Archive for July, 2013

Removing the Mystery – Passports

Editor’s Note:  Today’s blog is from our agent Melissa Kyler.  To contact Melissa with questions or a quote, email her at 

I don’t know about you, but the first thing that goes through my mind when I start planning my next vacation is, “Am I going to need a passport?”  This question comes up often especially when cruising,  “Do I need a passport?”

I personally would say yes just get a passport.  For US citizens, the correct answer is, it depends.  If you are cruising from one port to another even if both ports are in the United States, then the answer is yes!  If you are cruising a closed loop, departing and returning to the same port in the United States, then you do not need to have a passport.  You are not required by the US government to have a passport.  You will need to show a government issued ID along with proof of citizenship (certified copy of birth certificate).  A word of caution, any of the ports that are not US Territories can ask for a passport to enter their country.  Therefore, I would advise you to get a passport.  A few more reasons why I would advise getting a passport would be, there are always what ifs.  What if someone gets ill, either on the cruise with you or someone who stayed home and you need to fly home?  What if there is a problem with the ship and they stop in a port that is not a US state or US Territory  and the cruise line needs to get you an alternate way back to the port?  If you do not have a passport it is going to be very difficult to get back home.  If you have a passport and are over 16 years old the passport is valid for 10 years.  Even if your child is under 16, the passport is still valid for 5 years.  The small cost definitely outweighs the risk and you will always know the “what ifs” are covered.

The next question is, “How do I go about applying for a passport?”  Applying for you passport is really easy.  I advise applying for your passport at least 90 days before travel.  To get started you can go to this web address  Here you can fill out the passport application online and print it out, but do not sign it until told to do so.  Since this is your first passport you must apply in person at a Passport Agency or Acceptance Facility.  You can find these locations on the website.  Once you arrive at the agency or Acceptance Facility, you will be asked to supply proof of your citizenship, a certified birth certificate and government issued photo identification.  They will also take your passport photo if you did not bring one with you.  The passport photos can be taken at your local post office or certain other locations that you will also find on the website.  However, if not done correctly you will need to pay for an additional photo once you apply.  Therefore, I suggest just getting the passport photo taken at the time of application.  Then you will be asked to sign the application and pay the application and execution fee.  They will send your birth certificate along with the paperwork.  Once this is done, they will send you your passport in approximately 4-6 weeks and your birth certificate will follow soon after.  Please note that there are certain requirements for minors that are under 16 years of age.  Please find these restrictions on the website.

I hope that this helps you with the dilemma of whether or not to get a passport.

A day at Cedar Point, America’s Roller Coast (Ride On!)

Over the last few years, thanks to my annual pass, I’ve been to Cedar Point almost as much as Disney. Last month, a friend and I participated in a 5K through Cedar Point. After going back to the hotel room and freshening up, we went to Cedar Point to take in the thrills and excitement the amusement park has to offer.

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Disney and MagicBands

Editor’s Note:  Today’s blog is from our friend Tiffany who recently had a chance to test Disney’s new MagicBands!  Thanks Tiffany!

It was nearly a month ago when my email, text, and facebook messages starting blowing up simultaneously. What was the reason? My friend was excitedly telling me that she had gotten us signed up to test Disney’s new Magic Bands! We each received a custom band, a one day park ticket, and we shared a room overnight and all we had to do was report back on our experience.

First off, the bands are CUTE! Each person gets to select their color (out of pink, green, red, orange, blue, grey, or yellow) and chooses the way their first name displays on the inside of the band. This is what the color selection screen looks like for the app:



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Catamaran Experience and Snorkel Sail

Editor’s Note:  Today we have another shore excursion from Louise Mullen from her recent visit to Disney’s Aulani.  Thanks again Louise for a fantastic review!

We met in the lobby of Aulani for our van ride to the marina where we were to meet up with the catamaran.  There was a little bit of a holdup over, of all things, towels…A bit of confusion over who wanted to sit where in the vans.  These were no big deal, small hiccups.  This excursion was run by a private tour company in conjunction with Adventures by Disney.  The van drive was less than a half hour drive to get to the marina.  We were greeted and our shoes were stored in a bin on the dock.  So it was a “barefoot cruise”.  Once on board the crew did introductions and the mandatory safety check.  We were told the dos and don’ts of the restrooms, and where the life vests were stored etc.

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Removing the Mystery – Port Canaveral

Editor’s Note:  Part 2 of our Removing the Mystery is brought to you from our agent, Jon Fair.  Jon takes away the questions about what happens when you arrive in Orlando for your Disney Cruise and takes you through the check in process at the port.  For any questions or to book your next vacation, please contact  Thanks Jon!

Going on a first Disney cruise, or a fifth or fiftieth is exciting! Packing all your things, planning on getting to the cruise terminal etc. are some of the smaller details that can give you headaches if you don’t anticipate them. I have the fortuitous opportunity to live minutes away from Port Canaveral. If I can share anything that I have learned, please allow me to digress.

  1. If you’re flying in before your cruise please I would highly recommend Disney Transportation. The hassle of moving your suitcases while minding your cranky children after traveling will make you want to pull your hair out. Save yourself some aggravation and let Disney do it for you.  Put your luggage tags on before you leave home and skip baggage claim completely if you have Disney transfers booked.  Besides you can sit back and enjoy more a relaxing time with your family this way.
  2. Have your bags labeled already. You will get your baggage tags in the mail about two weeks to a month from when you set sail, don’t lose them, and have them on your bags when you arrive at the terminal.
  3. You will be going through security screening again. I know you just flew from Minneapolis St. Paul to Orlando International this morning and you haven’t gone on the America’s Most Wanted list. You are still going through security again. Make your life easier by being prepared for this. Have your electronics easily accessible. Take off your watches, pull your cell phones out of your pockets, etc. Be ready to waltz through the TSA screening point, and your cruise will start out with a breeze.  Any alcohol you are bringing aboard should be in your carry-on luggage.
  4. When you are checking in at the Terminal have your passports/ID’s out and ready along with all the documents that you were supposed to pre-sign. It can significantly reduce your wait time, and if you are lucky you can board the ship when you’re ready.

I hope this helps take some stress away from your vacation. Be sure to stretch because now you can do the “I’m on vacation” dance!!!!

Seattle, City Pass, Gluten Free, and a Little Wedding, Day 1

In July, my fiance (Ethan) and I had planned a trip out West to attend my oldest daughter’s wedding (Stephani). The original plan had us spending two days in Whistler, Canada, first (Ethan used to manage a beer & wine store in Texas, so he was interested in some wineries in the Whistler area). That plan got scrapped when we did some research and discovered Vancouver, Canada – it looks amazing and was an hour and a half closer! Plus, travel time was tight (we were getting in to Sea/Tac at 2pm and Stephani wanted to meet us for dinner that night.) So the new plan was two days in Vancouver followed by three days in Seattle (Puyallup, actually).

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Manoa Valley Rainforest and Bamboo Forest Hike

Editor’s Note:  Today’s blog comes from our friend Louise who recently visited Aulani in Hawaii and participated in several excursions.  Here is her review of one.  Follow our blog for more reviews from Louise! 

We met in the lobby of Aulani for our air conditioned bus ride.  Matthew, our Adventure by Disney guide, gave us background during the half hour ride.  We rode past Pearl Harbor, the airport, and the outskirts of Honolulu.  He related how the west side of the island of Oahu was arid as there were cacti growing along the highways.  The east side of the island and around the mountains receives over 200 inches of rainfall a year.  Therefore the mountainous areas are mostly covered in rainforest.

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