It's a Great Big Beautiful World! Let's Discover it Together

Showing posts with label United States. Show all posts
Showing posts with label United States. Show all posts

Thursday, May 13, 2021



FINALLY! The CDC has just announced that IF YOU ARE VACCINATED you can TAKE OFF YOUR MASK, both INSIDE and OUTSIDE. No more social distancing, for any size crowd! Oh, Happy Day! They have finally caught up with the science!

Thursday, April 29, 2021

BIG NEWS for Land Lovers & Cruise Lovers Alike!


This week has brought some wonderful news for the travel industry and economies the world over, to be sure.  In this pair of exciting articles, we find that Europe is set to reopen to vaccinated Americans this summer, AND the CDC has now said that cruising could most likely resume from US ports this July.  Both of these are wonderful and long overdue announcements!  Stay tuned for more as the news gets shared. I'm so excited to see travel ramping up as more and more countries begin to reopen or announce their pending reopenings. And it's been exciting to watch the cruise lines find ways to resume cruising worldwide, but even better to see that the US is finally coming around to allowing it from our ports as well. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Summer Getaway Idea - Grand Hotel

 Discover the USA Suggestion... GRAND HOTEL & MACKINAC ISLAND

If you have never experienced the wonder of setting off from the mainland of Michigan and seeing the expansive front porch of Grand Hotel 7 miles away in the distance... or stepping back in time to an island that doesn't allow cars... or enjoying the picturesque beauty of Lake Huron surrounding the island, with the sweeping Mackinac Bridge in the distance then perhaps this is your year to do so!!
Dating back to 1887 as a summer getaway for the railroad barons of the 19th century, this legendary diamond has dusted herself off with a recent $10M refresh and pool renovation and is waiting for you. Grand Hotel opens for the season on May 7th which runs until November 7th, and the island would love to make your acquaintance! I'd love to help you plan an amazing getaway to this charming island retreat. Give me a call at 317.776.1733, or send an email to, or submit a request through my website!

Friday, April 9, 2021

Go Active Itinerary Suggestion:  SAN JUAN ISLANDS, WASHINGTON

Suggested Itinerary - Multi-Adventure Vacation

Welcome to the San Juan Islands, where the summer sun shines, the sea glistens and the pace of life slows. Find your rhythm biking along quiet country roads, spend time kayaking in peaceful inlets and connect to nature hiking amid old-growth forests. A hidden gem of the Pacific Northwest, this natural playground is perfect for an active outdoor adventure. 


  • Behold postcard-perfect Pacific Northwest scenery as you ferry from island to island with the locals
  • Bike through majestic fir and cedar forests, explore driftwood beaches, and savor the day’s fresh catch
  • Sail on a wildlife cruise and keep your eyes peeled for the chance to spot whales from the open water
  • Admire views of emerald islands, Mount Baker, and Canada’s coastal peaks from atop Mount Constitution 


There are 13 possible itinerary departures from mid-June to late September 2021. These 6 days, 5-night adventures are truly special!

Intrigued? Ask me! Know someone who might love this type of adventure? Share it with them!  I love helping people get out & explore with land-based vacations & active adventures of all kinds. Don't let the agency name fool you...we are SO MUCH MORE than just cruises!  I am a Backroads Certified Specialist, and would love to help you find the right active adventure for you!  
#travel #adventure #tourism #vacation #exploremore #discovertheusa #supportsmallbusinesses #travelagent #theinternetisforlookingbuttravelagentsareforbooking #bicycletouring #bicycling #biketours #backroadscertifiedspecialist

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Destination Universal Orlando!

Home of some amazing attractions, experiences, and themed adventures, Universal Orlando is a fabulous vacation option. Check out the attached video to see how they're doing things in the current environment as the covid pandemic hits the one-year mark.

There's so much to see and enjoy while maintaining the social distancing stuff too. I love helping guests discover the worlds of Harry Potter and so much more at Universal Orlando! 
Want to talk about booking your family's Universal vacation? Call, email, or message today!  

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Destination Florida! Summer Vacation Plans Await

Itching to travel but not yet ready to go too far? Want to have some beach & fun? Then be sure to visit the state where the sun always shines: Florida! You’ll never run out of activities and adventures in this tropical paradise. From the beautiful beaches to the amazing theme parks; the awesome natural wonders to the cultural and culinary delights; from the links to the clubs...Florida has something for everyone year-round!

