Thursday, September 12, 2019

Disney Cruise Line vs Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

I know it seems like ages, but I'm finally back with the last and final portion of my Royal Caribbean Alaskan Cruise recaps (with a little twist)! When we decided to travel with Royal Caribbean on our previous cruise, I had several questions (from my Disney friends) about my thoughts on the differences between the two cruise lines.  After much time and thought, I compiled a list of differences noticed between Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Disney Cruise Line and put them together here for anyone who's on the fence about either option.

Every single time I sail Disney, I get the same exact questions -
"Wow, that's so expensive!" 
"We can cruise other lines for much cheaper!" 
"What makes Disney so worth the price tag?"

Let me preface this by saying that we immensely enjoyed our time with Royal Caribbean in Alaska and I would do it all again in a heart beat. We were also on an older ship - the Radiance of the Seas. I've never traveled with RCCL otherwise, so I'm not sure how their newer ships match up. To be fair, I'm comparing and contrasting our time on Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas (2000) with our time on Disney's oldest ship (the Disney Magic - 1998) for a better comparison idea. Also to be fair, I need to disclose that we (obviously) love Disney, Disney Cruise Line, are Disney Vacation Club Members, and Gold Castaway Club Members. This was our very first experience with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.

Throughout the cruise though, I noticed those "little extras" added by Disney and jotted them down to remember for later. Some of the differences I noticed are silly and might make some of you roll your eyes, but it's those little differences that make me appreciate Disney Cruise Line so much more!

Room Size

I know you hear this on every cruise line compare and contrast site out there, but I can honestly say it's true. We've been on two non-Disney Cruise Line cruises (the first was Norwegian to Alaska) and yes, it's 100% true - the rooms are definitely bigger on Disney Cruise Line. To compare, we've had the smallest verandah available on DCL and still had a full size pull out couch and large bed in our room. In our verandah on RCCL, we had a large bed but a half-size pull out couch with not much room to walk between any of it once it was all made out for the kid.

Split Bathrooms/Shower-Tub Combo

Having a split bathroom is not common on other cruise lines but not having it on our RCCL cruise really made me miss it! Some staterooms (all except inside staterooms, I believe - someone please correct me if I'm wrong on this) on Disney Cruise Line offer a split bathroom idea - where you have the shower/tub/sink in one side and a potty/sink in the other side. 

The shower on this RCCL ship made me seriously want to cover my eyes with my hands like the little monkey emoji on my phone. There was no tub option - it was basically a very small half-circle in shape with a small lip at the bottom and a shower curtain. Needless to say, it was impossible not to splash water and a hot mess was made every time one of us took a shower. (Insert monkey emoji here.)

Another huge difference in the bathroom area was the shampoo/conditioner/body wash options - you receive all three plus bar soap and lotion on Disney Cruise Line. This variety of options did not exist on RCCL - we had one pump option with a body wash/shampoo combo inside, plus a bar of soap at the sink. I know it's dumb, but I missed my conditioner. Thankfully, I did bring extra!

Music in the Hallways

Ok, I can see you rolling your eyes now. Hear me out though. Walking to and from staterooms down incredibly LONG hallways can get rather boring at times. I absolutely love how Disney Cruise Line pipes themed music into their hallways, whether it's Disney music on a regular sailing or Halloween/Christmas music on a themed sailing - it always makes me walk a little lighter and brings a smile on my face!  You can roll your eyes at me now if you want to. I know this one was silly but it honestly made a noticeable difference to me.

On Demand TV

While sailing on Disney Cruise Line, I realize that you don't spend much time in your rooms, but we love to get ready for the day or unwind at night while playing a variety of Disney movies on our stateroom TV (ones we might not own or haven't seen since we were kids). Cool Runnings for the win! To be fair, I do realize that Disney owns pretty much everything in the entertainment world, but we had literally nothing to watch from our TV in our stateroom on RCCL with the except of one night - we were able to catch an Astros game.


Honestly, I felt as if dining was a high point for RCCL. The servers were just as amazing as you'd expect with Disney and the food was just as great! Although a rotational dining option was not offered, we didn't really miss it and had no problem eating in the same dining room every night of our cruise.  

