Trip Report Going for platinum, a Pro9het surf story.


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Hello again! I debated a while if this TR would even happen but you see how that turned out. My TRs started having me feel like I was stuck in a strange version of Ground Hog Day. “Oh look there’s a DCL ship”, “Lets welcome the McGillicutty family”, “There’s Palo again”, “Castaway Cay”, and “#tonyfromspain”. All that said, I figured there were enough firsts on this trip to justify another TR. Some of those firsts include a new departure port, new port of call, and #tonyfromspain is on vacation so we have a new entertainment personality. If you need a small glimpse at some back story, here are a few: 20/40 Trip, Surf 'n' Turf 2018, and Bermuda,

So lets get some details out of the way first.
WHO: The cast includes my better half, @imahistorygeek, and myself.

WHAT: Disney Magic 5-night itinerary
WHEN: This trip took place between January 3-9
WHERE: Port of Miami with stops at Grand Cayman and Castaway Cay.
WHY: Why not?

As the title suggests, this was our 10th DCL trip pushing us into their "Platinum Castaway Club". All this really means is we get to book earlier and eat at Palo for free, but hey, free Palo is free Palo! The trip does include another beer exchange and dinner at Palo but also includes a new beverage seminar, new port, and a glimpse of Cuba.

So there are the details. Up next we will leave a cold and rainy Georgia for warm and sunny Florida.


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I'm in. It's interesting to see your adventures on DCL, although it makes me miss the ships. I really have to figure out when we can go back for a cruise.


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Day 1: Traveling to Miami

We were both still on Christmas break from work and in between teaching so it was nice not having to deal with work on this trip. We had a noon flight out of Atlanta's International Spaceport so we left the house around 08:00 to give extra time for breakfast, traffic, and Marta. To our surprise, traffic was almost non existent and Marta hauled *** down to the space station. We ended up arriving just over two hours early to the airport. A quick bag drop off and a quicker TSA PreCheck queue and we were at our gate.

As I said, cold and rainy

Because of said rain, around the east coast, our inbound flight was late arriving delaying us around 30 minutes. We felt bad for the dozen or so folks sweating their connecting flights in Miami. While we waited we did strike up a conversation with a high school student from a local private school heading on a mission trip with his classmates. It was his first time out of the country and he was NERVOUS. He was so nervous he pretty much told us his life story, and then some, and we may have at one point agreed to adopt him. Anyway, we boarded and were in the sky around 1:00.

The trip was uneventful and we landed in Miami in no time. A new first for us was in Miami we actually got off the plain on the tarmac and walked to the main gate in the elements, all 80 degrees and sunny of it. This was both cool and scary as other planes were parked around us and they were warming their engines too which made things loud and a little intimidating. We made our way to baggage, collected our bags, and went to shuttle pickup. We waited about 20 minutes and our hotel shuttle arrived. About 10 minutes later we arrived at Element.

Element is a Marriott hotel near the airport and is great place to rest your head. We scored an upgrade to a suite.

Now, I know you're all worried but you can relax, the beer exchange beer and our "wine" made it unscathed!

Up Next: Uber to dinner and heading to port.


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Day 1&2: Miami

We unpacked a little and made our way down to the lobby. We already knew where we wanted to go for dinner. @Epcotfan21 had come in with a solid recommendation for Tap 42. We Ubered over to the restaurant and ended up making happy hour!

I ended up getting a La Rubia and a Pop's Porter both by Wynwood Brewing.

My bride ended up going with a mixed Storm Trooper which is a mix of Mas Hops and White Wizard Wit(sorry no pic). For dinner we each got a prohibition burger and fries.

The food, drink, and service were excellent. Can you really go wrong with 42 taps of beer?

We ended up walking over to Target to grab some things for the trip before Ubering back to the room. We slept great and morning came fast.

We ended up "sleeping in" til about 06:30. We got dressed and made our way down to breakfast. Element had a great offering for breakfast, another reason to return. After breakfast we went to our room to collect our gear before ordering an Uber for port. We were quickly picked up and on our way!

