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Unread 17 Sep 18, 08:53 PM  
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Fuellady
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"Don't Fall off your Chair" - Pre-trip Report - November 2018 *Update Post 28*

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“Don’t fall off your chair” - Pre-trip report – November 2018

So, here we are… another year, another trip report. With only a few short weeks until our next trip, I thought I should get started putting our plans down “on paper”. It helps to bring it all together in one place, to see what still needs to be done. So, without further ado, let me introduce the cast.

There are only 2 of us going on this trip, having just become “empty nesters” – me, Lynda and my DH, Neil. Here we are on a recent trip to Portugal.



This trip is a mix of old and new for us. The “new” is that we are taking a cruise for the first 3 days and we have never cruised before, and the “old” is a return to our favourite Orlando for 10 days of relaxing and shopping.

It all came about when we were chatting about what to do for this year’s “big” holiday. We have our 10 year wedding anniversary this year so we wanted to do something a bit special. Here we are at our wonderful wedding 10 years ago...



We looked at various options, including Washington D.C. and New York OR Washington D.C. and Orlando, OR New York and Orlando. We also briefly talked about going back to Hawaii where we spent our honeymoon, but I guess we always knew that Orlando would feature somewhere. Then one evening, Neil completely blind-sided me by saying “Don’t fall off your chair, but what about a cruise?” Hence the name of the report!

Now, so you understand, Neil has always been completely against going on a cruise – I’ve suggested it many times over the years, only to be met with the response “I’ll never go on a cruise, I’ve seen "Titanic" too many times”. And so I had given up altogether on that idea. Needless to say, there was no way he was getting a chance to change his mind, I was researching cruises within 30 seconds!

We looked at various lengths of cruise, and which ports we could cruise from, and finally settled on a 3 night Bahamas sailing with Royal Caribbean from Port Canaveral. We decided that 3 nights would be enough to give us an idea of whether we like cruising or not, and the fact that Port Canaveral is only an hour’s drive from Orlando made that port our best option.

Here’s what we have planned so far:

FLIGHTS

This was the first thing we booked, back in May, through Netflights flying with British Airways. On 1st November we fly from Aberdeen to Heathrow, then onto Dublin where we will clear US Immigration. From there it’s directly to Orlando, arriving around 9pm.

Our flights on the way home are on 15th November, leaving Orlando at 1pm, going onto New York, then Heathrow and finally landing in Aberdeen about 11am the next morning.

For his birthday this year, Neil got a Priority Pass for airport lounges so we’re hoping to make use of that during some of our layovers. We should definitely manage a lounge visit in Dublin as our layover is about 4 hours.

ACCOMMODATION

I am sooooo excited about our first night accommodation. When we land in Orlando around 9pm on 1st November we need somewhere to stay just for that night until we leave for our cruise in the morning. We really wanted to stay in the Hyatt Regency at MCO but it was coming in around £260 per night, so just a wee bit out of budget! Then we discovered that we could use our Tesco Clubcard Vouchers on hotels.com, so we did just that, and ended up paying only $25 in taxes to stay here. Result!

Whenever we’ve landed at MCO I always look up at the balconies of the Hyatt Regency surrounding the concourse, envious of those who are staying there and don’t have to go and choose a car then drive, tired and stressed, to their accommodation. It’s always a bit daunting, that first drive having just got off a series of flights. I dreamed of being able to stay there one day, either at the beginning or end of an Orlando holiday… and here we are! We did look at other hotels near the airport which have shuttles to/from MCO, but this is a better solution as we will be able to wander down to car hire the next morning, all refreshed. At least that’s the idea!



Our next 3 nights accommodation will be on our cruise, but I’ll cover that in the cruise section below.

