All Good Things Come To Those That Wait - A Pre-trip Report

dolphingirl47

In Search of the Tag Fairy
Joined
Dec 25, 2007
Now that I have finished the trip report for my last adventure, it is time to look forward. Two months from today I will get on the Disney Wonder. I booked this a month ago and have been in full planning mode since, but wanted to wait until I had finished my trip report for the last trip.

The Cast



Graham, 55 at the time of travelling and long suffering husband ;-) He does not really get Disney as such, but loves going on Disney cruises and his favourite ship is the Disney Wonder. Graham is quite adventurous and likes cycling, snorkeling, swimming and kayaking. He is an avid bird watcher. He likes to chill on cruises and apart from the odd run and the daily Walk A Mile just likes to relax.

Corinna, 39 at the time of travelling. I am an absolute Disney nut and a Princess at heart. Traditionally the Disney Magic was my favourite ship, but I came to the realization a couple of years ago that my heart is big enough to love two ships. I am normally on the go from morning to night when I am on a cruise and one of my favourite things is meeting all the characters. I love swimming and snorkeling and I am interested in history. I also really got into photography in recent years.

I was pondering a number of different titles for this pre-trip report and there would have been a good reason for each and every one of them.

Sit Back and Smell The Roses

As I said, I am normally on the go from the time I get up until it is time to go to bed. On the longer cruises with a lot of sea days, I normally need a holiday when the cruise is finished. I had a pretty intense year and this year is not shaping up to be any quieter either. So I am going to try a slightly different approach this time round. On our cruise in December I actually adopted a slower pace and rather enjoyed it. Apart from the character meet and greets and Walk A Mile, I will try to restrict myself to one organized activity per day. The rest of the time I plan on hanging out on the comfortable loungers on deck 4 reading a book, hang out in the spa, swim and enjoy the hot tub.

The Do Over

To a certain extend this is a do over. We were lucky enough to do a Panama Canal Cruise on the Wonder in January 2011. This was only the third cruise that was longer than 4 nights that the Wonder had done. The only other longer cruises were two 7 night cruises over Christmas and New Year that were right before ours. This showed. I don’t think the crew really knew what to do with us on such a long cruise and the same activities were repeated over and over again. They were also totally overwhelmed by the crowds certain things caused. We did enjoy our cruise, but it was a bit of a comedy of errors. When we went back on the Wonder in October that same year, it was like a completely new ship and our Hawaii cruise in 2012 was truly magical. So I have high hopes for this cruise.

For Old Times’ Sake

There are two reasons why I was desperate to do this cruise this year. We found out last year that once the new shipping lane of the Panama Canal opens, the Wonder will get the same extensive overhaul that the Magic received last year, which will also make the ship longer. This means she will no longer fit through the old locks. I definitely wanted to get the opportunity to go through the old locks. Of course since I made the booking, it has transpired that work on new shipping canal has stopped over some financial dispute. I also wanted to see the Wonder one last time in her original state. Even though I absolutely love what they have done with the Magic, I am glad that I had the opportunity to have one last cruise in November 2012 before the Magic had her makeover. I want the same opportunity with the Wonder.

Finally, I decided that All Good Things Come To Those That Wait would be the best fit.