Whether you're thinking of staying in a lush tropical resort, beach condo, a cute bungalow somewhere near the water, or at one of the many incredible vacation homes available to rent, I can help!

Or perhaps you want more thrills and fun at Universal Orlando or Walt Disney World...I can help with that too. Don't let the agency name fool you...we are SO MUCH MORE than simply cruises.


I love helping people find amazing adventures and experiences to create memories for a lifetime through land vacations, as well as cruises. Want to know more? Just ask!  

Monday, March 8, 2021

Go Active Itinerary Suggestion:  CALIFORNIA WINE COUNTRY


ITINERARY SUGGESTION:  CALIFORNIA WINE COUNTRY: Napa & Sonoma Vineyards, Redwoods & Pacific Coast

Legendary vineyards. Soaring redwood forests. And the dramatic Pacific coast. This is Northern California. And for you, it's a fantastic week and an incredible journey. Wine tastings and gourmet meals enlighten your palate. Stunning scenery invigorates. And top-notch spas relax and rejuvenate... all in one remarkable place simply known as the Wine Country.

There are 24 possible itinerary departures from April to November 2021. These 6 days, 5-night adventures are truly special!
Intrigued? Ask me! Know someone who might love this type of adventure? Share it with them!  I love helping people get out & explore with land-based vacations & active adventures of all kinds. Don't let the agency name fool you...we are SO MUCH MORE than just cruises!
Learn more about other biking and active adventures on our dedicated page! 
#travel #adventure #tourism #vacation #exploremore #discovertheusa #supportsmallbusinesses #travelagent #theinternetisforlookingbuttravelagentsareforbooking #bicycletouring #bicycling #biketours

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Did You Know We Can Book That For You?  HAWAII LAND-BASED ADVENTURES


Home to the world’s most active volcanoes, the only royal palace in the U.S., and the welcoming aloha spirit - Hawaii is like no place on Earth! Discover the glimmering ocean, emerald valleys, and golden sands; get lost in the spiritual beauty of the hula and find out how the warmth of Hawaii’s people wonderfully complements the islands’ perfect temperatures. We invite you to explore the Islands of Aloha to find your own heavenly Hawaii experiences. Aloha.


There are six major islands to visit in Hawaii: Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and the island of Hawaii! Each island has its own distinct personality, adventures, activities, and sights. We invite you to explore the Islands of Aloha to find your own heavenly Hawaii experiences.
Whether for your first visit, or one of numerous returns, as a Hawaii Destination Expert, I'd be thrilled to help you discover the wonderful island life that is Hawaii. The islands are open for visitors, though the covid restrictions differ by island, so when you trust me to plan your Hawaiian getaway, I'll be sure to let you know the important details you'll need to enjoy your experience!
Intrigued? Ask me! Know someone who might be interested? I love helping people get out & explore with land-based vacations and Hawaii is one of my favorite destinations to send guests to discover!  For more about Hawaii, visit my dedicated Hawaii page on the website. 
#travel #adventure #tourism #vacation #exploremore #supportsmallbusinesses #travelagent #theinternetisforlookingbuttravelagentsareforbooking #getbacktonature #beachgetaway #beachvacation #hawaii

Friday, March 5, 2021



The Tetons. Majestic peaks above, meadows, and glacial lakes below. And the Snake River winding through the valley. Yellowstone is one of a kind. Geysers really do erupt hourly. Sulfur-scented hot springs glimmer like jewels. Bison and elk are as common as tourists. As you hike, bike, kayak, raft and explore these epic regions, your experience will be just as spectacular.
• Paddle through the twisting rapids of the Snake River with a professional white-water guide
• Bike a spectacular route beneath the jagged peaks of the Teton Range, one of the most beautiful car-free paths in the west
• Hike in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, a geologic wonderland and home of the park's biggest waterfall
• Experience thrilling sightings of wonderful wildlife in the air, on the water, and across the land—have your camera ready!
• Activity Level: 1-4
• 6 Days, 5 Nights | Starting at $4,099 pp double occupancy
• There are 16 available Trip dates for this tour in 2021 between June and mid-September.


