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Old 04-02-2013, 11:05 PM   #1
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Dream cruise insights from a first timer

Ah, we've been back from our cruise for 9 days now () and I've dreamed about being back on board every night since then. We were first-timers and went with the 3 nighter because we wanted to try it out. Just thought I'd comment on a few of the things we learned that might help other first-timers.

1. Getting to and around the port - we drove from WDW - it was an easy drive, lots of toll booths, and we saw an alligator on the side of the road. Lots of excitement for just an hour on the road! We arrived at the port around noon and it was busy (or at least seemed busy since we had nothing to compare it to). We dropped our checked bags at the curb (which they easily direct you to), DH parked the car in the garage ($15 per DAY (not night), so $60 for a 3 night cruise) while DD and I made our way in to check in. The lines inside were L-O-N-G but since I had upgraded us to concierge, we traipsed down there and didn't have to wait at all. If you are NOT concierge, I would not recommend getting to the port at noon'ish (well, probably 12:30 by the time we actually made it in) - there were plenty of people working staff-wise, just a lot of passengers waiting to check in.

I will interject that although we encountered lines a few times (getting off and on the ship in Nassau and CC, disembarkation, etc), the entire process really does seem to be set up to run smoothly and never seemed to take very long. I think it took us less than 20 minutes from the time we got off the ship until we were putting our luggage in our car after the cruise ended - that includes finding the luggage, clearing customs, schlepping to the garage, and finding our car. The thing that held things up were that sometimes people didn't listen and have all their documents prepared and ready (like getting to the front of the line and not having their KTTW card with them).

2. Concierge - OMG, how spoiled were we?!? My DD said for the entire cruise that she felt like she was being treated like royalty. We are simple folk and we don't really splurge on things like concierge, well, like ever. So this was a real treat, and boy did we get spoiled. So spoiled that I have re-booked onto the Dream for next May, in the exact same room we were in this time. Don't say I didn't warn you. Our cruise was full (supposedly) and Deck 11 seemed like a constant madhouse. It was fantastic to get a quick snack, drink, and moment of peace in the lounge or on the private sundeck.

3. Elevators - OK, this is weird I know, but I sort of have this thing about elevators. I don't usually ride in them. But I swear if Disney Cruise Line installed every elevator in America, I would ride them all - fast, smooth, efficient. And yes, the advice about the forward elevators being MUCH less crowded than mid-ship - spot on. Those mid-ship elevators got CRAZY sometimes!

4. Seasickness - I was obsessed with remedies before the cruise. We all took a meclizine/child dramamine daily, I wore SeaBands in the evenings, and I carried ginger gum for immediate relief. Fortunately, none of us had any issues. I believe the seas were relatively calm on our voyage, thankfully! And sort of related, I slept like a baby - it is like the ship sort of rocks you to sleep at night. I wish my bed at home did that.

5. Food - we went to each MDR because we were only on a 3 nighter - we enjoyed each of them and we really liked our server team. I took to letting our server choose my main meal each night - he never steered me wrong. The food was really good and a tad "fancier" than our day to day meals, so it was fun to try new or different things. We never ate at Cabana's. We went there one day for lunch, not realizing they closed at 2 pm. We ended up getting some food from Flo's (which was good), but we practically had to fight to find a table - just chaos and madness. I did regularly enjoy an ice cream cone from Frozone's though.

6. Adults only areas - one thing I found really weird was that you regularly (at least we did?) had to walk through adults only areas to get to all ages areas. For instance, on Deck 11 (I think), there is the adults only pool, hot tub, and sundeck, but also the main pool, Cabana's, other food, etc. There is no sign on one end saying adults only, so I didn't even realize it until we walked out the other side and saw the sign. I decided on my own that walking through must be OK, but I'm not 100% sure (I guess I should say we weren't sure about DD walking through with us). Just seemed odd to me.

7. Excursions - we did the Sea Lions at Blue Lagoon in Nassau and a cabana at CC - enjoyed them both, though I could have moved into that cabana and lived forever. Was it truly "worth" the cost, well probably not if I really break it down. Was it worth it to us? Absolutely, a hundred times over. We had an amazing, relaxing, fun day on CC - DH is asking me to find a cruise where we do a CC double dip.

