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Navigating around the hurricanes. 4 night Navigator Cruise 9/23-9/27


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The next surprise!

We got the kisd up for the next day, and had this set out for them.


Needless to day they were really excited. We had been there before, so they know what they were getting to do. For this we had opted to also purchase the VIP Experience package since we knew with only having one day we wanted to maximize our time there. We also wanted to experience the new Hagrid ride, and figured this would be the best way to do so. Average wait times for this ride is 2-3 hours. As I am typing this at 10:30 on a wednesday its already a 90 minute wait. Our tour guide mentioned that on the day it opened it was a 12 hour line!

The VIP Experience includes

  • Free Valet Parking
  • Buffet breakfast and lunch at La Bamba
  • We had a great guide who gave us insider info to the park, behind the scenes looks at rides
  • Priority Front of line access. Once the tour ended, the VIP pass became an unlimited express pass

Our tour started at 9:30 so they told us to get there at least 30 minutes earlier to get checked in and have breakfast. We arrived at the valet, and went right through our own security. If you have not been there, Universal has security like an airport with bag scanners etc, and this gets VERY backed up, so to have our own dedicated one was nice. 

We got the the VIP check in area, got our credentials and headed to breakfast. We met up with our group while at breakfast. The regular VIP Experiences you are in a group of 12. We all got along great and had the same expectations and ride desires so that made things easy. You can book a private VIP tour. I explored that option, but the cost was way more than the cruise we just took soooo no.

The kids were excited to meet these guys



Once breakfast was done we headed off with our guide to do rides. They weren't kidding with the priority front of line access. For each ride, we actually walked up the exit, our guide nodded to the ride operators, and as soon as the next car was available we were ushered into the car and off we went. For any ride that bags needed to be stored, he held onto them. We did a couple of rides that Johnny was too short to do, and Johnny hung out with him. Our guide Jim used Lydia and Johnny as his assistants frequently, which they loved.

Full disclosure, We all LOVE Harry Potter stuff, so we were excited to go there again


Fun fact. There are 75000 prisms in these chandeliers in Grigots bank




Rode the Hogwarts Express




All in, it was a great day. We felt it was money well spent. Here is a list of the rides we did

ET Adventure

Men In Black Alien Attack

Fast and Furious - Supercharged

Revenge of the Mummy - We went underneath this ride as well and saw how some of the stuff works

Transformers: The Ride

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

Hogwarts Express - Kings Cross Station

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey 

Flight of the Hippogriff


Jurassic Park River Adventure

Skull Island: Reign of Kong

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man

So with our guide we were able to get 13 rides in, which we never would have been able to do otherwise. As far as Hagrid. That ride is now my favorite ride!!! It may not be the fasted on out there, but the way you sit on the ride, the twists, reverses, and vertical drops, yes there is a section where you drop vertically, the ride is amazing!! If you go to Universal, you have to do that ride. You can thank me later. There are two seats across, you either sit on the motorcycle, or you sit in the side car. You want the motorcyle.

After the spider-man ride, our tour was "over" and we said our good-byes to Jim. We headed back into Hogsmeade for some butterbeer, a snack and let the kids do some Magic. We discovered that Johnnys wand was not working. A very nice Wizard who was helping all the "students" practice their spells told us that in the Owl Post shop, there was a wizard who could repair his wand. Off we went, and a few minutes later Johnny had a whole "new" wand and he was a spell casting machine. We were told that wands will be repaired for free for life so keep that in mind if you are ever there.

After this we did two rides in Dr Seuss Land, The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley, which offers nice views of the park, and construction going on in Jurassic Park. We also rode the Cat in the Hat ride.

Sadly the park closed at 7 that evening. There was fright fest going on In Universal Studios, and other private events in Islands of adventure. We took in dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co and headed back to Bonne Creek


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Sadly This Trip Must End

Sadly we had to go home. So Sunday morning we packed up, hit the pools at the resort for a little while then headed to Disney Springs for a bit. Our flights weren't till 5pm.

We had a good lunch at Cookes of Dublin and wandered around for a bit before heading to the airport. 

Once at the airport I was glad we had TSA pre-check. We were through security in 2 minutes and off to the gate we went.

We had a direct flight back to Albany. We flew Southwest. I think we had one of the flight attendants who has been featured on youtube videos because we didnt get the "normal" preflight instructions. The ones we had left my stomach hurting from laughing so hard. Unfortunately neither Heather or I throught to get a video.

