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Old 04-18-2011, 10:21 PM   #1
luvndizny
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Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and one Big, Beautiful Boat (3/26-4/2/11) UPDATE 4/20!

Well, let me introduce you to the cast of characters!

Hubby- laid back kinda guy that goes along with most all of my travel whims; active duty Air Force so we get in our travel when we can; dances like every other white guy on the face of the Earth, knows it and will whip out his famous moves whenever I need a good laugh...love him even more for it

Son- 10 going on 30...Smart, funny, best big brother anyone could ask for, likes to wear ties and khaki pants whenever he gets the chance. You probably will see him wearing the same shirt (different color maybe) in each pic. When shopping I asked him to try on shirts. He found one he liked and then proceeded to pick out the red, the blue, the green of the same shirt. Looks at me and says "What? I like stripes!"

Daughter- 9 Sweet, hilarious, artistic, sometimes moody. (I have no idea where she gets that from.) Thinks my whole goal in life is to humiliate her as much as possible. (Well it is but don't tell her that!)

Me- Got the travel bug when hubby and I were stationed in Germany and love it! I make all the travel plans, but like to also wing it when I get the chance. Loves chocolate...work as a veterinary technician. Can occasionally be heard at work saying "I don't see any parasites in this sample, but I did find a hidden mickey!!"

So on to our story!!!

Around some time last summer, I started entertaining the idea of us going on a cruise. Didn't really even consider other cruise lines because we know Disney's history of wonderful service and knew we couldn't go wrong with them. I ran the numbers by my hubby, got a and it was all systems go! We'd never been cruising before so had a hard time deciding if we should try a shorter cruise first or just go for a 7-nighter. With both kids in school, we were limited to the usual breaks- Spring, Summer, or holiday. Decided to do the longer 7 nighter vs. the shorter 5 nighters offered for the summer that we were looking at. Super worried about getting sea sick...Did we or didn't we? Ye shall find out!

So in December last year, we decided to book, paid the deposit and I began furiously finding everything I could possibly about cruising with the Mouse! Up way past my bed-time on the DISboards learning all kinds of things like...What is an FE? How can I get some OBC? and people keep saying you should talk to your TA, I did and found out the hard way that the "T and A" high-school version was WAY different than the DISboards version. (People at the gym kept overhearing me ask my T- "Why do you get smaller when I hit the gym and my A still remains the same size???!!"

...then I found that TA meant 'travel agent'....Oh, NOW you tell me.

Fast forward a couple of months later. We were trying to decide on how to get from here (North Carolina) to Orlando. We've driven it several times, thought about flying, but I'm not the biggest fan of it. I found out one of the doctors I work for took the train. Sooooo...I look up the prices and YES, it is much cheaper than flying, so we decide to go ahead and we bought our tickets.

Tick, tock, tick, tock...FINALLY, it's time to go!!! I went to work on Thursday, left a little early, finished up cleaning the car out, packing, etc....so excited!! This is my life-saver for the trip:



Coming up...On a midnight train to Florida!! (Woohoo!) (and seriously hoping that song is in your head now....bwahahaha!!--)

Last edited by luvndizny; 04-20-2011 at 05:25 PM.
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Old 04-18-2011, 11:55 PM   #2
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Yea!!!!! Can't wait to hear all the details of your trip!
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Old 04-19-2011, 12:04 AM   #3
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More coming tomorrow! And I promise I'll re-size my pics before posting from now on...LOL!!
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Old 04-19-2011, 05:52 AM   #4
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Great start!
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Old 04-19-2011, 07:22 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luvndizny View Post
More coming tomorrow! And I promise I'll re-size my pics before posting from now on...LOL!!
I don't think the picture is that crazy big, just don't make them too small, that's worse than too big to me!
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Old 04-19-2011, 09:38 AM   #6
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Where in NC are you from? I live just over the NC line in Virgina. Can'twait tohear more!!
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Old 04-19-2011, 10:13 AM   #7
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Joining in!
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Old 04-19-2011, 10:23 AM   #8
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subbing, Who wants to actually do work anyway.
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Old 04-19-2011, 01:22 PM   #9
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Hey, I *LIKE* the big pics!

I took a little break from theTR board but I'm back and ready to read!! Woo----hoo!

Your binder looks very cool, you are not the only one! Love the TA/T&A comment that is the first thing I thought too way back when! I just have a dirty mind that way!

Can't wait for more!
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Old 04-19-2011, 08:27 PM   #10
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Quote:
I don't think the picture is that crazy big, just don't make them too small, that's worse than too big to me!
_
Can't argue with you there...

Quote:
Where in NC are you from? I live just over the NC line in Virgina. Can'twait tohear more!!
Today 08:22 AM
We're about 45 minutes from the SC border.
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Old 04-19-2011, 08:51 PM   #11
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Da Train, Da Train!!!!!!

So we finally get everything all packed up, I got my uber-geek binder that reminds me of the first day of school when you had all brand new pencils, book bag (okay new pencils, somewhat new bookbag) everything's all organized and we're good to go!

We were lucky in that a lady I work with lives right near the train station downtown and let us leave our SUV down there. Hubby drops the kids and I off and we wait in the chilly weather for him to return. This is the first trip we've taken as a family where we didn't have our own car with us. First train trip for us too!






We were all super excited...can you tell?

