Back from Disney World

Hey friends! I am back from Florida. It has been a whirlwind week and a half, and it is so good to be home! If you will recall when we left for Disney Emma Kate was sick, and let’s just say we have had better Disney trips. She was super cranky and fussy (rightfully so) and keeping it real, it really stressed us all out. Her fever broke the day we got to Disney but that didn’t stop her craziness. I’m not sure if she was just super tired, or overwhelmed or what, but I have never seen her act the way she did in Disney…she was a hot mess! I think not knowing what to expect was difficult on us, and let’s just say I need a vacation from my vacation. We for sure still had fun and happy moments, and I can’t wait to share them with you over the next couple of weeks. You will get the good, the bad and the ugly of taking a very strong willed two year old to Disney. Smile I loved seeing her meet the princesses, ride the rides, and experience my happy place. Of course there is still so much more I want to show her, but we got a good start on getting her obsessed with Disney just like the rest of the family. She said cute things like “BIG CASTLE!” and “Pluto has a big tongue” and “Emma Kate and Minnie Mouse!”

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My parents recently bought into the Disney vacation club and generously used their points for our trip, and getting a two bedroom villa was for sure the way to go. We could put Emma Kate to bed at night and still hang out in the living room without having to be quiet. We were on the first floor of Saratoga Springs and it was great to let her just walk out of the patio and out to the grass or playground. Having a full kitchen and washer and dryer was a plus, too!

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Our room was on the bottom right behind the bench in the back of the photo.

Also having our car was the way to go because we didn’t have to wait in long bus lines with a toddler having a meltdown. We still were able to ride the ferry and the monorail which Emma Kate liked.

My dad and I went to the grocery store the first day to get groceries so we cold eat snacks and breakfast in the room each day to save money. We also grilled outside by the playground the last night which was a lot of fun. Emma Kate loved the pool/kids water play area and we went there three or four times in the afternoon after nap.

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I feel like my thoughts are so scattered right now and I will get more specific when I give you my daily recaps, but I did want to check in and let yall know I am still alive and that you will hear more about the trip. I hope everyone had a great week!

QOTD: Were your expectations too high the first time you brought your child on vacation?

Disney Trip Itinerary

As I have mentioned here before, we are taking a family trip to WDW at the end of October. My parents recently bought DVC, and the contract finally went through in the spring, so we planned our first trip for when the weather cools off just a touch. Having never been to Disney with a toddler, I am very aware that my “plans” may not end up happening, but I still wanted to (loosely) plan things so we at least have some sort of structure. As far as rides etc. at the parks, there is nothing that I just HAVE to do, except for the new Frozen ride and Soarin. This trip is about Emma Kate and what she wants to do. With that being said, here are our tentative plans.

Tuesday Oct. 25:

Depart Louisiana at nap time/after lunch/ Drive halfway, stop for the night in Tallahassee.

Wednesday Oct 26:

Drive the other four or so hours to Disney, arrive at Saratoga Springs around lunch. Check into 2 bedroom villa. Either go to the pool or Disney Springs after nap. Dinner at Rainforest Café at Disney Springs.

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Thursday Oct 27:

Magic Kingdom in the morning. Back to Saratoga for lunch and nap. Back to the Magic Kingdom in the afternoon for early Crystal Palace dinner (3:30 was the only reservation open). We will stay until around 6:30, then back to the resort for bedtime.

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Friday Oct 28:

Hollywood Studios in the morning. Animal Kingdom in the afternoon after nap. Mom and dad go to dinner alone at Narcoossees, Bobby and I watch Emma Kate. Not sure yet what we are going to do. Maybe Disney Springs to play in the water fountains and eat at Earl of Sandwich.

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Saturday Oct 29:

Magic Kingdom in the morning. After nap, come back to that area for Chef Mickey’s brunch, then more Magic Kingdom in the afternoon if Emma Kate is hanging in there. Bobby and I go to dinner alone that night, and my mom and dad watch Emma Kate. We will probably just go to EPCOT and eat around the Food and Wine festival.

