2017 Disney Cruise Vacation, Version 2.0

Here’s what we’ve done since our September 9th cruise aboard the Disney Fantasy was cancelled due to Hurricane Irma…

First we were sad.  Sad for everyone and everywhere that experienced Irma’s devastation.  I’d be lying if I said we weren’t a little sad for ourselves too, but seriously, we couldn’t be mad – life happens and there’s way worse stuff than a lost vacation.

2017 Disney Cruise Vacation, Version 2.0

We took a few days to think about our options.  We knew we were getting 100% of our money back from Disney Cruise Line and a 25% discount on a future cruise.  We decided to cancel our time off from work (September 11-15) and try to squeeze those days in sometime before the end of the year.  We’d already registered for a few weekend cycling events and had a 4-day Disney World visit booked in mid-November.

While trying to decide on Plan B, I paid close attention to social media to see what other cancelled-cruisers were doing.  Turns out, a whole bunch of them were being super mad!  Mad at Disney Cruise Line for not refunding their money fast enough (10-day time period).  Also mad they lost their 10% discount and $200 on-board credit for booking their lost cruise while on a previous sailing (even though a 25% discount is much better).  Some were mad that other fall cruises were booked up and all the adult dining reservations were gone.  Others were just mad in general and Disney Cruise Line was a convenient outlet for that anger.  Watching these people come unspooled was not helping our situation, so I gave that up.  We spent a weekend away, rode our bicycles, and thought about what to do.

Time to End the Pity Party

Exactly a week after Irma left us vacation-less, I decided it was time to stop moping around and get busy.  On September 14th, I called Disney Cruise Line and a wonderful woman named Gianna helped me add a 4-day cruise on the Dream to the front of our already scheduled WDW trip.  I knew from information posted on Disney Cruise Line’s website that we would not be eligible to receive the 25% discount until September 18th.  Gianna assured me I could call back then and apply the discount to this cruise.

Next I called American Airlines.  When we cancelled our flights for the original cruise, we were penalized.  We got the tickets back but would pay a $200 change fee to use them again.  I was going to see if I could do something about that.  I didn’t know this until the day I called, but Raymond had booked first class tickets for our trip to WDW as a birthday surprise for me.  If we moved our Orlando-bound flight in November up by four days to make the cruise, there would be a penalty for that too.  First class might have to go.  American Airlines hasn’t always been easy to deal with, so I took a deep breath and chanted, “be nice, be nice, be nice” as I placed that call.

I actually managed to be very nice (shocker, I know) and the young man who answered my call put me on hold while he spoke with his supervisor.  Next thing I knew, I was speaking to the supervisor, David, who had lots of genuinely helpful options for me to consider.  He was patient and kind and by the time I hung up, I’d gotten a penalty-free refund on the cancelled flights to be used towards future travel.  I was also able to move our Orlando-bound flight in November with no extra charge.  Still in first class even!  Shout-out to David at American Airlines for his amazing customer service skills!

The only thing I’m worried about now is that we are flying to Orlando on the morning our cruise sails.  Normally we would never do this!  But we’d already registered for the Bayou Teche Brewery Bike Bash and Giant Omelette Celebration Ride (two-day cycling events).  There’s no way we wanted to miss out on that.  (Can you blame us?  Beer!  And omelettes!)  So Raymond, Joseph and I will bicycle 100 miles over the weekend, then Raymond and I will catch our plane on Monday morning.  I’m thinking it’ll be a great way to burn off some of those cruise calories in advance.  I’ll be trying not to think about all the things that could go wrong and cause us to miss our ship.

I called Disney Cruise Line on Monday (9/18) and they were happy to apply the 25% discount to this new cruise.  So, while not exactly the 28th anniversary celebration we had planned, we ended up with a solid replacement in the form of a sea-and-land Disney vacation instead.

We’ve got to stop scheduling vacations during the peak of hurricane season.

 

 

 

 

 

Looking Forward to Sailing Aboard the Fantasy

Our last Disney cruise was in February, 2016 on the Dream.  It was a short, four-night trip to Nassau and Castaway Cay.  I was recovering from the Glass Slipper Challenge and it was the perfect cruise for lots of rest and relaxation with a bit of recreation thrown in for fun.  We enjoyed both dinner and brunch at Remy, dinner at Palo, did the Midship Detective Agency activity, ran the Castaway Cay 5K and skipped Nassau altogether.  Before the ship returned to Port Canaveral, we’d booked anther cruise and the time to sail has nearly arrived!

