All good trips deserve a trip report, and our 2022 Disney Cruise is no exception. Of course, each trip has to start somewhere, because you don’t just magically walk out of your house and step on a cruise ship. If you do, I want to trade places! So while this part of the report does not have any cruising, it lets you know how we got there…
Way back in March of 2019, we booked a Disney Cruise for June 2020. It was meant to be a church group cruise. The final group was the three of us Burnses (Steve, Laura, and Jaylin), my parents (Jim and Phyllis, or Dad and Mom), and the Luttrell family (John, Jennifer, Kaitlyn, and Kyle). It was to be a 5-night cruise on the Disney Fantasy, sailing out of Port Canaveral, Florida. If you noticed the date, you probably already know that the cruise was canceled due to COVID-19. The good news was that we got a 125% rebooking credit for a future cruise. So as soon as that cruise was officially canceled, we booked a 6-night cruise on the Fantasy for June 2021. However, cruise lines still were not allowed to sail at that point. Another cancellation, another rebooking. This time around, we booked a 7-night cruise for June 2022, once again on the Fantasy. The third time was the charm! So we went from 5 nights to 7 nights, all for only slightly more than what we had paid for the original cruise. And we would be going to some places that we had not been to before, too. Pretty cool!
As the time for the cruise started to get closer, it looked more and more like we would be able to sail in 2022. We were cautiously optimistic. Whenever there was a rise in new COVID cases, we were all hopeful that cruising would not be shut down again. And then as the time to cruise got really close, we all hoped we would be able to pass the mandatory COVID test to be able to board.
Finally, the time arrived! But first, we had to get there.
Friday, June 3, 2022
We got up as early as we could so that we could feed the horses and then be on our way. We had packed our suitcases as much as possible ahead of time to save time on our departure day. Packing for this cruise was a little different from our previous 4-night Disney Cruises. In addition to the extra days from before, this cruise also had a formal night and a semi-formal night, so we had to plan for those. Somehow, I think my suitcase ended up being the heaviest, although I did get all of my clothes into one suitcase and a backpack. Laura and Jaylin each had two bags, and I also had my camera bag. But we were able to get all of it into the car pretty easily. We got in the car and left home soon after 8:00 AM.
When we had driven about 15 minutes, I realized that I did not get my COVID vaccination card. As it turns out, Jaylin did not have his, either. That’s what I get for using an old packing list and not adding the new things of our modern era to it. So we turned around and went back home, just in case we needed those cards. Spoiler alert: we did not need them. But I would rather have gone back and gotten them than arrive there and not have them if needed.
So we left home the second time, and everything went more smoothly that time. My parents and the Luttrells had all left the day before, so we knew they would get there ahead of us. Not that it was a race, of course. But I wanted to make sure that we got there in plenty of time and did not miss the boat.
Oh yes, and there was one more factor: a tropical depression. It was forecast to arrive in Central Florida, perhaps even as a tropical storm, right when we were supposed to be boarding the ship. How would that affect our plans? That kept all of us guessing.
We stopped to fill up the car with gas (and let’s not even discuss the ridiculously high gas prices for this trip), and there was a Subway at the gas station. So we decided to combine stops and eat an early lunch. One of the COVID changes of the past couple of years was to more or less force us to eat in the car on trips, from back in the early days when you could not eat in a restaurant. It turned out to be a big time saver, so we have continued it, even though most dining rooms are open now.
We did not run into too much traffic during our drive, and the weather was not too bad, either. That tropical depression was way on down in the Gulf of Mexico, although it did contribute some clouds to the sky.
For supper, we stopped at Arby’s, another in-car favorite. After several trips to Kansas for Jaylin’s first year of college, we have a pretty good in-car meal routine figured out. We reached Tallahassee around 6:00 PM, which is earlier than we have ever been there before. Eating in the car saves us a good bit of time, apparently.
I started researching hotel options as we went along. I was hoping we could get to Ocala, Florida, so that we would not have that far to go the next day in case there was heavy rain. After checking out a few options, I found a Holiday Inn Express on Highway 27, a few miles from the interstate. But it was only $111 plus tax for the AAA rate, and breakfast was included. I was hoping they would have the pancake machine that we had found in other Holiday Inn Express locations.
We arrived at the hotel at around 10:30 PM local time, which was actually somewhat early for us. All of that eating in the car was still paying dividends. We probably could have driven another hour or so, but this would be fine for us, and it would still give us plenty of time to go the rest of the way the next day. So it was all good.
We had talked about leaving our main bags in the car for the night. But each of us thought of something that we needed out of our bags, so we ended up taking everything up to the room for the night. That was probably safer, anyway. Stow it, don’t show it, as they say.
One last check of the weather showed that the forecast had not changed all that much. But maybe it would not be all that bad. So we drifted off to sleep to the hum of the hotel room air conditioner, dreaming of exciting things that hopefully were ahead.
Check back soon for more from our 2022 Disney Cruise!