Disney Cruise Line Travel Log: DAY 1 - EMBARKATION DAY

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Sailing: Disney Dream 4nt Very Merrytime Cruise
Date: December 2017
Itinerary: Port Canaveral - Nassau - Castaway Cay - Sea Day - Port Canaveral

- EMBARKATION DAY -

9am: Uber from Disney World Resort, Port Orleans French Quarter to Port Canaveral. It's about a one hour drive from Disney World to the Port. Ahh, so lovely seeing the ship as we're approaching :)

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Good to Know: There are 3 options for transportation getting to the port:

1.  Disney Cruise Line Shuttle Transportation from MCO or Disney World: $35 per person, each way.
- Pros: Easy, no planning needed. Great option for couples or families of 3. Also the BIGGEST perk is if something happens on the way to the port, the ship won't leave you. If you're leaving from Orlando International Airport, the first pick up is between 8-8:30am. You'll be first at the cruise terminal! :)
- Con: Picks up at Disney World are between 11am-1pm with multiple pick ups at different resorts. Late pick up means late to the ship

2. Private Transfer: cost varies by # of passengers and company.
- Pros: could be cost efficient with large groups. You can book ahead and is flexible with your schedule (you can get picked up at the time you choose.)
- Cons: could be pricey for a small group.

3. Uber/Taxi
- Pros: flexible and can schedule ride the morning of, can be cheapest private transfer option without surcharge fees.
- Cons: could be pricey with random surcharge fees

 

10am: we arrived at the Port. First things first, we checked our bags with the porters and breezed right through security. When approaching security, you're asked to have your printed documents with you: booking/confirmation and passports for the entire party. The security line is like a smaller version of the airport with bag scanners and metal detectors.

1030am: Check in time! SIDE NOTE: I always choose the earliest check in time because I like to maximize the time we are on the ship. Earlier on the ship = the more food we can eat and the more time we have to enjoy the ship and start our vacation! 

Check in was a breeze and only took about 10 minutes. We were given our Key to the World Cards, Silver Castaway Club Lanyards, Group number card, Navigator.

    - The Key to the World card is your room key and charge card. It also tells you your dining rotation and muster station.

    - Since this was our 3rd cruise, we are Silver Castaway Club Members and were given lanyards. If this is your first cruise, you won’t have status just yet. But don’t fret! You gain status right after your first cruise. You need to sail 5 sailings to be Gold Members and X sailings to be Platinum Members.

    - Your Group Number Card is your group that you embark the ship. We were group #2.

    - Navigator is your guide to all the activities, movie times, information, specials and updates for the day. Your stateroom host leaves you a new navigator each day at turn down service. (Did I mention your room is cleaned twice a day? We'll share more on that later.)

10:45-11am: We waited in the terminal. There was a long line to take a picture with Minnie, then took a picture by the Christmas tree. And by the time we knew it, they called our group #2 and we were walking through the golden mickey to the Disney Dream.

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11:15am: First stop: LUNCH. For lunch, you have two options for food (they don't tell you this): Cabanas (the buffet) or the Enchanted Garden (restaurant that's a buffet on embarkation day.) All of the Disney employees will send you over to go to Cabanas so prepare for a MAD HOUSE trying to get anything (table, food, etc). Your best bet for a nice, relaxing first meal is going to the Enchanted Garden. The seasoned cruisers know this and it's way less crowded, no long lines and everything is available. They also serve your drinks in Enchanted Garden. At Cabanas is every man for themselves.. so we chose to eat at Enchanted Garden. I wished I had pictures but at this point, I was starving so no pics. I can guarantee you it was DELICIOUS.

12:15pm: After lunch, we explored ship - all of the kids clubs and areas are open house so we checked out those areas. We have some awesome footage of those clubs in our video. :) We also took a visit to the spa to sign up for the rainforest pass.

The Rainforest Room can be best described as a little taste of heaven. I guess in Spa terms, it would be considered the "spa facilities". Here you have 2 types of saunas, hamam room, 4 different types of showers with scents (and they give you body scrubs each visit to make your skin feeling nice and soft.) There are heated lounger chairs where we took our daily naps and 2 jacuzzis.

There are two types of rainforest passes: day and length of cruise
- day pass: only available for purchase online BEFORE the cruise departs. $16/day - the BIGGEST spa steal at sea!
- length of cruise pass: Literally the best thing you can do for yourself. This allows you unlimited access to the rainforest room. Cost varies depending on cruise length. The Disney Dream offers 3 and 4 night sailings so for a 3 night sailing, it's well under $100 to enjoy the Rainforest for the entire duration of the cruise. DO IT. You will have no regrets on this investment.. trust me.

Testing out the heated loungers. we are SOLD!

Testing out the heated loungers. we are SOLD!

1:30pm: Rooms are available and we headed over to our room to drop off our day bags, unwind, put up magnets and fish extenders. The doors on the Disney Cruise are magnetic and a fun way Disney Cruisers show their style is by decorating their doors. Another fun Disney community thing is Fish Extenders. This is that little hanging sea horse/fishy right outside of our stateroom door that can hang things.. I'll go more in depth about these in a future post.

