Less than 100 days (4/15) - on our way to gold - 11 night Iceland Norway on the Magic

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Pre-Trip Reports' started by Ladybugx87, Nov 18, 2018.

  1. Ladybugx87

    Ladybugx87 Mouseketeer

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    Welcome to my first-ever pre-trip report - I am beyond excited for this itinerary and that it finally fits our schedules. (Edited on January 18 - I figured out how to add photos!!)

    A bit about us:

    We are a family of four who have become Disney lovers - this will be our 5th cruise (GOLD!!!) and definitely the one that I am doing the most 'intense' pre-planning for.
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    - DH and I are in our mid-30s with regular corporate jobs who love to travel and experience new things. This cruise will get me to 37 countries (Iceland and Norway are new) which will match my age at the time of the cruise.

    - DD1 - referred to as S from here on out- will be 9 for this cruise and has been to over 20 countries. Minnie is her absolute favorite character and we have a very well-loved Minnie that tends to go everywhere with us.

    - DD2- referred to as C from here on out - will be 4 for this cruise and has been to over 11 countries. She is the only one who won't be gold after this cruise since she wasn't born yet for our first cruise. C prefers princesses to Minnie and has taken a recent fascination with Fancy Nancy.

    Our previous Disney experiences have all been captured on my personal blog and can easily be glanced through: https://jmsadventure.blogspot.com/search/label/Disney

    These include:
    - Visits to Disneyland Paris in 2013 and 2014
    - Mediterranean Disney Cruise in 2013 (no C yet!)
    - Alaska Disney Cruise in 2015 including my parents
    - Aulani in 2016
    - Northern Europe Disney Cruise in 2017
    - WDW + Princess Half Marathon in 2017
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    - Wester Carribbean Disney Cruise in 2018

    We simply love Disney, especially cruising, for the amazing service and overall experiences. We tend to enjoy character visits and family activities. DH and I have enjoyed Palo dinner twice (maybe this is the time to try the brunch??) and he enjoyed the mixology last time. My favorite activity on our recent cruise was the Royal Tea as a one time experience.

    I welcome questions and suggestions since this is my first PTR.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2019
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  2. Ladybugx87

    Ladybugx87 Mouseketeer

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    Our current itinerary/plan is as follows:

    July 19: Fly to London via Toronto on the day flight instead of the red eye. Upon arrival take Heathrow Express and then cab to hotel - Marriott Grosvenor Square.

    July 20: Day in London including the London Eye for the girls.

    July 21: Blackberry Car to the port + Embarkation - this is my first time not using DCL transportation so hoping for an early PAT

    July 22: Day at Sea

    July 23: Kirkwall, Scotland: Still deciding what to do - we may explore on our own

    July 24: Day at Sea

    July 25: Reykjavik - all day private tour booked to see as much of the Golden Circle and the South Coast as possible

    July 26: Reykjavik - still deciding. DH and I may do a running tour of the city with a guide while the girls stay at kids club

    July 27: Akureyri - this is on where I think we will do a DCL excursion - I definitely want to see Godafoss and liked some of the DCL options here.

    July 28: Day at Sea

    July 29: Alesund: another one where I think we will do a DCL excursion

    July 30: Stavanger: We have booked a fjord tour with others on our cruise

    July 31: Gothenburg: I think we will focus on the Volvo experience

    August 1: Copenhagen - disembark and head home. We love Copenhagen but DH needs to return home for a business trip so I decided that we will all travel home together.
     
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  4. Ladybugx87

    Ladybugx87 Mouseketeer

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    First things first why this cruise, this year?

    The Norway/Iceland itinerary caught my eye from the time it was first offered and honestly I love combining the great destinations for DH and me with the Disney magic for the girls. Alaska, Northern Europe, and Norway/Iceland have been on my cruise bucket list since our first cruise.

