Follow along as Tink's owner Kristin and agents Jen, Olivia, Dana, Scott and Josie set sail for an 8 day cruise to the Bahama's with a stop at Walt Disney World, from New York City!
Written by Tink's Chief Creative Officer, Beth.
A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to set sail on the Disney Wonder on a two night inspection cruise out of San Diego, with one stop in Ensenada. The Wonder had been in Alaska throughout the summer, and then it sailed down the West Coast to port in San Diego for most of September and October. The weather on this cruise was sunny and warm, and the views of the skyline of San Diego from the ship were amazing!
The Wonder is the second oldest ship (behind her sister ship Magic) in the fleet. She underwent a dry dock in the Fall of 2016, and the transformations are all wonderful. There have been all sorts of reimagining on the Wonder, including: changes to the kids’ spaces, a restaurant converted into a new theme, a new Concierge Lounge area, and a retheming of the adult entertainment district. Other more mundane things, like replacing carpet and furniture, were done during drydock too.
A big change to the reimagined Wonder is right when you board the ship and enter the Atrium Lobby. There are no longer two grand stairways - just one, and the statue of Ariel has been moved to the right instead of being in the center of the entrance to Triton’s restaurant. This was a smart move by Disney Cruise Line, as it has now opened up the area for big events and also for the placement of oversize decorations (like the large Pumpkin Tree). Also in the Atrium Lobby, as you crook your neck and look up three stories, the Dale Chihuly chandelier has been replaced by a dark red glasswork fixture that resembles the red flower in Ariel’s hair. While I loved the Chihuly chandelier, the new glasswork is exotic and different.
While the ship was still being boarded on embarkation day, I took the opportunity to wander around the ship to visit the open houses that were happening in the kids’ spaces. Two notable things popped out at me. First, The Oceaneer Club was been completely revamped and now includes the Marvel Super Hero Academy, Andy’s Room, and Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post. Second, up on the pool deck the arcade was taken out and replaced by the Edge (this is where the tweens have their own space) and it looked to be a cool hang out space for them.
A noticeable change to the Wonder is the Concerige Lounge, which is entered from the Wonder’s forward stack. There is also a sun deck exclusively for Concierge guests (this is above the Concierge Lounge and the Outlook Cafe.) It is a fairly large area, which explains why, unlike the Magic that has the AquaDunk, the Wonder does not have a water ride. What the Wonder does have in the children’s pool area of the ship is a space called Dory’s Reef splash zone, an AquaLab, and a Twist ‘n’ Spout water slide.
As I wandered around the ship, another significant change is in the adult area, which was renamed from “Route 66” to “After Hours”. The new theming is much more elegant than before, which I felt was a positive change. There are three new venues in the adult entertainment spaces: Crown & Fin (styled after a British pub); Azure (night club for stage shows, dancing, and other fun activities); and the Cadillac Lounge (a quieter bar with a car theme).
Another space that I visited (and dined in) during my cruise was Tiana’s Place (formerly known as Parrot Cay). This venue is based on the movie “The Princess and the Frog.” I loved this venue. Unlike any other restaurant in the fleet, Tiana’s Place has live entertainment happening throughout the meal. It really is like you are sitting in a supper club, listening to Tiana sing and a jazz band perform. At the end of our meal, we actually got up out of our seats and walked through the aisles in a parade with our servers. It was so much fun -- so much so that Tiana’s is now my favorite restaurant in the Disney Cruise Line fleet.
During the cruise I was on, the Wonder celebrated Halloween on the High Seas. The Pumpkin Tree in the Atrium Lobby magically transformed thoughout the cruise, there were wonderful decorations throughout the ship, Halloween-themed parties and ghost story readings, a costume contest, and even trick or treating (lots of candy was being given out to the kids!) What was also fun about this cruise is that Disney Cruise Line still managed to squeeze in Pirate’s Night (the first night of our cruise) and we got to enjoy a pirate fireworks show at sea as well.
The Disney Wonder looks all refreshed and wonderful! I had an amazing time on this short cruise. For those of you who have sailed the Wonder before she went into drydock, I highly recommend sailing on her again to experience her reimagination! And for those of you who haven’t yet cruised on this beautiful Disney Cruise Line ship, what are you waiting for? Give Tink’s a shout out as we’d be happy to assist with your vacation planning.
Tinks Tip: Holiday sailings are wonderful opportunities to enjoy Disney Cruise Line in a unique way - it is also makes for a great family holiday present! Disney Cruise Line decorates the ships for Halloween and for Christmas and often has fun activities during those Halloween on the High Seas and Very Merrytime Sailings. There are also special Star Wars Day at Sea and Marvel Day at Sea on select sailings. Contact your Tink's Vacation Planner for more details!
