It's a Great Big Beautiful World! Let's Discover it Together

Showing posts with label For the Kids. Show all posts
Showing posts with label For the Kids. Show all posts

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday Spotlight - Oasis of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International® boasts 22 majestic ships in its’ fleet, including six different classifications of ships, based on size, amenities and overall design features.  These classes include:  Oasis Class, Freedom Class, Voyager Class, Radiance Class, Vision Class and Sovereign Class – and an entirely new class – the Quantum Class - just introduced to the world with construction beginning on two new ships for the class to set sail some time in 2015 and 2016.  Today we’ll be looking at the signature ship in the Oasis Class, the Oasis of the Seas® which set sail on her maiden voyage in December 2009, and is considered the ship that revolutionized cruising through its groundbreaking design introducing seven distinct neighborhoods built for ultimate enjoyment in family-friendly cruising. The Oasis of the Seas provides wonderful experiences for multi-generational family travel as well, with a wide array of onboard experiences for all ages. 

Onboard guests can delight to a wide array of relaxation, dining and entertainment options, including, hopping on a classic carousel on the Boardwalk®, then watch acrobats splash down in the AquaTheater, the first amphitheater at sea.  Let imaginations soar in the Youth Zone—the largest kids' area at sea—or at the Pool & Sports Zone, where you'll find FlowRider® surf simulators and zip line views.  Unwind with a stroll in Central Park®—a meandering garden lined with shops and fine restaurants—the first time actual trees have been planted onboard a ship!  Melt away stress at VitalitySM Spa.  Jazz up your evening with Broadway hit Hairspray, or hit the Royal Promenade for memorable moments with DreamWorks® Experience characters.  Join us onboard the ship that changed cruising – a world where innovation rules. 

VitalitySM. © Royal Caribbean International®
Rest & Relaxation:  Full-service VitalitySM Spa with thermal suite and an extensive treatment menu. State-of-the-art Fitness Center. Central Park® outdoor garden with galleries, restaurants and a Coach® store. Four pools including the Solarium, an adults-only retreat. Ten whirlpools, two of them cantilevered whirlpools overlooking the ocean. Concierge Club and Diamond Lounge. 

Dining Options:  Main Dining Room, 14 more complimentary options including Park Cafe, Windjammer Cafe, Solarium Bristo and room service, Casual dining and snacks at Johnny Rockets®, Cupcake Cupboard and Seafood Shack and more.   Specialty restaurants are also available for one low cover charge: 150 Central Park, Chops Grille steakhouse, and Giovanni's Table Italian restaurant.  Starbucks, Izumi Asian cuisine, and Vintages wine bar for an array of tempting tapas.  Central Park dining package at $65 per guest, includes Giovanni's Table Italian Trattoria, 150 Central Park fine-dining restaurant and Chops Grille steakhouse.  Chef's Dining Package, at $120 per guest, includes the five-course, gourmet Chef's Table and wine pairing, 150 Central Park.  Chops Grille, Choice of Dining Package, at $50 per guest, includes Chops Grille, Giovanni's Table and a choice of Izumi Asian Cuisine or Solarium Cafe.  

©Royal Caribbean International®, Casino Royale®
Entertainment & Shopping:  Complimentary Broadway hit Hairspray, Complimentary AquaTheater shows, ice shows and other live entertainment.  Casino Royale® with 464 slots and 27 tables, Bars, lounges, and nightclubs that never have a cover, including live jazz club, karaoke bar, and comedy club.  Parties and parades on the Royal Promenade.  Surf's Up Party, a reservation-only themed party in the Seafood Shack with the restaurant’s most popular dishes and 3 non-alcoholic beverages for a cover charge of $15 per guest or 3 alcoholic beverages for a cover charge of $25 per guest.  Variety of name-brand, duty-free shopping in Central Park® and the Royal Promenade.

©Royal Caribbean International® , FlowRider® 
©Royal Caribbean International® DreamWorks® Experience
Kids and Families:  Complimentary DreamWorks® Experience - memorable moments including character dining, parades, and meet & greets with favorite characters from Shrek®, Madagascar®, Kung Fu Panda® and more.  Complimentary Adventure Ocean® Youth Program. Royal Babies® and Royal Tots® programming.  Teen lounge areas and disco.  H2O Zone kids' water park.  3D movie theater.  Two FlowRider® surf simulators.  Two rock-climbing walls, Zip line, full-sized basketball court.  Ice-skating rink, Mini-golf course and Hand-carved carousel. 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tips on Thursday - New Family-Friendly Options from Royal Caribbean

First, they had the “DreamWorks Experience”, now Royal Caribbean is prepping to further expand their family-friendly offerings - especially for young girls who love all things Barbie – by introducing the all-new "Premium Barbie Cruise Experience”. 

