I can't believe I haven't come back to rave about our cruise on the Disney Fantasy. It was so fantastic. It just happened to occur as the school year was ending and busy life just got in the way. The time away in NO way reflects any disappointment in our cruise. I will come back and write a more detailed post soon, but for now, I will post some of my favorite photos.
I am literally down to hours until our vacation begins. In a past post, I promised a list. Well, to be honest, I didn't make a list. I looked at other people's list and decided it was too much trouble, so instead, I'll list here the things that I know I'm bringing.
Other Odds and Ends:
Things I Debated Buying:
That is all I can think of right now. In writing this, I reminded myself that my sling purse is hanging in our mudroom as we speak, so I better go get that thing packed up before I have huge regrets.
Next time you hear from me, I will be forcing my cruise photos and stories upon you. Until then . . .
I'm pretty sure in a past post I declared I was NOT going to go crazy buying shirts for the cruise. Well, that isn't entirely true. I designed our Pirate night shirts using google images and photoshop, then had ours printed via Vistaprint.com and my daughter's through Alliedshirts.com. I was 100% satisfied with just having those particular shirts, that is until I stumbled upon a new t-shirt online store.
Trigger ALERT!! Do NOT go to this site if you have a weakness for Disney related unique shirts or really any type of creatively designed T. You have been warned . . . Teepublic drew me in and I couldn't close the window without snagging 2 shirts for myself and 1 for my daughter. My husband did not participate in my final shirt splurge, but he admittedly is less impressed by such things.
BUT it doesn't end there. I decided I needed to replace my cute Disney hat I got during our last WDW visit that our puppy ate, so I got on photoshop and designed a new hat for myself and then that lead to creating more door magnets. If this trip doesn't get here soon, I will seriously require an intervention.
Seems like a REALLY big deal for a LOT of Disney Cruisers is to participate in something called Fish Extender groups. I just can't get into it. You may be wondering what in the sam hill are fish extenders. I'm so not into it, I don't even want to type it out, so here is a link explaining them. This just isn't my thing. I may regret it, but for now, let's just suffice it to say the thought of buying, putting together, cute labeling, packing an EXTRA suitcase for (and lugging it on an airplane then to our pre-cruise hotel and back to the airport), and delivering a bunch of trinkets that they/we probably really don't need, just doesn't appeal to me. I know it does to others, I'm just not that into it. BUT if you are, here are some great ideas:
Google Fish Extenders, you'll see TONS of ideas. And if you are crafty, you can even buy some on Etsy.com. Seriously, it is a thing, just like the door decorations, which you can also buy on Etsy. LOL!!
Speaking of door decorations, I decided on ours!
Link to Stateroom Mouseheads,
we chose Dopey
Once your booking window opens, you will have a variety of options that show up in your My Reservations section in www.disneycruise.disney.go.com.
For me, the easiest way to book onboard items such as special dining experiences like the adult add-on dining at Remy or Palo, was to go into the Search All Days. That way you can select your desired experience and all availability for each day will show up. For port excursions, you need to select the particular day and see what is available and select your choice. Look back at my previous post to see the tiered system for the booking windows based on number of cruises or if you are staying on concierge level.
I was unable to book my coveted Palo Brunch, so I plan to visit Palo upon boarding and try to get a reservation then. They always hold out some reservations that appear sold out online, for guest to book upon boarding. Fingers-crossed that we can get it.
I chose brunch, which is a hard to get reservation over a Palo or Remy dinner because I want to experience all the rotational dining experiences on this cruise. Perhaps I will do a dinner on our next cruise.
We chose to do an excursion on Tortola and on St. Thomas, but will just wing it on Castaway Cay. Though I did reserve bicycles for us to use for the day. And before you ask, no you do not pay in advance for excursions. That will be billed to your room to be paid in full upon departure. I will come back here and review our experience in a later post.
Another pre-cruise item I booked is the Rain Forest pass. To purchase this, it is NOT under Spa services in your onboard booking section like all other spa services. Instead, for some reason it is under the Gifts section. I also decided to call (800)601-8455 to book it rather than fill out a form. You DO have to pre-pay for this experience and any other "gift amenity". This is another experience I will review in a later post.
Rain Forest Pass Experience
That is all for now.
