A few weeks ago (cuz it takes me forever to get a blog completed) I started writing about our amazing vacation!
We returned from an epic (to use Gabe’s word) week of vacation, starting with a weekend in San Juan, Puerto Rico, then taking a Disney Cruise back to FL. I typed this up on our long drive back from Orlando airport to NC for those wondering if a Disney cruise is right for you. And also for my own benefit so I remember the details!
Planning: I had heard from several friends (hello, Kara!) that cruising is the way to go for a family trip (because, hello, daycare!) And of course, since we have small children, Disney Cruise Line is the best option. I can’t attest that Disney is better than other cruise lines, but I do know that we all had a blast!
I booked well in advance (almost a year ago! talk about a looong countdown!) so we could get a better rate and choice of rooms. We picked a verandah room for the extra square footage, and for the ability to go out on our private verandah and get some fresh air. We chose deck 8 for the room so it would be close to the pools and food on deck 9, and we picked a room between the midship and aft elevators/stairs. We enjoyed the room a lot and I’d probably do the same again. For us, being near the self-service food and the pools was very convenient.
Another point worth mentioning on our planning process was that I chose a “repositioning cruise,” meaning it was one way (San Juan to Port Canaveral, FL). I picked this one because it was cheaper, not sure by how much though, and because I wanted the kids to be able to see where Daddy came from. It ended up being an extra thousand to depart from Puerto Rico (not including food and ground transportation). $400 for Air Bnb (2 nights) and about $600 for plane tickets for the four of us on Spirit Airlines (includes upgraded “big” seats, and insurance). The initial cruise cost was roughly $3K for the 4 of us (with an additional $1K after sailing due to gratuity/tips, alcohol, and adventures booked via the Disney Cruise site). This cruise was 4 nights, so I figured that would be just the right amount of time for our first cruise—not too long or too short. And it was on the Disney Wonder, one of two smaller ships in their fleet of 4. Next time we’d like to choose the larger ships, the Dream or Fantasy, because of the larger water slides and additional, newer options. Also we learned there are 3 new ships being added to Disney’s fleet in the next 3 years!
Logistics: Since I chose the 1-way cruise, I decided we would drive to Orlando to save $$$, take a 1 way flight to San Juan, go on the cruise, then take a private car (Mears) from Port Canaveral back to our van parked at the airport, about a 45 minute ride. We also used the Puerto Rico GO shuttle from the San Juan airport (SJU) to our apartment, then again from the apartment to the cruise terminal. I would recommend both Puerto Rico GO and the Mears shuttle. Next time we’ll probably just drive to Port Canaveral, go on the cruise, and come back into Port Canaveral. Puerto Rico can be its own trip 🙂
Pre-Cruise: the journey to Puerto Rico: We drove Thursday (Feb 1) from our house to a hotel in Jacksonville, FL (to break up the ride for the kids).
Friday we drove to the Orlando airport, about 2.5 hours from where we stayed in JAX. Our flight wasn’t until 1 PM, so we had plenty of time to get through a super long security line and eat crappy Chinese food (ha!)
We landed in Puerto Rico around 4:45 PM (1 hour time zone ahead). Thankfully Asher slept most of it, and Gabe played (pretty) quietly…
We found our shuttle ride easily, and our luggage, and had no issues with the AirBnb instructions for the apartment. This was our first AirBnb, and shout-out to our hosts Biance and Monique for making it a lovely time for us. It was cheaper than a hotel, we had more space, and we were able to stay exactly where we wanted, in the heart of Old San Juan.
We had some authentic Puerto Rican cuisine for dinner….
…then walked around a bit, checking out all the friendly stray cats…
…the pastel buildings, historic signs, and intriguing sights.
After that exciting day, we slept like babies in our AirBnb! Next up, the weekend in Puerto Rico!