Planning my Trip – Flights

Step 1 – Getting There

So in my quest to visit America, I have not given myself any time to really save up. I also now have a full time job so I couldn’t take too much time off either. However, because I like a challenge I’m still planning to go to at least 2 American cities and Australia.  This trip will be like most of my others, I will be travelling by myself, but I will be meeting up with friends in both Orlando and Brisbane.

I am always looking for the best deals on flights. For this trip I am budgeting at most $2,000 on flights and around $5,000 in total.

Original budget:

$2,000 –  flights

$3,000 – accommodation, activities and spending money.

The process

I always start looking for flights on Expedia, they have a really great range of companies to search from and can definitely give you a starting point.

I try not to book on Expedia as I always have a terrible experience. You can never really change or get a refund, you can’t mix and match your flights, or specify what is important without compromising other aspects of your trip. Have a look at Kayak, Sky Scanner and Flight Centre.

I also try to price out individual flights versus round trip, especially in the planning stages while I’m trying to decide where I want to go and what I want /how I want to get there.

For example, while I was in the early stages of planning this trip I was going to go to New York and only spend 3 days in Orlando. I also looked at spending some time in California and Texas. though while researching what I wanted to do and where I would stay, nothing jumped out at me and made me decide on Texas or California as the place to visit on this trip. I have however always wanted to visit New Orleans. Something about the history and the culture there just really interests me.

I also am a member of the Qantas frequent flyer and I desperately want to get to silver membership!!!! I almost made it last year but my points expired before the end of my last contract so I missed out!

So the final flight plan I settled on:

  • June 4th – Auckland to Chicago
  • June 22nd – Orlando to Brisbane
  • July 3rd – Brisbane to Auckland

On Expedia the trip was looking around $2200.

To be honest I was kind of disappointed, I didn’t want to spend like half my budget on flights alone!

By chance I decided to search my full itinerary on the Qantas website as I had chosen the fully Qantas trip on Expedia and had decided to fly Qantas if possible so I can finally attain the coveted silver membership.

And buy was I happy I did! I found the Qantas website so useful! You can choose each individual flights to choose price or arrive or depart times. I managed to shave almost $500 off the total price. As I am always travelling on a budget, always looking to the next trip, this is always a bonus.

So my final flights are as follows

  • June 4th – 6:20am depart Auckland fly via Brisbane and LA a finally arrive in Chicago at 3pm on the same day
  • June 22nd – 7:30pm depart Orlando fly via LA and land Brisbane at 6am on the 24th June
  • July 3rd – depart 6:55pm and arrive in Auckland at 00:00.

All in all, I think I paid $1850 including the visa fee for booking and paying online.

These flights will add just over 300 points to my membership which will take me well and truly into silver level which will be amazing for my next adventure at the end of the year.

I’m really really happy with my flights. Now you may be thinking why are you going to Chicago, and how are you planning to get to Orlando???

I decided to book another flight from New Orleans to Orlando, I like to book southwest mostly because of the free luggage and the great prices. I probably could have booked either united or American airlines which would add points to my Qantas membership. However, I like the free 2 bags that southwest offers more.

This flight is June 9th 7:55pm arriving Orlando 10:35pm.

I was/am a little worried about how late I booked in regards to storing my luggage. I have emailed my hotel about storing my luggage for the day but I have yet to hear back.

My final thoughts on booking flights

Shop around! Look at sky scanner or kayak, southwest won’t show on any discount sites be sure to check their site separately.

I still haven’t decided whether it’s better to book like 6 months in advance or a week out. I booked my flights and then the next week air New Zealand and Qantas released cheap flights to LA, but my flights wouldn’t have been too much different as I have several legs of the trip.

Visa Funtimes

So as you know last month I applied for and received the C1/D visa which is a transient visa / seaman visa for working on board cruise ships. Once I received this I though bam! I’m so in! time to start planning my vacation at the end of my first six month contract with the Disney Dream. However when u sent an email to the casting assistants asking for my travel dates and asking about how I would organise my return flights as I would love to spend a week at Disney World and a week traveling the states, they said I would need a different visa.

