UnDisney Family in denial about Gold Status -Norwegian Fjords - August 16-26 2018

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by Conorama, Sep 22, 2018.

  1. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

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    How do I start one of these again? Oh yes... INTRODUCTION.

    Greetings Disboardians from medium-town Southern Ontario, Canada.

    We are the UnDisney Family, who somehow keep getting ourselves onto various DCL cruises.

    Having hit a Grand Slam in 4 cruises (that was quite unintentional and rather embarrassing), and then having managed to get ourselves to Star Wars Day At Sea ... which then made us all Golden... we booked a "hits many bucket list items"... because, well, if you're Gold, you should at least experience the luster, right?

    OK. Really what happened is described here, in my one-and-only Pre-Trip Report.

    Pre-trip report: UnDisney Family in denial about Gold Status -Norwegian Fjords - August 16-26 2018

    If you don't want to click though... here's the scoop in brief.

    First... who are we? We are a family of 3, who (seriously) are just not that into Disney. We still haven't ever been to Disney World or Land, in the US or any other country. There are many movies that we have not seen... including things like Frozen (still) and The Little Mermaid, and so on. There are many princesses we do not recognize.

    Now- if you've not read before- know that we have no problems with folks who like Disney... whatever floats your boat (ha!) is good for us. It's just not our thing.

    Despite this, a good friend, (who was on this trip with us with her two boys) convinced us to give DCL a try... from a "just a really good way to vacation" point of view. Since, then, well, see below in my signature.. Uncle Walt owes her a commission is all I can say.

    At present, we are as follows:

    DH- who turned 50 on board, and who can't tell one princess from another, except Snow White (perils of being old). Does like Star Wars and Pixar, which he feels have been co-opted by Big Mouse, but he doesn't usually complain much.

    Me - who is NOT 50 (hee hee hee) - but who is (today anyway) still only 46 (for another week). I have gradually figured out the princesses, if only to avoid them, and I keep getting the Frozen ones mixed up.

    Conor- who is 10, and now in grade 5, and who loves Tsum Tsums, but not much else of Disney. He is a figure skater, (main source of identity at present!), but he also loves piano, karate, and much to our current consternation, drums.

    Voila us, on a very inexpensive trip to another part of small-city Ontario, as we saved up $$$ for this trip. (We had a great time with my BFF from high school and her family- so no complaints.)

    IMG_4286.jpg

    How did we end up on this cruise?

    Briefly- on Star Wars Day at Sea, we did book a 'maybe' cruise ... but we were going to cancel it, when DH somehow discovered the (misleadingly named) Norwegian Fjords cruise. Initially, it was almost a joke with us (10 days on the Mouse Boat... NAH... we can't do that... just before school starts? And OMG the cost....). Then, we sat down and planned out our next 18 months (this was back in Feb 2017) and realized that this really was a bucket list cruise for us. We both wanted to go to Iceland and Scotland. Conor would be 10 and we felt old enough to really get something out of the trip. We had almost a year and half to plan for the cost. We decided to change our booking, and ponder budgets.

    As noted in the PTR, we didn't really commit until September 2017, when we booked our flights.... and then, we were in. (More on this in future posts.)

    Oh, and DCL Queen and her boys, who are great to my kiddo, were also going, so this sold us in the end.

    And thus, as always, I will pay it forward, by providing our UnDisney thoughts about DCL. I tend to provide a lot of planning details because that's what I crave.

    I have a lot of marking to do this weekend, and thus, of course, I will be writing posts during my breaks. It's as good a way as any to get started!

    Next up: Short version of long planning!
     
    lorimay, hnthomps, tammy and 5 others like this.
  2. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

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    Key Details & Decisions about the Cruise

    As the planning thinking is in my PTR, I won't go through it all here- but I'll summarize the important bits so that this whole TR makes sense.

    Cruise itself- on the Magic


    Day 1: Copenhagen, Denmark (embarkation)
    Day 2: Kristiansand, Norway
    Day 3: Stavanger, Norway
    Day 4: Alesund, Norway
    Day 5: At sea
    Day 6 & 7: Reykjavik, Iceland
    Day 8: At sea
    Day 9: Invergordon, Scotland
    Day 10: At sea
    Day 11: Dover, England

    We booked 7020 - a Category 5B (I think- so long ago now!) - which meant it was quiet and we had a verandah.

    We did NOT book any DCL excursions. :)

    We did book one Palo supper (all we could get - this cruise was CRAWLING with Platinum folk), some beverage tastings, and a couple of spa things for me. Pretty low key all in all. We booked a Frozen meet & greet thing in the hopes of avoiding THOSE princesses and meeting Olaf again. (FORESHADOWING!!!!!)

    We got a nice early boarding time- 11:00.

    I'll generally reveal what we did at each port in future posts, including links to the folks we booked where applicable.


    Decisions to make- of the flying variety

    Our biggest decision was around flights, including how far in advance we would fly to Europe, and how would we return. Oh, and which Airline would we use, and, in our world, which airport.

    We got lots of advice.... much of it totally contradictory. (DEFINITELY fly overnight- it's the best way to get acclimatized to the time change. NEVER fly overnight - why would you arrive exhausted?)

    After weighing the pros and cons... and our wallets.... we booked Iceland Air both ways - overnight from Toronto so that we would have 2 sleeps in Denmark before boarding, and the same airline back booked on the day of debarkation ... because work and school, basically. (Conor started school 2 days after we got off the ship, and my University-related job ramps up significantly the week before Labour day.)

    Why Iceland Air? Basically cost, recommendations from friends, and the fact that it's a totally quirky (in a good way) airline. This turned out to be one of our better decisions (not that we made bad ones... but this one was AWESOME).


    Decisions to make - of the sleeping variety

    DH did some mad TripAdvisor searching, and he found us a great hotel in Copenhagen - Andersen Boutique Hotel - and we stayed there for 2 nights.

    As we would be getting back to Toronto at 6:00 p.m. Canada time, which would feel something like midnight to us, we booked our friend the Airport Hotel (Sheraton Gateway for those who know Pearson), so that we would not have to figure out transportation back to our home town (minimum of 3 hours drive). This turned out to be a good idea.


