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Old 12-06-2006, 02:26 PM   #1
ashman
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2-8-07 or How the DIS created a DCL Expert/Addict:Chap 23 Up! TR Done!

Chapter One: A Dream is Born

The seed for this trip report was germinated several years ago. It was 2004, my precious bride and I were on Celebrity’s Millennium celebrating our 10th anniversary. My wife made the off hand comment, “We need to take the kids on one of these sometime” Which was of course, one of the most dangerous things she could have told me.

To understand why, you need to understand the characters of this happy tale. Larry Burkett once said that in a marriage if both of you are them same, one of you is unnecessary! His meaning was in a marriage we are often drawn to people who are opposite to us in many ways. This presents some of the most beautiful and challenging aspects of marriage. My beautiful wife and I exemplify this wonderfully. My wife is a very practical rational minded person. She approaches life with methodical precision that would make a brain surgeon jealous. I on the other hand, am not! I am the dreamer, I’m the type of person who would start a cross country road trip and buy a map somewhere around Kansas!

I am also a huge kid at heart. I have been itching to take the kids to Disney World for a while. My wife didn’t really relish the thought of going to Disney World with two toddlers and a husband in Clark Griswold mode, “We are paying $400 a day to be here! We WILL see everything, stop crying and start having fun! NOW.

So I got to thinking (at this point dear gentle reader you should know that you must now be afraid, very afraid!). Cruise, Disney World, Cruise, Disney World. “Hey! You got your cruise ship in my amusement park. You got your amusement park in my cruise ship! Two great vacations that would be great together (no copyright violations here! ). Disney Cruise Line! What could be more perfect.

Convinced that my wife would be blown away and awestruck at my veritable stroke of genius, I pitched her my idea. Which she thought was not a good one at the time. Seeing that crushed look in my eyes she softened the blow by saying, “Wait till both kids were in school then we would talk.” Being a cruise planning freak (I had it before I even found the DIS) I started looking that summer, two years ago!

So I started coming to the internet for as much info about DCL and the various options. I began lurking on another cruise discussion board to read reviews and comments of what others had to say when I saw the magic words that forever changed the way I planned vacations: “If you want some input from people who are hard core about all things Disney, you need to go to www.disboards.com.”

Our Cast of Characters:

Ashman- That would be me, your humble writer. Name is really Ashley, Ashman is the Avatar to avoid gender confusion about the name, yes I still have scars about that from childhood why do you ask?



MammaNurse- my dear wife, no she doesn’t have an account here, just made that name up for her, I hope she doesn’t mind, she is the love of my life and high school sweetheart.



Sweet Child- oldest daughter, 7 in first grade has the sweetest temperament.



MiniMe- younger daughter, 5 in preschool, wired very much like her father in both good and bad ways! Lucky for her she is sweeter and better looking!




Thus your humble author was introduced to this august group of fellow cruise planning nuts. I’m sure that some of you are thinking, “GEESH, this guy is starting a trip report for a cruise that won’t even be here for two months and its only a 3 day at that!” Remember dear friends getting is half the fun, and as many of you know planning is part of getting there. So I have some fun twists and turns to share with you along the way. I look forward to showing you how we got to this point, the surprises that lie in store between here and February 8, and the fun to be had on the boat itself! So until our next chapter, farewell and happy memories!
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Old 12-06-2006, 02:46 PM   #2
lindaso
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Wow, that's hardcore...a trip report for a trip in the future. Impressive!! And anything referencing Griswold has got to be good. Can't wait to hear the details.
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TRIPS TO PLAN
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TRIPS TO REMEMBER
June 2013 -- Disney Dream;

