Tag Archives: travel with kids

Disney Dream Cruise Ship Concierge Level

Disney Dream Cruise Ship Concierge Level

Concierge Level aboard the Disney Dream Cruise Ship

If you’re planning to sail on a Disney Cruise you’ll notice when booking that one of the options are Concierge Staterooms and Suites. We have now sailed twice at Concierge level so we thought we would share the benefits of sailing Concierge and what exactly you get for paying a little extra.

Before You Cruise

Disney Concierge services are available to help you plan your cruise starting 120 days prior to your sailing date. This gives Concierge guests first access to all bookings including shore excursions, spa appointments and restaurant reservations. If you’re sailing on a cruise visiting Disney’s Castaway Cay you can also book the highly sought after and hard to get cabanas.

These Concierge services are accessed through a dedicated toll-free number for U.S. residents which is available from 8.30am to 5.30pm every day of the week. For Non-U.S. residents like us, there is a specific email address you use to can contact the Concierge team.

Disney will also post official documents and luggage tags about six weeks prior to cruise departure.

Boarding Day

Unlike other passengers who will be allocated a port arrival time, Concierge guests have priority boarding. With a separate check-in area at the port terminal, there is not much wait time until you are ready to board. On our last Disney Dream Cruise we were the very first family to board which the kids were extremely excited about!

Usually boarding commences around 11.30am and you are whisked up to the Concierge Lounge (located on level 12 on the Disney dream). Here you meet & greet with the lounge staff who will be looking after all your requests during your cruise.

Concierge Lounge

Open from 7.00am to 10.00pm the lounge provides complimentary food and beverages throughout the day.  Staff members are always around to help with any questions about the ship or if you need any reservations made.

Continental breakfast is served from 7.00am to 10.30am and then snacks are available throughout the day. There is bottled water and soft drinks which you can also take back to your room if preferred. Everyone loves the lounge coffee machine which was very popular.

There is a nightly Concierge Cocktail evening reception which provides canapés, desserts and complimentary alcoholic beverages from 5.00pm to 10.00pm.

Concierge Lounge Private Sun Deck

Located on Deck 13 just upstairs from the lounge is a private sun deck for Concierge guests to enjoy. This is a great private area if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the cruise. It even has its own relaxing hot tub.

No need to bring sunscreen – its all supplied on the deck along with towels, Evian water spray bottles and even sunglass lens cleaners.

Even the bathrooms  are pretty fancy!

On the second afternoon of the cruise there is a Concierge Afternoon Soiree from 4.00pm to 5.00pm which is a gathering to mingle with your fellow Concierge guests. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are served during this hour.

On another afternoon there is a private meet and greet with a Disney character on the deck. On our first cruise it was Goofy and on our second cruise we got to meet Minnie Mouse.

Rooms & Suites

Concierge level rooms are only located on decks 11 and 12 of the Disney Dream Cruise Ship. Room types available are:

Other On-Board Benefits

  • Limited Edition Lithographic Print delivered to your room at the end of the cruise as a gift from the Concierge team.
  • In-room treats and surprises.
  • Complimentary bags of popcorn to take to the theatres.
  • Complimentary internet package of 100 megabytes per stateroom.

Conclusion

While it does cost more we have to say that we love sailing Concierge level. Having that little extra service available can sometimes be priceless as we discovered on our last cruise.

Our last cruise was just in front of Hurricane Irma and got cut short by one day. Once it was announced that we would be disembarking a day earlier, the Concierge staff were just unbelievable. Guests were able to call hotels, airlines, transport companies or anyone else people needed to contact. Extra laptops and phone lines were set up in the lounge for guests to make alternative arrangements to leave Orlando once disembarked.

We realised how valuable this was when we walked past guest services not long after the announcement and the queues were so long that they would have been waiting for hours.

We can’t wait to sail again on another Disney Cruise – next time we will be on the Disney Wonder for the first time.

Aquatica Water Park Orlando, Florida, USA

Aquatica Orlando Water Park

Review of Aquatica Water Park in Orlando, Florida, USA

Aquatica Water Park is operated by SeaWorld and is definitely worth visiting when exploring the city of Orlando. There were plenty of rides that the whole family could enjoy and our two boys aged 9 & 11 absolutely loved it here.

Cabana Rental

We arrived right at opening time which for the day we visited was 10.00am. First stop for us was to guest services to see if we could still rent a cabana (these can also be done online prior to visiting the park). Luckily it was a good time of year to visit as it was off-peak season and a weekday so the park was pretty quiet. We had a choice of a cabana at either Cutback Cove or Roa’s Rapids. We chose one at Cutback Cove at the bargain rate of $49 (you can pay over $200.00 for these in peak season).

The Cutback Cove are was nice and shaded and very private with a host always around checking to make sure those that entered the area had the appropriate wristband on. Rental of a cabana includes;

  • Rental towels
  • All day locker rental
  • Refrigerator with 12 bottles of complimentary water
  • 20% discount at gift shops

For the off-peak price of $49 we would highly recommend renting one of the cabanas, probably wouldn’t pay the high peak season prices though. It was definitely good value for us when you take into consideration that locker rental is either $10 or $15 and towel rental is $5 each.