Stateroom Host

We also loved our stateroom host. He was just as great as hosts we'd had on other Disney cruises and really made sure we had all we needed for our room to be comfortable during our cruise. He also took a liking to our son and loved doing the Baymax fist bump with him (which the stateroom host initiated). It was so cute and a I loved the little touch of Disney!

Pool Towel "Borrow"

Ok, honestly - what in the world is this?! Towel "borrowing" at the pool - y'all, this one seriously threw me for a loop. With this being an Alaskan Cruise, we had the opportunity to swim in the "solarium" pool which meant it was indoors and also nice and warm - a much appreciated opportunity by us all. However, in order to get back to our stateroom, we had to walk outside across the open (and very chilly) deck. On the regular, I would usually just wrap my child in a pool towel and walk him across the deck so his wet swimsuit against the cold Alaskan air wouldn't cause him to freeze. Did I do that?


Why? Because you had to "borrow" pool towels from the pool deck. They would basically swipe your card for each towel you "borrowed" and if you didn't return the towel, they would charge your room $25. Twenty five bucks. For a towel. Yes, I realize this is lazy, but I was on vacation and didn't want to have to traipse from the warm solarium pool out across the cold deck, down the elevator to my room, then back up to the cold pool deck to return a pool towel. Instead, we would "borrow" a towel to dry my kid off, then return it immediately before leaving the pool area. So he didn't freeze while walking across the outdoor pool deck, we would stick him in one of my sweatshirts to stay warm on our journey back to our room. On Disney Cruise Line, I feel as if they hand out pool towels like candy. Because they do. (Insert another eye-covered-monkey emoji here.)

Kids Clubs

Having never experienced the kids clubs on DCL, I can't compare the two, but I do know that my child enjoyed his time at the kids clubs on RCCL. He even came back with his face painted one night which completely floored me that he allowed them to do so!! Please know that the physical rooms of the kids clubs on RCCL (on our ship) do not in any way compare to the decor of the rooms of the kids clubs on DCL (the Magic).  To compare to DCL, the kids clubs rooms on our RCCL ship reminded me of a Mother's Day Out or something similar. Honestly though, it was the counselors and the activities that made the RCCL kids clubs so enjoyable for our son. The use of the kids clubs are also included in the cost of your cruise on both DCL and RCCL, but I do know from reading up on it that the hours of the kids clubs on DCL are more readily available over RCCL. Also, the counselors names on our RCCL ship were those of fairy tale characters. Our son's favorite counselor was named Moana. We seriously thought that was her real name until we saw another one named Rapunzel! :)

Shore Excursions

Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore was a legit statement I leaned over and told Jason while trying to find our tour group in Juneau.

For every excursion you book (on both DCL and RCCL), you are given a ticket in your stateroom with your excursion information - where to meet, what time, etc. Once you arrive at your designated location on the ship, you are given a sticker to wear and this is where the differences begin. On Disney Cruise Line, you are usually ushered to a waiting area with a group of people. You have a crew member as a group leader who carries a paddle with the same logo as the sticker you are wearing on your shirt. You are walked out to your meeting area in whatever port you're docked in and basically taken straight to your excursion tour guide. On RCCL, we arrived at our meeting location were each given a sticker, then told to basically "go meet your group at the pier". This meant walking down to the first or second deck by ourselves, exiting the ship on our own, walking down the pier and off to wherever we saw a group of people congregating. At those groups, they usually had a few tour guides holding signs that were supposed to match the sticker you were wearing. Well, on our "Toto" occasion, there was no such match. After asking, the tour guide said "oh yeah, you're with me..."

For someone who has no clue where in the world they are at (which applies to most of us on cruises we've never taken before), telling someone to "meet at the pier" can be incredibly confusing and frustrating. Being on vacation also means that I like to take the frustration out of my trip to simply relax and enjoy. By seriously walking through every step with you, I feel as if DCL definitely takes that unknown out of the equation here and leaves travelers with less opportunities for frustration.

