2017 Disney Cruise – Boarding the Ship

In the previous parts of the 2017 Disney Cruise Trip Report, we had made our way to Florida and spent a day at Cocoa Beach. Now, the day to board the ship had arrived! And we also made one more quick trip to the beach…

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

We still had not given up on spending some time at the beach, and the weather forecast was looking slightly better for this day than for the previous days. So once again, we were up early, eating our quick breakfast in our room before heading out to the beach.

And once again, there were not many people out at the beach at all. Also once again, there was not any sun to be seen, but rather just clouds. We tried out the water, but it was just too cold. Laura actually got all the way in before deciding that, but Jaylin and I just put our feet in before reaching the same conclusion. We decided to put our board back in the car and instead take a walk down the beach.

We walked south, in the same direction that we had taken Monday night. And just like Monday, there were not all that many people around as we were walking. A few people in the water, a few people sitting on the beach, one or two people fishing. And some friendly people who spoke as we passed, just like the other night.

Cocoa Beach before our Disney cruise

Walking along the beach at Cocoa Beach, Florida

We walked a little farther down the road this time than we had gone on Monday, but we were also keeping an eye on the time, knowing that we needed to take showers and check out before 11:00. We eventually reached the point where we thought we needed to turn around and start back, and so we started our last walk up Cocoa Beach. Maybe not forever, but just for this trip.

Sun on the beach at Cocoa Beach, Florida

Hey, look – the sun!

Back at the hotel room, we showered and packed up all of our stuff, getting everything into the car at around 10:45. Ahead of schedule! We went to check out at the front desk, and I took a look at the baby alligators in the tank while Laura and Jaylin took a quick look inside the small gift shop.

We had worked out a plan to meet my parents and my sister’s family at the Cape Canaveral McDonald’s, so that we could all drive to the terminal together. We stopped along the way to put gas in the car, so that we would not have to fill up before we started for home after the cruise was over, and because we had been checking out the gas prices and knew which station had cheaper gas.

Once we arrived at McDonald’s, my parents were already there waiting. Even though we had gotten there a few minutes before our 11:15 meeting time, I was not surprised that we were not the first ones there. That is just how our family works. Beth had called them to say that they were not far away, and it did not take long before they arrived as well. We were taking up three spaces in the McDonald’s parking lot, but it was not yet time for the big lunch rush, so there were still other places for their customers to park. In case you were wondering.

After waiting around for just a few minutes, we got in our cars and started heading to the Disney Cruise Line terminal, which was just a five minute drive or so. The downside in coming the way that we came was that we were approaching from the opposite direction that most of the cruise folks drive in from, so the signs did not tell us which exit to take for the Disney terminal. Fortunately, I had looked at it on the satellite map, so we ended up going the right way anyway.

We probably arrived just a few minutes before our assigned 11:45 port arrival time, but that is probably just a guideline anyway. Besides, it was not like we were 30 minutes early or anything, just five or ten at the most. But when we arrived, the first luggage drop-off point was already slightly backed up. They pointed to a place for us to go, and my parents pulled up behind us. But they sent the Bramletts on around to the actual terminal building to drop off their luggage. No big deal, because we have dropped ours off there, too. When we had unloaded our four bags, we drove on around to the parking garage, and my parents were soon behind us.

Once we had selected our spaces on the second level, we could look out and see the Bramletts still unloading their luggage at the terminal building. We called to let them know where we had parked, and they soon joined us in the garage. We gathered up our carry-on bags, secured our cars, and made our way to the terminal.

We chose to walk on the elevated walkway to get from the garage to the terminal. Once we passed the first checkpoint, being checked in by the same guy who checked us in two years ago (not sure why we remembered him, but we did), I started wondering if we had made the right decision. It was at that point that I remembered a big backup of people two years ago, so much so that they eventually sent several of us downstairs to go in the ground floor entrance. However, we kept right on moving all the way to the metal detectors, not having to wait at all. Apparently, we had gotten there before right as they were letting people in, and there was a crush of people. This time, we were just a little behind the crowd, which was okay.

Inside the terminal building, we went directly to the check-in line. Laura, Jaylin, and I went over to the Castaway Club line, being Castaway Club members because we had sailed before. There looked to be fewer people in our line than in the regular line, but I think that overall they were moving close to the same speed.

