The Terminal: What to Expect When You Check In for Your Cruise
Upon arrival at the terminal, you will be greeted by porters who will take your large bags from you, be sure you have your tags which were provided with your booklet prior to sailing (I usually tip a few dollars per bag.)
INITIAL SECURITY CHECKPOINT
Just like airports, cruise ports have an initial security stop where you’ll be asked to show your ID and cruise documents. This is how the cruise lines makes sure only ticketed passengers enter the terminal. As you enter, you’ll undergo a typical security screening with metal detectors and luggage scans.
INSIDE THE TERMINAL
Port Canaveral Disney Terminal
You will then go to the Disney cruise line area and go through “check in” where you will be required to present valid passports or other acceptable proof of citizenship like your passport. You will also present a copy of your Online Port Arrival Form. You can complete your forms online at the official Disney Cruise Line website. If you have a minor traveling with you with their legal guardian you will also be required to provide an “Authorization for Minor To Travel Without a Parent or Legal Guardian” form, completed and signed by that child's parent or legal guardian.
While having your documents verified, you will also get your picture taken for your card (so you can be verified when getting off and on the ship at ports) and be required to fill out a brief health questionnaire which asks if anyone in your party has experienced diarrhea, fever or vomiting in the past three days. If you answer “yes” to any of the questions, DCL might have you see the ship doctor and ultimately could keep you from boarding the ship. Take care that everyone in your party is in good health.
You will then be presented your “Key To The World” (KTTW) Disney cards which will function as your id, state room key, and your credit card aboard the ship (much like a magic band functions at Walt Disney world.) This key will also tell you the when and where of your dining rotation. This is where I start to get really excited. Upon boarding, Disney cruise staff will be there to greet you and they will likely have a special VIP character with them (like Minnie or Mickey) to say hello.
First picture with the Captain before boarding
Understanding your Key to the World (KTTW) Card
Your card will include your legal name and the dates of your cruise. It will either have an “A” for adult or an “M” for minor. The times on your card will indicate your dining rotation time (when you’re supposed to go to the restaurant for dinner) and table number. The letters below that indicate your actual dining rotation. For example, the card below says you’d dine at 8:15 pm the first night at Triton’s, the second AND third night at Animator’s Palate, and the fourth night at Tiana’s Place.
Key to the World card
The final number on the bottom corresponds to which check in counter you used at your arrival port. The large letter on the bottom left tells you which “lifeboat/muster drill station” you should report to during the drill, which everyone on the ship MUST attend, on sail away day. Each station will be clearly marked with a letter, just find the letter that corresponds with the one on your card and you’ll be in the right place! We will talk more about how to locate the right deck and letter later on.
As a first time cruiser with Disney, your card will not have a Castaway number. But after sailing your first cruise, you will automatically be enrolled into the Castaway Club. You start off as a Silver member and can sail your way into higher tiers such as the Gold membership or even the coveted Platinum level!
The Ship: What Happens When You First Board
Once your boarding number is called, you are free to board. Your KTTW card will be scanned when you first enter the ship (and every other time you get on or off).
Photographers will be stationed along the way to take your picture. It is free to have your picture taken. You are also welcome to take pictures with your own camera at these spots. These photographs are completely optional; just pass them by if you’re not interested.
Boarding the Ship
Exclusive to the Disney Cruises line is the grand Entrance to your Disney Ship. A Cast Member will ask for your family name and then, with microphone in hand and a slew of other cast members there to applaud, will grandly announce the entrance of your family onboard, as if you were royalty. “And now…please welcome the ________family!”
TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS
Are there any reservations you need to snag or change before setting sail? It’s best to do this first thing (before eating or swimming) to increase likelihood of your desired options being available. Also if you need anything for baby, you will want to request a bottle warmer or Diaper Genie at the front desk as soon as you board! Lastly, if you didn’t sign your kids up for one of the included clubs online during your check-in process; use your time waiting to board to do so in the terminal at the designated kids’ club desk.
The First Afternoon Aboard The Ship
If you or your kids are huge swimmers I recommend you wear your swimsuits under your clothes. This little tip lets head straight to the pool deck and enjoy the water slides or pool with minimal lines.
Adult only pool on the Disney Dream
Beautiful mural inside Cabana's Buffet
The buffets at Cabanas (at the top of the boat, near the pools) will be open for lunch right away. Also, each ship has another restaurant open for a lunch buffet (Enchanted Garden on the Fantasy/Dream, Carioca’s on the Magic, and Tiana’s Place on the Wonder).
VISIT YOUR STATEROOM
Inside Stateroom with animated porthole on the Disney Dream
Your stateroom is usually available around 1:30pm. You can leave any of your personal belongings there. The room stewards will bring your checked bags to your room that evening, usually by 5pm, but often much earlier. While in your stateroom you will want to access the map on the back of your door and match your letter on your KTTW to find out where your meeting area is for the lifeboat drill. They will also have the television in your room playing the safety drill information.
Assembly Station information
Around 4pm, each guest is required to attend a mandatory lifeboat drill. This exercise is required by law and everyone must attend. Bring your KTTW card with you; this is how DCL keeps track of who attended the drill. On Disney Cruise line you don’t need to wear your life jacket to this drill, so leave it in your stateroom. But do make sure you know where it is… just in case!
Lifeboat/Muster Drill Demonstration
Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, and their friends kick things off with a special dance party. It’s a fun little show with some dancing & music it is a great way to start your trip but it is completely optional. There are all sorts of things to do and explore now that you are setting sail.
Sail Away Party
That was just the first day; you still have dinner, shows, and other adventures ahead.
Enjoy the ride and let the fun begin!
By Kris, Kris@traveltimetravel.com
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