vintage Thomas the Tank Engine figurines that I believe at one point belonged to my brother, and Bennett loves them!  He knows all of their names, we watch the Thomas movies, I even invested in a train table from Pottery Barn so that he could build tracks and store all the pieces in some form of organized chaos.  The Stanley Park Train was a hit!  The boys loved riding around through the redwoods and hearing the whistle blow!

After the train, we got some snacks at a close by snack bar, which there are tons of places to stop and eat in the park.  I wish the weather had been a little nicer for us because I hear that renting a bike and riding along the water is a great way to see the city and the entire park.  It rained almost all day while we were there so we were pretty limited on activities.  We did make it to the totem poles and the light house though!

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The next day we decided to be crazy and walk across some suspension bridges!

Oh, this was sooooo much fun! Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is AWESOME!  To anyone reading this, please go to Vancouver and go there!  The kids (and us adults!!) had the best time looking out over the canopy of huge redwoods and walking across the scary bridges connecting the treetops.  Truly an experience we will remember forever!

**Travel tip- if you plan to go the Capilano, get there right when they open.  We were like the second family there when they opened and had the entire place to ourselves it felt like!  So cool to see without all the crowds which were building when we were leaving.**

Later that day we drove about an hour north to the Sea to Sky highway all the way to Squamish where you can ride a gondola up the mountain to yet another cool suspension bridge and super fun play ground for kiddos!

You guys, go to Vancouver, B.C. when you have a chance.  It’s incredible!


Iceland :: Northern Region (Part 3)

Godafoss Waterfall

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Icelandic Ponies

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Lake Myvatn
Akureyri

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^This picture was taken around 12:30 or 1 a.m.^

The sun never completely went down, making it extremely hard to sleep some nights. During the winter it is the complete opposite, where the sun never comes out and it’s dark 23+ hours a day. That would be so depressing…

Northern Iceland

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The view from the house we rented was incredible.

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Whale Watching

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breaching whale

^Breaching Humpback ^

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^The face of the humpback^

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^ And of course... the tail as he dives^

This post is WAY overdue.

The northern region of Iceland was probably my favorite part of the trip.  Not only were we able to relax a little bit and stay in one place for a few days, but the weather was absolutely perfect!  We got to see Godafoss & Lake Myvatn on the way in which were stunning to say the least.  Godafoss really takes your breath away as you approach its vastness.  We got there pretty late which ended up being a great time to go because there was hardly anyone there!

When we got to Akureiyi we could not believe the view from the house we rented. It was straight out of a magazine.  The city was so lively with hip restaurants and bars that served local beers.  Walking the streets of this sweet little town, the people are so friendly, there are tons of cute shops and fun things to look at.  I even tried an authentic Icelandic hotdog!

We got to do some whale watching one of the days which was such a treat because the humpback we spotted actually BREACHED!!  It was the first and only time I have seen a whale do that in the wild!   So cool!

If anyone plans to stay in the northern region during their visit, I highly recommend staying in the home we rented.  Send me a email for the listing!  It was such a beautiful drive and stay, I would do it again in a heartbeat!  Don’t skip the north, you will regret it!


Independence Day, 2018

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I think my night time photography skills have slightly improved!  Or is that just my opinion?  Ha ha ha!  None of the pictures above have any filter on them, just slight adjustment for sharper image and straightening.  (Insert pat on my back here)

Our 4th of July holiday was filled with a lot of fun in Naples, Florida.  We had some friends who joined us with their baby daughter, and we were enjoying ourselves so much I barely picked up my camera.  But since this was the first time Bennett showed any interest in holding a sparkler, I had to document.  He obviously loved it!  Remy had fun as well just following along and observing everything Bennett was getting in to.  These boys… they keep me busy!

Hope everyone had a great time celebrating America’s birthday!  I know we did!

xx

 


Old McMicky’s Farm

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A happy belated birthday party for my sweet boy, Bennett.  We had to reschedule his original party due to Bennett being sick and contagious, but we just postponed everything and it turned out great!  We had lots of family and friends there to help celebrate our THREE YEAR OLD!  He got to brush some goats, had the opportunity (but didn’t) to pet & milk a pregnant cow, had the opportunity (but didn’t) to ride a pony, had the opportunity (but didn’t) to pet a baby turkey, DID take a hay ride by tractor, and DID enjoy lots of cake!

It rained a bit but it actually worked out in our favor because being June in Florida, temps can be brutal.  The rain really cooled us off and brought a much appreciated breeze.  I think all the kiddos had a great time being farmers for the day!

Thank you, Old McMicky’s Farm for such a great venue for Bennett’s third birthday party, and for being so easy to work with to postpone last minute!  We can’t wait to visit again soon!

** Cake & cakepops were made by Sweet Tooth Cakery**


Iceland :: Southern & Eastern Region (Part Two)

 

Skógafoss

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Unknown location but it sure was pretty!

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Glacier Lagoon

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Svartifoss

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More unknown locations that are just too amazing not to share...

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Renting a car and driving yourself around this country is the only way to do it.  You have the freedom to stop wherever you want, spend as much time as you want, doing whatever you want.  Everywhere you turn there are scenic spots for photo ops.   Also, I highly recommend renting a wifi adapter for your car because it saved us on multiple occasions where cell service was a little spotty.

Skogafoss waterfall was so impressive.  You can feel the spray of water hitting the ground from many yards away.  As you get closer you start to feel smaller and smaller as a human being against the expansiveness of it’s size.  We did climb the stairs to the top to admire the view.  It was worth the (what felt like) million flights of stairs to see all the beautiful greenery and livestock lounging.  From there we moved on to Svartifoss.  Svartifoss was definitely a harder hike to get to.  We didn’t hike the entire way where you can look up from below in the valley at it, but we made it far enough to see a good angle of it at the top of the mountain.  What makes it so awesome is the pattern of the dark lava columns surround it, which is where it gets its name from.

After the waterfalls we made it to the glacier lagoon, where we were totally blown away.  HUGE icebergs actively falling off of the glacier into the lagoon and heading out to the ocean.  When the fall off they flip over and are this incredible shade of indigo.  Please see the ninth photo under “Glacier Lagoon” you will see what I am talking about.  That specific piece of ice had just broken off and flipped.  It was awesome!  We did a boat tour which got us extremely close to the glacier, totally recommend if you go, even if it means freezing your hiney (sp??) off ha ha ha!  If you go across the street you will see where the icebergs move into the ocean side.  The broken ice that comes off the icebergs as they melt wash up onto the black sand beach and look like small diamonds.  It’s truly a sight to be seen!

We also got to see Búlandstindur (pictured above)nwhich is a pyramid shaped mountain in eastern Iceland- so cool!

Oh my, I know I am leaving soooo much out, but if you have a specific question about any of these spots (or any of my posts in particular) just ask!  Next post we are heading north!