• Your Choice: Performance Road Bike, Touring Bike, Electric-Assist Bike, Carbon Bike, or Tandem Bike
• All breakfasts, 5 lunches, & 4 dinners
• Expertise & services of experienced Trip Leaders
• Snacks & beverages between meals
• Additional guides & experts from the region
• Van shuttles to support a variety of route options
• All gratuities at hotels & restaurants
• On biking & multi-adventure trips, use of fully equipped titanium bike plus helmet & accessories
• Trailercycles, carriers, & kid-sized helmets for Family Trips
• Equipment & experienced guides for rafting as described
• Park & other entry fees
• Fares for trains, ferries, & other modes of travel
• Select coach transfers
• Baggage transfers & porterage
Intrigued? Ask me! Know someone who might love this type of adventure? Share it, please! I love helping people get out & explore with land-based vacations & adventures of all kinds. Don't let the agency name fool you...we are SO MUCH MORE than just cruises!

#travel #adventure #tourism #vacation #exploremore #discovertheusa #supportsmallbusinesses #travelagent #theinternetisforlookingbuttravelagentsareforbooking #kayaking #bicycletouring #bicycling #hikingadventures #rafting #raft

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Time for a Land Vacation?

After a year of covid, if you're ready to get out and explore once again, I'm ready to help you plan your next adventure. Now booking, land trips all across the USA (including theme parks, cabins, beach vacations & condos, Alaska, Hawaii, & much more), along with cruises for when they start sailing again. Caribbean & Mexico getaways and all-inclusive resorts too!

PLUS! We have a number of exciting curated shared group travel itineraries that you could join including US National Parks, Colorado Rockies, America's Music Cities, New York City Holidays, and others.

Don't delay, reach out today by email, phone, or through the website.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Did You Know We Can Book That?  MOUNTAIN CABINS & RENTALS

How about a nice, somewhat remote, woodsy getaway this year? How does a cabin, condo, lodge, mountain home, chalet, bungalow, or luxury villa sound? Whether for just yourself or the whole clan, we can help reserve your woodsy lodging from coast to coast. From traditional inns and hotels to 1, 2, 3 Bedrooms, and more, we've got you covered. PLUS RV rentals in Alaska, too! You might only think of me as a cruise guy because of the name of the agency, but we are SO MUCH MORE THAN JUST CRUISES.
Here's just a sampling of where we can find a vacation rental for you:
Gatlinburg | Mammoth Lakes | Sun Valley | Aspen | Adirondacks | Park City | Lake Tahoe | Branson | Petoskey | Whitefish and many more

Intrigued? Ask me! I love helping people get out & explore with land-based vacations and vacation rentals!  You can learn more about what we can do and request a quote on our dedicated Mountain Cabins & Rentals page.
#travel #adventure #tourism #vacation #exploremore #supportsmallbusinesses #travelagent #theinternetisforlookingbuttravelagentsareforbooking #getbacktonature #woodsygetaway #cabininthewoods #mountains #mountainvacation

Friday, October 2, 2020

Alaska. A Veritable Delight!

While not my first visit there, I got to visit our 49th state in my 49th year and it was quite an amazing adventure! If you have never experienced really should consider it! It's a veritable delight in any season...spring, summer, fall, and yes, even winter! I was there right before all of the 2020 stay-at-home orders began, and LOVED IT! There's so much to see and experience! If you are considering an Alaskan trek of your own - whether by land or cruise ship - or both - be sure to mark your calendars for October 21 at 5pm ET and join us for an amazing virtual experience to get your planning juices flowing so you too can discover the last great frontier. This presentation...ALASKA: Discover the Last Frontier...will take you on a virtual adventure through the wilds of Alaska. Learn about the best places to catch sight of a whale breaching, how you can walk on top of a glacier and where to catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis. And that's just a taste of all the amazing experiences Alaska offers. Alaska is one of my top-selling destinations, and I would love to help you make your Alaskan dreams come true in 2021 or 2022. With so much pent-up demand to travel following this 2020 pandemic mess, 2021 is nearly sold out, so don't delay...if you want to make your Alaskan bucket list dream come true next year, let's start the conversation with this virtual presentation.
REGISTER BELOW and tune in on October 21 at 5pm ET to learn more about Alaska vacations.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Such Amazing Beauty When You Come to Anchorage in Winter

Not my pictures since I flew overnight, but these are from one of my FAM colleagues who arrived in Anchorage this morning. Such amazing beauty when you come to Anchorage in winter. And the Iditarod is a great reason to come in winter!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Dining at the Carthay Circle Restaurant

Recently I dined for the very first time at the Carthay Circle Restaurant inside Disney California Adventure at the Disneyland® Resort.  I was there for an Earmarked Agent Education Program, and they treated us to a wonderful meal before heading over to the Paradise Pier area for our viewing of World of Color.  Our menu was pre-selected for us with appetizer, salad, entree, and dessert, though we could choose between three different entrees.  