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Sunday Oct 30:

EPCOT in the morning, nap at the resort then pool/grill/playground in the afternoon. We have some local friends coming over to BBQ. Disney Springs in the evening for ice cream.

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Monday Oct 31:

Get up and drive back to Louisiana. womp womp.

Thoughts on my plan? A lot of the afternoons are kind of open planning. We may end up back at parks certain days, and others we may not. We will just have to see what EK ends up enjoying the most. I am getting excited! We can make out fastpass+ reservations at the end of he month!

QOTD: Thoughts on my plan? What am I leaving out?

runDisney Star Wars Runners!

Guess what? Yesterday, I registered myself, Bobby AND Emma Kate for the runDisney Star Wars races! Yes, we haven’t even taken Emma Kate yet to Disney (she is going in October) and we are already planning a trip back in April for Star Wars!

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Bobby and I decided to just run the half marathon (my parents will be there to watch EK) and then she will do the kids race on Saturday. We have had our fill of challenges from Goofy to Dopey and me doing Glass Slipper, that we are fine just doing one race this time so we have more time (an sleep! and money!) on this trip.

I will say, I had quite the scare yesterday when I was trying to register the family. I registered myself just fine, but when I went to register EK and Bobby, it said they were already registered! I panicked, but after being reassured by some folks on Facebook, was told to wait a few minutes and try again in a different browser. I did, and was finally able to get all three conformations.

I have done many, many runDisney races, and offer lots of advice in my runDisney section, but the kids races will be a FIRST for me. So, I need all your best tips to make this the best possible experience for Emma Kate. Fire away, I need your help!

QOTD: Are you doing Star Wars? Any kids races advice for me?

Excitement

Ok y’all, so there is a lot of negativity going around the social media world right now. I can barely stand to get on Facebook because it makes me so sad. Because of this, I felt like doing a fun not so serious post today to remind me of all the happy and excitement that is still going on. Maybe you can take a quick break from reality with me today. Get excited!

1.) Olympic Fever: I can’t even begin to put into words what a HUGE Olympics nerd I am. I will be glued to my TV the entire time. it really doesn’t matter what sport it is. I just can’t get enough! That being said the two I am most looing forward to are Women’s Gymnastics, and all the volleyball action. I have been deleting things from my DVR to make sure I have space to record all the things.

4.) Birthday girl: Recently my mom asked if I had started planning Emma Kate’s 2nd birthday party. Uhh….no? I can’t believe her birthday is in two months, so I need to get busy. What do you think would be a good theme for a 2 year old?

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Photo from her 1st birthday party

3.) News this week: I would really appreciate your prayers on Thursday. We are finding out some information that could be a huge deal for my little family on that evening. That’s all I can share right now, just know it could be really good, or really disappointing, so I’m going to think positive!

4.) 3 months until Disney: Three months from TODAY we will be checking into my happy place for five days of fun! This will be Emma Kate’s first visit, and I can’t wait to see Disney World through her eyes. So much planning still to be done! You can bet there will be some matching shirt action happening as well. Oh just wait my friends. We are so going to be “that family”.

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5.) Affiliate fun: The launch of my eBook is going well, and I would love to offer up something to anyone who is interested. I am opening up an affiliate program for my eBook, where you would earn 35% of every book sold through a unique link I would set up for you. If you are interested, please email me at heather@heatherslookingglass.com and put the word “affiliate” in the subject line. I would also provide you with some photos if you would like to set them up on your blog or use them in social media posts. Let me know!

QOTD: What Olympic event are you most looking forward to watching? Any party theme ideas? Anyone heading to Disney this fall?

5 Things Friday XVIII

Happy Friday! Here are five things for you to start off your weekend.

