Going west…. but first…. east!

We are spending this autumn in Florida!  When we started planning our trip last year, our original idea was to fly to Boston, see friends there, then go north into Vermont to see the fall colours and follow them down the eastern seaboard, all the way to Florida.  However, – and I have absolutely no regrets about this – the Brexit vote and the subsequent fall in the pound against the dollar, made this trip just too expensive.  We had to go back to basics and examine what we really, really wanted to do.  And that was to be in Central Florida for at least a month so that we could see our friends there, some of whom are elderly, (said the spring chicken! 🙂 )  and we wanted to be away from the UK for a couple of months for a last boost of sun before Christmas and to save on the heating.  This choice was made even easier when our friends in Boston decided to come down to Florida for a long weekend while we were there.

We own Marriott timeshare in Orlando, that can be swapped and split to make 6 weeks, and we had 4 weeks available.  That part was easy.  And we could stay with friends and tour around a bit for the rest of the time.  Flights were quite shocking, but we found Norwegian Air and they were CHEAP.  So cheap…  We were still a bit worried about cost of living in the States for 2 months though….

Then, with a ping an email dropped in!  A cruise offer.  In fact 3 cruises packaged together to make one holiday.  First a 15 day cruise out of Southampton on Caribbean Princess, making a few calls along the way to Fort Lauderdale where she would be based for the winter.  Then, after a hotel overnight in FL, a 7 night Caribbean cruise on Carnival Splendor.  Then, a cabinette on Amtrak on the Silver Meteor train up to New York and a 2 night stay in New York.  Finally getting on Queen Mary 2 for a 7 night crossing back to Southampton.  The price was unbelievably good and very attractive because it wrapped up a month of our desired holiday to include travel, food and accommodation and all priced in GBP!  I rang the cruise agent and asked if we could take the package but instead of proceeding directly from Carnival Splendor to the train and New York, take a break at that point to go to Orlando for a month, and then rejoin.  Yes, indeed, that was very possible and in fact, the price decreased because we were booking a November QM2 crossing rather than an October one.  REDUCED!!!!!  We booked it!

Finally to cap it all, our youngest daughter, Daisy, managed to get 2 weeks holiday from work and booked to join us in Orlando!!!! This means we have a reason to go to the Disney parks.  And again as a kind of post Brexit treat, Disney have an amazing offer this summer to tempt Brits reeling from the drop in the pound!  3 weeks totally unlimited entry to all 6 parks, daily golf, free professional photos throughout and a host of other discounts for the price of a 2 week ticket.  Or 2 weeks of the above for the price of a one week ticket.  That kind of takes care of our expenses for our time in Orlando too.

I’m going to blog this holiday in 4 parts: The Princess Transatlantic Cruise; The Carnival Caribbean Cruise; A month in Orlando; Amtrak north/New York City and QM2 home.

Of course, since all this booking up, we have been preceded in both Florida and the Caribbean by Irma, Jose and now Maria.  Florida itself took a battering – even WDW closed for 3 days! Our friends’ houses sustained, thankfully, only minor damage, but bad enough.  The Caribbean has been hit worse and as I write this, Maria is buffeting them again.  So…. we know we’re ok in Florida.  Not entirely sure whether the Carnival cruise will be as advertised or whether the itinerary will change, but hopefully it won’t and we can inject some of our tourist dollars into that part of the world.  Maybe, the seas will be rough! Read along with me and you’ll see what happens as the days pass.

Yesterday we packed and today we gave the house a thorough cleaning and “putting away” ready to set off for Southampton tomorrow morning.  We’re doing a one way car rental to get there, it was much, much cheaper than parking the car or taking a taxi.

So, sorry about this detailed account of booking decisions.  Tune in tomorrow for a look at the ship as we sail off….. eastwards to Zeebrugge for Bruges – our first stop on Saturday!