Next up will be other purchases/issues for the cruise like do I really need an underwater camera?? Do I really need all those sea lice lotions and motion sickness remedies that all the Disney Cruise Facebook pages claim you MUST-Have? And that packing list . . .
If you think you just book a cruise then you can start making all your plans and booking your Disney excursions and dining plans, character meets, spa reservations, etc. well you couldn't be more wrong. UNLESS you are one of those last minute cruisers, then you may be in luck, sort of. It is possible the things you want were already booked by seasoned Disney Cruisers that belong to "The Club". Which Club is that, you ask?? The Castaway Club, of course.
See, there is a pecking order. The more times you have sailed on a Disney Cruise, the earlier the booking window opens to you. There are other perks too, but I will focus on bookings and check-ins here.
See the photos below to see how the levels are divided and when you can start booking depending upon which level you occupy.
To see what level you are on or for more info. visit Castaway Club. I could spend this BLOG discussing the entire process, but since my good friends over at TouringPlans.com did such an excellent job, I suggest a visit to their website. A few things have changed since that blog, mainly the actual Disney Cruise Line page looks different. Your options to be able to actually book do not show up for you until your 'window' is open. Don't worry though, Disney has your important dates on your reservations which can be found when you log into the Disney Cruise Line website AND, as your agent, I will always remind you of important upcoming dates.
I also want to remind you of another Castaway Club perk that I brought up in a past BLOG. Remember to REBOOK your next Disney Cruise while on your current Disney Cruise, either by selecting the exact cruise you want, and getting 10% off the downpayment, OR selecting a PLACEHOLDER cruise with $250.00 down for an undetermined cruise you will have 24 months to choose. Full refund if canceled within that time.
Ok, Next BLOG will discuss what we have decided to pre-book for our 7-Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise.
Well we are now in the double digits for days out until our Eastern Caribbean Disney Cruise. We will be paying in full very soon and will be able to book excursions and check in online soon, as well.
I am currently in the 'what are we going to wear for that stinking Pirate Night' stage of planning. Husband is not interested, not even a little. He will wear a shirt I buy him from amazon that has a skull and crossbones. That will be the extent of his dress-up. It's just not his thing.
Although I'm not all that into dressing up either, I will find something a little more fun for the daughter and myself. I've made some digital designs that I'm considering and I've seen some things online that I'm also thinking would work. The criteria is that it has to be fairly subtle and easy to pack.
These are the designs that I'd have put on shirts for myself and daughter. I'd have to choose 1 because I am only doing ONE custome shirt for this cruise, unlike my sets I do for WDW trips.
So, tell me what you think. Should I use my designs, if so which one do you like best, or should we go for the white t-shirt idea? Have you been to and/or dressed up for Pirate Night on a Disney Cruise? What did you decide to wear? Comment below with your thoughts.
As with all our Walt Disney World vacations, I extensively research everything I can to ensure we are not missing out on must-dos during our trip. With a Disney Cruise, especially a LONG Disney Cruise, that is a LOT of ground to cover.
My go-to place that has been tremendously helpful has been The Disney Cruise Line Blog. Here you will find ship information, cruise planning, pod casts, trip reports, itineraries, menus, photography, weather, and videos. It really has it all.
Because I already know which ship, Fantasy, and which itinerary, 7-Night Eastern Caribbean, I skipped right to the trip report tab. I found this and although the dates aren't the same, the ports of call are.
I LOVE reading other people's experiences and this report is loaded with insight, details, and best of all, pictures and videos. In this particular trip report, the cruiser is very experienced and that I find to be particularly helpful and reassuring.
We are still very early in our planning and can't even book anything yet, even if we wanted to but, we have already made some decisions that go against a lot of the bloggers and frequent Disney cruisers' advice. We are NOT doing the adult meals at Remy or Palo. That is mostly because my husband has ZERO interest in dressing up. None. Nada. Not happening. Just like with our first trip to WDW, where he thought 3 day park tickets were enough (Lord have mercy), I'm not going to fight this battle. (We now do no less than 7 park days, fyi) I will eventually win him over, as this will NOT be our last Disney Cruise. So, that is one less reservation and worry for me.
For now, I'm still trying to make excursion decisions and get a grip on all the on board activities. As seen in my previous post, there are many many options for excursions and so many onboard activities, that like the parks, there is no way to do it all. But I'll sure try.