Once we disembark the boat on 5th November, we will be heading back to Orlando for a 10 night villa stay. We have found a beautiful 4 bedroom villa on Highlands Reserve, and can’t wait to stay there. Initially, after a slightly disappointing villa stay on Calabay Parc last year, we started looking for a much newer development this time. There were lots of stunning new townhouses available, but in the end when we saw this villa on Highlands Reserve we just knew we really wanted to stay there. It looks to be really well maintained and the owners have been fantastic to deal with so we have high hopes that the villa will be as fabulous as it looks on the website. We love this area on the US27 having stayed on various developments here, and it’ll be good to be back in that area again, where we know our way around from. We think we can maybe walk to Berry Town Center from Highlands Reserve as well, which would be really good, but we will check that out once we’re there.




CRUISE

This is something completely new for us. We are excited for our cruise, but a bit apprehensive as it’s so far out of our comfort zone. We have been trying to read up about cruise lingo and etiquette, as it all seems a bit of a minefield and we don’t want to look like complete newbies!

We leave Port Canaveral on 2nd November, on Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas. Here she is…



We booked a balcony room because it looks a fair bit bigger than the interior room, and we like the idea of having our own little bit of outdoor space. It wasn’t much more expensive than the interior room and we felt the upgrade was worth it to make our first cruise experience potentially a better one.



We have 2 stops on our Bahamas cruise, in Nassau and on Coco Cay, Royal Caribbean’s private island. We plan to get off the boat only for a short while at each stop, in the hope that we can spend more time enjoying the ship on these days while most other people are onshore. Coco Cay looks beautiful, hopefully we can have a little beach time there.



Not knowing anything about all of the booking options available on a cruise, we’ve had to make some choices “blind” and just hope they’re the right ones! We have chosen “My Time Dining” which we believe gives us more flexibility about when to eat rather than having a set time each evening, which seems to be the cruise pre-set. We had to request this specifically. As far as I understand we will still be allocated the same dining table each night, which may or may not be with other people. I find this a bit strange, that you’re expected to eat with strangers on a cruise, but we’ll see how it goes.

We still have to decide on whether we are going to buy the Deluxe Drinks Package or not. This is currently costing $53 per person per day, so it adds quite a bit of cost to the cruise. We have no idea how many drinks we will have each day, and therefore no idea if it will be worth it for us. The Deluxe package includes water, coffees and soft drinks as well as alcoholic drinks, so we are swaying towards buying it before we go if the price drops a little bit. The lowest we have seen it is about $45 per person per day, but that was just after we booked the cruise and we weren’t ready to make a decision on drinks yet. Any tips/advice re this welcome….



Finally, we still have to phone our travel agent to enquire about prepaying gratuities. We booked through a company called iCruise, who were loads cheaper than Royal Caribbean direct. Again, we’re not sure if prepaying gratuities is the best thing to do, but this is a cruise of trial and error, so we’ll phone up and if we think the cost is reasonable then we’ll go for it. Again, any tips (pardon the pun) etc….

After 3 nights on board, we arrive back at Port Canaveral in the early hours of 5th November, ready for the more familiar territory of Orlando. After picking up our hire car at the Port we will head straight for the villa as the owners have very kindly told us it will be ready and waiting for us as it isn’t occupied the day before we arrive there.

CAR HIRE

We haven’t booked yet, but we have been keeping an eye on prices and are pretty confident that we will be booking with Alamo Brits.

Our first hire will only be for a couple of hours on the morning of the cruise, picking up from MCO and dropping off at Port Canaveral. We will be hiring the most basic car for this, it’s purpose is only to get us to the Port so we don’t need anything fancy. This is coming out around £25 so much cheaper than taking a shuttle to the Port and it also gives us the freedom to stop off for breakfast and to decide what time we set off in the morning. It’ll be something like this:



Our second hire will be when we come off of the cruise and we will be picking up either an Intermediate or Standard SUV from Alamo Brits at Port Canaveral. It’s working out cheaper to collect at the Port and drop off 10 days later at MCO than to collect and return to/from MCO. We’re hoping there is a decent selection of cars to choose from as this will be the car we have for our entire Orlando stay. Something like this:



THINGS WE HAVE PLANNED

Once we reach Orlando, the main plan is to shop, eat and chill. We do however, have one very exciting (for me) evening to look forward to. For my birthday this year, I asked Neil for tickets to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. So, of course he obliged even though we had agreed “no Disney” initially for this trip. We bought the tickets directly from Disney through Quidco, which even with the rubbish exchange rate worked out slightly better than the other ticket sellers we checked. Our tickets are for the evening of 12th November, and we will be entering the park as early as we can at 4pm. I can’t wait! Neil is excited for the “free” cookies, I think I’m most looking forward to the parade and seeing the castle with it’s Frozen makeover. I’m going to try to book some Fastpasses from 4pm to make the most of our first couple of hours. I’m hoping the rides will be quieter during party time as I understand Fastpasses aren’t available then.



We will most definitely be taking a trip to beautiful Celebration for a stroll around the lakes and a nosey at the amazing houses. We might even hire bikes again, although I think we will make our own route this time if we do that, because trying to follow the map last time ended up in us getting lost and an argument. We will follow our stroll or bike ride with either ice cream from Kilwins or lunch at the Town Tavern.



Disney Springs has become one of our favourite Orlando hang outs in recent years. We love the relaxed atmosphere and the shops and restaurants. We will probably visit here several times, and will hopefully (finally) be able to ride in the balloon, which is ALWAYS down when we visit.



There will also be lots of shopping going on at the Premium Outlets, and we have been discussing a possible visit to a gun range. I can guarantee that we’ll be spending loads of time by our villa pool as well. Bliss.

FOOD

We love eating out, especially on holiday and because there are only two of us on this trip we plan to eat out a lot! Some of our favourite breakfast eateries are Bob Evans, Perkins, Denny’s and IHOP so they will definitely be receiving at least one visit each. We have heard good things about Keke’s as well, so we will try to stop by there to try it out for ourselves.



On our food hit-list for evening meals are all of our usual haunts – Longhorns, Olive Garden, Applebees and Millers. I believe that Bob Evans do nice evening meals as well as great breakfasts, so we might give that a try. Also Manny’s, we haven’t been there for a few years so we might head back there one evening.



THE SENSIBLE STUFF

We have most of the essentials all sorted and ready to go – Passports, ESTA’s, Insurance, Set Sail Pass (for cruise), API information done. We just need to sort out the car hire and buy some currency but we’re holding out for a better $ rate… I know, I know, probably not going to happen!

And so, there we are, another trip planned and now it’s just a waiting game until the day comes around. We are both so excited for this holiday, after a tough few months at work we are more than ready for the break.

My last trip report was a “live” one and I enjoyed writing up each day as it happened so I think I will do the same again. We won’t have Wi-Fi on the cruise, so I’ll have a bit of catching up to do after those 3 days then hopefully I will manage to post day by day after that.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you’ll be able to follow along during our trip.

Edited at 04:03 AM.
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Unread 17 Sep 18, 11:26 PM  
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Sounds like a fantastic trip. We went on a RC cruise last November and loved it.
We found the alcoholic drinks package too expensive for how much we drink. We purchased the refreshments package for £13 a night instead. This included the speciality coffees, non alcoholic cocktails and sodas. You are allowed to take onboard a bottle of wine each. We had this for the cabin and bought a couple of bottles in the restaurant. Drinks were expensive. Wine was about $12 a glass plus tip. Non alcoholic cocktails about $6. We would not have drank enough to justify the cost especially if you are off the ship in port during the day.

We loved the cruise but will wait until we can go child free before we do it again.

Will look out for your trip report !
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Unread 18 Sep 18, 10:26 AM  
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You will both love your cruise, I really thought it was something I wouldn't be interested in until we did one, now I'd do it every year if that was possible.

Thrilled to hear you are going to MVMCP, the ride waits will be very low across the night, we even rode Mine Train the year it opened with a 20 minute wait (it was during the first parade)!