Here's what I enjoyed: 

  • Signature Fried Biscuits stuffed with white cheddar, bacon, jalapeno, and apricot honey.
  • Carthay Circle Salad with heirloom apples, roasted walnuts, winter greens, bacon, dates, and creamy citrus vinaigrette.
  • Choice of entree: I went with the Angus beef Delmonico, with chipotle sweet potatoes, bacon, and onion ketchup.
  • Chocolate Cookies n Cream Cake with winter orange chantilly (but I was too full to partake of that - a couple of bites only. Good but heavy).

Dinner at the Carthay Circle was so very good and so very filling. It was a nice touch for our hosts to enjoy a delicious meal. It's definitely not what most people think of when they think of eating inside theme parks!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

An Alaskan Cruise. Is Alaska on Your Bucket List?


When it comes to cruises, an Alaskan cruise is in a league of its own and provides an experience of a lifetime. The voyage itself is certainly different from a typical cruise headed to the warm and sunny beach destinations of the Caribbean.  An Alaskan cruise brings forth another type of awe-inspiring beauty altogether. and provides passengers the opportunity to see pristine landscapes and wildlife in a way that they might never have experienced before. A Bucket List destination for many, Alaska is a top cruise destination. 

Here are just a few reasons why an Alaskan Cruise should be at the top of your travel list.

Cruise Lines Cater to All Ages

Once upon a time, it seemed that the vast majority of passengers on Alaskan cruises were elderly. However that has changed, and most major cruise lines, which cater to all ages, now travel to Alaska.  Disney Cruise Line, known for being family-oriented, cruises to this destination on the Disney Wonder, which has been specially retrofitted to enhance the Alaskan experience for her guests. Oceangoing cruise lines that serve the Alaska market include Princess CruisesHolland America LineRegent Seven Seas CruisesRoyal Caribbean InternationalNorwegian Cruise LinesCarnival Cruise LineCelebrity Cruise LineOceania CruisesSilversea, and Crystal Cruises. Additionally, smaller river cruise ships that serve the Alaska market include American Cruise LinesTauck, and UnCruise Adventures

Port Adventures

Regardless of age, there's something for everyone at the assorted port destinations. Examples include: children can pan for gold and watch dog sledding, adults can sample local brews and visit spectacular fjords and glaciers, and people of all ages can enjoy whale watching. For the more adventurous types, white water rafting, ziplining, or exploring glacier tops via helicopter ride can be great fun. Other more passive adventures include rides on the Alaskan railroad, shopping, and mild nature walks.  

See Glaciers

While glaciers are the most sought-after tourist attraction in Alaska, they are also endangered and are decreasing at an alarming rate. See them from the cruise ship, get closer to them via kayak, take a hiking tour, or see them from a flightseeing tour. You don't want to miss seeing this magnificent sight!

The Wildlife

Alaska is known for magnificent wildlife, which you may first glimpse from the deck of your ship. Just imagine seeing humpback whales, orca whales, beluga whales, and dolphins, as you enjoy a meal or relax. You will also have the opportunity to take port excursions, enabling you to get close to native wildlife, which may include bears, elk, bald eagles, moose, and much more. It is a bird-lovers paradise, with hundreds of different varieties just waiting to be spotted. Be sure to bring along binoculars! 


Cruise Season

The Alaskan cruise season is much shorter than in other areas of the world. The cruise ships first arrive in mid to late April, and all depart by mid-September.  

Itinerary Options

There are numerous itinerary options and ways to experience Alaska, which allows you to find the best fit for you. There are four basic ways to cruise Alaska:

  1. Round-trip, sailing from either Vancouver, Seattle, and sometimes San Francisco, which will head north, typically through the Inside Passage, stopping in a handful of ports, and then return back to the originating port. 
  2. Northbound one-way, which sails from Vancouver or Seattle heading north, again typically through the Inside Passage with multiple stops along the way, and then ending in the Anchorage area to either Whittier or Seward.  Guests then disembark the ship and board the Alaskan railroad for the 2+ hour train trip to Anchorage, where they would then fly home. 
  3. Southbound one-way, which is the opposite of the northbound, as guests would fly into Anchorage, and then ride the Alaskan railroad south to Seward or Whittier to board their ship. The ship would then sail through the assorted ports of call, down through the Inside Passage, and then on to Vancouver or Seattle, where guests would disembark and fly home.
  4. CruiseTour, which is a combination of a pre or post-cruise land experience coupled with the cruise itself.  Guests can choose between 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or even 7-day land experiences that include visits to Denali National Park and other exciting destinations throughout southern and central Alaska or Vancouver.  Typically a pre-cruise tour will find guests flying into Fairbanks and beginning their land experiences and ending in Anchorage for the journey south on the Alaskan railroad to board their ship for a southbound cruise; though there are land experiences that begin in the Vancouver area with guests touring Whistler and the surrounding areas of Canada. Post-cruise tours are similar, just taking place after the cruise.   

On Sale soon

The 2017 Alaskan itineraries are going to be released by the cruise lines very soon. Typically they release their coming year's schedule in late February or very early March, though Celebrity's 2017 sailings are already on sale. For more information and to learn more about Alaskan cruises, call Christopher today at 855.776.1733, or complete this link!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Featured Foto Friday - Aulani Recreation

Recreational activities abound at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii. Lounge chairs and kayaks in the morning hours await guests to come and enjoy them on the resort's shared lagoon at Ko Olina.  Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, guests have the opportunity to kayak out into open waters and enjoy!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Featured Foto Friday - You WILL Get Wet

Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls in the Toon Lagoon area of Islands of Adventure, at Universal Orlando Resort is one of my favorite log flume attractions ever, simply because this attraction was truly designed to get you wet.  And in the Florida heat, that can be such a welcome refreshment.  I first rode it in 2007, and loved it then, and love it now.  Being a Rocky & Bullwinkle Show fan helped a bit, to be able to understand the various thematic elements, sight gags and overall inherent humor of the attraction - but that is by no means necessary to be able to enjoy it.  All in all, this water adventure is just good clean fun! 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tips on Thursday - Passport Information


Passports are required for all travelers, including citizens of the U.S. and Canada, who enter or re-enter the U.S. by air, land or sea.  

There are a few notable exceptions pertaining to land and sea border crossings: 
  • U.S. citizens on cruises that begin and end in the same U.S. port and travel to destinations in Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, the Bahamas or Bermuda are able to re-enter the U.S. with proof of citizenship other than a passport or passport card. Acceptable proof of citizenship includes a U.S. state-issued original or certified copy of their birth certificate (hospital certificates are not acceptable) or a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or a Certificate of Naturalization and a government-issued photo ID (such as a driver's license). Passports are required for cruises that begin in one U.S. port and end in another.
  • Children under the age of 16 who are citizens of the U.S. or Canada are exempt from the passport requirement for land and sea border crossings. In lieu of a passport, children are able to use a U.S. state-issued original or certified copy of their birth certificate (hospital certificates are not acceptable) or a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or a Certificate of Naturalization as proof of citizenship for entry into the U.S. by land or by sea. Children entering or re-entering the U.S. by air are required to have a valid passport.
  • A new, lower-cost alternative to the passport, called a passport card, is acceptable for entries into the U.S. by land or sea. The passport card is not acceptable for air travel.
  • The following cruise lines require a passport for all sailings, regardless of destination or port of departure: Azamara Club Cruises, Crystal, Cunard, Fred. Olsen, Hurtigruten, Oceania, Orion Expedition Cruises, P&O, Paul Gauguin, Regent, Seabourn, Silversea, Star Clippers, Swan Hellenic, Voyages of Discovery and Windstar.
  • Photocopies of required documentation are not acceptable in any circumstance.
  • Even though passports are not required at this time for U.S. citizens who sail on cruises to the above destinations that begin and end in the same U.S. port, we strongly recommend that all cruise passengers travel with a valid passport anyway. This is because guests who need to fly to or from the U.S. unexpectedly during their cruise will likely experience significant delays and complications related to booking airline tickets and entering the U.S. if they do not have a valid passport with them. For example, a passenger missing a cruise departure due to a late inbound flight to Miami would need a passport to fly to meet the ship at the next port. Similarly, guests needing to fly to or through the U.S. before their cruise ends because of medical, family, personal or business emergencies, missing a ship's departure from a port of call, or a mechanical problem of some sort with the ship, would need a passport. Of course, situations like these are rare, but they can happen.