    Decisions to make- of the transportation variety

    We hemmed and we hawed and we hawed and we hemmed, and you'll all just have to wait to see how we got to the Toronto Airport. We didn't tell Conor either. :)

    In Copenhagen, after much review, we decided that in our likely-to-be-sleep-deprived state, we would book a taxi that could take the 6 of us (we were with DCL Queen and boys) from the airport to the hotel, so that we wouldn't have to schlep bags and grumpy family members on public transit. (No comment as to who we thought would fit in that category.) Andersen Hotel made the arrangements for us.

    To keep things simple, we also booked a taxi from the hotel to the port in Copenhagen.

    In Dover, DH just booked a taxi company to take us from Dover to Gatwick. We contemplated DCL transfers, but our departure flight was a bit too early for DCL's comfort, and we figured we would just walk off with our bags, and be ahead of the game.

    And, we booked a regular old airport limo service (town car) to get us in Toronto to bring us home.

    All in all- we were away just about exactly 2 weeks- we left our home just after noon on Monday August 13th, we got to Copenhagen on the 14th, slept there for 2 nights, then got on board on Thursday. We disembarked 10 days later on a Sunday, flew to Toronto (and then collapsed), and then arrived back at our home just after noon on Monday, August 27th. (I like symmetry.)


    What I just wrote makes it sound like this was a smooth decision making process. It was nowhere near this straightforward, but all in all, it wasn't too bad. It did require lots of research and many lists, but that's just par for the course around here.


    A few random yet important bits of other planning

    One of the things I had a hard time figuring out was how early all of these non-DCL things needed to be booked. Here's what we did.

    -Airlines: We looked more than a year out- that wasn't doable. So, we ended up booking just about 11 months out. Don't know if it would have been cheaper later, but we didn't want to be figuring this one out at the last minute.

    -Hotels: We booked in September 2017, but we could have backed out with no penalty. Not sure if this was the cheapest way... but it worked for us.

    -Private tours: We only had 2 booked- one in Iceland and one in Invergordon- we booked these in December 2017 (for August 2018 trip). Again- we didn't have to pay in advance. Iceland was the one we were worried about because we wanted to include Blue Lagoon in whatever we did- and we had read that we would need to book it a few months in advance.


    I'm sure other things will come to my mind in a while, but my marking is staring at me balefully, so I should attend to it before it starts outright sulking and whining.

    Next post: Packing tips!
     
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  4. Ladybugx87

    Ladybugx87 Mouseketeer

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    Yay! I loved your PTR and am taking the 11-night similar cruise next year. Can’t wait to read along.
     
  5. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

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    Pack-o-rama

    (I marked. I feel virtuous. I have more to do, but it can wait until I've slept.)

    Conor and I organized our packing together (gotta teach them young). Basically, we would head out for our nearly weekly "coffee dates" (we head out early on Sunday morning before DH gets up, and we hang out at a coffee shop - and I take what I get with the 10 year old), and we had a notebook, and we'd write down packing ideas. (Yep. We're that cool.) It honestly helped to think through it well in advance. It helped with shopping too re: Mr. I-will-have-an-inconveniently-timed-growth-spurt.

    Anyhow- this got us through a long winter, and it got me through many hours in a cold, damp skating rink.

    Our final product can't be replicated (we ended up crossing everything off), but I can summarize key points here.

    So basically- the packing challenge:

    Stage 1: Overnight flight - which we've never done before as a family - with a goal of only one carry on for me and one for Conor. (DH is on his own in these matters, until I tell him he needs to help with *our* packing.) Basically- I figured if we were exhausted we would only want to be managing one bag each. So- we need to have things to help us sleep, plus stuff like clean clothes and underwear for sanity purposes....

    Stage 2: Copenhagen in the summer - so reasonably hot. 2 days of hot.

    Stage 3: Your usual Northern Atlantic gamble- probably cool, rarely warm, definitely rainy. Perhaps even just plain cold. Oh, and a hot spring in Iceland. Oh, and appropriate attire for formal night, semi-formal night, and general cruise activities. One can assume that there will be spectacular scenery, so appropriate photographic attire. Did I mention the fact that in moments of weakness we signed up for the fish extender gig, plus 2 other exchanges?????

    Stage 4: Daytime flight, a long one.

    Stage 5: Back to WAY too hot Ontario.

    All of this in 1 carry-on bag per person and 1 checked bag per person and one extra checked bag (more on this below). In Iceland Air, for the seats we booked, we all got 2 checked bags (unheard of) - but we didn't want to be dealing with (gulp) 6 checked bags. So- we stuck to 3, plus 1 small one for heavy stuff.

    How did this work?

    Solution:

    Carry on: I have my backpack, which takes my laptop and is reasonably spacious. It's a hiking one, sort of, so it has all the cool straps. Conor took a new rolling carry-on (less likely he'll complain). I am in love with using small fabric wet-bags, so I used a bunch to keep us organized. (E.g.- Conor's PJ's, fresh unmentionables, toothbrush, flip flops in one for when we were ready for him to get changed.) Rolling carry-on also had amusements (not many, but enough), granola bars, extra outfit for me and for Conor, first-aid stuff, wipes, plus baggies of liquids.

    Full disclosure- I have my travel bag (a crossover thing which some may call a purse) and Conor has an actual purse (Dude's all about accessories). This is where we kept things like all the cables needed, Conor's 'phone' (an old i-phone with no sim card), my phone, ID, passports, money, etc. (Well, in my bag anyway... I can't remember what Conor had.)


    Checked bags:

    Basically, we used the following plan- which includes doing laundry more than once on the trip. (Which worked.)

    Convertible or versatile pants for all: For Conor, the zip-off kind, for me, roll-up thingies. Leggings are miracles for this sort of trip - including one pair of fuzzy-inside-ones for me (love those). Basically- we made sure that our clothes could be worn in more than one climate and at least twice (usually 3 or 4 times) on the trip. (You change a lot in these climates.)

