First-time Dis cruisers 1/31/09 Eastern w/phots, navs, menus-FINAL THOUGHTS 3/21
I feel like I know you all already. I've spent so much time on this forum for about a month now, trying to learn all I can for our upcoming cruise. I can't imagine going on the cruise without learning from all of you at least a little of what to expect.
A little about us:
Me, 36, native Floridian. I've been to WDW too many times to count, and I still love it!
DH, turns the big 5-0 on Jan. 31, the first day of our cruise, a native Hawaiian.
DD, 3 (though we're pretty sure she's going on 23) If she could introduce herself, she would tell you she's a "big pink Cinderella."
Now the start of our pre-trip report:
A little more than two years ago, I decided to quietly start saving money to take my husband somewhere special on his 50th birthday. But just a few months later, we needed to dip into my secret stash.
Fast forward to earlier this year and my procrastination pays off. I have a flexible spending account through my office. The money I spend on health and child care expenses comes out of my paycheck before taxes. I'm supposed to submit a receipt to get money out of the account to reimburse our health and child care expenses. A few months into this year, I had not submitted any receipts. I quickly realized my husband hadn't asked about it. He didn't even realize the money wasn't there. So I decided to open a separate bank account and divert the money into it. Save a major emergency, I had no intentions of telling him about it, so we wouldn't be tempted to use it on something else. It worked. By the end of the year, I had enough money for a trip.
Now, do we go on a Holland America Line Cruise or Disney? We took a HAL cruise for our honeymoon, plus one other trip, both back in 2003. We loved the ships and the cruise line. But we also love Disney and we always wanted to try it. I checked out Disney and realized we could afford it with what I had in savings.
By the way, DH still had no idea I had money in savings for a trip.
But it was now December, his birthday was coming up soon and I needed to make a decision. I feared that if I didn't tell him about the trip before I booked it, he might have a tough time scheduling his work around it. Plus, it was his birthday, I wanted to make sure he wanted a Disney Cruise, not HAL.
So just a week before that promo ended that allows you to take a 3-day cruise later in the year if you booked by mid-December, I told him that I had been stashing away money. He was thrilled! And he didn't hesitate - WE WERE GOING ON DISNEY!!
We can't wait to go on the cruise. DD has no idea we're going. She loves all things Disney, so she'll be thrilled. I'm starting a trip report in hopes that our experiences will help some other people out the way all of your reports helped me as I've planned our trip. Plus, it seems like a great way for me to keep myself busy while I wait for the big trip. I've never written on a forum before, so I hope you'll bear with me as I learn the ropes :)
Booking our cruise
BOOKING OUR CRUISE:
So while my husband was away on his business travels in mid-December, I called Disney to book our cruise. Now while I've spent a lot of time on this board since December reading tips, I hadn't read anything about the benefits of going through a TA. I'm not sure I got the best deal possible, but I felt pretty good at the end.
I was using my Disney Visa Rewards card so we could get points for a later vacation. I was getting ready to book a category 6 stateroom and I asked about the deal where we could travel later in the year. (I can't remember the exact deal, but it's something like $99 a person.) She said that we would get that deal. I then asked about OBC. I was expecting $200, I think because I was using the credit card.
The DCL woman had the most monotone voice ever. She said to me she could give me to the OBC or she could give me the Florida rate. I said, well, what's the Florida rate, I'll figure out the best deal for us. It was exactly $2,000 less than the quote we were getting online through Disney's site. Wow!! :dance3: When I told her I would take the Disney rate, she said, "Now, you know you won't get the OBC." I giggled, thinking I think I got the better deal. I just loved how nonchalant she was about everything. Because of the great deal, I ended up spending about $300 more to move up to a category 4. Now, after reading more of these posts, I don't think it was necessary to move up. But I already did it and didn't think it was necessary to change it again.
I asked for main dining, but they put me on the waiting list. The later dining worried me and I felt certain we wouldn't get it switched to main because we booked so late.
