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View Full Version : Land and Sea or 7 nights on Fantasty?


cchamble
08-11-2012, 11:56 AM
I have been planning a trip for next fall to do four nights at WDW staying at AOA in the Little Mermaid rooms, followed by 4 nights on the Dream. My husband is not thrilled with the idea of going to WDW for four days (we got to DLR all the time and it's usually just a day trip, max 2 days a few times a year). My husband wants to just do the cruise, but if we are paying over $1,000 to fly to Florida, I want to ensure we live up our vacation to its fullest (well, to the fullest we can afford, haha!). Our DS will have just turned six at the time of the trip. None of us have ever cruised. My concern is if we switch from Land/Sea and do a 7 day Fantasy instead, we will be freakin out being on the boat that long. We will not be able to afford excursions if we do the 7 day, and honestly I feel like if we are paying for this beautiful boat I'd like to stay on and enjoy it. DS isn't a fan of roller coasters so I'm not feeling like we would use WDW to its fullest either. I will be bummed missing out on the countries in Epcot and all of Animal Kingdom, but we have Fantasmic and Toy Story Mania and Soarin' and lots of great stuff in California that we've taken plenty of advantage of.

So honest answer. For a first time cruiser, is a week too much? I am not a huge fan of enclosed spaces. We WILL be getting a verandah. We both feel more comfortable having quick access to fresh air, haha. I'm so worried that we will fly into Florida and my heart will break not going to WDW.

Suggestions??! Advice??? I love to plan. I HATE making decisions. Yikes!

Strawberry's mom&dad
08-11-2012, 12:24 PM
Go for the 7 night cruise. It is awesome.

jdb in AZ
08-11-2012, 12:30 PM
Actually, a 7-night cruise is barely long enough, and your son is at a great age for a Disney cruise. I would save EPCOT, Expedition Everest, and Dinosaur! til he's older.

momtoleasawav
08-11-2012, 12:30 PM
4 days on ship isn't enough, go for the 7 day cruise. you don't spend enough time in your room to be worried about small spaces

VictoriaAndMatt
08-11-2012, 12:44 PM
I'm in the exact same boat as you so to speak lol. We've done one land and sea vacation before for our honeymoon. We did 4 days on land and 3 at sea. Honestly, if we didn't have the kids this time we would just do the cruise. It was amazing. It was definitely my husband's favorite part of the vacation, and we so wished we had more time on the ship to explore and really enjoy it.

However, like you we will be paying over $1500 in airfare and it's not likely we'll be able to do this again anytime soon (last time was 6 years ago) and I just cannot imagine going to Florida and not going to WDW. Having gone to Disneyland countless times I don't feel like we'd be missing out on MK but I LOVED Epcot, AK, and Hollywood Studios.

For me personally, my heart would break not doing both. I don't think you can go wrong either way though, and the ship is so large and has so much to do you won't ever be bored.

DLW8
08-11-2012, 01:15 PM
I was just like you. I didn't think I could fly to Orlando and not head to WDW. So our first cruise, we did 5 nights on land and a 3 night cruise (the 4 night timing just didn't work). As soon as we got on board the ship, I had wished we were there much long, and we immediately booked a 7 night cruise.

We are heading off on our 7 night cruise next month and cannot wait. We did a quick trip to WDW last year before the kids became adults in Disney's eyes (at least on land) and both my kids said they had fun, but would choose the cruise over the parks.

cchamble
08-11-2012, 01:34 PM
I'm in the exact same boat as you so to speak lol. We've done one land and sea vacation before for our honeymoon. We did 4 days on land and 3 at sea. Honestly, if we didn't have the kids this time we would just do the cruise. It was amazing. It was definitely my husband's favorite part of the vacation, and we so wished we had more time on the ship to explore and really enjoy it.

However, like you we will be paying over $1500 in airfare and it's not likely we'll be able to do this again anytime soon (last time was 6 years ago) and I just cannot imagine going to Florida and not going to WDW. Having gone to Disneyland countless times I don't feel like we'd be missing out on MK but I LOVED Epcot, AK, and Hollywood Studios.

For me personally, my heart would break not doing both. I don't think you can go wrong either way though, and the ship is so large and has so much to do you won't ever be bored.

Sounds like you guys are in the same place we are. We are pretty sure this is a "once in a lifetime" type of trip. We literally save for two years for each vacation, so it's hard coming back to the same place when funds are limited and there is so much to see! I do feel like maybe when DS is a teenager he will enjoy WDW more. It isn't like we haven't given him the "magic" of Disney here on the West Coast! We think this cruise will be our last trip for quite awhile. You know, cars need replacing, house to buy, etc. Plus I'm looking ahead to our ten year wedding anniversary and wanting to take DS to Washington, D.C. in Junior High and a possible road trip up the entire Western US coast. Haha. I can dream! We have never done a "big trip" with DS and I just want it to be MAGICAL and wonderful for EVERYONE in our family. :)

I am leaning towards the Eastern Carribean itinerary. We have been to Mexico (both to resorts and for missionary work) and I am interested in seeing something different. Any advice on the ports of St. Maarten and St. Thomas? Are there any free (or budget friendly) excursions or "must-dos" in these ports?

