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Old 07-14-2001, 12:40 PM   #1
nativetxn
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***Illuminations Cruises-what they are and how to book one-Find one to share***

Illuminations cruises are a fun and special way to view the Illuminations fireworks at Epcot. These cruises are very popular and require some advance planning in order to get a reservation.

You will tour seven seas lagoon prior to the beginning of Illuminations and be entertained, by your boat's pilot, with Disney trivia and views of the Boardwalk and other resorts, then you anchor beneath a bridge for an unobstructed view of the fireworks. One of the things we enjoyed the most about our Illuminations cruise was being able to just get off the boat and go to our car without fighting the huge crowd that was leaving Epcot afterwards.

Illuminations cruises are technically called "Specialty Cruises". There are 3 levels and prices for these cruises and you can read about them <b>HERE</b>.

There are only 5 boats available for this activity and they depart either from Boardwalk or Yacht/Beach Club Marina:

<b>Pontoon Boats</b>: Only 4 pontoon boats are available for this cruise. The cost is $120 plus 6% tax for the boat (this includes the pilot). Each pontoon boat will accommodate up to 10 adults or 12 passengers if some of them are children. The cost is not determined by the number of passengers, so sharing a cruise is good idea if you want to reduce cost.

<b>The Breathless</b>: This is a <b>reproduction</b> of a 1930's ChrisCraft Runabout. It will accommodate a maximum of 7 passengers. The cost is $175 plus 6% tax. This boat departs only from the Yacht &Beach Club Marina. This vessel has more speed than the pontoons.

In addition to the basic cost of the cruise, you should allow a gratuity for the Captain. We had 4 passengers on our cruise and tipped our Captain $25. He did a great job and paid special attention to my 6 year old nephew, my dh says now, that he wishes he had tipped him more, because he just made the whole experience wonderful.

<b>How to book an Illuminations Cruise</b>:

You need to call 407-939-7529 exactly 90 days before the date you want to reserve. You can determine when to call by using the DIS's priority seating calculator if you <b>CLICK HERE</b>

Since these cruises are so much in demand, start calling about 6:55 am <b>est</b>. If you get a recording that they are not open yet, disconnect and immediately hit redial. If you get the recording thanking you for calling hit #4 right away, as soon as the second recording begins press #2, when the third recording begins press #2. This will take you to a reservationist, if you have to hold do not disconnect or you go to the bottom of the queue.

When the reservationist answers <b>do not</b> make small talk, immediately tell him/her that you want to reserve the 8PM specialty cruise for such and such date. <b>Do not</b> ask to reserve an Illuminations cruise or you will waste time hearing that there is no such thing. After you get your reservation you can talk all you want, but these cruises are very difficult to reserve and seconds count when thousands of people are competing for only 5 boats.

When the reservationist indicates that you have obtained the reservation, tell him/her that you want to see Illuminations. He/she will then make arrangements for your cruise to depart the marina about 1/2 hour before Illuminations begins.

You will be told that they cannot guarantee that you will see Illuminations. They tell you this because, if Illuminations is delayed for any reason, your boat will still return to the marina at the end of your hour. So far, there have been no known instances where Illuminations was not seen.

If you have flexibility in your WDW itinerary, it is best to try to reserve a cruise for the first night you have available. That way, if you don't get the reservation, you can try the next day and the next, if necessary.

If you are unable to secure a reservation for an Illuminations cruise, do not give up. Cancellations happen every day. Keep calling and trying for that reservation, even when you are in WDW. I was told by a captain of one of these cruises that his boat has often sat idle because someone cancelled. You can snag a cancellation. I know, because I was lucky enough to get a cancelled cruise only 6 weeks before our trip last year.

You can also sometimes find someone who has a reservation already and is willing to share the space and cost of his cruise with you. The <b>Illuminations Cruise Central</b> posts on the Theme Parks board are there to help people match up for these cruises. There is an Illuminations Cruise Central for each month, beginning 3 months ahead of time.


Good luck getting a reservation for an Illuminations Cruise, I hope this information is helpful to you.

Katholyn
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Last edited by nativetxn; 05-30-2004 at 08:16 PM.
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