The new experience debuted in January on select ships and will be introduced fleetwide by March.  This newest offering will give Barbie fans, both young and young-at-heart, the opportunity to delight in all things Barbie.  For a cost of $349 per person, you can enjoy a wildly pink-decorated stateroom containing a souvenir tote bag, tiaras and teacups, toothbrush and toiletries, pillowcases, a Barbie blanket, and specially designed nautical outfits for your very own Barbie. (Don’t forget to pack your own Barbie, as the doll itself is not included).

Barbie, first introduced in 1959.  © Mattel, Inc
Continuing the experience, guests will be relieved to know that yes, there’s more!  Each Barbie Experience also includes Barbie related activities on board ship, including the Barbie Design Workshop where you can  create your own outfits for your Barbie doll, and show them off on the "pink carpet" in the Barbie Fashion Show.  And of course the experience would not be complete without a Barbie-themed tea party - the "Tiaras and Teacups Party", which is an invitation-only affair with a palate of pink pastries and pink lemonade to round out the fun.  But wait, there’s more, following the tea party, guests will then join in a Barbie “Mermaid Dance Class" to learn the various from the movie, Barbie in Mermaid Tale 2.

Senior VP of Sales and Marketing for Royal Caribbean, Vickie Freed, who admits to owning over 200 Barbie dolls, took a major part in the planning and negotiations for this new cruise experience together with the folks at Mattel, who market and sell the Barbie collections, including the Barbie Cruise Vacation Doll, which was already part of their collection prior to this new partnership, but will be sold on board all Royal Caribbean ships hereafter.  Barbie was created by Ruth Handler in 1959 and she modeled and named the doll after a German adult toy doll called Bild Lilli.

To book your Premium Barbie Cruise Experience or to learn more about Royal Caribbean, or cruising in general, be sure to visit my website or simply call 317.776.1733.  

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tips on Thursday - Building Memories Together!

A family that vacations together builds memories together!

A family vacation takes on a completely different meaning when it’s aboard a Carnival® “Fun Ship®” cruise. Everything you need to fulfill your child’s wishes is just a deck or two away – from sports to waterslides to outdoor movies. And when you and your spouse are ready for some alone time, “Fun Ship®” cruises cater to you too. Many ships offer Serenity SM, an adults-only retreat with relaxation whirlpools, soothing music, comfy lounge chairs and oversized umbrellas. Even late-night babysitting service is available from 10 pm to 3 am. A Carnival vacation is “Fun for all. All for fun.SM

Family Travel Tip
Here is a great way for kids to make their own vacation memories. Before your vacation, purchase disposable cameras for each child. Ask them to take as many photos as they want, of whatever they want. It’s a fairly inexpensive way to have them feel like they’re contributing to the family trip. Once you return home, view the photos together and relive the adventure. Then, create a scrapbook for each child featuring their favorite photos.

For more information and to reserve your next vacation, contact me at 317.776.1733 or simply visit my website.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tips on Thursday - Cruising with Kids

Week after week your days are filled with work and school days. Family time is limited to being together for dinner, if that, and the calendar never seems to stop being filled up with some sort of “must-do” activity.  Are you tired of this typical routine, shuttling the kids around to this activity and the next, all while you yourself are off to this club or board meeting, volunteer activities and so much more?  You want a vacation, but the thought of a “family destination” that will only keep you in long boring lines of cranky tourists, waiting to board a 3 minute-or-less attraction only makes you cringe. Then it’s time to make a change in your vacation thinking.

Why not make the whole family happy, from the kids to the grandparents? It’s time to look at cruising – not only is it the best vacation value around, but everyone in the family has a great time. Cruise lines know that kids need to be occupied, and they also know that parents need a break. So how can one vacation accomplish both needs?

The new megaships are built for families in mind. Parents can sit by the pool while their kids are enjoying the water slides and fun activities, and the best part is there is no extra charge for the fun. If your kids are more adventurous, why not check out the many other activities available onboard. How about rock climbing, surfing, zip lining, basketball, putt-putt golf, bungee jumping, ice skating, game rooms, bowling and more! Yes, you can do all these activities on a ship!