Oh, I almost forgot, the other decision I have made is to bring $250.00 with me to reserve a PLACEHOLDER for our next cruise while onboard, and get 10% off the cost. (If you go on and pick an EXACT cruise, you get 10% off your deposit) You also get a $200 On Board Credit (OBC) if you book a 7-night or longer cruise, or a $100 OBC for booking less than 7-nights! You have 24 months to book your next cruise to take advantage of the deal. Cancel and get a full refund. An added bonus is that any onboard booking can be transferred to your favorite travel agency, cough cough, Make Believe Vacations, LLC, cough cough, so you can still have all the free services offered by yours truly. If you already booked the current cruise through me, because you are THAT smart, you just agree during sign up to continue to use me as your agent. Easy Peasy! *Excludes Blackout Dates & Holidays. Also, NO 10% discount if you book Concierge for you next cruise.
FYI--ANY reservation booked directly through Walt Disney Travel can be transferred to Make Believe Vacations, LLC. I will/can NOT transfer from another travel agency. Fill out this form and email it directly to me at Andrea@makebelievevactions.com
If you've been on a Disney Cruise, feel free to comment and leave your must-do tips below.
Short little blog today just to show you how I spent my day. These are mostly just for playing around, but may end up printed on magnet paper and displayed on our stateroom door. Let me know if you have a favorite.
I am still working on my stateroom door decorations and even considering whether I am doing personalized shirts for the family. Also on my list of things to decide is what to do at our Ports of Call. For our trip, we visit Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, and Castaway Cay, Disney-owned and operated island destination.
Disney offers Caribbean Port Adventures. And there are SO many to chose from and many different price ranges. There seems to be the general consensus that these excursions are generally more expensive than those you can book on your own, however one really clear bonus is that if you go on a Disney sponsored tour, and are late getting back, the boat waits. If you are on your own, you best figure out how to get to the next port because the ship will sail off with or without you. (unless you've left a child on the ship, then that's a whole 'nother can of worms that you can google.)
Now, even before I can confidently decide on an excursion, I am researching each port for hours and hours. The unintended consequence of that is that I'm already wanting to plan our next vacation staying in the Virgin Islands for a week, in the future, because I'm realizing there is no way we can do everything I want to do, or see everything I want to see, or eat everything I'm wanting to eat, in the short amount of time at each destination.
In an effort to keep all my research straight, I am using Pinterest. For the Eastern Caribbean Cruise I pinned tour locations and reviews of particular destinations. I will continue to pin items I find to look back at later. I also like to run these by my husband so we can yay or nay them together. I created a board to stash all my misc. planning called Get Ready for a Disney Cruise. Here, I have stashed a hodgepodge from packing ideas to t-shirt designs to door decor to pirate costumes and everything in between.
At this EARLY point in time, we are considering just doing an on our own day in Tortolla. The Baths is a destination I am truly torn about. It looks AH-mazing, but I also love the idea of just exploring the island and relaxing on our first day off the boat after 2 days at sea. Anegada is another location that I simply have to get to now that I know about it. I'm finding that the one draw back to a cruise is the time you get to spend at each location really makes it hard to take in all these beautiful places have to offer. Again, this is why I have a sneaky suspicion that we will decide to make our next vacation be a Virgin Island week long visit. This trip will be used as an exploratory adventure, so when we return, we'll know what and where we need to go and see.
I just started to research St. Thomas. I think that will be a good place to do an EcoTour or some sort of Disney Port Adventure. Right now the Kayak, Hike & Snorkel 5hr w/lunch has the most appeal to me. There is also a Kayak, Hike & Snorkel 3hr and a Kayak, Hike & Snorkel 2 1/2 hr. I think this would be just about Heaven.
Our third port is Castaway-Cay. Castawy-Cay also has a lot to offer. I'd love to stay in a Cabana, however, you pretty much have to be a VERY frequent cruiser to have to opportunity to rent those. See Disney Cruise Line Levels for more information about that. I'm all for Disney offering rewards for frequent cruisers, just sucks to not be one. LOL!
Well, that's all I have for now. In a future blog I will discuss other decisions we had/have to make and all the other fun that goes into planning and making the most out of a Disney Cruise.
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