Florida + West Caribbean Cruise 2016
Who: Jelle Collignon and Heidi Willekens
When: March 2016
Destinations: Fort Lauderdale, Georgetown (Grand Cayman), Falmouth (Jamaica), Labadee (Haïti), Orlando
Sights: Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas, Everglades, Orlando, Walt Disney World, Premium Outlets, Florida Mall, Mall at the millennia
Day 1 - 25/03/2016 - An early departure
Our trip started 1 day earlier than planned due to the terrible events on Brussels Airport. Jetair really did all they could to get us to Florida on time. They were able to book us on a flight from Frankfurt. Thank you!
We didn't want to risk getting stuck in traffic in the morning, so we left a day earlier to Frankfurt. So at 5pm we started driving to Frankfurt. We thought it was about 4h to Frankfurt, due to border controls and the Easter Holidays that were starting. But no border control and no heavy traffic! We arrived at the hotel after only 3 hours and 15 minutes. We booked a night in the Hilton Garden Inn at the airport. This way we could just walk to the terminal in the morning.
We have to be at the airport at 10am for our 1.30pm flight to Newark. (Jetair told us to be there early in case there would be problems with the rebooked ticket). It should be a 8h45 flight to New York. There we have a layover of 2h14 before flying to Fort Lauderdale. We should land around 10.34pm.
Day 2 - 26/03/2016 - Frankfurt - New York - Fort Lauderdale
We were still tired in the morning. It was quite warm in the room and at midnight the TV suddenly started playing.. Scary! The breakfast buffet was amazing! Different kind of eggs and bacon, croissants, cake, pastries, pancakes, Belgian Waffles, but also fruit and vegetables! We ate good because it would be long before we got something on the airplane.
At 9.30am we left our room and headed for the terminal. Good thing we were on time! Jelle had called Lufthansa on Friday to confirm seats so we could sit together on the side with a window seat. And we would not have anyone in front of us. But we got other seats when we were checking in.. We asked the Lufthansa personel why our seats changed. The lady told us we were upgraded to Economy Plus. OK, nice, but now we were sitting in the middle of the plane, in between 2 other people. We really don't like to sit there, so it was worse than our previous seats. We asked for our original seats. The lady went to see her supervisor to check what they could do. After 10 minutes she returned and told us that she would try to do something for us, but she couldn't promise us anything. First she told us to ask for other seats at the gate. We were told this before, on our trip to Florida in 2013, and they didn't do anything for us then! We were starting to get very nervous about this trip..
Then suddenly Heidi saw that 2 other seats were highlighted on the lady's screen. She told the lady and yes, the seats were changed by the supervisor. We were still in Economy Plus, be we were sitting together with a window seat. Ideal! We thanked the lady from Lufthansa and could start our vacation!
When we got on the plane we were impressed by the Economy Plus seats. It was a recent plane and the seats and service were great! The seats were wide with a large screen WITH remote control and a toiletry bag with a toothbrush. To start we got an orange juice with mint and a menu so we could see what we were going to eat on this flight. It was a salade for starter, pasta or chicken for entree and chocolate mousse as dessert. The flight went very well and we even arrived 45 minutes early. Another nice feature of the plane was the outside view camera system. There was a camara in the nose and one on the bottom. We could follow take off and touch down and could see the ground passing below us. Jelle filmed the landing in Newark. You can see the movie on youtube.
We had about 3 hours before our flight to Fort Lauderdale. Time enough... But then there was US Customs and Border Protection. There were rows of people waiting. We had to stand in line for 40 minutes before it was our turn. Since we have been in the usa several times before the talk with the Border Patrol officer was short. We also didn't have to take all fingerprints. We had 2 hours left to get on the plane, but also the security check was very crowded. Heidi passed the check easily, but Jelle was beeping, again... He had to pull up his pants higher?! Hahahaha! In the end we had 30 minutes left to get to our gate. We quickly ate a slice of pizza because we wouldn't get anything during the flight.