Room Service/Soda

On RCCL, room service is available at no extra charge for continental breakfast only. On DCL, you can order room service pretty much 24 hours a day and almost anything you'd like to eat. This didn't make a huge difference for us as breakfast is typically the only meal we order room service for anyway, but it is a difference nonetheless. Also, sodas (aka "cokes" as we call them here in the south) are included on Disney Cruise Line - they are not on RCCL (although tea, lemonade, and coffee are included in your initial cruise package). Drink package options are available for purchase on RCCL for sodas, specialty coffee, alcohol, etc.

Grand Entrance

Here's my final "Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore" moment. When you arrive at then entrance of your ship on Disney Cruise Line, I feel as if everyone is excited to see you - there's excitement in the air and genuine smiles on the faces of the crew members welcoming you onto the ship. Also, you are greeted with a "grand" entrance that I won't spoil for you if you've never sailed DCL.

Walking onto our RCCL ship was a totally different experience and it seriously made me giggle. No, I didn't expect pomp and circumstance or any kind of crazy welcome, but I wasn't prepared for this one. We were basically ushered onto the ship and into a tight hallway where solicitors were lined on each side, attempting to sell drink packages, spa packages, dining packages, water packages, the list goes on. Welcome to the ship, indeed! (Where's that monkey emoji?)

I will mention again that we enjoyed our time with Royal Caribbean and loved sharing this entire experience with our family.

Did any of these things mentioned above make me miss Disney Cruise Line?
Yes, some of it did.

Did it take away from our cruise?
No. We still had a blast!

Would I sail Royal Caribbean again in the future?
If the circumstance and situation was applicable, yes I would.

Would I choose RCCL over DCL in the future if given an option?
 No. I would definitely choose Disney Cruise Line if it's a feasible option.

Do I think Disney is worth the extra cost?
In most situations, yes. For Alaska and the cost between the two cruise options (several thousands of dollars)? Not for us. For some, yes...but not for us and this cruise.

I had a friend give a bit of good advice to me before we cruised - when you're cruising with a new line that you aren't used to, don't set your expectations to high. Go in with an open mind and see what you think!  (This advice was honestly the best advice we could have been given.)

For recaps from our 7 night Alaskan cruise on board the Radiance of the Seas, check out these links below:
Alaskan Cruise: Travel Day & Boarding the Ship [Part 1] & VLOG
Alaskan Cruise: At Sea Day & Ketchikan [Part 2] & VLOG
Alaskan Cruise: Icy Straight Point [Part 3] & VLOG (Icy Straight Point & Juneau)
Alaskan Cruise: Juneau & Whale Watching [Part 4]
Alaskan Cruise: Skagway & A Musher's Camp [Part 5] & VLOG
Alaskan Cruise: Hubbard Glacier [Part 6] & VLOG
Alaskan Cruise: Seward and Anchorage [Part 7] & VLOG

I hope this has helped any of you who are on the fence about deciding between cruise lines! :) Send an email my way or feel free to message me if you have any questions!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Birthday/Labor Day Weekend

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to celebrate my birthday with family and friends. It was such a wonderful, jam packed, fun filled weekend that left me feeling incredibly blessed and loved! It also included a lot of food, eating out, and cake. Always cake.

On Friday afternoon, a friend called me because they were headed my way for a sno-ball. The days of having a sno-ball from our favorite stand are numbered, so of course I said yes! Knowing I was going to eat cake that evening, I ordered a small. Might not sound logical but made sense in my head. Hah!

It was delicious, too!

That evening, we had a celebratory dinner with my parents. I wanted pizza but couldn't figure out where I wanted to have it from. There's a place in my town called Stonefired Pizza that is similar to the concept of Blaze at Disney Springs, so we went with it. It was delicious, too!

After dinner, we had cake and presents! I've stuck with the same exact cake for the past several years. This year, I changed it up to a strawberry/strawberry/strawberry cake from a local bakery. It was good, but I think I'm going back to my norm next year.

