Sheila Gallant-Halloran

Made-to-measure travel; please, go away! :-)

Guest blogger, Rebecca Page – Entrepreneurs NEED to Unplug Too

I’m fortunate today to have my client, Rebecca Page, write a guest blog about her family’s recent vacation. Rebecca runs her own successful business at Concierge Home Services, a household management company. As a busy entrepreneur, Rebecca rarely took time off from the business to give herself time to unplug. But she just took a Mediterranean cruise with her family (onboard the MSC Armonia on a 7 night cruise that sailed out of Venice, and covering Italy,Greece, and Montenegro).  The cruise seems to have re-charged her batteries, and re-engergised her for the challenges ahead as a small business owner.

Enjoy her insights – and her photos!


 The thing about being an entrepreneur is that the line between business and personal life is blurred. Or it doesn’t exist at all. I’ve worked on my laptop during family holidays more times than I care to remember. I’ve spent Sundays at the office. New Year’s. I’ve never minded, because it was my choice. And because working on my business is always fun.

Recently, I made a different choice. I took a trip to celebrate a milestone birthday, which had been planned for a very long time. I left the country, and switched off from my business. My VA in Ottawa monitored my email. Auto-responders were set up. Voicemail was changed. Internet access on my iPhone was disabled. No Twitter, no Facebook, no Google.

For the first couple of days, I thought I’d lost something, and was searching through my pockets. Then, I relaxed into the feeling of being disconnected from my business, and trusted that my company would continue without me. I resolved to enjoy every moment of my travels.

Which I did. I enjoyed a gondola ride under a full moon in Venice, fresh organic gelato in Urbino, the magic of the Acropolis of Athens, wine-tasting at a vineyard in Santorini, strong surf and perfect sand in Kefalonia, and a glowing sunset from the Eiffel Tower.









It was the first time in 9 years that I had taken a real break.

Now that I am back, I feel that I am more productive. My pace slowed down and I’m better able to see what work really needs to be done. I’m less caught up in the little things, and see the big picture. The distance I had from my business has given me better focus on our goals.







People say they are so busy that they can’t take time off. Even when work is lots of fun, vacations are better.  And taking some time off may be the best thing you can do for your career or your business.

Rebecca Page is founder of Concierge Home Services, a household management company which helps busy homeowners and professionals relax and have more time. Based in Ottawa, it is expanding  throughout Ontario. She blogs about entrepreneurship and franchising at Follow her on Twitter at @RebeccaPageCHS.


October 3, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Cruising, Lush Life Guest Bloggers, Lush Life Travel TIps & Advice | Leave a comment

Guest blogger, Shane Silva, shares insights: Why Home Ownership Matters

Today, I’m very fortunate to have my good friend, and business networking partner, Shane Silva, share his insights into “Why Home Ownership Matters.”  Shane is the broker of record with Home Life Capital Realty in Ottawa. 

Read Shane’s post below. Since he reports Ontarians are largely home-owners, and home-owners report a better quality of life, me thinks home owners are travelers too! 🙂  Of course, I’m here to help you experience a truly lush life by orchestrating your travel needs. But  – if you need help purchasing or selling a home-  please give my friend Shane a call!  Everything he touches, turns to “sold!” His contact details are at the end of the blog post.





* Home owners say they have better Quality of Life.  They report being happier, healthier and enjoy a greater feeling of control over their lives. 

* Home owners are free to redecorate, renovate and modify their homes as they wish. 

* Most home owners enjoy stable housing costs – a fixed rate mortgage payment might change a little over time while rent in Ontario has increased an average 3.5% a year. 


* Home owners are civically engaged.  Homeowners are much more likely to say they voted in the last municipal election than renters. 

* Home owners are significantly more likely to have donated to charity, participated in local festivals/events, volunteered, and written a letter to their editor. 

* The overwhelming majority (94%) of Ontarians agree that owning a home provides a stable and healthy environment for raising a family. 


* 72% of Ontario households are owner occupied.  Ontario is a province of homeowners.

* In 2010, Ontario MLS® home sales generated $9.3 billion in additional consumer spending. 

