Author Archive

Disney on the ‘High Seas’

By vmastroianni   Thursday, March 29th, 2012

What cruise line could possibly think of having fireworks (yes, fireworks!) at sea, a pirate dance party on the pool deck, Captain Jack’s special appearance, a water slide flowing across both sides of the ship and even OVER the edge? Of course, it’s Disney, with the entrance of its new ship into the fleet, the ‘Disney Dream’.
The Dream welcomes guests onboard with all the latest in technology and design, but brings back the elegance and the ‘grandness’ of ships from the past with its sweeping staircases, nautical theme and colors, attention to every detail, and of course, everyone’s favorite Disney characters.
From the staff, to the food, to the amenities, Disney has gone all out in creating their beautiful new ship. The staff displays Disney’s commitment to excellent service with a friendly smile. The food is served to perfection, both in taste and in appearance, and the staterooms have all the features that one would expect when traveling at sea….and more! With the most comfortable bedding on the high seas, great bath products (H2O), iPod docks/alarm clocks, flat screen TV’s, excellent storage space, innovative WAVE phones for guest use onboard to keep in touch with the family, and the list goes on and on.
Entertainment onboard will amaze both adults and kids. With Disney characters participating in daily activities and leading the way in evening stage shows, the themes will delight adults and kids alike. Characters show up in all areas of the ship all day and night, whether you’re playing sports in the outdoor sports court, or walking to dinner through the main lobby area, they’re always entertaining and making guests smile. The stage shows are creative and colorful and will make cruisers of all ages smile: ‘The Golden Mickeys’, ‘Villians Tonight,’ and ‘Believe’ are each the beginning of a fun and festive night at sea.
A visit to the islands onboard The Dream would not be complete without a stop at Castaway Cay. The Disney-owned island offers everyone the opportunity to relax and unwind in a safe, extremely clean environment, and also explore and be active at the same time. With bike rentals and trails, a lookout tower with binoculars, watersports equipment rentals, excursions, beach bar service and food service, scavenger hunts and yoga, the choices are endless. The three beach areas (watersports, family beach, and “adults only”) everyone can find their own special place. And if you’re looking for some ‘special’ pampering, beach cabanas can be rented for the day ($499/family cabana, $399/adults only cabana). Renters are spoiled with beach butlers, food and beverage service, non-motorized watersports equipment, safe, refrigerators, towels, hammocks, and a comfortable seating area.
Disney’s Dining experience onboard is also a very unique experience. With three restaurants and ‘rotational dining’ each guest will be able to experience every dining venue onboard. The dining rooms hold surprises for all! And, of course, two specialty restaurants (Remy and Palo) serve the best French and Italian cuisine that you would expect from any 5-star restaurant.
Whether you’re a Disney-lover or not, the Disney cruise experience will not disappoint; the only thing missing is a casino, but with every other surprise that you find onboard, you may only realize this when you are returning home from the trip!

Gansevoort, Turks and Caicos Islands

By vmastroianni   Friday, September 30th, 2011

With so many beautiful islands in the Caribbean, it could be difficult to decide which one is my favorite, but in that search it’s easy to determine that Turks & Caicos Islands ranks at the top of my list. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be a guest at the new Gansevoort Hotel on Grace Bay Beach in Provo, Turks & Caicos Islands and found the hotel and the island to have the perfect blend of activity, relaxation, and fun! With beautiful Grace Bay Beach stretching for miles, amazingly clear turquoise waters, and first-class resorts, there’s nothing more one can ask for in an island destination.
I had the pleasure of staying at the fabulous new Gansevoort Hotel, which is nothing short of spectacular! From the ‘street-side’ it’s an unimposing structure that might not strike someone as a luxury resort, but once inside you quickly get that ‘vibe’ and find out just how special it is. The hotel has a small reception area that leads out to a perfectly-positioned infinity edge pool with plenty of ‘cozy’ loungers. The 91 suites are in 3 buildings that surround the pool, and the design throughout the resort and the units is “ultra-chic” and modern. What I thought was one of the nicest features of my one bedroom suite (and there were MANY!) were the full glass-panel walls of the full-size balcony, which allows for a fully unobstructed oceanview from both the bedroom and living room areas of the unit. Of course the suite was filled with great gadgets (Bose Soundock, electronic controls for window blinds, modern appliances and fixtures, 2 flat-screen TV’s), wonderful amenities, and a soaking tub in the bathroom that fills from a faucet/hole in the ceiling!
Each morning the beach crew prepared the beach beds ($25/day) and the chaise lounges & umbrellas. The beach is never crowded, and as clean as any beach can possibly be! The beach butlers are always ready to deliver your drinks and food right to your position in the sand! The pool area is never too crowded, and the seating is around the pool is very unique (island platforms within the pool itself with loungers).
Of course, a trip to Turks & Caicos Islands is never complete without a boat excursion of some sort. Our 4-hour snorkel excursion was operated by Caicos Dream Tours. Our group of 12 was picked up right on the beach by a crew of 3 on a beautiful catamaran. We had the opportunity to snorkel in 2 locations, pick up conch shells, and then stop at an unspoiled beach area called ‘Iguana Island’ where they prepared a fresh conch salad while everyone explored the area and played in the perfectly clear waters. At the end of our excursion we were dropped us off at ‘da Conch Shack’ for a casual seafood lunch. It was a great end to a perfect little ‘side trip’.
Gansevoort’s spa (Exhale) services were also top-notch. Although the spa itself is not too elaborate, the spa services were second to none! I had a 50-minute ‘Signature Masssage’ and it was the ABSOLUTE best that I have ever had! The spa is always busy, and the prices are very reasonable for a luxury 5-star resort.
For a wonderful dining experience, Bagatelle Bistro offer French Mediterranean cuisine (poolside) or you can arrange for an intimate dinner for 2 on the beach or in any special location that a guest prefers (even on one of the pool ‘islands’!). A great buffet breakfast is served in Bagatelle’s in the morning, and the Beach Bar & Grill is conveniently only a few steps away from the pool. Of course, lunch can also be served right to your seat in the sand!
Whether you’re looking for a place to unwind, or spend some quality time with someone, or even a great ‘girl’s getaway’, the Gansevoort will surely fit the bill!