Our flight was delayed by 30 minutes because the plane arrived too late. The plane was a lot smaller than our previous flight. We were flying with United Airlines. We had to pay to watch a movie.. We arrived about 1 hour later than planned in Fort Lauderdale.
We picked up our luggage and took a cap. Our hotel, Quality Inn Hollywood, was close to the airport. It was more like a motel, very basic, but good for 1 night. When we checked in we also reserved a place on the 12.30pm shuttle to go to the cruise port tomorrow.
It was already 1am. We were exhausted since we have been travelling for 21 hours, so we went to our room and immediately went to sleep.
Day 3 - 27/03/2016 - Boarding the Navigator of the Seas
We woke up at 6am due to the time difference with Belgium.. But no worries, we can have a relaxed breakfast and type the report of yesterday. It will be our last post for some days, because the internet on the ship is too expensive, 40 dollars/day!
Breakfast was typically American with eggs, gravy, donuts, toast, cornflakes, Belgian Waffles, ... We chose the Belgian Waffle with maple syrup. While we were waiting for our waffle a Belgian women started talking to Heidi. She asked if we were also coming from Belgium and how we got to Fort Lauderdale. Normally they should have been on our plane from Brussels to Montréal. They hadn't booked via a travel agency and had booked another flight from Amsterdam. They were hoping to get a refund for their original flight.
Now we had to wait for the shuttle to come pick us up at 12.30pm. We knew there was a K-mart near our hotel. We checked at the reception of the hotel if it would be open on Easter Sunday. And yes, the shop was open from 7am. We walked to the store to get some water and M&M's (Pretzels! We don't have them in Belgium!). We noticed the air was hot and humid. It felt like it was in the summer of 2010.
We had to check out at 11am. It would be quite some time before we would be on the ship and could eat something. Next to the hotel there was a McDonald's and a Taco Bell. Since we had a bad experience with Taco Bell we chose McDonald's. We left our luggage in the hotel and ate at the McDonald's.
On our way back to the hotel a lady from the shuttle service asked us which cruise we were going on. We told her we were going with the Navigator of the Seas and we were lucky, she had 2 places in an earlier shuttle. We could leave half an hour earlier.
It was busy in the port. Multiple ships were docked. One of them was one of the largest in the world, The Allure of the Seas. A little further we saw our ship. Wow, a cruise ship is large! We had to put a tag with our room number on our luggage, so we could leave them at the drop off. They would be taken to our room.
We could proceed to the check in counters. We had booked a junior suite, so we hardly had to stand in line. The regular rooms had very long lines. We advice you to try and book a junior suite. Often these don't cost much more (or we wouldn't have booked one! ;-) ) and they do offer a lot of advantages.
After we checked in we could head up the escalators to the bridge to board the ship. We were very small compared to the ship! We could start to explore the ship. At the elevators there was a touch screen with informations and maps. The first thing we had to locate was our room. We were in room number 1590. It was a small suite with a small bathroom and a balcony. On our way to the room the door of a large suite was opened. They were huge and there was even a piano!
We were welcomed by a special tv broadcast. It was a video with safety instructions. The best part of the video was a song that we will remember forever: "Wash your hands and make your mother proud!" All over the ship there are containers with desinfecting gel so you can regularly clean your hands.
Every day we will get a brochure in our room, named Cruise Compass. It has a list of all activities of the day. Ideal to plan the day. There is something for everyone. Sports, information sessions, dancing lessons, cooking lessons, shows, ... On this first day we went to these activities: First Time Cruiser’s Presentation, Luxury Spa and Gym Tour, Guest Assembly Drill, Welcome Aboard Showtime, Late Night Adult Comedy.
First Time Cruiser’s Presentation: Someone from the entertainment team gave information about cruises. For instance about the Seapass, a kind of passport everyone received at check in. This is your identity card, room key and credit card for this cruise. Easy, you don't have to take your passport and credit card with you. Nothing is paid in cash, everything is paid with the Seapass.
Luxury Spa and Gym Tour: We got a tour around the spa where everyone showed us his/her specialty: hot stone massage, hairdresser, pedicure/manicure, accupuncture, ... We'll pass for this. Heidi also wanted to see the running track. Nice, but it was difficult to run here with all the lounge chairs and glasses.
