Disney Magic 12 nt. British Isles Cruise 2017

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by poison ivy, Aug 3, 2017.

  1. poison ivy

    poison ivy DIS Veteran

    Mar 3, 2010
    Disney Magic 12 nt. British Isles Cruise 2017

    Dover, England: July 9, 2017 to July 21, 2017


    Welcome to our Trip Report!

    This was an amazing cruise. The places…..The people…..The Spectacular Ports of Call. Honestly, the trip of a lifetime.

    Also one of many firsts:

    1st trip to Europe.
    1st time flying out of JFK
    1st time on British Airways

    1st time cruising beyond 7 nights
    1st time staying on a lower deck
    1st time in a porthole cabin

    1st everything about the U.K. & France
    (incl. the VAT Tax Refund?!?!)

    Hope you will join us.


    “Post Your Selfie with Clayton”

    From left:
    DS: Mark (Iron Man on the DIS)
    Myself: Poison Ivy
    Cruise Director: Clayton Lyndsey
    DH: JQ (Johnny Quest on the DIS)

    Our Travel Dates: 7/7/17 to 7/21/17

    INDEX - (click on the colored links for official website information)


    July 7, 2017 – JFK to Heathrow; Sofitel London Heathrow Hotel

    July 8, 2017 – London Area Tour: Evan Evans - Stonehenge at Sunrise; Oxford & Windsor Castle


    Sun July 9, 2017 – Embarkation: All Aboard 4:00pm
    DCL transfers to Dover; Cat 9B Cabin 2550

    Mon July 10, 2017 – Le Havre, France / All Ashore 7:15am All Aboard 10:45pm
    (DCL excursion: D-Day Landing Beaches – Adult Only Departure (LH12))

    Tues July 11, 2017 – Portland, England / All Ashore 7:30am All Aboard 5:45pm
    (DCL excursion: Glastonbury Tor and the Cathedral City of Wells (PT03))

    Wed July 12. 2017 – At Sea (Palo Brunch)

    Thurs July 13, 2017 – Dublin, Ireland - on our own / All Ashore 7:15am All Aboard 11:00pm (DCL free shuttle: visit the Book of Kells; Tour: Newgrange Tours by Mary Gibbons - Newgrange & Hill of Tara; evensong at St. Patrick’s Cathedral; DIS Irish meetup at Christ Church Cathedral w/ @BadPinkTink for dinner at The Brazen Head Pub)

    Fri July 14. 2017 – Liverpool, England / All Ashore 8:15am All Aboard 6:30pm
    (Tour: Busybus – North Wales)

    Sat July 15. 2017 – Greenock, Scotland / All Ashore 8:30am All Aboard 7:15pm
    (2nd choice - DCL excursion: Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace – Adult Only Departure (GR43))

    Sun July 16. 2017 – Hebrides, Scotland (At Sea)

    Mon July 17, 2017 – Kirkwall, Scotland / All Ashore 8:15am All Aboard 5:45pm
    (Tour: Explore Orkney)

    Tues July 18, 2017 - Invergordon, Scotland / All Ashore 7:00am All Aboard 6:00pm

    Wed July 19, 2017 – Newcastle, England / All Ashore 9:15am All Aboard 6:30pm
    (DCL excursion: Bamburgh Castle and Lindisfarne (NC13))

    Thurs July 20, 2017 - At Sea

    Fri July 21, 2017 – Dover, England; Disembarkation begins approx. 6:30am
    DCL Transfers to Gatwick
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2018
  2. happy wanderer

    happy wanderer Mouseketeer

    Apr 17, 2017
    We plan (hope?) to do the British Isles itinerary in 2020...very much looking forward to your report!
  3. Avatar


  4. lorimay

    lorimay Celebrating 32 Ears

    Dec 11, 2008
    Oh Yay! Looking forward to this report, we are sailing the mini 7 night version next Fall............