A DIFFERENT VISA!!!!! Are you kidding me?????

So I did some research and it turns out I needed to get the B1/2 visa at the same time. If I had applied for it at the same time it wouldn’t have cost me any extra either. But because I didn’t I had to cough up another $192 NZD to pay for the visa. Unfortunately it’s not really an option to not get it as I want to visit my friends in the states before coming home. So on Thursday morning I quickly filled in the required ds-160 and made an appointment for Wednesday the 15th of October. Now I have been through this process 3 times already. In 2009 I applied for and received a j1 visa for camp America. In 2013 I applied for the j1 visa for Walt Disney world and then again in 2014 I applied for a c1/d visa.

So I’m pretty smooth at filling in all the required information and making the appointment. This morning the only paperwork I needed was my confirmation of employment, confirmation of appointment and my ds160. When I went in there was no one in line but most of the seats in the interview waiting area was full. Now they only have 2 people conducting the interviews. So it took around an hour to get from paperwork to interview stage. They said that the employment paper made it really easy to approve the visa, as it proves income. The only questions I was asked this time around were “Are you ready for your holiday?” And “What did you do on your last visa?” And then he approved my visa for ten years!!!!!!

So even though it did cost (my dad) an extra $200 it is well worth it. However learn from my mistakes and apply all together 🙂 So now I’m looking at Contiki tours as I would love to travel a bit of the great US of A before heading back to glorious New Zealand.

Here’s a few tips about the B1/B2 visa I found useful;

  • B1 is the business part.
  • B2 is the tourism part.
  • The length of time you can stay in the USA for is 6 months at a time on the B2, but is subject to a case by case basis decided by your immigration/customs officer.
  • My visa is good for 10 years (!!!) but they can be issued for as little as 6 months. Though word on the web is that on second application you would then be issued with a 10 year one.
  • There is to be no working while on this visa. This is why I have combined mine with the c1/d
  • You do not need a certain amount of money in the bank to apply, but I was told that my employment papers made it easier to get as it made me financially stable.

Have any suggestions on what tours I should do? Leave me a comment below!!!

The waiting game

So with everything I choose to do in my life I love to play the waiting game. This is not true. I am the most impatient person I know. However I decided a long time ago that I wanted to live the life I wanted. I wanted to travel the world and be paid for it. I want to live for the experiences and enjoy life to the fullest.

So I have constantly found ways to reach these goals and fulfil my wanderlust and lack of money.

So if you guys have been following me for a little while you’ll know that since I finished my Disney International College Program I have been trying to get on to the Disney Cruise Line. Last time we talked I was mid-way through my application process.

I have filled in the application, which was pretty straight forward … Upload resume….. Now type out resume in the following screens. I found having a reference from within Disney was really beneficial here, even an old manager.

I had a phone interview which lasted around an hour – hour and a half. In which my recruiter a lovely lady by the name of Jan talked to me about my job, my resume, my time at Disney, why I felt I was right for the team, working on a cruise ship and of course my next steps. Have a look at my post “applying for the DCL” for more hints on the interview and this process.

After the interview I had to get a medical check-up which consisted of lots of blood work and immunisation history as well as an eye test and a hearing test. To start with I did have some trouble with this as I was not provided the information for the medical tests until I had already had the meeting with my doctor. This was a very expensive part of the application. This cost me $25o for the first appointment and blood work. After I was provided the correct paperwork I had to get more blood tests done which was an extra $70. I then had to try and track down immunisation records and ended up having another blood test to see if I was immune to chicken pox. Turns out I am, I believe I was immunised as a child but there were no records of it. I also had to go for a hearing test which was slated to cost another $80. Luckily enough it was free in the end.

I also had more information to fill in online, passports, flight availability, marital status etc.

During all this run around I had also booked my visa appointment at the only consulate in New Zealand which is in Auckland. I did however go on the wrong day the first time and felt like a complete dick. So I went back on the right day. Dressed up all professionally I took;

  • Both my passports,
  • My receipts of the interview
  • Confirmation of the DS-160
  • Letter of employment
  • American Passport photo (5cmx5cm)

Once I waited in line and it was finally my turn I handed all the paper work and my New Zealand passport over and went to sit until they called me for my interview. When they called me up to the second window, they asked

  • What I was applying for? A c1/d visa
  • Why I was applying for this? Because I had a job with Disney on the cruise line
  • What had I done before? Worked as a concierge for Walt Disney world.