Passports are not required for U.S. citizens traveling to or returning directly from Hawaii or a U.S. territory, including Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Swains Island, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Passports are required for cruise travel to all International destinations not mentioned above, and for cruises that involve air travel that begins or ends outside of the U.S. Passports must be valid for at least six months after the last day of travel.

For information about obtaining a passport for the first time, or about renewing a passport,  visit the U.S. Department ofState's website

Legal U.S. Residents (Non-Citizens)

Legal permanent residents of the U.S. must have a valid passport from their country of citizenship and a valid Alien Registration Card (Green Card) to enter or re-enter the U.S.

Non-U.S., Non-Canada Citizens

The following countries participate in a visa waiver program with the U.S., and citizens of these countries must have a machine-readable passport for entry into the U.S.:

Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom

Citizens of the countries listed above who do not possess machine-readable passports, and citizens of countries not listed above must present a valid passport and a valid United States visa upon entry into the U.S. For those whose travel plans include multiple entries into the U.S., such as a cruise that begins and ends in a U.S. port, a multiple-entry visa is required.


All travelers, including U.S. and Canada citizens, are responsible for verifying visa requirements with consular officials, and obtaining visas where required, for every country visited during their trip, including countries visited via connecting flights.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Featured Foto Friday - Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue

Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue is a fun-filled dinner show inside Pioneer Hall at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground.  It has been in its near original format since it premiered in 1973.  The dinner is an all-you-care-to-eat family-style meal filled with fried chicken, cornbread, beans and other tasty selections.  It's corny at times, but a very fun performance.

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Not-So-Magical Beginning

Setting sail on board the Disney Magic began for us in Galveston, TX – or at least – that’s where the cruise voyage began.  But let me take you back just a little before the actual departure day.  For you see, the voyage, with my lovely bride, actually began about 2 months ago when I first presented the opportunity to sail with Disney Cruise Line to her.  Indecision was the word of the day, along with a number of other words – trepidation, uneasiness, and an overall sense of uncertainty.  This went on for several weeks until just before the absolute cut-off day where a decision must be rendered and given to Disney in order to secure ground transfers from the airport and purchase airfare.  That was 3 weeks prior to the sailing – so for roughly 5 weeks there was a virtual, mental game of ping-pong taking place in our household.  Finally the decision was made, and there was no turning back.  It was to be a couple-voyage, and not a solo trip.  :-)

Once the airfare had been secured, and the ground transfers arranged, now came my bride’s largest conundrum – finding the right clothes to wear and bring on board.  The concept of “Formal Night” just threw her for a loop.  You see my bride doesn’t wear dressy clothes unless she absolutely has to.  She is very much a shorts & a t-shirt, or jeans and a sweater gal.  In the 18 ½ years we’ve been married – she’s probably only worn a dress the equivalent of a month’s time.  I LOVE it when she does get dolled up, but it just doesn’t happen very often.  So it was a quest for her to find something appropriate to wear.  And that filled the next 3 weeks, between clothing, footwear and accessories.  Phew – I’m glad that’s over, and she has something already to wear again the NEXT time we cruise together.   :-)
Our flight plan was with Southwest Airlines, so we had to fly in to Houston Hobby airport, which is better since it’s located on the southern side of Houston, and closer to Galveston.  We had the Disney transportation, which in Houston is not a nicely identified bus as they have in Orlando, but still quite functional and comfortable.  They did play the standard onboard video however, which once we got going, was quite enjoyable since we had not previously experienced that particular onboard video before.  But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

We knew that we had to be onboard the ship no later than an hour prior to departure, and the various flight times out of Indianapolis weren’t super conducive to that, so we were scheduled to fly on Friday night.  Our kids were not going with us, so they needed to be dropped off where they were going to be staying.  The eldest attends the local public high school (he’s a junior), and the other two are still home-schooled.  So there were inherent scheduling differences built in to our child-care situation.  So the two younger ones stayed with another home-schooling family (who happen to be the best friends of the two youngest anyway, so that was really cool), and our eldest stayed with another family who we’re good friends with (their son is a senior).  So there was some good compatibility vibes going from the get-go.