But wait, there’s more! Are you looking for a few hours to chill by the pool, get a massage or simply want to take a spin class? While you do that, your children will be occupied with learning and enriching activities. There is a program for children of all ages. Examples of some of the fun in store at the kids’ camps include:

  • Toddlers (ages 2-5) – splash pool, fun family games, cartoon time, toys, learn your colors, counting games, sponge painting, indoor beach parties, pizza pig out, drawing contests, sing-alongs, bingo, face painting, arts and crafts, cookie decorating

  • Juniors (ages 6-8) – talent show, face painting, cartoon time, indoor fair, sea animals, trivia, ice cream sundaes, cookie decorating, button making, puppet show, beach party, outdoor fun and games

  • Intermediate (ages 9-12) – t-shirt painting, photography, jewelry making, board games, dance class, video game tournament, ping pong, talent show, volleyball, show time, scavenger hunts, meet the entertainers back stage, breakfast fun

  • Teens (ages 13-15) – ping pong, pool party, teen dance, dance class, talent show, pizza party, indoor beach party, skin care and hair-dressing demonstration, photography

There are plenty of cruise lines that provide the right experiences and environment where the kids are more than welcome aboard, with exciting destinations in 3, 4, 5, 7 night or more itineraries. Just to name a few, check out Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian and of course Disney to see all of the great family-friendly activities.

Cruising is not just for adults anymore – it’s the vacation where EVERYONE gets to have fun.  

Friday, January 27, 2012

Aulani – How “Disney” Is It?

Much has been said and written online over the years about Disney’s “off-site” resorts in Vero Beach and Hilton Head Island, and how they aren’t “Disney enough”; especially considering the fact that neither are close to any Disney theme park – at least not close when you compare them to the resorts at Walt Disney World or DisneylandDisney’s Vero Beach Resort is two hours +/- from Walt Disney World, and of course Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort is two states away from Walt Disney World.  Though both resorts do have rooms for rent to anyone who’d like to pay to stay, both were built as Disney Vacation Club (DVC) properties, with the majority of the resorts held for use by DVC members. Given the length of time they took to “sell out” to DVC members, many in the online Disney community (especially on a certain DVC related board that I read and frequent often), consider both Vero Beach and Hilton Head to be virtual failures.  It’s no wonder it took Disney nearly 12 years to first announce another off-site resort.

When Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa was first announced, the blogosphere began lighting up with questions about the viability of such a resort – especially being in Hawaii, a mere ocean away from any Disney theme park.  Would the fact that it would be a combined traditional hotel / DVC resort give it better chances than the original two off-site resorts? What kinds of things would need to be done in order to provide guests with an authentic “Disney” experience, given the nearest Disney theme park is roughly 4,000 miles away – across an ocean, not just mere states this time. 

Among the many questions that I would often read online – questions such as:

  • “Oahu is not our favorite island in Hawaii… is there enough to do to support a week’s stay at Aulani?”
  • “How can Disney NOT repeat past mistakes made at Vero Beach & Hilton Head?”
  • “How ‘Disney’ will it really be?”
  • “Ko Olina is so far from Waikiki – will people really want to stay so far away?”

As the grand opening got closer last summer, the PR machine of Disney got into overdrive in order to make sure people would be aware of answers to each of these questions, or at least give enough of a teaser-type response that would encourage further research for the potential guest to figure it out for themselves, ensuring that they would indeed want to make a trek to the leeward side of the island of Oahu – and stay for a while.

In preparation for my own stay at Aulani this week, I reviewed a lot of information both online, and in the various travel resources that are available to me directly from Disney.  I was both excited and curious to see the “Disney touches” for myself.   And after having been here for a couple of days already, I will happily report that the resort is “Disney” enough.  It is not overbearing to the point of basically hitting you over the head with its’ “Disney-ness”, but it is filled with charming details like you will find at any other Disney resort at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland.  Over the next few days / week, I plan to take each of the questions listed above and provide some straight forward, honest replies.  I will of course sprinkle opinions in here as well, but hopefully the information given will provide you the reader, the opportunity to make a better informed decision as to not IF you would like to visit Aulani – but WHEN. 

