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.

 

 

 

 

 

What it’s Like to be Married to the Same Person for 28 Years

Today’s our 28th wedding anniversary!  We’ve left the kids, the dog (and the rest of the menagerie) and have chosen to celebrate this special occasion by ourselves.  Alone.  Just the two of us.  While we won’t be taking that cruise we’d been so looking forward to, we decided a weekend getaway was definitely in order.     

Back in 2014, we celebrated our 25th anniversary at Disney World and wore our celebration buttons for a couple of days.  The reaction from other park guests and some cast members was both hilarious and sometimes a bit alarming.  Quite a few people were amazed that we’d managed to stay married to each other for so long.  One guy commented, “I’ve been married three times and added together I haven’t been married 25 years!”.  Several folks asked us for the secret to staying happily married.  I would share the secret with you now if I had one.  Jokingly, I usually claim our relationship success is based on two rules:  Don’t share money and don’t share a bathroom.  In reality, there is no secret.

I’ve often worried that Raymond and I have given Megan and Joseph unrealistic expectations about marriage.  We know that not all marriages are as harmonious as ours.  We honestly enjoy each other’s company and being together at the end of the day makes our home our happiest place on earth.  It also makes “home” wherever we are.  We rarely disagree, although we do get on each others’ nerves from time to time.  We’re in sync with each other in a way I cannot describe and after all these years, it’s taught me one important lesson that we’ve tried to pass on to our children.  I have this theory…

What it’s Like to be Married to the Same Person for 28 Years

There’s only one reason to get married and love is (mostly) not it.  Alone, love is not enough.  The best and most important reason to get married and stay married is that together you are better than you could ever be individually.  You bring out the best in each other.  You are each other’s biggest fan.  Together you are a super-power that minimizes individual weaknesses and vulnerabilities while maximizing strengths.  You not only compliment each other, you make each other want to be the best versions of yourselves in order to achieve dreams, reach goals (individually and together), and be happy. 

We’ve stressed to Megan and Joseph that while Raymond and I are very happy together, it is never up to any other person in the world to make you happy.  YOU are responsible for your own happiness.  I absolutely do not mean in a selfish way, but I believe you must love yourself in order to be lovable.  There’s no place in a healthy relationship for pettiness, insecurity, or jealousy.  In the long-term, it’s not up to another human being to fix you or prop you up or compensate for your personal issues (no matter how much they love you and want to help).  That’s too big a burden to place on anyone and is completely unfair to that person.

When the person you love makes you want to constantly grow, learn, strive, and reach for the very best YOU – and is there to cheer you on along the way – that, I think is the best way for me to describe what it’s like to be married to the same person for 28 years.

I love you, Raymond.  Thank you for being with me for each and every one of the past 10,227 days.  Happy Anniversary.

 

 

Hurricanes, Disney Vacations, and Perspective

I’ve been obsessively watching Hurricane Irma for over a week.  On Saturday, I spent my time doing laundry and watching the Weather Channel, checking NOAA online, and watching for news on my Facebook feed from folks closer to the situation than I was.  On Sunday, I stopped packing for vacation.  On Wednesday evening at 7:30, Disney Cruise Line cancelled our trip.  While we honestly appreciate their caution and concern for guest safety, the disappointment was…well, you can imagine.

From Disney Cruise Line’s website:

“The September 9 sailing of the Disney Fantasy is cancelled. Refunds will automatically be processed back to the original form of payment used for the cruise booking. Guests are invited to book a future cruise at a 25 percent discount by calling us at 1-855-347-2784 or 407-566-7054 from September 18, 2017, through October 18, 2017. 

While we always strive to deliver magical cruise vacations, nothing is more important to us than providing a safe experience for our guests and crew. We will continue to closely monitor Hurricane Irma and provide updates as necessary.”

Hurricanes, Disney Vacations, and Perspective

As I was wallowing in self-pity over the Disney cruise we won’t be taking on Saturday, I realized that mixed in with the sadness and disappointment was also relief.  We will be safe and sound as Irma barrels along on her course of mayhem and destruction.  While riding out Hurricane Matthew at Disney World last year was an adventure, it’s not one I’d care to repeat.Hurricane Matthew at Walt Disney World

To all my Florida friends – I’m sorry you’ll be dealing with the potential havoc brought by a powerful and unpredictable force of nature.  I’ve been praying steadily for your safety and Irma’s demise.  Having lived in Louisiana for almost 30 years, I well know the worry and helplessness that comes with not being able to control or anticipate what might happen when your home is in the path of a hurricane.  I’m sorry you’re dealing with that now.

As you are hoping for the best and preparing for the worst, please know that you’ll continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.  Through the Living a Disney Life blog and on social media, I’ve gotten to know so many of you and your friendship means a great deal to me!

Be safe and take care, Disney friends.  Please let me know how you’re doing…Lisa

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!