1.) KIND snacks was nice enough to send me some of their NEW breakfast bars to try out. The are made with 100% whole grains, featuring five super grains – oats, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa – to keep you going throughout the day. Flavors include: Blueberry Almond, Honey Oat, Dark Chocolate Cocoa, (my fave!) Peanut Butter, and Raspberry Chia.

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2.) Yesterday, Bobby and I were involved in a wreck. We were rear ended when we were stopping at a red light. Thankfully, my Toyota 4Runner is a beast and while it will need some bumper work, it looks way better than the other ladies car. We were all three in the car and are all thankfully ok (and yes I know I need a new car seat.) But it happened on a day when we had multiple appointments to get to so it just kind of threw a kink in the already stressful afternoon. But cars can be fixed, so we are not worried about that.

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3.) Emma Kate had a follow up with the doctor who put her tubes in her ears and he said they looked great! We have to go back again in 6 months but I am so glad we went ahead with the surgery. She was getting infections twice a month and now she has only had two since November.

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4.) You can now book your Disney vacation package for most dates in 2017 (up to 499 days out) and I would love to book for you! Email me at heather@travelwiththemagic.com for a free quote.

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5.) More eBook news coming next week! I can’t wait to share more with you, and a huge thanks to those of you that have offered to help with social media posts during launch week. If you are still interested in doing a social media post for me during the pre sale or launch period, please email me at heather@heatherslookingglass.com

QOTD: Have you ever been rear ended? What is your favorite KIND bar flavor? Are you planning a Disney trip for 2017?

2017 Disney World Packages

Guess what? You can now book a Walt Disney World room or vacation package for dates in 2017! (499 days in advance, so currently as of end of June I can book through the end of October/beginning of November). 2017 Disney packages came out yesterday, and I have already been busy quoting for my clients.

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The best part about these packages is that it only requires a $200 deposit (for room only it’s a deposit of one night of the price of the room + tax) that’s it! Also, the balance isn’t due until 30 days prior to travel! You can make changes, switch dates, cancel, etc. up until that point.

I have been booking Disney travel for my clients over six years and would love to plan a vacation for your family. Common misconception: It does not cost you anything extra to book through me. Why wait on hold on the phone or stress about how the website works, or how to get discounts when I can do it for you, and give you all of my best tips and knowledge from years of experience? I can make it easy for you!

Heather plan your next DCL vacation

I can also book your Disneyland or Disney Cruise Line vacation for you, as well as Universal Studios Orlando. Simply email me for a free no obligation quote. I would love to get you started or answer any questions you may have. heather@travelwiththemagic.com is where you can find me. Let’s get to planning, I can’t wait for you to experience the vacation of a lifetime!

QOTD: Are you planning to visit Disney in 2017?

5 Things Friday XVII

Happy Friday my friends! It’s going to be a hot and sunny weekend here in Mississippi. Big plans include staying indoors and avoiding the sun and humidity at all costs. For those that get a 3 day weekend (sadly not me) enjoy your day off! Here’s five things for Friday.

1.) Running Skirts compression socks: Running Skirts sent me a pair of their adorable new compression socks (check out the tiaras in the hearts!) I have been a fan of their socks for many many moons, but these are just icing on the cake! My new favorite for sure. Easy to get on and off and give just the right amount of compression. They wash and hold up really well. They are not only great for running, but I wear them after long runs for faster recovery and happy legs!* Also, today is the LAST DAY of their epic moving sale. AMAZING prices on skirts (like $26.50!) click my link above or in my sidebar to shop!

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2.) Bella the old lady: On Monday night, Bella jumped on our (very tall) bed and hurt herself. She wouldn’t eat or drink and didn’t want to walk but we couldn’t figure out what was wrong. We took her to the vet and found out she has a bulging disc/inflamed vertebrae/possible pinched nerve in her neck from the jump, and needed muscles relaxers and a bag of IV fluids because she was so dehydrated. She’s a happy girl on her pain meds but I’m supposed to “keep her confined” which isn’t going too well…

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Poor baby. As you can see, she wouldn’t even eat my popcorn, which is insanely odd for her!