Looking Forward to Sailing Aboard the Fantasy

Since the Dream and the Fantasy are so similar, we feel like we know what to expect in general.  However, two of the Fantasy’s MDRs (Main Dining Rooms) are uncharted territory for us.  We’re excited to try the Enchanted Garden and Royal Court restaurants – we missed the Enchanted Garden on the Dream due to other dinner plans that night.  I expect Animator’s Palate to be pretty much as it is the other ships. Since we’re old and set in our ways, we requested the early dinner seating.  We prefer dinner before the evening show rather than the other way around.  We also like to turn in fairly early and don’t want to feel like we’re going to sleep on full bellies.   We love the adults-only dining options on Disney cruises.  We’re skipping Remy this time, but have booked both dinner and brunch at Palo.  Remy is fantastic and I highly recommend it, but we’re spending a chunk of our travel budget on excursions this time around and Remy didn’t make the cut, financially speaking.

Our plans by day…

Embarkation Day – We want to kick off the trip by relaxing.  We do have an afternoon meet-up planned with the Facebook group we joined for this trip.  After that and the lifeboat drill, we’ll try to watch the sail-away party from our favorite spot on the upper deck.

Sunday – Day at Sea, Formal Night, dinner at Palo.  We LOVE the fitness center and will certainly visit it this day.  If there’s a spin class offered, we’ll try to make it.  The spin instructors are always great, it’s a good workout, and bonus!  No extra charge involved!  We have a Chocolate and Liquor tasting booked in the afternoon.  This will be new to us.  We tried to book it on the Dream, but had no luck…the tasting was already at full capacity. 

Monday – Day at Sea, Halloween on the High Seas theme, Dinner in our assigned dining room.  Depending on the schedule, we’ll try to catch a movie and also see if we can attend a cooking demonstration of some type.  Those are two of our favorite activities on at-sea days.  Rather than worry with costumes, I bought us a couple of Nightmare Before Christmas-themed shirts to wear this day.  That way we’ll still feel like we’re participating, but won’t have to pack lots of extra stuff.

Tuesday – Tortola and the Wreck and Reef Dive excursion.  This is also Pirate night.  I expect we’ll be exhausted from our adventure, but I would love to make it to the deck party.

Wednesday – St. Thomas Certified Scuba excursion.  No special theme for dinner – I’m sure we’ll turn in early…really early.  By this time on previous cruises, I’ve been known to fall asleep during the evening’s show.  I know I can sleep in the next morning, but I’ve never been good at shaking off being sleepy.

Thursday – Day at Sea.  Brunch at Palo then Raymond has an afternoon massage scheduled at the spa (birthday gift from me).  Hopefully, there will be more movies and/or cooking demos to see!  This should be semi-formal night and we’ll be in whatever dining room is on our rotation. Friday – Castaway Cay!  As of now, we’re planning on doing the 5K before relaxing at Serenity Bay for a while.  We like the 5K because it’s very low-key and is a fun way to burn off some of those cruise calories.  Castaway Cay's Mt. RustmoreAfter lunch we have the “Abaco Rigid Hull Snorkeling Adventure – Adult Only” excursion.  We’ve done this one before back in 2010 and we saw some awesome sea creatures and plant life.  We’ll probably head back to the ship fairly early so we can start getting our suitcases packed.  So sad!  We haven’t even left yet, and here I am talking about the entire trip being over.  If you’ve been on a Disney cruise before, you know how bittersweet that last night can be!

Now there’s still the unresolved matter of Hurricane Irma.  Will she crash our vacation?  Will she move on before we arrive?  Will she maybe force us on an alternate itinerary?  Only time will tell.  No matter what, like every Disney vacation we’ve taken – this one’s bound to be an adventure!

Disney Vacation – Next Week!

My plans for Labor Day Weekend involve packing!  We’ll be off to Orlando next Friday and sail from Port Canaveral on Saturday.  Right now we’ve got our eyes on Hurricane Irma and are hoping she moves right on along before the Fantasy sets sail.

Disney Vacation – Next Week!

We’re staying pre-cruise near the airport.  Since we have already booked three more visits to Disney World during the next 8 months, we don’t have the DVC points to spare for one night.  We’ve stayed at this hotel before another cruise and it worked out well.  Initially, we thought we’d just hang out at the hotel and be well rested and ready to go on Saturday.  Ha!  No way could we be that close to Disney World and stay away.  Plus, there’s that new promotion for DVC members that offers a 30% discount at certain restaurants for dining before 6:30 pm or after 8:30 pm (through September 30th).