Guest Assembly Drill: EVERYONE has to participate. This is an evacuation excercise. When everyone is on board, there is a drill. On the Seapass we could find the code of the place where we should go in case of an emergency, C06.
Welcome Aboard Showtime: This was a short show with small parts of the shows we could expect on this cruise. The cruise director asked who was from outside the USA. We told him we were from Belgium. He presumed we spoke French... Euhm No! We're from the Flemish part of Belgium.
Late Night Adult Comedy: Only adults were allowed in this show. The comedian was Robbie Printz from Boston. Funny guy!
Well, we talked about the entertainment, but we haven't talked about the food. CRAZY! Jelle read in a review that a guy gained 8kg during his cruise. We see how this is possible! It looks like a cruise is all about eating and drinking.. We bought the Royel Replenish pack, so all water, soda, koffie, thee and non-alcoholic cocktails were included. You can eat 24/24 here.
There are different restaurants but the largest is the Main Dining Room, where you get a table with 2 waiters. Every day there is a new menu with a daily menu and à la carte courses. But you can order as much as you want. Two starters, an entree and 3 desserts? No problem! The Main Dining Room has a very chique feel.
We chose the daily meny. A fish mousse for starters, then a porc chop with sweet potato, broccoli and artichoke and Jelle had the 'Chocolate Sensation' as dessert while Heidi took the Crème Brulée with banana and Bailey's.
Tomorrow we'll have a full day at sea.
Day 4 - 28/03/2016 - Relax, take it easy!
Today was going to be a relaxed day. It has been very long since we had a vacation like this. We had set our alarm to 8.30am.
Around 9.15am we went to the Main Dining Room for breakfast. And it looks like everyone slept a little longer. There was a long line. Everyone has a dedicated table for dinner, but breakfast is first come, first serve. We were seated at a large table, together with a family from North Carolina and a mom with her daughter from Chicago. Also for breakfast there is a menu. We chose the pancakes with a glass of apple juice. We also got a little croissant.
After breakfast we returned to our room to check the Cruise Compass. We decided to go to the World's Sexiest Man Competition, the Ice Dancin' Spectacular and Production Showtime.
At noon we didn't go to the Main Dining Room for lunch. We went to Johnny Rocket's, a famous hamburger franchise. For starters we got french fries and onion rings. Jelle ordered a burger and Heidi took a salad with chicken. We had just finished our entree when the servers suddenly shouted 'SHOWTIME!'. They lined up an started dancing to a song that was played. Cool!
Meanwhile it was time to go to the 'World's Sexiest Man Competition' at the swimming pool. A jury of 5 women was picked and all men could apply to join the competition. There were 6 participants. We tought it was going to be a macho show, but it turned out it was more like comedy! Too bad for the young girls in the jury, it were mostly older men.. It was very hot and crowded at the pool, so we decided to go back inside.
Heidi wanted to go running today, so she headed for the gym. Half an hour later she was soaking in sweat. We aren't used to this weather in Belgium. Time for a shower.
After we had showered, someone knocked on the door. It was our room attendent. He came to introduce himself and told us that he was responsible for our room. He does this for all rooms.
It was time for activity number 2: The Ice Dancin' Spectacular'. On deck 3 there is an ice skating rink. It was a short show with 11 skaters. Jelle had read in a review that this was a must-see show. Jelle liked it, but Heidi didn't..
After the show we returned to our room to change cloths. Tonight there was a formal night, so there was a dresscode. All men had to wear a suit and women should wear a nice dress.
We had a reservation at Giovanni's Table, an Italian restaurant. We were placed at a table of 2 and had a server from Ukraine. He was very nice. For starters we had mozzarella with ham on a toast and mozzarella-tomato salad. We wanted to order a pasta for our main course... But when we ordered the pasta, the server asked us what we wanted for our main course. He told us that the pasta is kind of a side dish. So Jelle also ordered a steak and Heidi stuffed chicken. In the end the server came to our table with a small cart filled with desserts. We could chose whatever we wanted from the cart. We both chose the chocolate cake.
