Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Just About to Head Out

Tomorrow is the big day.  We officially start our vacation tomorrow.  When we were looking at airfare for this trip we researched our options.  Fly out of Vancouver (way too expensive for an international flight) or fly out of Seattle (much cheaper).  Bellingham is an option too but the price was very similar to Seattle and would of entailed an extra flight and a lot longer travel time.

First we booked this trip with Best Price Cruises www.bestpricecruises.com/ quite a while ago at got if for $800 for an inside cabin (later upgraded to a Central Park balcony for $20 more each).  Now this price is a lot higher than any price we have ever paid for a Caribbean Cruise per diem.  But it is Oasis and it does seem to warrant a higher price, and they are filling the ship.  I will also note that this was one of the cheapest prices we had seen for any sailing on this ship all year.  Best Price also gave us a $60 on board credit, something that if we booked directly with RCI we would not of gotten.

Back to the airfare.  We always use Kayak.com to search for flights.  And the best price came thru flying Frontier Airlines (have never flown them) going thru Denver, and returning with United via Houston.  Total cost for two was $618, not a bad price considering we return just when the holiday travel gets going.  Downside was we had to fly a later flight that doesn't get into Fort Lauderdale till just before midnight (time change doesn't help - 3 hours forward).

We looked for a deal to park our car in Seattle.  Normally the place we always book it was our first option.  They have a great monthly rate that we always take advantage of but this trip was only going to need 11 days parking at the rate to park at this place was $118!  Wow only $40 more for the monthly rate.  We started brainstorming ideas and options. 

We started looking at hotels that packaged parking.  I booked the Marriott Towne Place Suites.  They had a deal of a nights accommodation and 14 nights parking for a price $149.  So for $31 more we get parking and a nights accommodation.  Easy decision we went with this option.  We will have a nice evening, wake up and enjoy their complimentary breakfast and then catch the complimentary shuttle to the airport.

After we land in Fort Lauderdale we will head to one of our favorite hotels.  The Renaissance Fort Lauderdale on 17th Street right across from the entrance to Port Everglades.  www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/fllbr-renaissance-fort-lauderdale-hotel/

We booked this hotel thru Hotwire.com   It was the first time I had used Hotwire, normally we use Priceline and we really tried to secure a room with Priceline, bidding 4 Star in this downtown area (knowing that the Renaissance was the only hotel in that category).  We bid and bid and went up as high as $130 and the bid was never accepted.  Finally I did some research on Hotwire and saw that I could get a four star in downtown Fort Lauderdale (all my reserach showed they were describing the Renaissance) for $99.   So I booked it for two nights for $99 each night.  Heck if they would of accepted my Priceline offer they would of got more money out of me.  Oh well their loss.  We also booked same hotel for one night post cruise too for the same price.

We will be taking a taxi to the hotel from the airport... price will be about $17 plus tip so for around $20 total, beats taking cruiseline shuttles, or booking cruiseline hotel pacakges that charge per person what I paid.

We love this location for a hotel.  Starbucks is close by, we can also walk to the Publix, Wallgreens, Total Wine, our favorite Dinner for breakfast, and our favorite Mexican Carlos and Peppes. 

As I said we get in very late Thursday so I called the hotel to inform them of late arrival (although room is confirmed and allready paid for so they can't give it away) I just wanted to confirm with them and also to request a quiet room that does not have a connecting door to another room.  One of my pet peeves listening to neighbours as if I am sitting right on the bed beside them, and them of course hearing us too.

Friends will be flying in on Friday to also sail (but different ship) and we have arranged to meet up with them and go for dinner that night.  We will be going to Carlos & Pepe's for Mexican www.carlosandpepesfl.com

Now for the cruise, as you know allready we are sailing on Royal Caribbean for the first time.  We have been informed that even though we can board around noon we can not access our cabins until 1 pm.  So we are not in any rush to get on board and will wait until around 1 pm to arrive at the pier.

Yesterday I did something I haven't done in years.  I pre ordered something as a gift for Bernie.  I love the idea of doing this, but since Princess' onboard gifts are so limited and they don't make it easy to order as you still have to print out form and fax it or call the 1-800 number I have never done it in the 33 cruises with Princess.  But with RCI you can surf their page for an abundance of gifts including flowers, clothes, beverages, food, decorations, you name it.  I especially liked all the romance items and at reasonable prices too.

So I ended up getting the Romance Package that is $100 -  this is what it entails

Classic Romance Package                                             $100.00 CAD
Item 1061
This package includes a bottle of chilled Domaine Chandon Champagne and Royal Caribbean delicious vanilla cupcakes upon arrival; a tray of elegant canap├ęs before dinner, and delicious petit fours after dinner on the first formal evening; breakfast in bed one morning during the cruise; and a silver-framed, 8" x 10" keepsake portrait.
I hope he likes it, he really is doing this trip because I wanted to do it.  He really is not one to go outside the box when he is comfortable in the box.  He also hated the idea of flying so far for a short week's vacation.  When it takes a whole day to go and come back it does eat up a lot of vacation time.  So I wanted to thank him for agreeing and that I appreciate him.

Tonight we are gathering last minute items, really trying to scale back cause it is a shorter vacation and I have to keep reminding myself -- really Vickie you are not going to wear, use, or want this -- we are forcing ourselves to only bring a smaller suitcase each. 

Tomorrow we will head out to drive down to Seattle stopping at some of the shops looking for some deals.  With hopes of getting to the hotel around 4ish.

As I mentioned on my facebook fan page "Cruising Princess Cruiseline with Vickie"  I won't have the free internet package that I normally get with Princess so I won't be doing a live thread but will be taking notes and when I return home I will post a day by day account of our trip and what we did and where we went and what we thought.

But right now I am excited to try something different, feels odd to be going on a ship I have no experience with or the line.  But I have a very open mind and make lemonade out of the most bitter lemons if that is what I am given, but I am sure this lemonade will be sweet.


  1. You are a busy woman. Since we live in the eastern side of WA - Tri-Cities we will fly out of Pasco. we usually fly out of Seattle and stay the night at the Radisson across from the airport. They also have free parking for short stays and charge a minimum for over 7 days. Have a great trip and look forward to meeting you.

  2. We too, were very excited to try a different cruise line, although we love Princess. On our 1st day, I told my hubby that RCI had their work cut out for them, as I am a "Princess Snob"....lol. RCI did beautifully and we were so impressed that we purchasred 3 future cruise credits with RCI. We were on the smaller RCI Mariner of the Seas.....we lived the ship, food and service. Now we have 2 cruise lines to choose from when looking at prices and itineraries :). Debbie Cassell

  3. *oops! lived the ship = loved the ship.

  4. I'm enjoying your blog. So far it's about what I expected. I did think the entertainment would be good and looking forward to hearing about the other entertainment venues. We enjoyed the Grandeur of the Seas and the Brilliance of the Seas a number of years ago, but not sure I would enjoy the larger ships like Oasis or Allure...