On Saturday morning, Jason made breakfast at home. The Mickey waffle is actually a new recipe for me - it was my first time trying Birch Benders Paleo Pancake mix and it was pretty good!

After breakfast, I met up with my friend Mackenzie for a little Junkin' Gypsies party. This was Kenzie's birthday gift to me and I had so much fun creating our new fall door hangers with her!

Blank Pallet!

Stenciling it up!

Finished product!!

I love Junkin' Gypsies so much! It's an awesome way to have a little homemade piece of art work (that looks amazing) in your home!

On Saturday evening, we had dinner with Jason's family as a two part birthday celebration (for myself and Jason's sister)! It was so much fun and the homemade meal Jason's mom made was delicious!

We also signed the traditional table cloth. After a lot of researching, we discovered that the table cloth goes back to 1995. It disappeared for a little while, then reappeared back in 2005 or 2006! I love fun traditions like that!

On Sunday evening, we didn't have church because of the Labor Day holiday, so we took that time to celebrate with my friends!

We had dinner at Walk On's, then came back to my house for cake and presents.

We might have reused the same cake because it was THAT good (and there was a lot of it)!


As an added side project over Labor Day Weekend, I also decided to spruce up our laundry room. The room felt drab to me and definitely needed a refresher. It was still the same off-white color it had been since we purchased the house and I wanted to change it to a more light and airy feel. I was inspired by our recent stay at the newly renovated rooms of Old Key West, so I went with it!

The color on the left is the cabinet color and the color on the right is the wall color.



Although it doesn't look like much of a contrast between the wall and the cabinet in the photo, there is a slight one. The baseboards also received a little refresher and wow - the room feels so nice and clean now! I seriously love it!

On Monday, Brayden and I spent the entire day together (minus his nap). We swam, played with water outside, watched a little Mickey Mouse, and overall just had a great day together. During his nap time, I replaced all the doors to the cabinets and refilled them with items then after his nap, we went back outside for more water fun! We really had a great day together. I love soaking up those moments with him. They are passing by so fast, I love to truly live in the moment and enjoy my little guy while he's still little!

How was your Labor Day Weekend? Did you do anything exciting or fun?

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Cheers to 37!

Another birthday is here and although this past year literally flew by, it was filled with so many wonderful memories and fun times!

My 36th year began while sailing on the Disney Fantasy! We took a 7 night Eastern Cruise to explore St. Thomas and Tortola and it was a wonderful way to spend a birthday!

Also while on board said cruise, we bought in to the Disney Vacation Club. Can we say...most. expensive. birthday. present. ever? Totally worth it, though!

Over the past year, a lot of time was spent with my little dude, watching him learn, grow, and soak up the world like a sponge. He keeps us running, but we love it and wouldn't trade a second of it!

We also planned and directed the Gleaux Run 5K in the fall which was another great success! Lots of runners and walkers came out to help in the fight against cancer.

Over the past year, a lot of Orangetheory classes were attended (until my recent injury, of course). I sure do miss it and can't wait to get back there!

A commercial was shot where I had the chance to play Wonder Woman! So much fun!

A group of friends and I also spent time touring several Louisiana plantation homes. We had a blast that day, learning about Louisiana history and simply spending time together!

Over the holiday season, our church put on a production entitled "How Christmas Saved The Grinch" where I had a chance to play a citizen of Whoville! This year, I've been upgraded to "Betty Lou", the mom of "Cindy Lou" - it's going to be so much fun!

Last spring, I ran two half marathons - one in New Orleans with my friend Melissa and the other at Walt Disney World for the Princess Half Marathon/Fairy Tale Challenge!

We spent our Princess Half Marathon trip with my family and we had a fabulous time!

Another project that came together this spring was a home improvement one. I basically rearranged our entire back patio to accommodate a seating area. This space has been so nice all spring and summer to relax and watch Brayden play. We also installed an outdoor fan to keep us cool in the summer months!

Also this spring, I joined the Faster Way To Fat Loss family and not only did I make many gains in the area of my health, I also managed to PR in 2 races in 2 weekends! How fun is that?!

