A 21-hour tease and one FANTASTICAL voyage-May 2014! UPDATE:1/2 - PTR, THE END!

Discussion in 'Disney Trip Reports' started by JulieODC, Jun 13, 2014.

  1. JulieODC

    JulieODC DIS Veteran

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    Hi Everyone! Welcome to my second trip report! I have to say, writing these reports is a little addictive…almost as addictive as reading everyone else’s reports! :love: I love reading everyone’s trip details and get so many great ideas – I hope that my reports can provide some helpful info, or at least some entertainment! (Especially for anyone traveling with a toddler!!):thumbsup2 :thumbsup2

    Our last WDW trip was last November. And when we left after that trip, we didn’t have any plans for a future trip. Little did I know that not 6 months later, we’d be booking our first Disney Cruise Line adventure! :woohoo:

    Ok, so here are the details:

    Who: Our little family of 3! We live in northern VA, near DC (but are originally from New England, and miss it a lot!). On this trip, DD was just over 2 ½ years old (2 yrs and 8 months to be exact!). Every trip we take is a new adventure – we took DD to WDW at 14 months and 26 months, and now DCL. Probably the biggest change for this trip was that DD was potty-trained! WOOHOO! Motivated in part by the fact that certain pools on the ship required kids to be potty-trained…

    Here we are in November 2013:
    [​IMG]

    DH:
    Favorite resort: Yacht Club for location, Wilderness Lodge for atmosphere (although he really like POR after this last trip!)
    Favorite attraction: Spaceship Earth
    Favorite Disney food: A bratwurst from Germany!
    Others favorites: Craft beer and hiking

    Me:
    Favorite resort: Ahh, don’t make me choose – it’s a toss-up between Wilderness Lodge and Yacht Club
    Favorite attraction: Expedition Everest, with Splash Mountain as a close 2nd …oh but I also love Illuminations…and the Main Street Electrical Parade…
    Favorite Disney food: Grand Marnier slushies :love:…and Dole whips!
    Other favorites: Cooking and shopping

    DD:
    Favorite resort: Anywhere with a pool!
    Favorite attraction: It’s a Small World or The Seas!
    Favorite Disney food: Mac n’ cheese!
    Other favorites: Sofia the 1st and Frozen


    What: One night at Port Orleans-Riverside and a trip to Downtown Disney, followed by a 7-night western Caribbean cruise on the Disney Fantasy

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    When: May 23-31, 2014

    Where: DCA – MCO – WDW - Port Canaveral – Cozumel, Mexico - Grand Cayman – Falmouth, Jamaica - Castaway Cay, Bahamas – Port Canaveral – MCO - DCA

    [​IMG]


    Why: Do we really need a why? This trip wasn’t to celebrate anything in particular. Life as working parents who don't live near family is crazy --- and we just needed a little break from the daily grind. For us, a trip to Disney is a total break from reality, and where we are the most relaxed --- no work, no cooking, no cleaning, no yard work – just lots of time to be together as a family in the happiest place on earth! :dance3:

    [​IMG]

    So welcome!! Can’t wait to get started!!! pixiedust:
     
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  3. JulieODC

    JulieODC DIS Veteran

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  4. KatMark

    KatMark DIS Veteran

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    I'm here and can't wait to hear all about it.

    I enjoyed the intros.
     
  5. ThePin Princess

    ThePin Princess disney princess

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    Joining in! Can't wait to read more! :goodvibes
     
  6. DisneyKid4Life

    DisneyKid4Life DIS Veteran

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    Of course joining in Julie!! I haven't read any cruise TR's before, so this will for sure be fun. I mean Castaway Cay... Hello!!! :hyper:
     
  7. Imagineer5

    Imagineer5 DIS Veteran

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    Joining! Can't wait!
     
  8. MiaBella05

    MiaBella05 DIS Veteran

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    popcorn:: joining in popcorn::
     
  9. emmysmommy

    emmysmommy DIS Veteran

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    Ohhhh this is exciting. Disney by land and Disney by sea! I'm in.
     
