The Ultimate Guide to a Disney Cruise

I love Disney, but unfortunately I never had the opportunity to go to any of the parks. Once upon a time, my friend won a Disney Cruise on the radio and there I was living out my dreams. Now, this still wasn’t one of the parks I have been dying to go to, but it was a step closer to my ultimate Disney experience.

In addition, to this being my first Disney experience, this was also my first cruise, so it was a first all around. I have compiled a list of all the great things about this cruise and some of my tips because this was an unknown experience to me, like I am sure it is for many of you that have never been on one.

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The Experience

Each cruise is going to provide you a different experience and I am sure they all have their perks. Luckily, I had the pleasure of going to one with some of the best hospitality in the world…AKA Disney :). The Disney corporation is known for their experiences and amazing hospitality and this cruise was no different. From the moment the cruise was booked until the very end, the whole experience was magical. The cruise I went on departed from Fort Lauderdale and stopped in Nassau, Bahamas, and the Castaway Cay which is Disney’s private island.

You get a nice big booklet of everything you need to know and it included your complete itinerary, so you had everything with you in one place. Make sure you do not forget that because it has your luggage tags and some other items that you will need.

Once you get to the airport, you are able to take the Disney shuttle which takes you to the port. The bus played some videos that you could enjoy on the hour or so ride there and was accompanied by a very funny driver.

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After arriving to the port, you wait in line to check in and get additional information about boarding. This process does take a bit of time, but once done you can make your way up on the boat.

As soon as you walk through the doors, you are greeted with the amazing hospitality I continue to talk about. Your party’s name is announced for all to hear as you walk through the doors making you feel like royalty.

Once you board, you are free to roam around, get some food and go to your room where your luggage will be waiting for you.

We had a suite with a balcony which gave us some pretty great views and it also helps with not feeling too seasick. I would recommend booking a room with at least a window, if you know that you do get motion sickness or don’t like enclosed spaces.

Food and Drinks

This cruise had a couple of restaurants that you were assigned to go to each night with a time slot and then your typical buffet that was open through out the day. The buffet had pretty good food, but it was very standard and similar to any buffet you would go to. The soft serve was definitely my favorite because who doesn’t love soft serve.

The restaurants were pretty incredible and provided you with dinner and a show for most. It gave you this magical experience all while eating some of the best food I had eaten in a while. We also had the same servers each night, so they got to know us which made the experience that much better.

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My favorite had to have been Tiana’s where we got major New Orleans’s vibes and a great music performance by the one and only Tiana and her band.

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The Activities

This being a Disney cruise, most of the activities were oriented towards kids and teens which is understandable. To my surprise, there was still plenty to do on the boat for the older folk, so they did not forget about all the adults.

One of my favorites was definitely the pool and the best part is that they had an adult only pool. It was a nice break, for those that actually want enjoy some peace and quiet. Personally, I liked the upper deck around the main pool. It is perfect for laying out and relaxing. Another great perk was that they played movies on a huge screen, so you got to work on your tan while watching some of your Disney favorites.

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Since I was on the cruise with my friends and we are considered adults (even though I disagree sometimes haha), we checked out a lot of the adult activities. Below are some the cruise has to offer:

Trivia at the Bar – we lost badly but then again I am not the best at trivia.

Bingo – who doesn’t love Bingo 🙂 plus you can win cash prizes and things that you can purchase on the boat.

Evening Adult Only Entertainment (different show or performance every night) – be prepared because they will pick on the crowd. It is super interactive and fun. One night we had a comedy show which was very entertaining.

Lounge Bar – a perfect place to just relax and grab a drink.

Disney Performance – this was one of my favorite parts. Every night, there was a performance in the theater which was spectacular. The actors really do a good job portraying the Disney characters and it is enjoyable for all ages.

Last Night Party – on the last night, they have a huge party on the deck. With performances, dancing, and fireworks, it was the perfect way to end this magical cruise!

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The Offsite

On this cruise, we made two stops: Nassau and Castaway Cay!

Nassau:

This was my second time in the Bahamas and it was pretty amazing. We went to Nassau which is the most popular city to visit and it is where the famous Atlantis Resort was which I am sure many have heard of – cue Holiday in the Sun for all my Mary Kate and Ashley fans :). We had options to book different excursions, but we decided to explore the town a bit and just hang out at the beach.

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Once we got off the boat, we started by taking a walk around town. We went into some shops and browsed around for some souvenirs. We found a restaurant with beautiful views of the ocean and really good conch, so we took a break there. Make sure you try the conch, especially in the Bahamas, it was delicious.