As we approached port we could see this place was a lot busier than Port Canaveral. You can see The Magic wedged between the Carnival and Norwegian ship.

Despite telling our driver our exact terminal to be dropped off at he drove past it to the next terminal then pulled over and asked if we wanted to walk back to our terminal. How about no! This guy was no @Tiggerish. He ended up leaving the port and coming back in and dropping us off at the correct terminal. To his credit, the Miami port was very busy and poorly labeled. He ended up getting it right on the second lap!

Up next: Is this port better than New York?
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I should mention that the hotel shuttle pickup at the airport is convenient. You basically just walk to the area and your hotel’s shuttle, if provided, just makes continuous loops. You just have to make sure they see you to pull over. This was way better than the deal at La Guardia.

Our hotel was close and the driver was super friendly. The Element is a Marriott- branded hotel. I have elite status at the lowest level and managed an upgrade. We were instructed to u er or ask for a ride to the restaurant down the road. They were trying to make sure we knew not to walk anywhere. The also provided a shuttle ($) to the cruise port, but it didn’t leave until around 12 pm.

This hotel is very close to the airport and you can see and hear planes landing. It’s loud, so if you’re a light sleeper, this may not be the place for you.

The hotel had a restaurant, bar, and a very good breakfast. There were a lot of healthy options and a Chobani yogurt bar.

We were going to try to stay downtown for the next cruise, but the price didn’t justify location.


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I'm in. It's interesting to see your adventures on DCL, although it makes me miss the ships. I really have to figure out when we can go back for a cruise.
Don't forget to look west! Some nice looking itineraries out of Vancouver and San Diego. We're testing out the Vancouver waters in September with visit to DLR.
You had me a warm and sunny.
(And free Palo!)
Warm, sunny, and don't forget The Beer!

I'll be along for the ride!
You've seen some of said ride on Untappd ;-)
I’m in! We were cruising at the same time but on Dream - will be interesting to compare experiences!
You may be surprised to hear that The Magic is now in a dead heat for my favorite ship with The Fantasy. I was teetering during the Bermuda trip but this trip elevated it.
I'm glad that you two highlighted the hotel. Always enjoy reading about hotels in different areas. Good information to share with us all here. :)
Thanks! Always leery about post too much "non-Disney" content in a TR but this hotel was really nice. IMO, I didn't really notice the planes but I'm also a pretty heavy sleeper.

I’m in again! Congrats on Platinum. I am planning my first DCL trip (2 years away still) and already want to try all of the ships and ports.
You cant go wrong, you'll be so happy regardless of direction or ship! Do you have an itinerary in mind?


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Day 2: Embarkation

So after finally making it to the right terminal we were greeted with a baggage cluster. It was like two forces colliding. There were folks who had disembarked schlepping their gear to the curb waiting on taxis, vans, and ubers being greeted by folks arriving to embark with their luggage. NYC and Port Canaveral both do a far better job with luggage/guest drop off. So we wadded through crowds and found the porters. We dropped off our gear and tipped the cat taking bags then walked across the street to the security check point.

The line to get in seemed long but it moved quickly. Security was a bit tighter than NYC, I mean there were no kids just running through the checkpoint unchallenged. After clearing security we walked right up to get checked in.

They had plenty of CMs working the counter and there was virtually no waiting for any queue. After checking in you walk behind the counter and head upstairs to the seating area. Like NYC, the Miami terminal is very generic with a few DCL banners and backdrops scattered around. Plenty of seating but no good vantage points to view the ship or get any pictures.


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Happy to be along for the ride!
Welcome aboard!
I am thinking Western Caribbean. I would like to do land and sea and we will be sailing sometime late spring/early summer 2022.
Nice! My only advice is put your deposit down as soon as booking opens. The deposit is 100% refundable and DCL prices only go up from the release date. Still doesn't make sense to me but its how DCL operates.
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho!
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