Senses Spa on DCL

During our most recent cruise on the Disney Dream, Dan and I took the time (and the money!) to pamper ourselves with a visit to Senses Spa.  My mom purchased a massage as my 30th birthday present and we decided to upgrade it to a couples massage for Dan and I to enjoy together.  We booked the massage for 4PM on the embarkation day.  Like other activities and experiences, these can be booked in advance of your cruise or you can take your chances to see what is available once you get on board.  In our minds, this was going to be the perfect way to start a dream vacation.




The spa is beautiful and well-maintained.  When we entered, we were checked in and escorted back to the locker rooms.  Once we were changed into our spa robes, we waited in a comfy room with water and were given a clipboard to fill out medical information that would be relevant for a massage therapist to know.  Our massage began right on time with two great therapists.

The hour was wonderfully relaxing!  We happened to be in the massage rooms as we sailed away from Florida so the view at first was just of the port but opened up to the waterways as we moved away from the coast.  This is hard to enjoy though honestly because your head is usually down and / or eyes closed throughout the massage.  The best part of the massage came at the end when they offered us a deal to come back for another massage.  They reduced the normal rate to $99 per person to return over our 4 days on the ship.  We took advantage of this offer and booked a Cabana Massage on Castaway Cay.  That was an even more amazing experience.  The cabanas are located on the adult-only part of Castaway Cay known as Serenity Bay.  This is a very quiet and serene part of the island.  Once you are situated on the table, they open up the large windows and you can hear all the wonderful sounds of island life surrounding you and feel the gentle, warm breeze.



In addition, we were also celebrating Dan's birthday while on the cruise so I bought him a men's shave package in the spa.  He enjoyed the experience and the price didn't seem as outrageous as some of the other spa services.  The one thing to be warned about with any spa service is that they will try to sell you very expensive spa products at the end of your appointment.  Each of our therapists though were very gracious and offered no pressure when we refused early on and made it clear we didn't want to hear anymore.

Overall, the spa experience on a Disney Cruise is worth it if you have the money to spare.  It's much more expensive then back on dry land, but is a fun way to indulge in relaxation while on vacation.  The spa also offers a Rainforest Room Pass which is a cheap way to check out the spa if you're just curious to see what the experience is like.  For more information on any of the spa services available, check out the Disney Cruise Line website and you can get prices and services offered on each ship.

What I'm learning about FastPass+

As you know, I've been busy planning our upcoming family trip to WDW in November.  This will be a trip of many "firsts" for me - renting DVC points, staying at AKL Villas, MagicBands, and FastPass+ system.  I have read a lot online to help me plan for my FP+ experience and have discovered that there seems to be a love / hate relationship with the new system.

Let's start with a little background on the FP+ system.  FP+ has replaced the old FASTPASS system that had been in Disney for many years prior.  The old system had guests rushing to pull a FASTPASS from kiosks located outside of ride entrances.  You could only pull one FASTPASS at a time and would be eligible to draw another when the previous one expired.  There was criticism around the old system as popular rides (such as Toy Story Mania at Hollywood Studios) would have you rushing as soon as you got into the park to grab a FASTPASS that may not be good until 5PM or 6PM at night.  

Disney tried to improve their FASTPASS system with FP+.  Now guests staying on Disney property will have the chance to book their FP+ times and rides 60 days prior to their arrival.  You choose one park per day (even if you have park hopper tickets) and up to three rides in that park.  The computer will give you several options for times that you can choose from and then you save your choices.  If you are lucky enough to score FP+ times early in the morning, you can add additional FP+ selections from kiosks inside the park once you have used your first three.  For this reason, early times fly off the shelf fast as well as FP+ for popular times and attractions, such as the meet and greet with Anna and Elsa right now.  Hollywood Studios and EPCOT also employ a tiering system.  You can choose one tier one attraction (think Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania) followed by two tier two attractions (think Disney Jr. Live on Stage, etc.).  You can go in and edit / modify your FP+ choices as often as you would like which means you can keep your eyes open for an elusive time or experience if you weren't able to score that hard to grab FP+ early.

So, my take on FP+?  The jury is out until I experience it in November.  I like it in theory, but I'm a planner.  I can see where some people will be irked by having to not only plan ADRs for a Disney trip, but now what times they want to go on certain rides up to two months before the trip.  I wasn't able to get all the FP+ I was hoping for even though I logged in on day one I was eligible, but I'm not losing hope as I look just about every day to modify if something opens up.  More to come on this topic in the future!       