As soon as school was out for our eldest, we drove over to the house where the younger ones were going to be staying.  It was going to be a nice time of about 15 minutes in order to be able to say goodbye, etc – but as we drove up to the house.  Note I said WAS.  Ridiculous how your best laid plans can go haywire at the last minute, isn’t it.  Sure enough, as we pulled up in front of their house – my Jeep got a flat tire.  There must have been something in the street, because it just blew the air out so quickly with such a loud hissssssssss!!!  Ugh.  My wife pulled up in her van just as I was getting out of my vehicle, and yeah, suddenly instead of a nice farewell, it became a mad rush to change the tire to put the “donut” tire on.  I DID NOT have time for that!!!  We had already cut the time to get to the airport close enough, but now this.  I was frantic, and not very happy at all.  Both boys sprung in to action to help move the luggage around while I quickly worked to jack up the Jeep and make the switch.  Let me tell you this, I have changed many a tire in the past 26 of driving, but never once has it been done as quickly as I did it that Friday afternoon.   As soon as it was done, I quickly went in their house to wash up, and we were hugging, kissing and saying goodbye as we drove off headed for the airport.  WHAT a “fun” way to start a trip!

After the then near-frantic drive to the airport (45 miles on the spare tire), and fear of being late, we arrived at the airport only to learn that the plane we were waiting on was delayed due to weather.  Fair enough, and sighs of relief all around.  I had planned on getting dinner in Chicago (yes, we had to fly north to ultimately go south), but with the delay I suggested we just get it there in Indy.  Finally after nearly 30 minutes of waiting beyond the scheduled boarding time, the sighs of relief began to disappear.  Once again the anxiety began, as the originally scheduled hour and a half layover time was shrinking away.  Upon boarding, we got comfortable in our seats, and awaiting the door being closed, and the requisite safety announcements.  But they didn’t happen for quite some time.  Soon the Captain came on announcing there was some sort of delay that would keep us at the gate for a “few more minutes”… which quickly turned into 20 minutes.  Ugh.  By this time we knew we would be running between gates.   Sure enough, we landed at 7:10pm Central Time – 5 minutes AFTER our plane was supposed to take off.   And the worst part of it was that they parked at A19, and we had to run over to B18.  We were not happy, but set out on our way to see if there was any possibility that our plane was still there.  Thank goodness we had made the decision to fly in the night before! 

After lots of running and weaving through the crowded airport, we finally arrived at our gate, and praise the Lord, the plane was still there.  There was a large number of passengers from our first flight onboard the plane, all huffing and puffing as we had done.  Wow.  We were able to sit down, but sadly not together.  We both ended up in middle seats in different rows, but I was just behind my lovely bride, so we could at least chat from time to time.  She read, and I worked on my computer catching on some business things since it was a WI-FI enabled flight.  But we had to wait once more before we could taxi and take-off… we all wanted our luggage to be transferred too.  :-)  Finally we were in the air, and on our way to Houston!

I had selected a hotel moments from the airport, and not having a bus transfer until 11:00 in the morning, we were able to have a leisurely morning enjoying breakfast in the on-site restaurant.  With just a 4 minute shuttle ride back to the airport, we were there with plenty of time to spare.  I checked us in with the Disney cast member wearing that ubiquitous 4 fingered white glove, and sat down to wait until they called us.  It was only a wait of about 10 minutes, and we were soon herding our way over to the bus with about 70 other people.

The ride to Galveston was quite pleasant, and the stresses of the prior day were finally washing away.  Soon we were pulling in to the port area, and saw the beautiful red stacks, white middle and black underbelly of the Disney Magic sitting in the port just waiting for her next load of eager passengers.
The unloading of the bus was fairly quick, and the short walk inside the terminal was brief.  The line for the security checkpoint went smoothly, and soon enough we were in line to check-in!  How exciting.  The Cast Member was so pleasant and so excited for us.  Her name was Eva, and told us how envious she was of us, since she still hadn’t been on a cruise – not a Disney Cruise – but any cruise – and she’s worked for the company for 10 years!   After taking our pictures for the Key to the World cards, and processing our passports, she then gave us our boarding group number (16) and directed us to the chairs over to the side to wait for the announcement that we so wanted to hear – when we could board!  And our wait was extremely short, as just as soon as we sat down did they announce on the PA system that groups 1 through 17 were able to board!  It was time to go!

We went through the last portal on the lower level of the terminal and worked our way up the escalator to the gangway.  We had our picture taken, and then we were on our way inside the beautiful ship’s Central Atrium.  Ahhhhh, despite all of the mishaps and frustrations of getting there - it felt so good to be on board that ship. 

Until next time,