I originally found out about a fantastic deal for a Panama Canal cruise on the Wonder this time last year. We already had two cruises booked for May just after this and we were not in the position to do all three. I was sorely tempted to cancel our Los Angeles to Vancouver Repositioning Cruise and the Alaska cruise straight after this and book the Panama Canal Cruise instead, but Graham wanted to stick with the cruises we had booked. I am now glad that we did, as those cruises were truly amazing. Still, as a sweetener for me, we agreed that the amazing rates we had seen for May also would become available for the September crossing, we would jump on it. Well, the rates were available, but a lot was going on in our life at the time and we were not in a position to commit to a trip in September. Fast forward to mid January this year: I was delighted when they offered very good rates again. Actually, this time round they were even better than what was offered last year. We agreed that I would make use of the 24 hour courtesy hold that DCL offers and I booked an inside cabin. We figured that would give us enough time to find suitable flights. We had a very rude awakening. The flights were silly expensive. So our booking lapsed. We did not give up though. On 2nd February, Graham happened onto a fantastic deal for flights and booked them. As soon as he sent me the confirmation, I booked the cruise. At that stage only ocean view cabins were available on that particular rate. They were a little more expensive, but still a fantastic deal. So I booked this during my break. When I checked later in the day, all the special rates had gone and the flights had also gone back up to their original fare, but for us it was a question of “All Good Things Come To Those That Wait”

Disclaimer:
The photos from Key West, Cozumel, the Panama Canal, the hotel in Miami, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas and San Diego are mine from previous visits. Most of the other photos are courtesy of Google Images or from the websites where I bought the items from.
 

jedijill

Chiefs fan living in Bronco country
Joined
Jan 17, 2005
I'm in!

I'm so jealous! I would love to do a Panama Canal cruise some of these days but they just haven't worked out yet. I have an extra week of vacation at work now so it may be in my future some of these days.

Can't wait to hear all about your adventure!

Jill in CO
 

Jeff Spencer

Space & Disney Nut
Joined
Jul 7, 2004
I'm in!

I'm so jealous! I would love to do a Panama Canal cruise some of these days but they just haven't worked out yet. I have an extra week of vacation at work now so it may be in my future some of these days.

Can't wait to hear all about your adventure!

Jill in CO
We'd love to have you aboard with us Jill. :thumbsup2
 
  • dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    I'm in!

    I'm so jealous! I would love to do a Panama Canal cruise some of these days but they just haven't worked out yet. I have an extra week of vacation at work now so it may be in my future some of these days.

    Can't wait to hear all about your adventure!

    Jill in CO
    Welcome.

    If you get the chance to do a Panama Canal cruise, you definitely need to grab it with both hands. Even though quite a few things did not go quite to plan on the 2011 cruise, we had an amazing time and I can't wait to repeat this.

    We'd love to have you aboard with us Jill. :thumbsup2
    Welcome on board.

    I'm in for the ride!
    Welcome on board.

    Corinna
     

    Chilly

    RIP Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Apr 25, 2006
    This is a cruise I'd like to do but hubby is not keen so i'll live it through you.
     
  • tiggrbaby

    <font color=deeppink><marquee>We must work harder
    Joined
    Jun 26, 2004
    Only two months! How exciting!

    We did the eastbound repositioning in Aug. '08 on the Magic and loved it!
     
  • dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Only two months! How exciting!

    We did the eastbound repositioning in Aug. '08 on the Magic and loved it!
    Welcome. Yes, time is going to go so quickly. Fortunately I am pretty organized this time round. There are a couple of things that I still need to take care of, but for the most part I just have to wait for stuff to arrive.

    We did the 2011 crossing on the Wonder and despite a few things going wrong, we had a great time.

    I'm in! Can't wait :-)
    Welcome on board.

    Corinna:rolleyes2
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    I have been working in the airline industry for over 8 years and I pride myself on understanding how it works and what influences fares. This time round I was absolutely stumped though and I still do not understand what was happening. The only thing I understand very clearly is that this aspect of the trip planning nearly derailed the whole holiday.

    I know that the cheapest fares are normally available for departures on Mondays to Thursdays and go up for the weekend. As we need to fly out on a Thursday and will fly back on a Monday, I thought we were golden. I was very surprised that we could have got cheaper fares if we left on Friday. Unfortunately this was not an option as we have to get on the ship on Friday.

    I also know that prices shoot up around school holidays. However, the school holidays in the UK don’t start until the end of May. Strange enough, the fares for the end of May are pretty much the same than the ones we found in early May.

