Dream Cruise – Part 1 – Planning

We usually plan our travel 18 months or so in advance.  We look at school calendars, compare prices, and then book a trip.  In the case of our February 2017 cruise on the Disney Dream, almost none of this happened (we did look at the school calendar).  Here is how our cruise came together.

In October 2016, Nancy and I had planned a trip on the Disney Dream for October 7, 2016.  I won’t go back over the entire story, but that cruise was canceled because of Hurricane Matthews.  Disney immediately refunded all the money for our cruise (including the trip insurance).  We eventually received our airfare back as well.  Since we weren’t out any money, we started planning for another cruise on the Dream as soon as possible.

We had already planned a cruise for January 2017 and had a Spring Break trip planned for April 2017 as well.  After looking over the various itineraries for the Dream and the school calendar, we decided on the 3 day Dream sailing leaving February 3, 2017.  The itinerary included a stop at Nassau and Disney’s private island.  We decided to bring the girls with us on this trip even though our previously canceled cruise was just for the two of us (a 20th anniversary celebration cruise).  They were definitely excited to be going with us since none of us had been on the Dream before. 

We had a few items that we needed to check off the list.  The first was to book the cruise.  I contacted our travel agent at the time and asked her to book the cruise using a place holder booking that we had reserved on a previous cruise.  This gave us 10% off the booking, plus a $100 onboard credit.  It also allowed us to apply the $250 we had paid on the place holder to this cruise.  We chose a Category 5C Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah, Stateroom 7044, which is on the Port (left) side near the forward elevators.  We also booked Disney Cruise ground transportation from the Orlando airport to the ship and back again after the cruise was over.

The second item to take care of was the flights to and from Orlando.  A quick look at the American Airlines website found four round trip tickets at the saver level (25,000 miles each) that were perfect for planning purposes.  We found a flight that would leave Reagan National Airport at 3:00 pm and land in Orlando at 5:30 pm.  The girls would miss a half day of school that day, plus one more the next day (it was an early release day).  Our return flight would leave Orlando at 3:00 pm and land at Reagan National Airport at 5:15 pm.   We had received the 100,000 AAdvantage miles by converting 80,000 Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points into 100,000 AAdvantage miles.  In hindsight, I probably could have found a better use for the SPG points, but live and learn.

The next item was our hotel room for the night before the cruise.  Since Nancy and I had planned to stay at the Hyatt Regency in the Orlando airport for our anniversary cruise (and our January Cruise), we just canceled the night from the October cruise and moved it to February.  We had read multiple reviews of people who had stayed at the hotel before the cruise and everyone recommended it.  We decided that if it didn’t go well in January, we could always find something else for this cruise.

After booking those three items (cruise, transportation, and hotel), we simply had to wait till our check-in time to arrive.  Since we are Gold Castaway Club members, we could check-in 105 days before our cruise to book excursions.  Once the day arrived, we logged in at midnight to see what was available.  There was a Cabana available on the family beach, so we reserved it right away.  The Cabana are expensive, but we really enjoy them.  We didn’t manage to get one for our January cruise, so we were looking forward to enjoying one again.  The Cabana was the only excursions that we choose to book for this cruise since it was only a 3 night cruise.  We’ve been to Nassau previously, but had always decided to stay onboard and enjoy the ship.

I thought that would be the end of our planning, until some friends of ours decided to join us at the last minute.  They ended up booking the same flights, hotel and a nearby stateroom!  We had our travel agent link our reservations so they could have the same dining room table.  The only thing she wasn’t able to do was to add them to our Cabana.  We would have to wait until we were on board the ship to sort that out. 

Dream 2017 Cruise – Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

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