What is a split stay? This is when you split your time between more than one hotel on vacation. Now sometimes this is a necessity for example when we travel to multiple cities on a road trip. Other times it is a personal choice or preference based on location, amenities, or hotel availability. In this article I will talk about when it’s a great idea, and how we operate efficiently when moving hotels frequently.
Sometimes when we travel things can simply go sideways no matter how much careful planning and research we do.In a future article I will address “natural disaster” meaning you get sick, injured, and other things nobody can control. In this piece I want to focus on problems wiht the hotel/restaurant/tour/things you paid money for aspects of your trip. When there are mice running across your feet at a fine dining restaurant or when your hotel room bed is dirty and clearly used. (yes, both have happened to me among many other things)
Today I want to share some thoughts on what to do, and how to deal with things without letting it get the best of your trip.
The struggle to see and do it all in Paris is very real, and even with a month I feel like I would still be trying to fit it all in! While I would recommend more than one day, Disneyland Paris can definitely be enjoyed in a single day. In this article I will detail our recommended one day plan including alterations for younger or non-thrill seeking visitors.
Before you arrive:
- Download the Disneyland Paris app to your phone to keep up with wait times, characters, map
- Flip through website and become familiar with rides and shows offered
- Just before your visit, look at ride closures and park hour times
- Buy park hopper tickets to avoid ticket lines
- Sort your route from where you are staying to Disneyland. The RER-A metro line is wonderful!
About an hour total of preparations ahead of time will allow you to get right into the fun, and prioritize your day at Disney. This plan recommends park hopper tickets as there are a few really great rides and unique happenings in Hollywood Studios that it would be a shame to miss. If you truly don’t want to hop – then I would recommend simply Disneyland Park.
We just got back from a tremendous Disney Cruise and had a marvelous time! From the dinners to the shows and all of the details – the only thing we don’t love about a Disney cruise is the price. While expensive, we really do think they are worth the extra cost. Today we won’t be getting into that, but rather we will be talking about how to figure out which Disney cruise is right for you.
When do you want to go?
Depending on your chosen destination, you might have a lot of choices or very few options. Knowing when you can go – or if you are very flexible right up front will be very helpful. Ideally I would recommend two years prior to sailing – or immediately if you are unsure of budget, when and where Disney sails, and so on that you go online and check out the details of their sailings. For example about four years ago we noticed that Disney has lovely Mediterranean itineraries in the summer months and about how much they cost, so that about two years ago I could begin watching for opening day and book immediately and at the best price.
Where do you want to go?
Depending on your schedule and knowledge of Disney cruise line – a great place to begin is to hop on the Disney Cruise website, and check out where they go! Some cruises are very limited – for example there are only two Panama Canal cruises a year, only about two months a year Disney cruises the Mediterranean, Alaska cruises are only in summer – and so on. However cruises to Disney’s private island Castaway Cay and around the Bahamas and Caribbean run all year. Disney cruises range on average from 3-10 days with a few shorter (yes, 2 nights!) and a few longer.
We decided we wanted to try a Mediterranean cruise as a nice way to explore the region while having the comfort of having just one hotel as well as an English speaking crew and all the comforts of a Disney cruise!
Budget and logistical details
Once you know where you want to go and when you’d like to go – it’s time to check out the budget. Note that some itineraries will be a lot more or less expensive than others. For example we had looked at a 10 day cruise and the price was nearly double that of a 7 day cruise two weeks prior. Likewise, the 7 day cruise directly after ours with same itinerary was several hundred dollars more! So be ready to shop around and compare, especially if you are flexible on timing.
Here are a few details you’ll want to consider for your budget in addition to the cruise fare:
- Transportation to/from the cruise (car, airfare, transfers to port, etc)
- Hotel before/after the cruise
- Shore excursions and activities on port days
- Tips for cruise staff
- Souvenirs on board and off
- Extras (spa, drinks/smoothies, etc)
- Tours, other extras before or after the cruise
- Trip insurance
Depending on the cruise and location that you select, the amounts could vary from a few hundred to quite a few thousand beyond the cruise fare. Doing some estimates early on will help make sure that you don’t wind up way beyond your budget from the start.
What if you’re having trouble deciding?
The first thing I would say, is to ask yourself what your hopes and priorities are for this cruise. Do you want to visit somewhere new? Float around with lots of sea days? Run a 5k on Disney’s private island? Your priorities, schedule, and budget will eliminate a lot of cruises from the possibilities for sure. If you still are having trouble deciding, I would pick the most unique one. For example we cruised from Barcelona to Rome on an itinerary that only ran once, and that did not happen exactly with same ports last year! As it turned out, being early in the season was great for weather, the price was lower, and it all worked out.
More things to consider and research:
Which ship do you want to take? Each ship runs in a similar way – there are two seatings for dinner, you rotate to all the restaurants, there will be shows, characters, etc… but each ship has unique details as well. For example, some of the restaurants are different/unique themes and menus. They do not all have the same shows, some are smaller than others. If there is a specific show or restaurant you’re dying to try – you’ll need to book that ship. We did not have a choice (the Magic is the ship that sails Europe), but we were lucky enough that it has a newly remodeled restaurant: Rapunzel’s Royal Table! As Rapunzel fans, this was a huge perk for us.
Is this the vacation, or part of the vacation? Both cruise experiences we’ve had, the cruise was one portion of the trip. Our first cruise to Castaway Cay and back was a 3 night cruise we did prior to our Disney World vacation. This Mediterranean cruise was the second half of our European adventure. In both of our cruises it made sense to combine and maximize vacation time as we had to fly quite a distance to get to the cruise in the first place!