    This will be our first time in Europe too..........
  5. BadPinkTink

    BadPinkTink DIS Veteran

    Mar 13, 2015
    Looking forward to reading about the rest of your trip after Dublin, nice to see you again :)
  6. 85glht

    85glht I hate winter

    Apr 22, 2016
    I'm looking forward to your report also! And we were on this cruise too:).
  7. wdwfan

    wdwfan My heart belongs to Disney!

    Aug 19, 1999
    Looking forward to reading about your cruise!
  8. TestingH2O

    TestingH2O DIS Veteran

    Jun 10, 2014
    Hooray! I'm looking forward to this.
  9. #NotMyName

    #NotMyName Mouseketeer

    Apr 13, 2017
    Signing on...
  10. Mathmagicland

    Mathmagicland Disneyland - the original since 1955

    Jul 26, 2014
    Ditto - I hope to do this cruise in a couple of years so am looking forward to your report, thanks so much for posting this! Can't wait to read each post. Great family selfie
  11. RebeccaLovesDisney

    RebeccaLovesDisney DIS Veteran

    Jun 5, 2001
    We were on this cruise as well and also toured with Invergordon Tours. Really enjoyed Gavin!
  12. poison ivy

    poison ivy DIS Veteran

    Mar 3, 2010
    That's a great plan. It took us a few years before finally getting here but well worth it.

    A mini 7nt is a perfect place to start. You will love that cruise. 2 stops in Ireland!

    Great to see you too! I wish we were on next year's 7nt. sail. Love reliving all the memories - esp. Ireland.

    It's great to have a fellow cruiser with us. Really miss this trip. It will be impossible to top it IMO.

    Thanks. glad to have you here.

    I'm so glad. thanks.

    Welcome. glad you signed on.

    Hey stranger! I'm so happy you're here. OMG!?! You have to do this cruise. It was incredible. I'm not exaggerating. It was beyond our expectations. There is so much history. The landscape is beautiful. I'd love to go back. JQ wants to visit Ireland again to tour film locations from Star Wars episodes VII and VIII and Game of Thrones.

    Excellent. so glad you joined in. Gavin was great. He runs an awesome itinerary. We loved that boat ride on Loch Ness and touring the Highlands.
    BadPinkTink likes this.
  13. poison ivy

    poison ivy DIS Veteran

    Mar 3, 2010
    Day 1: July 7, 2017 – Travel Day

    JFK to Heathrow / Sofitel London Heathrow Hotel (2nt. stay)

    upload_2017-8-4_14-58-59.gif It's time to fly

    Honestly, booking this cruise was the EASY part.

    But getting there............in need of a pre-cruise hotel & travel itinerary + transportation to/from the port of Dover…………was probably the MOST DIFFICULT, logistical part of planning this entire trip.

    There were a ton of decisions to make:
    1. Which US airport? PHL / EWR / LGR / JFK
    2. How are we getting to the airport?
    3. Which UK airport? Heathrow or Gatwick?
    4. Which airline? Which flight? schedule/fares/Bag restrictions/seats.
    5. Where to stay pre-cruise? London/Dover/Heathrow/Gatwick/somewhere else
    6. What to do pre-cruise?
    7. Where to eat pre-cruise?
    8. How to get around pre-cruise?
    9. What to pack?
    10. How much money to bring?
    11. And my personal favorite - How to get to/from the port of Dover????
    The list goes on and on.

    As you can see from the title of this segment, we flew British Airways out of JFK to Heathrow and stayed right at the airport at the Sofitel Heathrow Hotel. On the return, we flew British Airways out of Gatwick back to JFK.

    Would I do this again? Yes. In a heartbeat, and I highly recommend the Sofitel for first timers cruising out of Dover with Disney.

    So why British Airways and why JFK? The closest international airport to us is PHL; 2nd closest is Newark; with NY being the farthest.
    Answer: Quality and Price. (travel to London can be expensive and you almost need to minor in this field to understand it.)

