2018 Canadian Cruise – Travel Day

Wednesday, September 26

Finally, after much planning and waiting, the day had finally arrived. It was time to leave Orlando and head North for a few days. Would we have enough time to make our connections? Did we remember to pack everything? Would our suitcases stay under the weight limit? Stay tuned, dear reader, as nearly all will be revealed.

Our plans called for us to fly from Orlando to Newark to Toronto to Montreal. Yep, that’s a lot of flights. Price-wise, it was much better to fly into Montreal than Quebec City, and timing wise, it was easier to connect in Newark. We booked Orlando > Newark and JFK > Orlando as a round trip through JetBlue, and then booked a one way from Newark > Montreal on a small airline called Porter.

(Later, after the bookings had been made, I discovered that JetBlue is a partner with Porter, and although there is no option to book straight through on their website, if you call JetBlue, they could’ve done the booking as one booking, which would mean that we could have checked our bags all the way through from Orlando, rather than needing to claim and recheck in Newark. Live and learn.)

Our flight left Orlando at 7:35am, so it was a pretty early morning. We left home at about 5:30 (We live relatively close to the airport, and we both have TSA pre-check), parked, caught a shuttle and made it to the airport. We checked our bags (both within the weight limit, woohoo!) and were through security by about 6:20. Time to sit and wait.

Flight boarded and departed on time. JetBlue is pretty decent to fly on. The seats feel a little more spacious than most airlines, and a lot more spacious than a few airlines. Free satellite TV and free wi-fi. All in all, not much to complain about.

Landed in Newark, got our luggage, found the train between the terminals, and found the Porter desk to check back in. We were supposed to leave at 1:10pm, the Porter agent asked if we wanted to be moved to the 12:15 flight, and then the earlier flight from Toronto to Montreal. Sure, why not? She took our bags (still within the weight limit) gave us boarding passes, and we went off to go back to the Secure side of the airport.

Newark, at least Terminal B, does not have a TSA pre-check line. Instead, they handed us each a yellow slip of paper which stated that we were eligible for “enhanced” security screening. When we got to the front of the line (only about 5 people in front of us), they took the paper, and told us we could keep our shoes and belts on.

Once through security, we had some time to sit down, and, being that all we had had to eat was a few small packets of crackers on the plane, looked for food. There’s not much selection to be had, only 1 sit down restaurant and a small cart with some grab and go stuff. I got a bagel with cream cheese (stale), and I think Tracy had a pretzel. Soon enough, we were called for boarding.

Porter Airlines does not fly jets. All their planes are turboprops. No big deal, I’m not a nervous flyer, and for such a small plane, it was relatively comfortable.

When we landed at Toronto (Billy Bishop* / City Centre airport), we had to wait about 20 minutes for our gate. We had a pretty tight connection, so this worried us a little, but not too much, after all, there was another flight an hour later if we missed the connection.

We finally parked at the gate, and being an international flight, we all had to collect our luggage and clear customs. We were able to get off the plane, get our bags, get through customs, recheck the bags, and clear security on the other side all within about 20 minutes.

Side note: Billy Bishop Airport is AMAZING. They had a lounge with free bottled water, soda, coffee, and tea (beer, wine and sandwiches were available for purchase), as well as having very clean restrooms and a comfortable waiting area.

Within 5 minutes of getting to the waiting area, our flight was called for boarding. It was another uneventful flight, and we landed in Montreal as scheduled.

Montreal’s airport, Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, is nothing special. Other than being named for a former Canadian Prime Minister (who is, coincidentally, the father of the current PM, Justin Trudeau), and having a Tim Hortons in baggage claim, there was nothing to distinguish this airport from any other.

After retrieving our luggage, we made our way to the transportation area and tried to figure out if the hotel shuttle would come automatically or if we needed to call and schedule a pickup. Unfortunately, my cell phone didn’t have service (I forgot to activate international roaming before leaving), and Tracy’s phone is a work phone, so we didn’t want to use it to make international calls. Eventually, though, we decided to make the call from Tracy’s phone, got ahold of the hotel, and discovered that the van would be there in a few minutes.

It was pretty rainy outside, so we decided to just order food for delivery. However, as it was now 6pm, and we had been up since about 4:15, decision making was not easy. We finally ended up saying “Ok, pizza. And we are not getting Dominos!”. The place we chose had pretty decent pizza. Not the best ever, but not awful. And, of course, right as the food arrived, the rain stopped and it looked pretty nice outside, so we immediately regretted our choice to stay in rather than go out, but it was too late.

*I kept wanting to call the airport “Billy Porter” airport, probably because I was combining the name of the airport with the name of the airline. Billy Porter, although a very talented actor, however, does not have an airport named after him.

2018 Canadian Cruise – Pre Trip

So, by my calculations, it’s been well over a year since I’ve updated my blog. Most of the delay is laziness on my part, but part of it is wondering if anyone actually reads this thing, or if I’m just expending the effort in the name of self promotion. But, for right now, that doesn’t matter. I’m back, with another trip report.

Cast of Characters:
Eric – 35 (at the time of the trip … I’ve had a birthday since then) – self professed travel geek, disney geek, and pretty much geek-in-general.
Tracy – Age not specified – my lovely wife, who, for some odd reason, continues to put up with me, even after 7 years of marriage, bad jokes, snoring, etc. She’s also a Disney geek, but maybe not quite as much as I am.

Earlier in the year, we started talking about possible vacation options. We are a little bit lot addicted to Disney Cruise Line, and cruising has become one of our favorite vacations. We are also a little tired of the Caribbean, as our last 4 cruises have been there. So, looking to branch out, we discovered a good rate on a 7 night cruise from Quebec City to New York City, and decided to book.

Doing a cruise from Canada would require more planning than we’re used to. Being Florida residents, our previous cruise planning has been pretty much limited to “Throw some warm weather stuff in a suitcase, or 2 or 3, and drive to Port Canaveral.” However, with this cruise, we’d need to plan more carefully – there would be flights, possibly transportation from an airport to a cruise terminal, luggage considerations, possible hotel stays, all of which would need to be decided, booked, checked, rechecked, debated, etc. It would not be nearly as easy to plan this as most other trips we’ve taken.

Being that we both work for Disney, we can get some decent discounts on Disney cruises. However, the discounts are a “Space available” discount, meaning that the discounts are only offered if the cruise isn’t selling well, and often only show up with a few weeks notice. This time, however, they posted the space available rates 3 or 4 months in advance, so we were able to take advantage, and have some planning time that we don’t normally get.

Eventually, all the decisions were done. We would fly to Montreal the day before the cruise left Quebec City, spend the night in Montreal, then take DCL transfers to the Port the next morning, board the ship, and fly home after spending a few extra nights in NYC, so we could see some shows and friends and family.