Part 1 can be found HERE
(for those just tuning in, we were just leaving the Magic Kingdom)
We grabbed bottled waters from a cart, passed through the tunnel, and exited the gates, still surprised that the numbers entering were so low. The express monorail was just a couple of minutes away, and we were at the TTC (Ticket and Transportation Center, for you non-Disney geeks) in no time flat. The walk to the car (remember, 8th in line) also took no time flat, and we started switching from “Disney World” mode to “Disney Cruise” mode. We moved a couple of things around in our checked and carry-on luggage (making sure the wine was in a carry-on), started setting up the phones to Waze our ways to Port Canaveral (even though I had OCD’ed and mapped the route several times…I-4 to the Beachline). Sheri decided to put on the scopolamine patch now to make sure she wouldn’t see spots before getting on the ship. We took the Epcot Center Drive ramp (I ran that twice during the Disney World Half), and I noticed that the signage for Downtown Disney had already changed over to its new name: Disney Springs. Before we knew it, we were on the ramp to I-4 and rocketing north towards Orlando. Traffic was light, and the ramp to 528 was in our sight just a few minutes later.
As we passed just north of MCO (I was hoping to have something on final approach just as we drove by, but nothing was close), I checked in on Sheri to make sure she wasn’t hallucinating too much with the patch, and, while she said she could feel it moving into her body, she didn’t appear to be in the middle of having an out-of-body experience, so we decided to continue on.
The drive on 528 to Port Canaveral was pretty uneventful, except for the fact that, when looking at the car rental I-Pass receiver, I realized that it wasn’t fully open (which led to a humorous conversation about the Budget Car Rental police hunting us down on Castaway Cay and demanding $20,000 in missed tolls). When we hopped on the first bridge near the Port, I realized that we were on the A1A, and I immediately started humming some Jimmy Buffett tunes (“The Weather is Here, I Wish You Were Beautiful” was what I had going through my head most of the time). We also got our first views of the terminal area, and…is THAT the ship??? HOLY CRAP THAT’S BIG!
Then we made it to the second bridge, and we saw the Disney Dream in all of its glory from a much closer vantage point. To think we thought it looked large a couple of miles back…WOW!
We weren’t parking at the terminal, though, so we had to drive away from the terminals to drop off the car (after filling up with gas, first, of course). As we pulled into the Budget car rental location, we ate exhaust as a shuttle pulled out; it looked like it was full, anyway, so no major loss. The car was unloaded (after another triple-checking of the checked bags with the tags), and I headed in to return the car. The attendant promised that we’d be okay with the tolls if the receiver cover wasn’t fully open. A few minutes later, the second shuttle arrived, and we, along with one other couple bound for Carnival Sunshine loaded up. We were just about to pull out when another group arrived. They were heading for Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas, which was at the other terminal, and they decided to wait for them. Terminal B was the first stop (Royal Caribbean), and we got stuck in traffic for a good 15-20 minutes there as couple of buses had the porters tied up. Eventually, we escaped and headed to Terminal A. We got a good view of the Carnival Sunshine, which has an interesting history. It used to be called the Carnival Destiny before it received Carnival’s “Fun Ship 2.0” upgrades. Our shuttle driver gave a little history of ships that changed names and had bad luck ever since, so she vowed never to step foot on the Sunshine. Then, of course, she looked at the couple that was about to embark on that ship and casually said that they wouldn’t have anything to worry about…it gave everyone a good laugh.
We stopped at the Disney Cruise Terminal first, and Sheri got her first look at some of the porters that worked there. After seeing the biceps of a couple of them, she started hand-selecting which ones she wanted as her cabana boys. I just rolled my eyes as she retracted her tongue back in her mouth. We tipped our shuttle driver and the porters and started our journey with Disney Cruise Line for the first time.
