and Dave's Western Caribbean Cruise Adventure
Dates: May 10-21, 2002
Transportation: Northwest Airlines (from Detroit Metro
Airport), Avis, and Tiffany Town Car
Ship: Disney Magic (Inaugural Western Caribbean Cruise)
Resort: Dolphin Resort
Parks: Kennedy Space Center, Disney's Animal
Kingdom, Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios, Pleasure Island
Restaurants/Eateries: Orbit (KSC), Fischer's
Seafood (Cocoa Beach), Flamingo's (Radisson), every restaurant/eatery aboard the Disney
Magic, The Dolphin Fountain, Chevy's (off-property), Bongo's Cuban Cafe, Restaurant
Marrakesh, Palio, Yorkshire County Fish & Chips, and 50s Prime Time Cafe
Background: This was a R&R trip (relax and
research) for Kennedy Space Center and the Disney Magic. We also spent three nights at
Walt Disney World just for the fun of it.
PassPorter Travel Press, an imprint
of MediaMarx, Inc.
Questions? Problems? E-Mail Us!
We really owe this entire cruise experience to our friend Deb Wills (yes, the
fantastic lady who founded WDWIG.com
and All Ears Net. Last year she
mentioned she'd booked the Inaugural 7-Night Western Caribbean Disney Cruise in May and
invited us to join her and her friends. A great idea! Alas, cruises aren't inexpensive and
we always have too much work, so we had to think about how to afford both the money and
In January, we learned about a spring cruise special that we could afford and we figured
we could take some time off by May. So we booked our 7-night cruise in mid-January. The
special rate we received was $1888 for two people in a category 9 stateroom -- a good
price. Then things got crazy. As some of you may know, the 2002 edition of PassPorter
debuted at the end of January and we set new records for orders. We were busy kids! Can
you see where this is going? Yes, we missed the date to pay our cruise deposit -- by one
day! We had made a note of the deposit deadline, but we'd put down the wrong day. We
begged and pleaded with the reservation agent to let us keep our cruise reservation, but
no go. And the special rate that we'd counted on was now gone. But now that we'd told
everyone we were going and we were so looking forward to it, we just had to go. So we bit
the bullet and made a new cruise reservation at rack rate -- $3038 for two adults in a
category 9 stateroom. Ouch!
Now that our cruise was going to cost us so much, we decided to make the most of it. We
got online (are we ever offline?) and read everything we could about the 7-night cruise.
While wed been on the 3- and 4-night cruises and had a pretty good idea what to
expect, we knew there were special things about the 7-night cruise and we wanted to be
sure we took advantage of the special activities. In the midst of our personal cruise
research, we noticed how many of our readers were requesting more information on the
cruise. It seemed like every other e-mail we received was requesting cruise information.
We already knew we couldnt fit more information in the PassPorter Walt Disney World
guidebook because it would get too big to carry around. So we began to think about doing a
special, downloadable report of, say, 32 pages. Wow, was that an underestimation! The more
we outlined and the more we researched, the bigger the project grew. Eventually, our idea
for a little report became an idea for an entire book. Thats right we decided
to write a book on the Disney Cruise Line! (What was that we said earlier about having too
much work to do?)
We began writing the Disney Cruse Line guide in February. The first chapter,
"Cruising Your Way," has a section on money-saving ideas and programs. We felt a
bit underqualified to write about saving money since wed blown our own money-saver
when we missed our deposit deadline, but we forged on. No page on saving money would be
complete without a mention of Mary Warings wonderful site, MouseSavers.com. While we were
poking around her site, we made an amazing discovery! Mary listed a cruise discount for
American Express cardholders
and it was valid for our cruise. This was the first
wed heard of it and we quickly called Disney to see if we could apply this discount
to our reservation. The entire call lasted about 1 minute, and in that time we saved a
whopping $1151! Thank you, thank you, thank you MouseSavers!
MouseSavers also turned us on to a deal that the Swan and Dolphin offered to Disney
cruisers rooms at $150/night before or after your cruise. So we added on three
nights at the Dolphin after our cruise. We prefer to visit Walt Disney World after our
cruise that way we have something to look forward to when our cruise ends.
Airfare was simple we fly out of Detroit Metro and both Northwest and Southwest
offered good rates for May. We went with Northwest so we could check out the brand new
terminal they built for Northwest.
We also decided to fly down a day early and check out Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space
Center. Research into this revealed that we could stay at the Radisson, which is the
closest hotel to the Disney Cruise Line terminal. We got a great deal for the Radisson for
just $59/night thanks to a post on the cruise boards at DIS boards. We also discovered that Avis had an office inside the
Radisson, so we decided to rent a car for the day and drive from Orlando International
Airport to the Cape.
The cruise was also great motivation to get our passports, which we received in April. You
dont need a passport to cruise (a birth certificate and government-issued photo
identification is fine), but we wanted to have the passport for future adventures anyway.
Work-wise, we arranged to have a good friend of ours, Tracy DeGarmo, mind the store while
we were gone literally! Two nights before our cruise we took a spare computer to
her place and she took care of orders while we were away, as we would not be able to get
online with our own computer while we were cruising.
Packing was relatively simple. First, I shopped for and purchased a formal gown for formal
night, which I found a couple of weeks before the cruise. I also had to dig out some of my
nicer dresses most of which didnt fit anymore because Ive lost weight,
but one older one was okay and another was alterable. Dave reserved his rental tux online
and dusted off his suit jacket. (We dont dress up much in Ann Arbor.) I also picked
up some snacks like granola bars, and I packed my cereal and soy milk just in case I had
any problems with breakfast onboard. We packed everything into our new set of matching
luggage with the PassPorter logo we travel so much that we thought new luggage
would be a good investment. I must admit we did pack a lot on this trip three big
suitcases, one garment bag, one duffel bag, and our carry-ons.
All our plans were in place by March
now we just had to get to May. And between
March and May was a huge trade
show in New York City, where we would be exhibiting for the first time and speaking at
a seminar. We had to get a trade
show booth, prepare our presentation for the show, get all our materials in order, send
out postcards to show attendees, etc. etc. The show was the week before the cruise
it was a wonderful success, but we were totally drained from it.
Jennifer poses in our booth at Book Expo America in NYC before the show
So as you might imagine, we were REALLY READY for the cruise by the time May
10th rolled around. Disney Magic, here we come!
Next: Day One
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