Archive for May, 2012

Tutto Gusto

We already had planned our trip to Walt Disney World when they announced the opening of Tutto Gusto.  Tutto Gusto is a wine bar in the Italy Pavilion at Epcot which opened on May 1.  I do enjoy wine and cheese so we just had to try this out.  We decided to go over there on May 5 for a late lunch.  Before we arrived at the bar, we heard from a number of friends that the service was very poor.  We also heard that there were only one or two free tables in there so we decided not to try it because we were hungry.

We came back during the week and were very glad we did.  The service was fantastic.  I wouldn’t have wanted “opening jitters” to cloud my judgement of this location.

We didn’t know in advance if this was going to be a counter service or table service restaurant.  I was pleased to see it was a table service location.  We could go to the bar and place an order as all the food was on display in a cold case, but the cool darker interior of the building offered a nice respite from the heat outside.

We started off with beverages.  I spotted a unique martini on the list so I had to try this.  It was a Bruschetta martini!  Made with tomato vodka and dry vermouth plus a bit of basil, and garnished with a cherry tomato, this drink was very tasty.  A little bit sweeter tomato taste, but not sweet.  I did look through the very lengthy wine list.  There were a lot of great choices on the menu with many wines served by the glass.  I definitely have to come back and try a few.

The menu contains a good selection of “small plates”.  While you can make a meal out of dining here, you can’t really do so with one selection.

We started off with some meats and cheeses.  To make things easy, we did the Chef’s Selection of Four.  This included Proscuitto di Parma, Salametto, Fior di Latte and Parmigiano-Reggiano.  This came with Focaccia Rustica.

Next we had some Piccoli Piatti (small plates).  We tried the Olive Finocchio e Arance (marinated cerignola olives, fennel, orange).  This was just ok.  I didn’t really notice the fennel or orange, in fact, I didn’t even remember they should have this until I just looked at the menu again.  We also ordered Asparagi Bianchi (white asparagus, lemon, Parmesan, extra virgin olive oil).  This was very good.  It is a cold dish and the combination of the mild asparagus with the Parmesan cheese is something I would have again elsewhere.

The small plates and cheese platter were served fairly quickly as they were all cold.  We also ordered some Cavatappi (“corkscrew” shaped pasta) which took a little longer, but not too long.  We tried the Gamberetti which was shrimp, calabrian chili, garlic and pomodorini.  This had a little kick, but not much.

We finished off the meal with a Mocha Tiramisu.  This didn’t have a strong espresso taste like some tiramisus that I have had in the past, which made it more enjoyable to me.

Tutto Gusto is not currently on the dining plan, but does accept Tables in Wonderland.  Our total before the discount was just under $92.  While this was a little pricy for a lunch, we very much enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere.  We will definitely go back again!

Did Seabourn Go Too Far?

This month, an elderly couple were “kicked off” the Seabourn Sojourn in Lisbon because one of the two would not go to the safety drill.  Further information has come out about this situation.  Let’s see what you think.

First, the couple, ages 90 and 84, were on a 20 day sailing that was made up of multiple cruises.  When they embarked in Civitavecchia, they both attended the safety drill.  Eight days later, the second sailing began in Lisbon.  The husband attended the drill while the wife did not.  She said she felt ill.  Seabourn has said that they do offer a makeup drill for any guest who is too ill to attend.  An officer was sent to check on her to see why she did not attend the drill.  Less than an hour later, crew members had packed up the couple’s belongings and they were escorted off the ship.  Seabourn is refunding the couple for the unused portion of their cruise fare.  Seabourn indicates that the reason they decided to remove the couple was that one of them refused to attend the mandatory drill despite “multiple, explicit warnings”.

Some have sided with the cruise line, indicating that safety should be their number one concern.  The drill doesn’t take that long in relation to the length of the cruise.

Others have said that the cruise line should be more compassionate with the elderly couple, especially since they just went through the drill only 8 days earlier.

What do you think?  Did Seabourn do the right thing?

Disney Wonder and Disney Magic Relocate for the Summer

Yesterday the Disney Wonder arrived in Seattle to begin its summer sailings to Alaska!  This is the first time Disney Wonder has home ported in Seattle.  Here is a compilation of the news reports from Seattle.

Disney Wonder will be making 14 seven-night sailings to Alaska from Seattle this summer with stops at Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan and Victoria, Canada.

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Extra Magic Hours Expands to Disneyland

Beginning June 18, 2012, guests staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel will be able to take advantage of Extra Magic Hour, with valid Theme Park admission and an active room key card.  This will allow resort hotel guests to go to Disneyland Park one extra hour on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and Disney’s California Adventure park on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Guests not staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel but using a 3-Day or more Park Hopper Bonus Ticket will still have access to one Magic Morning entry at Disneyland Park on select days.

To use this benefit, each registered guests age 3 and older must have a valid Theme Park ticket and active hotel room key card to enter.  Times, theme parks, operation of attractions, stores, entertainment, restaurants and appearances of Characters are subject to change without notice.  Also subject to capacity, cancellation and other restrictions.

