Embarking from Port Canaveral – The Disney Cruise Experience

Cruises start from different Locations, this is what its like from Port Canaveral, on a Disney Cruise.

Dreaming of a Disney Cruise Line Vacation?  Wondered what the experience is like?  Asking yourself if its the right fit for your family?  Well…follow my Disney Cruise Line Series and learn the ins/outs of the entire process, starting with the beginning; how you board, where you go, what happens, what you need???  I will be going post by post, sharing my take on the MOST MAGICAL CRUISE at SEA.  Having done SEVERAL Disney Cruises myself, at various ports…I am kinda an expert on the subject.

First Stop – Port Canaveral:

Port Canaveral is the Port Terminal you use for your Orlando based ships – flying into MCO.  It is HIGHLY suggested that you fly in 1 day before and stay at a local hotel for the evening…making sure you will 100% make it to the ship (more on this in a different post).  A Disney ship usually starts boarding about 11-11:30am and you will be provided a BOARDING NUMBER (based on your boarding time, selected ahead of time, online).

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Once IN the Terminal:

The Port Terminal opens about 10:00am.  AS soon as you arrive and after you go thru security and give your CHECKED bags to the Cruise Porters…you want to head directly to check-in.  You will want to provide an ID & Birth Certificate or a Passport.  You will also need your Boarding Print Out that you completed online (ahead of time).  They will ask you to fill out a simple medical form, assuring that no-one is sick in your party.  You will be asked to take a picture and will be given your KEY TO THE WORLD CARD – this card is your room key, your ID on the ship and also has some key info on it like your dining rotation, room number, etc.  Having a lanyard with a clear ID case is a good idea – PS I provide these for my cruise clients as a little gift 😉

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I ALWAYS pack and wear EARS on the ship. How do you like my DONUTS?

The Waiting and Excitement Builds up:

Now here comes the good stuff.  Stuff like Penny Press Machines!!  Stuff like taking the iconic Cruise Pictures, waiting in line for Captain Mickey or Minnie.  Using the restroom and waiting for your boarding number to be called.  HINT – if you are traveling with a child, this is also the PERFECT time to meet some of the Kids Club Crew Members and get your child his/her Band for the Cruise.  THIS RFID band (similar to a WDW Magicband) is the ships way of checking your child in/out of the kids club and also knowing where they are, at all times, in the clubs.

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Awe…the Sweetheart Captains!!

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PERFECT for the FAMILY Shot – Ask a Crew (Cast) Member to help!

Get READY – Its BOARDING time:

Once your Boarding Number is called…get ready…cause now all the REAL fun begins.  You walk down a hallway, scan your KEY TO THE WORLD CARD for the first time, take a special picture (think Holiday Card) and FINALLY actually board the ship.  As you take your first steps onto the Ship, a Crew Member will ask your family name (feel free to be creative, I am talking to you Incredible Family or Skywalker Family) – they will announce your name as you walk into the atrium/lobby/hub of the ship.  Crew Members are standing by to clap and welcome you aboard.  Get ready to be in awe at the beauty that is your ship.  Take a moment, turn around and really “take it all in” or be like me and cry like a baby in excitement.

Now that you are on the ship – the world is your oyster.  Go eat, go pool, go explore.  Shops are closed until the ship actually starts moving, but you are welcome to begin the magic, the fun…making memories.  This is also when its important to have PACKED all your swim gear in your carry-on – NOT in the checked bags you left with the porter.  Adults grab a beverage, kids get ready to splash and people who want to start living the Cruise Life – go eat at the restaurant that’s open at lunch, where you can dine in style and order off a menu while your amazing service begins.  Others will be rushing thru the buffet trying to get to the pool or kids clubs as soon as they possibly can.

Don’t get too comfy – you still need to experience the Muster Drill at 4:00.  This is 100% mandatory and 100% for ALL passengers.  So get the kids out of the pool, throw on a cover-up and get to the drill.  After that…you have the “Sail Away” Party (arrive early for a GOOD spot and don’t forget you can watch from the deck above) and the ship begins to move – (Motion Sickness).  Your Stateroom should be ready about 1:30, so you will be able to change and get dressed if you want and for sure before dinner.

Once the ship takes off – you are ON CRUISE TIME – Enjoy, relax, explore and EAT!!  More to come, stay tuned.

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**And remember I am a Travel Agent, specializing in Disney Vacations (which includes Disney Cruise Line) – so if you think these posts are helpful…wait until you book a trip with me 🙂  My services are complementary as Disney pays me, not you…so why not – book with an expert and let me help you have the MOST MAGICAL CRUISE EVER!!