    A quick glance back:

    First Cruise: Disney Magic Room 6598, 7 night Med - we were living in Switzerland at the time and thought this sounded like a fantastic trip and it was....and we were hooked

    Second Cruise: Disney Wonder 7596, 7 night Alaska - baby C had joined us and was 9 months old. She basically lived in the Bjorn this trip. My parents also joined us as Alaska was bucket list for them. They were in 7598.

    Third Cruise: Disney Magic 7596, 7 night Northern Europe - this one was amazing for the whole family. When I booked the placeholder, I had my fingers (and toes) crossed that I would get to do Norway/Iceland with it.... and then....

    Fourth Cruise: Disney Fantasy 8650, 7 night West Car - so our plan was actually to do a resort island in the Carib, but S looked through our Disney book and saw that this cruise embarked on her 8th birthday....so that was that..... and well it was amazing

    Onto this one!!

    Fifth Cruise: Disney Magic 7602, 11 night Norway/Iceland - the day that Disney released summer 2019 itineraries, I couldn't focus at work....I was on a business trip and remember wanting to get to the hotel post dinner to go through all of the dates and gates and to my happiness, there was this cruise! in the middle of summer! not conflicting with school or pre-planned work trips!! To say I was excited was an understatement. Then I had to get DH on board and he was! So I joined the cruise meets and the other cruise groups to get an idea of price from the platinum and gold members. I knew it was popular from the list so was hoping for a good room. I would have loved 7596 (see previous cruise rooms) but 7596, 7598, and 7600 were all booked so we took 7602.

    The booking process and some details:

    I decided to book the cruise myself and then transfer it over to Costco so I could get all the details I wanted.
    I called on opening day for Silver and think I was on hold for just under 2 hours.

    We booked room 7602, early dining, and then took notes for all of the pre and post cruise options. We always do early dining and then do as many activities as we can until we fall asleep.

    For the way there, I decided to book our own London hotel and transportation down to Dover. For the way home, I decided to take DCL transport to CPH for one last bit of easiness before heading home.

    On the ship activities:
    Beyond the excursion plans I mentioned separately, here are some of the things I am thinking through for on the ship when my booking window opens:

    Definitely will do any ticketed character M&G: I think they will be: Princess Gathering & Frozen M&G
    BBB: actually not sure on this one - the girls both did this last cruise and it was fun but not sure if they want to do it again.
    Palo: Definitely will do either brunch or dinner. I'd love to try brunch but DH loves the dinner experience. Should I try for both??
    Mixology: DH will try to do at least one of these. I don't drink much so I will skip this one.

    8 months from today, we will be flying to London!
     
  5. Ladybugx87

    Ladybugx87 Mouseketeer

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    So let’s talk about flight planning - so many options - when to leave? How much time to spend in London?

    With our cruise embarking on July 21, I knew I wanted some buffer and also a bit of time in London since the girls haven’t been yet. I also knew I’d prefer the day flight vs over night flight if I could make it work. I’ve done it for biz trips before but wasn’t able to make it work for our last trip to Europe. The girls did fine on overnight but still I prefer day.

    So the Hunt was on for the day flight on July 19 to have all day on July 20 in London. Plus this gives me some buffer for any delays - we have July 19 night, July 20 day and worst case scenario July 20 night to still make flight.

    I had been searching the airport closest to us and flights were consistently $1260-1400 per person. For some reason I decided to check the flights near my parent’s house (our companions to Alaska and about 4 hour drive for us) and they were $822 per person for the precise flights I wanted.

    So I checked in with my parents and they said they’d meet us at the airport hotel and take our car the night before flight plus come pick us up after flight for a night with them before driving home so it was set.

    We have a short flight to Toronto and then the day flight over to heathrow. Coming back, long leg from Copenhagen to Toronto and then short flight back.
     
  6. Ladybugx87

    Ladybugx87 Mouseketeer

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    7 months from today, we will be driving to Cleveland for our night in the airport hotel before flying to London!

