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The Pay It Forward PTR - Concierge on Disney Fantasy Eastern January 26, 2013

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Pre-Trip Reports' started by cblack, Sep 19, 2012.

  1. cblack

    cblack Mousketeer

    Hi, there! :wave2: Cassie here…long time reader, first-time trip reporter. I feel like I’ve gained so much knowledge by lurking on these boards that I must make an attempt to pay it forward. This is our family’s second cruise, so we are officially “silver” Castaway Club members, but this in no way makes me an expert (1st disclaimer). I should add a 2nd disclaimer that following our first cruise, I couldn’t login to the Disboards for at least a month because it reminded me that I was no longer on the cruise and was back to normal life. ;) So, if I am not quick to turn this into a trip report, please be patient. :hug:

    OK, now that you know why I’m here and that I may be slow in updating post-cruise, let’s get this pre-trip report going with introductions :goodvibes:
    • DH – Jeremy. Not a Disney fanatic, but admitted that our last cruise was the best vacation he has ever had. This is good news because that means I get to go on more cruises! :thumbsup2
    • DD – Jayden. Loves everything Disney with the exception of the big-head, open-mouth, furry characters….and she loves those from a distance. 15 feet or less and the waterworks start and she starts screaming, “they are going to bite me!!!!” :confused3 We are hoping to overcome the fear this cruise; we have had many discussions about Mickey being a nice friend who does not bite. If we don’t get past it, we have more time to do things other than stand in character lines.
    • Me – Cassie. Dis lurker and extreme planner in an attempt to learn as much as I can to make my family’s cruise as magical as possible. I learned in my first trip to Disney World that being prepared can make the difference between a magical experience and visiting a theme park (and eating lunch and dinner 2 hours apart, but that is a different story :scared:).

    This is us (and our three furry family members):


    And cruise details:
    • Ship: Disney Fantasy
    • Itinerary: 7 Day Eastern Caribbean (with a stop in San Juan)
    • Dates: January 26, 2013 – February 2, 2013
    • Room: 12000, 1 Bedroom Concierge (at the very front of the ship)

    This is our room:

    ...and this is the balcony for our room:

    I cannot wait to be sitting in that chair relaxing!!! :cool1: Next up will be details we've taken care of so far.
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  3. cblack

    cblack Mousketeer

    We are just 9 days away from booking excursions, Palo, BBB, spa, cabana, etc. and the excitement is killing me!!! :cool1: Staying up late, making sure I’m prepared, but not logged in until precisely 12am ET so as to not have to log out and log back in thus wasting precious booking minutes. I try to keep my “Disney-nuttiness” to myself or at least within my home. People I work with and my family know that I am crazy when it comes to Disney, but they have no clue how much time I spend reading to learn more (BWAHAHAHA) or that I would stay up until midnight to make sure Jayden can get her hair done. You guys get it, though, don’t you?!?! :confused3

    Anyway, I will try to contain my excitement, because I am also preparing for a big event for our family this weekend. Jeremy, Jayden, and I (and 60+ of our friends and family) are participating in a local 5K event supporting the Foundation Fighting Blindness. :thumbsup2 This is a cause that is near and dear to us, so we are busy gathering last minute donations, handing out t-shirts, making sure everyone knows where to be and when, etc. It should be a fun weekend with great weather, friends, family, and hopefully lots of laughter. :hug: I will post a team picture (assuming that everyone makes it where they are supposed to) next week.

    So this is supposed to be a planning update too…I should get back on track! I travel a lot for work, so when it comes to vacations, I try to use as many points as I can to save $$$. I would much rather spend my $$$ on a massage than on a flight…it is just more fun and so much easier to justify the spend! So, we are flying Southwest to Orlando on Friday, January 25 on points…$15 total for our flights (woohoo!!!). On our last cruise, we took the EARLY morning flight the day before the cruise just to be triple-sure that we would not miss the ship. We want to make this trip a little more leisurely, so we are taking a noon-ish flight out of St. Louis that arrives in Orlando around 4pm. I should mention that this cruise is a complete surprise to Jayden, only because anytime we mention going somewhere, her immediate response is, “are we going right now?” :goodvibes We want to be able to say, “YES!!!” to this question, so we are planning to go out for a late breakfast that morning and tell her there. She loves the “Mickey Boat,” as she calls it, and asks regularly if we can go again, so I can’t wait to see her reaction.