(sorry, folks, no pics of the porters, or their biceps)
I had hoped to time our arrival to the terminal to fall between the early birds who want to be the first wave on the ship and the arrival of the buses from WDW and MCO. We got there about 30-45 minutes later than planned, but we were still doing pretty well on time. The first entrance has security there, and only cruisers are allowed past this point. I tend to have a knack for picking the wrong line for anything, and today proved to be no different. We had two lines to pick, and I suggested that we pick the closer one (Sheri was still rubbernecking at the porters and their biceps at this point, I think). Sure enough, the family that was ahead of us didn’t have passports ready. They didn’t speak much English, and they needed a lot of help/time to make it through the checkpoint. The other line had 4-5 families go though while we waited, and I think I think I heard a “see ya, suckers” or two as they blew past us.
Nope…not going to worry…it’s vacation.
The family in front of us finally found the passports and the stateroom that they were staying in and made it through security. We flew through and headed to the main entrance for the full-body search section. Okay, it’s not as bad as you would see at an airport, but there is a screener that you have to go to. As we walked to the entrance, we could tell that they were backed up quite a bit. Argh. This had to mean that most of the buses beat us.
One of the cast members stopped us prior to entering and said that we might have better luck heading upstairs to the second level. I didn’t even know they screened on the second level. We were directed to a set of escalators, and I finally figured it out; we were going to enter where those coming from the parking garage entered. The line was MUCH shorter.
In case you missed what I just mentioned, that was a good hint for those of you thinking of heading to Port Canaveral for a Disney Cruise: if the lower level is jammed, don’t be afraid to head to the second level to enter the terminal. We did and were welcomed with only about a 4-5 minute wait to make it through security. Once we were past that section, we turned left and got our first view of Disney’s Cruise Terminal.
We were too focused on getting in line to grab pictures. Next cruise, we'll have to take some pictures inside the terminal (next cruise, right Sheri?)
We hopped in line and, after just a couple of minutes, we were directed to the Castaway Club queue-up. As we waited, we took in the sights and sounds. Reality was really setting in now...we're actually getting on the ship soon! We looked for the pen that we got from the Boardwalk to finish filling out the required medical form (which we had printed out but didn't fill out yet...you're supposed to wait until the day of) and couldn’t find it anywhere. We borrowed on from the cast member who was handing out the medical form to everyone else who didn’t know about it and/or didn’t print it out. Once that was done, it was just a couple more minutes before we were checking into the cruise. We had already done the online check-in, so it took nothing more than a quick scan of the document we printed out and a scan of the passports. They took our picture (this is required…it is the picture that they use when you try getting on/off the ship to make sure the counts and the people are accurate). They asked about airline check-in, and I handed them our final docs binder that already had the information filled out. He tried figuring out where BMI was (mistaking it for BWI, which is common…when I worked for AirTran, we would sometimes see a BWI bag make its way onto our BMI cargo holds).
I was getting antsy here…the moment of reckoning was nearly upon us…our dining rotation. We had Remy set up for the first night, but I wanted to make sure we had Animator’s Palate on night 2 or 3. Luckily, we had it set up for night 3!!! We were going to miss Enchanted Garden, but we could catch that for breakfast or lunch.
With Keys to the World Cards in hand, we thanked the cast member and made our way to the Golden Mickey head (the entrance to the gangway). They were already doing open boarding (since we were a bit late, they were already passed boarding group 16), so we immediately walked through. Sheri was a bit nervous here because the saw videos where it looked to be really full and stuffy. Nope. One swipe of our cards, and we were immediately in line for the embarkation photo. It was our first cruise, so we had to get the pic taken.
The next part had Sheri even more worried – they were going to announce to the entire world that the Mushrush family was boarding the ship. Seriously, she was expecting all 4,000 guests (even the ones not onboard yet) and 2,000 or so crew members stopping what they were doing to gawk at the family with the weird last name getting on the ship. I told the crew member with the microphone our name, and she paused for a second, sort of like, “really? I know people make up names, but that’s the best you could come up with?” I ensured her that it was our actual last name, and she welcomed about THE MUSHRSSSSSH family!”
About 8 crew members clapped as we walked in. Sheri thought it was 800. One of the crew members approached us and gave us a quick run-down of what to expect (staterooms should be accessible around 1:30, Guest services is located over (points) there, etc.).
The next part can be found HERE.
The next part can be found HERE.