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We finally made up our minds...

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Jan 15th, 2016, 07:47 AM
  #1
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We finally made up our minds...

After a very convoluted decision process involving choosing between at least four ports, six lines, and who knows how many destinations, we (myself, DH, and DS20) finally booked a three-day on Disney out of Port Canaveral. I got a fairly decent price, and we are in an outside on a lower deck for about what two insides or one junior suite would have run us on Carnival for a similar itinerary. That said, the Disney cabin appears to be large, well appointed, and more to the point, set up so the third passenger isn't sleeping over anyone's head, and with a privacy curtain so people don't have to get dressed in the bathroom.

DH is tickled that they have no formal night, DS is looking forward to the pirate night, and we all like Disney. A lot. We'll see how Disney cruising goes. We had held off for a while at least partly because DS wanted to be old enough for the adult areas (why hang out with other teenagers when you can be in a lounge chair next to mom and dad with a book and a virgin daiquiri and a couple of snacks?). We had also held off on Disney because we don't usually feel like paying for it, but the stars aligned on this one.

I still haven't booked anything pre-cruise (more reports to come) but we have (after more convoluted decision making that had us potentially all over most of the peninsula) decided on Vero beach post-cruise, with one night at Holiday Inn Oceanside, and one night at Disney Vero Beach (because that was what we really wanted, but I couldn't justify paying for two nights).

Our Nassau plans are still a little nebulous, but they'll likely involve either the pirate museum or the fish at Atlantis. Castaway Cay is obviously a beach. DS is considering doing their bottom fishing expedition if he has enough money saved.

More to come...
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Jan 17th, 2016, 05:21 AM
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Have fun! I went on a four-day Disney cruise out of Miami in 2013 and absolutely loved it! Castaway Cay is fantastic. I hope you and your family have a great time. Three days will go by quickly, but it will be big fun!

Enjoy!
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Jan 28th, 2016, 06:49 AM
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Thanks Mikesmom! We're really looking forward to it.

I'll post more once we're booked for pre-cruise, and definitely will do a full trip report, although it may not be until we get back.
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Jan 28th, 2016, 06:12 PM
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Have a great time! If you need any Port Canaveral info, let me know. Otherwise, wave as you go by!
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Feb 9th, 2016, 08:57 AM
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Three days is so short.
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Feb 14th, 2016, 05:55 PM
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Dsquared, any suggestions for things to do in/around Port Canaveral? We had liked the idea of Kennedy Space Center before we realized that admission is $50 per person, which we just can't see our way clear to, and while it is apparently sometimes possible to pry tickets out of your congressman, we definitely don't have time for that, and probably wouldn't have had enough time even if I'd known that when we booked.
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Feb 18th, 2016, 09:44 AM
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Just a few more days now.

We have sunscreen.

We discovered that DS pretty much required an entire new wardrobe, and that has been attended to. Complete with the epic argument in Sears with my sister because she insisted that the pants I was trying to buy for him were for old people. When I wouldn't buy the ones she preferred, she bought them herself. We'll see. Best case, it's another pair of pants, worst case, they can be returned to Sears.

We have two days pre-cruise booked at Daytona Beach Oceanside Inn. It's heyday seems to have been in 1987, but it's right on the beach, complete with pool and tiki bar, and cost me $66 a night.

I'll report on it. Along with everything else.
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Feb 18th, 2016, 02:01 PM
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There are some decent casual restaurants in the Port area. Jetty Park nearby has a nice beach. Further away on the mainland, Brevard Zoo has lots of animals and lots to do (feeding giraffes and birds, kayaking, ziplining).
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Feb 19th, 2016, 06:00 AM
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Since we decided to stay in Daytona (husband would have preferred to be closer to port, but there was a HUGE price difference) it's a little less of an issue, but thanks so much. The Brevard Zoo sounds amazing. DS would LOVE to feed a giraffe. We'll see if we can fit that in somewhere.
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Mar 2nd, 2016, 03:45 PM
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We're back, and it's time for the actual trip report.

I've been staying at Dad's in Jersey, but I spent the weekend at my actual home in Pennsylvania. I'm a novelist, but it doesn't really pay the bills, so I also work part time on weekends at a bridal salon (which was my old full-time job before I started watching Dad and writing seriously).

So, after I spent Saturday and Sunday zipping up prom gowns and bridesmaid dresses, on Monday we had a tax appointment at 2:30, and got on the road directly after that.