    We had a little debate about where to stay Friday night. Last cruise, we stayed at the Residence Inn close to the port and this worked well. We had the RI booked for this cruise until I learned that their shuttles do not leave the hotel until after 11am. Since I’ve read that the port has been opening earlier and some concierge guests have reported being on the ship by 11:30, I want to make sure we are there early and getting every bit of vacation we can! So, we decided to stay at the Renaissance Orlando Airport Hotel. There are lots of places close by to eat without taking a taxi (we will be traveling sans-carseat, so we prefer to walk) and the place looks nice enough. Total price comes to….$0 as we are staying on points.

    This is the Renaissance...looks nice enough!

    So, I’m sure you might be asking…why are you staying close to the airport to get there earlier??? Again, no carseat, so a taxi is out. Jeremy refuses to drive on vacation (and I don’t really want to either), so a rental car is out. The DCL bus is more expensive than a private car. I need a Marriott so I can stay on points and want to get there early, so there you have it…we are staying at the airport and will have a town car service take us to the port and back to the airport. We booked with Tiffany Towncar for these transfers; I chose Tiffany Towncar mostly because I could not find negative reviews on this company. They must do something great, because their customers just RAVE about them. We will have a grocery stop on the way to the port just in case we forget something. They also provide a car seat free of charge. :thumbsup2

    OK, last piece of planning info for today – we park at the airport when we fly, and because of the points for work travel, our parking will be a grand total of $0 (yay!!!). So, even though work travel is a pain in my booty :scared: most times, all-in, it is saving our family $846 on flights, $199 on hotel, and $135 on parking, for a grand total of………..$1,180. Jeremy will attest that when asked how much I spent, I strongly prefer to showcase how much I saved! :goodvibes

    Whew! I think that is enough for today!
  4. Guineveree

    Guineveree Landing in a Field of Dreams

    Fantastic!!! Am subscribing!!

    I'm so happy for you that you could nail down that stateroom! pixiedust:

    I'm on standby for the 2014 dates to try to book that very 12000 room.

    And yes, so much fun when your get reap some "compensation" (I hesitate to call this "benefits") from grueling work travel.

    Can't wait to see how everything will go for you and your family! Too bad the furry members of the family can't come with....
  5. cblack

    cblack Mousketeer

    Thanks for joining in!!! I was riding the bus on my way to work when opening day prices came out. I couldn't get my email to come up fast enough to get to my TA because I wanted that room!!! I will be sure to share pictures to show the differences between that room and the other 1BRs.
  6. cblack

    cblack Mousketeer

    Just a small update to share results from our team's efforts at our local VisionWalk. Our team was 54 strong (53 of the human variety and 1 canine), and we raised well over $4,500! :cool1: I'm thinking when the final count is in, we may have hit the $5K mark! Here is a picture of our team...


    I'll be back with an update on our plans for excursions soon...the couch is calling me to take a nap :cool1:
  7. eyesing4u

    eyesing4u DVC Member

    Just booked today on DVC points. :banana: Subscribing.....
  8. cblack

    cblack Mousketeer

    Welcome to this cruise and thanks for joining in on the PTR! :goodvibes
  9. cblack

    cblack Mousketeer

    In a little more than 24 hours, I will be logging in to book excursions, Palo, BBB, Cabana, etc. This point of the “waiting game” seemed like a tipping point with our last cruise, and I think we are on par for the same this round. It seems that life speeds up for us in fall/early winter and the cruise is here before we know it. With every weekend booking up, I’m sure we will be to Christmas in no time and then will be down to less than one month! So, to share with anyone who may be reading or for my own sanity, here is the plan for tomorrow night…