  10. Tinker326

    Tinker326 DIS Veteran

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    Here! Excited to read about your cruise the week before ours! :)
     
  11. RGirl

    RGirl Change Is Good

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    I can't believe I just now discovered that you had started your TR!!!! I am IN! :woohoo:
     
  12. Dugette

    Dugette DIS Veteran

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    Following along and so happy to see this report!

    I semi-lurked my way through your last report, but haven't read the whole thing yet and haven't commented. It's on my reading list still. :goodvibes

    But this is perfect, as we are tentatively planning a Disney cruise NEXT May when our DD will be 2 years and 8 months old! Can't wait to hear all about it!! :cool1:
     
  13. Marsheliz

    Marsheliz DIS Veteran

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    I'm following along too Julie! Can't wait to read about what you thought about POR and the cruise... We just got back last week from POR and loved it.. We are considering a cruise in 2016!
     
  14. Pixel Dust

    Pixel Dust It's a trap!

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    Of course I'm in! :wave2:
     
  15. StitchsMomma

    StitchsMomma Earning My Ears

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    I just finished reading your November TR and I am looking forward to this one! A Disney cruise is on our wishlist. Hopefully we can work one into our budget and schedule in the next year or two.
     
  16. JulieODC

    JulieODC DIS Veteran

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    Welcome!!! So glad you are here!! :goodvibes

    Thanks for joining in!! :cool1:

    Hi there! Welcome -- so glad you are reading along! pixiedust:
     
  17. JulieODC

    JulieODC DIS Veteran

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    YAY! Thanks for joining!! :yay:

    Welcome, so glad you are here to read along! :goodvibes

    Hi Brenda - thanks for joining in!!! :cheer2:

    Welcome!! So excited to see you here! :goodvibes
     
  18. JulieODC

    JulieODC DIS Veteran

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    You haven't missed much!! :lmao: Thanks for joining!!

    So glad you are here!!! I can't wait to read about your recent adventures with Imagineer5! :goodvibes

    Spoiler alert - we loved POR!! Thanks for reading along! :goodvibes

    Welcome, welcome!! :cool1:

    Thanks so much for joining in and reading along!! Glad you are here! princess:
     
  19. JulieODC

    JulieODC DIS Veteran

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    Pre-Trip Details!


    SO Sorry for the LONG delay in posting an update! I feel like an absolutely terrible DISer. Life just gets in the way sometimes….Some potentially exciting developments in the works :cheer2:, so it’s all good stuff that we’ve been busy with….but unfortunately, cutting into my DIS time! :sad2:

    So I’m going to try and fit a small update in here until I can dive in and really get going with this report! Sorry --- but thanks for being patient!!:littleangel:

    Ok, here’s a quick update to share some of the pre-trip planning we did for this trip.


    Booking the cruise!!!

    Ok, so let’s start with booking the cruise! I’ve heard a lot of people mention that they’d love to do a DCL cruise, but haven’t ever done one. I’ve done many cruises in the past on a variety of different cruise lines, but never with DCL. So I had to do a little research to understand the pricing structure and room categories before making a reservation. :teacher:

    We booked somewhat “late” – we booked in March for a May Cruise --- the rates offered through DCL were pretty standard, with no special deals available. However, we found that by booking through a travel agent, we could get onboard credit. We never ever book things through a travel agent, but for this trip it was the way to go! We booked for the same rate as through DCL, and received $300 onboard credit to be used towards anything we purchased (drinks, dinners, excursions, etc). :woohoo:

    We also went with a “GTY” room for a guaranteed category stateroom – in our case, we had a guaranteed verandah stateroom…but had to wait a few months before receiving our actual stateroom number. The “GTY” room was a few hundred dollars cheaper than booking a specific stateroom – and since we weren’t super picky about our room, besides that we wanted a verandah, this was a good option for us.

    I will say that ~1 month before sailing, OGT/VGT rates did come out for our cruise…so if we’d been willing to take a gamble, we could have waited and booked a similar category room for almost $2000 less than what we paid….but we didn’t feel like taking a gamble this time!

    All of this GTY, OGT, VGT lingo was totally new to me, and very confusing! For a good description of what this all means, go here: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2914256.