This morning was the day the Guilly Family dreaded most: departing this magical Land of Italy. After a fun water taxi ride to the airport (really, can you imagine that?), the Guillys departed their taxi and followed their escort up into the Venice Terminal. Although the airport was crazy busy, no worries were to be had, as Adventures by Disney® took care of everything. The flight back to the good old U.S. of A. was uneventful. After landing at JFK in the Big Apple, the Guilly Family clambered into their limo for the ride back home. A huge shout out to their Adventure Guides - Korey and Alexa -- for making this truly an "Adventure" of a lifetime.
#tinkstakesonitaly #wearelovingitalywiththeguillys #adventuresbydisney
Kristin's Blog: Day 8: Arrivederci!
As our Italian Adventure comes to a close, words will never be able to describe this amazing adventure we took part in. If you are looking to travel to any of the amazing places Adventures by Disney® travels to, this is truly the right way to go!
We were all given the time the night before when our luggage needed to be placed outside of our rooms. We we also told when our water taxis would pick us up. On our last morning in Italy, we headed down to the lobby after we had finished our last Italian breakfast. Alexa handed us our Arriverderci pins.
After saying our goodbyes to Korey and Alexa and our other new friends, our family and two other members of our group headed out. Alongside side us was an "Assistant" that Adventures by Disney® hires to assist while traveling to the airport. We left our hotel in the water taxi to the airport.
Once we arrived at the airport (talk about a great way to get to an airport!), the assistant took us to the check in area. A porter was waiting to take care of our luggage. After we were checked in, our assistant took us to the security check point and said "Ciao" Adventures by Disney® surely does take good care of you all the way to the end!
Tink's Tip: We recommend packing cubes - a great way to organize your suitcases!
Once the Guillemette Family arrived in the World Heritage Site of Venice, it was non-stop fun! Adventures by Disney knows how to do everything right! The Group took time out of their busy gondola day to hit a workshop where everyone made Venetian Masks. Why would you want to make a mask in Venice? Stay tuned as it all became so obvious once the group boarded the Jolly Roger for memories that would last a lifetime! The masks were at the ready for the group to don. We love the creativity of the masks, and we are sad this great Adventures by Disney® experience with the Guillemette Family is about to end.
#tinkstakesonitaly #adventuresbydisney #wearelovingitalywiththeguillys
Kristin's Blog: Day 7 - Venice and Carnevale!
Today we awoke to an amazing view from our hotel window of a canal in Venice. We even saw a cruise ship go right by our window. Today would be an amazing day.
After breakfast we headed out to a guided tour of the Doges Palace and the Junior Adventurers played sleuths as they took part in a special activity. Next, we headed to a mask making workshop. It was amazing to have the opportunity to paint our own masks and listen to a local artisan talk to us about how these beautiful masks are made. This was one of the highlights of our entire Adventure.
We had lunch on our own and our guides recommended a local place to get pizza, which once again was delicious. We did a bit of shopping and headed back to the hotel to get ready for our ride on the Jolly Roger.
The night and dinner on the Jolly Roger were out of this world. Our finished masks were all displayed on the boat. There was music, dancing, and food. The sunset was amazing. The most special part of the evening was a video that Alexa and Korey had put together of all of our Adventure photos. We also were given a Carnevale pin!
Tink's Tip: Always wear comfortable walking shoes. There is a lot of walking on an Adventures by Disney® vacation!
Today, the Guilly Family is headed to Venice. A bit of wrinkle at the start of the day ... suffice to say that a first class train ride turned into a "heads up, we aren't waiting for trains to delay us" coach ride. Adventure Guides are on top of everything when you book these special Adventure by Disney trips! After yet another stunning stop at a petrol station - check out Hanna G's expression with her chocolate KitKat find! -- the group made it to the City of Gondolas. Hang on to your life jackets, because this city gets even more interesting as the Adventures group takes in a gondola ride, walks through Saint Mark's Square, and ultimately ends up at their hotel (the Venice Hilton) which is to die for with views from the rooftop pool and bar.
#tinkstakesonitaly #adventuresbydisney #wearelovingitalywiththeguillys
Kristin's Blog: Day 6: Venice
Today we awoke to another gorgeous morning in Italy. Our luggage needed to be outside of our room by 8:30am as we were headed to the City of Venice. We had a lovely, relaxing breakfast outside at our hotel before departing on our bus at 9:15am. Our destination was the Florence Train Station.