    • Cabana: We had a cabana on our last cruise and that day was/is our most favorite memory. I’ve seen several threads questioning “is the cabana worth it” and for us it is a resounding yes. The cost is high, but we shared with another family last cruise and are planning on sharing one this cruise as well. So, the cost is cut in half…what a deal, right!!! So, to explain why we LOVED having the cabana…it is not so much the cabana itself. It was nice having a place to get out of the sun, but we really didn’t spend much time there other than when we ate lunch. The best part for us was the private beach, the shallow water with few waves, and the sandbar that appears as the day goes on. All of these make for fantastic pictures and a less-stressed momma! For this cruise, I am shooting for cabana #5, 6, 7, or 8. If anyone has thoughts/advice, please share!
    • Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique: I am sailing in unknown territory here, but I think DD will like this. We have not done BBB before, so all I know is what I have learned on the DIS. We are scheduling the Castle package on formal night, which includes hair, dress, tiara, shoes, makeup, nails, and a bag (I think). DD’s hair isn’t very long, so I’m not sure what the options are for hair. If anyone knows, help is much appreciated!!!
    • Palo Dinner and Brunch: I really enjoyed both of these on our last cruise. The Remy brunch and dinner both look really intimidating to me…I’ve read several reviews and it looks like a lot of fun, but I don’t think it is for me. We did learn last time to make sure there is time in between these meals, as we did dinner one night and brunch the next morning. The plan is to do brunch on our second sea day and dinner on San Juan night.
    • St. Thomas: We are planning on doing the Kon Tiki excursion here, and we are excited to get to see another area of St. Thomas. We went to Magens Bay last time and would have gone back this cruise, but with the Kon Tiki excursion added in, we are going for something different.
    • San Juan: I’m not thrilled with our choice here, but most of the excursions are for children older than DD. We are planning on doing the Isla Verde excursion; from best I can tell, this is a day pass to the Courtyard Marriott. I don’t think we could keep DD interested in the fort, the walking tour would turn into mommy carrying DD tour, rum + a 4 year old = probably not, and everything else that looks interesting, she is not old enough for.

    As far as the spa, concierge is booking our appointment. There are certain treatments that they say can only be booked onboard, but as a perk for concierge guests, they will book these for you at 120 days out.

    Also, as a concierge perk, you do not have to sign up for a port arrival time. This means that I don’t have to get up at 2am (CT) Friday morning to do this! Yay for more sleep! :cool1:

    Next up - I will share my results in booking. Lots of folks have had issues logging in over the past few days, so hopefully, this will go smoothly!
  10. hcjgirls

    hcjgirls New Member

    Stupid questions....what does DH, DD and all those others means? So new to all this..thanks!
  11. cblack

    cblack Mousketeer

    First, welcome to the Dis! Second, there are NEVER stupid questions on here...some that might get snarky responses, but just ignore them! :goodvibes

    Finally, for your excellent question...DH - I've seen it written out as both Disney Husband or Darling Husband and same with DD - Disney Daughter or Darling Daughter. When I'm writing, I'm thinking "darling" in my head. :goodvibes

    You may also see things like DS (son), DSIL (son-in-law), DBIL (brother-in-law), etc. Occassionally, there are some that I can't figure out, so I just add in whichever person I want to their story :lmao:
  12. eyesing4u

    eyesing4u DVC Member

    Thanks for the feedback on the cabana. Last time we were at CC they did not have them. I'm only a silver member and can't book until the end of October. Hope there are some left. We were going to try for the Kon Tiki excursion also. As for for PR that is still up in the air. I was hoping to book the other itinierary and go to St. Maarten, but they weren't doing that until October.
  13. cblack

    cblack Mousketeer

    We are cruising during the "slower" time, so you never know! I have read about people getting them 10 days before the cruise. I can also let you know what is out there as we get closer to the 90 day mark :goodvibes
  14. cblack

    cblack Mousketeer

    Despite some craziness with the family, I did stay up late and book our cabana, BBB, Palo dinner and brunch, and excursions. I had no issues with logging in, but didn't remember the user interface for booking excursions looking the same last time. With each item you book, you had to select those people who would partake (this was the same), then check availability (this was the same), select a time, click save, and then on the right side of the screen, you had to click "confirm activities." This got me on the cabana because I kept selecting "my" cabana and couldn't get it to confirm. Luckily, I figured it out after two attempts.

