We hope you enjoyed traveling along to France with Michaela! Now we come closer to home, with Jodie’s trip to Walt Disney World!
To answer the first question everyone wants to know – unfortunately I did NOT get a sneak peek at the new Toy Story Land premiering this month at Hollywood Studios. However, from the sounds of it, it is sure to be true to Disney form and offer fun and excitement for everyone.
I did get to experience the newest attraction since I had been there last, which was Pandora – The World of Avatar, located in the Animal Kingdom park. If you have not been, this is something you will want to experience both in the daytime and at night. It is truly an immersive experience that leaves you forgetting you are in Disney!
One of the main focuses of my trip this time was to check out all the updates for the resorts. In an effort to stay up to date and modern, the Wilderness Lodge, Yacht Club Resort, Pop Century, Coronado Springs and several resorts in the Disney Springs have all recently or are about done with renovations (this is not a complete list, just the resorts I was able to visit on this trip). Some of the biggest changes include increasing space in the rooms by reducing oversized furniture, making changes to reduce allergens and updating bedding.
Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) has several new attractions as well as dining and shopping options, as well as some options for resorts if you are looking for accommodations off the actual Disney properties. These locations still give you benefits such as transportation to the parks, and advanced reservations for dining and FastPass selections.
One of the most exciting discoveries of the trip is the experience of the Disney VIP Tour Service. This experience is something made for those who want to see and do as much as possible in a short period of time, or would like to enjoy their Disney trip the VIP way. Your group of up to 10 (and it is only YOUR group, you are not combined with other families) experience a personal Disney VIP Tour Guide, the best seats in the house for parades, live shows and nighttime spectaculars, as well as an all-access FastPass for everyone in your group! This also includes transportation for your private group to take Park Hopping to a whole new level! If you have ever wanted to visit all 4 parks in one day this is the only way to do as you also get to skip the front of the park madness and enter all of the parks via the Backstage area.
And stay tuned, there are more fun and exciting announcements coming, including Star Wars!
Disney can be a wonderful family vacation with the opportunity make so many memories! But it can also be overwhelming and confusing to make reservations, so give Creative Vacations a call to help you make sure it is a “magical” time for you and your family!
Join Creative Vacations over the next three weeks as our Travel Consultants share their insights from recent trips they have taken. Today we hear from Michaela!
Twenty-three years ago, a younger Michaela stepped foot in France, and it changed her forever. My love affair with travel, seeing the world and wanting to make travel dreams come true for others started right then and there. Standing in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, tears in my eyes, I knew what I was going to do when I "grew up."
Fast forward to now, and I had the opportunity to experience a river cruise with U by Uniworld sailing The Seine Experience. While I have been to several parts of France before, river cruising would give me a different point of view, and a new way to experience this beautiful country. River cruises give you the opportunity to dock in the center of most destinations, letting you step off the ship and easily see the way the locals live. The small group tours give you a chance to see and do things that larger groups are not able. And just imagine waking up, rolling over and watching the countryside of France sail by every morning!
April 28 - Upon our arrival in Paris, we boarded the B, got checked in and ventured out to walk to the Eiffel Tower. Strolling along the Seine we saw the Statue of Liberty (this quarter scale version was given to France from the USA to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution) and several interesting and beautiful bridges. Walking up the steps of the Pont d'lena, BOOM, La Tour Eiffel! Such a breath-taking site. This was my third visit and it never, ever gets old! After walking a bit more, grabbing a bite to eat we watched the Eiffel Tower *sparkle* (such a cool thing to see!) and then headed back to the ship to settle in and get ready for the rest of the cruise.
April 29 - Today we arrived in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. Our included tours started a bit later, so we got to sleep in a little. That is another benefit of river cruising, time. You have time to choose how you want to spend the time and where you want to go on your own outside of the included tours. With port in a central location, there are so many options! Prior to our tour to Versailles we explored a local flower shop (the smell was heavenly!) and saw some of the local ruins. Europe is a great place for history buffs, they take such pride in their history, and work hard to preserve so much of their historical features while still making progress! The Versailles tour let you tour the gardens and Marie Antoinette's Petite Trianon. We opted to wander the left gardens and saw the dancing water that is set to music. It was lovely, and I could have stayed and watched all day, but our tour of the Petite Trianon was starting so we headed off. After that tour we arrived back at the ship with some time to wander before departure. We found the Bateaux Chocolate, and when you see a Chocolate Boat, you have to go to the Chocolate Boat! It was a perfect afternoon treat before getting back on board to set sail to Rouen.
