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Two Vacations For Three Generations

by Georgina Cruz

In years past, our family has fully enjoyed three-generational vacations, both at sea and on land. But every once in a while two vacations for three generations is the way to go. Take our latest: Our daughter Veronica and son-in-law Kyle wanted a romantic anniversary voyage and booked a cruise to the South Seas on Princess Cruises’ Ocean Princess this winter. They asked if we would stay with their boys, Aidan, 14 and Julian, 11, while they sailed. We readily agreed, but so everyone could enjoy a vacation, rather than staying at home with the grandkids while the middle generation sailed to French Polynesia we took our grandsons to Walt Disney World, booking a log cabin at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground in Orlando. Two vacations for three generations were delightful – this is how it all went.

The anniversary couple found that endless horizons, the gentle motion of the ocean, plentiful and delicious food, and exotic islands to explore were romantic with a capital R. French Polynesia is arguably the most idyllic cruise destination in the planet due to the beauty of its islands: from Tahiti’s and Moorea’s green-clad mountains to the aquamarine lagoon of Bora Bora. No wonder these islands have attracted the likes of Paul Gauguin, James Michener, and Herman Melville, and for romantic escapes Carrie Underwood, Christina Applegate, Nicole Kidman, and Eva Longoria, among others.

To experience French Polynesia with the utmost of romance, Veronica and Kyle chose a 10-day voyage with Princess (from $1,699 in an interior cabin; from $2,399 in a balcony cabin), because they figured the line of “The Love Boat” hit television series of the 1970s and 80s would know a thing or two about romance. One aspect of the itinerary they loved was Princess’ Bora Bora experience – two days in this breathtaking island – so they reserved an overwater bungalow for a night at the Four Seasons’ Bora Bora. These accommodations are the essence of romance. The Four Seasons’ launch picked them up at the pier in Vaitape, steps from where the cruise ship’s tenders dropped off, and it whisked them away to the resort that is located on a “motu” (islet) with thatched-roof bungalows extending like streamers in the robin’s-egg-blue Bora Bora lagoon. Along the way, there are vistas of other green-clad “motus” ringed with white sands and of imposing Mt. Otemanu.

Pastimes at the resort, in addition to swimming and snorkeling, include kayaking and standup paddleboarding. There is a spa where guests can relax and rejuvenate, and a chapel where lovebirds can tie the knot or renew their wedding vows. A favorite romantic activity is watching the sun set behind Otemanu from a terrace table at the Sunset Restaurant & Bar. The pink glow casts a halo effect on this earthly paradise as diners feast on sushi, fresh fish and tropical fruit platters.

The Princess cruise begins and ends at Papeete, the capital of Tahiti, offering two overnights there so there was plenty of time to take in Tahiti highlights including its highest peaks, Mt. Orohena (elevation: 7,334 feet), Mt. Aorai (6,738 feet) and the Diademe (4,291 feet) and looking like a huge crown – Diademe means tiara in French. Honeymooners and second honeymooners have Papeete’s French ambiance to enjoy including a waterfront promenade that recalls the French Riviera alongside the pier. Along the promenade, there are cafes and chic boutiques that sell French imports including wines and perfumes. Also within walking distance are the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception with its red steeple and a wood-carved statue of the Virgin Mary with Polynesian features, and the Papeete Market, overflowing with merchandise including the sweet-smelling Tiare Tahiti or Tahitian gardenia (that visitors are given by ladies in colorful costumes when they arrive at the airport in Papeete); the coveted black pearls of the South Pacific; wood carvings; sea shells and more.

Veronica and Kyle got a day pass at the InterContinental Tahiti Resort, a 15-minute taxi ride from the cruise pier. The resort’s gardens have hammocks and are well manicured and the crystalline waters of the beach are inviting, and they also booked a day room at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon to enjoy the beach and snorkeling in the breathtaking island of Moorea.

The 30,277-ton, 680-passenger Ocean Princess (once part of the now-defunct Renaissance Cruises fleet) is elegant and intimate, with a floating country-club feel. Activities, including those related to the itinerary, abound, with Veronica’s and Kyle’s favorites being a folkloric troupe that came onboard to entertain with songs and dances of French Polynesia, Tahitian dancing lessons, Polynesian craft making and a pareo tying session. Romantic touches on this “Love Boat” included a gala evening with a champagne waterfall and red-wrapped, heart-shaped chocolates left on pillows. Veronica and Kyle had a special anniversary cake served in the dining room and two waiters serenaded them with “Through The Years.” Very, very sweet!