    In the past month, I have focused on the following:

    1) booking our airport hotel the evening before our flights - I chose a Courtyard Marriott in Cleveland with good reviews and free shuttle over to the airport

    2) researching running routes in our various ports - DH is a big runner and I also love to run so we have been looking at where we could go if we have time. I imagine he will get some running in and I will mostly run on ship but we will see.

    3) starting to think about FE and snack exchanges. I won't get started on anything until everyone is PIF as I know groups can shift until then.

    4) continuing to teach the DDs about where we are going in age appropriate ways. DD1 is especially excited to see London.

    That's it for now.

    Over the next month, my main must-do activity is pay the deposit on our private Reyjkavik tour.
     
  7. Ladybugx87

    Ladybugx87 Mouseketeer

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    6 months from today, we will be driving to Cleveland to begin the adventure to this cruise!

    It's still been a little quiet from a planning standpoint -

    - I have been in contact with the Reyjkavik operator to pay my deposit for our private tour

    - S (DD1) has met a pen pal from our cruise group and they have started to get to know each other via letters.

    - I have been looking at different Fish Extender gift ideas and saving them for the right time.

    I think I still have another month of quiet before the planning really kicks in.
     
  8. Ladybugx87

    Ladybugx87 Mouseketeer

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    and I finally figured out how to post photos!!! Here are some from our last cruise that I think show the girls' personalities well.

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    Last edited: Jan 18, 2019
  9. Ladybugx87

    Ladybugx87 Mouseketeer

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    5 months to go! Another relatively quiet month on the planning front-

    - paid our deposit for private tour in Reykjavik
    - submitted application for DD2’s new passport (her old one expired less than 6 months after we return)
    - DD1 has started exchanging letters with her pen pal
    - bought a few things for FE even though groups not final. If I can’t find right person in my groups, I’ll pixie dust to others based on cruise list.
    - Oh and the girls found cute new rain jackets for spring and the trip.

    In the next month, final payment is due to Costco.
     
  10. Candycane83

    Candycane83 DIS Veteran

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    following! I'm really excited to read your review and from the ages of your kids, I can totally use advise! I found this thread while I was researching for a Med cruise with my DH and my soon to be 5 year old next year. I just booked 7598 on the Magic for Jul 18 2020 since I saw your comment about loving 7596! :) Love the level of planning. I'm from Toronto so I'm curious what airline did you book to London.

    Wanted to ask if there was any noise from housekeeping? I saw another review saying it was across the hall.
     
  11. Ladybugx87

    Ladybugx87 Mouseketeer

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    Yay! Thanks for commenting!
    We booked with Air Canada - we have had good luck with them in the past and found great prices. One tip - preorder the kids' meal for your kiddo for the flights if you go with them - my girls loved them.

    We don't remember any noise from housekeeping at all. I will confirm again after this cruise.

    And what's the itinerary for your cruise next year? We did Med when our older daughter was just 3 and really enjoyed it - I can give some thoughts on ports if they match up.
     
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  12. Candycane83

    Candycane83 DIS Veteran

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    Great tip! We flew through Philippine airlines to Asia and didn’t have that option. I’ll definitely look at that.

    It starts from Barcelona and ends in Dover. I figured we would take maybe 3-4 days in Barcelona and then another few days in England and maybe end in Paris :) would love to pass through Disneyland Paris! We’re taking DS on his first cruise this summer- Western Caribbean and WDW so really excited about that too!

    Can’t wait to see more of your plans and how your trip goes :)
     
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  13. Ladybugx87

    Ladybugx87 Mouseketeer

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    Fantastic travel plans! We did the Med (Barcelona - Villefranche- Florence (forget port) - Rome - Naples - Barcelona) in 2013 and also have been to DL Paris a few times while living in Europe (blog post in May 2014 for sure, I cannot recall if I did for our other trips there). We also did Western Caribbean (Fantasy) in summer 2018 and WDW as part of Princess weekend during February 2018. I keep a personal blog - more for my personal memories and for our family to read - but you can check out all of the trips here - https://jmsadventure.blogspot.com/search/label/Disney.