On the Road Again

Ok, we won’t actually be “on the road” again, but we are planning another adventure and wanted to share it with all of you.  While I believe you can be successful selling a product that you are unfamiliar with, I think you can be a much better consultant if you are familiar with the product.

Over the years we have taken cruises on a variety of cruise lines – Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises.  I feel that when you cruise a different line, you can learn the differences about the lines better than by taking classes and webinars.  As much as I prefer Celebrity Cruises and Disney Cruise Line, I know they aren’t for everyone.  Knowing what the others are like, I can better assist my clients to select a cruise that is right for them.

With this in mind, we have booked a new cruise – this time on Carnival Cruise Line.  We will be sailing this summer on the Carnival Dream on an Exotic Western Caribbean sailing.  This cruise will take us to Cozumel, Belize, Isla Roatan and Costa Maya.

Here are some photos from John Heald’s Blog of the ship.

We plan to explore the ship more on our day in Cozumel since we have been to Cozumel a few times.  In Belize and Isla Roatan, we will be snorkeling, of course!

That leaves Costa Maya.  We aren’t especially interested in the shore excursions offered by Carnival so are looking to do something on our own.  For those of you who have been there, what do you recommend?

New for 2013 from Adventures by Disney

A couple months ago we heard about one of the new offerings from Adventures by Disney for 2013 – Jewels of Southeast Asia.  In the last couple weeks, we have also heard about a new itinerary for the Costa Rica tours – Costa Rica Coast to Coast.  Now today we learn about the newest adventure – Scotland:  A Brave Adventure.

First we’ll start with Scotland.  On June 22 Disney Pixar’s Brave will be released in studios.  After seeing this movie, you can travel to Scotland to experience this land that inspired the movie.  During your 9 day, 8 night trip, you’ll be able to visit the Loch Ness Exhibition Center and canoe across the lake, stand between the Callanish Standing Stones, go horseback riding and mountain biking at Rorthiemurchus Estate, tour the Glamis Castle and have a private tour of the Edinburgh Castle.  These are just a few of the many things you will explore on your Brave Adventure! Rates start from $4999 per adult ($4749 per child) with dates available beginning in March, 2013 through September 2013.

Drumnadrochit Pictures
This photo of Drumnadrochit is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Next we’ll visit the Jewels of Southeast Asia with an 11 night/12 day tour of Saigon, Hoi An, Hanoi, Luang Prabang, Siem Reap.  Cruise the Mekong River and hike Mount Phousi during your stay.  Go horseback riding in Cambodia and participate in a “treature hunt” while exploring the temples of Angkor Archaeological Park.  This tour will immerse you in the culture and ways of southest Asia with the perfect balance of organized activities for the group and free time.   Pricing for this adventure starts at $4849 per adult ($4609 for children) with dates beginning in May 2013 through April 2014.

Finally, one of the most popular tours with Adventures by Disney is the Costa Rica tour.  This tour will be getting a change in 2013.  In 2013, this tour will take you from coast to coast, visiting Tortuguero National Park, a pineapple plantation, ziplining in Arenal National Park and white water rafting on the Tenorio River.  Even if you have experienced Costa Rica before, it’s time to go back again!  Rates start at $3099 for adults ($2949 for children) with dates beginning February 2, 2013 and continue through April 4, 2014.

As with all Adventures by Disney tours, you will always receive the services of two Adventures Guides, family activities and fun for the kids (except on special adult only tours), accommodations, scheduled meals, activities & entertainment, luggage service, transportation during your adventure, cultural entertainment with local experts and VIP access and exclusive activities to Adventures by Disney.

Contact us today for the best selection of available dates on these or any of the Adventures by Disney tours.  Between now and June 30, 2012, you can receive a gift card up to $600.00!  This is based on the itinerary and travel dates so contact us for more details.

Meet Merida

In anticipation of the new Pixar movie, Brave, Walt Disney World has created a new opportunity to meet the star of the animated feature.  Brave (June 22, 2012 release date) is a 3D computer-animated adventure film from the Pixar Studios.  In the film, a skilled archer named Merida, defies an age-old custom, causing chaos in her kingdom.  After consulting a mysterious wise old woman for help, her family becomes cursed and Merida is forced to undo the spell herself before it is too late.  The story takes place in the Scottish Highlands and is Pixar’s first movie featuring a princess.

Starting May 18, 2012, opportunities to meet Merida will be located in Walt Disney Worlds Magic Kingdom.  The area that was formerly used for Story time with Belle and more recently the Rapunzel meet and greet area.  (Rapunzel is now located next to town hall on Main Street) The area has been rethemed for the upcoming movie including music, banners, archery experience and cast member costumes. The play and greet area is set up for children to color and learn to shoot a bow and arrow while waiting for Merida.

Also a part of the greeting area are the “three wee bear cubs” from the movie.  They seem to be listening and interact with Merida and guests. Merida is telling stories to people from her movie in her thick Scottish accent. The merchandise cart outside of the area is also carrying merchandise from the movie as well.

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