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Old 08-18-2011, 09:55 PM   #121
jedijill
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Great report! It was reliving my trip last year all over again!

Jill in CO
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Old 08-18-2011, 10:01 PM   #122
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I just added a little to my last post.

Oh goodieYou're not quite done, love it. A quick question, I've never journalled before, but really wished I had with twelve years of Disney trips and my kids growing up there every year! What exactly do you use to write on, an every day notebook (like the kids use at school) or do you buy a hard cover journal book?

Did I miss this, do you have another cruise planned?
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Old 08-18-2011, 11:20 PM   #123
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Jillpie, You missed it, she has a B2B on the Dream in October coming up

How bittersweet the trip is over, I couldn't wait to read new posts, and now it is done You must make up as much more as you want, we don't want you to go

That park was just amazing! I must go there one day. You're report has clinched it for me, when the Med cruises are back on the itinerary I'm going! How sweet of Kermit, that ring is just beautiful! Remind him again there are other people who love outfits and accessories, and that you did an awesome job with your coordinating everything

Now I'm going to go back and read everything again, this was a fabulous trip report! Thanks so much!
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Old 08-18-2011, 11:27 PM   #124
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Jillpie, You missed it, she has a B2B on the Dream in October coming up
much!
Awesome! my problem is finding that report (you will be doing one I hope) once it pops up!
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Old 08-19-2011, 12:56 AM   #125
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Lornak, I have an idea to keep you around for one more -- maybe also do a post about how you found the kids, what they thought of their gifts, etc?! Stay with us!

Thanks for the trip you took us on!

Looking forward to your next one
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Old 08-19-2011, 03:34 PM   #126
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You guys are so sweet! Thank you for all of your kind words! I have really enjoyed this and feel like I have so many soul mates here on the DIS!!!

I will think about doing a trip report for our b2b---you never know!!!
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Old 08-19-2011, 03:36 PM   #127
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June 30, 2011--The Trip Home

We woke up at 6:15 AM---Kerm had accidentally shut off the alarm!! We dressed quickly and went down to breakfast. It wasn’t anything fabulous but we will take FREE! Actually, as I think about it they had eggs, bacon, donuts, croissants, cereal, cheese, ham, cut fruit and juice. Pretty good, really! I guess I was just spoiled by the cruise!!!

We were told to be in the lobby at 7:15 AM. We were there right on time along with a BIG crowd of people. The 7:00 AM shuttle had never come so there were tons of people waiting. We asked about it and were told that they were going to get the larger bus and take everyone at once. But at 7:40 AM a small van came and could only take some of the guests. We had quite a bit of time before our flight so we didn’t even try to get one. The driver said he would be “right back” but that made us a little nervous! Some of the other passengers decided not to risk it and took a cab. We waited it out and sure enough the driver was back at 8:10 AM. At the same time another driver arrived and fired up the “big bus”. Everyone who was waiting was able to get on and we were at the airport by 8:25 AM.

We went right to the check in area and there was quite a long line….but I guess these are the reasons we arrive three hours early!! Somehow an agent chose Kerm and I out of the line to do check in at a kiosk. We got done much quicker than Becky and Brant. After we were all checked in we went to the Vat Tax area. There was no one in line ahead of us but both of the agents were busy with people. We waited 40 minutes before one of us were helped! We got pretty nervous as the people ahead of us were pulling out receipts, packages, making phone calls…gulp. I got right through with no issues---maybe because I was only claiming about a $20 refund!!!! But after you get your paper work approved here you have to go to ANOTHER location to get the refund. Becky and Brant decided to just mail theirs in so they filled out an envelope and dropped it in the box. Kerm and I wanted the cash (such a small amount and we thought we would use it in the airport) so we went down to the first floor to the bank area. We waited over an hour in line….at this point we were starting to think they made it this hard and complicated so people would give up and not bother to get their refund! I was tempted but we waited it out! When we got up to the window the teller told us the system was down and the only way to get the refund would be to mail it in!! UGG! No one could have told us this earlier!?!!? Back upstairs we go to mail the form. I will be shocked if I ever see that $20!!!

Our next stop was passport control and then security. No issues here---just more long lines. I had originally been worried about killing time at the gate---non issue as we made it up there only about 15 minutes prior to boarding!!!

