Pre-Trip Thoughts. Regular readers of our Disney Cruise Alaska Trip Report might remember that we were in the middle of planning another epic trip before we even set said to Alaska. Unfortunately we had to cancel that trip due to life. It was a real blow to us. It’s still in the queue of trips we hope to take sooner or later. And when we finally do we will bring you along with us. This trip was the next vacation in the queue so to speak and we did get to go on this one! We hope you enjoy going along with us through the entire process.
Even before we did our first cruise ever, the Transatlantic cruises peaked our interest. Spoiler Alert: We loved cruising Alaska with Disney so much that we planned to do a Transatlantic cruise within two years of our Alaska cruise. With 720 days between the cruises we had a lot of waiting…… Join us in the adventure as we get to a mile stone 147 days until our sail date!
Day 147. On day 147 before our cruise we finally had the details of life set so we could actually plan to go. We were very reserved because 8 months before we had to stop planning a trip due to life stuff. It was a crushing blow to be honest. So we were trying not to become to hopeful this time. But at 147 days we knew we could go on this trip. After the squeals of excitement, it was time to get serious real fast. Our pay in full date was only a month away and our excursion booking date was 2 months away. The big stuff like where we were going and our stateroom has been planned over a year before when we booked the cruise. The only other thing we knew was one of us was getting a rainforest room length of cruise pass. Otherwise we had done zero planning. So where do you start?
The library and google it was. We requested a bunch of guide books for the countries and ports we were headed to. At this point Disney didn’t have to many port adventures listed for each port and even less that we were dying to do. In Alaska we had so many things to pick from and things we wanted to do that our research was limited to reading Disney port adventures discriptions. But this time it seemed a few guide books were in order. Typing in Spain guide book into our libraries database search didn’t get use anything. We then searched spain guide book on amazon and got a ton of hits and then put those names into the library catalog. That got us a lotsof hits. Even ebook options. We requested 7 books for most of the countries and ports on our itinerary. One port wasn’t coming up anywhere. Turns out it is a small island in the middle of the ocean and is part of Portugal. We figured hopefully the Portugal books have some info. Google also provided some reading options for what to do on this island. Several days later it was time to make a trip to the library to pick up our five guide book that was ready for check out.
Day 132. On Day 132 (also known as New Years Day) we decided it was time to make some decisions. We started looking at flights to get us to our Port of Departure: Miami. We had heard in one of those news stories that the first week in January is a good time to get good prices on airfare (it also said the third week in January is the hotel booking week. We’ll keep that in mind incase we end up needing a hotel depending on all the flight choices). We have several airports to choose from within a few hours of us. We always like to use the closest one to us, but in this case it didn’t offer flight times we wanted; or good prices. Our hope is to do a red eye leaving Saturday night, landing Early Sunday morning, and be able to board our cruise Sunday around 11:30 (check in isn’t for another 41 days so no idea what our Port Arival time is yes….). Due to schedules we didn’t really have the option of flying in Friday or Early Saturday and sight seeing in Miami. Our policy is to leave huge gaps of time (preferable an entire day) between arriving in our departure port and our Cruise departure. I’m not missing this boat! When we are cutting it close (close to us is landing 10 hours before the all aboard time) we want to go out of a major airport and we want it to have other flights after our chosen flight incase something happens. And we prefer a flight with a good on time record. Complicated huh?!
Not really. We are used to looking at flights with so many parameters. After a little searching we found a direct flight leaving Saturday evening and arriving Sunday really really early. The price was amazing. So we booked it. Boom. Done. Well we are at least getting on the boat! Now to get home after the cruise… We looked and there were no, and I mean no decent flights to get us anywhere near home. We needed to leave Barcelona within 36 hours of our debarkation from the cruise in order to get home intime for events we had. All the flights we were finding were 20 hour flights with multiple lay overs for over $1000 USD. Yup. Now we knew a one way from Barcelona wasn’t going to be cheap. In fact it’s one reason transatlantic cruises are so affordable. Disney(and other cruise lines who do these) know not that many people want to spend two weeks on a boat and incure a huge cost to get home(or to get there to start the cruise if your going the oppisite direction) so they offset the price of the cruise to compensate for that. We knew that but over 1000k per person for 20 hour flight? No. We decided to keep looking. We also talked again about the dreaded trip insurance. Loyal readers might remember why we chose not to get trip insurance for Alaska ( you can read about it here) but this time it seemed a bit more necessary. Again we remembered to get pre-existing conditions coverage and for some insurance plans cancel anytime coverage you have to get insurance the second you put money down for the cruise. We did that like a year ago, so that wasn’t gonna happen. We basically just wanted coverage for unexpected things like breaking a leg in Spain somewhere, or being so ill they won’t let us on the ship. We looked at a few plans, and decided to wait until we got our last flights. Here’s one reasons why. You have to estimate the cost of your entire trip when you purchase trip insurance. If you have no idea what your paying for tickets, that’s a hard thing to estimate.
Another thing that came up was now that we will be arriving in Miami airport before the sun is even up, what are we gonna do? We are going to have about 5 hours before the cruise terminal is even open for check in at the cruise port. Well for sure we can get breakfast at the airport. Did a little research, it doesn’t appear Miami has any restaurants outside of security. But it’s not like you can just get your bags at will when you feel like it. The current plan is one of us to get breakfast and bring it down to the other who will pick up all our bags. We looked to see if Miami has an in airport hotel that offers the 4 hour layover nap deals like Vancouver does. Nope. So….. Well the current plan is to sit in the airport until about 10:30am. We could rent a car and sight see, but after a red eye and it being so early we figured sitting at baggage claim for like 3.5 hours is the best we can do. Now, how to get to the cruise port? Well first we thought about Disney transportation. You may know from our Alaska trip report we are getting old(or maybe just lazy) and we just don’t want to mess with a ton of hassle for only minimal savings. We are not blowing the budget, but for a small amount more it was completely worth it to use Disney transportation in Vancouver. In Miami the port is about a 15 minute( according to Google maps) drive from the airport. A taxi will be around 40 bucks or so. Disney transportation says it take 30 minutes to get to the cruise terminal through their transportation. We haven’t called yet to get a price, but usually $35-50 USD a person. Here’s the kicker. The first bus won’t leave until 11:30am. That’s another hour sitting in baggage claim……. I know sitting is sitting. But it would be really nice to get to the cruise port and atleast get rid of all our bags other then our one day bag( since your luggage doesn’t get to your room anytime before 5:30pm we keep all important documents, meds, electronics money etc in that). It’s rare but luggage handlers have dropped bags into the water while loading into the ship…….. Yup….. Keeping the camera with us thanks. Anyway we want to get to the cruise terminal as early as possible to get rid of the rediculous amount of luggage we assume well have for a 13 night cruise. And just for a change of scenery after hours in the airport luggage claim. We’re leaning toward a taxi. We still plan to look into a car service of our own. Renting seemed to much of a hassle for a 15 minute ride. And we’re gonna be to tired to sight see. So that’s the current plan.