So this month deserves it's own post entirely! So much happened this month and I have so many wonderful pictures and memories to share!
I managed to sneak in one more class before our two week vacation.
Then it was finally time!!
We got up super early and headed on the trek to the Port of Galveston!
Before long, we were hopping on our home for the week! OMG! It was so incredible! We made amazing memories we will always keep with us! We ate sooo much food, saw fantastic shows, met soooo many characters, made some new friends, and visited THREE new countries! All aboard the Disney Wonder!
This is the newly remodeled kid's club, and seriously this place is HUGE and amazing. Between the Club and the Lab, it takes up the majority of the 5th floor! It is free for kids aged 3-12!
Unfortunately, the day we left, the weather was very cold and dreary out. We ended up not having an Embarkation party due to the rain. As soon as we got on the boat, we did a quick tour of the kid's club, and the 9th deck (pools & counter service/buffets) in search of a quick lunch! We ended up at Cabana's, which is an all you can eat buffet.
After lunch, it was time for our room to be ready so we headed to our room to unpack and start decorating our door. For those that aren't aware, on the DCL (Disney Cruise Line) it is a big deal to decorate your magnetic door with homemade Disney themed magnets, as well as this super cool thing called Fish Extenders, where you make a wall organizer, decorate it, and trade items (candy, ornaments, etc) with other rooms on board. Each day you end up with new and exciting things from other guests! It really is a very fun experience!
Rosalie and I headed down to meet Pluto!
Our first night we had dinner at Animator's Palate. The design is super cute. Desserts were delicious! The dinner itself was alright, but it was our least favorite of the three main dining restaurants. It's really neat, because Disney has a thing called revolving dining. The servers that you have at the beginning stay with you the entire trip, and move with you from restaurant to restaurant each night! Jose, Kayann & Geoffrey were great!
Inside there are screens all over that change over time from different sketches in black and white and work it's way up to animation in color.
Each night, we came back to our room to find a cute towel animal and our navigator (the schedule for the next day).
Santa and Mrs. Claus came to visit!
We got tickets to the princess gathering, in order to skip the lines! We met Ariel...
Tiana...(who was fantastic!!)
The girls played in the Dory's Reef splash pad for a little, but it got to be way too chilly!
We spent several afternoons out on the deck eating fruit while sister played in the kid's club.
This is a giant (REAL) decorated gingerbread house in the lobby on the 3rd floor.
I was honestly really happy with the size of our room, after having talked to others who've been on other cruise lines before. It was more than enough room for the 4 of us! We had a deluxe oceanview room.
There was unlimited food...
and unlimited ice cream!
Rosalie was too young/not potty trained so she wasn't allowed to go in the pools. Instead she played in the splash pad in Dory's Reef. Sophia tried the bigger kids splash pad but said it was way too cold with all the wind.
My favorite main dining restaurant is the all new, Tiana's Place! It's created after the movie, and it's fantastic! Louis and Tiana come around to visit you, the food is incredible, and they have live music each night.
They also have a movie theater on board that plays multiple Disney movies, new and old. We went to see Moana twice! It's amazing! If you haven't gone to see it yet, GO! The music alone is worth it! They even did a special showing of Rogue One two weeks before it came out in theaters on the mainland.
We also scored tickets to a character breakfast at Animator's Palate. It was a little TOO early for the girls' liking, so they weren't quite awake, but it was great to meet Jake, Sophia, Doc, and Mickey and have them come to our tables instead of once again having to wait in line.
We got to meet Stitch, who was probably the BEST character! Everything about him was Stitch!
We got tickets to the Frozen Meet N' Greet, which made Rosalie happy, because Olaf is her fave!
Needless to say, there's a lot to do and it can wear you out fast!
We had unlimited room service, which we took advantage of for late night fries & tenders and fruit bowls, oh, and can't forget the chocolate milk!
One evening, David and I made reservations for Palo, an adult only - dress up kind of place. It's an extra charge but not expensive and worth every single penny! I cannot say enough good things about this place! The food is out of this world! I've never tasted food before now! It alone made the trip worth it!