    The first thing to figure out is where an airline’s HUB is to help determine the largest number of flights with the best competitive pricing for each particular airport.
    For us, American Airlines along with their partner, British Airways were two reputable main carriers regularly operating flights to/fr London out of the Newark/NY area with JFK providing the largest and cheapest number of nonstop flts. to choose from each day. More planes = the best rebooking advantage should you need to be shuffled around - and this was one cruise we could not afford to have flight trouble getting to.

    PHL on the other hand, only runs a few daily nonstop flts to London – typically all redeyes, with an upcharge on avg of 200-250+ per seat compared to the EWR and NY markets. So we would be paying around $750 more for 3 tickets, just for the convenience of flying out of the closest airport with the added risk of not being able to quickly switch flights if there were any problems or delays.

    If you go to the official British Airways website (here), you’ll see them advertising fares between US and London. Keep checking, as the prices do drop. That’s when we booked. (We paid $625.00/ticket on Jan 7. The lowest fare I ever saw for a July flight was $595.00 roundtrip in our area so I would budget accordingly)

    NY and EWR do have much higher long-term parking rates though - $18/day vs PHL $11/day, but JFK was offering a summer discount $4/day off w/ printable coupon from their official website (here), which pretty much cancelled out any major price difference in parking fees.

    Basically the only thing we had to do to save the $750, was drive to NY and figure out how to park and fly out of JFK.

    transportation map from airport pkg lots to JFK terminals via AirTrain


    This was easily a 2 hr. commute without any problems, which could quickly compound into a traffic nightmare if we weren’t careful about timing. Driving into NY is not for the faint of heart, but it was enough of a savings for us to make the commitment.

    Which brings up the next decision: Which Flight?

    All British Airways nonstop NY to London flights were either early AM or redeye.
    It’s a 7 hr. flight + a 5 hr. time difference (setting your clock ahead) = arriving 12hrs. later than the time you leave.

    The redeyes depart around 7 or 8 pm and arrive 7 or 8 am the next day.
    The morning flights are the opposite: depart around 7 am arrive around 7 pm that night.

    We had to seriously consider which flight to choose. If we picked the wrong time it could have a domino effect on the drive to JFK and any pre-cruise stay.

    We decided on the 7:55 am nonstop flight on a Boeing 747 operated by BA. (JQ always wanted to fly on a 747 and this was the earliest one to takeoff). We would land at Heathrow around 7:45 pm with no time to do anything beyond settling in at the hotel.

    A lot of cruisers seem to favor the redeye over the morning flight to avoid losing a whole day to travel, and they plan things the day they arrive vs. “wasting” the bulk of that day in the air. But that wasn't going to work for us.

    It’s a personal choice. You have to know your family. We habitually book first flights out, since the plane is almost guaranteed to be sitting at the gate when we arrive.

    That's our 747 ready and waiting.


    Plus, the airport tends to operate at maximum efficiency as each morning begins.

    5:21 AM - riding a practically empty AirTrain car from Lefferts blvd long-term pkg lot to JFK Terminal 7.


    5:40 AM check-in @ British Airways counter JFK was very quiet and organized.


    A practically empty JFK Airport Security Checkpoint up ahead - Terminal 7


    5:50 AM - Cleared Security / walking to our gate


    This gives our vacation the best chance of getting off on the right foot.


    Also, we barely manage any sleep on a redeye and we’re tired after a long day of travel. So having never been to London, and not knowing the first thing about it, we wanted to relax, get our bearings, check-in to a room ready and waiting, grab some dinner, and begin adjusting to the time difference, without a big itinerary requiring us to “hit the ground running” the minute we landed.

    And don’t forget we had that 2hr. drive into NY. The best time to do that is the middle of the night.

    It worked.