Mahalo – Nina

Garden Grill – a Rotating Experience…

First I want to say that this dining experience was HANDS-DOWN my favorite this past trip…based solely on the fact that I was stuffed FULL…even the thought of unbuttoning my pants came to mind.

My family might not entirely agree…but that’s opinions for you…but me – I still dream of that meal.

I must point out that due to my family’s eating restrictions and food allergies…we aren’t the easiest group to please, feed and sometimes see completely full.  We are a happy, thankful bunch…but we do require some thought and preparation.  Between my kids and I…there are at least 8 food allergies and several avoidances…and to make matters more fun…I am vegan.  The husband is an eat everything kind of guy and pretty much left every meal full and happy…but even he has his favorites (stay-tuned).

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So…the Garden Grill is a table service restaurant at Epcot…located in the Land Pavilion…and it rotates.  Yep…it’s a rotating diner…and for those with motion sickness (join the club)…it’s very, very slow…but we managed to rotate completely around at least 1 time during our meal.  And to make it even cooler…it’s a character experience…bring on Harvest Chip & Dale and pals.  We ate with Chip & Dale (of course), Pluto and Mickey.  It is a dinner only location and is family style…meaning the wait staff brings the table an assortment of eats and you just dig in.  My husband who ate the traditional meal everyone enjoys found it to be OK…not his particular favorite, but he ate it all.  What was wrong with his meal you ask…nothing…he just likes to order from a menu.

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So before I get to my eats…I want to point out that as you eat, dine and chat…the Characters walk around and stop at every table for a few minutes…just enough time to get an autograph and snap a few pictures.  Since we had special food accommodations…we sat a little longer than others and saw all the characters twice – major bonus.

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Since we have 3 different people, all with different allergies…I often contact the restaurant before dining…I send an email and anxiously await a phone call.  I was lucky as Chef Javier called me, while I was at home about 10 days before my trip started, and we discussed meals.  We talked about the traditional menu that is offered and tried to find solutions for my family.  Most of the usual options available were perfect for us (sweet potato fries, mashed potatoes, veggies, gluten-free rolls and so on…but I couldn’t help but to ask for a few changes…first due to the abundance of chicken at Disney I asked about a hamburger patty for my daughter and also a special dessert.  As the restaurant doesn’t make burgers the chef was kind enough to order beef and make my kid a few special patties just for her.  And for me…I wasn’t fond of the traditional veggie dish on the menu…”stuff peppers” and sides.  I requested vegan meat (not typical for that location)…and he delivered.

So…fast forward to that night…we arrived 10 minutes before our scheduled dining reservation…we waited for the restaurant to open and we were seated promptly.  I was prepared to have to wait several minutes for the Chef…nope not Chef Javier…he had been cooking for my family already…waiting for us actually.  He already had ALL our food in the oven (no grilling or frying due to cross-contamination) and was waiting for us to finish our salads.  He warned me that his goal…”was to have us ROLL out of here”, lol.  I did for sure.  To my surprise he was able to deliver ALL my requests and they were delicious.  The vegan dish he “made-up” with the vegan beef was amazing and with all the sides…I was stuffed.  My son (dairy, eggs, and peanuts) was able to share my dish and was shoving it in.  My daughter (dairy, GF, peanuts, legumes, corn, and red dye) was able to cut her giant burger patties in half and eat with her GF buns…to make a quick burger.

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Dessert wasn’t as grand…but still had enough sweetness to finish the meal.  He was able to simplify the traditional dessert by using “Enjoy Life” cookies and fresh fruit filling, no whip and created a crumb-like fruit dish.

Major shout-out for Chef Javier that night and many thanks.  I enjoyed my meal SO much…I asked to speak to a manager and shared my happiness…apparently the Chef was gonna get some company shout-outs after dinner thanks to his awesomeness.

I also want to point out that getting a call from the chef before your trip is not typical…they are busy, busy bees and usually can accommodate your special food requests “the night of”…but due to our various allergies…I usually get a call and thus can request special items.  This is also something I can help you with as your Travel Agent…all services I provide for free when booking your Disney trip with me.  When it comes to food allergies, eating “out” is often a stressful event…but being prepared helps and when your family leaves the table safe and full…well that’s a huge success in my book.  Disney does an excellent job at accommodating food allergies and does it on a daily basis…so let me help you relieve the stress and help you enjoy food time for a change…you deserve it.