* Every home purchased in Ontario pumps $47,575 into the economy for furniture, home improvements and related items.

* Home sales on MLS® generate over 80,000 direct and indirect jobs annually in Ontario. 

As REALTORS®, we know all this.  But not everyone does. 

So spread the word:  Home Ownership Matters!

HomeLife Capital Realty

9-2559 Innes Rd., Ottawa,ON.

Tel: 613-627-4141

Fax: 613-837-6499



Twitter: @shanesilva


October 2, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Guest Bloggers | Leave a comment

Guest Blogger, Bill Halloran, writes about Disney’s “Carousel of Progress”

Today, my guest blogger is my hubby, Bill Halloran.  He’s blogging at Check out his post about Disney’s “Carousel of Progress.” It’s a spot my family always heads to at Magic Kingdom when we need a break from the sun, and a rest. Terrific attraction.

Thanks, Bill!


My first visit to Walt Disney World (WDW) in Orlando Florida was soon after I graduated from University.  With electronics as my background and being mechanically inclined, WDW was a young engineer’s dream come true, it was fun and it served up a veritable smorgasbord of synaptic stimulation.  I was hooked and dreamed of being a Disney Imagineer.

I have returned to WDW on several occasions since then, and it never disappoints.

As someone who has always been interested in the latest technology trends and gadgets, there is one attraction I never seem to tire of, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress in the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland.

In true Disney form, even the circular theater building which houses Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress is a ride of sorts.  The show is divided into six scenes with the audience seating located in a ring which mechanically revolves within the outer part of the building while each scene is staged in a stationary wedge-shaped space at the core of the building. 

Consider the engineering behind this, there are 240 seats that span the width of the stage in several rows.  When all those seats are filled, the control required to smoothly accelerate and decelerate all the weight of the audience so that they line up precisely with each wedge-shaped space is impressive.

Originally introduced at the New York City World’s Fair in 1964, the Carousel of Progress was Walt Disney’s idea.  He thought it would be fun to watch the American family go through the 20th Century experiencing all the wonders as they came along.

For Scenes 1 and 6 the audience is seated in front of a drawn stage curtain which has a large crest that looks like a mechanical gear and contains the words “Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress”.  Scene 1 is a recorded narration welcoming the audience to Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress and provides the background behind the Carousel of Progress show.  Scene 6 is another recorded narration thanking the audience for sharing in the experience.

Scenes 2 through 5 are set during a different season of the year, on the day of a holiday that typifies each season.  Each scene depicts an Audio-Animatronic family interacting with the latest household gadgets for that era as well as the latest technological advances.

Scene 2 takes place during Valentine’s Day around the beginning of the 20th century where we learn that the latest technological advances for that era include:

  • buildings as high as 20 stories;
  • moving pictures projected on a screen;
  • almost 8000 automobiles in the country;
  • train travel from New York to California in less than 7 days; and
  • two brothers in North Carolina are working on some kind of flying contraption.

 and the family’s latest household gadgets include:

  • gas lamps;
  • a telephone;
  • the latest design in cast iron stoves;
  • a new icebox that holds 50 lbs of ice;
  • a gramophone;
  • an indoor water pump in the kitchen; and
  • a hand-cranked washing machine.

Scene 3 takes place on July 4th in the 1920s where we learn that the latest technological advances for that era include:

  • Charles Lindburg preparing to fly across the Atlantic;
  • Sports stadiums springing up all over;
  • Jazz music;
  • Al Jolsen staring in a movie in which he talks and sings; and
  • train travel from New York to Los Angeles in only 3 days.

 and the family’s latest household gadgets include:

  • a radio;
  • a sewing machine;
  • a homemade cooling device;  and
  • indoor plumbing.

The family feels that considering all the conveniences they now have, they are really on easy street and feel things just can’t get any better.

Scene 4 takes place on Halloween in the 1940s where the family feels that everything is better than ever now and the latest household gadgets include:

  • a larger refrigerator;
  • an automatic dishwasher;
  • a CRT television; and
  • a homemade paint mixing system.

Scene 5 takes place at Christmas time during the first decade of the 21st century where the family’s latest household gadgets include:

  • virtual reality video games;
  • voice activated appliances;
  • laser discs; and
  • a high-definition flat panel television.