Now when you're purchasing train tickets online, you can decide to have them sent to you by mail or just print out a reservation confirmation that has a bar code on it. I chose the latter. *Supposedly*, you can scan your code and your tickets will print out at the kiosk. I am guessing it is important that the kiosk actually work...ours didn't. Thankfully, there was another couple who'd arrived before us and had already known what to do. So we called Amtrak's 800 number and they said they'd let the train dude know (conductor?, caboose guy? Hey, my hubby is a caboose guy...good thing too...Remember the A I mentioned earlier?) Where were we? Oh yeah, so train dude said they'd print out our tickets somewhere at one of the bigger stations and just to show them our reservation confo when we board. So now we just wait...and wait...and wait...Okay, it wasn't that bad of a wait (train was maybe 15 minutes late), but we had a date with a Mouse on a big ole beautiful boat and it was AGONY....okay it wasn't that bad....

Wait- what is that I hear?




Da TRAIN, Da TRAIN is here! (That is a Fantasy Island reference....yes I'm dating myself here.) BTW, do you know how hard it is to date yourself? What's scarier is when you argue with yourself over where you are going to eat for dinner or who pays the bill....and you have to be careful not to argue too loud with yourself or the men with the pretty white jacket show up and that never turns out well...

Next up..."She can't hold it any longer Cap'n...she's gonna blow!"
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Old 04-19-2011, 09:27 PM   #12
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Great report so far, but I expect nothing less from you!!! I can't believe how big the kids have gotten, but heck it was 2007 the last time I saw them!!
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Old 04-20-2011, 03:28 PM   #13
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I know! They grow so fast!!!
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Old 04-20-2011, 05:19 PM   #14
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We're headed on our way!!! Boarded at about 11pm and quickly were seated. Amtrak does a pretty good job of trying to get families near to one another. Also, they put little slips of paper up above your seat letting them know where your end station is. (That way you can sleep through the night if you want to and they'll wake you when they're close.) Since we don't have checked-baggage service in our town, we stowed our bigger bags in a little corner in the back of the car. Our carry-ons fit easily above us. You can bring snacks, drinks, etc. on-board with no problem. Also, there are plug-ins for your laptop, etc. The seats were very roomy and more comfortable, IMO, than airplane seats.

Here's a quick video of our son to show you how much room you have...




I didn't get much sleep on the train as I'd hoped...but it was a better alternative than driving (to me at least) and it takes about as long as driving does. Now one of the doctors I work with told me horror stories about the 'aromas' in the bathrooms on the train. She said she almost got the smell was so bad. (In case you don't remember- we work at a veterinary hospital...) We deal with the blue-ribbon winners of smell daily. So I was SKEERED of the bathroom! I thought maybe I'd just hold it until we got to Orlando. However, I drank so much water (train air gets you dehydrated as fast as plane air does) that I'm pretty sure people around me could hear sloshing sounds coming from my bladder. When I finally couldn't take it any more, I said a Hail Mary and told hubby if I don't come back in 10, to please send out a search crew and bring reinforcements. I opened the door, held my breath as long as I could. When I finally inhaled it was like that scene in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" when they take their masks off and realize they can breathe!! Looked around and saw no dead animals so I knew the air was clear! Maybe the doctor just had bad luck, but both ways we had no problems with the train. I mean, I didn't linger in there longer than I had to, but it was alright. Pretty much like a plane bathroom but quite a bit larger.

Watched the sun rise and then we headed to the breakfast car. The food was amazingly quite delicious! The breakfast potatoes were some of the best I've ever had!




Okay, so I wasn't the only one who didn't sleep much....



Arrived in Orlando at about 11am if I remember correctly...Orlando is a BIG station! (Not Grand Central big, but bigger than ours at home.)



The Hertz rental car desk is right inside. Very easy to pick up our car and go! Took us about 1 hr 15 minutes to get to the Radisson at the Port. We got the 'two room suite'. Price was pretty reasonable being that we only booked it about one month out. Plus, the colors of the walls gave us the bonus of flashbacks to episodes of "Miami Vice"...where could you go wrong?




Used the hotel's free internet to do some last-minute checks on some things...Kept making sure we had our passports in my nifty binder. I have no idea where I thought it was gonna go, but I was paranoid I'd lose it.

We had lunch at Fishlips grill...it was pretty good. Ordered pizza from a local Mom-and-Pop pizza place- it was SOOO good! Wish I could remember the name of it.

Finally drifted off to sleep around midnight...(BTW, the sleep number bed was soooo comfy.)



We had their breakfast buffet which was kinda small and no fresh fruit??? Overall, it was decent. Headed to port terminal at close to 10. Hubby dropped us off. Let me tell ya- I can't say this enough- Disney has it down. They know there are first-time cruisers and they know their jobs. We always catch ourselves saying that they must swallow happy pills every morning because everyone is always so pleasant. When the guy in the brim hat under the umbrella showed hubby where to drop us off, I felt that old familiar feeling coming back....Disney customer service rocks! And it was all smooth sailing from then on....

Up next-Chapter 4: Tears, oh the tears!!!!
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Old 04-20-2011, 07:44 PM   #15
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Glad to hear you had a good experience on the train. I have never traveled by train in the US but have in Russia. Your vet Doc must have traveled on the same train in Russia as I did. The bathrooms were...well...awful!!
Thinking about traveling in Dec 2012 from Raleigh to Orlando via train if airline prices keep jumping. if we leave from the closest Amtrak station to us we will have go to DC from there then travel back down so I thnk spend 10 more minutes to get to Raleigh and save 8 hours travel time!!
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