But I checked our reservations the other day, and we had been switched to main dining. YIPPEE. :yay: (I wasn't sure how our daughter would do staying up so late. She's used to going to bed at 8 p.m. the latest. But if she's busy, she's usually fine staying up on those rare occasions. This later seating time allows us to get her to bed early if we need to.)
I should also say for those out there who are curious. After we booked our cruise, we went to get our passports. (We didn't need them for this trip, but it seemed as if it would be easier to keep track of those than birth certificates. Plus, we would need them, I believe, for the second cruise we can't take until August or later.) It took less than two weeks (and this was during the Christmas holiday) to get the passports in the mail. Of course, I was at first thinking, no big deal if they don't come in time. We have our birth certificates. But then I realized our original birth certificates were sent off with our passport applications. So just to be safe, I ordered new ones for all three of us. DD and mine are from Florida and we got them within a week. DH came from Hawaii in about three days. Go figure!! So yes, now I have passports and two certified copies of our birth certificates. I guess I'm set for almost anything now. :)
I can't wait to hear more and see pictures.
Off to a good start!!:thumbsup2
Thank you PalmFam. I'm thrilled to be here, and I'm glad you're enjoying it so far.
So much to plan, so much to see, so much to do
So I had already told my husband about his big birthday surprise. (Thinking back, by the way, I think I should have just booked it and told him after. I think he could have been flexible with work and we both love a good surprise. But it's too late to think about that now.)
But I could surprise him with some excursions. When we did HAL ages ago, we couldn't book all of our excursions online - at least I don't remember doing it. So I knew he wouldn't know that I had a code to get online for the Disney cruise and book away. I could at least surprise him for Christmas and then he would have time to see if he wanted to add anything.
Palo was already booked, so I'll just have to try to get in when we get on the boat. I won't lose sleep if we can't get dinner or brunch, but I'll try to get a reservation.
So for DH's big 5-0, I decided he should try something completely new and different. So for Castaway Cay, he'll be parasailing. :cool1: Well, technically, we're both down to parasail, but I think I'm about to chicken out. I'm just not sure how I'll do. I know I have time to think about it. He learned about the parasailing for one of his Christmas presents. He was jumping for joy. :yay:
After Christmas, we searched for other excursions together. For St. Croix, we booked the miniboat excursion. I do have a little hestitation for this one. As I said, we'll have DD with us. She's 3 and she attends child care full-time now, since we both work. I think she'll not only be fine at the club, I think she'll just love it. (She's our social butterfly.) But the exursion starts at 8:15 a.m. I'm hoping the club opens that early. The told me at DCL that it does, so hopefully other children will be in there that early. My other concern is leaving the boat with her on it. It would be the only day we do this and the excursion is over before noon, but still, it makes me a little anxious. But my DH is a huge water fan and this is right up his alley. I've never snorkeled before in any remarkable place, so I know I'll have a blast too. So yes, I'm a little hestitant about leaving the little one, but I'm sure she'll be fine.
For St. John/St. Thomas, we'll all be doing the Skyride to Paradise Point. It sounds fun and it sounds like we'll have plenty of time to look around the island, and we can head back to the boat at most any time.
So I've loaded an application to my iphone that will count down the days to any event I put in it. 20 days until Disney Cruise. I just can't wait. I'm getting more excited by the day.
Hi! I'm enjoying your TR so far. I'm interested to hear your experiences, we are going on the St. Croix eastern on 2/28, I have a 5 year old and a 3 year old. We did the Eastern last year to St. Maarten and St. Thomas and both kids loved the sky ride to Paradise Point.
We will be on same cruise!
We will be cruising right along with you on the 31st! This will be our second Disney cruise (Western Carribean 2 years ago). We haven't booked any excursions yet...still trying to figure out what to do. My kids are 12 and 10...they both LOVED the kids' clubs.:love: We actually had to pull them out most nights!