3.) Boot Camp part 2: A new two month session of boot camp starts on Monday and runs through the end of July. if you are local, this is the perfect time to jump in and see what it’s all about! I would love to chat with anyone that is interested. I did my body fat test this morning, and while I have lost a little weight and gained a little muscle, my body fat % is still not where I want it to be. Back to tweaking what I eat!

4.) Smells like Disney: I stumbled onto these candles in an Etsy shop (Etsy is ssooo dangerous!) and knew I had to try one out. All the scents are based off of Disney scents, either places, rides, or food! I got the Floridian scent, but there are many more I would love to try! I bet Main street bakery is amazing!

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5.) Emma Kate does Disney: Speaking of Disney, guess who finally had dates to go see the mouse for the first time? Yes my friends, the long awaited day! Emma Kate will be going to Disney World with us (and my parents). We will be staying at Saratoga Springs at the end of October. My folks are new DVC members and have invited us along to stay in their villa. Let the planning commence!

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QOTD: What is your favorite WDW smell? Ever had a pet hurt their neck?

*Disclosure: As a Running Skirts ambassador, I received these socks for free, and I get a small commission if you order through my link above. However, I would never recommend something I wouldn’t use myself and don’t love! Thank you for supporting my blog!

Tips for Running on Vacation

Jeff Galloway has been around the block a few times (pun intended) and has some great tips for running while on vacation, no matter what your destination may be!

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The best, more efficient workout when you’re at the beach…
Running into the dawn: In Summer, it’s best to run before the sun rises above the horizon.  Since it’s common for family members to sleep a bit longer on vacation, get up early and hit the beach.    Set a total time you wish to run, and turn around at the halfway point.  Or, run 1-2 minutes longer going out and try to run faster on the return.
When you’re camping and near a lake and/or mountains.  Drive around the campground area to find suitable running/trail areas.  Plan a group hike each day.  Appoint yourself the “lookout”.  Walk ahead of the group for a few minutes and then run ahead for a minute or two, and run back.  Repeat this routine throughout the hike.  Even short segments of running, during a 1-2 hour hike, will maintain your running adaptations very well.
On a road trip, taking frequent “pit stops”.  Wear your running gear on the trip.  If it is safe to run or walk at your rest area, walk for 1-2 minutes as a warmup and then run for 5-10 minutes.  Repeat this pattern until the group is ready to load up.  If it is a food stop, get your meal “to go” and spend the time running.
When you’re on a trip that’s based around a theme park.  Many of the hotels in areas like Disneyworld, have designated areas for running.  In some cases you can run to the parks.  Ask the hotel staff for recommended routes.  Each evening, gather the family and plan your park visit for the next day.  This allows for you to find a timeslot to squeeze in a run.  As you mention how you are planning your run, you’ll teach the kids how important your exercise is, for you.

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When you’re on a sightseeing city tour.  Time is limited during most sightseeing tours but you can usually squeeze in a few minutes here and there.  Wear running clothes or very comfortable apparel with running shoes.  When the bus stops, keep walking around while looking at the sights or listening to the guide.  If time allows before reboarding, jog for a minute or two.
A home-based vacation.  If possible, arrange with another family member to watch the kids while you run.  Then, offer that person a chance to get away for a while while you stay with kids.  Early morning is often a great time to get in your runs.  Plan trips to local parks (that you seldom visit) where you can run and walk with the family.
Note: Olympian Jeff Galloway has coached hundreds of thousands of runners to their goals.  For more information, see his books GALLOWAY TRAINING PROGRAMS and MARATHON—you can do it!  Ask Jeff a question at www.JeffGalloway.com

QOTD: What is your best tip for running on vacation?

Tips for an Adults Only Disney Trip

It’s no secret I love Walt Disney World. When I tell some of my friends this (especially those with small children), they look at like I’m crazy. Why would I want to spend my adult only time with a bunch of kids? That’s when I get to explain our “Disney style”, and how it’s very different than a trip would look with little ones (I’m gearing myself up mentally for how different things will be when we take Emma Kate at the end of the year!)