Dolphin Plunge Waterslide

Before you get too excited about the much hyped Dolphin Plunge waterslide, be aware that you can’t really see the black & white Commerson Dolphins while you are going down the slide as you are travelling too fast to find them. There is a big viewing window where you can watch them play around in their pod though. You can watch our Dolphin Plunge YouTube video here.

Cutback Cove Wave Pool

This popular area has two wave pools side by side (only Cutback Cove was open when we visited – Big Surf Shores was closed).

 

Roa’s Rapid Rivers

This is no lazy river, you travel at good speed around Roa’s Rapids and it’s even more fun when you put on a swim vest and just get pulled through the rapids.

Walkabout Waters

A perfect area for active kids, this Walkabout Waters adventure playground will keep them busy for hours. You can watch our YouTube video of Walkabout Waters & Roa’s Rapids here.

Kata’s Kookaburra Cove

Kata’s Kookaburra Cove is a great area for the younger kids who can’t ride the bigger slides.

Loggerhead Lane

Grab a tube and head around this lazy river and through the tropical fish grotto. Loggerhead Lane also connects to the Tassie Twister Waterslides.

Ihu’s Breakaway Falls

Test out your bravery with these not to be missed free fall drop slides. You can choose which one of Ihu’s Breakaway Falls you dare to ride (purple one is not a drop down one if you can’t face the free fall drop) and the green one is the easiest to ride.

Other Rides at Aquatica

  • Hooroo Run – good waterslide but ride early as it gets a queue later in the day.
  • Walhalla Wave – great family waterslide but ride early as it gets a queue later in the day.
  • Taumata Racer – closed for maintenance when we visited.
  • Omaka Rocka – this one is a bit bumpy, probably our least favourite ride.
  • Whanau Way – four waterslides that go different speeds, the boys enjoyed this one.

Dining at Aquatica

Aquatica has a strict outside food & beverage policy so it may be necessary to purchase food inside the park. While there are plenty of snack food outlets there is also the option of Banana Beach dining which is all-day unlimited food and sodas.

Conclusion

We rode every waterslide together as a family then we were comfortable enough with the park size and amount of lifeguards to let the kids roam free and do as they wanted. The adults then retreated back to the cabana for a little bit of afternoon relaxation time – a perfect day out for all of us! We would definitely return to Aquatica on our next trip to Orlando.

You can watch our YouTube Video of SeaWorld’s Aquatica Water Park in Orlando – featuring Kata’s Kookaburra Cove, Ihu’s Breakaway Falls and Cutback Cove Wave Pool.

We had 14 days unlimited access to Aquatica Water Park and SeaWorld Orlando as part of our Discovery Cove package.

For more information on Aquatica Water Park in Orlando, go to www.aquaticabyseaworld.com

When visiting Aquatica we stayed at the Hilton Orlando which as you can see below is not far from the water park and you get great views of the resort from Ihu’s Breakaway Falls.

Aquatica Water Park Orlando, Florida

View of Hilton Orlando from Ihu’s Breakaway Falls

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SeaWorld Orlando, Florida

SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld Orlando in Florida, USA

SeaWorld Orlando is one of the biggest attractions in town and provides a fun-filled day for the whole family. We visited in the off-peak season on a weekday and it was a really comfortable crowd, not too busy at all with very little wait times for rides.

While there are some great rides at SeaWorld Orlando, the real stars of the SeaWorld experience are the animals and shows. Our advice is to get there early, right at opening time and ride the roller coasters first, then plan the rest of your day around the show times. Show times and park hours vary daily so be sure to check before you arrive.

One Ocean Shamu Killer Whale Show

Watch in awe as you learn all about these majestic creatures of the ocean.

Blue Horizons Dolphin Show

This show is not just about the amazing dolphin performances, it also features colourful theatrical acrobats as well as talented tropical birds.

Clyde & Seamore’s Sea Lion High Show

A very funny and entertaining show that the whole family will love – featuring sea lions, otters and even a walrus.

Pets Ahoy Show

Witness the clever tricks performed by cats, dogs, birds and other pets that have been rescued from local animal shelters.

Thrill Rides

  • Manta – This coaster makes you feel like you are flying through the air at high speeds head first.  Watch our YouTube video of Manta here.  You can also stop by the Manta Aquarium after the ride.
  • Mako – Newly opened in June 2016, this ride is named after the fastest species of shark. This is the longest, fastest and tallest roller coaster in Orlando.
  • Kraken – Named after the legend of the Kraken Sea Monster, this is Orlando’s only floorless roller coaster.
  • Journey to Atlantis – Prepare to get wet on this water flume ride that travels through the sunken city of Atlantis.

Shamu’s Happy Harbour

The little ones will love the children’s play area of SeaWorld Orlando called Shamu’s Happy Harbour . There’s quite a few rides as well as a huge climbing area to keep them entertained. If the kids bring their bathers they can also play in a splash zone to keep cool in the Orlando heat.

