Hi all! It’s me again! I’ve been away for a while but decided it’s time to write about my summer vacation. For those that don’t know me, I’m Jen. I am not going to do the long intro as many who are reading probably already know me. If you don’t you can go ahead and find one of my old reports. This trip was a last minute booking for the most part. I had been wanting to cruise the special 3 night sailing on the Fantasy this summer but I just couldn’t justify the cost. One of my very good friends, “J”, was sailing that sailing as she would be turning 50 on Castaway Cay day. Who wouldn’t want to spend their 50th there? Right? I watched for special rates, which are sometimes released through my job and nothing was showing up…so I pretty much had given up hope, despite J constantly telling me I needed to be there. Late June I just happened to be working on something and needed to call DCL. While I was on the phone I asked if they knew of any special rates….BINGO! That cruise was now on the list of ones I could book! I put it on hold immediately. I asked Skip (my husband) if he would like to cruise this summer and that I had enough funds to pay for it all and enough airline points to fly us all. His response was a big fat no! I did ask if it was ok for us gals to go (Claire and I) and he said he didn’t care. I then said I would ask my mom as well as she had been hinting for quite some time she wanted to do a cruise. Mom said she had to wait till she cleared it from work, so Claire and I booked. (Of course if you know my husband, he then later said he would rather we didn’t go and didn’t understand that we had paid in full already and it was nonrefundable). A few days later, Mom said yes and she was added to the reservation. And good news!!! Another friend of mine, “P”, was also coming now with her 2 daughters. Her birthday was after the cruise, but she too would be celebrating 50! J was also sailing with 3 of her daughters, one who was on our cruise last summer…so it was going to be a TON of fun!!! pc3 by Jenseib, on Flickr On to the planning! Now if you read my title, I mentioned that I cruised for practically free. That is true, but don’t expect to be able to use all the cost saving ways I used. To start with, I did get a discounted rate, though not cheap, it was cheaper than full rate. Over the past year I had done everything I could to save up money and get gift cards for Disney. I actually do this all the time. My main way is by doing something called Swagbucks and I also dabble with My Points. With these sites I do “offers”, watch videos, answer surveys, etc to earn points. Those points can be cashed in for gift cards. I then take those gift cards and turn them in for Disney gift cards. This is not a quick and easy way to make money, but if you know some of the tricks you can earn free money. I do it pretty much daily and can earn from $25-$150 per month. I would say I average $75 a month. Again, I work at this and I have been doing it for years so I know what credits best for me and how to run videos without me having to monitor them too much. I also ask for gift cards for my birthday or other holidays, so I save those up as well. When I have some extra cash, or get a rebate from something…I turn those into gift cards as well. What it all comes down to is I had enough in gift cards to pay for Claire and I to cruise this cruise. Mom had a Disney Rewards card and that paid half her fare, so she didn’t have much out of pocket there either. On to flights. We knew we would come in at least 1 day early and probably would stay 1 day after since the flights were pretty expensive to fly home the day the cruise disembarked. It was cheaper to get a hotel than for the 3 of us to fly home that Sat. In the end, J talked me into staying an extra day as well so that we could spend Sunday at Magic Kingdom together. The flight for Monday wasn’t really much of a difference from the Sunday flight and still the hotel cost was cheaper for 2 nights than flying home Sat. (Yeah those Sat flights were HIGH). I booked Claire and I to fly with Southwest on points…coming in on July 10 and flying home July 16….early! For Claire and I, the only cost was tax and then I did purchase early bird check in for both ways. I believe the cost total for the 2 of us was around $80….so if you are keeping track…so far I have only spent $80 out of pocket. Of course we booked Mom on the same flights and she did pay for her flights. Hotel….we needed to pay for a prenight hotel. J and I discussed it and we decided we wanted to stay at the port. We did some quick looking and then decided on Radisson as it was pretty cheap and we really didn’t want to pay too much. I believe it was just under $130 for a 2 queen room at a prepaid rate. P also decided to stay there as well. This was also an out of pocket expense…but right now I am at about $210 in expenses…not bad for a 6 night vacation! Ok….things are coming together! Now we need to decide how to get to and from the port!