Watching Disney’s Carousel of Progress is a very pleasant way for the entire family to pass 20+ minutes in a comfortable air-conditioned theater away from the crowds.   It’s entertaining and educational providing an interesting look back at the evolution of technology and the household gadgets we’ve come to depend on.

In my opinion, the Audio-Animatronics is done so well that you forget that you are watching an animated performance.  Whether it be ribbing between brother and sister or husband and wife, the conversation and interaction between all the family members is believable and entertaining.

And following the show, don’t be surprised if you find yourself singing that catchy theme song played between each scene as you venture back outside to use your Fast Pass:

“There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, Shining at the end of every day.  There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, And tomorrow is just a dream away.”

To get a sense of what the show is like, check out this YouTube video I found:

See what I mean about the theme song?

July 25, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Disney, Lush Life Guest Bloggers | Leave a comment

Guest Blogger, Janet Kocur: Disney bound? Try Owner’s Locker-It’s a good thing!

It’s guest blog Monday, again. Fellow Disney-phile, Janet Kocur has graciously agreed to share her experiences about using the Owner’s Locker at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Janet loves the Mouse! She is a DVC member, and a regular user of Owner’s Locker – which is getting lots of referrals from Canadians who visit Mickey often, but don’t want to lug a lot of the same stuff to Orlando and home each time.

Have a read, and see what you think!  Thanks, Janet!


 When I first started going to WDW, it always entailed bringing items that “might be needed” but never a guarantee that it would be used. Then came the restrictions as to what was allowed in your carryon! No longer was it feasible to just get away for a quick trip to the “Happiest Place on Earth” without having to check in a bag. This was Ok, until the airlines started to charge for this privilege. This then no longer became cost effective. Of course, there were the items that were bought whilst there that you forgot to pack but would need again but too heavy or cumbersome to pack. Mousekeeping got to keep a lot of these items but how much laundry detergent could they use. Then there were the items that were opened but still would be useable but not allowed on a carry on and I know myself wouldn’t use if someone gave to me. Toothpaste comes to mind, as well as shampoo and conditioner and that needed Sun Screen. And if you have teens, you know that they only like certain name brand items. As we all know, coffee isn’t the best in the Happiest Place and then there’s the other beverages us Canadians pay thru the nose for but get for dirt cheap in FLA but have restrictions on how much we are allowed to bring home with us! That’s where the Owner’s Locker comes to the rescue! It’s a great idea that came to fruition for those of us that like to just travel on a whim! No longer do I have to worry about packing band aids, shampoo, conditioner, manicure set, coffee, laundry detergent, softener, toothpaste, toothbrush, sunscreen and the other unmentionables that may or may not be needed! You know what I’m talking about ladies! I also have that special bag that I use at the World only. And a comfy housecoat for those glorious mornings on the balcony of my unit to enjoy a nice big cup of joe, yes in the big mug that I have packed inside my owner’s locker! And for nighttime, that libation that is now chilling in the fridge waiting for my return from a magical day in the parks to help me unwind before my head hits the pillow! Did I mention that extra pair of sandals or a pair of slippers, so all I have to worry about is wearing my running shoes as we travel to get there and back! Oh, and that Sweatshirt that takes up so much room in your suitcase but fits comfortably in that 13” x 22” x 20” purple “home away from home” storage bin. Each Locker comes with dividers to help you organize the contents of your Locker. They’re great for keeping tall items like bottles from falling over. They can be easily reconfigured and customized for how you use your Locker. For example, you can create a special compartment for an item like a water filter. Or they can be removed altogether Here’s where you keep the little items such as a sewing kit, Q-Tips, batteries, tweezers, hair ties and medications. All of the things that might fall to the bottom and get lost! Some Members have managed to build up a small pharmacy in their trays. They have 10 compartments and a lid that clicks shut. When you first get your Locker, you’ll see that we have created a special place for it by using the dividers. Like the dividers, however, you don’t have to keep the organizer tray in your Locker. I’ve heard more than one story about how they make great jewelry boxes or tackle boxes back home! There is a onetime Membership Fee to join Owner’s Locker of $75.00 (which includes your Locker and your initial delivery/pickup which we call a Visit) and a yearly storage/delivery plan which you choose. The Standard Annual Plan costs $99.00 per year and includes storage in our climate controlled warehouse and one free Visit per year. Additional Visits are $25.00 each. The Premium Annual Plan costs $179.00 per year and includes storage in our climate controlled warehouse and unlimited visits per year. And you can switch back and forth as needed. This year we won’t be going to visit Uncle Mickey, so I’ve switch from the Premium to the Standard Plan. John D Van Meter is one of the founders of this wonderful service and you can meet him Tuesday nights at Epcot by France where he’ll gladly buy you a drink and answer any questions you may have! Check them out at and tell them Janet sent you! You won’t regret it!

