So you’ve reserved your Disney Cruise and are now counting down the days until you set foot on that magical ship. But of course it’s not as easy as just waltzing aboard. Don’t stress though – here are some tips to prep you for embarkation day…
10. Arrival Time – DCL will ask you to preregister on-line to streamline the check-in process. Part of this preregistration will include choosing what time you plan to arrive at port on embarkation day. Choose the EARLIEST time that you can! Some may reason, “Hey, we can’t get on the ship until 2:00 so why would I get there at 11:00?” To that I respond, “Why not?” There are lots of things to do while you wait, as we’ll discuss below. But the main two reasons I tell people to arrive early are 1) to move through port security faster and 2) to get your family boarding number. At the check-in desk you’ll be given a boarding number…obviously once boarding starts they are going to go chronologically.
9. Port Expectations – At port you can expect to need all your important documents. When you pre-register DCL will give you a list of what those are, but generally it will be: registration sheet, passport, birth certificate for minors, and credit card. You can drop your luggage at the curb (print your tags when you pre-register), but DO NOT forget to keep your documents with you! If you drive, you can choose valet or self-parking…neither are free, by the way. Then you will move through security (which will include your typical airport scans) and on to check-in.
8. While You Wait – After you check-in you will probably have some time to kill. That’s OK! Your vacation has basically started, so start to enjoy it! First of all, Captain Mickey will be around for photo ops. Secondly, in the port building you can get your kids all set up with their Oceaneer Bands – their access to Oceaneer Kids Club. Even though you can do this on the ship, why not get it out of the way? Thirdly, I’d recommend packing a light lunch (especially if you have small kids who are prone to less-than-magical-behavior when their blood sugar gets too low.) In Port Canaveral there is a lovely outdoor balcony that is perfect for a modest picnic…in other ports I imagine you can find some out-of-the-crowd places too. Lastly, use your picnic time to go through some of the papers they’ll give you. You should receive a Navigator (your daily news and schedule) and other helpful information that will be fun to start perusing.
7. Carry-ons – Everyone is entitled to a carry-on bag. Besides your important documents and your lunch or snacks, you should pack the following: any baby/toddler necessities, a small game or deck of cards, your phone (download the Navigator app), any medications you’ll need for a few hours, and sunscreen. Do not pack alcohol in your carry-on. Also, consider wearing your bathing suit under your clothes…otherwise put that in your carry-on too. But the public restrooms tend to get full of people changing, just sayin’. Basically, just remember that it may be a few hours until you see your real luggage in your stateroom, so plan accordingly.
6. Food – Remember I said “light” lunch in number 8? Put emphasis on the “light”, because as soon as you board there is a buffet waiting for you! You most likely won’t be able to get in your room right away, but the constant smorgasbord that is cruising begins…now.
5. When You Board – As you board, you will be announced like royalty and ushered onto your new sea palace. The ship is yours! Go explore! Take a walking tour to acquaint yourself with the various decks. Grab some noms. And – my family’s personal favorite – hit the water! During this time you can enjoy some of the shortest lines at the waterslides, and the pool population will be pretty sparse. (This is why we wear our bathing suits, people.)
4. Before You Sail – Before a ship leaves the dock, federal law requires a life-boat drill. There will be several announcements about it as the time approaches. Follow instructions and go to your muster station in a timely manner. Don’t be the frowned-upon last ones to your station…the crew is taking role, and making everybody wait for you is so uncool. If you need assistance, find a cast member in any of the stairwells to help direct you.
3. Setting Sail – As your ship pulls away, listen for the tune of “When You Wish Upon a Star” from the whistle. That’s how you’ll know your magical voyage is really underway! Traditionally passengers like to head to the top decks or the bow to watch the captain navigate out to sea. Wave to spectators on land as you pass!
2. Unpacking – Once your luggage arrives in your stateroom, you play it like you want – you’re on vacation, man. But me – I like to unpack everything so it feels like I belong in this wonderful place. Obviously utilize the dresser, desk, and closet space. But don’t forget under the bed – it’s quite spacious! I’ve found it to be a great place for suitcases and strollers to stay out of the way.
1. Relaxing – Now comes the most fun…the beginning of the rest of your trip. Take a breath of salt air and leave your worries back on land. Are you ready for the time of your life? Of course you are, you Disney Cruise pro.
So as you can see, there’s no need to stress about embarkation day. There are a few must-do’s, but nothing you can’t handle. With these tips it can be a great start to an even better voyage. Enjoy, sailors!
You may also like “Comparing Vacation Options: Disney Cruise Line vs. Disney World.”
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