    4:00 AM - Exiting NJ Turnpike @ Exit 13: I-278 Elizabeth NJ / heading into NY


    Before I sign off, I'll leave you with This Riddle:

    If you have a 7:55 am international flt. out of an unfamiliar airport in NY that takes 2 hrs to get to on your best day, and requires you to locate and park at an offsite long-term pkg lot in Queens adjacent to the airtrain at Lefferts blvd, which you need to hop to get to JFK Terminal 7 in time to arrive 2 hrs before departure……..

    What time do you leave the house??

    Answer: 2 hr drive + 1 hr park/ride/misc + 2 hr pre-arrival = 5 hrs. before flight

    What time did we hit the road?


    OK let’s get on with the trip:
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2017
  14. 85glht

    85glht I hate winter

    Apr 22, 2016
    I'll do a Cliff notes version... we just flew out of BDL (Bradley airport). Here in CT, connected in Philly and flew to Heathrow.... we flew out Saturday night and landed Sunday morning, the day of the cruise..... this went smooth...BUT, and it's a big but, after landing at Heathrow, the first thing you do is go through the boarder force line,(passport control). It took us 2.5 hrs to get through this line. So, after a sleepless flight and then waiting in this line to get through, we were wiped out. We found the DCL reps and got on the bus and headed to the ship.

    I hope you don't mind me inserting a few things here and there in your thread. If you do, please LMK and I will delete. Cheers :)
    ahen and poison ivy like this.
  15. linetbo

    linetbo DIS Veteran

    Dec 6, 2012
    Following!!! British Isles are on my bucket list. We visited London after our Mediterranean Disney Magic cruise in 2014.
  16. poison ivy

    poison ivy DIS Veteran

    Mar 3, 2010
    Love the cliff notes! Thanks for posting this and please keep them coming. It will be really interesting and helpful to share as many different experiences as we can.

    That sounds like a very hectic morning on the day of the cruise. We didn't want to cut it that close with an overseas flight. and you won't believe how empty passport control was when we walked up around 8pm on Friday night.

    A few quick questions: Where exactly did you meet the DCL reps for your Heathrow airport transfers and what time did you get on the bus?
    Also, why connect thru PHL vs. JFK?
  17. poison ivy

    poison ivy DIS Veteran

    Mar 3, 2010
    Welcome! appreciate you following along. We spent our 1 full day in London leaving the area to tour Stonehenge, Oxford and Windsor Castle. If we ever get the chance to visit again we hope to tour the historical sites inside London as well.
    Mathmagicland and linetbo like this.
  18. 85glht

    85glht I hate winter

    Apr 22, 2016
    Cool! I will post "quicky" insights as I see fit.... thanks you!

    We met the DCL reps right outside baggage claim. They have their "paddle of power" in the air and we greeted them and they immediately took care of us.... can't say enough about those people! We boarded the bus (I'm guessing) around 11am local time. We had plenty of time to get to the port, board the ship, have a nice lunch in Cabanas and walk around the ship to take photos of the scenery... we we're beat needless to say.

    We flew to Philadelphia due to no connections via JFK from Bradley (Hartford, CT). We booked this trip in Feb. and had few choices on flights. There is an Air Lingus flight that leaves Bradley and goes to Dublin, but then all the other connections we would have to make..... we weren't into it. So with just one connection in Philly.... it made sense for us...... BTW, not driving to NY. You guys are brave!!
    poison ivy likes this.
  19. mmmears

    mmmears DIS Veteran

    Nov 30, 2005
    Great start! Looking forward to reading about your cruise. :goodvibes:
  20. Alohagirl73

    Alohagirl73 Mouseketeer

    Apr 1, 2012
    Great beginning. Looking forward to your report.
  21. Johnny Quest

    Johnny Quest DIS Veteran

    Apr 27, 2005
    When we were planning this outbound leg I was a bit Leary about driving into the JFK area. The saving grace was knowing there would be optimum traffic conditions so early in the morning. It went very well but I wouldn't do it any other time of day.

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