So, here are my top five tips for an adults only Disney trip, and maybe you will then see why we find our time in Disney so relaxing and enjoyable.

1.) Go deluxe: I know it’s not in everyone’s budget, but if you can swing it (go at a cheaper time of year, book with me so I can help you find discounts, etc.) I recommend staying at a deluxe resort, and if you save lots of pennies, splurge on a club level stay. I have stayed club level at all the Disney resorts except Yacht club, and it is truly a special treat. Honestly, it’s not worth it if you plan to jump up every morning, grab breakfast at the park, and stay gone until bedtime, but if you want to enjoy Disney at a leisurely pace, it’s the way to go. (Think: continental breakfast, snacks in the afternoon, wine and appetizers in the evenings, cordials and desserts at night.) Plus a lounge for you to sit in and read a book, chat with family members, or simply use it as a meeting spot.

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Even if you can’t splurge for club level, I recommend a deluxe resort if you plan to take things slow and spend time at your resort. Deluxe resorts have the best pool areas and food options, so there is plenty to do just soaking up the theming.

2.) Less park days: Here is where you can actually save some money. If you are going for a week, only get 4-5 days of park tickets and spend your other days doing things around your resort or even visiting the other resorts on property. There is plenty to do, which leads me to the next tip…

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3.) Beyond the Theme Parks: Since you have a couple of “free days” with no park tickets, take time to explore some of the lesser known Disney fun such as Disney Springs, miniature golf, water parks, going fishing or parasailing, or enjoy tea at the Grand Floridian. I actually wrote two blog posts a while back about things to do beyond the theme parks. You can check them out here and here.

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4.) Sit on a bench: I know this sounds silly, but to this day it is one of my favorite things to do in Disney. People watching. I love grabbing Starbucks and finding a bench and just watching the crowds go by, while soaking up the Disney atmosphere. I feel like so many people rush from one ride to the next, that they don’t always take the time to really just soak in the fact that they are in Disney World! Stop and take a break and just be for a little while on your next trip.

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5.) Eat. A lot: I know everyone eats more on vacation, but when you are traveling with small kids, you typically don’t eat at fancy table service restaurants eating four course meals. This is your chance to enjoy some of the nicer restaurants, just taking your time and enjoying your vacation. Some of my favorites are: California Grill, Narcoossees, Yachtsman steakhouse, and Artist Point. Be sure to schedule in a lot of time to sit and eat nice dinners, or even nice breakfasts and lunches, too! Whatever you want, it’s your vacation!

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These are just some of my tips for planning an adults only WDW vacation. The key is to relax and enjoy without feeling like you need to be somewhere every five minutes. That doesn’t sound very relaxing!

QOTD: What is your favorite tip for a relaxing Disney vacation?

Disney Fantasy Cruise 2016: The Castaway Cay Day That Wasn’t

This is the last installment of our cruise recap, sad times! Unfortunately, this cruise did not end on a high note for us. Read on.

We woke up to gloomy skys, but I didn’t care. We were soon going to dock at my FAVORITE place on earth, Castaway Cay. A little gloom was not going to stop my happiness (oh really now.) We got dressed, ate breakfast, and headed to the tube to get our bibs for the 5k and wait for instructions. Keep in mind there are no windows down here so we couldn’t see what was going on with docking.

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We waited…and we waited…and I knew we should have docked by now. Finally, someone got on the microphone and said that the wind was too high for us to dock, and was blowing us away from the dock. The captain was going to try again in 1.5 hours, and they were waiting to get the word on what to do about the 5k. We waited around about 20-30 minutes before we got the verdict.