We had eaten too much and were only just in time for Production Showtime. This was a show with songs from Broadway productions. Much better than the ice skating show.
After the show we spent some time in the casino.
Back in our room we prepared our backpack for our excursion on the Cayman Islands. We had booked the Jeep Safari and Beach Snorkel in the afternoon, but when we got our tickets we were told the excursion was moved to the morning. This meant we had to get up very early. Our alarm is set to 6.20am because we have to be at a rendez-vous point at 7.30am. No time for breakfast tomorrow, so we ordered room service between 6.30am and 7am.
Day 5 - 29/03/2016 - Cayman Islands, more than banks...
The first day we would be back on land. We arrived on the Grand Cayman early in the morning.
Because we had to be at the rendez-vous point at 7.30am we had ordered room service for breakfast between 6.30am and 7am. We ordered via a card outside our door. We had indicated everything we wanted and put it on the door before 3am. But at 7.10am we hadn't received anything. Weird.. We called the reception and they told us they didn't get our order! They could take our order now, but it wouldn't be on time. Luckily we had brought some cookies with us..
Small boats took us to shore. Wow, humid here.. Normally it's less humid, but there was bad weather coming. We had booked the Jeep Wrangler Adventure and Beach Break. There were 28 people in our group and we had to divide in groups of 4. We were in a jeep with Donny and Jennifer from Kentucky. You have to drive on the left side on the Cayman Islands. Jelle didn't like this, so he let Donny drive.
Our first stop was a beach in Barkers National Park. The water was very clear and blue. This is because the island is surrounded by a coral reef. You could walk up to 200m in the sea since the water was just 1m deep. There were also huge shells on the beach. The 2 guides told us more about the Cayman Islands. No taxes, driving on the left side and everything is imported (even their own rum!).
We returned to our jeeps and drove to the Rum Cake Factory. On our way there we passed through some residential neighbourhoods and a mangrove. At the Rum Cake Factory we could taste 2 pieces of rumcake, one with vanilla and one with chocolate. There was also a great view of the ocean.
We ate Rum Cake, so now we were going to Hell! Really, we took the highway to Hell, a village on Grand Cayman. We even got a visa stamp in our passport at the local gift shop. Behind the gift shop there was an open space with towers of limestone. This used to be a coral reef, but the island has risen a little, so the coral reef had dried up.
After the Jeep Wrangler Adventure we drove to Tiki Beach. We had 2 hours to relax on the beach. There were snorkels and flippers available. We could have a drink in the beach bar or relax on the lounge chairs. We decided to spend the time on the beach on a lounge chair. We chose a spot under a tree so we wouldn't be directly in the sun. Right above us there was a giant iguana!
Heidi is not really 'into sea', so Jelle went swimming alone with all his attributes. He didn't see much except for some small fishes.
It was boattime again! Boattime is the official ship time. If the ship is in another time zone, the ship time is not changed. The Cayman Islands are 1 hour behind boattime, so we had to be sure to be back on time!
It was a nice excursion, but we were happy to return to the ship. It was 2pm and we hadn't eaten anything since the cookies this morning.. We went to the buffet for lunch.
At 5.15pm there was a Circus Parade on the promenade. We wanted to have a look, just like 2000 other people, so we didn't see much. But the music was nice! ;-) We went back to our room and enjoyed the view on our balcony until we were going for dinner.
We had a reservation in the Main Dining Room at 7.45pm. Again we ate way to much..
We were too late for the evening shows, so we just had a drink in the bar. We already started planning our roadtrip of next year. Exciting!
At 10.15pm there was a 70's show on the Promenade. We just catched a glimps of the village people dancing on the Promenade. Funny!
Day 6 - 30/03/2016 - It's 5 o'Clock somewhere! Yaman!
Our alarm was set for 6.45am. This is early! No room service today. We went to the breakfast buffet. More than enough for everyone.
