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Old 09-19-2012, 09:05 PM   #1
cblack
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The Pay It Forward PTR - Concierge on Disney Fantasy Eastern January 26, 2013

Hi, there! Cassie here…long time reader, first-time trip reporter. I feel like I’ve gained so much knowledge by lurking on these boards that I must make an attempt to pay it forward. This is our family’s second cruise, so we are officially “silver” Castaway Club members, but this in no way makes me an expert (1st disclaimer). I should add a 2nd disclaimer that following our first cruise, I couldn’t login to the Disboards for at least a month because it reminded me that I was no longer on the cruise and was back to normal life. So, if I am not quick to turn this into a trip report, please be patient.

OK, now that you know why I’m here and that I may be slow in updating post-cruise, let’s get this pre-trip report going with introductions :
  • DH – Jeremy. Not a Disney fanatic, but admitted that our last cruise was the best vacation he has ever had. This is good news because that means I get to go on more cruises!
  • DD – Jayden. Loves everything Disney with the exception of the big-head, open-mouth, furry characters….and she loves those from a distance. 15 feet or less and the waterworks start and she starts screaming, “they are going to bite me!!!!” We are hoping to overcome the fear this cruise; we have had many discussions about Mickey being a nice friend who does not bite. If we don’t get past it, we have more time to do things other than stand in character lines.
  • Me – Cassie. Dis lurker and extreme planner in an attempt to learn as much as I can to make my family’s cruise as magical as possible. I learned in my first trip to Disney World that being prepared can make the difference between a magical experience and visiting a theme park (and eating lunch and dinner 2 hours apart, but that is a different story ).

This is us (and our three furry family members):



And cruise details:
  • Ship: Disney Fantasy
  • Itinerary: 7 Day Eastern Caribbean (with a stop in San Juan)
  • Dates: January 26, 2013 – February 2, 2013
  • Room: 12000, 1 Bedroom Concierge (at the very front of the ship)

This is our room:


...and this is the balcony for our room:


I cannot wait to be sitting in that chair relaxing!!! Next up will be details we've taken care of so far.
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:26 PM   #2
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Flights, Hotels, Transportation, Oh My!

We are just 9 days away from booking excursions, Palo, BBB, spa, cabana, etc. and the excitement is killing me!!! Staying up late, making sure I’m prepared, but not logged in until precisely 12am ET so as to not have to log out and log back in thus wasting precious booking minutes. I try to keep my “Disney-nuttiness” to myself or at least within my home. People I work with and my family know that I am crazy when it comes to Disney, but they have no clue how much time I spend reading to learn more (BWAHAHAHA) or that I would stay up until midnight to make sure Jayden can get her hair done. You guys get it, though, don’t you?!?!

Anyway, I will try to contain my excitement, because I am also preparing for a big event for our family this weekend. Jeremy, Jayden, and I (and 60+ of our friends and family) are participating in a local 5K event supporting the Foundation Fighting Blindness. This is a cause that is near and dear to us, so we are busy gathering last minute donations, handing out t-shirts, making sure everyone knows where to be and when, etc. It should be a fun weekend with great weather, friends, family, and hopefully lots of laughter. I will post a team picture (assuming that everyone makes it where they are supposed to) next week.

So this is supposed to be a planning update too…I should get back on track! I travel a lot for work, so when it comes to vacations, I try to use as many points as I can to save $$$. I would much rather spend my $$$ on a massage than on a flight…it is just more fun and so much easier to justify the spend! So, we are flying Southwest to Orlando on Friday, January 25 on points…$15 total for our flights (woohoo!!!). On our last cruise, we took the EARLY morning flight the day before the cruise just to be triple-sure that we would not miss the ship. We want to make this trip a little more leisurely, so we are taking a noon-ish flight out of St. Louis that arrives in Orlando around 4pm. I should mention that this cruise is a complete surprise to Jayden, only because anytime we mention going somewhere, her immediate response is, “are we going right now?” We want to be able to say, “YES!!!” to this question, so we are planning to go out for a late breakfast that morning and tell her there. She loves the “Mickey Boat,” as she calls it, and asks regularly if we can go again, so I can’t wait to see her reaction.

We had a little debate about where to stay Friday night. Last cruise, we stayed at the Residence Inn close to the port and this worked well. We had the RI booked for this cruise until I learned that their shuttles do not leave the hotel until after 11am. Since I’ve read that the port has been opening earlier and some concierge guests have reported being on the ship by 11:30, I want to make sure we are there early and getting every bit of vacation we can! So, we decided to stay at the Renaissance Orlando Airport Hotel. There are lots of places close by to eat without taking a taxi (we will be traveling sans-carseat, so we prefer to walk) and the place looks nice enough. Total price comes to….$0 as we are staying on points.