June 2012 -- Disney Dream Double Dip; Feb. 2012 -- YC; Feb. 2011 -- Disney Dream Inaugural Voyages; Feb. 2010 -- YC; Jan. 2009 -- Disney Magic; April 2008 -- Poly ; Nov./Dec. 2007 -- YC ; Nov. 2006 -- Disney Magic, Our 1st cruise; Oct. 2005 -- AKL, no kids, 10th Anniversary ; Apr. 2005 -- Poly; Oct. 2003 -- Poly; Nov. 2001 -- CBR; May 2000 -- ASMu; May 1999 -- ASSp; Jan 1990 -- Offsite; Apr. 1984 -- Disneyland; Nov. 1978 -- Contemporary
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Old 12-06-2006, 04:01 PM   #3
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Starting it this early is one way to ensure it gets written before your 2nd Disney Cruise! And yes... going on one pretty much requires booking a 2nd cruise (they're a tad addictive)!
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Old 12-07-2006, 09:52 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lindaso
And anything referencing Griswold has got to be good. Can't wait to hear the details.
I hope to fill the report with lots of similar type references, I just hope my sense of humor makes sense to everyone else!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vanvmom
Starting it this early is one way to ensure it gets written before your 2nd Disney Cruise! And yes... going on one pretty much requires booking a 2nd cruise (they're a tad addictive)!
If the cruises are half as addictive as the planning and anticipation, I am in serious trouble!
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Old 12-07-2006, 09:56 AM   #5
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Chapter 2: Are you Dis'ing Me?

Chapter 2: Are you Dis’ing Me?

When we last left our intrepid explorer, he had been thrashing through the wilderness of the internet and stumbled upon an Oasis known as “The Dis”

Now that the DIS was in my vocabulary, I created a profile for myself in July of 2005. I began to get some information, I posted some questions, and began aquatinting myself with the community. I found the board to be quicker, more informed and much more friendly than other boards I have frequented. I found myself getting more comfortable with the lingo and what I wanted.

First rule I learned was to book early. If you think you want to cruise book now and change it later but unlike other cruise lines the prices weren’t coming down. Armed with this nugget of knowledge, I proceeded to explain to my dear wife that yes although it would be almost two years before the time of the cruise we needed to make a decision and make it yesterday! With the information gleaned from you my fellow readers, I was able to appeal to my wife’s need for order by showing how planning now would be the intelligent rational thing to do!

With the greenlight from my chief planning officer and co-passenger on the roller coaster of life, we proceeded to narrow down specifics on when and where. My daughter’s school has had a two day break over the second Thursday and Friday of February. It has had this break every year for the least 10 years. It is a private school and the teachers all go to a certification conference those two days. So even though the 2006-2007 calendar was not out, we felt confident in selecting that date. We would do a 3 day cruise. Since it would cost too much to fly we planned on leaving after school on Wednesday the 7th drive about ¾ of the way and have around two hours to drive the day of the cruise. The kids wouldn’t have to miss any school, it seemed perfect in everyway! We called our agent and booked the cruise. That very day I attempted to start a cruise meet thread for a 3 day cruise that was over 450 days away
(see http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=977804 for an example of my sad attempt at a cruise meet)

With the planning done, the date set and regular payments coming out to my agent, all that was left to do was decide how to tell the girls, learn my tips from the Dis, and wait patiently for my trip ticker to get down to zero. Right? Riiiiiiiiiiiiight Life is too much fun for it to be that simple. To quote from that impressive tome of late 20th Century witticisms, the Muppet Show, “Stay tuned for the continuing saaaaaaga of a quack (that would be me) that has gone to the dogs.
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Old 12-08-2006, 12:31 AM   #6
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Your cruise is getting closer
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Old 12-08-2006, 08:35 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Babs417
Your cruise is getting closer

Yeppers! We are two months away and then my trip report can begin in earnest!
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Old 12-08-2006, 08:51 AM   #8
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Chapter 3: Shift Happens

Chapter 3: Shift Happens

When last we left our brave and intrepid planner, it was October 2005, the deposit was down, the trip laid out, and all we had to do was wait til the blessed day of the cruise.

Fast Forward to the May 2006, we were under the 1 year mark, life was good, I was getting more info and doing a lot of reading on the DIS when the first major curve ball got sent our way. The School calendar had come out and for the first time in over 10 years the teacher recertification conference was going to be held in October rather than February!

So now the big choice. Do we move the cruise to October a mere five months away or do we keep the date and pull the kids out of school (oldest DD is in 1st younger DD is in pre-K). To help us make our decision we contact our handy dandy super duper agent to get us a price quote for us for the same cruise, same class of cabin, for October. Below is the response:

"No problem....I think you will probably want to stick with the original plan once you see the price difference. The prices include everything except for the insurance - so when you are comparing, deduct the insurance.

