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Old 03-20-2013, 07:12 AM   #1
MichiganDVC
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Taking our 1st Disney Cruise in two weeks...

So we're taking our first Disney Cruise in less than two weeks and I want to make sure I have everything I need and know everything I need to know.

We'll be on the Disney Dream for 4 nights. We'll be in a 4E cabin on Deck 5 with the extended Verandah. We've booked Palo for what we think will be Pirate night (3rd night, Castaway Cay). We booked a spa treatment at Senses. No kids, two adults.

1. Starting off, can anyone take me through the entire process of check-in and boarding? I'm brand new at this Disney Cruise-thing and haven't taken a cruise in at least 10 years.
We are staying at MCO Hyatt overnight and are taking Disney transportation to PC. PAT is 12:00-12:30*
*From what I understand, 12:30 is when almost everyone gets to board regardless of PAT - of course this depends on how crowded the port is that day, etc...
What I'd like to do is leave on the 1st or 2nd Disney bus out of MCO that day. I know, I know....this means I'll be sitting in the terminal for hours before they let me board, but I'd drive myself crazy if I was still at the airport.
So, once I get off the bus at PC, what happens next until I get on the ship??

2. Any advice for Castaway Cay? We'd probably prefer Serenity Bay, but from the pictures it doesn't look [I]as[I] pretty as the main beaches...and we don't really care if there are kids around. But we also don't want to be crammed on a beach with tons of people and no space.

3. Quiet Cove pool: Any particular advice about when to get there to get a chair? And where to sit to be in the sun? My understanding is there is limited "sun-seating" around the pool itself, but plenty of room on the deck above. The question, of course, is where to sit? Do we sit up on the deck, but then leave our belongings unattended while we are in the pool or hot tub? Or do we sit by the pool, but risk being in the shade? I know...troubling questions indeed!

4. Owner's Locker: For anyone that has one and has taken it on the cruise.... I have heard that you can bring it on. I'm not terribly worried about damage that might be incurred, but I just don't want to be stuck at the port being told that it cannot go on the ship. Are we 100% sure??

thanks for advice!!
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Old 03-20-2013, 07:26 AM   #2
calismic
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1. If you take DCL transfers to the port, they will check you in earlier than your PAT, however your boarding number may still reflect the 12:00pm time. (I'd say expect to be in the 20's) Boarding is ridiculously simple if you have your online form printed out ahead of time. Basically you fill out the illness questionnaire, hand the CM your paperwork and passports and 2 minutes later you're done.

Also the Hyatt will collect your luggage at 8:30AM and have it delivered to the cruise. LOVED that option, was so nice not to have to lug it through the airport down to Terminal B. When you check-in just make sure to mention you're on a Disney Ship and they will give you an easy to follow check sheet.

2. Serenity Bay was DEAD the day we were there. (March 16th) I could count the other guests on two hands. Was really nice to have the hammocks and beaches to ourselves. Downside though, the wildlife was flourishing. We had a barracuda and a shark in our swimming area. Family beaches were busy but not overly crowded. Little ones were all over the shoreline though, took a bit of work to get past them into the water.

3. Quiet Cove Pool was virtually empty the entire cruise. There was plenty of seating space each afternoon and I never saw more than 10 people in the water at any given time. Heck, we had the hot tubs to ourselves every night (though an occasional off-duty CM would join us).
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Old 03-20-2013, 07:52 AM   #3
clten
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The check-in process begins at home. Make sure you print out the one/two pages to sign for your onboard account and cruise contract. Remember to bring them with you and your luggage tags (since you are staying at the Hyatt, don't put them on your luggage until you arrive at the Hyatt). I usually forget one or the other so I suggest printing out your check-in documents and putting them in the cruise document envelope DCL sent with your baggage tags.

When you arrive MCO, claim your luggage and head to the Hyatt. When you check in, let them know you are sailing DCL the next day. They should give you info on when your luggage is picked up the following morning and the time buses start. That morning, make sure your DCL luggage tags are on your bag before the Hyatt comes to pick them up. You can be on the early DCL buses and might not be waiting around the terminal as long as you think.

When you arrive at the terminal, pick up a health questionnaire (one per cabin, not per person) and fill that out. There are a few lines, since you haven't sailed DCL before, you'll get on the general line (there is a cast member standing at the start of that line and the Castaway Club line and will point you in the right direction). Check in is easy. Give them your signed paperwork, health questionnaire and passports or birth certificates/photo id. They'll take your pictures and give you a boarding number and your KTTW cards. Keep those cards handy as you will need to have them swiped as you board. When boarding starts, listen for the boarding group numbers to be called. The are called every few minutes so it doesn't take a really long time (maybe 45 minutes) to get to general boarding (when everyone can board right after checking in)

As far as Castaway Cay advise, we always head down to Serenity Bay to see how crowded it is and what the water is like. (If it's a nice day with warm water and we know we want to go swimming, more often than not we end up back on the family beach because Serenity Bay is very shallow except at high tide with a lot more sea plants - they leave Serenity Bay more natural and the Family beach is groomed.) We've found that most people are spread out on the family beach. A lot of families settle in between Cookies to Cookies Too. If you want an uncrowded part, look closer to the boat beach (the family beach area closer to the ship)
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Old 03-20-2013, 08:50 AM   #4
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You can take the Owner's Locker on board.
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Old 03-20-2013, 09:26 AM   #5
MichiganDVC
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Thanks for all the advice so far! Just what I was looking for!!
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1980 - Contemporary
1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990- Poly
1991 - Yacht Club 1996 - Offsite 2000 - Poly 2003 - Offsite
2008, 2009 - Boardwalk Villas 2010 - Offsite, Boardwalk Villas
2011 - Beach Club, Boardwalk Villas, Bay Lake Tower 2012 - Boardwalk Villas, WL/Poly 2013 - Beach Club, AKL-Kidani, Bay Lake Tower
2014 - Boardwalk, Poly
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Old 03-20-2013, 11:38 AM   #6
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I am also thankful for all the details since I am stressing over them and not knowing what to expect. I am sure once we do it and see how easy it is, I will wish I hadn't stressed. after you board, what do you do? I would guess check the room out and eat and do the drill? anything we should do right away?
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