First Time Disney Cruise Planning

Photo Oct 15, 6 21 01 PMAs some of you may know, I am planning my first Disney Cruise coming up in a couple weeks. This was a very last minute trip, but I had kind of set aside the time off from the beginning of the year in hopes I’d be able to snag a cruise deal. I have literally dozens of friends and family members who have been on Disney and other cruises, but my mom and I have never been. The internet and friends have been a great source of knowledge, but I still feel like a fish out of water.

For someone who considers themself somewhat of a Walt Disney World expert, it is more than a little humbling realizing how different cruising is and how much I don’t know. What kind of cruise should I book? What stateroom type should I reserve? Should I start out with a shorter cruise since I’ve not been before? What is rotational dining? How much should I expect to spend above and beyond the cost of the cruise, taxes, tips, etc.? What are the absolute must dos on a Disney Cruise (where is Stacey when I need her)? These are just a fraction of the questions that are flying through my mind with under two weeks left to go before my cruise.

We decided on a four night Bahamian cruise on the Disney Dream that leaves on 10/27. I am so stoked to be going over the Halloween on the High Seas celebration to see what kind of fun extras are going to be added to the ship. I think the one tip that has been more prevalent than any other is to not miss out on brunch at Palo on my sea day. It isn’t available to book online since we booked so last minute, but we are hoping to get the chance to book it as soon as we board the Dream. I’ve found the FAQs on the Disney Cruise website to be helpful in answering a lot of my questions, but I’m still undecided on some things like whether to drive and park nearby or to have a friend drop us off and pick us up at the Port. I have been told not to bother getting off the ship in the Bahamas, but I’ve never been out of the country, so I want to go and explore at least for a few hours before heading back to the almost empty ship to explore.

I’ve looked at sample Personal Navigators from recent sailings on the Dream, so I at least have some idea of what to expect for onboard entertainment and such. One of the cooler things that is brand new that I’m looking forward to checking out is the Navigator App for Apple or Android devices using the ship’s complimentary wifi for the exclusive use of this app. They have just added new functionality where guests can use the app for messaging, I’m assuming similar to texting, to be able to communicate with others in their party while on the ship. I can’t wait to sit on our verandah with a book, or a glass of wine, watching the sun setting over the horizon.

There is so much I want to see and do on the cruise, like the stage shows, catching first run movies, pirates night, riding the Aquaduck, checking out the Rainforest Room in the spa, enjoying fantastic food, checking out activities like wine tastings, relaxing in the hot tub, and much more. It will be interesting as this is my first real vacation not going to a theme park or specifically to visit family or friends. I will try to balance my desire to do it all with the need to relax above all else. Do you have any tips for this first time cruiser? What do you wish you had known before taking your first Disney Cruise?
Photo Oct 15, 6 20 47 PM Photo Oct 15, 6 21 04 PM Photo Oct 15, 6 21 07 PM Photo Oct 15, 6 21 10 PM

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Universal Orlando Resort Third Day Free Offer Returns

 Universal Orlando Globe Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Resort announces the return of the popular 3rd day free offer

for U.S. and Canada residents

Universal Orlando Resort announced the return of the resort’s popular 3rd Day Free Offer for U.S. and Canada residents – giving them a third day FREE with the purchase of a 2-day park ticket. This offer gives visitors even more time to enjoy the trip of a lifetime to Universal Orlando’s two theme parks, Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure and enjoy all-new experiences, including the awe-inspiring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, the incredible journey between London and Hogsmeade aboard the Hogwarts Express, the blockbuster attraction TRANSFORMERS: The Ride – 3D and Springfield, home of America’s favorite animated family “The Simpsons.”

 

Exclusive U.S. and Canada Resident Offer for Universal Orlando Resort

               Offer                                                                         Details
Buy a 2-Day Ticket and Get the 3rd Day Free Includes the following benefits:

  • Three days’ access to both Universal Orlando theme parks
  • Access to live entertainment at Universal CityWalk
  • Or upgrade with the purchase of a combo ticket to experience either Orlando’s premier waterpark Wet n’ Wild or the Blue Man Group show, featuring incredible live performances and music

 

Offer valid for purchase through June 7, 2015 and is valid for 14 days from the first use – must be used in full by June 20, 2015. Current price of a 2-day, park-to-park ticket is $175.99 per adult, plus tax. Blockout dates apply Dec. 26, 2014 – Jan. 3, 2015.