Just what kind of details, you ask, I’m sure… well, here are but a few that I both a) had previous knowledge to, and b) discovered for myself as a guest. These are in no particular order, and are both a and b responses intermingled together:

  • Character Dining – yes, there is a character Breakfast at Makahiki on the first floor of the resort.  It is currently offered Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday mornings.  Whether or not it is expanded to additional mornings remains to be seen, but so far, this has been a popular offering at Aulani.
  • Character Meet & Greets – they are available here.  I’ve personally seen Mickey, Minnie, & Goofy, and have been told that Chip & Dale, and even Lilo & Stitch are here.  Others may make appearances from time to time as well, according to various Cast Members with whom I spoke during my stay.
  • Disney’s PhotoPass – yep, it’s available here for those guests wishing to capture their favorite memories, and of course they are at the ready during those character interactions.
  • Hidden Mickeys – like any other resort, these abound throughout Aulani, though many of them have a bit of a stylized, Hawaiian flare to them.  There are many of the traditional 3 circle heads to be found, but many others as well that say Mickey in a more subdued manner.
  • Mickey Premium Bars – yep, you can get your Premium Bar fix while here.  These delicious treats are available at Kalepa’s Store on the third floor (Lobby level). My personal favorite - Itzakadoozie - is available at Aulani too!  Yummy! 
  • Refillable Resort Mugs – yep, they have those here as well, with three different refill stations.
  • Pool-side fun – for those of you who love to spend time at the pools at Walt Disney World, and are very accustomed to the games, dance contests and the like that the lifeguards put on – those are here too!
  • Music – like so many Disney attractions, movies, theme parks and yes, resorts – Aulani is filled with distinctive music to help set the tone for the entire experience.  In the lobby, hallways, restaurants, and even outside in the Waikolohe Valley water play complex – music plays an integral part of the story unfolding before the guest throughout the resort.  Whether it is simply background enhancements, or live performances on various stages throughout the resort, music comes alive throughout the day and night at Aulani, helping to fully immerse the guests into the environment of the resort.
  • Night-time Movies – these aren’t shown poolside here at Aulani – but they do have them, at least 3 times per week.
  • Night-time Storytelling & Campfires – just like you might find at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground and other resorts – they have those here as well.
  • Theming – Disney is very well known for its immersive environments and thematic elements in both theme parks and resorts.  Each successive resort designed and built in the past couple of decades have really underscored this reality, as the imagineers continue to surround guests with a near total immersive quality.  Personally I believe that Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World, and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel at Disneyland accomplish this feat in remarkable ways.  Aulani takes the lessons learned from those resorts and goes even further.  The imagineers delivered a resort hotel that is rich in thematic elements that not only play tribute to the Hawaiian culture, but rather completely embrace it.  Aulani is not just another sterile, white, box-like hotel lining the beaches of Waikiki – but rather plays tribute to so many aspects of native Hawaiian culture. 
  • Hidden Details – one of the really fun details that I discovered while here, are some of the many hidden details.  I’d heard a lot about all of the hidden Menehune scattered around the resort, which play to the Hawaiian folklore, but I didn’t know that just as there are carved animals all over the “Tree of Life” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park – there are hidden carved animals all throughout the Waikolohe Stream (the lazy river).   Creatures great and small common to the Hawaiian Islands and Pacific Ocean can be found in the rockwork all around the stream.  You’ll definitely want to search them out while enjoying the quiet, relaxing, fun of this lazy river, which in my mind, is nearly as fun and enjoyable as the lazy rivers at both Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach water parks.
  • Excellent Children’s Programming – available through Aunty’s Beach House, there is just a plethora of activities for the little ones to the bigger ones, and not just via the paid childcare program either.  From scavenger hunts, to animal husbandry activities to parties with Chip & Dale – Disney has once again placed great emphasis on making sure the younger set has exciting, fun-filled things to do while mom & dad enjoy some couple time – or things to do with mom & dad as a family. 
  • Activities for Tweens & Teens – Disney also provides an abundance of activities, events, and fun for the older kids as well. 
  • Excurisions – since there are no theme parks to hop on a bus and visit – Disney has teamed up with Adventures by Disney to create some very enjoyable, unique and fun-filled day excursions (just as if you were on a cruise vacation stopping in port for the day) to other parts of Oahu, or even to other islands within Hawaii.  Each week there are day-specific excursions, such as horseback riding at Kualoa Ranch, or the Manoa Valley Rainforest Hike, or the Honolulu Academy of Arts/Bishop Museum experience.  These are but a few of the numerous offerings available.   Or you could simply create your own excursions – to places like Diamond Head, or the Dole Plantation (and get a Dole Whip!), the North Shore, Pearl Harbor, Waikiki, and so many more – the opportunities abound.

So, in a nutshell, is Aulani “Disney” enough?  My response to that question is a resounding YES.  There are plenty of Disney touches throughout the resort, giving each guest that Disney “fix”.  For a beach vacation that gives guests both the opportunity to simply relax and enjoy the beach – while still providing ample opportunities to get out, explore and play - I would recommend Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in a heartbeat.  It's Disney "enough" for me!