July 18, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Disney, Lush Life Guest Bloggers | Leave a comment

Guest blog, Rebecca Page-Concierge Home Services while on Vacay

 Today is guest blog Monday, and I have my client, Rebecca Page, sharing her expertise and views for arranging Concierge Home Services while you’re on vacay. Check out Rebecca’s website at the end and/or give her a call to connect by phone or email to the person who takes care of your area for house and pet sitting. (Or you can complete the online form which will direct to the right office, based on your postal code).


Planning for a trip is an exciting time. Lots of thought is put into planning your destination, but what about the place you are leaving behind?

Lots can go wrong in your home while you are away. And sometimes that damage won’t be covered by your home insurance. The fine print of your policy requires that the house not be left vacant and unattended for specific lengths of time. In the 10 years that Concierge Home Services has been providing home checks and pet sitting, I’ve seen many examples of this.

We’ve found backyard hoses left on in the summer, and furnaces switched off in the winter.

The worst horror story was a family who left for a short ski trip, and came home to find that the living room ceiling had collapsed onto the TV. There was a lake of water in the basement. A window had been left open in the bathroom, causing a pipe to freeze. Water had been pouring for days. It was a huge, expensive mess, which their insurance would not cover. Their policy had required home checks every 48 hours during the winter months, and they had not arranged for that while they were away.

Needless to say, their travel planning checklist now includes calling Concierge!

A home check is $20 + HST and covers a visual inspection of windows, doors, furnace, and ceilings. Plants can be watered, mail brought in, and lights changed. Garbage and recycling can be brought to the curb on the usual day.

Pet owners get all the benefits of a home check. So, in addition to knowing that their home is safe, clients will know that their beloved pet remains in the comfort of home. It is an ideal situation for cat owners who want to avoid kennels. Over the years we have looked after fish, birds, rabbits, hamsters – even turtles! Fresh food and water is put out, litter and cages are cleaned, and we always make room for playtime.

For peace of mind while you are away from home, consider calling Concierge for home checks or pet sitting as you plan your next trip.

Concierge Home Services provides total household management to busy homeowners. With 4 Ottawa offices and 2 awards from the Better Business Bureau, they are your ideal choice for home checks and pet sitting as you prepare for your trip. Find the office near you at their website

Rebecca Page

Marketing & Franchising

Concierge Home Services

Total Household Management

Tel 613-523-9441 Ext 1

Fax 613-523-6185

Follow me on Twitter @RebeccaPageCHS

May 16, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Guest Bloggers, Lush Life Travel TIps & Advice | Leave a comment

When your Home becomes Heartbreak Hotel, call guest blogger, Jacquie Bushell

I often deal with clients who are experiencing the heartache of a relationship dissolution. It’s an emotional roller-coaster, but I’m always happy to help these clients get away. Sometimes they need to just get to a spa to relax and unwind – whether it’s the Ste. Anne’s Spa in Cobourg, or the Phoencian in Scottsdale. Sometimes they need to get out of their comfort zone, and do something to get their blood pumping again – whether it’s hiking New Zealand’s Milford Track, or driving a Ferrari through Tuscany. Whatever they need to do to start to heal, and to find themselves again, one thing they should do before getting away is to deal with some of the pressures surrounding their break up.

