Spring Break 2016 Cruise – Part 1 – Planning

Spring Break 2016 Cruise – Part 1

After completing a few spring break cruises, we had our routine down.  Once the spring itineraries were released in late 2014, we immediately booked the Disney Wonder for our Spring Break in 2016.  We can always determine our school district’s Spring Break since it is the week that precedes Easter Sunday.  The prices had really started to climb out of our normal comfort zone, so we decided to get an Oceanview stateroom (rather than a verandah).  We have done this in the past and it always worked out for us.  We don’t spend a ton of time in the room, so having the large porthole window is more than enough.  We had taken this cruise once already, in 2014, so knew what we were getting into.  We had also booked it for Spring Break 2015.

The cruise is a 5 night cruise that leaves out of Miami.  Here is the itinerary:

  • Day 1 – Departure from Miami
  • Day 2 – Sea Day
  • Day 3 – Cozumel, Mexico
  • Day 4 – Sea Day
  • Day 5 – Castaway Cay
  • Day 6 – Return to Miami

We booked the cruise through our travel agent in October 2014.  Since we had another cruise in January 2015, we checked while we were onboard to see if the price was still the same.  We wouldn’t get the 10% discount for booking on board because Disney won’t allow it for the Spring Break cruises.  I imagine they don’t have any problem filling the ships for those weeks.  The price had not gone up, so we took advantage of the $100 shipboard credit for onboard bookings to re-book the cruise at the same price.  While this didn’t reduce our costs, it did get us $100 in credit.  We also received $150 in shipboard credit from our travel agent for booking the cruise with them.

Flights

Travel for a Miami cruise is pretty straightforward.  We ALWAYS fly the night before the cruise.  We don’t want to take a chance on a late or canceled flight messing up our vacation.  If our flight the night before were to be canceled, we could drive to the ship, if necessary.  We’ve never had to do it, but an 18 hour drive (give or take) to Miami is possible the night before from the Washington, DC area, if necessary.

Thanks to a large pile of AAdvantage miles earned from signup bonuses, I headed to book flights on American Airlines once the schedule opened up (usually 330 days prior).  The search didn’t take long, as there were MileSAAver level (25,000 miles round trip within the United States) available between Reagan National and Miami.  The flight to Miami was a bit late, taking off at 8:38 pm and landing in Miami at 11:09 pm.  Such is the life of free flights (not including $11 per person, per leg).

The return flight was later in the night as well, leaving at 8 pm from Miami the day after the cruise returned to port.  We usually get off the ship and look for something interesting to do in Miami or in the Keys.  Before this trip, our past Miami-area excursions included spending time near the port and making a quick trip down to the northernmost Florida Keys.

Hotel

Normally, we would stay the nights before and after the cruise at the InterContinental Miami using our free nights from our IHG credit cards.  We couldn’t find any availability for the night before the cruise (we later found out this was due to a popular music festival).  The Intercontinental at Doral Miami (close to the airport) had rooms, so we secured one for the night before the cruise.  We did manage to get a room at the InterContinental Miami for the night after the cruise.  That room also ended up getting changed before the cruise.

Rental Car

We got a rental car for the two days after the cruise, booking the car through the Costco Travel website.  At the time we booked the car, we hadn’t quite figured out what we were going to do with it.  We initially discussed heading down towards Key West (even if we didn’t make it all the way) to find a nice beach to hang out on for the day, then back to Miami for the night.  Our plan was to take a cab from the cruise to the airport for rental car pickup.  We had previously used a rental car company near the port of Miami, but we had a horrible experience in 2015 when we waited more than 2 hours for a car (finally giving up and spending the day at the InterContinental pool instead).

At this point in our trip planning, we’d booked the cruise and gotten our airline tickets, hotel and rental car.  We would have to wait on the cruise excursions until we got within our booking window.

Spring Break 2016 Cruise – Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

 

 

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