    Tops are for layering: So- t-shirts yes, but a few long-sleeved things, and hoodies/sweaters. In my case- a few tops that go with jeans or that can be dressed up for supper.

    Formal & semi-formal are the same thing: Oh, and so is Palo... with minor tweaks, we all wore the same basic stuff. NO ONE CARES. Honestly- they don't.

    Frozen night: What's that? :) (Very freeing.)

    Rain gear: Yes- but the kind that rolls up into nice little packages. Jacket and pants for Conor, and good jackets for us, that could have a sweater/hoodie underneath. No dedicated rain boots- just hiking boots, and lots of extra socks.

    Shoes: The bane of efficient packing. Sneakers (good ones) on the flights. Plan carefully to pack the hiking boots, stuffed with lots of other things. Flip flops as slippers/extras, and then limit to one other pair of shoes per person (dress shoes). Skip the sandals (you can manage with shoes for the 2 hot days). In my case: invest in good booties, (I needed some anyway for work), and those cover dressy AND walkabouts.

    Other stuff: Not counting FE things, we've ditched a lot of what we used to think we needed on cruises. Here is what we do find helpful.


    Do pack:

    Travel mugs: We are trying to save the environment, but we also need hot coffee. (Parentals anyway.) I put these in the pockets of my backpack.
    Laundry bag: Just a plain laundry bag. Plus our own detergent and fabric softener, because rashes.
    Back packs: One per human- which allows many different options on outings.
    First aid kid: I've used everything in our kit at least once on a trip. 'Nuff said. Nothing fancy- but the basics are comforting.
    Chargers: Lots of them, and extra cables. You charge the charger at night, then you have more options during the day.
    Camera - a good one: No explanation needed.
    Kobo/Kindle: Still amazing. Now amazing also for the 10 year old who reads through books like the wind.
    Packable duffle bags.
    Wet bags- very helpful on flights as noted above, for outings (to stick wet stuff in), at Blue Lagoon, and for lots of other things.
    Amusements for the kid: We still have stuffies, some Lego, and I always sneak in a few novel things for the plane. Never goes astray!


    So- this all fit nicely into 2 checked bags for me/Conor, and DH had his. We did my patented switch-o-rama (at least 2 outfits including underwear in each suitcase for each person). Then, we had one smaller bag (carry-on size) that we used for heavier things (mostly FE stuff, plus some hiking boots stuffed with heavy things). Small bag full of heavy things = happily, still well under the weight limit!

    For the first time ever, we were actually well under the weight restrictions. Like 5 lbs under for each bag. VICTORY!!!!

    Anyhow- lest you think this was all done well in advance ... yeah... Nope. Fortunately with a significant heat wave here, we could pack anything that even vaguely autumn-related in advance (mid-July). We got to about 80% packed by 10 days before we left, and then the rest was done the weekend before when I wasn't at work. The lists, now, were done well in advance, and that helped immensely for my poor brain to remember what I had and had not packed. As usual, I was working up until the day before we left, so I live and die by my lists. This year, it turned out crossing things off with a Crayola metallic glitter marker (borrowed from Conor) was the key to happy list-using success.


    That's it for now... tomorrow, I'll talk FE and other exchanges. Yes... we ventured into MORE than the FE.
     
    kkayluvsdis, tammy, MnkyGirl and 2 others like this.
  6. bcwife76

    bcwife76 DisneyMomma

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    Woohoo, looking forward to hearing all about it!!! More that just FE you say? You shock me :rotfl2:
     
    Bethany10 likes this.
  7. mmmears

    mmmears DIS Veteran

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    Great start! I've enjoyed your past TRs and I'm looking forward to reading this one. We were on the same cruise and it will be interesting to see what other people chose to do on the ship and in port. This itinerary contained "Bucket list" destinations for my family as well. :goodvibes:
     
  8. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

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    Thanks! I hope it's helpful to you.


    I know. It shocked me too.

    I'll have a read of the others when I'm done this one, or I may never finish this one! :)
     
  9. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

    Joined:
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    Goin' all Big Mouse - or, adding to the packing list.

    FE

    On our first DCL cruise, I decided on the 'go big or go home' approach to things, and signed us up for what turned out to be the most complicated, micromanaged Fish Extender group ever. I now realize that while this was well-meant, it was very much not the norm, so we've generally FE'd in some way or other since.

    We have all accepted that craftiness is not something we claim as a strength (to put it mildly), but we go for stuff we think folks will like, and stuff folks can use.

    This year, with the cruise being so international, we went back to our "Stuff from Canada" theme (that's a strong word), but the key points included a bottle real local (to us) maple syrup for each cabin, Canadian things for kids (key chains, pencils, and the like), age-appropriate amusements for kiddos (big Canada cups for visits to the land of ice cream for example), a bit of Canadian candy, and laundry kits (not so Canadian, but hopefully helpful- including a directory of where the laundry rooms could be found). Conor was very pleased we found these flashlight magnets - which we heard were actually beloved, as you can stick it on your door in case you need help finding your way to the bathroom at night!

    Finally DH did get a bit crafty and came up with 2 magnets for each cabin. Oh, and in a small nod to the fact that we were actually on a Disney Cruise, each cabin got a Mickey or Minny notebook.

    Basically- we go for 'hope you can use it, even if it just distracts your kids for a bit', and 'it's really yummy and you can totally finish this on the cruise', and 'at the very least we promise it's easy to pack and/or dispose of at the end'.

    But... what other exchanges did we sign up for?

    How many small gerbil-like stuffies can one child have?

    In a moment of tactical error, I had Conor sitting with me when I was reading a certain page on a certain social media network about this cruise. He saw the Tsum Tsum exchange sign-up. There was no turning back.

    Dude loves the things. In one of our "we're saving up for our big trip, but why don't you come to my conference with me and we'll call it a getaway" weekends to Toronto, he and I had to open the Disney Store at the Eaton Centre so he could get himself new Tsum Tsums.

    That was quite the affair... I mean, who knew they had rope drop at the store? See below. Basically, they say they need a child to help them (guess who?) and then they give them a small version as a souvenir.