    So, like I said, we had to wait until ~1month before sailing to find out our actual assigned number. I logged in daily (sometimes more than once!!), and one day, there was finally a stateroom listed ---- #5186. As it turns out, it was in the category we had been guaranteed – so no “upgrade” – but a great room nonetheless! :goodvibes


    Getting from MCO to Port Canaveral!

    Next, we needed to decide when to arrive, and how to get back and forth from MCO to Port Canaveral. SO MANY OPTIONS! AHHH! :rotfl:

    In the past, I’ve always traveled the day of the cruise, and have never had a problem (delayed flights, etc). But this time, we decided to play it safe, and flew into MCO the day before the cruise (on Friday). And by play it safe, I mean get a day on WDW property!!! ;)

    We got a great discount on a room at POR for one night through Orbitz (extra discount off already discounted rooms). We knew it was going to be such a tease to be on WDW property, without actually going to any parks, but figured it would be fun to enjoy the resort, and check out Downtown Disney.

    Next, I needed to figure out how to get everywhere we needed to go. ME/Disney Transportation, rental car, private transport?! So many options!! The port is an hour away from WDW, and using Disney transportation costs $75 per person (3 years and above)…so it would be $150 each way for us. We could take ME from MCO to POR, and then use DCL transport from WDW to the Port.

    However, in the end, we rented a car (got a deal through USAA), and for ~$50 total, we drove ourselves from MCO to WDW, and then to the Port (and allowed us to run a few errands before getting on the ship – BEER and WINE! :rolleyes1). I thought this was a good deal considering we picked up and dropped off in different locations….and even with tolls and gas, we saved $ over DCL transportation. We used Avis, which had a shuttle from their office in Cape Canaveral to the ship.

    On the way back, rental rates were ridiculously high, so we booked DCL transport.


    Connecting with fellow passengers!!

    I joined the DIS group for this cruise, as well as the Facebook group. We didn’t end up attending any meet and greets and didn't participate in the fish extender (FE), but it was really fun to talk about the cruise, get advice and ideas, and share experiences afterwards! I’d definitely recommend joining these groups, even if you don’t want to do the FE!

    Passports!!

    Because the cruise left and returned to a US port, we could have traveled with birth certificates, and didn't need to have passports. DH and I have passports, but DD did not. In the end, we decided to just go ahead and get her a passport to be safe (the main reason would be if something happened, and we needed to leave the ship in one of the international ports, we’d then need a passport to fly back to the US). Highly unlikely – but you never know! And now, DD has a passport, so we can travel with her to other fun places – including my SILs wedding in Mexico next year.

    The process was ok – filled out all the paperwork and took our own photos at home (following the guidance online) and had them printed at CVS. The hardest part was getting an appt at one of our local post offices that does passports – nobody wanted to answer the phone, or had appts early enough that we wouldn’t have to pay the expedited fee. :confused3 We persevered though, and the 5 min appt went smoothly…and a few weeks later, we had a fresh new passport for DD! :yay:


    Ok, I think that’s the main stuff we planned in advance. Of course I spent ridiculous amounts of time researching the ship, port activities, etc – but I’ll talk more about that when I report on our days in port.

    Again, so sorry for the delay in posting this latest installment. It might be another week or 2 before the next post between the holiday and some traveling we are doing to visit family!


    Hope everyone out there has a great July 4th!pixiedust:pixiedust:pixiedust:


    Coming Next: Getting our butts to Florida!
     
  20. Tinker326

    Tinker326 DIS Veteran

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    I think those special rates are the way to go now - to be able to afford getting on a Disney boat- but I can't handle that uncertainty. I'm too Type A! :)

    Plus I am a crazy light sleeper and the thought of a week on a boat under/below a dance club, the buffet, the pool or right off an elevator would be horrible for me.

    Looking forward to hearing more!!!

    Happy 4th!
     
  21. KatMark

    KatMark DIS Veteran

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    We have never even priced a cruise and what it would cost to get to the port, etc. That seems like a lot of work. Kudos to you for getting it all done.

    I think Mark and I are getting passports this summer just so we have them (talking about Cancun next year or the year after).

    Have a great 4th of July.
     

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