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After our bellies were full, we headed down to the beach where we hit up a happy hour bar right on the beach. There is just something about a drink out of a coconut that makes it ten times better. A few hours later, we had to get back on the boat and enjoyed the rest of the evening on the cruise.

Castaway Cay:

Disney being Disney couldn’t just take us to any island in the Caribbean; they naturally took us to their private island called Castaway Cay. The island is not huge but it was big enough that it gave you plenty to do on it.

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The best part was that there was an adult only beach and it was hidden all the way at the end of the island. It was stunning and the perfect way to relax. The food on the island was also provided and it was included in the cruise pricing, so unless you are getting drinks or buying souvenirs, you did not have to have too many expenses unlike our first stop in Nassau.

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We were also supposed to do an adults only excursion where we would get on a smaller boat and go to another mini island where we would have done a rum tasting. Unfortunately, the water was too rocky, so that was cancelled. Instead, we spent the rest of the day relaxing on the beach and no one was complaining :).

If you follow me on Instagram, then you will know that in my stories and my post, I asked to see if anyone had any questions about cruises. Below are some of the most common questions I got and so I thought I would share them on here:

Money: how much should you bring on an all-inclusive trip? The short answer: that depends on you!

How much are you planning on drinking (alcohol) because that is extra and can be pricey on cruises. If you are from a small rural town, these prices might shock you, but if you come from a big city then you can expect cocktails to be around $10 if not more which is the norm. You do have the option to also get a drink package, but personally I do not know believe it is worth it unless you are planning on drinking a lot each day.

Another factor is how many stops does your cruise have? Unless you are going to a private Disney Island where everything was included, you can expect to be paying for everything once off the boat. You can however go back to the boat to eat or stay on the boat while it is docked, but what’s the fun in that?

Excursions! Those are all extra as well and all though you do not have to do them, it is fun to at least try one while on your trip. Just make sure to book in advance, so that you get a spot.

My advice – budget $200 per person per stop plus another $200 for drinks. So if you are making two stops like I did. I budgeted having $600 spending money for this cruise to include the two stops and drinks. I did not end up having to spend that much, but better safe that sorry.

What to pack: this was one of those questions that I kept asking myself and other people because I had no idea what I would need on a cruise. I was worried that since we were on water that I would not be able to easily get something if I had forgotten it, so I was stressing out about the packing the most.

Luckily, the boat does have a mini store for you to buy things that you might have forgotten and since you do also get the opportunity to get off the boat, you can buy things you need there too. So do not panic like me, you’re not stuck there haha.

So below is a list of things that you should pack. Keep in mind that this is for a warm weather Caribbean type cruise. If you’re going to Alaska or somewhere a bit colder…maybe bring a winter jacket 🙂

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  • Swimsuit, hat and sunglasses – you will need this the most! I would also bring a cover up.
  • Sunscreen – if you do forget it, the cruise will have some.
  • Casual dress and shorts and a t-shirt for sightseeing and just walking around the cruise.
  • Dress up clothes for dinner – I brought two rompers and a dress. You do not have to be super fancy at dinner but everyone does dress a bit nicer.
  • Flip flops or sandals and heels or wedges for one of your dressed up days. Also, bring a pair of athletic shoes, depending on your excursion or just for comfort, it is nice to have. Plus you can travel in them and be comfortable on your flight.
  • A light jacket or sweater. It does get cold at night, you are in the middle of the ocean after all.
  • Casual wear – this is mainly for when you are hanging out around the boat or in your room – I did forget this part, so I was usually just sitting around in my pj’s or the yoga pants I traveled in.
  • Toiletries – if you are going with a group, I would recommend to split this off. Since I was with all girls, we all brought different things and shared. This way not all four of us were bringing curling irons and we were able to utilize each others.
  • Jeans – I do and always will bring a pair of jeans everywhere I go. You can always find them useful no matter the weather. If they are bulky and you do not want to pack them, travel in them instead.
  • Do not forget your passport!! You can not get on the cruise without it.
  • Dramamine or some sea sickness medicine. I did not bring it because I do not normally get seasick and then ended up being nauseous. So bring it even if you are stubborn like me and do not think you are going to need it.
  • Small backpack or beach bag to carry around your stuff on the cruise or off the boat.
  • Chargers and reading material.
  • Water bottle – I always travel with one, it is just convenient.
  • Ziploc bags or a water proof bag – you’re surrounded by water and accidents happen especially around children.
  • Watch – you will be on somewhat of a schedule when you are on the cruise. You will have assigned dinner times and scheduled shows and performances, so it is important to keep track of your time. In addition, you want to make sure you know the time when you’re off the boat, because you do not want to get left behind. I know everyone has phones nowadays but sometimes things happen, plus it is a great accessory.

