Friday, March 1, 2013

Excursion booking night

We booked this trip so many months ago, and now we are ready to book our excursions. This might not seem like a big deal, but for the Disney Cruise Line community, it is!

DCL uses a tier system for allowing guests the ability to book their shore excursions that are sponsored by the cruise line.  Platinum members of the Castaway Club, those who have more than 10 sailings with DCL, can do their online check-in and excursion reservations at 120 days prior to sailing; those with 6-10 sailings get to book at 105 days, and those with 1 - 5 sailings get to book at 90 days out. First time cruisers with DCL have to wait until it's just 75 days before sailing and hope there is something left for them to reserve.

We are gold level members having six DCL cruises under our belts.  Our reservation window opens at midnight tonight, so we, along with our DISBoard friends, are going to make those reservations for our excursions.  The people on the west coast are lucky because they can start booking at 9 p.m. since the midnight is Eastern time.  Of course they aren't so lucky when it's time to fly to Barcelona because it will take them about 4 hours longer to go and to get back home.

We settled on our excursions for the Greece itinerary fairly early; you've read about our plans for the ports in previous posts except for Mykonos and Malta.  In Mykonos, we plan to explore the island and town on our own, and in Malta, we plan to hire a driver and guide through the cruiseline for a tour.

DCL handles their excursion bookings differently than other cruise lines we have sailed with. On other cruise lines, when you make your reservation for an excursion, you have to pay for it right then; with DCL, you aren't charged for your shore excursion until you are onboard the ship. There are advantages to that, the main one being that you can change your mind about what you want to do up until just a few days before you sail without things getting complicated about paying in advance. The disadvantage is that the more popular excursions will have all of the space reserved by people who may not end up taking the excursion but because they have made a reservation, there's not one left for people who really do want to take the tour.  We have learned that if the excursion we want to do has no availability, we should continue to check because as people finalize their plans, space opens up. Or perhaps additional space is added by the tour company and DCL to accommodate the number of guests who want to do a particular activity.

The bottom line is that I have to stay up late tonight so I can be sure to get a reservation for the excursions we want on our first sailing; Monaco, Monte Carlo and Eze, Athens Acropolis Sightseeing and Archaeologlical Museum, and Ephesus, Miletus and Didyma. Plus the driver and guide for Malta.  But no worries - you don't have to stay up with me!  Get some sleep - it's the weekend!

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