Thanks for all your advice! Keep it coming!

darkwing818
08-11-2012, 02:51 PM
Everyone's finances/budgets are different. We're lucky because we drive to WDW/DCL (although it does take 11 hours) & thus we don't have to pay airfare. So we always hit WDW before and after the cruise for a few days. That being said 3 & 4 days cruises, for us are just to short. Go for the the 7 day, it will go by quick enough. If there is any way you could do 3 days at WDW before or after the cruise it would be the icing on the cake. But you have to go with what you are comfortable with, Good luck & enjoy which ever vacation you go with. :goodvibes

racingfandj
08-11-2012, 06:40 PM
I am leaning towards the Eastern Carribean itinerary. We have been to Mexico (both to resorts and for missionary work) and I am interested in seeing something different. Any advice on the ports of St. Maarten and St. Thomas? Are there any free (or budget friendly) excursions or "must-dos" in these ports?

Thanks for all your advice! Keep it coming!

Since you do Disney regularly anyway, I would say go for the cruise. I was a first time cruiser this summer and had same concerns about being on the boat that long...however, it passed way too fast! We did the eastern itinerary and enjoyed it so much we booked same ship and schedule next year.

As far as excursions on a budget, I will say we didn't allow enough time for DD (4) at the beach. We did a land tour in St. Maarten and I didn't even think about packing her clothes to play in the sand and water for our beach stop. I felt bad because she wanted to so bad. What we did that everyone loved was zip lining at Loterie Farm. 5 of us was about $160. Next time, we will plan to get ourselves to the beach and farm and save the tour money.

We didn't do much at St. Thomas. The butterfly farm is right outside the port gate. I don't know if your kids would like the butterfly garden, but the ladies running it did a really cool bird show and you could get pictures taken with the birds.

CanuckTraveller
08-11-2012, 07:19 PM
I can't comment on the land and sea vs sea conundrum, as we have only done 7 nt cruises and will be doing our first land and sea adventure in 6 months :)
However, we have been to St Thomas and St Martin via cruise ship, both are very budget friendly in terms of catching a cab and getting to a beach. I would avoid the cruise line excursions, they try and sell you with the fact they will guarantee you will make it back to the ship, but a quick search of another popular cruise web forum and some travel review sites will guide you to reputable tour guides.
Although our next cruise is a 3 nighter, I do agree that it takes awhile, especially on your first cruise, to get an idea of the ship layout and develop your own daily cruise routine. Honestly we booked th cruise as a way to relax after visiting the parks, as DH and I will likely be exhausted by that point!

Woodmnky
08-12-2012, 08:39 AM
I considered a Land/Sea combo for about 5 minutes before DH reminded me that we really prefer 10 day cruises to 7 day, so we would likely detest a 3 day. The itinerary that you are considering is our absolute favorite in all of the Caribbean.

In both St Thomas and St Maarten there are taxis stationed at the port that take large groups to nearby beaches. In St. Thomas you can go to Magen's Bay (very nice beach) for $8 pp each way in taxi fare and $4 entry fee (so $60 total for the 3 of you). You can take some prepackaged foods and water with you for a cheap lunch and spend the day at the beach. The same thing can be done in St. Maarten, although I am not sure of the actual price there. There are also some very inexpensive tours of these islands that include some beach time.

If you decide not to spend any money on excursions you can get off the ship and walk around the port area, although this is mainly shopping so it can get expensive if you are not careful. I completely understand trying to stay on a budget when cruising (or going on vacation), but it is very doable.

bmer1rick
08-12-2012, 08:52 AM
Sounds like you guys are in the same place we are. We are pretty sure this is a "once in a lifetime" type of trip. We literally save for two years for each vacation, so it's hard coming back to the same place when funds are limited and there is so much to see! I do feel like maybe when DS is a teenager he will enjoy WDW more. It isn't like we haven't given him the "magic" of Disney here on the West Coast! We think this cruise will be our last trip for quite awhile. You know, cars need replacing, house to buy, etc. Plus I'm looking ahead to our ten year wedding anniversary and wanting to take DS to Washington, D.C. in Junior High and a possible road trip up the entire Western US coast. Haha. I can dream! We have never done a "big trip" with DS and I just want it to be MAGICAL and wonderful for EVERYONE in our family. :)

I am leaning towards the Eastern Carribean itinerary. We have been to Mexico (both to resorts and for missionary work) and I am interested in seeing something different. Any advice on the ports of St. Maarten and St. Thomas? Are there any free (or budget friendly) excursions or "must-dos" in these ports?