Safety: everywhere you go, safety is naturally a big priority. I know a lot of people are always asking is it safe to go there and is it safe to do this and that which is a valid concern especially with cruises. I have heard stories before of people falling off, or getting left behind or even crazy storms, which has some people concerned about cruises in itself. And then there is always titanic, or that fear of getting stuck in the middle of the ocean and getting eaten by sharks. Ok a bit dramatic, but it is nothing I haven’t heard before. Here are my thoughts on the safety on the cruise and how I felt:

The nice thing about cruises is that there is a safety procedure that everyone has to go through once on board. You are assigned an exit and place on the boat that you need to show up to once the alarms sounds. I know many of us always overlook the safety procedures because you always think something will not happen to you, but it is important that you do not pay attention especially if you have never been on a cruise. During the procedure, you are explained what actions to take if there were to be an emergency.

While on the boat, I did feel safe the whole time, but like anywhere still make sure that you always have all your belongings and be aware of your surroundings.

I did experience a lot of turbulence on the first day due to the weather not being the best. It was a bit uneasy on some of the lower floors because I would see the water hit the windows and the boat was a bit rocky. Despite that, I did not feel unsafe, it was more of just an uneasy feeling due to the high turbulance which made me get a little seasick. The staff did reassure everyone that this can happen, but it should pass soon.

Off the boat is a different story. Once you arrive to your stop, you do need to make sure that you are aware of your surroundings. I would not do any excursions that seem very sketchy especially if vendors are pushing you to purchase. As any trip anywhere, use your common sense. Also, make sure you keep track of your time because the boat will leave without you if you do not get back and that is going to cost you a lot of money. With that being said, make sure you have contact information of whom to reach in case of that situation.

Getting back on the boat, you had to go through security and metal detectors which made me feel more protected knowing not anyone can just hop in and bring what ever they wanted onto the boat.

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Overall, a cruise was a very unique and fun experience especially with Disney. The hospitality there and the whole experience was magical. Although, a cruise is not my preferred way to travel, I think everyone should try it at least once.

Who has been on a cruise before? What is your preferred way to travel?

Happy Travels – xoxo Dre ❤

 

 

 

 

Nashville: the perfect weekend getaway

Oh Music City – filled with some of the best nightlife and live music and of course bachelorette parties. Well at least that is what everyone thinks of when they hear Nashville – or Nash-Vegas, but there is so much more to this awesome city.

I have been to Nashville twice now and loved it each time for different reasons. The first time I went was a few years ago with a few of my friends. The last time I went was just a few weeks ago with my mom, so they were two very different trips for obvious reasons.

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Below are a few of my favorite things about Nashville and they showcase how you can spend the perfect weekend with your friends as well as your family.

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The Hamptons

I am going to start off by saying that the Hampton’s made me feel like I was part of the Gossip Girl crew and anyone that knows me, knows that I loooove Gossip Girl, so it was a big moment for me haha. The Hampton’s are a boujee area in New York where the rich and famous like to vacation. It has also become a destination on the hit TV show on Bravo called Summer House, which looks at a couple of people from New York that rent a summer-house in the Hampton’s.

So, I had the pleasure of celebrating one of my best friends birthday over Memorial Day Weekend (opening weekend of the Hampton’s), and I had the absolute best time. I want to take you through some of the things we did and places we went to show you some of the highlights of the trip.


The Ultimate Guide to a Weekend in the Hampton’s:

Day 1 (Thursday): We arrived on Thursday to New York. There isn’t a major airport in the Hampton’s, so you will most likely have to arrive to NYC first. Our plan was to go to the Hamptons early Friday morning which meant that we got to spend the day in New York City. As some of you may know, I love NYC. There is just this feeling I get when I am there and I feel like there is always something new to see and do. Since, I was in New York in March, I didn’t feel the need to go sight-seeing, so my friend and I went out to lunch and did some shopping and at night we went out to dinner and some drinks with the rest of the group.

Lunch: By Chloe – really great Vegan place. I am not vegan myself, but they had very delicious food and make sure to get the coconut water. It was one of the best I have ever had!