The flight to PHL was smooth and easy. Once again we had the two seat section and were comfortable enough! Loved those DVD players! I watched Chocolat, Beastly and Unkonwn. Movies sure make the time fly!!

We then had a 4½ hour layover in Philly. BORING! I almost wish the layover would have been a little longer. We could have taken the train from the airport to see the Liberty Bell at least!!!! Oh well, instead we hung out at the food court and tried to get our head around the reality of going home!

We boarded the plane and then were delayed for 30 minutes. It was only after the 30 minutes that they told us the reason we were grounded was that AIR FORCE ONE had just landed!! Kinda cool as I got a glimpse of it out my window!

Back to flying we go---more movies for me, this time on my iphone. I watched Dead Again (and oldie but a goodie!) and managed to stay awake! We were arriving at 8:00 PM local time so I intentionally tried to stay awake for the entire trip. My dad picked us up at 8:45 PM from MSP and drove us over to Becky’s house. The kids had made treats and were waiting for us! They hugged and kissed us…..and then went right back to playing!!!  I was glad as I knew the trip hadn’t done too much psychological damage to them! We are spending the night with my parents and will drive home sometime tomorrow!!! I have to say… I LOVE MY FAMILY!!!
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Old 08-19-2011, 03:49 PM   #128
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Originally Posted by Jillpie View Post

Oh goodieYou're not quite done, love it. A quick question, I've never journalled before, but really wished I had with twelve years of Disney trips and my kids growing up there every year! What exactly do you use to write on, an every day notebook (like the kids use at school) or do you buy a hard cover journal book?
Jillpie--I do something different every time. For our first Disney Cruise I bought a plain, hard covered journal at Target and then I covered the front with Disney paper and added a Mickey Mouse paper piecing piece. I am a pretty avid scrapbooker so I have all kinds of that stuff around! I personalized it with a labeler and used that journal for several Disney trips. I separated each trip with a Disney tab on on the outside....

For this Med cruise I bought a simple, plain, spiral bound notebook and glued on a design I had someone here on the DIS do for me. It had some Med images as well as little DCL items scattered about. This journal was only about 5 x 7 (maybe a little larger) so it was really light and easy to carry around.

I am a big believer in journaling---I make a big point to do it in my scrapbooks. Pictures can only tell so much of the story!! And even writing this report I was reminded again of how quickly we forget things---especially the little details that really make a trip like this special! By writing it down I can make sure I am able to remember the trip more fully! I know a lot of people say they don't know what to write----I just literally start writing as if I were speaking to someone. In fact, if you heard me speak in person you would realize that is exactly how I write. I just start a one way conversation in my head and start writing! It is a discipline to do it every night but I know enough now to know it is worth it! I would really encourage you to try it! I think you will be happy with the results!!!!
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Old 08-19-2011, 11:22 PM   #129
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Final Thoughts....

A few final thoughts for future cruisers…or maybe for myself if we every go again!! In no particular order….

1. I don’t think I would ever do late dining again. Even without the kids it was just too late for us. Most night we ate a huge dinner and then went right to bed. Didn’t love that! Yes, there would have been a few nights where we would have missed early dinner due to how long we were in the ports. But honestly, I wouldn’t have minded missing a few dinners since we had 11 to work with!!! Plus, they had strategies in place to get people into the dining rooms if they arrived late! The only thing I really liked about late dinner was that I could eat lunch and still be hungry for dinner! Sad, but true! When we do early dining I am just not hungry enough at 5:30 if I eat lunch. So I normally just do a brunch type thing. I did enjoy trying the lunch options on this trip!!!

2. Renting that awesome camera lens was one of the best things I did! I am so happy with my pictures! And in the end the pictures and memories are all I really have from the trip! I would do it again in a heart beat. It was less than $100 to have the lens for 21 days (including shipping both ways). Or better yet—I am going to save up to buy that lens!!!