The interviewer then told me that I should know what I was doing and advised me that my visa had been accepted and that I would receive my passport by courier within the next week. I was over the moon!!! I did receive my passport 2 days later and I found that my visa was valid for 5 years!!!!

So I uploaded a copy of the visa to the documents website, I am now just waiting on the last of my medical records to be finalised.

So I spent the better part of a week going stir crazy waiting for that call to say they wanted me right now!! I even sent a message to one of the Disney reps to see what my hire status was, and she replied that they would do their best to get me a job by December. DECEMBER!!! Omg I was momentarily devastated. I didn’t want to wait that long. I was going crazy with nothing to do at home, I have had no luck in finding a part time job since I’ve been back.

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Finally on September 30th I received an email with the news id been waiting for!

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I of course accepted straight away.

I then received a second email.

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And now I’m just waiting on confirmation of flights.

23 days to go!

Applying to the DCL

So I have wanted to do a more in depth post for you guys on how I applied for the Disney cruise line. Something more in line with the how to posts that I did for the ICP at the start of my blog.

So here goes

The Application:

Ok so first steps first: find the application you want to apply for

Do this by going to www.DCLjobs.com, then choose search jobs, browse jobs and choose Disney cruise line. This will give you the full list of all applications open at the moment.

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I was applying for Guest service hostess. The next screen will give you all the information, some of them even given you videos to watch that will tell you about the role and its importance on board.

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Once you have decided to apply you will need to create a log in. I never have any luck with this I can never log in twice in a row without resetting my password and/or forgetting my log in name.

Once you have logged in however you can upload your resume, specifically one tailored to the position. The application is really frustrating you basically upload a resume and a cover letter and then spend the next hour writing it out again. Also for this application they want to know actual dates of employment and phone numbers and emails of references.

I generally just copied and pasted my resume into the appropriate places of the application.

 Resume tips:

My resume is by no means perfect, however ill share a few things with you as I had help from an actual officer on board the Disney cruise line in the managerial position.

Mine is set out like this

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Use buzzwords like

  • Self-motivated
  • Guest service
  • Exceeding
  • Dynamic
  • Exceptional
  • Challenging
  • High volume
  • Flexibility
  • Satisfaction
  • Responsible
  • Communication
  • Performing

You don’t have to use all of these words and there are a huge amount of websites online designated to buzz words and resumes.

I was also told try not to use “I” in your resume, utilize bullet points and keep everything to a one sentence maximum except for your objective.

For Disney specifically always how your Disney history/experience first. This is the most relevant for them and show that you have history with the company and know the standards that are expected.

Also say references on request rather than having a list of top 5 references. But keep their info close at hand for whenever a future employer asks for it.

Documents:

Later in the afternoon of the day I submitted the application I received an email saying welcome and that they needed further information to be provided via a documents website. They wanted things like my passports, availability, address verification, they wanted a safety certificate list, and I also had to apply for an American back ground check as I had lived there for a year. I did my best to update and submit the information as soon as possible.

Now remember my application process was helped along by having my manager pass my resume along in the first place so my time line may be different for others. For example my friend applied online and weeks later has now got an interview set up for next week, so her time line may be more suited to a realistic time frame.

The Interview:

Later that week I received an email setting up a time for a skype interview. Because I live in New Zealand and the recruitment office is located in Orlando Florida this caused some problems with the time zones.

We agreed on 7:30am my time and 3pm her time. Now as you may have noticed from my pictures since early august a large portion of my hair is purple!!!! Arrrgh!! There was much drama about how I would conceal this as it’s really not Disney look. However luck was in my favour and the morning of the interview Jan’s skype wouldn’t work and we had a phone interview instead.

The phone interview lasted around an hour or so. My best advice for the interview would be to be yourself, maybe a more professional version of yourself. Do your hair and makeup, be very professional from the shoulders up. If you have ear piercings take them out etc. reference the Disney look guidelines and see what they are expecting for you and adhere to that as strictly as you can.