In May, our local Relay for Life event took place where I helped run the activities for the night. It was exhausting but a ton of fun and I'm so glad I had a friend along to help me with the process!

The Orangetheory Mayhem challenge took place in May where participants attended four classes in one week and received extra special goodies.

Y'all know I don't back down from a challenge!

This summer, my husband, son, and I traveled to Alaska with Jason's family. In total, 12 of us were along for the trip and we had a blast! Prior to this trip, my father in law had visited 49 states and wanted to make his 50th state a family affair, so we did!

In August, on a last minute whim, my little family and I decided to use a few vacation club points to visit Walt Disney World! I was excited I finally had the chance to participate in the Beignet Dash and loved being able to see friends while there!

Random fact - until our August trip, I'd NEVER ridden the Tea Cups. My child loves to spin, so I thought I would take one for the team and it was not as bad as I expected! (Note-we did not spin the teacup out of control, was definitely a controlled spin!)

In all, it's been a fabulous year filled with so many fun adventures and memories! I can't wait to see what 37 has to bring! Let's do this! 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Physical Therapy Update (Hamstring Injury)

If you've been a follower over here on the blog or on instagram for any length of time, I'm sure you've noticed my lack of participation in Orangetheory, week day runs, and long runs. Well, the reasoning behind this lack of fitness is not entirely my own.

For a while now (and I mean a long while now), I've been experiencing issues with my right hamstring. It would become irritated, bother me, I would rest/ice it, then it would feel better and I would move on. This cycle occurred once every couple of months, but it definitely continued. After some time had passed, I noticed that the interval between "flareups" was becoming shorter and shorter before one day, the pain stopped going away and began to travel higher - above my hamstring - and started to cause leg stiffness. I decided I would take a 2 week break from running (after Mayhem at Orangetheory was over) and mostly rest while on our cruise - with the exception being National Running Day because...hello, I can't miss that day.

My leg mostly felt ok on the cruise until our formal night when I was trying to waste time and chased Brayden up and down several flights of stairs for 45 minutes in heels. (Dumbest move, ever.) On National Running Day, I ran 2 miles around the ship and although I definitely enjoyed the run, that nagging pain was in my leg the entire time which also led to leg stiffness for the next day or so. It was only then that I decided to push my stubbornness out of the way and call my ortho. They were able to fit me in the following week and before I knew it, I had an order for physical therapy in hand!

Starting on a new physical therapy journey with an entirely new (to me) PT was scary and exciting all at the same time. Lucky for me, the one I chose is a runner, and her office is literally located down the hall from my work space! When I tell you this scenario literally could not have worked out more perfect, I seriously mean it!

This physical therapy center is setup in a one on one type manner. Basically, I have the undivided attention of my physical therapist for the entire 45 minute session and it's wonderful! She focuses on deep tissue, cupping (ouch), and proper technique.

What type of work does she have me doing? Well, on the first day, she introduced the...(insert ominous music here)...theraband...and I actually groaned out loud. For those who attend Orangetheory, I'm sure you feel me on this one! I always avoid theraband days if I can - which is probably why I landed myself in this boat in the first place! Note to self - do not avoid Orangetheory theraband days in the future!

Most of my exercises are centered around glute strengthening and alignment. The body working in a criss-cross manner seriously still blows my mind but I definitely see it here! It amazes me how a muscle weakness on one side of the body can cause the opposite side to overcompensate which then leads to the boat I'm in...injury.

Interestingly enough through all of this - my IT Band has not bothered me AT ALL which is amazing to be honest!

I've officially made it to the 6 week mark of a running/Orangetheory break which also means I've completed 6 weeks of physical therapy thus far. How am I feeling? Well, I the pain has gotten a LOT better. Although the pain is still there, it's not even close to the scale it was prior to starting with PT. I saw my ortho last week for a follow up and he was encouraged with my progress. He re-certified me for an additional round of PT and I'm so grateful! Hopefully with a few additional weeks of visits and strengthening, I'll be able to start running again slowly and we will see where that leads!