We stayed in Room 8662 in the Starboard Aft. It's a category 7A stateroom with an obstructed verandah.
- Reasons I chose this room: First time staying aft, 3 floors down from Cabanas (easy access to buffet and drink stations), right in the elevator wing (I was originally worried about our door opening right out to the elevators but turned out to be the best thing ever.) Quick and easy access to the room. Not as much noise as I initially thought there would be, and the highlight of choosing this room on the starboard side is the phenomenal view of Disney's Private IslandCastaway Cay.
- Thoughts on the room: while I loved the room and its location, there was a constant vibration and purr in the room that would NOT leave unless docked. And when docking in the mornings, there was a little shove in the room that would wake me up at 7am.

TIP: There are some secrets that Disney doesn't share and I'm here to share them with you. :) When choosing a stateroom, Kevin and I always want to find the bang for our buck and this is one of those. Because of the way the ship is made and the metal molding on the exterior of the ship, there are several secret staterooms that are "discounted" due to the "obstructed" view rooms in the Forward and Aft of the ship that are sold for the price of an Oceanview stateroom because of the "inconvenience of the obstruction. But come on, it's not THAT bad and if anything, it helps block the wind when enjoying a meal on the verandah on those windy sea days. 

OTHER TIP: I would say though, if you are motion sickness prone, this is not the room for you. For motion sickness prone folks, you want to book a lower level, midship room. The closer you are to the water and more midship, the less you'll feel the rocking of the ship.

* Check out our video for a full room tour *

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2:30pm: After getting settled in, we wasted no time and went straight back to the spa. This being our 3rd Disney Cruise, we already knew the ins and outs of the ship so we were R E A D Y to get the relaxing started. Ahh, look at that smile. I'm missing every bit of this.

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3:30pm: Spa raffle - no luck. Straight back to the Rainforest Room for more relaxing. We established a "routine"... hot tub + sauna + hamam + steam room + showers + 30 min nap on the heated loungers. We repeated this e v e r y d a y . No regrets.

4pm: went to muster drill in our spa robes. We got some laughs and giggles from parents.. they were just wishing they were in the same boat. ;)

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4:30pm: We skipped the sail away party and went straight back to the spa. We waved goodbye to reality, phone service and land from the comfort of our heated loungers. 

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5:47pm We headed back to the room to get ready for the evening. While getting ready, we also ordered room service snacks because why not? 

* FUN FACT * Room service on the ship is F R E E . Ok ok, maybe not free, BUT it's included in your cruise fare. Take full advantage :) 

7pm skipped the golden mickeys show (have seen it 3 times). Enjoyed atrium singers and the energy from the ship. Embarkation day is the best because everyone is SO. HAPPY!

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730pm Since this was a Very Merrytime Cruise, there were extra activities that are not normally available on regular cruises. Usually there's a Sail Away Party in the atrium, but this time it was Mickey's Treelighting Ceremony with Mickey and the gang and Santa. It was so cute! They made it snow in the atrium and the show was very classic Disney with all the feels. :) 

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815pm We had late dinner. (There are two dinner times: 5pm and 8:15pm). Our dining rotation was AERE:
A = Animators Palate
E = Enchanted Garden
R = Royal Palace

So we had our first dinner in Animators Palate

Good to know: MDR = Main Dining Rotation. You dine at a new restaurant each night and your servers rotate with you. Every night is a new experience, new environment, new menu and new costumes for your servers. If you call Disney ahead of time, you can request your rotation (though not guaranteed). If you're traveling with your spouse, you can also request a table for 2 instead of dining with randoms. Everyones style is different and it's nice to know that you have options.

Dining is all you care to order. You can order 3 appetizers and an entree if your stomach can do it. Or you can order 4 appetizers and dessert. It's up to you and however you like.

Thoughts: I always LOVE starting our cruise with a dinner at Animators Palate. It's fun, exciting and super Disney Themed. There are screens all over the restaurant and Crush and the gang visit you and your table for a unique dining experience. Crush learns your names and interacts with you. 

Word to the wise: Animators Palate is LOUD. There's so much going on and lots of interaction between servers, Crush on the screens and with your own table. So if you're not too fond of a loud dinner, Animators Palate may not be for you. For any Disney lover, you'll want to experience this at least once :)

9:30pm After dinner, we explored some more. We looked through the shops, enjoyed the ship that was emptying out since all the families were going to sleep. :)

    - There was a hot chocolate station set up so we helped ourselves. 

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10pm: We moseyed on over to the Buena Vista Theatre to watch Coco. We held off on watching it in theaters knowing it was going to be on the ship.  It was such a beautiful film and didn't expect to tear up through it. O B S E S S E D !

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After the movie, we took another stroll through the ship. It was like crickets in the lounges and clubs so we headed back to the room for some good shut eye. Successful embarkation day if you ask me. :)

Day 2 will be posted tomorrow. Destination: Nassau, Bahamas.