We were allowed to leave the ship and enter the port of Falmouth, Jamaica at 8.15am. We hurried to 'the station' where we had to gather for our excursion. We had booked the Grand Jamaica and Dunns River Falls Tour, which would last 8 hours. A lady took our ticket and looked at it in a strange way. This didn't feel right. She took our tickets to a colleague and then told us to come with her to someone from the Royal Caribbean entertainment team. He said our tour was cancelled?!?! We didn't know! He told us there were not enough participants, so it was cancelled. We should have received a letter in our room. But no, we didn't get anything! We were not amused. We had to choose another excursion in a few minutes time.
We chose the 1700's Plantation Tour. The tour only cost half of the original one and took about 3 hours. We now also had some time to shop, which was a nice extra.
The tour brought us to "Good Hope Plantation". This used to be a sugar plantation, but now only oranges and coconuts are grown here. The plantation was almost closed when slavery was abolished.
We had 2 guides, Lydia and Reagan (the bus driver). We went to see buildings that were built 260 years ago to house the slaves. During the tour the bus stopped and we could taste fresh oranges.
After we visited the plantation we were taken to the house of the former owner of the plantation. He was British. Up till 2007 the house was used as a resort, but now it can only be visited with a guide and be rented for weddings. In the front yard we had an amazing view of the Jamaican nature.
At the end of the tour we drove to a picknick area where we were served lunch. The daily menu was vegetables with pieces of chicken and a fried corn bread. Not really our thing.. But the fruit punch was very good!
The guide also taught us some Jamaican words. Yes is "Yaman!" and No is "Uh-Uh" while you shake your head.
At 12pm boattime we were taken back to the port. We still had some time to spend at the port since we would only have to be back on the ship by 4.30pm. We looked around in the port and did some shopping. The port is actually a pier that had been built especially for Royal Caribbean 5 years ago. It felt a little fake. This is not the real Jamaica.
By 2pm we returned to the ship. At the Information Desk we asked how we would be refunded for the tour. It would be subtracted from our bill.
We went to our room to freshen up, but there was no water. We called Service Desk and they told us that a water pipe was broken and they were already working on it. This should take about an hour. After half an hour it was fixed. We quickly took a shower because we wanted to attend a presentation about cruising to Alaska at 4.15pm.
The presentation started with an introduction of the largest ships of Royal Caribbean. After that we got information about the different cruises to Alaska. We definitely have to put this on our list. But still have to find the time and money..
We had a reservation at 5.45pm in the Main Dining Room. The theme of the day was Greece.
After dinner we went to the casino until 10.15pm. We were going to the evening show "The Love and Marriage Gameshow". They picked 3 couples from the audience. The longest married one, the least long married and 15-25 years married. The oldest couple was married for 50 years and the youngest couple was married only 4 days ago! The funniest couple were the people that were married 20 years. The man sat down on his chair and he fell through. HILARIOUS! Also their answers were always funny. It seemed like they were hired to participate. During the show the couples had to answer questions without consulting each other. If they gave the same answer, they got a point.
The youngest couple won and got jewels and a voucher to ride the Zipline in Labadee the next day. This voucher was worth 90 dollars! The comical couple was second and got a treatment in the spa. The oldes couple got a bottle of champagne.
After the show there was a party with liveband next to the pool. We only stayed for a short time before returning to our room. It was already past midnight.
Tomorrow we will dock at the last island of the cruise: Haiti. We have booked the 10.30am "Haitian Cultural Tour and Beach Break at Paradise Cove".
Day 7 - 31/03/2016 - Sun, sea and beach
We were docked in Labadee, Haiti.
We started the day with Room Service, ordered via the tv this time. And they were exactly on time! Wonderful, breakfast on the balcony with an amazing view of the ocean. We can get used to this!
Once docked about 2000 people immediately went on shore. Everyone hurried to the meeting point for their excursion. The Labadee peninsula is 'owned' by Royal Caribbean. It felt a little fake. There were some shops and bars next to the beaches with lounge chairs. We noticed the sea had a very nice blue color.
