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Old 07-01-2012, 06:46 PM   #1
Gdes1
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Panamania on the Wonder - 7/12 Update "Ground Transfers and Car Seats"

To say that we are “excited” about our upcoming EBPC repo cruise is an understatement. It is our main topic of conversation at dinner and during longer car rides. And since our children are not old enough to really initiate conversations, what I'm really saying is that two adults would rather talk about this cruise than anything else!

It is six months away as I write this. I do a little bit of planning or research each day, just to feed the Disney-hungry beast that lives within me. I thought a pre-trip report would be a fabulous place to keep track of our journey thus far. I have never written a PTR, so please bear with me and let me know if I have left anything out.

DH and I have been Disney fans since childhood. We grew up going to Disneyland in California. DH's favorite character is Goofy and he also loves classic Mickey cartoons. Of course I loved Disneyland as a child, but I continued to love visiting the park well into adulthood. Things like cleanliness and great customer service are important to me, and Disney does those things best. But, when I first heard of Disney Cruise Line I pictured a ship full of small children running amok and told people that you “could not pay me to get on one of those ships”.

We ended up on the Magic in 2010 and I was hooked. For our second cruise, a mere 7 nights was not enough. We decided to go for it and book the 14-night EBPC repositioning for December 2012. Let the planning begin!

Last edited by Gdes1; 07-12-2012 at 04:29 PM. Reason: update
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Old 07-01-2012, 07:14 PM   #2
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Hi Sarah,

A pre-trip report is a great way to help pass the time. I started mine as well - can't wait for the cruise and to meet you and your family. Hopefully the next 5 months will go by fast!

Looking forward to reading all about your planning!!

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Old 07-02-2012, 09:29 PM   #3
Gdes1
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Thanks, Tammy! I was inspired by your PTR. Hopefully others will read and enjoy as well!
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Old 07-02-2012, 09:39 PM   #4
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PTR Update #1 - So who are we?

So, who will be cruising? DH and I, of course. I do the planning and packing, he makes the money! We both grew up in northern California, about an 8-hour drive from Disneyland. We each made several trips there as children, with our parents or friends, and then again while we were dating in 2000. We returned in 2006 for a few days before taking a cruise on a different line. Here we are at CA Adventure.


At some point, DH had a business trip to Orlando and visited WDW by himself. By then, we were busy starting our family and said that travel with kids was “too hard” and we would stop traveling. But, you can't change who you are and we found ourselves planning a trip to WDW after our first child (DS) was born. He was 5 months old for his first Disney adventure.


DS is, and always has been, a great traveler. Nevertheless, in 2010 we decided we'd try for Baby #2 and not travel anywhere. That plan didn't last long and that summer we booked a 7-night Western Caribbean Double Dip on the Magic. It was love at first sight and now we are huge DCL fans. Baby #2 ended up being born this past January and she will have her first Disney adventure this December when she sails with us to the Panama Canal. Not bad for a first cruise!

Last edited by Gdes1; 07-02-2012 at 09:51 PM.
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Old 07-02-2012, 09:43 PM   #5
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PTR Update #2 Missing the Magic

Here we are on the Magic in November 2010, when DS was 18 months old.



How good of a time did we have? Well, I cried when we were walking off the ship on disembarkation day. I also cried later that day when we walked out of our hotel near the port and heard the horn blow as the Magic sailed away again. Then I cried a bit more at dinner that night, since eating in a regular restaurant after the cruise felt like being thrown into cold water. Ever since then, we have been trying to find a way to get back on a DCL ship.

We had booked a dummy date while onboard, then switched that to Alaska for May 2012 when those dates were released. We knew we'd have a 4 month old by then, but it seemed OK. Then DD was born in January and I suddenly remembered what it was like to have a newborn. Sure, she could sleep anywhere and be toted around fairly easily. But I saw myself sitting all over that ship, draped in my Hooter Hider, nursing, while everyone else had fun. That was when we decided to push Alaska out to 2013. After Opening Day this past January, I told DH about the other itineraries available, just for fun. I was really surprised to hear him say, “Let's do Panama.” I reminded him that it was 14 days, but he said, “Let's go for it.” We don't have to worry about kids missing school, and figured that now was a great time to do it. DH got the time off work, and I emailed our poor TA one more time to change our booking yet again.

I cannot resist adding one more photos. DS loved the Character Breakfast and kissed the nose of almost every character who came to our table. I can't wait to see his reaction to the characters now that he is older.


Last edited by Gdes1; 07-03-2012 at 03:26 PM. Reason: fixing photos
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Old 07-06-2012, 02:17 PM   #6
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PTR Update #3 - It Just Keeps Getting Cheaper!