Today, I’m honoured to have my good friend, and business referral partner, Jacquie Bushell, write a guest blog for me. Jacquie is a mortgage broker with Oriana Financial, and she specializes in helping people navigate the troublesome waters of separation and divorce when it comes to their mortgages.

When your home becomes heartbreak hotel, call Jacquie Bushell.


Sometimes life takes a turn, and we end up sitting in a puddle of questions.

Take a deep breath. Sometimes, we just need a moment to breathe, and take some time. This is how several of my conversations start when I’m asked to act for separating couples.

When couples decide to go their separate ways, there are so many decisions to be made. Even under the most amicable of situations, this is a trying time -not to mention an emotionally, and physically, exhausting one. 

As a mortgage professional, it is my job to create an environment of understanding and ease.

I will guide you through the process, avoid paperwork duplication, help clear obstacles, and help choose a lender that suits your new circumstance- whether there is a separation agreement in place, or not. 

One of the hardest parts of settling the division of property is dealing with the primary residence. It’s not just a financial asset, it’s your home. It’s years of memories. It’s dealing with the place where you feel safe and secure. And now you have to make decisions, and you need answers to many questions. 

-Who will keep the home? 

-Is there enough equity in the home? 

-How much will it cost to renegotiate the mortgage? 

-Who covers the expenses?

-When I take the buy out, will there be enough money to create a down payment? 

-How will child or spousal support affect my application?  

-Can I afford to carry the mortgage on my home?

These are just a few of the questions you will be faced with. I have the answers to these questions, and many more.

I have handled numerous mortgages for clients who are in the process of separation or divorce. Although I cannot make the situation better, I can make this one area of the separation more manageable and calmer. And I can help take you to a successful completion. 

As an AMP professional, I have the training, and the knowledge about which lenders will have product that will fit your new unique situation. 

If you, or someone you know, is going through a separation or divorce, please give me a call. It would be my pleasure to assist. In addition to easing the process, another benefit is that the work I do for you may decrease, or ease, your legal fees as it relates to the home. Once I have completed the new mortgage re-structuring, the lender will pay me. 

If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. 

Wishing you well,

Oriana Financial

Jacquie Bushell amp

613 882 3201 main 1 866 603 8550 fax Follow Me on Twitter@Jacquie_Bushell  

May 10, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Guest Bloggers | Leave a comment

Honoured by biz networking group: please honour them by calling

Monday is usually guest blog day, but this Monday, I’m asking you to be my guest, and contact any/ all of the members of my business networking group. Please honour them with your business. 

My 212⁰business networking group honoured me today by voting me “notable networker” of our chapter for 2010, but, honestly, having read the criteria they used to cast their secret ballot, any number of the others could have and/or should have also received the honours.  There can only be one Notable Networker Award for each Chapter, so I’m sure the numbers were very close, if not a nine+-way tie!

The following qualities and characteristics were used in voting for the Notable Networker:
·         Overall contribution to the chapter – e.g. served on leadership team, contributes weekly, always early, positive attitude, organizes social events for the group, exemplifies Givers Gain®, etc…
·         Number and quality of referrals given
·         Number of visitors brought to the meeting
·         Number of One to Ones/ Business Building Interviews (BBIs)

If you know any of the folks in my networking group, you know they are all terrific, and all deserving to be honoured.  I’m proud to say many are not just business colleagues, but have become dear friends.

Please contact any of the following folks on the attached 212 brochure for your business needs. I’d recommend them to you.


You can find members of my twibe on twitter (hopefully, the rest of our chapter mates will follow shortly):

@Jacquie_Bushell @shanesilva @Matt_Shipley @Blake_Photo @SpicyDesigner @anottawalawyer @chirolindsay @doc_needles @BNI212

And if you’d like to come meet the gang in person, come by for breakfast some Friday morning – we’re always looking for new partners.

May 2, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Guest Bloggers, Lush Life Other Items | Leave a comment

Michelle VanDenBosch – Artificial flowers ease Destination Weddings

Today is guest blog Monday, and I have my friend, and local florist extraordinaire, sharing her thoughts (and photos of some creations) about how artificial flowers can ease your destination wedding planning.

Michelle’s contact details are at the end.