This is the Renaissance...looks nice enough!


So, I’m sure you might be asking…why are you staying close to the airport to get there earlier??? Again, no carseat, so a taxi is out. Jeremy refuses to drive on vacation (and I don’t really want to either), so a rental car is out. The DCL bus is more expensive than a private car. I need a Marriott so I can stay on points and want to get there early, so there you have it…we are staying at the airport and will have a town car service take us to the port and back to the airport. We booked with Tiffany Towncar for these transfers; I chose Tiffany Towncar mostly because I could not find negative reviews on this company. They must do something great, because their customers just RAVE about them. We will have a grocery stop on the way to the port just in case we forget something. They also provide a car seat free of charge.

OK, last piece of planning info for today – we park at the airport when we fly, and because of the points for work travel, our parking will be a grand total of $0 (yay!!!). So, even though work travel is a pain in my booty most times, all-in, it is saving our family $846 on flights, $199 on hotel, and $135 on parking, for a grand total of………..$1,180. Jeremy will attest that when asked how much I spent, I strongly prefer to showcase how much I saved!

Whew! I think that is enough for today!
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Old 09-23-2012, 08:11 AM   #3
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Fantastic!!! Am subscribing!!

I'm so happy for you that you could nail down that stateroom!


I'm on standby for the 2014 dates to try to book that very 12000 room.

And yes, so much fun when your get reap some "compensation" (I hesitate to call this "benefits") from grueling work travel.

Can't wait to see how everything will go for you and your family! Too bad the furry members of the family can't come with....
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Old 09-23-2012, 02:26 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Guineveree View Post
Fantastic!!! Am subscribing!!

I'm so happy for you that you could nail down that stateroom!


I'm on standby for the 2014 dates to try to book that very 12000 room.

And yes, so much fun when your get reap some "compensation" (I hesitate to call this "benefits") from grueling work travel.

Can't wait to see how everything will go for you and your family! Too bad the furry members of the family can't come with....
Thanks for joining in!!! I was riding the bus on my way to work when opening day prices came out. I couldn't get my email to come up fast enough to get to my TA because I wanted that room!!! I will be sure to share pictures to show the differences between that room and the other 1BRs.
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Old 09-23-2012, 02:33 PM   #5
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VisionWalk

Just a small update to share results from our team's efforts at our local VisionWalk. Our team was 54 strong (53 of the human variety and 1 canine), and we raised well over $4,500! I'm thinking when the final count is in, we may have hit the $5K mark! Here is a picture of our team...



I'll be back with an update on our plans for excursions soon...the couch is calling me to take a nap
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Old 09-24-2012, 01:58 PM   #6
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Just booked today on DVC points. Subscribing.....
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Old 10-08-2012, 03:07 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by cblack View Post


OK, last piece of planning info for today – we park at the airport when we fly, and because of the points for work travel, our parking will be a grand total of $0 (yay!!!). So, even though work travel is a pain in my booty most times, all-in, it is saving our family $846 on flights, $199 on hotel, and $135 on parking, for a grand total of………..$1,180. Jeremy will attest that when asked how much I spent, I strongly prefer to showcase how much I saved!

Whew! I think that is enough for today!
I am so jealous and excited for you! That is a huge savings! We just put down a deposit for a Feb cruise and I am working on the logistics now for night before and cars. Did you put any thought into adding a WDW day before you head out on the cruise? Have you cruised on a concierge level before? Sounds fabulous!
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Old 10-08-2012, 04:25 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by hoosthatmouse View Post
I am so jealous and excited for you! That is a huge savings! We just put down a deposit for a Feb cruise and I am working on the logistics now for night before and cars. Did you put any thought into adding a WDW day before you head out on the cruise? Have you cruised on a concierge level before? Sounds fabulous!
Hello and thanks for reading! It is very exciting to save that much, but it did take lots of trips away from family to get those points. So, when I travel for work, I keep telling myself..."this will make our vacation cheaper...this will make our vacation cheaper!"

We did consider doing a night at WDW, but we are planning a bigger WDW trip at the end of next year, so we decided we would wait until then.

I have cruised concierge before on the Magic.
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Last edited by cblack; 10-08-2012 at 05:39 PM.
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Old 09-26-2012, 07:55 PM   #9
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Stupid questions....what does DH, DD and all those others means? So new to all this..thanks!
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Old 09-26-2012, 08:37 PM   #10
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Stupid questions....what does DH, DD and all those others means? So new to all this..thanks!
First, welcome to the Dis! Second, there are NEVER stupid questions on here...some that might get snarky responses, but just ignore them!

Finally, for your excellent question...DH - I've seen it written out as both Disney Husband or Darling Husband and same with DD - Disney Daughter or Darling Daughter. When I'm writing, I'm thinking "darling" in my head.