At first we chose the WB scheduled for May 2013, but then moved to the EB (mostly because of DH's new job, but also partly for the huge savings). When IGT rates were released a second time, we re-booked and saved about $700 more. I think our TA was also relieved because now we are “locked and loaded” and can't change our booking yet again. All told, the price history breaks down like this:

Original WBPC May 2013, 2A2C (3,0) for 10B = $5,672
Change to EPBC Dec 2012, same people and stateroom = $4,778
Re-booked IGT for EBPC Dec 2012 = $4,010
*I calculate our total price by taking the fare, including OBBD, plus taxes, minus any OBBC from DCL or our TA. Note that IGT rates do not get the OBBD or OBBC from DCL.

I'm fine with a Cat 11 room, but we do intend to check about upgrading once at the port. I figure we were planning on spending $700 more to cruise, so we'll see what $700 can buy us at the upgrade desk! And if upgrades are not available, $700 translates into lots of nice coffees, cocktails and spa treatments!

Thanks to those who are reading my PTR!
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Old 07-08-2012, 09:23 PM   #7
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PTR Update #4 - But that's just the beginning!

Sometimes first-time cruisers ask how much they should budget for all of the non-cruise-fare costs. I have found that it's wise to double the cruise fare to arrive at the total trip cost. Now if only planning the non-cruise details was so simple! Working out all of the details that go into the cruise vacation easily takes ten times as long as the simple act of choosing and booking a cruise. Most importantly, we need to get to the ship, then get home afterward, so let's begin there.

First, I researched flights. We would need three tickets, plus a lap child, from Denver to LAX and then home from Miami or a nearby airport. We had enough United miles to get all of the tickets, but there was one hitch—the only United flights from Miami to Denver required plane changes at O'Hare. Changing planes at O'Hare on December 23rd just did not sound like a safe bet, and I feared that we'd spend our baby girl's first Christmas sleeping on the floor of that airport if I chose those flights.

Fortunately, the Fort Lauderdale airport is a short drive from Miami and offers one nonstop per day, to Denver, on United. I booked one-ways from Denver to LAX and then from Fort Lauderdale back to Denver, all with miles, woohoo! And what's this? The website is offering to seat two of us in Economy Plus for free because of DH's Premier status! For a small fee, we upgraded the third ticket to Economy Plus, for both flights, and even got bulkhead seating on the Denver to LA leg! With two small kids, every inch of space counts and I'm so glad to have these “roomier” seats.

Now, I need to figure out ground transfers between the ports and airports. The car seat issue is going to complicate things. My next planning goal: ground transfers booked without having to bring our car seats with us.....I'm sure this will be a fun task!
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Old 07-12-2012, 04:28 PM   #8
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PTR Update #5 - Ground Transfers and the Dreaded Car Seat Issue

My current project is working out our pre-trip hotel stay and ground transfers on both sides. With two small kids, the major consideration here is the darn car seats! We really do not want to bring them with us. For those not familiar with this fun aspect of parenthood, it's more than just having them as luggage. If we bring our seats, we have to take them out of the car when we park at the airport, put them in zippered bags (while supervising the kids who are no longer in the seats), then check them as baggage, retrieve them on the other side, take them to whatever ground transportation we are using, install them into that vehicle, take them back out when we get to our hotel, take them to the ship the next day, find a place for them in our stateroom (ours do not fit in the closet), trip over them every day for 14 days, take them back off of the ship at the end of the cruise, and repeat the first part of the process in reverse in order to get home. Ugh!

Therefore, my major goal is to arrange all ground transfers such that we do not need to bring the seats at all. Let's explore the options:

LAX to hotel near Port of L.A.--
Super Shuttle and other van services require you to bring your own car seats, so that's out.

The Disney bus does not require car seats, but they want to pick you up from the airport the day of the cruise and we are flying in before. One option is to stay at the LAX Marriott which coordinates a shuttle back to LAX to meet a Disney bus. A good plan, but $35pp and requires shuttling back and forth to the hotel.

We could do a one-way car rental, picking up at LAX and dropping off at the Port. We'd need a larger, more expensive car due to the luggage. The rental company will provide car seats for a fee. We would then have a vehicle to use for other errands if we wished, but have to deal with parking, returning it, etc.

A private car service may be the way to go. They provide car seats for a small fee, meet us at baggage claim, take us directly to our hotel and then we are all set. I checked online reviews to find a good one and settled on Alexis Limo & Sedan. I booked an SUV for about the same price as the one-way car rental, but with less hassle.
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Old 07-12-2012, 06:02 PM   #9
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I can't say I miss the car seat days. Sounds like you came up with a good plan.

Hope you have better luck with your United Flight than we did. I booked our flight from Philadelphia to LAX for a great price. What started out as a non-stop flight, now has a 2 hour layover in San Fran - we now leave 45 minutes earlier than planned and arrive at LAX 5 hours later than originially planned. We have had 2 changes in this flight since we booked - I'm hoping they don't make any more changes.

