Embarking on the cruise starting rather early for us! Luckily, since my husband and I were staying at Disney World, we only had a few hours drive to get to Cape Canaveral, where the Disney Fantasy was “parked.” But we wanted to get there early, because a) we needed extra swimsuit things for snorkeling, and b) the sooner you get to the ship terminal, the quicker you get on the ship.
Now I believe my husband selected the earliest possible check-in time for us at the terminal, an option that he told me was on the vacation planning/cruise planning website. However, I can’t give specifics, since my husband did most of the honeymoon planning, and my job was to help pick activities and excursions, then get back to planning our wedding.
In case you’re about to head on the Fantasy yourself, here are some little tips for embarkation day that really helped us out!
Tip # 1: Bring cash.
You’ll need it to tip the guys who check your bags. They basically help unload your car, then send you on your merry way to park with just yourselves and your carry-on luggage.
But it also helps throughout the week, especially if you are on a tighter budget.
If you’re like my husband and myself, we prefer cash to plastic on vacations. It saves us from saying “free money!” and buying WAY too much. Plus, on the cruise, you can pay off your ship credit every night with cash, or at least get a print-out of all your purchases so far. When we decided to do extra activities on the ship that cost money, it was nice to pay cash and not worry about how close we were getting to our credit limit. Same goes for those extra drinks that are around the ship. (More on those another time!)
Tip #2: Skip the Mickey/Minnie meet and greet at the terminal.
You have so many opportunities to meet them on the ship with practically no lines, it’s just not worth it. A perk of being on the ship is that character occasionally just walk around the atrium or the different floors of the balconies around the atrium! So in the terminal, it’s worth just finding a comfy spot for your boarding number to be called, and skip the hassle.
Tip #3: Your room will not be ready if you get there early, but lunch will be.
And it’s delicious! Cabanas serves a HUGE buffet carrying pretty much anything you could want to eat. Really, anything. Soup, sandwiches, seafood, french fries, sushi, veggies, fruits… You name it, they probably have it there. I highly recommend the shrimp cocktail. Especially since it’s a giant vat of serve-yourself shrimp and cocktail sauce. Yummm.
Now there’s the hard part: getting a table at Cabanas. It’s nearly impossible at this time, because everyone is getting on the ship and is HUNGRY. You can take plates to other parts of the ship, but just keep a weather eye out for people about to be done eating. If you have kids, ask some of the staff around if they can help you find a seat.
Tip #4: Get the Rainforest Room package at Senses Spa. Do it now.
It will fill up, and quickly. Now is your chance. And parents, remember, there is a whole deck that will watch your children while you take the time to slightly indulge yourself. (I’ll cover the Rainforest Room and Senses Spa in a later post.)
Tip #5: Explore the ship!
It’s fun to just walk around the ship! See the different things you can see, get a little more familiar with what is fore and aft, port and starboard.
Tip #6: Take the time to relax.
It’s what you’re there to do, anyway. Set your stuff down, put up your feet.
Tip #7: If you don’t have kids, definitely watch the Sailing Away party from the upper deck.
I really enjoy being in the middle of everything during the deck parties! But, you can get the same amount of fun by hanging out on the lower deck before the party starts, see the cast members doing their cool things, then heading upstairs about 15 minutes before the party starts. In fact, it’s the best place to watch any of the parties, as far as the view goes. You’re guaranteed to see everything, so long as you get a rail spot about 10-15 minutes before the party is set to start. And also, you have a better view to see this:
Watching the terminal go away behind us made me super excited, way more than the party did! And it was fun to watch other boats and people in the channel next to us, which was easier to do on the upper deck than on the party deck.
Tip #8: Watch your approach to the sea.
Especially if this is your first cruise. It’s exciting to see the sea stretch before you!
We took these photos on one of the adults only decks, and as you can see the chairs are a little wet from some rain. But we were on a ship, and we weren’t soaked. Plus, there was a lovely little pool in the middle of the deck that miraculously had dry sitting spots around its edges: perfect for watching us enter the big ol’ blue!
A little bit after we set out to sea, we were able to get into our state room, met our housekeeper (who was so sweet!), and got ready for the show and dinner. We were sailing away!