You can see our YouTube video of Shamu’s Happy Harbour.

Animal Exhibits

SeaWorld Orlando is home to an array of animal attractions including;

  • Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin
  • Turtle Trek
  • Shark Encounter
  • Flamingo Cove
  • Dolphin Nursery
  • Manta Aquarium
  • Stingray Lagoon
  • Wild Arctic

There is of course plenty of restaurants and eateries as well as quite a few shopping areas – and you just never know who you might bump into!

For more information on SeaWorld Orlando visit their website www.seaworld.com

We had unlimited access to SeaWorld Orlando and Aquatica Water Park for 14 consecutive days included as part of our Discovery Cove ticket package.

Emirates Business Class Seats on a 777-300ER

Emirates Business Class

Flying Emirates Business Class With Kids

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Melbourne to Singapore

We recently redeemed some Qantas Frequent Flyer points to have our first ever flights aboard Emirates Airlines. Our two boys are now experienced flyers and are at the ages where they’re very well behaved on long flights so we decided to take them Business Class. Some people may frown upon having kids in Business Class, but we always make sure that our boys are immaculately behaved.  Plus it’s nice for the kids to indulge and to get spoilt once in a while as well.

Our flight with the kids was aboard an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Melbourne to Singapore. As our flight was en-route to Dubai, we were still entitled to the benefit of getting one of the Emirates Chauffeured pick-ups (this is one of the perks of flying with Emirates to Dubai in Business and First Class). Once at the airport, we enjoyed a couple of hours in the Emirates Lounge (read review here). The lounge had enough meal and drink options to keep both our kids very happy and they loved the views across the airport so they could do some plane-watching.

Once we boarded our plane, the kids started getting very excited. The huge, comfy seats and Emirates Ice entertainment system complete with wireless control pads were going to keep them occupied for quite a while. Once we were settled in our seats the crew came around with Champagne for the adults and juices for the kids. We were then all provided with the Emirates Business Amenity Kits (kids received these also).

Once we were up in the air, the crew came around to take food and drink orders for the flight. We had already pre-ordered the kids meals through the manage your booking options on the Emirates website a few days beforehand, so they were already taken care of. Before the meal service begins you can have a choice of drink from the extensive bar menu as well as a serve of mixed nuts.  For the adults, the starter consisted of an Arabic-Stye Tomato Soup.

The kids meals consisted of a penne pasta with ice cream for dessert. They were very happy with their meals and said it was the most amazing pasta ever! Our choice for main was also quite delicious, the Lamb Cutlets with green pea mash and grilled vegetables.

For dessert the adults had the chocolate and caramel dome then it was time to turn the seats into lay flat beds and enjoy a quick sleep before arriving in Singapore. Another bonus of flying Business Class is that you get off the plane first and to the customs area before the rest of the economy passengers. With Emirates Business on the Dubai flights you also get the Chauffeured Limousine service when you arrive at your destination and even though we didn’t travel onto Dubai, we did still get use of this service.

Flying Emirates Business Class Without Kids

Emirates Airbus A380 from Melbourne to Auckland

Travelling on an Emirates A380 in Business Class had been on our bucket list for a few years now, but with no plans to travel to Dubai in the near future we thought it would be a while until we got to achieve it. That was until we discovered that the Emirates Dubai to Auckland A380 flight has a stopover in Melbourne. We used some Qantas points for a weekend trip over to Auckland, leaving the kids at home this time.

The Business seats on the A380 are upstairs on the top deck and we both had window seats for this flight (window seats are singles). The seats come with their own little mini bar with water, juice and soft drinks as well as noise cancelling headphones, a pillow, blanket, socks and eyeshades.

This was an early morning flight so only breakfast was served although after take off the amazing A380 Bar was set up at the back of the top deck which has various snacks like muffins, danishes, fruit kebabs, nuts, pretzels, olives and dried fruits which you can help yourself to. Breakfast of choice for us was the Omelette which came with tomatoes, baked beans, sausages and potato. Accompanying the hot dish was a croissant, some fruit and a mango yoghurt.

Once breakfast was over and done with, we headed straight to the A380 bar. This is a great little area where you can socialise with other passengers as well as the crew. The crew on our flight were fantastic and as it was pretty quiet on the business deck, we even got the chance to experience what crew life is like behind the bar.

As the flight from Melbourne to Auckland is a short haul trip, you do not receive the Emirates Amenity kits. In the toilets however you can find dental kits, combs, shaving kits, cotton buds freshener sprays and other amenities to freshen up with. Also on this flight you are not eligible for the Chauffeured transport service as you are not en-route to Dubai.

The Emirates Business Class A380 experience definitely lived up to all our expectations, we only wish it had been a longer flight! Now we have added flying in First Class on an Emirates A380 to our bucket list, so it is back to saving up all our Frequent Flyer points again.

For more information on travelling with Emirates Airlines go to www.emirates.com