We had booked the “Haïtian Cultural Tour and Beach Break at Paradise Cove”. The tour started with a boattrip to Paradise Cove. We couldn't dock, so we had to walk the last 50 meters through the water. Luckily the sea had a very comfortable temperature. We arrived on a private beach where we got a welcome cocktail. We could choose, with or without rum.
We then did a guided walk of about 45 minutes through an "authentic" Haitian village. It was all fake, nobody lived here. But we got an impression.. 'Villagers' were making crab cages, smashing peanuts to make peanutbutter and baking maniok bread. We tasted the bread and it was very good! The walk ended at a 'shop' where we could buy stuff the Haitians had made. They were starting to get pushy, so we headed back to the beach.
We still had 1.5 hours to relax on the beach before they would take us back to Labadee. Heidi couldn't really relax. She saw crabs coming out of the ground next to her! :-P
It was time to return to Labadee. We were glad we had chosen this tour. Ok, it was all fake, but we got a good impression of the local life. Our general thought of the excursions was that they were all a little overrated and expensive.
Back in Labadee lunch was served on the island instead of on the ship. Yay, barbecue!
After exploring Labadee we returned to the ship to freshen up. It was formal night again!
We had a reservation at 7.45pm in the Main Dining Room, but there was a very long line. We had to wait about 30 minutes..
Tonight's theme was Great-Britain and seafood.We started with a seafood cocktail. Then Heidi had a lobster tail with mashed potatoes and Jelle ate a slow roasted prime rib. Of course we couldn't skip dessert! Jelle had a soufflé with vanilla and Grand Marnier. Heidi had a Low Fat Banana Cake.
Tomorrow we will be at sea, before returning to Fort Lauderdale the day after.
Day 8 - 01/04/2016 - It's still 5 o'Clock somewhere!
This is the last day of the cruise. We will be at sea all day. Very early tomorrow (6.30am) we will arrive in Fort Lauderdale.
We woke up at 9am, so we were too late for breakfast in the Main Dining Room. We headed for the buffet in the Windjammer Café instead.
We bought an internet package for this last day. And good we did! Jetair had sent an email to inform us that we couldn't fly back to Brussels. They had rebooked our ticket to a flight to Amsterdam via Washington D.C.. This isn't bad. The flight from Orlando to Washington is departing later than our original flight to Chicago. We checked Check My Trip to check which seats we had, but all economy seats had already been taken. Normally we would get an upgrade to Economy Plus.. But that are worries for Wednesday because hey, it's 5 o'clock somewhere! We also had to rent our car for one more day since we wouldn't return it before 9am.
In the afternoon we went to the "Men's International Belly Flop Competition". A very funny competition!
We also checked out the Flowrider. This is a surfing simulator. Everyone can have a try, but we decided to play a game of minigolf! ;-)
In the late afternoon we skyped with family at home and gave them a Skype tour of the ship.
On the last night the theme of the Main Dining Room was Mediterranean. For starters we had Spanish tapas. Then Jelle ate a steak and Heidi fish. For dessert Heidi had an appelstrudel with icecream and Jelle took the Chocolate Sensation.
After dinner we enjoyed a beautiful sunset.
Day 9 - 02/04/2016 - Roadtripping!
We had set our alarm at 5.30am. Way to early on a vacation, but we had to debark before 7am. We had chosen to carry our bags from the ship ourselves. Jetair advised us to do so. This way we were certain we could debark early.
Once back on shore we had to go through a security check since we were entering the USA again. We went to the place where we could take the Alamo shuttle to the car rental center at the airport. We waited and waited and waited. Still no shuttle. Jelle asked a security agent on the parking lot if she knew if there was a schedule for the shuttles. She told us there was no schedule and the shuttle could arrive within minutes or within tens of minutes... We decided not to wait and took a cab to the car rental center.
We had booked a small car in the "Compact" category for this trip. There were only a few cars in the lot, and just 2 with a large enought trunk to hold our luggage. We chose a grey Hyundai Accent. You can compare this with a Toyota Corolla in Belgium.
We started our trip to Orlando. First stop was Sawgrass Recreation Park. We booked a ticket for an airboat tour through the Everglades to see the alligators. But the weather wasn't good to see alligators. It was cloudy and windy, so the alligators didn't come to the surface. But we did see one alligator when the sun came through the clouds for a minute.