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Dinner/Drinks: Salvation Taco– if you are looking for a fun place to grab a bite and hang out with your friends then this place is it. There is also a rooftop with stunning views, so make sure you make a reservation if you want to get up there.

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Day 2 (Friday): departure to the Hampton’s via the Jitney. Make sure to book it ahead of time because in the summer it is a popular spot to go to so the spots fill up fast. It takes about 2 or so hours to get there, so make sure you incorporate that in your schedule.

Housing: we rented out an Airbnb due to there being 16 of us, but if you have a smaller group, there are hotels to choose from too if that is more your style. I personally loved the Airbnb idea, not only because there was a lot of us but we also had an outdoor pool and a kitchen, therefore we didn’t have to eat out for every meal because the Hampton’s can get pretty pricey.

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Dinner: the first night we made dinner at the house. We had some appetizers, grilled some turkey burgers, and started to get our drink on. It was pretty great because we had plenty of time to get ready for the night and all got to hang out, drink and eat together. Since it was my friend’s birthday, we did cake that night too and the cake was amazing!!

Nightlife: for our first night out, we went to Stephen Talkhouse. It was a really fun atmosphere and they had a live band. Expect to wait in line because it is a hot spot and a lot of people like to go out there.

Day 3: (Saturday): This was our boujee day for sure. We had some bagels in the morning and headed out to Gurney’s in Montauk. This is another hot spot and where all the cool kids go to get their drink on. It is basically a party on the beach and you must have a reservation to even get on the beach. Make sure you book your tables or cabana like we did in advance and expect to spend that cash because things here are pretty pricey. But, you will have a great time guaranteed. With a DJ bumping some tunes and everyone in a good mood, it is definitely a fun time.

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After Party: The Sloppy Tuna!! Just like the name, prepare to take your buzzed booty and get a little sloppy. With stunning water views and a really fun atmosphere, this place is perfect to continue on the party.

Dinner: Order some food in. We ended up going home and getting some pizza and just hung out at the house which was a perfect way to end the eventful day we had.

Day 3 (Sunday): this was our last full day of the trip and unfortunately it rained. The only good part about this was that it gave us all the day to recoup a bit and get ready for the night.

Lunch: you cannot go somewhere that is near the ocean and not have seafood (unless you do not like it of course). We all hung out inside all day and then got ourselves some lobster rolls and clam chowder soup. I am not sure if we were all just starving but it was definitely up there on the list of one of the best lobster rolls I ever had.

Dinner: 75 Main. Get ready for a fancy and delicious meal. Their appetizers were great and so was the pasta. Definitely make sure you check this place out because it is definitely a hot spot and you will not regret it.

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Night Out: AM Southampton was our choice for the night out due to having the club owner approach us at dinner and getting us a deal to go the club. If you are looking for a place to get your dance on and to have a really wild night, then this is the perfect way to end your trip and a night out.

Day 4 (Monday) : departure day. Make sure to take into account that there be traffic on your way back so plan your flight and bus accordingly if you chose that route.


The Hampton’s were definitely a bucket list destination for me, so I am ecstatic to say that I was able to cross it off the list. My favorite part of the whole experience, was that it can be for anyone and everyone. It is a great place for families, for birthday parties, romantic getaways and even just a weekend with your friends.

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Who has been to the Hampton’s? What was your favorite part? Let me know 🙂

Happy Travels – xoxo Dre ❤

 

Why Ft. Lauderdale is the perfect beach vacation

I love traveling with my mom and so we try to take one trip a year somewhere together. One of our trips last year happened to be in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and it was an amazing trip. I wanted to share with you guys some of the fun things we did on this trip and why it was the perfect location for a getaway.

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How to spend a weekend in Ft. Lauderdale:

Where to Stay: 

Stay at the Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort. It is at the beginning of the strip of all the hotels along the beach; giving you the perfect opportunity to take walks on the beach and check out some of the other hotels. Also, you are a bit away from the big hustle and bustle, so you get a more relaxing experience with less crowds. There are shops and restaurants around here as well, so there is still plenty to do.

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Where to Eat:

Cafe Del Mar – for hugeeee margaritas!

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El Taquito – located right by the Sonesta Hotel, my mom and I went here a few times to enjoy some breakfast and lunch. It is a mom and pop type of place, but the food was amazing.

Parrot Lounge – this is your typical dive bar situation. Pub food and good beer, can’t go wrong here.

