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View Full Version : 8/4 Magic--intro and preplanning


miksicnarf
08-21-2001, 05:28 PM
Cast

Me (Kim) 43yo
Michael (husband) 49yo
Mikey almost 15yo
Andrew newly 13yo
Alex(andra) 11yo

Background

We live in Venice, CA and visited WDW for the first time in 1997. We stayed at OKW, loved it, and bought into DVC at that time. Since then, we’ve been back to OKW every summer. I’d say we’re Disney fans but not fanatics. Although we’re within an hour’s drive of DL and DCA, we usually only visit once per year—more than that makes it less magical to me.
I really can’t remember exactly what gave me the notion to want to cruise this year—no doubt something I read on the Internet :) None of us have ever cruised—I used to want to when I was single, and in fact asked my travel agent to book one for me at one time, back in the 70’s when Love Boat was on TV. But she talked me into Club Med instead, and it was on that fateful trip to Martinique in ’78 that I met Michael and the cruise never happened. Until now…hehehe…


Pre-planning

When I suggested a DCL cruise to Michael back in April 2000, he didn’t give it any thought and just said something like “sure, whatever.” He’s pretty easy that way :) So I contacted Beci Mahnken from The Cruising Co. since I “know” her from the DVCtalk and disneycruise Yahoogroups lists, and requested quotes for a variety of cabin categories in August, 2001. We already had our annual OKW trip planned for 8/00, and while we never plan that far in advance, I guess I must have read that it’s a good idea to book a cruise as early as possible.
Beci priced out a variety of options, from 2 adjoining category 10 cabins up through a category 2, 2-bedroom suite. When I showed Michael the cabin sizes, amenities and prices he didn’t want to consider anything but the biggest and the best. He even asked if we could get a category 1 royal suite, but unfortunately they were booked for our dates and in fact were booked for the entire summer. Michael is very prone to seasickness, so he figured if he’s going to spend this vacation feeling miserable, he may as well at least be miserable in luxurious accommodations. So, we put our deposit on the 2-bedroom suite and let the waiting begin :)
There are several great sources of DCL info available on the ‘Net. One of the best is The Magical Disney Cruise Guide at http://members.aol.com/_ht_a/entropym/pages/index.htm which includes links to many other DCL-related pages, and you can easily find a year’s worth of reading and research. I think I scanned the ‘Net just about every day for the past 16 months and by the time our cruise date drew near, I felt very well informed.
We’re not big on pre-planning—when we visit WDW we seldom schedule any priority seatings or plan in advance which parks we’ll visit on which day…we just play it by ear, and we NEVER get up early in the morning. Well, I do but that’s just my nature and I enjoy the quiet time alone with my coffee before everyone else gets up. Since we’re from the left coast and our body clocks are on Pacific Time, it’s not unusual for the kids to be knocked out till noon. That’s OK, we’re not in any hurry and it’s their vacation too…they get up at the crack o’dawn throughout the school year and often have activities scheduled into the night, so I don’t feel there’s any need to be pressured to do anything at any particular time on vacation.
So, we did a minimum of pre-planning for the cruise. Of course we needed flights, so I kept my eyes open for airfare deals and checked www.lowestfare.com (where I’ve often had good luck in the past) and Southwest Airlines (which usually offers $99 each way deals) regularly. Things were looking grim until finally in April Southwest came through with the $99 deal through August, so I snapped up our flight from LAX to MCO. I didn’t book a return flight because we were unsure of our plans—both Michael and I have brothers in FL (his near Tampa, mine in Ft. Lauderdale) and we wanted to visit them, plus Michael wanted to try to see the Keys after the cruise. While we were sitting on the fence, the $99 special sold out :( Even though we’re pulling out all the stops and spending a fortune on this cruise, there’s a part of me that just refuses to pay full price when I know I could have paid much less, so it was about to kill me to have to spend an extra $1000 on airfare. Finally in June, Southwest came through again with another $99 offer and this time I didn’t hesitate and quickly booked our return flight on 8/18 out of Ft. Lauderdale.
So, at this point the plan is to fly into MCO on 8/3, rent a minivan from Avis at the airport ($80), spend the night at the Radisson Resort at the Port in Cape Canaveral ($120 for a 1br suite), where there’s an Avis office to return the car, and take either the Avis or Radisson shuttle to the cruise terminal on Saturday morning.
Upon our return a week later, we’ll rent another minivan from Budget at the port for a week ($300). First stop will be Port St. Lucie, where I’ll visit a friend of mine overnight—Michael and the kids will probably stay at a hotel. Then on to Ft. Lauderdale where we’ll spend a couple days with my brother Dan and also rendezvous with Michael’s brother Wayne and family from Tampa, his brother Tim and family from Virginia, and his sister Lisa from here in CA who decided to join us. From there all of us except Dan (he’s very ill, on chemotherapy and can’t leave town) will head down to the Keys for the rest of the week, before returning to fly home from Ft. Lauderdale.
When I booked the cruise, I requested through Beci that we have a table for 5 rather than be seated with other guests. I just felt we’d all (especially the kids) be more relaxed this way. We requested late seating because of the time zone difference—8:30 p.m. feels like 5:30 p.m. to us, and that’s plenty early enough! Also, about 2 weeks prior to sailing I called the DCL concierge phone number to request a particular dining rotation—I wanted PLAPLAP (P=Parrot Cay, L=Lumiere’s, A=Animator’s Palate). I was happy to be told that this was no problem. That would put us in Parrot Cay, a tropical themed, more casual setting, on the first and last nights when we’re likely to be a little frazzled, and also on Tuesday which is Tropical Night throughout the ship. We’d be at Lumiere’s, the most formal venue, on Formal Night, and Animator’s Palate for the other 2 nights, one of which is semi-formal. I was also assured by DCL that a table for 5 was a done deal. Perfect! I was offered the opportunity to pre-book Palo reservations for dinner, brunch and/or high tea and also any shore excursions, but I passed on those.