    Next planning update will come in a week or so!
    I'll look forward to hearing about your cruise + WDW trip too!
     
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  14. Candycane83

    Candycane83 DIS Veteran

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    I’m going to read them tonight!! I did see you had the western Caribbean under your belt and def wanted to see how that was :)
     
  15. Ladybugx87

    Ladybugx87 Mouseketeer

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    ADAFECE9-EC5D-4300-80B4-40155544360E.jpeg Now it’s just under 4 months until our travels begin! Activities started picking up this month including:

    We are PIF!!!

    DD1 now has a second pen pal on the ship.

    DD2’s new passport arrived.

    We received our FE group details so now I can really start that shopping.

    We’ve been prioritizing the DCL excursions for some of the ports where we will use them. Alesund and Gotenburg are still up in the air. I have plans for Reykjavik and Stavanger separate from DCL and have my #1 and #2 choices for all other ports. More details on our plans once I can book (silver date is 4/22).

    And a photo from a spring break trip to Niagara Falls - it made the girls even more excited for the waterfalls we will see this summer.
     
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  16. Ladybugx87

    Ladybugx87 Mouseketeer

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    How is it just over 3 months until our trip? It’s felt so long away and now it’s starting to feel reasonably close!

    Anyway - we are still silver so I cannot book activities until April 22 so this is going to be an update on everything else. It’s kind of all over the place so bear with me.

    DH is a runner and will be in marathon training during vacation so we’ve been laying out his running plans. I’ll be sure to report back on routes after our trip. He’s excited to explore some of the ports on foot.

    Our younger daughter wants to do BBB but older daughter doesn’t so I’m trying to figure out what to do special for her. We already did Royal Tea so that’s out. She will be 9. Any ideas?? Can she do a pedicure?

    We’ve also had fun fish extender shopping. We are almost done with those gifts. I’m waiting till closer for our treats exchange.

    And lastly our girls have prioritized what they want to do in London. DH and I have been multiple times. The girls asked for the Eye, the Princess Diana playground, and shopping for lots of Mr/little Miss books that we don’t yet have. Yes I can buy them in the US but the U.K. ones seem to be better quality.

    And some logistics stuff: 1) we have booked a car from heathrow to hotel for arrival using same service taking us to port. 2) we are all good for our Reykjavik long-day private tour and 3) I’m also going to purchase memory maker in advance.

    I’ll be back to report which excursions etc I’ve been able to book.
     
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  17. Candycane83

    Candycane83 DIS Veteran

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    How exciting!! It’s all getting so real! After I checked in and booked our excursions, it seems to really hit that we’re going! What kind of things did you get for FE? :) I am also shopping now and looking for something to hang. I just joined the kids only one on my cruise and am a little overwhelmed already!
     
  18. Ladybugx87

    Ladybugx87 Mouseketeer

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    The FE can overwhelm me too! This trip I ordered a bunch of stuff from Etsy that was inspired by gifts we have liked before, including Mickey bottle openers, Mickey and minnie shaped cookie cutters, and some minnie earrings. I also found cute Disney hair bands and bracelets (my girls received them before and loved them!) and little pouches to carry around (think small Disney themed wallets). And I also found some Marvel mad lib books for the little boys.

    I’m debating treats for the treat exchange. Glad I have time to make my choice there.
     
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  19. Candycane83

    Candycane83 DIS Veteran

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    Great ideas! Will look into those for kids! What is a treat exchange? Is it local food items from your area? It sounds really interesting!
     
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  20. Ladybugx87

    Ladybugx87 Mouseketeer

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    Yes exactly - something local to your area to share with others.
    I like the idea of kid only FE but didn’t have enough interest for our cruise so doing a whole family one.
     
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