April 30 - There are things that even the best Travel Consultant can't control - the weather being one of them. Today we woke up in the historic town of Rouen, and Mother Nature decided to not only "rain on our parade" but snow! But one thing we can control is how flexible our plan was, so we opted out of the walking tour this morning and spent some time onboard in a "room with a view" with the hope the weather would get better for our tour in the afternoon. It did indeed so we ventured out and explored the Giant clock, the Notre Dame Cathedral of Rouen and the Joan of Arc museum. Another quick (and yummy) bite to eat at a local restaurant and supermarket, then back to the ship for dinner and to get ready for our Rouen Pub Crawl. Enjoying a cherry lambic and Belgian Duvel (or two!) made for a wonderful chance to meet new friends and fun evening in Rouen! Back to our home away from home on this late night to settle in and get ready for another amazing adventure tomorrow!
May 1 - Mother Nature played nice today and gave us a beautiful day four our walking tour of Honfleur. Unfortunately, is was May Day which is a bank holiday in France, so the Victor Hugo Museum and museum of the Seine were both closed. However, the sun was shining, birds were chirping and this charming area is now added to the list of "places I can see myself living." Known for their mussels, caramels and cider, it just invited us to explore and indulge. A walking tour of the waterfront and church, tasty lunch outside topped with cider and then it was time to do a little shopping and head back to the bus to return to the ship. Our ride took us over the Normandy Bridge, and cool sight to see. Once back in Claudebec we explored some more, and then returned to the ship for dinner. Afterward it was still daylight, so we grabbed some blankets and curled up on the top deck to watch this little slice of France slip away as we sailed to our next destination. A first for me, we spent some time in the "silent disco" which was definitely a unique experience!
May 2 - This may or may not have been the most anticipated day of my trip! I love all things Monet, and today, on my birthday, I get to tour the real-life paintings (ie Monet's gardens) and his famous pink and green home. The day could not have been more perfect. I slept in. I took an amazing painting class where I did water lilies with the Japanese Bridge. I took a bike ride to GIVERNY. It took my third trip to France to be able to see this bucket list item for me, and it was absolutely amazing. Yes, even travel consultants have bucket lists! It was truly amazing walking through the paintings I have collected most of my life. After the bike ride return we wandered a little more, enjoyed dinner and more chocolate goodies (it is my birthday after all!) and then called it a night, going to sleep having had an absolutely fantastic birthday!
Days like today are why I do what I do. I LOVE helping people experience those kinds of moments for themselves. It's what started me on this path all those years ago and still keeps me wanting to see what's around the next bend.
May 3, 4, 5 - Bonjour again Paris! The ship docks and becomes your floating hotel as you can explore all that Paris (and surrounding areas) has to offer. We took in museums, including my favorite - l'Orangerie Museum- with Monet's large nympheas beauties. It makes me want to spin around and dance, but I contained myself. Mostly. We went to the Louvre, wandered the Tuileries, toured Notre Dame and wandered, ate and just enjoyed being in this amazing city. We did check out of the B and spent some time in the Victoria Palace Hotel, which is beautiful and quite a way to experience a night (or more!) in Paris. Alas, it has to come to an end at some point, so after an amazing 8 days we headed to the airport and back to our families. We may be leaving Paris, but Paris will never leave us. France, you never disappoint. Ever.
MORE PICTURES! This is just a small sampling of the pictures I took, and not a single one does the trip justice. Call me to start planning your own river cruise today!
With the exception of the “cruise to nowhere” and transatlantic cruises, even a short weekend cruise will usually take you to at least two different ports. It is a great way to sample different regions, cross off several cities on your destination “bucket list” or explore a foreign city and not worry about the language barrier (shore tours offered by the cruise line or outside vendors offer tours in multiple languages). And don’t forget that the ship itself is a destination.
From stage performances, night clubs and dining, the ship you chose is as unique as the ports of call. Spas, pools with water slides, rock climbing walls, culinary or dance lessons, the possibilities are endless!
Taking the kids or extended family on a cruise is a great way for everyone to travel together, but have their own vacation. Everyone has their chance to make the day what they want, and then reconnect at dinner. Kids clubs offer a safe place for kids to call their “own” and parents to know they are having fun while you go relax at the adults only pool or the spa. Separated by age groups, the activities make sure every has a great time. So much so, there have been reports of kids wanting to skip dinner with the family!
On the flipside, if you are looking for a romantic getaway a cruise is a great way to reconnect. A stroll on the deck at sunset. Sipping champagne on your balcony. Dining at a private table in a specialty restaurant. Lounging by the adults only pool. Sharing a couples massage. Cruising provides endless ways to get away and rekindle the flame.
Not all cruises are large, floating resorts with staterooms for thousands. While the larger ships have more amenities and a larger array of options, the smaller ships offer unique options and ports of call the larger ships just can’t get to. Smaller ships mean fewer passengers, which means a less crowded feel.
Less space for stages and large kids areas means fewer of the amenities like shows and miniature golf courses, but they more than make up for it with specialized itineraries and enrichment programs. The large and mega ships have
more options for dining, daytime activities, evening entertainment and areas for meeting around the ship.