    Let me just say that I am AMAZED!!! at how quickly the cabanas go. Nothing else seemed to be in short-supply; in fact, I don't think any of the Palo brunch or dinner times are gone still, but the cabanas went VERY FAST! In fact, as of 12:25 ET (25 minutes into booking) only one cabana remained (#20 on serenity bay), and it is still available. This quick "sell-out" on the cabanas had me thinking two things: first, I was not alone in my craziness :lmao: and second, exactly how many people were up at that hour trying to get a cabana and if so, how many did not get one? :confused3 That would be a REAL bummer to be platinum or concierge, stay up late to book, and then not get a cabana (if you really wanted one). :scared:

    We also asked concierge to book our spa treatment. With our last cruise, we just had to trust that we were booked because the treatment did not show up on our list of activities online. With the updated web site, we were able to confirm that our spa treatment was there :cheer2:

    Next up...figuring out packing. :laundy: I have the infamous "basket" out dropping things in it as warm weather fades away. I will also talk a bit about our family's plan for FEs.
  15. Conorama

    Conorama New Member

    Hey! Just found your PTR. As you know, we're on your cruise, and DS is just a bit older than Jayden. We might be joining you at the 15 feet spot - last year at Beaches, DS ran SCREAMING away from Cookie Monster (whom he loves) when we first saw him ... happily, but the end of the week he would hug Elmo or Zoe, but I'm not counting on that having carried over. Or, like you, I'm sure we'll find other things to do!

    Since we're first-time cruisers, I'll just sit here and read about your bookings for now, and cross my fingers that what we want will be there in November when we can book. We might well be doing the same thing in San Juan, since by then I know DS will be dying for a beach day - he could live on a beach, and they're in very short supply up here in Ontario in January. :wave2:

    I'll be following along. Thanks!
  16. cblack

    cblack Mousketeer

    Glad you are following along! :goodvibes I am not convinced we will get past the character fear, although she talks a good game now :rotfl:

    Just let me know if you want me to look anything up as your booking date nears to see if it is available. It is so much easier going in with an idea of what is available!
  17. Conorama

    Conorama New Member

    Ah... 4 year old talk is cheap, as they say. We seem to be getting over our fear of dogs, so, hey, characters might be next?

    Will likely take you up on your offer to check on the booking possibilities. I just can't handle being disappointed at midnight.... which is why I will be getting my DH to do it. :thumbsup2
  18. Poohcandi

    Poohcandi New Member

    This is my first post... I read your PTR and I too am an excessive and obsessed planner. We are planning a world and cruise combo in 2014. I have made dining reservations for the world before and had to phone in ridiculously early, I didn't realize you could log in and make your cruise reservations at a specific time. This will be or 2nd cruise, so we are silver castaway manners as well, but is your pre booking time extended further because you are concierge? Can you give me a little more info on where, how and when you are logging in for reservations. I was hoping for BBB and a cabana as well.
    Thanks for taking the time to share your plan! Very helpful
  19. cblack

    cblack Mousketeer

    :welcome: to the Dis! You can book your cruise excursion/Palo/Remy/BBB/etc. online. Platinum CC members and concierge can book at 120 days, gold at 105 days, silver at 90 days, and first-timers at 75 days. The online booking starts at 12am ET...the DCL web site will tell you which day you can begin booking. Just remember that if you are not in ET, the date may be off (I live in Central timezone, so I booked at 11pm CT on the day before the date shown on the web site). You must wait until that time to loving, as if youare logged in early, the site wont recognize that the clock has switched over to the next day.

    My "prioritization" was the cabana and then BBB because the cabanas appear to be a "hot" item. Also, if you don't get what you want, keep checking because people do cancel. I hope you enjoy your WDW/DCL trip! If you have any questions, just let me know! :goodvibes:goodvibes
  20. hoosthatmouse

    hoosthatmouse New Member

    I am so jealous and excited for you! That is a huge savings! We just put down a deposit for a Feb cruise and I am working on the logistics now for night before and cars. Did you put any thought into adding a WDW day before you head out on the cruise? Have you cruised on a concierge level before? Sounds fabulous!
  21. cblack

    cblack Mousketeer

    Hello and thanks for reading! It is very exciting to save that much, but it did take lots of trips away from family to get those points. So, when I travel for work, I keep telling myself..."this will make our vacation cheaper...this will make our vacation cheaper!" :goodvibes

    We did consider doing a night at WDW, but we are planning a bigger WDW trip at the end of next year, so we decided we would wait until then.

    I have cruised concierge before on the Magic. :goodvibes

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