The restaurant is Italian, so this was our delicious appetizer! Our waiter Hristo was fantastic! The parmesan romano with the balsamic vinegar.....swoon....
and this pita bread...
vanilla bean panna cotta..
and how sweet was this!?
The next day we landed in Falmouth, Jamaica! It was the first day of beautiful weather!
We decided on the Disney excursion to Jewel Beach Resort in Runaway Bay. It was beautiful.
I am SOOOOOO incredibly lucky! For those that don't know, my dad and his entire family are Jamaican, born and raised in Kingston. I've never been to Jamaica before, and very rarely get to see my family that is still there. The last time I saw my Great Aunt and Uncle was when my Papa died 8 years ago. They've only gotten to meet David once, and have never met the girls. They live about 3 hours from Runaway Bay but took the day off, and made the drive just to spend a few hours with us at the resort! It was amazing! I was seriously so happy I almost cried! It was a beautiful day, and I loved every second that we spent together! The girls were completely smitten!
The girls got to try their first virgin strawberry daiquiris, and LOVED them!
Uncle D and Auntie Marj both played with the girls on the beach!
We had a delicious (included) lunch at the resort! Rosalie polished off my jerk chicken panini.
In addition to the beach, and a pool, the resort also features a water park! We didn't play in it long because we'd preferred to spend our time with my family, but once they left, we did a few laps around the lazy river, and played on some water slides.
I managed to pick up my parents some Rum Cream to bring home too!
That night after we reboarded, it was Pirate Night. We got back to our room to find pirate bandanas. Dinner again was at Animator's Palate.
After dinner, we met Tinkerbell..
and headed out the 9th deck for the Pirates of the Caribbean Party! We were right in front against the stage!
There was singing, dancing, Mickey ziplined down to the stage and there was a beautiful fireworks show!
After the party, we headed inside and found Pirate Minnie
and Pirate Mickey!
The next morning we woke up, and returned to Cabana's for breakfast on the deck to find ourselves in Grand Cayman!
Other ships had come in to join us. Three others in fact. Grand Cayman doesn't have a dock, so we had to be tendered out to land on a small two story boat.
Once on the island, we hopped on a bus to Dolphin Discovery! Sophia and I got to get in the water and have a hands on encounter with a baby (1 year old) dolphin.
I KISSED A FREAKING DOLPHIN!!
Afterwards we still had 45 minutes left before our bus returned to pick us up, so we quickly ran across the street to the Cayman Turtle Center and got to pick up SEA TURTLES! WHAT!?
Seriously, such amazing experiences! I'm so glad I got to share those with Sophia! After we got back on the ship, we grabbed some food...
and went downstairs for storytime with Mrs. Claus. We even got cookies and hot cocoa!
We got to see winter sweater Mickey and crew!
Afterwards we had some time to kill, so we headed up to the 10th deck with the girls and gave them the tour.
They had Inside Out playing on the big screen outside, so we laid back and chilled out.
Someone lost the battle...
Here is the ONE pretty sunset we got all week. But pretty beautiful nonetheless and in the background is another ship passing by.
Did I mention that I LOVE Tiana's?! This night, the theme was mardi gras! We all were given several beaded necklaces, and there was even a parade that we got to participate in!
Omg, the shrimp and grits were soooo good!
The boudin....not as much..
and did I mention the beignets? Super yum!
Sophia discovered shuffleboard on deck 4, and became quite a fan! She insisted we go out every night the rest of the trip, except the last night, where the deck was closed off due to a massive storm.
Our signatures got crazy! It was like some competition to not sign over someone else's name (despite us making very clear it was completely okay). We assume there is some unspoken rule in which they aren't allowed to do so. We managed to get every signature except for Santa and Captain Robert!
