Day 126. Yesterday Disney sent us a nice email reminder to pay in full. They also had sent one two weeks before my pay in full date. We usually wait to pay until the weekend before the pay in full due date. Why give them money before they need it? Also in case there is a reason to cancel we don’t have as much to do to get a a refund. As we sat down to do the pay in full we talked about return flights again. The one of us in charge of flights had been looking, but nothing had changed. We decided to look again. A new flight came up via Priceline for a direct flight from Barcelona the day after our cruise debarkation to an airport about 2 hours from our home. Not the one closest to us, but doable. The price…….. 350 per person! Wow. Ok let’s look at this closer. Yup it’s a direct flight on Norwegian air. The lowest class of tickets that Norwegian offers require you pay for everything from seat assignments to luggage to food. For the price we had expected to pay per person for our return flight we could upgrade to premium seats. Basically their version of buisness class. It included 4 checked bags, a carry on bag, huge seats, free three corse meal, free drinks, the ability to select your seat, free entertainment in your seat, free charging station at your seat and access to their airport private lounge in Barcelona- which included free food, drinks and wifi. Oh man what a choice. Save a ton of money on our return flights and get them at domestic travel costs, or pay what we had budgeted to pay and fly in style? This wasn’t an easy choice. But it came down the the fact that this was a long flight and we always wanted to fly business class home, but didn’t want to pay more then what we budgeted(and thought we’d pay for Economey) and since we got it within those peraminters, we went for it. Keep in mind that if we had gone with the $350 priced flight we would have paid $65 for each checked bag, paid to pick seats together, paid for any meals on the plane, paid for any carry on bags, and if we wanted it any entertainment. We could forgo the entertainment, and buy meals in the airport( but still paying something for them). We figured that would be $100-150 USD add on to the base of $350 USD brining it up to $500 USD. We still payed more for our ticket then that, but it shrunk the difference between the two a comfortable amount. Premium class we come. Even though we fly a lot, we almost always fly economy. For one of us this will be the first flight ever outside economy. Hopefully it doesn’t spoil us to much.
Don’t forget international flights now ask you for passport information. You can add it later but it must be added before you fly.
We usually just call up Disney Cruise Line to do our final payment but we decided to try online payment this time. It was nice and quick. I actually like calling Disney because you can ask any questions you have about ground transfers etc. but in this case we just needed to pay. We wanted to do more research about some ground transportation options before we asked about Disneys options. We knew we’d be calling them later anyway. One thing we now have to do is some research into is hotels in Barcelona. We saved money on our flight, but now have to stay in Barcelona overnight after our cruise debarks. It gives us a day to explore Barcelona, but does come at an extra cost. But to actually get a flight that was direct to a close to our home airport….. Yup totally worth it. And now we can see a bit of Barcelona. Our plan is to use some free walking tours we found for Barcelona. Disney actually offers port advnetures in Barcelona after your cruise but those didn’t work for us. We are still considering if we should book our hotel through them or on our own after the ship, and if we should just use their ground transportation to the hotel. They offer three hotel choices so it’s time for that research. Along with our continued guide book research for port activities. Still haven’t decided if we will go all through Disney or some on our own yet. Just over a month before we can pick Port Adventures(Disneys term for port excursions which are guided tours in the ports ) so it’s back to research.
Day 126 a bit later. Well after several hours of general research (Port Adventures etc) we went back to hotel research. We started with looking at the two hotels that you can book your stays through Disney. You can find the hotels listed under ground transportation options under your cruise reservations. It lists information for every port. The two options through Disney were the Marriott Renaissance Barcelona Hotel and the The Hilton Diagonal Mar. First we looked up prices for both. The Hilton was having a sale on their website for around $235 USD. The Renaissance was regularly priced at $354 USD. Big price difference. Next was to look at the areas they were in. The Hilton was in what looked like a more modern area with an amusement park, stadium and large mall nearby. The Renaissance was in the gothic corridor. The Hilton was 5.1(3 miles) kilometers from the gothic corridor. We really considered the Hilton. The only reason we wanted the Renaissance was its location. We wanted to be able to walk around to sight see verses using a taxi. A 3 mile walk is doable, but long and in an unfamiliar country it didn’t seem to wise. Next we called Disney. After a 30 minute wait time (they did warn us it was longer the usual) I guess cause it was a weekend? we got an agent. The automated system never asked us for our reservation number so they asked for that and some confirming details. Then the agent was happy to look up their prices for booking the hotels through Disney. $414 USD for either hotel. A saving either way to book directly but a huge saving compared with the Hilton online price. I even told the agent that. Next I asked about transfers in Barcelona. We already decided to use a taxi in Miami because it’s a $27 USD flat fee( plus tip) for a cab to the cruise terminal from the airport. That’s for up to 3 people. Car services were around 80 bucks. Uber and Lyft are cheaper then a taxi, but we prefer taxis. But in Barcelona we weren’t sure yet how we feel about a taxi so we figured we’d check on Disney prices. Online on the Disney website when I clicked through to pretend to book transfers it listed it as 50 per person….. But it wasn’t even clear which part of the trip those transfer were for (Miami Barcelona etc) It turned out to be $30 per person per transfer. Since we won’t be booking our hotel through Disney I’m not even sure if they will allow us to use their transfer from the ship to hotel and hotel the next day to airport. But at $60 each way for two people….. We might just try a taxi! The airport is approximately 30 minutes from the hotel and cruise port. Last year in Vancouver we loved having the ease of the Disney transfers. So far Miami is easy with a taxi, not sure what we’ll, do in Barcelona. We’re gonna watch the Renisannce hotel prices over the next few weeks and if it starts to go up, or we see a sale, we’ll probably just book it. We know we could find a decent hotel for cheaper, but in foreign countries it just seems eaist to go with a well know one that Disney trusts. Even if I’m not booking through Disney. Plus it puts us right in the heart of the gothic district where we wanted to be.
Our heads hurt. So close to no more planning! Just port adventures and cruise amenities( spa, palo, etc) to decide on.
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