Saturday, October 30, 2010

Let the Countdown Begin!

In six months, I leave for vacation! Wahoo! Jeff and I are taking a 7-day Western Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Dream. The Dream is the biggest, newest, and nicest ship in the fleet, and is the flagship for the newest class of boats.

We will be sailing out of Port Canaveral on April 30th, and visiting Cozumel, Belize, Isla Roatan, and Costa Maya. We will be joined on this little adventure by Jeff's mother (Barbara), step-dad (Ray), grandmother (Mamaw), grandfather (Papa), and friends Chris and David and some of their family. I'm hoping some of my family will come too (hint hint!) We have been to Cozumel and Costa Maya before, but never to Belize or Roatan, so that should be interesting.

Everyone splurged a little on their rooms. Most got balcony rooms. Jeff and I didn't feel like splurging quite that much, but we (ok, I) decided we deserved a little bit of a treat and decided that if we were going to have an inside room, it was going to be a spa room! The Dream has one of the new spas, Cloud 9. Part of that includes "spa" accommodations which include some nicer amenities in-room (and I think the rooms are a tiny bit bigger), priority in booking spa treatments, and access to the spa areas that are not normally included for the average guest such as the Thallasotherapy Pool, steam rooms, heated loungers, and other great stuff! Guests who aren't staying in the spa rooms can buy a pass for these things, either for a day or for the whole week. A week-long pass is $250 per couple, so seeing as we're paying about half of that for the upgrade to our room and we're a lot higher on the ship than either of us has ever been, we think it'll be well worth it!

I am keeping myself occupied by researching, listing, comparing, and contrasting the various options for our vacation and the combinations of ways these elements can be enjoyed. Today I'm going to let you in on my major concern, which is how the heck we are going to get from Birmingham to Port Canaveral (Orlando). The first, and most obvious, option is to drive. If that's the way we decide to go, there is parking to deal with, and there is also the question of caravaning or renting a van so we can all ride together. We got spoiled with the big van we took on our last family vacation, so that is the general preference. The only down side to that option is the expense of having to rent a van for over a week, pay for the gas and tolls to get us there and back, and have to pay to park it for a week on top of that. Not exactly an ideal situation!

The other option is to fly. There are at least one (usually more) non-stop flights every day from Birmingham to Orlando (it's 90 minutes each way) and most of them are less than $100. This would be easier on Papa because sitting for an over 12 hour drive would be tough on him (not to mention I get a bit cranky if I'm trapped in the car too long!). Plus, we wouldn't have to be paying fee on top of fee for something we aren't taking full advantage of! The only down side to this option is getting to and from the airport and the cruise terminal. On the Orlando end of things, there are some relatively reasonable options that I am working my way through. That just leaves Birmingham, and Jeff has enough relatives that we could probably ask very nicely and get a ride! From an objective standpoint, flying is more expensive, but somehow I feel as though my sanity is worth it!

Other things I'm considering (and will therefore be processing by typing and sharing with all of you who care to read about it!) are shore excursions, food and drink options, packing, and anything else that comes to mind!

And if you want to come cruise with us, book it and let us know! I can give you the number of the guy at Carnival we called and he can make sure all the dinner arrangements and those other little details are all worked out!

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