    IMG_2540.jpg IMG_2542.jpg


    Sounds great- right? (FORESHADOWING.)

    All was well, and as you see, the child got his Tsum Tsums with his saved allowance. Happy ending?

    This is not how things work in the real world.

    In the real world.. the whole trip goes like this...

    Conor and I head to the big city by train... and all is well.
    We arrive at the conference hotel and check in on Friday night. My talk isn't until Sunday morning but the goal is to do some mom-kid exploring on Saturday.
    After we check in, I get my workshop stuff organized (because I do that), and discover that my carefully made photocopies are not with me. Check with DH. Yep, they're on the dining room table. (Lack of lists....)
    No problemo. We read about the business centre, and I'll just get copies made. I find the business centre - which is under construction, but I follow signs to their temporary location. All is well - they will open at 9:00 the next day.
    Conor and I settle in for a night of rented movies and room service. (He had never done this... life was EXCITING.) We hit the hay.
    As we're morning folks, we're up plenty early. I find the guest computer kiosks while we're munching on a light breakfast in the lobby and after 5 tries, print my damned handout, so it can be copied.
    Conor asks me 300 times if the Eaton Centre is open. It is not.
    We head to the business centre... to learn that they don't photocopy ... even though their sign says so ... due to construction. DELIGHTFUL.
    No problemo- Google maps to the rescue- I find a nearby Staples.
    We get to the Eaton Centre before it actually really opens, because Conor is driving me nuts.

    This, I will note, did allow for the whole rope drop experience, and Conor getting a key. Conor LOVES keys. He has many keys from many different sources. This was a really high point, and the CMs were great. All is well, right?

    Not.

    We then meander over to Staples. I copy. I have Conor staple. I discover he doesn't know that one staples in the top left corner, and he's being creative to keep it from getting boring. I perfect my staple removal technique and we re-staple in the boring top left corner.

    We are now hot, tired, and grumpy as all get out.

    I find a subway entrance, and we make our way to our destination... lunch near the Bata Shoe museum, so we can be with fabulous shoes (Conor's pick) right after lunch.

    In Toronto, this still means walking a long way... and the level of hot and grumpy escalates to near epic levels.

    Finally, we find sushi, and some semblance of normalcy is regained. PHEW.

    End of drama?

    Nope.

    We had a great time at the Bata shoe museum, and we head back to the subway... to discover that we have lost the key.

    There is no emoji that can possibly replicate this moment. As this is a family forum, I'll refrain from explaining what was going through my head.

    So, we head back to the Eaton Centre. On a Saturday. At 4:30 p.m. Normally, I would rather boil my head than do this... but, we must.

    Fortunately, the same CM was there, and he totally recognized Conor's hat. I explained we were in dire need of some Pixie Dust, and he proclaimed he was quite good at that. It turns out, conveniently (thank you oh great CM) that the day before there was no child to help with rope drop, so he had an extra. Oh happy day!!!!

    This also meant, somehow (I was weak) that I bought the child more Tsum Tsums...

    :)

    (In the end, the workshop was grand, Dude enjoyed his babysitter and another movie watching fiesta in the hotel room and he got more sushi... at the Eaton Centre, and our train trip back was uneventful.)

    Anyhow- all of this to say- you now understand his devotion to the gerbil-like stuffies.

    So yes, we signed up for the exchange. DCL Queen helped by picking some up on her NYE cruise, and then I scrounged about at the Ottawa Disney store... in the bargain bin, as they seem to be not making the things much anymore ... or not selling them in Canada much anyway. Kiddo saved his pennies (well, technically no, as we've ditched those in Canada), and bought 12 of the things, so as to participate in 3 groups.

    Happily- they are easy to pack!

    Finally... the recipe exchange.

    So- finally, we signed up for a recipe exchange. This was totally easy- as it's just paper. PHEW. Conor loves to cook, ever since last year, so this was just plain fun. We picked one of his favourite meals to make, and DH made it pretty, and after hitting print on the new printer (we may have broken our old one and this had nothing to do with magnets, I am told), we were done.

    One more photo to liven up this planning part of things.... Chef Conor in action, with hat. Actually- he's making the recipe we gave out ... Vodka-no-vodka sausage tomato sauce. (From MasterChef junior cookbook- and he does use vodka though they weren't allowed to on the show!) Mastering cooking on 2 elements at once is his current goal.


    IMG_7802.jpg


    So- this was an easy 'cross it off the list' item for us.

    I believe now I just need one more planning post of random bits, and then we'll hit the road in this report. More later!
     
    kkayluvsdis, tammy, MnkyGirl and 2 others like this.
  10. happy wanderer

    happy wanderer Mouseketeer

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    I am looking forward to another of your (awesome!) reports!!
     
  11. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

    Joined:
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    Random Bits of Planning

    (Again- I do a lot of this stuff as pay it forward ... as in, it's stuff I had to figure out, so I am guessing others have to figure it out too... I promise the trip will start after this post!)

    This is a truly random assortment of things we had to figure out.

    Back to school

    As we would hit our home on August 27th and Conor was starting grade 5 on September 28th, we needed to make sure that we were ready for that. Fortunately, we have an extra back pack, so we kept his school one at home, mostly packed for school, missing only his lunch, of course. I took him out early in August for back-to-school shopping/last-minute-cruise-shopping and so he had something to wear on day 1.

    It sounds minor, but we also had to make sure stuff was sorted for skating and piano and all that jazz... as I didn't want to be dealing with that while overseas. Anyhow- we were ready before we left.

    Cash

    So- we needed many types of fancy money. We figured we would need some Canadian cash for trips to and from the airport just in case. That's not fancy, but still required planning.

    Then, we needed:

    US dollars for tips (not much)
    Danish Krone
    Norwegian Krone
    Icelandic Krona
    British pounds

    Figuring out how much was interesting.... we had to figure in what we as adults thought we would need (not a huge amount as we were going to prepay things and/or use credit cards as much as possible), plus we had to exchange Conor's savings too.

    We needed more British money than anything else, as our tour guide requested payment in cash- which turned out to be totally fine, though had us a bit nervous initially.

