Our whirlwind transatlantic cruise that took us to Portugal and Spain started in Orlando, Florida. Originally, we planned on booking a Port Canaveral hotel that included a shuttle from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the port. But the more that I searched, I realized how expensive those hotels were. We’re not really beach people and this was just the beginning of a really epic vacation. The price didn’t seem worth it to us, instead I booked a hotel right outside the gates to Walt Disney World (its amazing to me that it was cheaper than the Port Canaveral area). If you are going to the parks, they also offer a free shuttle. If you are looking to visit the theme parks and don’t want to pay the price to stay on property, I highly recommend Buena Vista Suites!
We only had one night so we didn’t spend any time in the parks, but it was our anniversary so I got us reservations at Steakhouse 71 in the Contemporary Resort. It had been probably over 20 years since I stepped foot in the Contemporary. I really enjoyed the mid-century theming and I wish we would’ve sprung for the deluxe accommodations for the 50th anniversary. The walkway to the Magic Kingdom would’ve saved us a lot of time that day! Steakhouse 71 is themed as a 1970’s steakhouse and everything we had was fabulous (get the bacon & eggs appetizer! You won’t regret it)! Since it was our anniversary, they get us a free champagne toast that I did not expect. After dinner, we took the monorail to the Polynesian where we sat at the outdoor Trader Sam’s and watched the fireworks before finishing the monorail loop and heading back to our hotel for the night.
The next morning, we enjoyed our free breakfast and drove our rental car to Port Canaveral. We had earned a free day rental from National because of our recent long term rentals so this one-way rental was much cheaper than the Orlando to Port Canaveral shuttles I found. We had an 11:00 am check in time because that is usually when cruise ships start boarding so you don’t have to wait too long and you get a lunch that is included in your cruise fare. I will share more about our embarkation experience when I do my Norwegian Getaway review.
The next day was our first port stop, Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s Private Island. We visited Great Stirrup back in 2015 making it our first repeated port in our seven cruises. I was surprised by how many people we heard that said they weren’t getting off the ship at Great Stirrup. The tendering process isn’t the easiest, but this was our last chance to stand on dry land for 7 days. Great Stirrup Cay is different from Norwegian’s other private island, Harvest Cay. All food is included and drink packages work on the island. Since 2015, they have made a lot of improvements to the island from additional beach areas, bars, and dining options to new private cabanas for rent. There are many water activities to do on the island, from jet skiing and snorkeling to paddle board rentals and even a zip-line. We always like to rent a clamshell on these islands to give us some shade. Shortly after we got on land it started raining and the clamshell kept us dry, although one of the cabanas would’ve been even drier. Our last two times on Norwegian’s island we booked the clamshell on the ship and our shore excursion credit covered it. This time it was only available to be booked once we got off the ship. He wrote our name and room number down but the rain came so hard, I’m pretty sure the ink on his paper ran and became illegible because we were never charged for our clamshell so I’m not sure if the shore excursion credit still applies to these island rentals.
We had talked about trying zip-lining on Great Stirrup or renting jet skis and I’m glad we didn’t book it because the zip line was closed the whole day because of lightning and for several hours no one was allowed in the water. Luckily, the rain let up for lunch and we walked down the beach a bit to try one of the new food options. We hung out for a little bit after that but headed back to the before the rain started up again. It was an odd beach day, but I was glad we got off the ship for a little bit even if we got a little wet.
Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out Cruising the Atlantic to Portugal and Spain trip report. Be sure to check back next week as I recap one of my all time favorite cruise excursions in the Azores. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! For my list of gadgets to make your travels easier, click here. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.