$3,906

Now see why it is a good idea to book way in advance?

Susie”


Your telling me! After a quick huddle with my dear wife we decide that pulling her out for two days is better than moving to October. (No flames here please, I know that issue has been beat to death http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1189596 if you want to have a recap of that drama k?)

Fast Forward to early October 2006, our first parent teacher conference. We inform the teacher that we will be out at the appointed time. The teacher’s response? Great! She will have so much fun! I can’t wait for her to share pictures from her dolphin excursion. So Crises averted!


Next shift, but in a good way. This past summer I went on a mission trip to Kenya and racked up a lot of frequent flyer miles.


See the link in my siggie if you want more shots of that trip

Problem was no flights that I could use my miles on. My sweet wife asks me to check again this past October and sure enough there was a flight! I was able to get two tickets with FF miles and the other two we bought through Expedia. The total cost would be well under what gas and hotel the night before would run us. Plus the girls have never been on a plane before and they have been bugging us to go on a plane:

Sweet Child: “Daddy, I really want to go on a trip on a plane sometime”

Me: “Oh really, where do you want to go?”

Sweet Child: “Weeeelllllllll……. Either Disney World ooooorr Hawaii! (pronounced Huhwiyuh) ”

Whew, at least I have one option in the bag! But I had to spend a ton of time on the phone for the FF tickets which brings us toooooooo:

Random Sideshow Soapbox Rant:

Why is it that airline companies farm out their customer care center to call centers half way around the world staffed by people for whom English is clearly not their first language? Now I admit that their English is far better than my Farsi or Hindi or whatever their mother tongue is but when I am calling a company that does business primarily in America, I want to talk directly to a customer rep, I shouldn’t need a translator!

Rant over, back to our regularly scheduled trip report, already in progress.

Our flight would leave here at 7 AM non-stop to Orlando and get into Orlando at 8:50, plenty of time to grab transportation and get us to our appointed moment with Destiny and the Mouse!

In the Immortal words of Claude the French Pea of Veggie Tale Fame “Not so fast tomato” (you must say the last sentence in an over the top French accent for the full effect!) To find out why tune in dear reader to our next chapter!
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Old 12-08-2006, 10:59 AM   #9
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I'm glad someone could get a good airfare deal. We've been pricing from GSO for 3 months now, and it's ridiculous. Be glad for those FF miles!!
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Old 12-08-2006, 02:05 PM   #10
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Quote:
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I'm glad someone could get a good airfare deal. We've been pricing from GSO for 3 months now, and it's ridiculous. Be glad for those FF miles!!
You betcha! It would have been over $1000 for us to fly out with out the FF miles. It is cheaper to fly from Charlotte or Raleigh but once you factor in the additional cost and time of getting to and from and parking (ESP in Raleigh) it winds up better to go out of GSO. Are you here in the Triad? There are some decent non-stops to MCO and my agent said next year there was going to be non-stop to Miami available!
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Old 12-11-2006, 08:23 AM   #11
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Chapter 4: Shift Happens Part Deux

Chapter 4: Shift Happens Part Deux

When last we met, our happy band of DCL-ites had just made plans for a plane, trip that is.

For those of you struggling with the timeline, we are now in late August 2006, your humble author has just pulled off a planning cu (at least in his moments of self delusion)

At this point I probably should have mentioned that we are flying on Delta. For those of you needing/wanting a refresher course in current events, Delta has been having a bit of shift themselves (http://www.boston.com/business/artic..._takeover_bid/ for more details than I want to get into right now)
I was pretty sure this wouldn’t affect me at all. HA HA HA HA HA (remember Bill Cosby’s rendition of God’s conversation with Noah for the sound effects)

In the words of another wise person “I felt a tremor in the force” and decided to check on my flight status. Of course the flight had changed. Expedia did it for me (for the paid tickets) but Delta said call customer care (for the frequent flyer tickets) So I called Delta customer care. Reread my rant for the last issue and take a wild guess how that went. I was able to change the flight to be that same as the Expedia flight but then realized that out flight would get us into Orlando at 12:30 which was a lot later than I would have preferred.