    Voila Conor's stash of cash. We didn't give him US dollars - we told him we'd track how much he spent on his KTTW card and make sure he stayed on budget. He kept them in individual envelopes (so did we), and we just put the right envelope in his purse when we headed off ship.

    IMG_6456.jpg IMG_6457.jpg IMG_6458.jpg IMG_6459.jpg


    Staying in touch

    We made sure we had our roaming plan ready to go- with aging relatives, we need to be available, and our plan is pretty reasonable. It just alleviates the stress of figuring out if you should or should not check your email.

    Now- to be clear, I fully sign off work email. I remove it from my phone and all. Life, it turns out, goes on. However, we do want to make sure family can stay in touch.


    Paying bills and other grown-up boring stuff.

    We had to be a bit organized about this- since a lot of our bills are due at the end of the month, and I didn't want to be wasting time in Iceland thinking "Oh, I must pay that X bill". Basically- everything is automatic if it can be, but some can't (credit cards!). Fortunately, on-line banking is a wonderful thing, so I had made a list (shocker) of things that were due while we were away or just after they came back and with a bit of searching, I figured out what we owed and had it all set up. Given how much my brain wasn't working at the time of our return, this turned out to be a very good idea. (We've never been away for more than a week, since turning into grown-ups, so this was new for us.)

    For once, we weren't going away in the winter, so we didn't need to notify school, after school, or arrange for snow clearing. That was a relief!


    Kittens

    Between 2016 and 2018, we lost both of our great geriatric kitties. After an appropriate period of mourning, we adopted Finnegan and Seamus (yes, we are fans of Harry Potter).

    Picture for cuteness only. Either Finn is being Seamus' scarf, or Seamus is being Finn's stuffy and they are both getting into piano lessons. They love each other, and it's awesome.

    IMG_7636.jpg

    Anyhow- cat sitters were hired, as were 'kitten players' - not surprisingly, a few of Conor's friends were quite keen to stop by to just play with the kittens, and so they had lots of company while we were away.


    Work planning

    I will not drag this down with work details, but as usual, I worked until Monday morning before we left - but this helps me get through the massive to-do list. It's a bit part of why I have to be so annoyingly early about packing planning- I can't, um, cram, to so speak.

    Anyhow... I think that's enough of all this. We'll now say we're ready to leave on the trip already!
     
  12. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2012
    Messages:
    473
    Travel day 1: We launch, slowly, but with STYLE.

    Monday August 13th arrived, finally. I had to go into work to do a bit of "tag, you're it for the next 2 weeks". From there, I had my trusty list of "yeah, you forgot this and you need to go and buy it", which included getting some booties for me. (As I discovered that the ones I basically live in all fall with legging had died a painful death after many years of service.) Fortunately, the shoe gods were with me and this went quickly. After the mandatory stop at the drugstore (always!), I came home to do the last bit of packing/weighing/shifting.

    Conor was my runner, and it went pretty smoothly, and man it felt good to cross things off the list.

    We did our best to clear out the fridge (the pre-vacation lunch is pretty darned random), and we made sure the house was "we have guests" tidy (perils of having all those friends come over to play with kittens).

    Then, disaster struck. Our espresso machine died. It had been on its last legs for a bit, but we thought we could get through until we got back. Nope.

    Fortunately, our transportation plans were flexible enough that we could adapt. Stay tuned!

    Conor was antsy (not because of the coffee) so we did our usual job of throwing him outside. This meant he was outside when our transportation arrived... and it was awesome.


    Yes, that is an SUV limo pulling up to our house. It was actually basically costing us the same as any other method of getting 6 humans (4 of whom were adult-sized) and their luggage to Toronto- maybe a tiny bit more, but not much, and worth it in terms of sanity.

    IMG_6542.jpg

    So- the coffee crisis was averted, as we just asked for a stop at Starbucks on the way out of town... nothing quite like seeing the look of disappointment in onlookers as an assortment of middle-aged parents climb out of a fancy ride to trek over to get their lattés.

    Oh well. Sorry to not live up to expectations!

    Anyhow- this was very smooth, and we arrived in plenty of time at Pearson (TO airport).

    Tall members of the party were sent ahead to please locate the Iceland Air check-in location, and after a bit of looking around, we found it.

    I *still* hate this whole part until we get to our gate. However, it went pretty well overall. We had not been able to check in ahead of time (perhaps because of the kiddo) but that was not an issue.

    We had (trumpets please) been upgraded to Saga class- their business class- when they ditched their 'Economy Comfort Seats'. This news came to us in April, and we finally believed it. This was very exciting, and it explains why we had 2 checked bags each as allowance, though we didn't use the whole thing.

    Anyhow- we checked in, we dropped our checked bags off (stress number 1 done). We found our line-up for security (hate this), and we went through security. It was only a bit stressful but we'll not dwell on that- we were reunited with all of our stuff. Stress number 2 - done.

    Then, we had to get to our gate. It was one of those where we had to take a bus (many airport buses on this trip).

    Here you see the experienced, yet stylish traveler. He has his own owl/penguin (the jury is out) blanket/pillow thing (blanket that folds up into a pillow with a handle) carefully picked for this trip. There is of course the hat, the necklace, and while you can't see it well, his purse. Sockie, who has been on many trips with us, is also there, riding on the suitcase as usual.

    IMG_6544.jpg

    This was not a short bus ride... but excitement was high, so it was OK.

    Because of the upgrade, we got to sit in a nice lounge with food... not a bad thing, given that it was now about 7:00 p.m. and although we had been generous with the snacks in the car, hunger was raging. We addressed this. There was also free wine - but not for me. Too worried about sleeping!

    As you can see, the lounge (which we weren't sure we could use until we arrived- Iceland Air was not entirely clear on this) was a bit sparse in decor (it's in a part of the airport that is in the middle of nowhere), but in fact, it was great - quiet, clean, with good food.

    IMG_6546.jpg

    We had been in discussions about getting changed into PJs now - but this was declined. Apparently, it's more fun to get changed in a tiny airport bathroom????