8. 3 days - is it long enough? Yes and not really at the same time. We felt like we could navigate around the ship by the 2nd afternoon, but we definitely weren't ready to leave when it was time to go. We are doing a 4 night next year, and we are *hopefully* going to do a 7 night Alaskan in 2015. Baby steps I guess. I will enjoy an at sea day though, even if it is just to relax a bit more.

9. CM's - I don't think we encountered a single CM on the ship that wasn't nice, pleasant, friendly, or more. Everyone we met seemed to really enjoy their jobs and it was fun meeting people from around the world. I would encourage people to interact with the CM's a bit - we met some very cool and interesting people!

10. On board booking - please listen to the advice here and do NOT wait until the last night to on board book (or do anything "important" for that matter!) - the ship seemed 100% busier EVERYWHERE the last night, as people scurried around taking care of last minute details. I waited a good 20-30 minutes at the booking desk because I did not heed advice (and the 4-5 people behind me definitely waited even longer!) - I was quick, but there are only 2 desks/agents working.

11. Shopping - being a first timer, I had forgotten that the shops on board are NOT open while the ship is in port. We wanted to shop a bit and sort of had to schedule it in just because they were only open about 4 hours a night. I would NOT recommend trying to shop right after one of the shows lets out, since the shops are mainly located right outside the entrance to the Walt Disney Theater. It was packed when we made this mistake and when we re-visited them a bit later, they were practically empty. They will let you wander from store to store so you only have to "check out" once. It was weird walking out the front door with a basket full of stuff and into the shop across the hall, but it is, in fact, OK to do this.

12. Key to the World - when they say "Key to the World", they aren't joking. It is literally your key to EVERYTHING and you pretty much have to have it with you all the time. This was a lot different than what we are used to at WDW, where I might carry all 3 cards, but we usually only need one card. Everywhere we went, everything we did, required our card (or so it seemed). We also needed photo ID somewhere, but now I can't remember where - maybe disembarking in Nassau? Whatever you do, don't leave your room without your KTTW card! And we also listened to the advice to use an alternate magnetic card for the room lights - much better than using our precious KTTW cruise cards!

Geez, that is a longer list than I thought and I could write a lot more. We had an AWESOME time and we can't wait to do it again next year! I am by no means an expert but I would be happy to answer any questions from other newbies like us. It was a little overwhelming at first because everything was so new and unknown, but it didn't take long to feel like we were right at home.
Me (37) DH (43) DSS (22) DD (13) DS (10/31/13)

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Old 04-02-2013, 11:11 PM   #2
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Thank you for taking the time to post all of that! Very helpful.
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Old 04-02-2013, 11:20 PM   #3
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Thanks for posting. We are doing our first cruise next February and your thoughts and tips are helpful!
Me, DH, DS (10) and DD (8)

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Old 04-02-2013, 11:25 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by ajh88 View Post
..... I slept like a baby - it is like the ship sort of rocks you to sleep at night. I wish my bed at home did that. ......
Yeah... a water bed just isn't the same. Perhaps your onto something here.

Great report.
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Old 04-02-2013, 11:34 PM   #5
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Sounds like you guys had a great time! There are some 5-night cruises going out of Miami this year on the Magic that are double dips, in case that might interest you
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Old 04-02-2013, 11:45 PM   #6
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Thanks for sharing! We're going concierge in July (my parents made the booking as we're doing a trip to celebrate their anniversary)! It'll be 3 out of 4 of our group's first time on DCL (I'm one of the 3) and we're all super excited!!
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Old 04-02-2013, 11:46 PM   #7
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First cruise on Magic out of drydock refurb is a DD to CC on Oct 20, 2013 from MIA.
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Old 04-08-2013, 07:25 AM   #8
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What happened with your bags on the last night? I always thought that you only put them outside your room if you were going on a DCL bus after. We will be on a private shuttle so very interested to find out what to do with the luggage. DH wants to keep it with us, but I don't think that is an option. Thanks!
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Old 04-08-2013, 07:33 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by jennyjinx3 View Post
What happened with your bags on the last night? I always thought that you only put them outside your room if you were going on a DCL bus after. We will be on a private shuttle so very interested to find out what to do with the luggage. DH wants to keep it with us, but I don't think that is an option. Thanks!
Everyone is welcome to put their bags out in the hall on the last night, regardless if you are using Disney transport, private shuttle, personal car or walking away. You will collect them from the applicable character area in the large hall near Customs. Just remember not to pack your PJs or clothes for the next day!

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