We were not postponing the 5k until we (hopefully) docked later, but we were going to run around the ship….really. IMG_1527

Seven and a half laps to be exact. The boat is HUGE, so yup, that’s what it took to run a 5k. Now, this is where I got annoyed. I realize I am risking backlash by writing this, but honestly it got me so fired up that I am ok with people not agreeing with me. I know medals for people not finishing and runDisney races are a hot topic, but in this case, the people in question didn’t even attempt to START the race, so here goes…They told everyone that if they didn’t want to run around the ship, that they could “promise to run a 5k at home in the next few days” and come get their medals now and leave.

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Huh? If you are already dressed to run a 5k, and were planning to run said 5k…why not just go ahead and run it RIGHT NOW? There were around 400 people in the room, and only about 60 stayed to run. EVERYONE ELSE GOT UP, AND COLLECTED THEIR MEDALS AND LEFT! Not only that, the race is for those 10 and up, but they were handing medals out to everyone! Little boys and girls, anyone who wanted one. (The kids were there because the adults were going to drop them at the kids club before the race). Here is a picture of everyone jumping up to get their medals. I just couldn’t believe it.

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Now, I would like to believe these people went home and ran a 5k, really I do….(and props to you if you did follow through, you are my hero), but I’m also not dumb, and know that for the majority this probably did not happen. A lot of the other people that stayed to run were very annoyed as well. They are getting a medal for a race they didn’t even START? I was so worked up, that Bobby and I actually ran really fast for our 5k.

They send us out in two groups so we wouldn’t be all bunched up, and then off we went, 7.5 laps, around, and around, and around. It. was. so. boring. There were a few sweet families that stayed on the side and cheered for us as we went by, and Disney even put out a “water stop” for us on the deck which was nice of them. It was difficult to run because if you have ever run on a Disney boat you know this, but there are some tight spaces at certain points. Now imagine 60 runners PLUS people playing shuffleboard/just walking around the deck for enjoyment. There was lots of stopping and going, weaving and “excuse me, on your left” going on. After we finished, we met in the pub for water and to get our earned medals, and then back to the tube to collect our belongings.

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In the elevator we had the chance to chat with some people who also ran and were frustrated that people who didn’t even attempt to start the run got medals, so it made me feel better we weren’t the only ones. I was very proud of myself for sticking out a boring frustrating run and that medal means more to me now.

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(note how windy it was).

So even though I didn’t sail on the cruise to complete the castaway challenge and get the special extra medal, I DID still technically complete the challenge!

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Later that day I saw people walking around wearing their medals that I distinctly remember getting up and getting the medal without running. Really? sigh. About that time, we tried to dock again, and could not do so, the winds had not changed. The captain tried a third and final time an hour later. It was SO disheartening to be looking over our balcony, just a few hundred yards from the island, seeing all the workers standing out there waiting to receive us, and have us get close, only to slowly drift and pull away again. I’m not going to lie. I cried. I cried because I was frustrated about the morning race, sad it was our last day, and mad I was not getting to go to my favorite place, the highlight of my cruise. It may sound pathetic, but in that moment, Heather was not having a good day and I’m owning it.

The rest of the day was pretty boring. We ate lunch, took a nap, watched TV in the room, etc. There was a noticeable change in the mood of everyone on the ship. We had already had 3 sea days, so we honestly were just a little bored. It was rainy and windy so there was no laying out by the pool which I would have been perfectly fine with doing.

It was finally dinner time, and we were at Enchanted Garden.

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Here we are with our new friends and tablemates. We all decided to get mickey bars that night. Cheers!

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Back in our room this guy was waiting. We sadly put our luggage in the hall, and I honestly can’t remember what else we did that night!

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The next morning we had breakfast at the buffet before getting off the ship and taking the bus to the airport. I am so glad we had the opportunity to go on this trip, but between me being sick/losing my voice, lots of rain and not going to Castaway Cay, it wasn’t our best cruise. That just means we have to go again to make up for it, right?

Thanks so much for following along with this trip report. It was fun to relive the good times from the cruise with you all.

QOTD: ever run a 5k on a ship? Do you like Mickey bars?