    Another way to usually get lower fares is to fly from another European country as the departure taxes from the UK are the highest in Europe. We checked all kinds of interesting combinations leaving from Copenhagen, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Madrid, Barcelona, Brussels, Dublin, Milan, Paris and Rotterdam. Some of the fares came in a little lower, but not enough to make it worth our while.

    The strangest thing happened so when we actually did find a suitable fare. From one minute to the next, the fare that was available was £120 per person cheaper than the next best fare we had found. The routing and the airline had never shown up on any of our searches. There were two different combinations for a similar price with the same airline. Just as soon as we had booked this, the prices shot up again to the previous level and the airline we are booked on did no longer feature amongst the lowest prices. I think we may have benefited from a computer glitch. Still, however this came about, this has saved our holiday.

    As it is, we have a few firsts on this trip and a few elements that I would not have chosen that way if I had a choice. Still, ultimately all that mattered to me is that we can get there. We are flying on American Airlines for the first time. I gather that their transatlantic services are rather basic with overhead screens in the cabin rather than individual screens. Still, it also states that there is in seat power so I will be able to amuse myself with my iPad without having to worry about running down the power. I may even see if I can download a couple of films onto the iPad. Other than that I have plenty of good books to keep me entertained.



    One thing that did rather worry me is that initially we did not have a booking reference for American Airlines as all flights are code share flights with a US Airways flight number. This meant that we could not book seats. We now have the booking reference for American Airlines as well and they already had automatically assigned our seats. To my utter delight, they pretty much precisely assigned the seats that I would have chosen. For our first flight we have a narrow body aircraft with 3 seats on either side of the aisle. We have ended up with a window seat and one next to it. I shall claim the window seat and I will be as happy as a clam. On the two flights that I am likely to want to sleep on, from New York to Miami and from Chicago back to Manchester, we are flying on a Boeing 767 where there are only two seats by the window so we do not have any strangers next to us.

    One thing that I am not overly keen on is the fact that we have to clear immigration and customs at New York JFK. The very first time we flew indirect, we changed planes at JFK. Even though we had an hour more transit time scheduled than the minimum connecting specified and arrived 30 minutes earlier still, the lines in immigration moved so slowly that we ended up missing our connecting flight. We swore at that time that we would never transit at JFK again. Still, this time round we have a transit time of nearly 5.5 hours, which should hopefully be plenty. I have already checked out the food options. They seem to have quite a nice food court at the terminal that we arrive at and depart from so that we can get some dinner while we are in transit. I have also spotted that there is a Starbucks so I can get my first Green Tea Frappuccino.



    We are going to experience three new airports. We are flying into Miami. We dropped our rental car there in December and picked up the car on the way back, but have not seen the actual airport as yet. Still, we know that we can get into Downtown Miami by public transport. On the way back we fly from San Diego and change planes in Chicago and those airports are new for us, too. I hope that all will work smoothly.







    One drawback that actually may turn out to be a blessing in disguise is that we fly out of terminal 3 in Manchester. This is mainly used for domestic and short-haul flights and there is not a great deal there. We are going to go from home to the airport and as there is so little to keep us amused. We probably will time our arrival around 2 hours before rather than the normal 4 hours. I will do online check in the day before. As the flight is quite early for a transatlantic flight, this will give me an extra hour in bed.



     

    jedijill

    Chiefs fan living in Bronco country
    Joined
    Jan 17, 2005
    I'm so glad you got your plane tickets at a good price no matter how they came about!

    I detest JFK!!! I flew through there on my way back from Barcelona and it was horrible! I hate for first time visitors to judge the US from their first impression at JFK. You should have plenty of time to get through though. Just know you have to go through Security again after clearing Immigration and Customs.

    Jill in CO
     

    jenseib

    Mommy to Claire
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    I'm in...So let me get this straight...You have 3 cruises coming up? When are the other ones taking place...in May as well?
     



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