Before long, we were at the desk checking in once again. It all was seeming really familiar, since this was our fifth cruise. We got our room key cards and our lanyards, and we got our photo made for their computer records, and we were given a group number of 12 to check in. When I looked at the monitor, they were already calling group 11. Once again, on our previous cruise we had to wait almost an hour to board the ship, but this time we would be going on very quickly.

We found a place to be somewhat out of everyone’s way, so that we could wait for the rest of the family. I had not even noticed when we came in that Captain Mickey was posing for photos by the large ship’s model in the middle of the building as he always does. But there was a line, and we did not want to wait in it. My parents came and found us soon after, and the Bramletts were finished not long after them. By the time we all got together, they were already calling our boarding group number. That was quick! Which was good, because I was starting to get hungry.

We made our way to and through the big Mickey Mouse shaped portal without having to push past very many people waiting on their group number to be called. I was starting to think that the big crowds and long wait of our previous Disney cruise boarding experience were an anomaly, which was nice. We had a short wait to have our group photo taken in the gangway, and then it was just a short walk the rest of the way to the ship.

Disney Cruise - boarding the ship

Here we go!

Laura made sure that my parents and the Bramletts went ahead of us, so that they could all hear, “The Disney Dream proudly welcomes the Bramlett Family,” because that is always one of our favorite parts of the cruise. It is a simple thing to have your family name called out and see the crew members clapping for you as you arrive, but it is still fun. Of course, they did it for us, too. Always nice to feel welcomed as we board.

Our rooms would not be ready until around 1:30, but going to our rooms really was not our first order of business. Our growling stomachs made sure we knew what was more important. Perhaps we should not have thrown our stomachs a curve by driving up to McDonald’s but not going in. “Hey, they are going to throw food down our way! Yay! Wait, what? We are leaving? Where’s the food?” Of course, if we had picked Wendy’s as our meeting place, I could have had our stomachs saying, “Where’s the beef?” instead of “Where’s the food?” That would have been even better. But I digress.

We knew right where we wanted to go for lunch, and so we made our way up the elevator to the Cabanas buffet. There was not that much of a line to go through, so we filled up our plates and found a couple of tables together next to one of the windows looking out at the outdoor seating area, thankful to be in the air conditioning. We also enjoyed seeing what everyone else got on their plates, because we went in different directions and found different things on the buffet line.

While we were eating, I texted Maggie Jamerson to let her know that we were on the ship. I knew they were supposed to be arriving in the early afternoon, so I thought I would check on their progress. They were just then on the bus to ride from the airport to the cruise terminal, and she was wanting to make sure that there were places to eat on board.

Disney Cruise Line Terminal Building in Port Canaveral

Looking out at the Terminal Building. What happened to the sun?

About that time, I started noticing that the sky was getting darker. And darker. And darker. Suddenly, the wind started picking up right outside where we were sitting. And by “picking up,” I mean that it was picking up things from the tables and throwing them around. Food, plates, napkins, chairs, salt shakers. Anything that was not secured down. Needless to say, most of the people that were sitting out there enjoying their lunches got up and ran inside, while others stayed to try to catch and clean up what was flying around. Some of the crew members standing near where we were sitting inside got a good laugh out of everyone scurrying around, as did we. But at the same time, I was quite thankful that we had found an inside table and did not have to worry about the rain and the wind.

The rain was coming down so hard that we could not see the buildings of Kennedy Space Center off in the distance any more. In fact, we could not see much of anything past the ship’s rail for a while. The worst of the storm did not last all that long, but the rain continued for quite a while. Maybe all of their predictions about rain during our cruise were more accurate than I might have hoped. Either way, we were going to go along and enjoy it. Because that is just what we do.

We took a little time to get everyone set up on the Disney Cruise Line messaging app, because we Burnses had enjoyed being able to use that on our last cruise with the Riedels. Pretty handy to be able to contact other people without paying for international text rates. But I also started noticing more people looking for tables. That was probably a combination of more people getting to the ship and fewer people wanting to eat outside, understandably. So we gave up our tables, because we were finished eating, and we went to wait for our rooms to be ready.

Join us next time as the 2017 Disney Cruise Trip Report continues with more of our first day on the Disney Dream!

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