How are you coping with your empty nest? How is Eilidh settling in a uni? I am a big baby who didn't leave home until I was 33 so I am in awe of those who fly the nest early.
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Unread 18 Sep 18, 07:30 PM  
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Originally Posted by Smilesonfaces View Post
Sounds like a fantastic trip. We went on a RC cruise last November and loved it.
We found the alcoholic drinks package too expensive for how much we drink. We purchased the refreshments package for £13 a night instead. This included the speciality coffees, non alcoholic cocktails and sodas. You are allowed to take onboard a bottle of wine each. We had this for the cabin and bought a couple of bottles in the restaurant. Drinks were expensive. Wine was about $12 a glass plus tip. Non alcoholic cocktails about $6. We would not have drank enough to justify the cost especially if you are off the ship in port during the day.

We loved the cruise but will wait until we can go child free before we do it again.

Will look out for your trip report !
I'm always glad to hear of people enjoying their cruises. Thank you for your comments on the drinks packages. I wish they would let us choose different ones each, then DH could have the deluxe and I would be happy with the soft drink one, but we have to buy the same one as each other.

Thank you for reading. Looking forward to having you along on the trip report Lynda

Originally Posted by collybird View Post
You will both love your cruise, I really thought it was something I wouldn't be interested in until we did one, now I'd do it every year if that was possible.

Thrilled to hear you are going to MVMCP, the ride waits will be very low across the night, we even rode Mine Train the year it opened with a 20 minute wait (it was during the first parade)!

How are you coping with your empty nest? How is Eilidh settling in a uni? I am a big baby who didn't leave home until I was 33 so I am in awe of those who fly the nest early.
Thanks Colette, I'm beyond excited for MVMCP. Good to know the wait times are low, I was hoping as much. Glad you enjoyed your cruise as well, everyone seems to so that's a good sign

Aw, thanks for asking about Eilidh, I'm just off the phone from her. She is in Glasgow at College. She chose college because she just doesn't know what she wants to do, so this way she can leave at the end of first year, or continue if she wants to. More flexibility until she makes some decisions about her future. She's still only 17, so I am constantly worried about her. She obviously can't go out and about to the pubs and clubs yet, but she was at a flat party on Saturday. Safe to say I had a sleepless night worrying about her

Thanks for reading
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Unread 18 Sep 18, 07:45 PM  
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I am sure if you ring Royal Caribbean they will let you each have a different package if one of you doesn’t drink alcohol. As long as you don’t share the alcohol package I am sure someone in a cruise forum said they let you do this.

Once you have purchased your drinks package keep looking on cruise planner because you can cancel and rebook if the price comes down. Not sure on a short cruise but on ours you could buy a 10 drinks card. This was only on sale for the first couple of days and you could share this.
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Unread 18 Sep 18, 08:08 PM  
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Originally Posted by Smilesonfaces View Post
I am sure if you ring Royal Caribbean they will let you each have a different package if one of you doesn’t drink alcohol. As long as you don’t share the alcohol package I am sure someone in a cruise forum said they let you do this.

Once you have purchased your drinks package keep looking on cruise planner because you can cancel and rebook if the price comes down. Not sure on a short cruise but on ours you could buy a 10 drinks card. This was only on sale for the first couple of days and you could share this.
Thanks for the extra tips re. the drinks packages. I have to phone anyway because I think we will prepay gratuities so I'll ask then. We need to sit down and work out exactly what we think we'll drink to see if it's worth it. The 10 drinks card would work well for us along with the soft drinks package, I think, if it's available on our cruise.
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Unread 19 Sep 18, 08:26 PM  
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Your plans sound great. Look forward to following along.

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Unread 20 Sep 18, 12:27 PM  
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Originally Posted by Pumba75 View Post
Your plans sound great. Look forward to following along.

M x
Thank you Melissa, welcome aboard
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