What kind of room should I get? I will write up an entire post about this, but bottom line is that it depends on your budget and preferences. An inside stateroom can be quite a bit less than a veranda room, but if you enjoy your own private outdoor space and ability to enjoy things without company of others – it can be worth every penny. We loved watching fireworks from our room, seeing the coastline float pass, heck on our sea day we even sat out there watching the dolphins play! If these kinds of ‘perks’ to having your own private outdoor space don’t appeal, an inside stateroom is all you need!
Which deck is best? The Disney Cruise Line agent I spoke to on our first cruise recommended 1/2 way between the mid and aft stairs, on a deck that has nothing but staterooms below and above for a quiet, smooth smooth experience. We have done this both cruises and it was absolutely great! Very quiet, not a lot of hall traffic, and very convenient to both Cabanas buffet/the drink station as well as the restaurant locations, pools, etc. Just a few flights up or down for just about everything.
Which dinner seating? Do not listen to anyone who says one is better or worse – they’re both great! Pick the seating that best matches your own eating preference. We do not ever eat late if we can help it, so the earlier seating is what we do. This is usually around 5:30-6pm depending on your exact cruise. The later seating (around 8pm) would work well for you if you’re night owls, or if you simply prefer to eat late. Consider your cruising party, your regular routines at home, and what makes more sense.
Do they do formal nights? What is dress code? Big selling point for us: there are no mandatory formal nights or anything – you can come in shorts and a Tshirt each day if you so desire. We tended to wear dresses (girls) or pants and a collared shirt (the mr) – but you don’t HAVE to dress up which was nice.
Should I do one of the special themed cruises? Around and Halloween there are holiday celebrations that are a bit extra special, and there are also other special features for example “Marvel day at sea” where there are character meets and events beyond the normal. I believe if one of these extras happens to be on a cruise you already want to go on, or if the timing works out well that is great! But I do think a “plain” Disney cruise is just as magic!
What else should I know? Here’s the best part – if you just pick what room, dining time, and what cruise – you can do the rest on board! No, I don’t recommend necessarily letting the planning go quite that much. But the point is you can even add excursions and extras once on board and Disney will do the rest. They’ve got a great onboard app, daily schedules, and more to keep you having fun and on a stress free vacation.
This is just the beginning! I learned so much from our recent Disney cruise and I can not wait to share more with you – so stay tuned.
If you search travel or Disney blogs, you’ll get hundreds, thousands… well – a LOT of results! So how do you know which ones to follow and/or how to utilize the information to benefit your travel needs? In this article I will explain how we use the information as well as what I look for in blogs/social media accounts I follow. I follow the Disney Parks Blog and Disney accounts on social media – so I do already get any/all “official” announcements made. That is my starting point…
#1: What is the information shared?
The first thing I look at is what information the person (or group) is sharing. Are they simply reposting press releases/info that is widely available? If so, I already get this! In addition to not following accounts that simply repost official statements, I do not follow accounts that are rumor happy. It can be confusing enough keeping up with facts and regulations when traveling, I don’t need to add rumors and maybes into the mix. I am looking for facts, personal experience, great photos or videos, and advice that helps me plan my trips.
#2: What is the tone/outlook shared?
I like a blogger that is positive and whose approach to travel is similar or at least compatible with mine. I’m looking for someone who can share helpful information in a (usually) positive way that will add to my planning or trip experience. I do not enjoy blog where there is a condescending tone, or those who travel so often that they forget what it’s like for us regular folks who don’t vacation monthly.
#3: How up to date are they?
I admit – I’m still balancing out the scheduling and content on this blog! But really, how up to date is the content, information, and relevant details shared? I do not want to read about how to get tickets for an event and find out the information is five years ago – that the new procedures are quite different. For this criteria I try to read through a few posts and find fact(s) that I know for myself and compare to what is written.
#4: Do I enjoy what they write?
This really is the bottom line! I need to enjoy the tone, frequency, and overall content of the blog or social media account.
How do I use the information shared?
To each their own – but I use travel and Disney blog information a few ways:
Eliminate places/activities: Positive or negative review – often it will tell me enough about a place or activity to make a choice if it matches up with what will be good for us. Just because someone says it is “a must” doesn’t mean it is for me! I look for details to see what can be eliminated, or what would add something to my ‘must’ list for the family.
Tips and tricks: This is the big one. Everything from maximizing my time to packing tips to best times to book things… well I am all about the tips and tricks! I’ve learned so much from the fact that yes, you should log right on and book when your window opens (especially Disney!) to how to minimize waiting in lines – this is definitely what I get the most from reading up! In fact, I was warned about a “time share area” you pass through in the Puerto Vallarta airport and how it would seem official and as though you had to stop after customs, but don’t. These little tips that I learn add up to making a big difference in my vacation!
Day/Trip planning: I love reading day plans and trip reports as they help me figure out what is/isn’t realistic about my own plans!
Forever the foodie: We are a food loving family. So reading about good food, and the why not just “good” “not good” – is always a plus. We love knowing where the great places are to eat, and why people recommend them.
Overall, we don’t put all our trust into any one source of information but rather gather information based on our current trip planning needs. I like instagram for keeping up with a lot of bloggers/social media users who post regularly as it doesn’t take much time and gives me a glimpse of things going on places I may or may not be visiting any time soon. Our hope here at Adventureland Girls is to bring you our own experiences combined with what worked or didn’t, and the why behind it!