This is where the story gets interesting. Upon arriving at the Florence Train Station, we had an hour of free time to walk around and shop. After about a half hour of being there, Alexa asked that we all come quickly to our meeting spot. We were then informed by Korey that our train was still in Rome and was experiencing engine difficulty. As Adventures by Disney® always has a "back up" plan, our bus driver, Max, was still waiting in the parking lot. He was not planning on departing until we were on the train chugging off into the distance. Thank goodness he was still waiting to guard against the unexpected, because the unexpected did happen with us! So our guides quickly handled out our lunches and we were back on the bus within a half an hour and on our way to Venice. We played games and again got to stop at amazing gas stations for food and candy. We loved all of our gas station stops!
Upon our arrival in Venice, we took a quick monorail ride over from where the bus dropped us off. Then we took a short walk and boarded our gondolas -- this was the most special part of our Adventure. There were Italian singers onboard too! After exiting the special gondola ride, we walked around Venice. Upon our walk we "stumbled" upon Marco Polo. :) Marco did a quick little scavenger hunt with a few of the members of our group, and then we were handed our special pins for that day.
We then took our own private water taxis to the hotel, Hilton Molino Stucky, in Venice. We had dinner on our own that evening. A few of us decided to visit the rooftop pool as it was ranked number three in the world. Afterwards we had a relaxing dinner in the lobby of our hotel.
Tink's Tip: Pack dramamine in your luggage! You never know when you might need it (for windy roads or canal rides!)
Florence: Truly a day to savor from start to finish! The birthplace of the Renaissance, the Guilly Family experienced scenic architecture all around. History abounds at every corner. Think of Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Brunelleschi, Galileo, Machiavelli -- they were all there, walking the streets of Florence. Oh yeah, Michelangelo and Leonardo de Vinci were there too, and so were the members of the Medici family. Even Opera was even invented there. And then they moved on to modernity - Florence abounds in it! Check out the green bicycle with watermelon wheel; Andy Warhol would have smiled at that. And not to be outdone of this city that has all sorts of important echoes from the past: all modern Florentine streets led to the Disney Store, which was a must for the younger generation.
#adventuresbydisney #tinkstakesonitaly #wearelovingitalywiththeguillys
Kristin's Blog: Day 5: Florence!
After yet another relaxing breakfast, we headed to Florence. We enjoyed reserved entry and access to see Michelangelo's David, followed by a walking tour of the city's famed Duomo, Baptistry, Plaza della Signoria, Plaza della Republican, Ponte Vecchio and other sights.
Lunch was on our own and Alexa and Korey gave us a recommendation of a place where we had the best lasagna in Florence. After lunch we had a special VIP tour of Palazzo Vecchio, a magnificent structure that remains one of the most impressive buildings in Tuscany. We climbed the High Tower, dressed in medical period costumes for photo opportunities, and explored secret passages once used by the all powerful Medici Family who were famed patrons of the arts.
Then we had some free time to shop and explore Florence on our own. We opted to go with a few others to the Hard Rock Cafe (we have teenagers!) and then on to the Disney Store. Along the way we enjoyed the best Gelato yet. It was a fun and relaxing afternoon. It was extremely warm today, and the more we could be in air conditioning the better off we felt. LOL! We also bought a bunch of chocolate to take back home with us.
We had dinner on our own, and we had the choice to either have dinner in Florence or take a bus back to our hotel at 6pm. We opted to head back early with Korey and have dinner and a relaxing night at the hotel.
Tink's Tip: Pack a backpack that is a cross body -- makes it easy to carry through the walking tours!
Day Four in Tuscany. Today was a busy day on the Guillemette's Italian Adventure. They explored a Tuscan farm, made olive oil, made pasta, enjoyed lots and lots of yummy food, and topped it off with a dinner this evening in a Tuscan castle. Hard to go wrong on a day like this!
#tinkstakesonitaly #adventuresbydisney #wearelovingitalywiththeguillys
Kristin's Blog: Day 4 in Tuscany
Today we slept in a bit - much needed! After a hearty breakfast we headed by bus to Sarah's Farm in the Tuscan hillsides. The Farm was simply amazing. We made our own pasta after a demonstration by Sarah Fioroni. The farm was started by Sarah's father who is 85 years old; he still works on the farm, along with many other family members. The pasta making was so much fun! We made all sorts of different types of pasta. The view from the top of the farm was breathtaking. To see such views every is a true blessing from above.
Once we were done with the pasta making, we took a walking tour of the farm. It was great to see the vineyards and listen to how the wine was made from all of the special grapes. After our wine tour, we headed back to the top of the farm (near where we made the pasta). Anyone who wanted to head to the back of the farm could enjoy a wine tasting of the three wines that are made on the farm. Others had the option of going to an olive oil bottling demonstration. I went to the olive oil bottling with my daughters, while my husband, Bruce, went to the wine tasting. It was great -- we bottled three different types of olive oil.