    Somewhere around here, DH and DCL Queen both got texts telling them it was time to board NOW. We had been a bit on the exhausted side, so had assumed we would hear the boarding call... NOPE.

    Anyhow- after a brisk walk, we got to our plane. (Yep. We're experienced at this business class thing. NOPE.)

    Saga class was LOVELY. As we boarded, Conor was given his own kid-friendly amenities kit. He was delighted. He was also excited at the little bits of things written in various places, like on our pillows. He is modeling some of his amenities kit in the 2nd photo.

    IMG_6552.jpg IMG_6549.jpg

    If you're wondering, I am not an evil parent. Conor prefers the aisle. I am not sure why, but this isn't new. DH was beside him, across the aisle. I got my window. :) Mostly, I like to hide vs. using the window, so this works well.

    So- we settled in to await departure, and since I have to get back to marking and errands, we'll stop here for now.

    Next up: How we survive an overnight flight.
     
    tammy, MnkyGirl, mmmears and 2 others like this.
  13. TestingH2O

    TestingH2O DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2014
    Messages:
    2,513
    The one time I traveled during school instead of break (I'm an educator,) I was such a mess. I don't know if I could do it again.

    So cool!

    Hahahahaha! That's amazing.

    Yesssss! Sadly though, my child also loves the window so I do the good parent thing and give it up.
     
  14. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2012
    Messages:
    473
    In which we generally survive overnight flying

    Those who argued against the overnight flight plan made some good points. Basically, we took off at 9:00 p.m. - otherwise known as after Conor's bedtime. Then, there is the period of time when they distribute things, including a meal, before things get quiet. Fair warning- this is 2 hours of time, at least.

    We did get a cool amenities kit each- which caused a great deal of excitement. I did convince Conor to go and change into his PJs somewhere in there. We got fed, and the food was amazing, and then teeth were brushed, and stuffies located. Somewhere around 11:00 p.m., he insisted he could fall asleep in his seat (vs. window seat) so I let him try.

    This did not work.

    General grumpiness reigned, and I won (parental prerogative) and got him to move to the window seat and lie down, which you can do to some extent in Business class when you are 10 and in the window seat, if you drape parts of yourself on your parent. I believe the line: "I don't care if you don't think you can sleep ... you still need to lie down with your head on this pillow, close your eyes, and stop talking, even if you're not asleep" might have come out of my mouth... and within minutes, he fell asleep.

    Somewhere after that, I drifted off.

    At around 1:45 a.m. our time (so- yep- a HUGE amount of sleep...), we woke up a bit and they were serving some yummy Icelandic donuts and juice. It was daylight outside, so it felt (kind of ... maybe) like morning, enough anyway that we got ourselves organized for landing at 2:15 or so, and got on another bus. We were glad we had our warm things on, as it was NOT WARM in Iceland, and you feel it when you get off the plane and then onto your bus. We were prepared for this, however - #NotOurFirstRodeo. LAYERS people. They are your friends.

    In a somewhat sleep-addled state, we still managed to find our way to the Saga lounge (this one, we knew we could use) ... but it does involve going outside of passport control, which meant we needed to be careful about when to go back to our gate.

    The Saga lounge is WONDERFUL. Amazing food. Lovely bathrooms (and I mean lovely). They have rocks. Big ones. They also (thank goodness) had good coffee.

    We had about an hour at most- maybe less- but we were all able to eat, hit up a lovely bathroom (we could have showed had we wished - we didn't wish), and get ready to head back to the gate.

    Voila Mr. World Traveler, in his PJs still, with two of the cool rocks randomly strewn about the lounge.


    IMG_6556.jpg

    After navigating through passport control again, we found our gait, got on bus #3, and found our plane.

    Attentive readers will remember that it was still essentially the middle of the night for us. However, we did not say no to a 2nd (3rd?) breakfast offered on the plane, which turned out to be what we all needed, as then, rapidly, naps were had by all for the duration of the flight to Copenhagen. This was immensely helpful to everyone's general outlook.

    In Copenhagen, we found bathrooms again, and got changed into daytime clothes (it felt like 7:00 a.m. for us though it was about lunchtime in Copenhagen). Luggage was obtained (all of it- yippee!).

    Kiddo was keen to climb on things.

    IMG_6566.jpg


    Then, we hit our first (and really only) snag. We found our cab (not the snag). He had a taxi for 4 people (this is a snag). We had a group of 6 tired people, plus luggage.

    Taxi man was grumpy, but agreed to call to get us a 6 person van. We all waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. Like... almost an hour, waiting.

    Finally- I figured out that since DH was having issues with his phone (things you figure out while waiting), that perhaps they were trying to reach him as that was the number that was given. Just as I got smart about this and DH was trying to find Wifi back in the airport in which to phone the hotel, I then was brilliant again (twice in one day is my max) and I spotted a sign that had DH's name on it.

    Poor van taxi guy had been sitting where he could, trying to call, and not getting through.

    Anyhow- just as the heavens opened up and it poured, we got into the taxi, and heaved great sighs of relief.

    Really- this was the biggest issue we had all trip... so no complaining.

    And within about 15 minutes, the rain had stopped and we were at Andersen Boutique Hotel... which will be discussed in the next post. :)
     
  15. kid-at-heart

    kid-at-heart DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2006
    Messages:
    2,254
    WooHoo, you are back with another trip report! Yea!!!

    Smiles,
    Kate
     
  16. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2012
    Messages:
    473
    Thanks so much!

    I'm an educator too, but I have times during the year where I'm more "admin" than "educator" - and those are sometimes easier to get away. End of August is probably not something I'll do again anytime soon...

    Thanks!
     
  17. mmmears

    mmmears DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Messages:
    11,761
    I haven't seen another on from our trip on here. Yours is the first. And I doubt I'll be writing one. I'm working on the movie and photo album still. We flew from CA, so a much longer flight. We also took a night flight (Air France) with a stop in Paris. We were in business and I don't think I slept for more than 10 mins, if that. Since it was a longer flight by the time we got to Copenhagen it was late at night the next day, so at least I could get some sleep. It's a toss up whether night or day flights are better, so we just picked the one that had the seats we wanted on points.