After the airboat tour we could also visit the tiny zoo. Hmmm.. The animals were in very small cages compared to the zoo's in Belgium.
From Sawgrass Recreation Park we drove to Sawgrass Mills Mall. This is one of the largest shopping malls in Florida. We had to watch the time, because we stil had to drive to Orlando today. We did some shopping and had a late lunch before returning to the car for the trip to Orlando.
Once arrived in Orlando we checked in at the Hilton Grand Vacations At SeaWorld. The hotel is huge and consists of 11 buildings. We were in the "Hamilton" building, next to the main building and the pool.
It had been a long day, so we went to bed early. But we couldn't immediately sleep due to the neighbours.. We could here everything they said and what was on the tv..
Day 10 - 03/04/2016 - Shoppingtime!
We were going shopping today. We were going to 2 shopping centers. First we went to The Florida Mall and then we drove to Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets.
In the evening we went to Disney Springs, the free entertainment district of Walt Disney World. We bought some souvenirs in World Of Disney It's a tradition, if there's a Rainforest Café, we go there. So we had dinner at Rainfores Café. Mmmmm, great burger! We skipped the Volcano..
Day 11 - 04/04/2016 - Disney Magic!
In the morning we drove to the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. We parked in the Captain Hook section. This is important to remember because the parking lot is huge! It is divided in 2: Heroes and Villains. In these 2 parts there are sections named after heroes and villains. A tram takes people from the parking lot to the ticket center and back.
We immediately saw it would be a very busy day because there already was an enormous waiting line at the monorail station and the ferry landing. The parking is not located at the entrance to the park. Walt Disney wanted to keep everything 'not magic' as far away as possible from the Magic Kingdom, so you have to take the monorail or the ferry to get to the entrance of the park.
We had to wait 30 minutes before we could board a monorail. Finally, we could visit the park for the 3th time in 6 years.
Thanks to the new Fastpass system we could already reserve a spot on 3 attractions even before we got to the park. We had a Fastpass for Splash Mountain (Must-do for each visit!), Haunted Mansion (skipped the 2 previous visits) and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (new since our last visit and immensly popular, always more than 2 hours waittime).
We also did The Enchanted Tiki Room, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Walt Disney Railroad, Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid and Mickey's Philharmagic. On Mainstreet USA we also saw a performance of the Dapper Dans.
After our ride on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, around 3.30pm, we needed some rest. We returned to our hotel and came back to the Magic Kingdom in the evening to have dinner at The Crystal Palace. They offer an all-in buffet and the characters of Winnie the Pooh pass by each table. Heidi was delighted when she saw Eeyore and his friends!
After dinner we watched Disney's Electrical Parade.
Day 12 - 05/04/2016 - Cheesy Crust!
We slept long the last day. We hadn't planned much, only a visit to Mall at the Millennia. After shopping we drove to International Drive to eat a Cheesy Crust at Pizza Hut, a must-do on each USA trip ;-)!
Day 13 - 06/04/2016 - Back to Europe...
Our flight to Washington D.C. was sheduled to take off at 1.25pm so we could have a relaxed breakfast before leaving for the airport. We returned the car and could start waiting.. Waiting in line to drop off our luggage, waiting at the passport check, waiting at the security check...
The flight was very smooth, untill a few minutes before landing. The plane started shaking and making sudden drops. A lot of people were looking at eachother nervously. But in the end we landed without problems at Washington Dulles. We didn't have a long layover, just 1.5 hour.
When we were boarding our plane to Amsterdam we noticed it was on old plane.. The seats weren't very comfortable and the screens were tiny. You could choose what to watch, channel 1 or channel 2.. Heidi her screen didn't work. We told a flight attendant but the only response was "Yes, it's normal that some screens don't work". This was going to be a long flight...
Day 14 - 07/04/2016 - Amsterdam
After the less pleasant flight we landed on Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam at 7.15am. It was the first time we were in Schiphol. We were impressed by the size of the airport.