Clothes shopping for the cruise

34 more days! Almost just a month. So I figured I'd better start thinking about packing - ugh. Considering it's -10˚C weather here right now, it's hard to think about summer. I need to dig through my last year clothes, but thought I'd pick up a couple new pieces to take with me, because new clothes are always exciting. And it'll be something I can use with my next Florida trip in May as well.

So here's what I got...

I love American Eagle. It's probably my favourite clothing store (and it's from Pittsburgh!) - it's the place I shop the most. The peasant dress was crazy hard to get, because it's been sold out for weeks! I got lucky one morning when they'd restocked online and quickly picked it up with the macrame belt (which looks awesome together). And I love the grey eyelet skirt; it'll be great for throwing on to go to the beach. THE BEACH!

Now I need to go rummage through my old summer clothes...I much prefer shopping online. :P

Oh, and did I mention I don't have to pay airfare either now?!! I found out on Friday our airfare is covered, I can't believe it! Now I really can't wait to go!

Holland America Cruise

Sooo, it seems like another trip is on the horizon, and this one is actually coming BEFORE the Florida/Disney trip. Let me explain.

The other day, travel agent mom emails me and says something like "if you only have to pay your airfare, can you go on a free cruise". WHAT? It didn't take me long to respond, likely longer to click the 'reply' button. Are you kidding?!? So it looks like I'll be going on my first cruise ever, next month with Holland America. It's to celebrate some of the top travel agents within the organization her agency is a part of. And I'm the free-traveling companion! Woohoo!

The cruise will be a 7-day Western Caribbean, on the MS Nieuw Amsterdam, one of the largest ships (if not the largest) that HA has! And the ship isn't even a year old, having being brought to life last June in Venice. It's beautiful! Our ports of call include Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk, Costa Maya, and Grand Cayman. I've been to Turks & Caicos before, but given the chance I'd always go again. It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. But I've never been on a cruise, and so this will be a year of 'first's'! Right now I'm struggling through a packing list...stay tuned!

Planning for Disney

It seems the wheels are in motion for my first trip of the year - yay! It'll be in May to Orlando, Florida. I've never been to FLA in my life, which kinda seems like one of those places where everyone has been *except* me. So we're planning! The trip and hotel is booked - that part was easy. We'll be flying Air Canada Vacations and staying in a partnered hotel, off the resorts. We plan to hit Universal Studios, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (I'm most excited about this!), and Disney.

After picking up some travel books and checking out the different sights there are at Disney, we learned that you should pre-book dining reservations 120 days in advance! We are RIGHT at that time frame, so we went to work. I had no idea there were so many options. There's character dining, all the way down to casual dining. The Disney website has a crazy dining list, but the formal/character dining are the only ones you need to book reservations for. And the character dining goes FAST. It's the best guarantee to see a Disney character and have your photo taken, because it happens as you enter the restaurant, and then they schmooze around the tables while you eat. Here are the restaurants we made reservations at and why:

Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party
This was our first reservation. We wanted to be sure to catch the fireworks show and this description guarantees that. It's supposed to be the biggest fireworks show the park offers, and you sit on the terrace and have access to a sweets and drinks buffet while you watch the fireworks! This one is super-popular though and requires credit card payment in advance. The payment for two adults was around $46 dollars. Not cheap but not crazy. We'll be doing this our first night in Orlando.

Supercalifragilistic Breakfast
Oooh, I am SUPER excited about this one! It's a breakfast at their extravagant Grand Floridian Resort, located on the grounds of Disney close to Magic Kingdom. I believe this is buffet too, but includes an appearance by my FAVOURITE Disney character of all time: Mary Poppins! Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter, and Winnie the Pooh also promise to be there - I can't wait! This will kick off our fourth day at the park, where we also plan for a full day at Magic Kingdom.

Coral Reef Restaurant
Amidst the dining options above, we realized we didn't have a nice formal dinner. So we chose the Coral Reef Restaurant for our fifth day. There are no characters at this one, but the pictures show super-extravagance as soft teal and blue lights illuminate the dining area, and guests are entertained with a sea wall filled floor to ceiling with salt water coral reef aquariums. You can dine as sharks, sea turtles, string rays, and hundreds of exotic fish species swim by. It's located in Epcot.

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
Okay, this was my indulgence pick. The above three were the only reservations we were going to make, but in the mix we still hadn't selected any princess or castle-themed places. It's Disney and I'm a girl, so there has to be princesses somewhere! We'll be doing lunch here on our sixth day. Set in a grand medieval theme, the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall is located in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot, and features numerous princess characters. It doesn't seem like the celebrity appearances are guaranteed by specific character, but I have seen Cinderella, Belle, Sleeping Beauty, Milan, Jasmine, and Ariel among them. This one also required a credit card to secure our space but no prepayment. And will come with a $10 charge per person if you don't cancel within 2 days, or don't show for your time. Next to Cinderella's Royal Table, this is the big Princess dinner draw!

In between going to Disney, we will be going to Universal Orlando. In Disney we plan to see the Magic Kingdom park, Epcot park, and Animal Kingdom park.