    I love your FE gifts. Wow! What lucky recipients. I didn't join since we took 3 carryons and no checked baggage and there was no room for anything extra, but I've heard this one was very good. Looking forward to your next update!
     
  18. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2012
    Messages:
    473
    Two Sleeps (ish) in Copenhagen

    I don't have many pics of the Andersen Boutique Hotel, but it was neat. Lots and lots of bright colours. Neat things like games in the lobby, plus bears. (Yep.)

    Our room was much bigger than I expected in Europe - we got a slight upgrade apparently. We had a Queen sized bed for the adults and then Conor had a pull-out double in this alcove- so the rest of the room was about 1.5 times as big as this again if that makes sense? (Not counting the bathroom which was huge.) I did take a photo of the alcove and sofa-bed part since I couldn't find any on-line.

    Here's Conor's bed before we made a mess. :) Plenty big for him. I ended up there for part of the 2nd night (yeah- that was a fun night) - and it was actually quite comfortable. Above the TV was the A/C unit- again, helpful as it was hot in Copenhagen this past summer.


    IMG_6568.jpg


    They also give you a phone (yep) that they encourage you to take around town. I'm sure someone or other is frantic about being watched, but we loved it. It helped us stay in touch with DCL Queen & her lot. This is apparently a new feature for the hotel, and we liked it a lot.

    IMG_6569.jpg

    The lobby is very welcoming- Conor liked the chess table. This is where they host wine hour every day from 5-6 p.m. It was lovely. (Conor was drinking orange juice and fizzy water... not wine!)

    IMG_6571.jpg

    All in all, we were very happy. It was well-located (5 minutes from the train station, 10 from Tivoli), and quiet generally. A huge buffet breakfast is included. You can make your own espresso or hot chocolate anytime. Wifi was included.

    Otherwise ... a few relevant points:

    a) There is an elevator but it's small- we used it mostly with luggage.
    b) There is a big walk-in shower- no bath in our room anyway- but I know some rooms have baths. (No biggie for 2 nights for us.)
    c) It's very walkable to lots of things (that's kind of Copenhagen in a nutshell, but for sure, this hotel was well situated).
    d) Staff was very nice.

    So, once we checked in and got a few things organized, we did the "let's fight jet lag" routine, which was GET OUTSIDE ALREADY. So- we just walked around. There was a near-melt-down until we realized that the child desperately needed a snack (oops) so we fixed that. He rallied.

    We had no real plan or goal - just to explore. We did this until 5:00 (Wine hour!) and then headed 2 doors down for an authentic Danish supper as recommended by the hotel. It was warm enough to eat outside, actually. Food was yummy, though I can't remember what I had... I know Conor had a salmon appetizer and a salmon main course though, much to our waitress' amusement.

    We then got back to our room at about 8:00 p.m.- so close enough to our 'usual' bedtime. We did our best to stick to our routine, so Conor had a shower, and then he and I hunkered down to read.

    I looked over after 2 minutes of silence, and found this:

    IMG_6574.jpg

    In previous sleeping photos, the child tried to argue he was not asleep- he was just having 'a long blink'. This, my friends, is a completely asleep child.

    After taking the photo, I remembered to be a parent, so I removed the book from under his face, (it was a new book after all - didn't want it all crumpled), and I got him rearranged. He slept through the night no problem, AND slept in the next day.

    I did OK that night too. DH did not... which he freely admitted the next day was due to too much wine hour... and he was perhaps not as chipper as the rest of us the next day. (No mocking occurred, I assure you. Or, well, not much. Well, not too much. At least it wasn't excessive. Most of the time.)

    After enjoying a very yummy breakfast, Conor and I mandated DH to get moving, and we headed out (GET OUTSIDE ALREADY). It was beautiful. We had a goal to get to Nyhavn (where it is beautiful) mostly to say we'd been there, and then to check out Tivoli that was having its 175th birthday. (Total coincidence).

    It was a gorgeous day. First stop was a must-do... see below. We bow at the feet of those who invented Lego. Dude LOVES Lego (as do I), and we had a grand time in this store. For the record, it's near a Disney store, which could have been in any mall in North America and that had NOT ONE Tsum Tsum. That was a quick and disappointing stop.

    IMG_6575.jpg

    After a lot of Lego looking and a small amount of Lego buying, we sat outside at a café for beverages and felt very awesome. It was a lovely day, and the kids would jump up to go and see things (like the Danish army marching through the city) while we relaxed. THIS IS VACATION.

    From there, we wandered through lovely streets to Nyhavn, and it was beautiful. DH has the better pics, so I have to figure out where he has stashed them. :)

    To give you an idea, though, here you go...

    IMG_6585.jpg

    If you are wondering- Conor co-opted one of the ear pieces from his Iceland Air headphones, since he decided they were VERY COOL and he wore one all day to prove he was a special agent or something.

    We had a hotdog at Nyhavn for lunch and it was as yummy as we were promised. Conor got the one wrapped in bacon, because... why not?

    We meandered back to Tivoli, stopping here and there for souvenirs, and for more coffee. 10 year olds can walk a lot (or mine can anyway) so this was nice to realize that he was a good age for this trip. He loves anything old, so Europe is right up his alley.

    I don't seem to have good Tivoli photos, but I'll raid DH's collection shortly. We spent about 2 hours there- plenty for us (we don't really do rides), and enough to ride the lovely Ferris Wheel. Otherwise, we admired the place, and enjoyed the people and bought postcards (where they offer you stamps... GENIUS).

    We nabbed snacks at the place next to Tivoli with all the little booths, and had to laugh because the boys wanted sushi (that would be Conor) and chips (other boys). How very Danish... not. We didn't worry though, since we were again heading out for real Danish food that night. This was just a base for wine hour (I may have snagged a chip or two...). :)

    After heading back to the hotel to change but NOT nap (this was hard), we walked to Kødbyens Fiskebar (a seafood restaurant that DH found good reviews for) which was in the meat packing district. I'm quite sure we are nowhere near hip enough to eat there, but they coped admirably with what they got.