Having a destination wedding does not have to mean leaving the flowers up to the local florist.

Chose artificial flowers and bring them with you!

Synthetic blossoms have come along way in their evolution and look amazingly real. From beautiful callas that look real to the eyes and the touch to a more garden style of a handful of peonies, you could easily travel with your bouquet and not have to worry about coordinating that once you have landed for your destination wedding. Having your designer arrange them creatively will create a keepsake you will enjoy for a long time. provided the wedding dresses and is the photographer

Michelle VanDenBosch

P:  613-304-9046


T: @mvpetals

April 25, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Guest Bloggers, Lush Life Weddings & Honeymoons | Leave a comment

Guest blogger, Ryan Anderson, on his vacay in Anguilla

Today, I’m extremely fortunate to have my client, Ryan Anderson, write a wonderful guest blog about his vacation in Anguilla. His girlfriend, Cara Rowland, has been blogging on her own too – and the links to a few of Cara’s terrific posts are below as well. 

Grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and let their words and photos take you away to this island paradise.  Ryan’s contact details are at the end (he runs a full service creative agency with web development, marketing and advertising, and web/print design called Northern Army, to which Cara, and other capable team members, add their talents).

Course, if you want to try out this strip of paradise called Anguilla all on your own, please give me a call! I can have your feet in this sand lickety split! 🙂


A A few years ago, as I walked down the street, hunched over with a scarf wrapped securely around my head and tears streaming down my face from the ice cold wind, I made a decision. That decision was that from that point on, I was making a conscious decision to spend as little time in Ottawa as possible during the winter months.

The first part of that plan was to find a travel agent and book a trip. When I found Sheila through a Twitter recommendation, I gave her a straightforward request:

We’re looking for a place that’s hot, isn’t crowded, has great food, great beaches and isn’t the kind of place where the resort isn’t completely removed from the local culture.

The response: “Have you thought about Anguilla?”

In all honesty, I had not thought about Anguilla, primarily because I had never heard of it. To be honest, I had been thinking Hawaii for no particular reason, but this place, that a quick Google search convinced me was not, in fact, made up, hit all of our points and then some.

I didn’t know what to expect when we got there, but within a day, it was obvious that we wouldn’t be disappointed.

We wanted restaurants. Anguilla has more restaurants per capita than any other place I’ve ever seen. And though we tried a very wide variety of places, we never found a bad meal on the island. This surprised me more than anything – I’m a bit of a food snob.

We wanted local culture. One of my favourite parts of the island was the people. Everyone we met said the same thing – what makes Anguilla unique is that you’ll never meet anyone here who isn’t willing to help you if you’re lost or need directions. You can feel safe there – and to me, that’s an important characteristic of a vacation place.

We wanted great weather. The ten days we were there, the weather was sunny and beautiful. It rained a few times, but never for longer than 20 minutes or so.

We wanted great beaches. Words cannot describe how beautiful the beaches in Anguilla really are. Imagine white sand and blue water that blend into one another, set against a backdrop of mountains. Now multiply that by 33, and you’ve got Anguilla.

We wanted to relax. Now, I don’t want to give the impression that I’m a misanthrope, but hanging around gaggles of slackjawed tourists isn’t really my thing. Anguilla isn’t a ghost town by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s also not crowded. The entire time I was there, I never felt crowded, but we met a lot of great people.  It was the perfect balance.

I’ve been to a number of places, but there have only been a handful that made me feel homesick when I left. Granted, it’s not for everyone – those who love shopping or dance clubs might find it a little boring, but for us, it was perfect. The only downside – it made returning to winter in Ottawa even more painful.

I suppose we’ll have to stay longer next year.


Ryan Anderson

Founder / Chief Strategy Officer

Northern Army Inc.

o: 613.369.8370 x102

c: 613.266.9041

April 19, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Destinations, Lush Life Guest Bloggers | Leave a comment

The Wonderful Disney Wonder – guest blog by client Sean Farnell

It’s guest blog Monday. Today, I have my client, Sean Farnell, share his family’s experiences aboard the Disney Wonder. Enjoy his report, and the photos!