Make It a

Vacation Package

OR MAKE IT A VACATION PACKAGE:

  • Visitors can make it a special vacation by adding a stay at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort with a discounted vacation package starting at $425 per adult, tax inclusive.
  • Package also includes:

–          2-Day, Park-to-Park with 3rd Day Free ticket offer

–          3-nights stay at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort

–          Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter one hour before the theme park opens

  • Special vacation package rates are also available at Universal Orlando’s additional resort hotels Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel and select Universal Partner Hotels

 

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Artegon Marketplace Orlando Opening Date Set

Artegon Marketplace Orlando

Artegon Marketplace Orlando on Pace for November 20 Opening

 
Artegon Marketplace Orlando is progressing on schedule toward its November 20 opening in the heart of Orlando’s tourism district on International Drive. Construction is complete on the major components of the 1.1 million-square-foot shopping attraction and artisan marketplace with paint, electrical and other finishing touches now underway. 
Artegon Marketplace Orlando is a new shopping concept for the region inspired by such famous marketplaces as Seattle’s Pike Place, Boston’s Faneuil Hall, New York’s Chelsea Market and the London Flower Market. It is being developed in the former Festival Bay Mall by Paragon Outlet Partners, LLC. Considered one of the most influential and forward-thinking development firms in the nation’s retail real estate industry, Paragon is credited with redeveloping the former Belz Factory Outlet into the highly-successful Prime Outlets Orlando that eventually sold to Simon Properties. “It’s fantastic to see our vision coming to life,” said Steven Sless, executive vice president for Paragon Outlet Partners.
 
Unique to the center will be Florida’s largest daily indoor artisan marketplace. The Village at Artegon Marketplace Orlando houses 165 artisanal shops and stores where local purveyors will sell and demonstrate their products and services. They include Florida Soap Company, Poca’s Hottest, Vagabond Traveler, David Ramirez Chocolates and Kathryn McHenry of SOS Art Studio, along with a host of other one-of-a-kind artisans offering eco-friendly handbags and accessories, jewelry, sculpture, mixed media artwork, custom clothing and locally-sourced foods. 
 
Sless expects the artisan marketplace to be fully leased by opening day. “We have experienced a marked increase in inquiries over the past month as interest and excitement builds among Central Florida’s top artisans and craftspeople,” Sless said. “With each passing day, we are seeing new and interesting concepts and handcrafted works arrive to our leasing office as entrepreneurs explore our exceptional business opportunity.”
Complementing The Village at Artegon Marketplace Orlando are some of the biggest brands in dining and retail. These anchor tenants include Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, Ron Jon Surf Shop, Cinemark Theaters, Sheplers Western Stores, Radbourne Center, Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill and Berghoff’s Octoberfest. The latter two venues are scheduled to open between fall 2014 and spring 2015.
 
Rounding out the guest experience are more than 20 in-line retailers. Highlights include GODS & MONSTERS, the first high-end innovative comics and collectibles store of its kind in the country, and the nation’s first International Hot Glass, a glass gallery showcasing artists from around the world and a studio where guests can work with a professional glass blower to create their own piece of art.
 
“We’ve designed Artegon Marketplace Orlando to be a highly immersive and interactive experience unlike any other in Central Florida,” Sless explained.
Artegon Marketplace Orlando
Beyond the artisan marketplace, anchor tenants and in-line retailers, other defining features of Artegon Marketplace Orlando include:
    • The Great Hall with an expansive “Climb Adventure” ropes course (paid admission) and a variety of food offerings, from coffee and Danish to pizza, sandwiches and salads.
    • Daily food trucks.
    • Free Wi-Fi both indoors and in the outdoor plaza areas.
    • Caricaturists, henna and jawa tattoo painters, canvas airbrush artists and other edgy performers.
    • Streetmosphere performers, from jugglers to singers to stilt walkers, strolling throughout the shopping attraction on weekends.
    • An industrial-chic environment punctuated by heavy wooden support beams, exposed brick and weathered steel.
“Artegon Marketplace Orlando is poised to become a must-see attraction for residents, visitors and conventioneers alike, providing them with a new place to experience the sights, sounds and flavors unique to Central Florida,” Thearon Scurlock, director of marketing added. “Guests can discover authentic local culture and take home a hand-made treasure and lasting memento of their trip to Orlando.”
For group outings, Artegon Marketplace Orlando is an interactive and entertaining addition to the region’s diverse options for compelling community events, off-site convention outings, corporate parties and bus tours. Mears Transportation Group is the official transportation partner for convenient taxi service, and trolley service is available along I-RIDE Trolleys’ Red Line at stop #3.
 
The center provides ample, free surface parking with 5,800 spaces. Operating hours are 10am -9pm Monday-Saturday and 11am-7pm on Sunday. Artisan studios will be open Monday-Saturday 11am-8pm and noon-6pm on Sunday. Artegon Marketplace Orlando is located at 5250 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819. Local residents will especially appreciate easy access to the center via W. Oak Ridge Road, Sand Lake Road, and other alternatives to I-4.
 
To learn more about Artegon Marketplace Orlando, visit ArtegonOrlando.comLike on Facebook and Follow on Twitter andInstagram #ArtegonMarketplace
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