    IMG_6627.jpg

    If you're wondering about weather- we were totally comfortable in shorts and t-shirts. I generally always have a sweater of some variety (LAYERS PEOPLE), but we didn't need it.

    After the most AMAZING meal, we spent some time in grocery store, buying a few souvenirs of the culinary variety. DH and DCL Queen also picked up some wine and beer to bring on board, though we didn't use our full allotment.

    Once back at the hotel, I did a bit of pre-packing while Conor showered and read, and he and I tried to go to sleep. (DH generally heads out to have tea at this point when we are staying in a hotel, which he did in this case, while we fall asleep.) Conor fell asleep, I didn't. I finally fell asleep at 11:00 when the Tivoli fireworks went off... LOUDLY. I can't blame the place- I mean, it turned 175. You're allowed to celebrate. It's not your fault that you woke me up. I finally fell asleep again.

    Then, I woke up again when DH came in at about midnight (his usual bedtime), and couldn't get back to sleep. I finally did sometime around 1:00 until (I kid you not), my phone rang. SERIOUSLY???? Turns out that the "Do Not Disturb" function didn't time-shift when I changed the time. GREAT. Then DH's phone rang. Then mine rang. The best part? They were all useless calls - selling us something or other. My phone NEVER rings- and then twice at 3:00 a.m. Copenhagen time?

    So- this is where I decided to at least have one adult sleep, so I moved to Conor's bed. He didn't care - or even know I was there. That worked for a bit, and then I shifted back to the Queen bed at some point (why? Who knows? It made sense at the time), and, well, we didn't get up early. No worries, though, as we only had a short drive to port.

    After that SPECTACULAR night.... well, we ate breakfast and had lots of coffee, we did our final packing, and Conor and I hung out in the lobby reading (less chance of falling asleep).

    He bonded with the local wildlife too... until our taxi came.

    IMG_6644.jpg

    Happily- this time the 6-person van taxi actually materialized, and... we were off to port!
     
  19. Jeeprunner12

    Jeeprunner12 Earning My Ears

    Joined:
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    Watching! The Norwegian Fjords is one we’d like to do one day!
     
  20. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2012
    Messages:
    473
    Day 1- August 16th- we embark, and do very little else.

    After that stellar night, I confess I'm a bit fuzzy on the details of the day. However, regardless of where one is, embarkation day is basically the same, so I know the gist. :)

    I remember getting to port, and having our bags all nicely labelled (I can do that even when sleep deprived). I remember looking in the booklet when we got to port and realizing I forgot to fill out things. I filled them out. (Good grief- it's like it's our first cruise... sheesh.)

    Anyhow. We lined up for a bit (of course) at about 10:45, but things were moving. We cleared security, and headed up to the line-up and barely had to wait. A new CM was being trained- and he was very nice, and although it took longer than usual, it's not like we were going anywhere anyway. An experienced CM came over to chat with Conor about his hat, so all was well. They gave him his bracelet as we registered, so no line-up required.

    After we admired our gold lanyards (this took about 1 nanosecond), we found seats. Thrilling, I know.

    However, we found GOOD seat where we could watch everyone come in. DCL Queen's 13 yo and I had a grand time finding the most, well, DISNEY family. Basically- our own personal Family of the Day. There were many contenders, to put it mildly. Don't get me wrong- we love to look, but should you ever find me wearing matching t-shirts with my family, you can assume that I've been taken over by aliens, and please call someone urgently for an intervention, like yesterday.

    Seriously though- DCL is awesome for people watching. Love it.

    DCL Queen and her kids are Platinum folk -so they boarded a bit before us- I think we were group 3. No biggie- she and DH had hatched plans to line up for things (brunches, tastings and the like), so Conor and I were ready to fend for ourselves.

    So- we had a very quiet kind of embarkation day.

    From what I recall:

    We (Conor and me) had ice cream on deck 9 first off, because, well, ice cream.
    DH sorted out dining issues (conflicts with formal night mainly), nabbed another Palo reservation, and arranged tastings that I had not planned on attending.
    We had lunch at Cabanas.
    We signed up for free Wifi, and got the app working.
    We lounged on Deck 9 in the sun in a corner (it was cold otherwise) until our room was ready.
    We found our cabin and all our bags arrived.
    We put up our FE and magnets.
    We visited the shops.
    Conor looked at Edge, and contemplated whether he wanted to be allowed to visit.
    We mustered.
    We avoided sail-a-way like the plague, and instead, watched from our verandah as we left port.

    Basically- the only thing that was unusual was that the room actually wasn't ready - first time in 6 cruises - and this was the case for many folks on our floor (7th). Apparently there was some kind of delay, so the cabin attendants were literally still making the beds at 1:30 p.m. I think we wandered off to check out something or other, and then we came back at 2:00 and things were ready.

    And then, we met our servers, and ate, and I know we tried to have an early night, because of the horrendousness of the night before, and because we had a port the next day.

    I also know we had to spend a lot of time waiting for someone to come to get the bunk bed ready. We usually have both single beds set up to give us options, but our cabin attendant didn't check with us- to be fair, she was probably still recovering from the late start to things. I think we called guest services, actually. Once all beds were ready, we collapsed, as one ... once I had organized our bags for the next day... :)

    In summary, we have mastered the art of avoiding the stuff we dislike on embarkation day, and we did that with vigor. At this point, I sigh with relief, because we (and our bags) have made it, and I feel like the vacation can really, honestly, truly, start in earnest.

    OK- back to work for me tomorrow, so not sure when I can update again, but soon! I'll have a peek at DH's computer and steal/borrow some photos, I hope.

    Good night!
     
  21. bcwife76

    bcwife76 DisneyMomma

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2014
    Messages:
    4,142
    Well, well, you travel in style :flower1: Nicely done!
    Short and sweet in Copenhagen, you packed enough in for sure!
    After 4 cruises, I avoid sailway like the plague as well (DH and eldest DD usually meander up near the end while younger DD and I hole up in the cabin eating cheese haha!)

    Off and running, can't wait for the next update!
     

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