I would recommend having a few things on hand:

  • Maybe have a copy of your resume on hand so you know what they are referencing.
  • Have a cup of tea or water just off camera at easy arms reach.
  • Paper and a pen.
  • Be somewhere quiet and comfortable so you won’t get distracted or restless.
  • Have a few questions about the life on board/ job on hand to ask so you appear informed and enthused about really having this job.

The interview started out as a bit of a chat about what I knew about the Disney cruise line, the we moved on to my resume and application. Be very honest in this area they can see both, don’t lie about what you’ve put down. However this is your chance to make yourself seem like the stand out star. Spin each job, have a great story about a guest situation you turned around or a fellow employee who you sorted a problem with. NEVER HAVE A PROBLME WITH A MANAGER! THIS MAKE YOU SEEM LIKE A TROUBLE MAKER AND THEY WONT WANT TO HIRE YOU.

A question I was asked was what is one of the problems/challenges you had while working for Disney? I said the American money system. I have a reprimand on my record for money handling she can see this, so I owned up to it and spun it my way. I was able to say I had trouble with the money at first because it is so different from the money at home. But I OVERCAME this difficulty with practise and hard work and I no longer find this a struggle.

Some other thing you could use are: disgruntled guests, the environment, checklists, safety requirements, etc. choose something you can spin in your favour. Don’t choose something that ends with you in a bad light.

We next talked about my previous employment history, and then about the job. With this being for the cruise line they are very insistent that you are aware of the job and the living conditions. The fact that it will be 6 months on and 2 months off. That you will be sharing a cabin with another person and you will be in close quarters with the 2000 crew members for the duration of your contract.

Showing that you’ve done your research and that you fully understand this is really helpful. I said something along the lines of I understand it will be hard and cramped and that it is entirely different from anything else I’ve ever experienced however I am really excited to experience this and I am hoping that I will thrive in this environment as part of the team.

At the end of the interview I asked what the process from here was. I was told that they have a pool of around 13 people at any one time waiting for a position or in various stages of readiness. That you would be contacted with an offer of employment and then take the net steps from there. At this point I asked if there was anything I could do to ensure that I got that next call and I was pleasantly surprised to be offered the position then and there to which I heartily accepted on the spot.

The Next Steps:

I then received several emails detailing the next steps of my journey. These are

  • A criminal back ground check
  • A medical check
  • Obtaining a C1/D visa
  • Filling out more documents online

I’ll do another post soon outlining these next steps

TTFN

Nutmeg

Disney Cruise Line Process

So since I’ve finished at Disney I have had quite an exciting time with the Disney cruise line.

It all started on august the 6th when I received an email from a recruiter saying that she had received my resume and was I still interested. To which I replied that I was. Jan then sent me personalized link to fill in an application and what not. I filled it in. it was an application for a guest service hostess, ad t was just standard application from dcljobs.com. After filling this out later that day I received several emails once of which asking me to upload some information to a documents website and another arranging a skype interview time.

The skype date was set for Saturday the 17th of August which I readily accepted 7:30am! Well as it so happens I had just booked bus tickets to go and see my mum that weekend so I messaged her to tell her to fill up her Wi-Fi plan as I needed it for skype for a job interview.

Once I arrived at mums on Friday evening we fussed over the kitchen table clearing it off and setting up a sheet behind it so that it would give me a neutral back ground. My biggest problem was my purple hair! How in the hell was I supposed to hide that??? And it is most definitely not Disney look in any way shape or form.

So the next morning I was up at the crack of dawn quietly getting ready putting on my professional shirts over my pyjama bottoms and slippers (hehe). Did my make up and put my hair up in a professional bun. Success the lighting was bad enough my hair looked brown and not purple at all. I made a cup of tea, trying o not wake up the rest of the household. Logged into skype and waited for Jan to call.

At 7:35am I got an email saying hr skype was broken and she tried calling my mobile and it didn’t work, so I gave her the home phone, there is very little cell phone reception at my mum’s she lives in the middle of the native forest at the top of New Zealand.  So the phone rang and Jan and I talked for over an hour, going over the job and my resume and answering my questions.