Once landed, I think it took about 5 minutes for me to put up the following facebook post

Well, made it back home.....I hate it already.


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Thanks to everyone who read along with me on our trip. Again I apologize for the sporadic posting, but my computer decided to be annoying and not function correctly and with the kids being little, I kinda sorta needed to pay attention to them. This was a busy vacation as well so it was hard to find some down time. I need a vacation from my vacation. 

I will most likely blog the next cruise which is a Western Caribbean on Liberty. We will be going to Belize, Roataan, and Cozumel.

See everyone then!!

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1 hour ago, WannaCruise said:

Love your review!  We were on Navigator in August so it's great to "see it" again.  

Question about Disney as we are planning this next year after Mariner cruise.  Do you remember what time you arrived at your resort?  (which I guess will be quicker for us as we'll be getting off at Port Canaveral vs Miami).  Also, did you check in right away?  Or did you have to store your bags?

The moment when your kids realized must have been priceless!

So driving from Miami was around 4 hours when you add bathroom breaks etc. We got there shortly after 2pm and at Bonnet Creek our room was ready. We have only stayed at Bonnet Creek when in Orlando. One time we did have them store our bags, and when our room was ready they were in the room waiting for us.

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Awesome blog!  I really enjoyed following along, especially the little surprises that you had for your kids.  Your photo with your son on the bag made me laugh.  We have one just like that from three years ago, except it was at Hollywood Studios while waiting for the Star Wars Galactic Spectacular.

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On 9/21/2019 at 10:56 AM, emsff02 said:

Debacle in Miami

So laaaaaaate last night we made it to Miami. On a suggestion from @MotleyCruiser we picked up our rental car from Sixt. Quite and easy process. They didn't have the vehicle class we originally booked to Upgrade!! The salesman said I had a choice between a Chevy Tahoe, or a GMC Yukon, I told him it didn't matter to me. "I'll give you the Yukon, its a more reliable vehicle" he says. I didn't have the heart to tell him, you know, they are the exact same car, just a different badge on the front.....EIther way it is a nice car. Unfortunately this is where the good times end.

So this is where it pays to research, research, research. Heather, through work uses Hilton based hotels for points etc. So we picked The Gates Hotel South Beach, which is a Double Tree. Normally we have good results with these hotels. We knew that we would pay more because its right off the beach so we were okay with that. Heather got her online check in notification which allows her to pick her room. We pick on on the eigth floor which overlooks the pool area etc. Perfect, off we go to the airport.

We pull into the hotel and surprise, there is no onsite parking. You have the privilege of valet parking for $42 a day.....ugh.....its South Beach....fine.......

We go up to the desk....Oh the room you requested is not available.....You can have this one, it still overlooks the pool area towards the beach....Okay fine that works.....We head up to the room to this....IMG_6679.thumb.jpg.638f2ee7d98f2a5167674689b2d5f969.jpgIMG_6678.thumb.jpg.72fdd06f2cd27c92a3066a488bd20dca.jpg 

What in the actual...........

So back down to the desk we go. New room, which thankfully was clean. The hotel did make good. They removed the nightly "resort fee" and gave us 50% off our first night stay. Feeling a little better now.

The beds were actually comfortable.

Breakfast.......$25 dollars for a continental breakfast buffet per person, oh if you want hot things like eggs? Thats another $6.

No thanks...Went to Denny's

I read your entire blog and we are going on our first cruise on 10/14 and its the same one you went on which was very informative.  Unfortunately we also booked the same hotel that you did.  When I booked it some time back the reviews seemed pretty good, but now it seems like most of the reviews have not been good.  Its only 2 nights, but I'm a little worried.  We are ubering so won't be paying for parking at least. 

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1 hour ago, guppyfresh said:

I read your entire blog and we are going on our first cruise on 10/14 and its the same one you went on which was very informative.  Unfortunately we also booked the same hotel that you did.  When I booked it some time back the reviews seemed pretty good, but now it seems like most of the reviews have not been good.  Its only 2 nights, but I'm a little worried.  We are ubering so won't be paying for parking at least. 

Thanks for reading! We were in the same situation. When we booked, the reviews seemed good. Now, after our stay, we probably wouldnt stay there again. Good luck with your stay, I hope it is less adventurous than ours. Enjoy your cruise!

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