3. I spent a lot of time with ATT trying to figure out how to handle my iphone. In the end I put on an international texting plan that gave me unlimited incoming texts and 50 outgoing texts for $10. That was more than enough for us and I loved being able to stay in touch with the kids this way! I also added an International calling plan that just lowered the rate on calls home. I called home just once to check on the kids and it was $20. I also paid $25 for 20MG of data. It was hardly any data and I used it up pretty quickly! The ATT app does allow me to track all my usage so that was great. I mainly put the data plan on there to cover me in case I accidentally pushed data to my phone or picked up a 3G signal, etc… For the most part this plan was perfect. I did get stuck with a few texting charging as a few places we visited weren’t covered by ATT! In Malta, for example, there is no ATT coverage so I had to pay 50 cents a text for those. Also, all texts on the ship were charged to me---those did not count towards my plan. I was surprised by that! In the end I scraped by with only $14 of extra texting charges!!!

4. I also spent a lot of time worrying about how much money we would need and how much to change to Euros, if I should get a debit card, etc… In the end here is what I did--- I changed $500 into Euros at my local bank and brought those with me. Kermit wore a money belt and kept the cash with him (along with the passports). I opened a new account that had a savings and a debit card. I put all of my travel money in there. Then, on my iphone I could instantly move money from the savings to my debit card. But if my card would have been stolen the thief would have only had access to the money on the debit card…not 100% as some was in the savings. This worked pretty well. We had no trouble finding ATMs and they were easy to use. I specifically asked if there would be any International fees and was told no. But there were… who knows what I misunderstood or what went wrong. But I’m not going to track down those $10….!

We budgeted and saved for a long time for this trip so I was pretty specific in how much we had to spend. Our big splurge was the two days of private tours. In the end I think those two days cost us about $1000. It sure looks like a lot when I write it here but it was totally worth it and I would do it again! We spent about another $1000 in the other ports. We only did one official excursion which came to about $160. The only other port I think I would have possibly splurged on was Villefranche. We had a great day but there is so much more I would have liked to have seen! A private tour here would have been great!!! And finally, we spent about $1000 on the ship (this includes the $160 for the excursion that was just billed to our onboard account). We also did Palo twice, ordered one bottle of wine, one round of drinks at the Cove and about $350 for gratuities. It adds up fast!! I didn’t do any spa and only shopped for a few small items (less than $100) on board and most of our alcohol was purchased on shore. We did not buy any large sounvenirs---even though many things were tempting! I only bought small gifts for the kids….

I did send myself a “gift” of onboard credit ($500). I just felt better knowing that money was already on the account and I didn’t have to carry it or charge it to my credit card. If I had known I was going to spend $1000 I think I would have just put the entire thing on the shipboard account and not worried about it. That was a pretty slick way to handle spending money!

The only reason I am putting amounts on here is that this kind of info would have been helpful to me as I planned!

5. One of the things I definitely did right was the research. I truly spent 18 months gathering information and assembling a binder full of everything. I read every trip report I could get my hands on and spend hours in the library, on youtube, websites, etc… I am grateful for every minute of research that I did! In fact, one small regret that I have is that I didn’t do MORE! In the places I really researched things went quickly and smoothly. In the places I didn’t do much research on (Palermo!) we didn’t have nearly as good of a time and I ended up feeling like we had missed some great things!

Another note about research---so many time I came across information that said “it’s so easy to take the train” or “it’s easy to find the bus stop”. In my opinion it is only easy in retrospect! I think once you have done something you can look back and say it was easy---but while you are doing it it might be another story! For us, when I had clear directions to a train station (for example) I was still nervous and concerned that we weren’t going the right way. We stopped and asked for directions many times. My point being-- I wouldn’t settle for “it will be easy to find” in any future planning. I would make sure I found the most specific directions I could for wherever I was going.

6. A few things I packed that I am glad I had---toilet paper and hand sanitizer. I have read reports from people who said they didn’t need it. But of course we didn’t all stop at the same bathrooms! These are items that I would much rather err on the side of having and not needing instead of the other way around.

Great walking shoes---I did spend a lot of time choosing shoes. I really didn’t want walking shoes but I figured I better get something sturdy and supportive. I ended up with a great pair of Wolke sandals that I love. I also got some walking sandals from the Walking Co. I had them scan my feet and got the ones with the custom foot beds. They were great. I rotated these shoes and I never had any trouble with my feet.