The next day, we ended up in Cozumel, Mexico. The weather wasn't fantastic, but was mostly enjoyable. Thankfully the resort we went to at Playa Mia (which pales in comparison to Jewel Beach in Jamaica) had several gift shops on site, because my lord, just to get to the buses from the port was a 15 minute walk. I managed to snag a rosary for Carrie, a cute hand painted character for Sophia, a hand painted ornament for our tree, a really awesome day of the dead man that reminded us of Book of Life, and a beautiful Mexican blanket to convert into a baby carrier.
Goose had decided before we left that she wanted to get pictures of her mermaid outfit on the beach, so we happily obliged.
She swam in the pool and played in the mini waterpark area in her mermaid tail.
Eventually we stopped for lunch (included) but was pretty disappointed in the options. I was really hoping for real Mexican (like the real Jamaican I got in Jamaica) and instead we got American Mexican, they even had mashed potatoes...it was weird.
This is us next to the Royal Caribbean ship.
Us saying goodbye to Mexico near customs.
Pretty much as soon as we'd gotten back on board, I had to get us dressed for dinner immediately and steal Sophia for a special surprise. She'd asked me to paint her nails a few times on the ship, so instead, Daddy and I decided to surprise her with first ever Mommy/Daughter manicure at the ship's spa. She loved it!
That night was semi-formal night and dinner at Triton's. It too was really delicious. I was kind of sad that we missed our second day there due to Palo, and wished we'd swapped a day at Animator's Palate.
OMG, the lobster tail....
and the chocolate molten lava cake....so damn delicious!
The raspberry creme brulee was disappointing though, especially after dessert at Palo. Half was way over cooked, the other half way undercooked.
The last day on board, we got to build a gingerbread house! We were shorted on time unfortunately, so we had to take it back to our room to finish it. We weren't allowed to take it off the ship, so we promptly began eating it. :)
That morning, the girls went back to their respective kid areas, and David and I headed off for brunch at Palo! This time, in addition to the actual menu, they had the most amazing spread of buffet set out as well! Quite frankly, I was completely happy with just the spread, and didn't care nearly as much about the menu. This table was seafood and such (shrimp, salmon rolls, etc...).
This was breads and cheeses, and continue around to another table.
This was the meats and fruits table. SOOOOO yummy!
And I mean, come on...DESSERTS! I love Hristo, who we got to have again as our server! (Not sure if that was planned or not, but it was a very pleasant surprise!) He insisted that it was my vacation, and because it's brunch, I need not feel bad about what order I eat in, and that I should absolutely start with desserts! Haha!
Here was a Mandarin Orange Tart, a Raspberry Parfait, and Champagne Jello with mixed berries...
Tisamisu (way too rich for my taste. Basically tasted like I was eating straight coffee grounds.), a chocolate covered strawberry, and I think a chocolate mousse?
As you can tell by our door, it started to get rather full. With every meal, or break, David would pull out his notepad and draw lots of Disney characters that he'd see around the ship! It was really cute! He did a great job!
This was the Fish Extender that I made. We participated in a candy trade, an ornament trade and a magnet trade. It was really cool!
These are some of the matching shirts that I made for each of us! I'm a little obsessed with them!
Our last night's dinner was once again back at Animator's Palate, but this night was the special activity. When you came in to sit down, you were given a marker and this board in which to draw a character. During your meal, these boards are scanned into a program, and at the end of your meal, they come to life in animation on the many screens surrounding you. It was really freaking cool! Unfortunately, for the green group (about 6 full tables), for some reason, our entire section was missing. Thankfully though, they had David come back for second seating and added them to theirs. David left the Frozen show and got video for us.
I got to have my first ever beef wellington, which probably would've been delicious if I were so nauseous from the boat rocking tremendously. We had a HUGE storm, that had waves hitting up onto the 4th deck. When we went to leave dinner, we heard several things of dishes from the kitchen crash because of the angles we were rocking at. It was awful. A lot of poor people got sick that night. Thankfully mine never came to fruition.
After dinner we went to the Frozen show, which was amazing! Seriously, these people put on an incredible show! That is a job I would die to have! But my favorite was definitely the Dreams show. I mean seriously, I almost cried.