Thanks for all your advice! Keep it coming!
Since you have never cruised, I have a couple of recommendations. First, does you budget include any food costs for the land/sea package? If so, almost all the food on the ship is free.. you can easily do the entire cruise without paying for food or drink. Also, do you have any TAs you feel comfortable with? They normally will include an onboard credit which will help pay for the "extras" most don't budget for on their first cruise (Gratuities, pictures, spa treatments).

As for "budget friendly excursions" I would HIGHLY recommend Bernards tours in St Maarten. It is only $40pp and is an outstanding tour. It takes you to Maho Beach (the one with the low flying planes), takes you to see some sea creatures, and takes you to orient beach to relax. If you go to their website, it gives a pretty good overview or you can search this board for many glowing reviews.

http://www.bernardstours.com/

cchamble
08-13-2012, 12:35 AM
Thank you everyone for your fantastic input. We have decided to go for the 7-night Eastern Carribean cruise on the Fantasy! We had already booked a deposit for the 4-night Dream, so we are switching our deposit over and it will be booked! My husband is much happier, and I feel like I will be a LOT more relaxed with the budget now because everything is pretty much paid for before you get on board and I won't be nickel and diming every snack and meal. I think we will ALL be happier with this option, and hopefully WDW will be on our bucket list for when our DS is older.

My plans for excursions are tentatively booking with Bernard's Tours on St. Maarten, and then possibly taking a taxi ourselves to a beach on St. Thomas. Although I'm reading a lot on here that taking a ferry to St. Thomas would be a good idea as well?? I'm interested in zip lining for sure. My son won't do coasters, but he loves a zip line. Go figure! We know for sure we want to do a Palo dinner and some of the tasting classes. And husband insists on a few days in the Rainforest room. :) We booked with Dreams Unlimited and will receive an OBC that should cover those things, so I'm excited about that!

Now I just need to figure out how to reach the port from MCO, where we will be staying the night before the cruise, and how I can get access to a Target or the like to get last minute supplies (and some bottles of wine and water!). :)

I am so excited. Now to spend the next year counting down the seconds and paying off the cruise. Yipee!

disneyholic family
08-13-2012, 01:17 AM
i see you've already decided..

i was going to suggest the 7 night cruise :)

bon voyage!!

mmouse37
08-13-2012, 10:04 AM
Thank you everyone for your fantastic input. We have decided to go for the 7-night Eastern Carribean cruise on the Fantasy! We had already booked a deposit for the 4-night Dream, so we are switching our deposit over and it will be booked! My husband is much happier, and I feel like I will be a LOT more relaxed with the budget now because everything is pretty much paid for before you get on board and I won't be nickel and diming every snack and meal. I think we will ALL be happier with this option, and hopefully WDW will be on our bucket list for when our DS is older.

My plans for excursions are tentatively booking with Bernard's Tours on St. Maarten, and then possibly taking a taxi ourselves to a beach on St. Thomas. Although I'm reading a lot on here that taking a ferry to St. Thomas would be a good idea as well?? I'm interested in zip lining for sure. My son won't do coasters, but he loves a zip line. Go figure! We know for sure we want to do a Palo dinner and some of the tasting classes. And husband insists on a few days in the Rainforest room. :) We booked with Dreams Unlimited and will receive an OBC that should cover those things, so I'm excited about that!

Now I just need to figure out how to reach the port from MCO, where we will be staying the night before the cruise, and how I can get access to a Target or the like to get last minute supplies (and some bottles of wine and water!). :)

I am so excited. Now to spend the next year counting down the seconds and paying off the cruise. Yipee!

Renting a car from MCO and returning to a rental office near the port will be your least expensive option and give you the most flexibility in getting around the port area for dinner or last minute things. There are several supermarkets and a WalMart not too far away and easily driveable. There is also an ABC liquor store nearby.

the drive from MCO to the port is super easy (one road) and takes less than an hour. The rental car agencies that have offices in the port area are:

Avis, Budget, Hertz, Thrifty/Dollar and Enterprise. All are close enough to drop off the car and hop their free shuttle to the port the morning of the cruise.

The 3 closest hotels to the port are:

The Marriot Residence Inn (our favorite)
Country Inn and Suites
The Radisson at the Port

You can find more hotels further away in Cocoa Beach...some right on the beach for all different prices.

You would then to another one-way rental back to the airport after the cruise or...if you are booked on a participating airline I would suggest using DCL's ONBOARD AIRLINE CHECK-IN program. For $35 a person DCL will transport you to the airport, check you in, deliver your boarding passes and airline luggage tags to your cabin and handle all your checked luggage from the ship to your home airport. You only need to leave the ship with your carryons. A very convenient option.

You can find more info on the OAC program here:

http://disneycruise.disney.go.com/planning-center/planning-library/air-ground-transportation-bahamian-caribbean/

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7 Day Eastern on the Fantasy is fantastic...we did this in June.

MJ