We covered things like have you looked into life on board? I mentioned I had done a cruise and she asked if the purpose was to find out what it was like and I answered that yes it was. She laughed and told me it would be a lot different as a crew member haha.

Right at the end I asked what I could do to move my process along to make sure I was offered a positon ad she said “ after this conversation I feel comfortable in offering you the position right now if you want to accept it”, I nearly fell over !!! I was expecting at least a 2 week waiting period. So I of course accepted and she wished me well.

Now during this conversation I had to admit I had messed up with my up loading documents, because I’m useless, and she laughed it off and fixed it right up for me J  so don’t worry about messing up or making mistakes they generally understand that you’re human.

I then had to schedule a medical and it cost me $225 hopefully this will be refunded when I get to the port. I finally got everything faxed over yesterday only to find out that Disney was supposed to send me a medical package which listed everything they needed but they hadn’t done so. So I’m heading back to the doctors tomorrow to get all the forms signed and faxed over to Disney.

I’ve also today just had my visa appointment and been approved for my C1/D visa!!!!! Everything is lining up!!!

So here is a fun little story for you. Last Monday I had just had my medical appointment, had my blood tests done and as I returned home considerably more poor, a FedEx van turned up at my door. It was my employment papers!!!! Yay!!!! so I logged into the American embassy website and started filling out my DS-160 form (which takes hours and is so bloody confusing) last time Disney provided me with a whole bunch of information about how to fill it out and what information to put in, however this time they didn’t which was all sorts of fun and stress. But I eventually filled it out and paid for my visa (dad had to top me up with some money to afford it) and made an appointment. Now here is the funny part. I didn’t really look at dates, I just noticed a greyed out Blue Square which I figured was today and an open appointment for the next day. This was perfect!!! Dad had to go in early so he could drop me off on his way past. Quick mad dash for passport photos and printing out of documents. I get up at the ass crack of dawn stumble around and we zoom off into town. We finally get there and the security guard tells me “see right here it says Wednesday 10th of September” so that was next week haha! So shame faced I catch a bus back to orewa and while away the day till today!!!!

I’ve done nothing but mess up since I started this process haha

EDIT: while applying for your C1/D also apply for the B1/2 it has no extra cost and allows that wonderful chance to explore the USA after your contract finishes.

TTFN

Nutmeggle

Vista way

So I have been living in vista way for over a month. And I think you guys could do with some home truths in the making of your decision for which housing complex to choose.

I met a few people who had done the Disney college program before and they advised me that Chatham square is THE apartment block to live in. However when I got the dorms email I believe I must have missed a check box that indicated preference to apartment block or number of people. Because when I arrived I discovered I had been placed in vista way. Initially this was a disappointment however I am ever a positive person so I refused to allow it to ruin the start of my Disney experience.

So it’s been over a month and a half since all six of us moved in together. Vista way is actually an awesome place to live, there is always people around and things to do. The rent is the cheapest out of all the apartment blocks. It does have its Down falls it has a bad reputation and the kitchens are tiny and the Apartments are old and crappy. But I enjoy living here and I enjoy the extra $6 a week in my paycheck that I save on rent. It is really no different than a student flat.

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There is a dollar store, a drive through Starbucks, dunkin donuts, Wendy’s, chick fil a, and Walgreens just next door which is awesome. Many people also go on party buses on Thursdays but I have heard terrible things so I am afraid to venture out on them. Generally it is under 21 territory.

We have apartment inspections from 3rd of October till 14th of October, which sucks so for 11 days we have to keep the apartment spotless, no dishes on the bench, no rubbish in the bin, etc blergh !!!!!!

There are some who like to believe that their program is better because they live in a ‘newer’ complex, but you just have to have a think and see that does it really matter where your are living? if it doesnt leak or cause any other issues then what is the problem?

