Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Disney Fantasy Trip Report Part 1: Getting There

My family just returned from a 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard the Disney Fantasy featuring a special Halloween on the High Seas theme. This was our 4th Disney Cruise, but our first 7-night cruise. I previously wrote about how we saved money on this cruise and how we joined a Fish Extender group. We have 3 kids, ages 10, 6 and 4.

Our Fish Extender/Facebook group for this cruise was wonderful! We had over 200 members in the group, and over 100 families participate in the Fish Extender Exchange.

Before I get into the trip report, I want to share some of our big take-aways from this vacation (we are always learning):

1.  Even though there are so many opportunities to have a date night on a Disney Cruise and relax in adult-only areas, we have to really work to make those happen. There were so many activities going on and things to do (just like at Disney World) that we kinda got lost in the hustle and bustle and didn't really find our groove until the 3rd day. It's OK to skip things (I only made it to 1 out of 7 evening shows the entire week!)

2.  I do not recommend flying in the night before on the last flight out to Orlando. On our next cruise, we will either get a flight earlier in the day, or leave 2 days before the cruise. Things happened, and it was stressful.

3.  As one of our cruise-mates so eloquently stated, "A vacation doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful". Our vacation was wonderful, but definitely not perfect. We had meltdowns, delays, illnesses...but we plan to remember the good parts.

4. It would be really hard for us to go back to a 4- or 5-night cruise after being on a 7-night cruise. Really. Hard.

Friday, October 3, 2014Getting There

Our travel day started out like any ordinary day. I walked my 2 oldest kids to school. My husband took the entire day off work to help finish packing and cleaning. The plan was to pick up the kids at the end of the school day and drive to the airport for a 5:30 p.m. flight. We were flying Southwest out of Dallas Love Field airport, connecting in Houston for an evening flight to Orlando.

We got the packing and cleaning done in the morning. We were feeling so good about our progress that we decided to splurge and go out to lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Chuy's. After all, we knew it would be a week until we would be able to eat Mexican food again.

So we're sitting at Chuy's, almost done with our food, when the family behind us strikes up a conversation. They were apologizing for their kids' behavior, but explained they had been cooped up in the car all morning due to their Southwest flight being cancelled out of Austin because of the storms from the night before. (We had some severe thunderstorms in Dallas around 4 - 5 p.m. the previous day, but we didn't think anything of it). We told them we were flying out later that day, and they suggested we check our flights to make sure they are not delayed. Good idea, we thought.

Since I don't have a smart phone and I didn't have our flight confirmation numbers on me, Brian pulls up the flight schedule from Dallas to Houston and says he thinks our flight is delayed by a few hours. WHAT?!?! And we would miss our connecting flight to Orlando, the last one of the night.

Wait, that can't be, I thought. Surely Southwest would have phoned me or re-routed us. I had no texts or messages on my cell phone, so I thought we should rush home and check our home phone and verify our flight details online. I admit I started to panic a little. But, we knew that Southwest had flights from Dallas to Houston almost every hour, so surely Southwest moved us to a different, slightly earlier flight that was not delayed.

We got home and I had no messages. I looked up our flights online, and it showed that we would miss our connecting flight, but we had no new flight numbers. I immediately called Southwest. The first phone rep sounded helpful, but somehow we got cut off. I had to call back and talk to another rep. She said we should have received an email and verified my email address, then said it looks like we weren't notified. I asked her if she could put us on an earlier flight to Houston, and she said no, that we'd have to go straight to the airport and ask there if we could get on an earlier flight. That seemed ridiculous to me that we couldn't get re-scheduled over the phone.

Since luckily we were all packed and ready, we rushed to the school to pick up the kids early. We got to the airport and the agent there was able to get us on a flight that left 1 hour earlier. A wave of relief swept over us. Seriously, there was no way we were going to miss this cruise!
Airport silliness

At Dallas Love Field, we visited the art gallery to kill some time. It contained photographs from various places around the city. It had a kids activity book as well.

We also noticed a new kids play area that wasn't open that day, but it was open the day we returned.

Our new flight ended up having a mechanical delay, and then our connecting flight was also delayed a few hours.

Layover at the Houston airport

We told the kids we would all be sleeping on our 2nd flight, but only one took our advice:
This doesn't look comfy
We arrived in Orlando around midnight. I had done online check-in earlier in the day for the Hyatt MCO hotel (which is right in the airport), so the plan was to have Brian and Nathan go to baggage claim and get our checked bags while I took the other 2 kids directly to the room to sleep.

Our plan didn't exactly work because I couldn't use the automated check-in after midnight (the machines turn off every night), so I had to wait in line at check-in. And even though I already knew our room number from the online check-in, Brian couldn't come up the elevator without his own room key in hand. So he also had to wait at the check-in desk.

But, we're still glad we didn't have to go on a shuttle to get to the hotel. Our room slept 5 with a King-size bed, a sofa bed and a roll-away bed.
Hyatt MCO

Bathroom with separate shower and bath tub
Our vacation music video:

Up next: Embarking the Disney Fantasy


  1. Oooh, I hate departure day stresses! Glad you made it eventually. That hotel room is huge!

    1. Next time we will pick an earlier flight. :) Thanks for reading.