Sunday, 7 September 2014

Summer 2014 Vacation

This year marked our ten year anniversary, and since our last vacation was our month-long sojourn back to SA in 2012, we decided to go all out and take a 'big' vacation this year.

Since both our girls are very much enjoying Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (grateful they both watch the same shows, and dreading the time when there are arguments about what to watch), we considered Disney World. Friends of ours had gone during March break, and DD1 was so excited when we went to see Disney on Ice. However, we decided that a trip to Disney at this point would not be the best as DD2 would not remember this trip and DD1 isn't really into rides anyway. Plus it would likely be too stressful and crazy with all of the walking and waiting in line, since DD2 still needs to nap. We had only heard good things about Disney cruises (from yet other friends who had gone on a Disney cruise), so... a Disney cruise was the final decision.

This summer was also DD1's last month in daycare, as she would be going to full-time Senior Kindergarten  (SK) aka Grade 0 for my SA readers. In fact, July and August has been the most we've ever paid for childcare, with both kids in full-time daycare. So we decided to plan for our vacation at the end of August, so we could just take DD1 out of daycare altogether (instead of paying for her spot whilst on vacation), and when coming back in September, DD1 would be in school and DD2 would be moving to the preschool class.

Additionally, we already had plans for our annual downtown Toronto staycation to attend FanExpo, which was the last (long) weekend in August.

I began to research the various cruises, and was able to find a couple of very useful sites with information on saving on Disney vacations. The pricing was not as bad as I had expected (not that I had any expectations, really!) but still pretty pricey. We figured the convenience of visiting various places without changing our sleeping place, 24/7 food, and meeting Disney characters were worth it.

The cruises available during the time period we were looking at were Caribbean, Bahamian or Alaska (we were looking at North American departures only). The 7-night cruise to Alaska was roughly the same price as a 4-night Caribbean cruise, so it seemed like a no-brainer. DH was all for a vacation to Alaska, I was just happy to be going on a cruise :)

I booked through a travel agent, who was very helpful in selecting a stateroom. We chose a room midship on deck 1 since theoretically we would be less likely to feel the ship's movement - we had never been on a cruise before, we were not certain whether or not we'd get sea sick. Carrie was also very helpful in booking flights and arranging our transfers from the airport. Naively, I had hoped to leave later in the morning (I'm not a morning person!!) and get to the ship just before departing. At that point, I had no idea that embarkation began early in the afternoon, and that you could board early to explore the ship and have lunch onboard.

Ultimately, we did end up paying much more than we anticipated for two reasons (a) we missed out on the restricted guarantee rooms, then decided to go with an Oceanview room and (b) flights to Vancouver cost way more than flights to Florida, so that evened out the Caribbean vs Alaskan cruise costs. However, Alaska is a unique destination, so definitely something to look forward to!

So that was it... cruise booked for the August 18 departure from Vancouver. Oh the anticipation!

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