So now the dilemma. Do we keep the non stop flight and get to the ship around 2:30 or do we move to an earlier flight that would have us connect in Atlanta. After seeking the advice from our friends at the Dis, Travel Agent, and other authorities that we respect, we chose to move to an earlier flight that connected in Atlanta.

To accomplish this I felt it would actually be quicker to drive to the airport and talk face to face with a ticket agent rather than deal with Delta and/or Expedia on the phone.

Again I reference the rant from the last chapter.

The agent could not have been more helpful. She was very gracious and courteous and was able to change all four flights to a schedule that suited our family and schedule. We have to be at the airport a bit earlier but I have the sinking suspicion that there won’t be a lot of sleeping the night before anyway! So we had the shift in the school calendar, the shift in the travel plans, the shift of the flight. One more shift to share with you to bring us up to the present but that is as they say, a story for another day!
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Old 12-18-2006, 12:09 PM   #12
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Chapter 5: How to tell the Kids?

While researching and reading various DIS threads, including some very insightful and creative threads from Christmas last year, I cam across a great idea of how to tell the kids they were going on a cruise. We were going to take a picture of the Disney Gang on Castaway Cay with the Magic in the background (Yes I know we would be on the Wonder but the kids wouldn’t notice that type of detail) and photoshop a picture of the girls in with the gang. We would then take the picture and blow it up to 8x10 and glue it to a wooden puzzle. We would take the puzzle pieces and divide them into about 6 sets and send the kids on a scavenger hunt.

Well a funny thing happened on the way to Photo Printing Place. The picture that we put together looked great on the screen but the resolution was so poor that when blown up to 8x10 the picture looked very blocky and just didn’t give off the right vibe!

Now again some background info on our cast of characters is necessary. If left to me, (remember big picture dreamer guy) I would have said that’s just fine lets run with it. My Dear Wife would not have any of it. She like to make sure that all details are tended to. Plus she is a very Crafty person (in a home decorating, scrap booking, home gift kind of way) and I think the final product just insulted her sense of taste and crafting skills.

So back to the drawing board we went. We decided to keep the scavenger hunt idea but in lieu of puzzle pieces there will be small gifts and tokens along the way to give the kids ideas about where we are going. This is the genius of it all. Our kids have really been getting a strong Jones about going to see the Mouse. Last year at Disney Princesses on Ice, Sweet child said to her mother with a sigh, “I would really like to meet Cinderella one day” (I hate to tell her but the ship has Cindarella on it, see the incomparable SleepyDog TR for an explanation why http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1246056 WARNING! Not for the faint of heart! See page 26 Post#377 for those who don’t want to go through a tome to rival Homer’s Illiad)

To Further build up the Disney anticipation, Sweet Child has had three classmates and MiniMe has had one classmate go to Disney World this year and kid from the neighborhood to boot! We have been hearing a lot from the kids about wanting to go to Disney World. The first present is a pair of Kids Disney Crocs, along with the first clue. It is wrapped in a box with Mickey Christmas paper with the tag “To the Kids from Mom and Dad, Open Last” The kids’ attention was immediately drawn to the box the morning after it went under the tree. “Why does it say open last Daddy?” “You’ll see!” I am sure as the kids are thinking WDW and totally not thinking cruise.

So thus ends my Trip report for now. After Christmas I will post pics of the Scavenger hunt along with the clues that took us along the way. Until the next installment have a Merry Christmas, I look forward to picking up the TR with the kids reactions as we hurtle towards or sailing date less than 60 days away!
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Old 12-18-2006, 04:54 PM   #13
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Now leave us hanging!!!!! Oh well thankfully Christmas is only a week away..

Lookin forward to your reports..

Denise
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Old 12-18-2006, 07:00 PM   #14
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can't wait.....
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Old 12-19-2006, 11:23 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dixielady908
Now leave us hanging!!!!! Oh well thankfully Christmas is only a week away..

Lookin forward to your reports..

Denise
Quote:
Originally Posted by Holly&Joesmommy
can't wait.....

Here is a little something to tide you over. This is our attempt at the puzzle pic. As you can see it is a bit grainy. I will be back next week with pics from the hunt!

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