We had intended to drive until about midnight and stop somewhere around the top of North Carolina. However, while we made decent time, we were also getting tired and cranky earlier than we expected, and were seduced by a Fairfield Inn billboard in Emporia, Virginia around 8pm.

I am happy to report that it's a well-run Fairfield Inn, with very comfy beds and an Applebee's across the street. The breakfast was also very good, with a lot of selections, nice fruit, and name brand yogurt.
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Mar 3rd, 2016, 04:29 AM
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After we rose, assembled, and ate breakfast, we got back in the car and headed south, shedding clothes along the way. It was 47 in Emporia, about 52 when we stopped for gas just over the SC line, and about 75 by the time we rolled into a Sonic in Walterboro for lunch.

Next stop Daytona Beach.

We were checking in around five (more accurately I was checking in, DH was parking across the street, and DS had run out onto the hotel's pool deck to say hello to the ocean).

The hotel--I bid on Hotwire and got Oceanside Inn Daytona Beach. It was fine (and clean) but it was a little frustrating in that a fairly minimal amount of effort and expenditure would have transformed it from adequate to great. Clean, good location, and no glaring issues, but...

We seemed to be at the only hotel in Daytona with an unheated pool (according to Mr. Internet, the heater was broken and was not scheduled to be replaced). The lot next to the hotel is very small, so they are building a parking garage, which is good, except that they have apparently been working on it for two years, and we suspect that its location was part of the parking lot. Very minimal continental breakfast, with the weakest juice ever. DH refused to drink it at all. The bartender at the Tiki bar was great, but its hours were kind of erratic, and the bar/restaurant inside seemed to be semi-permanently closed.

There were lots of hotel bargains to be had in Daytona for our dates, and I was a little sorry I hadn't spent a little more and gotten a lot more, but I really wanted to save money on that segment and it certainly wasn't horrible.

Once we were checked in, we went for a walk on the beach, discovered the Tiki bar was closed (we found out the next day that the guy had to go to a funeral) and instead of getting back in the car or taking a very long walk downbeach, we figured out how to get into the Holiday Inn resort's lobby without trespassing on its pool deck and ate in its restaurant. Which was quite decent and gave us a lovely view of its pool and firepits, which made me regret a little that I'd been cheap, but the difference in the room cost pretty much paid for dinner.
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Mar 3rd, 2016, 06:09 AM
  #12
 
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Persimmondeb, good start to your trip, although I only use Hotwire for car rental because I am afraid of what I might get in the way of a hotel room. Also you make the best of your situation, love it.
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Mar 3rd, 2016, 01:06 PM
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Thanks tch912!

We've yet to get a real stinker, although some of our wins have been better than others.
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Mar 7th, 2016, 06:44 AM
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The next day we had planned to mostly lounge around in bathing suits, since the high was supposed to be near eighty, but it was slow to warm up, and kind of windy. So we drove around, found a Burlington Coat Factory so I could buy another bathing suit because I'd left most of them in New Jersey, and went to explore the Boardwalk and the pier.

I love beach towns, and it's an attractive, if small, boardwalk. We were also very clearly in shoulder season, and the amusements were closed.

We had breakfast at an IHOP, but got very thirsty walking around, so we stopped into a bar/lunch counter/arcade for beer and soda and redemption games, which was a very pleasant way to pass an hour. We emerged refreshed, and in possession of a pack of gliders and some tootsie rolls.

After that, we decided to go back to the hotel, change into bathing suits and hang out by the pool.
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Mar 7th, 2016, 11:40 AM
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I like the idea of a staying a few days pre-cruise to enjoy Florida. I am going to California after Christmas and will stay in Los Angeles for four days before taking a cruise January 1. I have never been to California. Keep the report coming.
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Apr 26th, 2016, 07:33 AM
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I am soooooooooo jealous of you...
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May 7th, 2016, 08:19 PM
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After it warmed up, we went to go hang out at the pool.

DS briefly braved the water, but it was cool.

The tiki bar finally opened around two, and we had beer and soda and hot dogs and chicken fingers. The bartender, Chris, was very personable, and we also spent some time chatting to a couple from Ontario.

We actually spent a fair chunk of the afternoon there, on and off, since it started to storm, and there was no way to get back into the hotel lobby without getting wet.