Work costume and bedroom

Life over here is both exactly what I expected and completely different at the same time. I am having a blast, meeting new people, playing in the parks and enjoying working. I am spendign lots of time at Disney university at the moment, as i have completed my stint as front desk at the All Star Resorts. I am now in training for Lobby Concierge, this involves a 3 day course at Disney University and then 5 days of on the job training, followed by another day at D.U. for cast apps training and then a transportation tour. After all that i will be officially trained and on my own as a concierge at the all star resorts. this means i have the chance to realise a dream of mine which is to work at as many of the resorts as possible.

i also found out (though im not sure if it applies to ICP’s) that after 6 months you can request a location change. so we shall see, this has its pros and cons. The All Star’s are a value resort and because of this it is pretty laid back in how posh you have to be. it is not a Disneys Vacation Club resort, nor does it have to maintain any diamond awards. this means i can just focus on the guests rather than whether or not i handed the guest everything in the right order e.t.c. so im thinking maybe ill just pick up shifts at other resorts instead of moving 🙂

 

Ttfn
Nutmeggle

My first and second weeks

As we cannot get into the parks until traditions and we receive our employee Id.s we decided to check out downtown Disney as a flat. We had a great time and it was an awesome pre leader to traditions.

My traditions class was scheduled for 8.30 Friday the 9th of August. Traditions is your first day of paid training.

It has strict rules to what you can wear and how you can look.

My day started at 5.30am. Dressed to the nines in a skirt that reaches the knee and a blouse which is not sheer and covered my shoulders. Myself and 2 of my roommates wandered down to our bus stop at 6.25 ready to catch the 6.30 bus to the Disney University.

Unfortunately when this bus finally arrived at 6.55 it had space for only 10 people and not the 50 or so that were waiting. I managed to push myself to the front of the line and get on the first bus, however my flatmates had to wait for the next one half hour later. Bear in mind that it’s like 35 degrees already outside by this time of the morning.

Once we got to D.U we waited around, got separated up and off to traditions. This class includes a lot about safety and the history of Disney. Mickey mouse himself delivered our name tags. I also answered a question and got a wee pluto critter.

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Traditions went from 8am till midday. After traditions we got the bus home and got changed into something way cooler and more comfortable. Then we hit up magic kingdom for the first time ever!!!

The experience was insane. It was crazy hot and packed! We went on a few rides but spent most of our time waiting in lines (haha). We saw new fantasyland and had a great time exploring the different avenues off main street USA.

We were exhausted and ended up home at 11ish. I had classes starting the next day.

I spent the next 4 days getting up at 6.30am and catching the A bus out to Disney University, for The journey begins day 1 and destination cashier days 1 through 3. In this class we learnt what is expected of a front desk employee and how to go about check ins and check outs in the system Lilo. We had 2 amazing facilitators Marita and Molly. I also met some Amazing people from all around the globe, there was 14 of us  in the class.

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Yesterday was my first day off since last Thursday, i slept in late and then my flatmate Kat and I decided to make use of our free main gate passes and explore the depths of Hollywood Studios.

Hollywood Studios is wicked, they have The Tower of Terror which is a ride in which you sit in an elevator and it rises and falls in up to 4 different sequences and is absolutely terrifyingly amazing way, they also have Rockin Rollarcoaster which is the only ride that goes upside down at Disney world.

We had an amazing time watching beauty and the beast live on stage and seeing the Fantasmic nightly show. We had a giant turkey leg and a margarita for dinner and got home exhausted around midnight.

Today was my last day off and i spent it working on my tan at typhoon lagoon, one of Disney world’s amazing water parks. They have water slides and rides as well as a lazy river and the biggest wave pool i have ever seen. I will admit that i am quite sunburnt and that tomorrow after work I’m and heading off to wall mart for some after sun aloe gel :). This afternoon included a woody themed welcome event with free food, line dancing and free stuff. Then a group of us who are legally allowed to drink hit up Jellyrolls a piano bar on Disney boardwalk for a singalong and drinks. I am now staying up way past my bed timeline order to do laundry so i have something to wear to work tomorrow.

Tomorrow is my resort orientation and costume fitting. I am super excited to finally see the 3 resorts where i will be based All Stars Movies, Music and Sports.

Sorry i haven’t posted in a while it is hard to find the time to fit every thing in at the moment.

Nutmeg
Xoxo