After chasing him up and down several floors one night, we finally caught Hook for a picture! Every time we'd gotten close, he'd turn and get on an elevator!
The morning we got back, it was beautiful, albeit a little chilly.
We had our final breastfast back in Animator's Palate at 7:30am (ick!) and Sophia would NOT wake up for anything. She slept through getting dressed, through getting seated, through the whole of breakfast. As it turns out, she apparently caught something that last day, and ended up having lots of congestion and a nasty cough, which I blame on the kid's club. That said, they do an excellent job of trying. They make you wash your hands or sanitize with wipes everywhere you go...entering for any meal, going into the kid's clubs or nursery...It's a great thing!! The flaw is that if a kid is already sick and goes into the club, that's great that they washed their hands, but the second they cough again inside, their germs are now EVERYWHERE!
After we left the port, we headed on our trip home to Florida to throw my sister her first baby shower, and celebrate early Christmas with my family, and his parents. As we were heading out of Galveston, the GPS told us to get on a ferry. I was very confused. Apparently there is a ferry that you drive onto and it takes you across the section of the Gulf for free! Holy crap! That was a new experience for sure!
We ended up driving the whole night, and didn't get to the house until 7:30am the next morning. We did however stop for a yummy dinner at the ginormous Bass Pro Shops in Louisiana on the water! I was so excited! We'd passed by this place a few times and I've always wanted to go.
Renee took us to see her classroom. The girls took to it right away.
The shower went good aside from the absolute crap weather. The wind took out most of the decorations, the table cloths...arg...
I might have gone a little crazy and made all the things, but it's okay because I'm really happy with them all!
While we were home, we stopped in our old neighborhood and checked out the beautiful Christmas lights.
We took my family to see Trolls that night, and the next day, we headed to Orlando. I finally got to go check out Wahlburgers (I watch the show!!), so it was super necessary since we still don't have one yet in Austin (fingers crossed)!
Afterwards we headed to the Florida Mall so that Rosalie could use her Build A Bear giftcard she got from Grandma, and she picked out Poppy from Trolls!
We followed that up with a trip to see the newly redesigned Disney Springs. Honestly, it was crazy. I'd been there a hundred times (having lived there), and I didn't recognize it at all. It was like being in a whole new place altogether. That said, it's very beautiful, and I personally like it even more now! The shopping area is gorgeous, and even better.....they have a Lilly Pulitzer store! It's like they know me!
The next morning we woke up, packed our bags and headed to Tallahassee to meet his parents (who were driving down to meet us) and we met up at the hotel. We tried to hit a playground but a nasty storm came, so we headed to Governor's Square for a little, and then to dinner at Sonny's (we don't have that in Texas :(). We stayed across from eachother in the hotel, did a small gift exchange, had breakfast the next morning and headed off on our separate treks home. On the bright side, we learned that next time, it's actually faster to get to them by going a different way which is actually much closer to us. Good to know. So now we are currently planning a trip there next summer, because the family reunion is canceled due to a wedding, and because International Pole Convention is taking place in Atlanta! Kill two birds with one stone!
It was really great getting to see everyone. I'm only sad that we missed seeing Elizabeth and boys due to their move earlier in the year.
After we got home, we stole Carrie and headed to see the Austin Trail of Lights. My lord it was cold, but very beautiful, very Christmasy.
David decided he wanted to give making pasta a go again since it'd been a long time, and Sophia loves to cook. Needless to say, it was a complete hit! The girls loved helping, and it all turned out damn delicious!
Christmas morning, we work up and opened presents. The girls loved everything they got, and even seemed genuinely appreciative and thankful. They spent the day being very good playing. Carrie had headed home for the holidays, so we had Randy over, and had a really nice Christmas dinner together, followed up by some Indiana Jones.
We finished up the month/year with a few days at some of our lovely local parks.
New Year's Eve, we headed to downtown Austin for their amazing free fireworks show that legit puts Disney to shame! It's incredible! So yay! Now we are all caught up and I promise to keep more on it!