Afterwards, we joined Bruce for a wonderful lunch which included two different pasta dishes (all of the pasta was freshly made on the farm), along with the best fresh grown salad. The tomatoes in the salad were literally melting in your mouth. We were also given the opportunity to visit the farm store and purchase wine, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar to ship back to the United States. Let's just say that the majority of us spent a lot of euros at Sarah's Farm!
Then we headed back to the hotel for an afternoon of rest and relaxation. Many of us went to the pool or took a little nap in our rooms.
Tonight, we were encouraged to dress up for dinner as we were headed to a medieval castle in the countryside for dinner. The ride there was on curvy, winding roads. Our bus driver did an amazing job driving up and down the roads -- often times the bus seemed bigger than the width of the roads! Upon our arrival, we again had to marvel at the breath-taking views. The Castle Vicchionaggio was amazing! It also had an attached bed and breakfast, which is very popular in Tuscany. Tonight's menu included pasta with wild boar, chicken, beef, green beans, and a cake for dessert. Ooops - I almost forgot to mention the wine - we had that too!
Just as we though the meal was ending, a five person band came in singing Italian songs and grabbing us to dance and sing with them. It was such fun! Our Adventure Guides danced and laughed along with us. The singing even continued on the bus ride home. Such a fun day!
Tink's Tip: During your free time in each city, take the time to speak to the locals and get to know the city or town where you are visiting. Some of the best meals we have had in Italy have been in small, local places.
Day Three of Tink's Italian Adventure: The Guillemette Family stopped in Orvieto on the way to Tuscany. Check out the lavender bike, churches, scooters, and those beautiful rolling hills. Tonight's schedule includes the Junior Adventurers gathered together for some fun activities while the adults enjoy an outside wine tasting - we see some great looking appetizers on those plates -- yum!. The weather is gorgeous and the scenery takes your breath away. Looks like this family is having a wonderful time in the Tuscan countryside.
#tinkstakesonitaly. #adventuresbydisney #wearelovingitalywiththeguillys!
Kristin's Blog: Day 3: Tuscany Bound!
This morning we had to have our bags outside of our room and tagged by 7am, and then we had breakfast. We had to be in the lobby ready to board our bus for our next adventure. On the way to Tuscany our bus stopped in a quaint village called Orvieta. It was spectacular and a nice change from the big city of Rome. En route we stopped at a gas station that was not your typical American gas station -- this one had a bathroom and a shower, candy (huge sizes), and alcohol and wine.
Orvieta was awesome and we loved walking around and seeing the countryside. After an amazing lunch at a local spot in Orvieta, we boarded our bus, listened to Italian music and drove on into. Tuscany. We had such FUN in this town, visiting and speaking with the locals. Korey and Alexa are wonderful about telling us where we should "fashion" (aka using the bathroom) as some are not very American-like as others. That's all for now as I am on my way to Tuscany and our wine tasting tonight!
I'm back... The adults headed to a wine tasting and Tuscan style dinner. The Junior Adventurers (including my twins) went off for an Italian Soda tasting, dinner, and a Disney movie. The Juniors also got to have Gelato. The adults were able to taste three types of wine, the first being a white, and then two reds. Our adult dinner consisted of appetizers of bruschetta and a cheese plate. Our first course was pasta with mushrooms, then we had pork with potatoes mash, along with beans and steak. The wine was free flowing and along with each type of wine we were given an explanation by a local Tuscan wine expert. All of the adults were excited to hear that we get to sleep in a bit before we head out for the day to a local farm to make our own pasta.
Tinks Tip: You never go hungry on an Adventures by Disney® vacation!
Day Two in Rome and the Guillemette Family is on the go! Waking up to a splendid breakfast, then on to tour more sites in this amazing city - their day was filled with all sorts of oohs and aahhs. A highlight today (among so many other things!) was touring the Vatican. Kristin says that it seemed like every place they went there was no waiting in line with Adventures by Disney.® That paddle of power the Adventure Guides hold up is very powerful!
#tinkstakesonitaly #adventuresbydisney #wearelovingitalywiththeguillys!