I also realize that hamstrings are quirky and can become re-injured at any time. Keeping up with this strength training is going to be ever important for me as I continue on with my running journey. I'm ready!!

So tell me, have you ever dealt with a running related injury? How did you overcome it? Anyone else have a successful hamstring injury story? 

Today, I'm also linking up with KookyRunner and Zenaida for Tuesday Topics!  

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Port Orleans French Quarter Beignet Dash

Hi there and happy Wednesday! I'm interrupting my Royal Caribbean Alaska recaps for something near and dear to my heart - running at Disney!

My husband, son, and I recently spent the weekend at Walt Disney World where we jam packed as many "new to us" experiences in the weekend as possible. We stayed at Old Key West (new to us), had breakfast at Trattoria al Forno with the characters (also new to us), we saw Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy and the newly re-imagined Disney Jr Show at Hollywood Studios (all new to us), and I ran the Port Orleans French Quarter Beignet Dash for the first time.

Did you know that several of the Disney resorts host fun runs during the week? These runs are usually around a 3K distance and cost a small fee. After the run, participants are given a reward of some kind - such as a pin, medal, food item, etc. Oh yes, and walkers are welcome, too! (Please note, these runs are not available during runDisney race weekends.)

Ever since these runs began, I've been carrying around a list with a list of the race names and days of the week they take place, cause I knew I wanted to run one eventually. When we initially planned this trip, my first thought went to which days of the week we would be on property and which races would be available. Much to my delight, the Beignet Dash at Port Orleans French Quarter is held every Sunday morning and it just so happened to fit into our schedule!

At first I was hesitant to run this race as I am currently injured and going through physical therapy, but my PT encouraged me to run it (slowly) to see if I've made any progress. I also realize I haven't given any updates here on my PT progress, so I'll plan to give that update sometime next week!

Even though we were staying at the resort next door, we still had to take a Lyft to French Quarter as there is no walking path between the two resorts. Our driver picked us up at our building (instead of us having to take the 10 minute walking path to the front of Old Key West) and brought us directly to the front of French Quarter!

The race was set to begin at 8 a.m. and we arrived around 7:20 a.m. or so. Registration was set up to the side of the pool area, near the Disney Springs boat dock. During the registration process, a cast member told us that there were approximately 100 runners that morning!

According to the map, we would be running out of French Quarter and through Riverside! I was super excited to see this as Riverside is one of my favorite resorts on property!

My little cheerleaders were out to cheer me on!

At exactly 8 a.m.,  the race began. I scooted towards the middle of the pack as I didn't want to take off too fast and not be able to keep up running the whole time. I also didn't want to anger my hamstring any more.

This race was really nice and I enjoyed it a lot! My one complaint was the heat and humidity - and yes, I'm from Louisiana but I'm in the AC all day and not out in this craziness!

One thing I definitely appreciated about this race was the signage and cast members located throughout the course to cheer runners on. If you aren't familiar with the Riverside property, you wouldn't have a problem running this race as there's a ton of signage!

This race was approximately 1.4 to 1.5 miles per the runkeeper app on my phone and it really was a great way to start the day! My hamstring didn't give me much trouble during my run which was nice. The pain has gotten significantly better since starting PT! (More on that next week.)

I loved that the French Quarter greeter was out there to congratulate runners at the finish line as well!

After the run, we received our medals and a bottle of water (which was much needed)! We also had a chance to take pictures with a few of the signs that were provided.

Kimberly and her mom ran this race, too! It was so great to see them again and catch up!

At the bottom of our bib was a tear away tag which was good for 1 order of 3 Mickey beignets, which runners could pick up inside the French Quarter food court.

This little guy had Mickey waffles while I enjoyed my beignets!

These beignets were delicious and definitely comparable to those at Cafe DuMonde! They are also Mickey shaped, so how can you go wrong with that? I greatly enjoyed them and they were the perfect treat after having run 1.5 humid summer miles!

If you're interested in more Disney resorts fun runs, check out this post over at The Mouse For Less for a more comprehensive look at other fun runs that are available!

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