The bartender recommended a local restaurant, "Our Deck Down Under" for dinner. It is sort of tucked under a highway bridge, and we would NEVER have found it without guidance, but it was very good. Hubby had shrimp, DS had a mahi-mahi/crabcake sandwich, and I had a steamed platter, which I sort of split with DS.

When we got back, we hung out in the bar for a half-hour or so, and went to bed fairly early for the drive to Port Canaveral.
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May 23rd, 2016, 06:55 AM
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The next morning we were up, showered, and packed with a minimal amount of yelling, and in the car by a little after seven.

DH had been completely paranoid about staying that far north of Port Canaveral, visions of massive back-ups on I-95 dancing in his head, but it wasn't bad. There was a little traffic due to construction, but no major delays.

We skipped the hotel breakfast completely, and while we had a recommendation for a local place from the bartender, we wanted to be closer to Port Canaveral before we stopped, which was at a Cracker Barrel.

Even with the drive and the breakfast stop, we were at the cruise terminal by a little after ten, and they weren't actually letting people into the departure hall yet.

We had looked into cheaper satellite lots with a shuttle, but decided that the convenience of the parking garage was well worth it. I use a cane sometimes, but we don't have a handicapped hangtag, and don't really need one most of the time. Which means I can walk any reasonable distance on level ground (up to a couple of miles) and climb stairs, but uneven surfaces or really odd climbing arrangements can be an issue, and we just didn't feel like dealing with a huge unknown.
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May 23rd, 2016, 07:38 AM
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After we were parked, we got into line, and were eventually admitted into the departure hall. Our zone number was 26, so we settled in for a fairly long wait.

Now, one of the reasons I pour treasure I don't really have into Disney's coffers is that they do it right. Their terminal is lovely. Spotlessly clean, visually interesting, lots of bathrooms, lots of comfortable seating.

We were on the ship just after noon. They announce you when you walk into the atrium, which feels a little silly, but then they ask you where you want lunch. We opted for Cariocas, which is set up as a buffet for embarkation lunch.

It was a little chaotic, with a lot of excited small children running around, but the room is well set up, the table was comfortable, and the buffet line was well set-up, especially for a room that's not usually a buffet.

This was, by the way, probably the worst meal we had on the ship. Which is to say quite decent, and I'd have been perfectly happy paying twenty dollars a pop for it in Las Vegas or Atlantic City.

After lunch we left our bags in the room and walked around the ship. It is truly gorgeous. Lots of little visual surprises in true Disney style. We sat on the adult pool deck for a little while, but it was too chilly for bathing suits. Still it was really cool to watch the ship pulling out.

In the adult pool area, they have the coffee bar. Which is also adult-only. And has snackies. Complimentary ones. Child had a non-complimentary fancy iced tea, DH and I had complimentary soda from the dispenser the next pool over, and we nibbled since we had late seating. Up until about five-thirty, they had little cupcakes and tarts, and after they had things like grapes and cheese and prosciutto. Kid missed some of it though, because he went to the movie theatre, which we met him outside of at dinnertime.
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May 23rd, 2016, 08:08 AM
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Disney has rotational dining, along with the 18+ fine dining restaurant (which we didn't bother with for such a short cruise). Our first night was at Lumiere's, their "French" restaurant.

The only blip in the experience were a couple of very unhappy toddlers at the next table. We don't usually mind the noise of small children, and we're a little deaf anyway, but the inconsolable wailing of a very young one that is up way past its bedtime is not something I enjoy with my dinner.

That said, wait staff was great, and the food was WONDERFUL. I hadn't actually had my hopes way up, since the reviews I'd read were mixed, although we usually like Disney food. Is it really inventive and interesting? No. It was however, very high quality and far more carefully prepared than I usually associate with a cruise ship.

Speaking of, cruises are usually accommodating about requests. So is Disney. DH eats, at my best reckoning, about twelve things, all of them prepared very plainly. The waiter didn't even bat an eye when we ordered DH the plain salad from the children's menu, along with the chateaubriand with nothing on it and plain steamed rice with the plain carrots from the children's menu. I think he had the creme brulee for dessert.

DS had duck as an appetizer, along with a couple of others he can't remember, and the lamb. He doesn't remember which dessert he had either, but he says it was good. I had the iced lobster and shrimp, and the chateaubriand with the normal accompaniments. Which came out rare as ordered, and fork-tender. Very, very good. I think I also had the creme brulee.
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