The Lotus Spa, lounges and bars, casino, library, card room, shops and a pool and whirlpools are among onboard facilities. And when the sparkling sea breezes stimulate appetites, there is the Club Restaurant & Bar, the ship’s formal dining room, plus a casual buffet and two alternative restaurants (Sabatini’s with Italian fare, and Sterling Steakhouse with prime cuts, $25 per person fee). Most romantic meals were Princess’ “Ultimate Cabin Dinner & Breakfast ($45 for two for breakfast; $100 per couple for dinner), served by attentive, friendly staff –dinner includes champagne, four courses including lobster or steak, and fresh flowers; breakfast includes quiche, fruits, smoked salmon, and specialty pastries.

Meanwhile, while Veronica and Kyle were frolicking in French Polynesia, the rest of the family was enjoying a magical vacation at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, on the shores of Bay Lake, a complimentary launch ride away from the Magic Kingdom Park.

This Pioneer-themed campground is nestled in a 750-acre pine and cypress forest. Natural beauty, log-cabin-style architecture, and landscaped and manicured areas surround guests. There are log cabins for camping without roughing it (we took one, average price during our stay was $307 per night), landscaped campsites (from $49 per night), “trading posts” for vittles and souvenirs, canals for fishing, recreational areas including paths and trails for jogging, bicycling and horseback riding, and a marina for renting watercraft.

There is a storybook feel, kind of a Christopher Robin’s “One Hundred-Acre Wood” ambiance, about the campground – we caught ourselves thinking that at any moment we would bump into Winnie the Pooh. You do run across gentle wildlife: rabbits, deer, raccoons, armadillos, ducks, ibises, herons, and perhaps even a family of peacocks crossing your path as you explore. And on a whimsical note, you get to see and hug Chip and Dale, those mischievous chipmunks that drive Donald Duck crazy in Disney cartoons, every evening during a complimentary campfire program and marshmallow roast (s’more kits are available for purchase, which our grandsons loved!).

In addition to the campfire program with a singing cowboy and Disney movie under the stars, we all enjoyed a visit to the Tri-Circle-D Farm to say hello to ponies that pull Cinderella’s coach and the percherons that pull the trolleys in the Magic Kingdom.

For a special treat, we booked the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue dinner show at Fort Wilderness’ Pioneer Hall, a hilarious evening themed to the Wild West with a troupe of six singers and dancers and all-you-can-eat feast of country fare including fried chicken, barbecued ribs, seasonal vegetables, cowboy beans, corn bread and strawberry shortcake. And to feel “close to” Veronica and Kyle we also took in Disney’s Spirit of Aloha dinner show with authentic entertainment at Disney’s Polynesian Village including a fire dance that impressed our grandsons (and us) and tropical fare from the islands including heavenly coconut bread, salads, fresh pineapple, roast chicken, ribs, pulled pork and warm pineapple bread pudding with caramel.

Among the facilities we enjoyed at the campground were two heated swimming pools, one with a slide; hot tub; sandy beach; playgrounds; bike rentals; two video arcades, and tennis courts. We bonded with our grandsons even more with visits to the four Disney theme parks (complimentary bus and launch transportation to the parks and other Disney attractions is provided). At the parks we enjoyed favorite rides together including The Mad Tea Party and Mickey’s PhilharMagic in the Magic Kingdom, Soarin’ in Epcot, the Kilimanjaro Safaris at the Animal Kingdom and Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We all had fun at one of the Disney miniature golf courses, Fantasia Gardens, and on a couple of visits to DisneyQuest, the indoor, interactive park. For an extra special evening we all enjoyed La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil –all ages laughing during the clown antics and marveling at the various acrobatic performances by talented artists in this spectacular, eye-popping show.

After magical days and evenings we retired to our log cabin with lots of comforts including air-conditioning/heat (it slept up to six). The cabin has rustic décor with vaulted ceilings; complete kitchen; dining table with seating for six; full bathroom; two flat-screened televisions with Disney Channel and ESPN, and DVD player; alarm clock with radio; outdoor grill, picnic table and patio deck. Wilderness Cabins also offer hair dryer, foldaway crib, ironing equipment and free Wi-Fi.

Views from the bedroom and other windows of our cabin included lush pines and cypresses. The bathroom has a tub/shower, toilet and basin. There is a counter/mirror/hair dryer in the bedroom that is convenient as someone can be applying makeup or drying and combing their hair at the same time that another person is using the bathroom. If I could, I would change only one thing about the cabins: I would add a stacked washer/dryer. We had access to a nearby comfort station with coin laundry, but having a washer/dryer inside the cabins would be convenient particularly for families who could throw in a load into the washer before heading out to activities in the campground or visiting the parks. Housekeeping service is provided.

Bottom line? The lovebirds on their second honeymoon were ecstatic and the other generations on their Disney World vacation were as well – all planning “happily ever after” vacations in the near future.


For Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, visit

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