Kristin's Blog: Day 2 in Rome
We woke up very early as we were still not adjusted to the time change. We headed to a wonderful breakfast buffet. Then we all met in the room off the main lobby; we were energized and ready for our second full day in Rome. We first headed to St. Peter's Basilica. Just like at the Coliseum, we were able to bypass the general public lines (the wait times were reported to be 4-5 hours) and enter the Basilica. Everyone had to make sure that their knees and shoulders were covered. It was breath-taking to be in the Basilica with only a few other people. Upon exiting the building, we stopped at a small gift ship where we could make purchases to have blessed and sent directly to our hotel room.
Next on our itinerary was a trip to the Spanish Steps. Christina was awesome in letting us know the history of all the buildings. She showed us where to look and where to walk. The Spanish Steps are located in the heart of the high end shopping district in Rome. Many American models, such as Christie Brinkley, have walked down the Spanish Steps in fashion shows. Christina informed us that the Steps are very slippery -- so much so that many models have fallen down the steps. Unfortunately, two members of our Adventure Group fell down the Steps as well.
After visiting the Spanish Steps we then headed to Trevi Fountain. Christina recommended that we all toss a coin into the fountain. With puzzled looks, we realized that we did not have coins in our possession. Lo and behold, Alexa showed up with Italian coins -- this is just another small detail that Adventures by Disney® Guides thinks of ahead of time! I also forgot to add that before we boarded the bus to depart anywhere, our guides had snacks, candy, and water for us. They also gave us ponchos to carry around just in case of rain.
Then we walked to the Pantheon. We stood in the center and Christina said that when it rains, it rains inside too. She went on to say that Italy is in a drought. Guess what? It sprinkled while we were there, and it was amazing to see the rain and a rainbow from inside the Pantheon. After the Pantheon we headed to a local dining location for lunch. Lunch consisted of pizza, pizza, and more pizza. We actually sampled four different ones. They were all tasty and delicious. The four pizzas were a marguerite pizza, a "devil" (spicy) pizza, a cheese and blue cheese pizza, and a prosciutto pizza. Lunch was delicious and very filling!
After lunch, we returned to our hotel for about an hour and a half of free time. We then showered and got ready for our night at the Vatican and the Vatican Museum after hours tour. Did you know that only 1% of people in the world ever get to visit the Vatican without any other tour guests inside? Our tour guide, Christina, was amazing and knew lots of the Vatican guards. She was able to get the guards to allow us "special" permission at the end of the tour to take photographs for two minutes inside the Vatican. This was the "wow" moment of our day.
After our Vatican experience, we headed back to our hotel for a quick libation by the pool and then it was bed-time. We were still very full from lunch, so we had decided to skip out on dinner tonight (it was on your own anyway).
Tink's Tip: Our Adventure Guides recommend that when locking your valuables in your hotel room safe, always place a shoe in it too. This way you'll never forget to remove important belongings from your safe when you are packing up your belongings and getting ready to leave.
Amazing time at the Coliseum! On this Adventure day, the magic of having a "Paddle of Power" wielded by an Adventure Guide included having access to a private entrance into the Coliseum. Kristin's family was one of the only groups who got to go down into the lower portion of this amazing historical site. Keep following Kristin's amazing journey through Italy!
#tinkstakesonitaly #adventuresbydisney #wearelovingitalywiththeguillys
Kristin's Blog: Rome (Day One continued):
We headed back to the hotel and then met with our guides for our tour of the Coliseum. We took a private bus there. Thank goodness we had a private guide with special access, because the general public lines were extremely long. One of the best "perks" with Adventures by Disney® is that you literally bypass the lines. Our guides introduced us to Christina, who was our local guide for our time in Rome. Christina escorted us into the Coliseum and gave us all of her insight. As we toured the outside of the Coliseum we walked around to a special entrance just for our group. Tour groups typically do not get to go down inside the Coliseum. With Adventures by Disney® we got to head inside and right down. It was an amazing experience! Then we boarded our bus and headed back to the hotel for our welcome dinner buffet. Our buffet had great food with many local samplings, including fresh salad, tomatoes, mozzarella salad, as well as fresh handmade pasta. There was also unlimited beer, wine and my favorite prosecco (by the way, it is way better in Italy than in America.)
Before turning in for the evening, Korey and Alexa gave us the rundown for the next day. They told us breakfast would be at 7am, and we needed to be in the lobby by 8am. We also were given a special exclusive Adventures by Disney® pin (these pins can't be bought). I almost forgot -- upon entering our hotel room this evening, the room was turned down with rose petals on our bed and floor, and we were given slippers by our bedside. So romantic!
Tink's Tip: The Guides are so wonderful and know everything!
Our vacation planners their children and yes, even some of our Tink’s clients, have written about their experiences in the Neverland Blog. The magic of Disney comes alive in an immediate way when our children visit the Land of Mickey and Minnie.