Great trip report. We are doing this cruise at the end of March, so I look forward to hear your report when you get back. So far, I haven't read many good things about St. Croix from the people that just got back. Hopefully they will have figured some things out by the time you get there and you'll have wonderful things to say about the island. This is our first Disney cruise.
We got our documents in the mail today!!!
19 days to go. I'm sure this countdown will get very tiresome for my coworkers, but I just can't wait. The documents just arrived in the mail. (It was a little anti-climatic. I'm not sure what I was expecting. Maybe like those commercials with fireworks coming out of the envelope. But the luggage tags were exciting too. :rotfl: (I'm really enjoying these icons. And yes, I've gotten this far in life without really using them before, just the old standbys :) I'm liking the animated ones much better.
And thank you everyone for reading and commenting. (I had this little fear that I would write and write and write and no one would visit. It would feel a bit like telling my daughter to get ready for bed, get ready for bed, get ready for bed and she wouldn't listen to me :rotfl2: Everyone has just been so great about making me feel welcome, and I appreciate it!
First, Palmfam, I promise I didn't ignore the request for photos. I just haven't figured out how to insert them yet. (Yeah, I know it's something I should know by now, but I'm willing to admit I'm not the fastest learner. I'll get there eventually.) :) After this post, I promise to research posting photos and introduce you to goofy, Cinderella and me visually. I've loved getting to see pics of the people who write on these boards. It helps make me feel like I know you all already.
As for St. Croix, mumom95, I've also read about some of the problems at this island. I hope one of the posters is accurate and things get better with time. We're hoping that by doing an excursion through DCL, we won't have many problems. But I promise to let those who haven't gone yet all about our experiences.
Fairfax, I'm thrilled to hear your little ones enjoyed the skyride. It sounds like once you're at the top, there are shops to visit? Any suggestions for what we should do/see while we're there?
KingCruisers - Are you excited or what? I can't believe it's just 19 more day (I just can't say that enough :cool1: I'm glad to hear your children enjoyed their last cruise. I hope our DD is the same away about the clubs. But I also hope she won't mind hanging out with her mom and dad on occasion to go to the pool or see a show or two. As for the excursions, you're lucky your kids are older and able to do more of the excursions. There weren't many where we could include our DD and not think she would be bored. But I think what we have booked will be great. I just can't wait!!!!! I hope all of your packing and planning goes well and maybe we'll meet you on the Magic.
OK, I'm off to learn about posting photos....
OK, I think I did this right. Here are some photos of our Ohana...
Here's our DD
Here's me with our DD
Here's DH with our DD
Goofy is getting goofier
Well, not really goofier. But my DH is getting more excited as the sail date gets closer. We're both new to posting to forums, but he's the one who helped me add the tracker to my signature.
As I've mentioned, he's out of town a lot lately on business, and DD and I really miss him. But it's nice sharing the disboards with him, even if it's long distance.
So while our tracker says we have more than two weeks until our cruise, I'm thrilled to say DH will be home in less than one week.
Maybe when I get to the trip report, DH will do his own posts on occasion so you all can get the view of both a wife and her husband. I will see if I can talk him into it.
1/31 St. Croix / St. Thomas
OurOhana & KingCruisers-
There's a Cruise Meets thread for our 1/31 sailing over here if you're interested:
Being able to do the countdown never gets old :rotfl2: - by the way isn't it now just 15 days :goodvibes
Your DD is adorable!
As for the sky ride, at the top there is a nature trail you can walk and also some shops. There was a tropical bird show that my kids enjoyed, it is free but if you want to take a picture with the birds it costs $. I'll see if I can dig up a picture of it for you. There is a bar where we got (very expensive) smoothies for the kids, and the views are just spectacular!
Oh, and congratulations on being switched to main dining! That made all the difference for us when we last did the Eastern. Our kids just do not want to go sit in the dining room at 8:15 at night, even if they have had a nap.
Paradise Point Pics
View from the top:
DD enjoys her expensive smoothie:
DS, who was almost 2 at the time:
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