Written by Sue Nowicki
Just a short update on our planning this time. We did have a little excitement as we were able to complete our online check-in for the cruise. Woo hoo! It’s getting real.
When we originally booked the Disney Cruise portion of our trip the only staterooms available were inside staterooms. This was just fine with us. I have always been intrigued by the ‘magic’ porthole. Peach from Finding Nemo as well as other Disney characters stopping by to occasionally greet us was a fun idea.
Being the obsessive planner that I am, about a month after I booked our cruise I decided to see how full the ship was by pretending to book another cruise to see what stateroom categories were still available. To my surprise not only was nearly every category of inside stateroom still available, but many of the ocean view and verandah stateroom categories were now open as well, including several of the elusive 8A Double Porthole rooms. Wait, what?! I have only heard legend of these rooms as I have never known anyone that had actually been able to book this category before. There are only 12 on the Fantasy and the Dream.
Had some pixie-dust come my way? I think so. And the extra cost for these larger than average staterooms? $500? $1,000? Nope, with tax the extra cost was $130 total! The time it took me to scoop up one of these rooms could only be recorded in nano-seconds.
So what’s the big deal about these rooms? First, they are larger than average ocean view staterooms at 241 sq. ft. as opposed to 204 sq. ft. for traditional ocean view staterooms. Even though there are only three of us traveling, the thought of 37 extra sq. ft. is quite appealing. Second, they have two large portholes instead of one. I am a huge fan of natural light (I don’t even use curtains in my house) so let the light pour in. The drawback of booking a Category 8A is that they do not have a split bath. Again, since there are only three of us I don’t really see this as a problem.
Now can you see why I took advantage of the pixie dust that came my way?
PAYING MICKEY FOR THE VISIT
Disney-philes across the globe have dreamed up unique ways to save and pay for their Disney vacations. Some use the Cartwheel app from Target, others use their Disney Visa card and some use gift card clearinghouse websites like GiftCardGranny.com (you have to be careful of these sites because they sometime sell Disney STORE gift card which do not work in the parks).
I like to use Disney Gift Cards to pay for my vacation. I purchase them at my local Kroger which has gas rewards on purchases. While grocery purchases at Kroger are 1 point for every dollar spent, gift card purchases are 2 points for every $1 spent and a couple times a year they offer 4 points for every $1 you use on gift cards. It’s when you purchase with these 4X fuel point offers that you reap serious savings.
The math looks like this:
$2,000 in Disney Gift Cards X 4 points = 8,000 gas points = $8.00 off gas (in 8 different fill-ups since you are limited to $1/gallon discount per fill-up)
$1.00 per gallon X 8 fill-ups = $8.00 per gallon X 22 gallons = $176 in savings
$176 savings/$2,000 vacation cost = 8.8% savings
Not bad considering I am already shopping at Kroger. No extra trips, no online purchases, no extra credit card (I abhor credit cards). The key is to make sure you are on empty when you fill up. It makes no sense to get 10 gallons of gas using the discount which would only save me $10 when I can do a complete fill-up and save $22.
No we are not leaving for our cruise already. We are simply taking advantage of Disney Cruise Line’s online check-in.
To make your embarkation day go quicker you should definitely take advantage of online check-in. The less than 10 minute online check-in process will save you as much as an hour at the port. (And don’t forget to save a few minutes to watch the animated short of Goofy’s attempt to check-in at the port.)
Here are the sections you will be required to complete:
Guest Information – For each guest in your traveling party, you will need to fill in their address and emergency contact. There is a nice little time saver on this screen where you are allowed to copy the information from Guest #1 to the remaining guests if they have the same information.
Identification – On this screen you will be required to either enter your passport number or select that you will be showing a government photo ID and birth certificate. This is only an option if you are sailing on a ‘closed loop’ cruise meaning you are starting and ending your cruise at a United States port.
Pre/Post Cruise – Here you will enter your flight information (if you are flying), how you will be getting to and leaving from the port and where you will be headed after disembarkation. For example, we are flying in the night before the cruise and heading to Walt Disney World after the cruise is over. By entering your flight information, DCL can keep track of passengers who might be late in boarding the ship. While there is ABSOLUTELY no guarantee the ship will be held for you if there is a flight delay, you have a greater likelihood of that happening if you have entered your flight info.
Onboard Account – This screen is for entering the method of payment you will be using to pay your shipboard account. Your choices are credit card, cash or that someone else will be paying for your charges. (For the record, I tried to enter that Mickey Mouse would be paying for me but it didn’t work.) You should know that even if you put a credit card on your account you will still be able to pay your account with cash once you are onboard the ship by heading to Guest Services anytime during your cruise. After your payment information is entered you will be asked if you will be responsible for charges incurred by the other members of your traveling party or you can enter payment information for them as well.
Port Arrival Time – On this screen you will be able to choose the time you plan on arriving at the cruise terminal. I chose 11:45 a.m. Since we are arriving the night before and taking a DCL bus from Orlando International Airport (MCO) we decided to not try and take the first bus out of MCO figuring it would be packed. Instead we are going to shoot for the 10:30 a.m. bus which will get us to port around 11:15 a.m. this will give us time to complete the short check-in process (since we completed everything else online) and take some pictures with the character in the terminal before boarding at 11:45 a.m.
Review Contract – This is where you get to read all the fun legal language that basically says DCL is not responsible if you fall overboard or if you miss the boat. For those who don’t want to sign your life away, you should know that whether or not you sign the contact it is still legally binding according to the first clause in the contract.
Signature Form – The signature page is the most important part of this whole process. This printable form must be signed and brought with you when you arrive at the cruise terminal.
That’s all I have for now. We will see you next time when I write about our first foray into Fish Extenders, a fun way to help the wait go by a little quicker and our decision to attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
Sue Nowicki splits her time between planning her next Walt Disney World vacation and being team mom to ten high-energy volleyball players where she fills the roles of secretary, navigator, treasurer, athletic trainer and team psychologist. You can follow her on Twitter @JazzinDisneyMom.
Other posts by this author:
Latest News from the World of Disney
D23 Expo Announcement Wrap-up
”The Descendants” Movie Review
Disney by Land, Disney by Sea: Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3
”Tomorrowland” Movie Review
Best Walt Disney World Smartphone Apps
Restaurant Review – Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – The Way Life Should Be
A Day in the Life of Disney’s FastPass+ Service