I bought a bag with special security features---the material that is made of metal and you can’t cut it….and the locking straps and loops. I never used it!! Kermit ended up carrying a backpack and we just put everything in there! I loved having my hands free! AND I loved that we had a backpack. It kept Kerm’s hands free and yet we were able to grab souvenirs, carry our guidebooks/notes and pick up wine bottles very easily.

I still pack an over the door shoe holder and I still think it is the best item I pack! I love having all of that clear storage space!!

We did one load of laundry on the trip and we could have done more. But overall I was happy with what I packed. We definitely dressed for dinner so I really had two outfits per day.

7. In case you haven’t picked up on this yet, I LOVED this cruise! I normally sail the Disney ships as a destination unto themselves. But for this cruise the ports of call were really the stars! I fell in love with Europe and feel so blessed to have seen so much! I am definitely glad we did the 11 night cruise and had the extra day at sea in the middle! At the time we booked it was only an extra $150/pp….totally worth it!!! If we had it to do all over again there are only two or three things I would have changed…. I would have planned something else for Palermo and I would have restructured our day in Naples to have more time in Positano. That’s probably about it! Oh and I would have done early dining!! The rest was just beyond anything I could have hoped for or dreamed of!!!

Thanks to all my new friends for reading along! You have made the trip that much more enjoyable!

Happy sailing!!!

Last edited by lornak; 08-20-2011 at 12:58 AM.
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Old 08-19-2011, 11:43 PM   #130
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I'm really curious about that comedian. I saw someone else complain about him as well. Does he just go by the one name, "Dylan", or is that his first or last name?
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Old 08-19-2011, 11:51 PM   #131
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Fantastic tips and I'm not even going on this cruise! My DH would die for this cruise, he works for a travel agency (I.T. Dept) and you wouldn't believe the crazy deals we have been offered but because of the kids we've never gone. We will soon though!

Can you do us nutty crazy followers of you a huge favor? Since we get email notifications every time you post, could you please let us know here in this thread, when you start your October trip report, so we can be Dis bff's again?Seriously I wouldn't want to miss your photography of another cruise and your writing was top notch. Till next time! And thank you SO much for taking us along, we feel like we just went to Europe!!
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Old 08-20-2011, 12:55 AM   #132
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I'm really curious about that comedian. I saw someone else complain about him as well. Does he just go by the one name, "Dylan", or is that his first or last name?
He went by his full name---I just can't remember his last name. I will see if I can find it in my Navigators!!!!
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Old 08-20-2011, 12:57 AM   #133
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Fantastic tips and I'm not even going on this cruise! My DH would die for this cruise, he works for a travel agency (I.T. Dept) and you wouldn't believe the crazy deals we have been offered but because of the kids we've never gone. We will soon though!

Can you do us nutty crazy followers of you a huge favor? Since we get email notifications every time you post, could you please let us know here in this thread, when you start your October trip report, so we can be Dis bff's again?Seriously I wouldn't want to miss your photography of another cruise and your writing was top notch. Till next time! And thank you SO much for taking us along, we feel like we just went to Europe!!
Jillpie---you really are so kind! Thanks for all the encouragement! Is it possible we really have never met?!

If I decide to do another trip report I will come back here and post a little notice! Thanks for the idea!

And to anyone else...I will still check in here so if you have questions, I would be happy to try and answer!!
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Old 08-21-2011, 03:48 PM   #134
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He went by his full name---I just can't remember his last name. I will see if I can find it in my Navigators!!!!
His name is Dylan Mandlsohn, my husband and I actually quite liked him, although I could see how some of his act could offend/upset. My husband did say after the late night show that he didn't think he would be working on a Disney ship again, but I was told it was the early show where he got a bad response and I didn't see him in the late show.

Great trip report by the way, we were on the same cruise also and it is good to see a different point of view
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Old 08-21-2011, 11:35 PM   #135
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Lorna, you are wonderful! Thank you so much for all the advice, and of course thank you for a personal tour through Europe! I totally agree with Jillpie, I feel like I was there with you! I definitely appreciate the breakdown on the money, it is very helpful. That was a neat idea making a new account, I'll have to remember that for the future.

I have to say, when I saw the new heading 'COMPLETED' my heart sank a little. When you do another TR count me in!

Happy planning for your October cruises!
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