Let me start by saying we had a fabulous time aboard the Disney Wonder for our first family trip on a DCL Ship.  We have been cruisers for about 4 years but this was our first trip with DCL and I think we would make DCL our first choice going forward. 

On this trip were my wife and I, and our kids (DS11 and DD14)

Our day started on Jan 22nd by flying from Winnipeg to Calgary to LA.  I travel a lot during the year, and I have to say that this was the smoothest day of travelling I have ever experienced.  We were delayed slightly in Winnipeg for de-icing so ended up only having about 30 minutes in Calgary to get through US Customs and on to our next flight.  They were calling our names as we got to the gate; we walked on, they closed the door and we took off.  Nothing better than a quick turn around.

We got to LAX and walked to the baggage claim.  Just as we approached the carousel, our bags were the first ones off (all four of them).  We grabbed them and walked out the door to a taxi stand that had no one in it.  We got in the first cab and 30 minutes later we were at our hotel in San Pedro, right across the street from the Port of Los Angeles.  We had a nice evening exploring the shops at the Port and ate at a Mexican Restaurant called Acapulcos.  Food was very good.

We got on the ship around noon and discovered that we were on the Inaugural voyage for the Wonder based out of LA so there was a bunch of celebrations and some giveaways.  We were not aware of this prior.  We were also advised that due to the unrest in Mazatlan, that stop was being replaced with a second visit to Cabo San Lucas.  That was fine with us, as we had already decided to stay on the ship that day.

Typically on our family cruises, we have always had the kids by our sides the whole time.  They may dabble a little bit in the kids clubs, but likely spend the majority of their time with Ma and Pa.  What a pleasant surprise we got at our first dinner.  We were paired up with a family from California. 

They also had 2 kids (DS11, DD14), the same ages and sex as our kids.  We all hit it off instantly and for the rest of the cruise, our kids had someone to hang with daily..and they did. 

The Wonder had recently undergone some dry-dock improvements, which included a “Tween Club” called the Edge.  DS loved it.   DD spent a lot of time with her new buddy in the Vibe, the Teen Club.  Many nights were would not see the kids until well after midnight (Edge was open until 1am, Vibe was open until 2am).

We ended up going ashore in both Puerto Vallarta and Cabos San Lucas for a few hours to check out some of the shops and sites.  PV has a great seaside walk where artists were showcasing some of their creations.  It was nice to see these and we thoroughly enjoyed the visit.  Cabo as a little shorter of a stay and we ended up just walking around the port area, checked out a couple of bars and restaurants and then headed back to the ship.  For me, the ship was the Vacation and the ports were more of a break from that vacation.

We enjoyed the rotational dining.  For those of you who are not familiar with it, you and your servers move among 3 restaurants on the ship (Tritons, Parrot Cay and Animators Pallate).  This changed things up a bit and made for a bit of a new experience every night.  The menu was different on each evening.  The dinner meals were hit and miss..I think that the Carnival dinners were slightly better.  However, the breakfast and lunch buffet at the Beach Blanket Buffet were far superior.  They also had a nice healthy alternative at Pluto’s Galley (Fresh Fruit, Wraps, Sandwiches).

The entertainment was second to none.  My favorite was Toy Story Musical.  We enjoyed the nightly shows and tried to catch one of the Disney Movies either playing on the Funnel at the pool or in the Buena Vista Theatre.  We are a movie family, so this just added to the trip.  Got to see Tron Legacy (3D), Tangled (3D) and several older ones like Treasure Island, Swiss Family Robinson and some other favorites. 

All in all, a great vacation.  We are already in the planning stages for 2012 for another DCL Vacation with our new found Californian Friends.  Maybe Alaska out of Vancouver or perhaps the Dream out of Port Canaveral. **One of the DVC Guides mentioned that the Dream cost $1.2 billion to build compared to the $800million Aulani was costing…WOW!

A special thanks to Sheila for some of the smaller details needed in planning out trip.  We used DVC points for the actual cruise, but Sheila was instrumental in our flights, LA accommodations and other insight into the DCL.  THANKS!!

April 4, 2011 Posted by | Lush Life Cruising, Lush Life Disney, Lush Life Guest Bloggers | Leave a comment