Where are you staying Saturday night?
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Old 08-14-2012, 06:47 AM   #10
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Joining in to hear about your planning

Now that we have returned from our trip to WDW, I can start spending all my time planning for the cruise. I figured someone had to have started a PTR!

I am glad we don't have as much of a carseat hassle as you had. We are renting a car to drive to So Cal from SF area, then renting another in Miami for a day, returning on the 24th. DS is legally allowed to use a low-backed booster, so I think he will get to experience that for this trip. So much smaller and easier to store on the ship.
We are also IGT, so figuring on not much room in those cabins for a bigger seat.
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Old 08-14-2012, 10:01 AM   #11
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I'm joining in to follow your planning too, since I'm having so much trouble getting my own planning underway LOL!!! I'm on the same flight from Philadelphia as Tammy, and I will have my own fight with United, but not yet. I figure they're going to change things a few more times before December, so why fight with them more than once? We paid for extra legroom seats when it was a non-stop. At the moment there aren't any available for the SF-LA leg of the trip, but they don't want to give me any kind of refund or credit. We'll see about that!!!!

In the meanwhile, once I get back from my spur-of-the-moment second cruise to Canada this summer (did the first one and will do the last one) I should be able to get planning for the PC. We'll be staying at the Embassy Suites at the airport the night before the cruise, and we'll be taking Disney Transportation to the port. DH is a good sport about going anywhere I want to go for vacations, but he insists that we do only Disney transportation and Disney excursions. He has a friend who got left behind in Hawaii on a private excursion, and just refuses to leave the ship unless it's with a Disney excursion. Needless to say, I just booked those this weekend, so that's out of the way!

Can't wait to meet you in a few more months!

Beth
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Old 08-14-2012, 09:04 PM   #12
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I can't believe how much trouble United is causing you. We are flying with them out of FLL back to SFO. No changes yet, but you never know.
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Old 08-15-2012, 08:42 AM   #13
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Well, we're taking Amtrak back to New Jersey after the cruise, so at least I only have to fight with them once LOL!!

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Old 09-10-2012, 09:46 PM   #14
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I'm back!

Thanks for posting, ladies. Sorry to hear of your flight woes. I just completed our online check-in and had to go look up our reservations on United to get the flight #s. Both flights had been changed a bit, but are still OK. Our Denver to LAX flight says the time was changed but I don't remember what it was previously. It doesn't seem like a huge change.

However, I booked the one and only nonstop from FLL back to Denver on the evening of the 23rd. It originally departed at 5:35pm, which factored in to the arrangements we made for getting from Port of Miami to FLL (more on that later). When I looked just now, it leaves at 4:05pm. That's a full 90 minutes earlier.

I'm OK with that, because we can still easily make the flight and will have less time to kill with the kids. But, that's a pretty big schedule change. What if we had booked a 10am flight that became an 8:30am flight? I can't even imagine the troubles you all are having if you booked a flight with a stop or connection. And you definitely deserve a refund if you don't get the extra legroom!

With 90 days to go, I really hope there are no more major changes.
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Old 09-10-2012, 09:58 PM   #15
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PTR Update #6 - Ground Transfers in Florida on 12/23

After a busy summer, it seems it's time to resume planning and obsessing about this cruise. I last posted about getting our ground transfers in LA all worked out, and without having to bring the car seats. My next task was finding a way to get us from the Port of Miami to the Fort Lauderdale airport without needing car seats or spending a small fortune.

As with LA, the cheap van services don't provide car seats. I did some research on the public transportation. It would involve a bus/shuttle ride and then one or two trains, which DS would love. It would also involve 3 transfers, and DH just laughed when I told him about it. There is no way we'd make it with two kids, a stroller that's not even really a stroller, and all of our luggage.

When I first did a search for a one-way car rental, the price almost gave me a heart attack. But, it pays to check again! It also pays to check the details. There are several car rental companies that list themselves as having offices at the Port of Miami. However, most of them just have a shuttle pick you up and take you to the rental office at the Miami Airport. While it appears to be legal to take children on the shuttle without car seats, I did not feel comfortable doing that for a 15 minute drive on the freeway.

Hertz actually does have a rental office near the Port. We still have to take a short shuttle ride without any car seats, but that is OK. I signed DH up for a Gold membership for free (a free trial) so we can skip the long line and just grab our keys and go. I also used our AAA number and got a 10% discount and one car seat for free! All in all, even with a one-way rental, the price is very comparable to any car service.

Having our own car will be so handy. I'm sure they will hustle us off of that ship as early as possible, and our flight is not until 4pm. Having the car will allow us to be creative with how we use up all of that free time. And that leads us to my next bit of research....what to do between ship and airport on December 23rd. Stay tuned!
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