You may also see things like DS (son), DSIL (son-in-law), DBIL (brother-in-law), etc. Occassionally, there are some that I can't figure out, so I just add in whichever person I want to their story
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Old 10-06-2012, 10:32 AM   #11
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This is my first post... I read your PTR and I too am an excessive and obsessed planner. We are planning a world and cruise combo in 2014. I have made dining reservations for the world before and had to phone in ridiculously early, I didn't realize you could log in and make your cruise reservations at a specific time. This will be or 2nd cruise, so we are silver castaway manners as well, but is your pre booking time extended further because you are concierge? Can you give me a little more info on where, how and when you are logging in for reservations. I was hoping for BBB and a cabana as well.
Thanks for taking the time to share your plan! Very helpful
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Old 10-06-2012, 12:10 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Poohcandi View Post
This is my first post... I read your PTR and I too am an excessive and obsessed planner. We are planning a world and cruise combo in 2014. I have made dining reservations for the world before and had to phone in ridiculously early, I didn't realize you could log in and make your cruise reservations at a specific time. This will be or 2nd cruise, so we are silver castaway manners as well, but is your pre booking time extended further because you are concierge? Can you give me a little more info on where, how and when you are logging in for reservations. I was hoping for BBB and a cabana as well.
Thanks for taking the time to share your plan! Very helpful
to the Dis! You can book your cruise excursion/Palo/Remy/BBB/etc. online. Platinum CC members and concierge can book at 120 days, gold at 105 days, silver at 90 days, and first-timers at 75 days. The online booking starts at 12am ET...the DCL web site will tell you which day you can begin booking. Just remember that if you are not in ET, the date may be off (I live in Central timezone, so I booked at 11pm CT on the day before the date shown on the web site). You must wait until that time to loving, as if youare logged in early, the site wont recognize that the clock has switched over to the next day.

My "prioritization" was the cabana and then BBB because the cabanas appear to be a "hot" item. Also, if you don't get what you want, keep checking because people do cancel. I hope you enjoy your WDW/DCL trip! If you have any questions, just let me know!
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Old 11-19-2012, 08:25 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Conorama

Are we 10 weeks away? Good grief. I'm a bit preoccupied with my thesis defense coming up, so I've lost track!

Would a (new) friend she knew a bit help Jayden at the clubs? Our Dude does well when he is the "protector", and so if he knew that Jayden might be worried being there on her own, he would (in all likelihood) take her under his wing. Dude's got a knight in shining armor thing going. (Nevermind that this would help us get him to the club... )

Otherwise, it looks like we'll see you at quite a few things, minus the princess gatherings - despite his Prince Charming complex, the boy is completely anti-princess... and, I'm still thinking, anti-characters. We'll see, though!

Oh, and I *definitely* read on vacation. It's my number 2 thing after "spend time with the kid". On beaches, I get to combine numbers 1 and 2, which is why we're doing a lot of beach stuff. The Canadian Kindle (Kobo) is the best invention since sliced bread.... or maybe since Pibb?

BTW - I forget (and I'm too tired to read back - badness!) - what are you doing in St. Thomas again? I'm now officially freaking out about the 21,000 + people in port that day. We have a Coral World excursion booked, but the reports of the transportation are alarming, but with that many humans in port, I'm worried about arranging our out transportation, even if we could arrange Coral World privately...

10 weeks - oh my.
Haha! Yes, just 10 weeks. After having a couple extremely busy work weeks, I am already starting the, "everything must be done before I leave" panic. It will be ok, though!

I can't wait for Jayden to meet your Dude! He sounds like such a fun little man! A new friend could definitely work for the clubs, especially if I tell her he is a knight in shining armor. We shall conspire to have adult time!

Jayden declared several times that she is going to hug the characters, give them high fives, and get her picture taken because she is brave and they are nice. We will see!

I love to read...usually at least one book per week, but on vacation, it is just harder to do. I tend to read on my commute to work, so without that I find other things to occupy myself. I couldn't read on a beach with Jayden there because I'm not capable of running, digging, swimming, burying, etc. while reading . Maybe that will be included when I get my Mom 2.0 upgrade

We are doing the Kon Tiki excursion in St. Thomas. It goes to honeymoon beach, and I have heard it is less busy than other beaches. We are really hoping we will avoid the thousands of people!

Thanks again for reading along!
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Old 12-07-2012, 10:06 PM   #14
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Finally got our cabin assignment! Room 5026. Pretty sure we got pixie dusted. Hope they don't change it before we sail. Woot!
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Old 12-08-2012, 07:25 AM   #15
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Finally got our cabin assignment! Room 5026. Pretty sure we got pixie dusted. Hope they don't change it before we sail. Woot!
That is great! I hope they only change it if you get upgraded
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