Broadway in the Caribbean

One of the highlights of our past two Disney cruises has been the high quality entertainment we had the chance to experience.  Like other cruise ships, Disney offers a nightly show in the theatre.  Unlike other cruise ships - it's DISNEY!  When you think of Disney entertainment, many of you will probably think of the high quality first and foremost.  A Disney Cruise vacation will not disappoint.  Below you will find just a quick summary of some of our favorites from the Disney Fantasy (2013) and Disney Dream (2014).

Believe (Fantasy and Dream) - Let's start with my absolute favorite!  I was so excited to see this show a second time when we sailed on the Dream after falling in love with the story on the Fantasy.  This is an original production that includes songs from some of the best Disney musicals of all time while telling a heartwarming story of the love between a father and daughter.  I found myself crying during parts of this touching performance - perfect for the whole family!

Aladdin (Fantasy) - A condensed version of the Disney classic.  It includes all of your favorite songs and the Genie cannot be beat.  Unfortunately, I had to leave this show early with a fussy baby but my husband has nothing but high praises to sing for this performance.  

Wishes (Fantasy) - This was another cute original Disney performance.  The story follows siblings as they get ready to graduate high school, but learn what it still means to be a kid.  There's a lot of great Disney music throughout the show that will keep your toes tapping along the way!

Villains Tonight (Dream) - I really wanted to love this show.  In fact, when we were leaving for the cruise, this was the show I was most excited to see.  While the show was cute and family friendly, I was disappointed in some of the villains that they chose to highlight.  I felt that a good number of the villains were from more "obscure" Disney movies and I just didn't connect with the characters and the music the way I did in some other shows.  Don't worry about it being scary for young kids - there's lots of humor throughout that keeps the show light.

The Golden Mickeys (Dream) - This production screams classic Disney.  The setting is an awards show where tribute is paid to some of the best of the best in the history of Disney.  Great songs and characters throughout from across the generations will keep everyone in the family entertained.  A really cool feature of this show is that you get to "walk the red carpet" into the theatre with the "paparazzi" taking pictures and maybe even interviewing you.  This is all being shown in the theatre on a live video feed which adds an element of real Hollywood to the evening.

In addition to these, your cruise will have other shows depending on the length that you are on the ship which may include magicians, on board entertainers, and your cruise director sharing highlights at the end of the week.  Shows are nightly in the theatre at 6:15 and 8:30.  On days at sea, they also typically offer a matinee performance at 3:00.  

'Ohana means family. . .

. . .and family means nobody left behind or forgotten.  Apparently it also means "good food" when you're staying in WDW and dine at this restaurant inside the Polynesian resort.

Dan and I dined here in April 2014 after returning from our Disney Cruise.  I wanted a little touch of Disney World magic to end our vacation without paying for a park ticket.  So we decided to visit Downtown Disney and then have dinner at 'Ohana.  It was a first for both of us and we'll definitely be back!

Location - First of all, 'Ohana's location is fabulous.  The Polynesian is a beautiful resort to explore and enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail by the pool.  The restaurant is on the second floor and provides a view of the Wishes fireworks if you time it appropriately (which we did!).  Like California Grill, 'Ohana also dims the lights and plays the music that accompany the firework.  Be warned - this is not an unobstructed view like California Grill though.  There is currently a volcano and trees that block part of the fireworks depending on where you are sitting.  We were lucky to have a table right next to the window without any obstructions, but not all customers will be so lucky.

Overall Experience - The experience in 'Ohana is one that you are not likely to forget anytime soon.  It's a very laid back, family friendly atmosphere.  The food is served family style and our waiter enhanced that experience with his energy and enthusiasm.  There was also a singer performing on a ukulele that traveled from table to table singing.  I especially enjoyed when they asked people celebrating a birthday or anniversary to come up for a special song - since we were celebrating my 30th!  One of the downfalls I had read about 'Ohana are long wait times even when you have an ADR.  We had a reservation and ended up waiting about 35 minutes for our table - not great, but not terrible either.  With the family style serving, it seems that moving people along can be challenging.

A little dark - but that's me getting my birthday lei!


Food - I have to admit that I was a little nervous about the food.  Your choices are limited here, but the food is delicious.  The main courses of shrimp, pork, and steak skewers accompanied by noodles and stir fry vegetables have all the "tanginess" of the Hawaiian Islands that you would expect to find.  And I think Dan speaks for most men in America when he says, "How can you beat meat on stick??" Don't forget to save room for dessert too as the bread pudding with the banana caramel sauce is unbelievable!

Overall Grade - A-
The only thing lacking in 'Ohana was the fact that we experienced what many others had complained about, a bit of a wait for our ADR.  Fortunately, we were traveling alone on this trip because I don't know how we would have entertained our 26 month old during the wait time.  We loved the food and the atmosphere though and definitely plan on returning soon!


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