Las Olas Tuscan Grill – this place had very delicious food and it was on Las Olas Boulevard which contains the cutest shops and lots of good restaurants as well.

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Yo Mama’s Ice Cream Shop – for ice cream, enough said 🙂

What to Do:

Las Olas Beach – check out Ft. Lauderdale’s most popular beach and soak up the sun all day. Filled with many shops and restaurants, there will be no shortage of things to do.

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Las Olas Boulevard – this place is perfect for a stroll to check out some boutiques, galleries and amazing restaurants. Do not forget to treat yourself to some gelato of course 🙂

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Day trip to Bahamas – if you have the time I highly recommend this! You do not always get a chance to just head out to the Bahamas when ever you want, so this is the perfect opportunity to do so. There is a boat that can take you on a day trip to Freeport, Bahamas and it is about a two-hour or so boat ride. It is the perfect little getaway and you get to spend your day soaking up the rays by the Caribbean Sea. Just make sure you bring your passport because you will be needing it to leave the country and get to the Bahamas.

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Fort Lauderdale has so much to offer and it is perfect for all kinds of trips: trip with your besties, a family trip, solo trip, but it was especially perfect for a mother daughter trip 🙂

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Happy Travels – xoxo Dre ❤

Best Restaurants in Chicago

It is crazy how much you can discover about your own city, once you treat it as a destination to visit. There is so much you can experience and do in your own hometown that it can sometimes feel like you are on a vacation. I have lived on the outskirts of Chicago for almost 18 years now and have been to so many places, but I honestly took it for granted. When you travel, you are so concerned about seeing new things and having these different experiences that you sometimes forget that you have some amazing sights in your backyard as well.

Now, this will definitely not be my only post on Chicago, because there is just so much this beautiful city has to offer. I thought I would start out with some of my favorite restaurants. Check them out!


Amazing Restaurants In Chicago:

Beatnik – this place is so picturesque and unique. You have to go just for the design because it is stunning. The food is amazing too, but I am just obsessed with the look of this place.

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Girls Weekend Guide: Denver

Denver has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. It seems to fit my outdoorsy personality, so I knew it was a place I wanted to visit. Although, it was a pretty short trip, I know I will be back again to explore more. Denver proved to be a perfect weekend getaway, especially with my friends. It offers so much for you to do and it is such a fun place for a girls weekend trip.


A guide to a Girls Weekend Getaway:

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Where to Stay: 
Stay in the Arts District because it is close to everything and it is a quirky place to be. It is close to bars, restaurants, and about a 25-30 minute drive from the airport. Rent out an Airbnb and enjoy the comfort of having a bigger place to yourself. We all know that us girls need lots of space to get ready, so when you have a bunch of girls stuck in a hotel room with only one bathroom, it makes things a lot harder. Just make sure to think of your luggage because just like a hotel the Airbnb does have certain check in and check out times, and unlike a hotel, you cannot have the front desk hold your luggage. My friends and I ran into a bit of trouble with this because it totally slipped our minds, but we totally made it work. Before check in, we just left our luggage at the brunch place we were at, and at check out we went to a hotel and asked them to hold it for a few hours, but hopefully this can be coordinated with your host instead.

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Dallas Food & Drink Guide

Dallas is a modern metropolis of Texas filled with amazing food and lots of good times. Personally, my favorite part of visiting Dallas was the food and the unique atmospheres the restaurants had to offer. I decided to create a little food and drink guide of some of my favorite places in Dallas for all you foodies out there 🙂


Americano – delicious pizza and a great patio/atmosphere. Located right downtown, go check out the “Eye” after.

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Nickle and Rye – great for some drinks and games with friends. It has an outdoor area as well, and it is located near other bars, so good for bar hopping. Try the whiskey – it is what they’re known for.

Emporium Pies – delicious pies! Go to the one located in the Bishop Arts district and check out all the shops around the area too.

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New York State of Mind

Ahhh the city that never sleeps…New York, New York ❤


 

New York is just one of those places you have to see for yourself. Not only is it a world-wide known destination; it is filled with so much to do that you could never be bored.

Now if you are a first timer and not a big city person, then you might be a bit overwhelmed and it might be a scary thought to plan a trip to NYC. Being from Chicago, it is just another big city for me, but when I say big…I really mean it. It is impossible to get through everything in one weekend, but also a weekend is the perfect amount of time as well because you know you will be back.

The city sucks you in somehow and leaves you with wanting more of it, so book that ticket you will not regret it.

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Continue reading “New York State of Mind”