Our plane lands around noon and once we’ve gotten our luggage and checked into the hotel, we’ll be taking some form of transportation to Animal Kingdom. (We are still undecided what to use, suggestions welcome!).

Of course we couldn’t get a FastPass for Flight of Passage, but Raymond will still get to explore Pandora for the first time.  Our afternoon consists of Asia first – FastPass for Expedition Everest.  Pandora second – FastPass for Na’vi River Journey.  Finally, we’ll use our last FastPass for Kilimanjaro Safaris in Africa.  Between FastPasses, we’ll have time to wander at our leisure.  I’m certain we’ll make a stop at the Dawa Bar for a refreshment.  Once we finish the safari, it’ll be time to go.

We’ll be wrapping up the evening with an early dinner (6:00 pm) at Jiko.  We love that place!  Eating early to take advantage of the special discount will give us plenty of time to relax and enjoy our dinner without rushing.  By 8:00, we should be ready to head back to our hotel and call it a day.  The next morning we’ll be on our way to our first sailing on the Disney Fantasy.

I’ll be taking tons of pictures and will have much to report when we get home.  Our Eastern Caribbean itinerary should look like this (Irma, be gone!):

Day Port Ashore Onboard
1 Port Canaveral, Florida 3:45 PM
2 At Sea
3 At Sea
4 Tortola, British Virgin Islands 7:30 AM 5:45 PM
5 St. Thomas/St. John, US Virgin Islands 7:45 AM 4:00 PM
6 At Sea
7 Disney Castaway Cay 9:30 AM 4:45 PM
8 Port Canaveral, Florida 7:30 AM

Tomorrow I’ll be back with the details of our port excursions, dining plans and all we’re looking forward to on this trip!

Have you sailed on the Fantasy?  What did you enjoy the most?

 

Disney World in June – It’s Going to Rain

It’s almost here!  The Epic Mother/Daughter Disney Summer Road Trip is nearly upon us.  Megan and I are in the homestretch, bags are being packed and frequently checking the Orlando weather is our favorite pastime.  It’s going to rain.  Everyday probably.  That’s Florida in the summer.  Acceptance and preparation are key to powering on through the rain and still having a fun vacation.

Disney World in June – It’s Going to RainDisney World in June - It's Going to Rain

Shoes – The beauty of driving to Walt Disney World is practically unlimited packing space.  We’re taking lots of shoes especially.  If it’s not raining in the morning, we’ll start off in sneakers (a.k.a. tennis shoes, running shoes, trainers) and switch to rain-friendly footwear we can carry with us.  I like Croc’s ballet flats and any type of comfortable flip-flops with a textured food bed for safe and comfortable rain-survival.  In the Florida humidity, if our sneakers get wet they’ll take forever to dry, so we’re bringing multiple pairs.

Ponchos – Like wet sneakers, ponchos take a long time to dry and can quickly get moldy and unpleasant if wadded up wet and shoved back into a bag.  The key is to make like a boy scout and be prepared.  We’ll take along a few for each of us.  I’ve got leftovers from previous trips to bring along that were purchased at places like Wal-Mart, Target, and Walt Disney World – like a mini poncho wardrobe. Disney World in June - It's Going to RainPark Bags – Normally, I’m a minimalist when it comes to park bags and have even been known to go bag-free from time to time.  Being prepared for the expected torrential downpour will require more supplies and a larger bag.  Megan and I can fit everything in one backpack and take turns carrying it.  Extra shoes, first aid stuff, ponchos, some hairaphernalia for repairing our ‘do’s, snacks and drinks – we’ll be set for anything!  I got a new Mickey Mouse backpack a few months back as a purchase with a purchase…totes adorbs as the young folks say, isn’t it?Comfort and, I’d be lying if I said we didn’t care, appearance.  I appreciate the value of a good cap or visor.  In particular, I’m a fan of Headsweats visors.  They come in a bunch of colors and are excellent at wicking moisture then drying out quickly.  I especially like that the underside of mine is black to reduce sun glare.  They’re comfortable rain or shine and look nice too.  Wet weather and humidity are no match for any hairstyle on me other than a ponytail or bun which work well with my favorite visor. 

We’re planning to get wet.  The weather forecast says 60% chance of scattered showers everyday we’ll be there except one (when the chance is 40%).  Sometimes being prepared makes the difference between a good time and a GREAT time.  Who knows when Megan and I will get another chance to take a Disney vacation alone together – let the fun begin!  We are ready!

What are you favorite items to pack for the rainy summer days at Disney World?