Well…it was another restful night of slee….oh, who am I kidding?! I needed a couple more days to try getting the brain to shut off; subsequently, I was up several times throughout the night, and not because of the ship’s movement. I peered outside around 3:00, and we were nearing Port Canaveral already. By 4:00, I think we were already docked. I tried laying there for a bit longer but couldn’t sleep, so I hopped out of bed to avoid waking Sheri up. Since I now could access domestic networks, I put my phone back into a normal configuration and began going through my e-mails. Luckily, there were no major surprises, as I had anticipated – the world kept on going without me being tethered to electronics (yaay). I also took care of a couple of very important issues that I had let lapse while on the cruise: I logged in and took care of my bases on Clash of Clans and Boom Beach.
Sheri got up around 6:30 or so, and we took care of the rest of the packing. The game plan was to head down to eat with our friends at Animator’s Palate around 8:00 and then disembark to hop on what we affectionately call the “bad bus” (i.e., any Disney bus heading to the airport with people whose vacations are coming to an end). Around 7:15 or so, an announcement on the P.A. system started, with the expected “Hope you had a great time…be sure to grab breakfast…those taking Disney transportation with flights before 1:00 pm need to be on the buses no later than 8 am…”
What did he just say?
Our flight is before 1:00.
But…but…on the documentation that we have, it said that we were welcome “to disembark at (our) own convenience between 7:00 am & 9:00 am.” (Disney Cruise Line (2015). Onboard Airline Check-in Helpful Tips. P. 1)
We saw the above information on the front of the document; however, on the back, it also includes the notification that. “If your flight departs PRIOR to 1:00 pm It (sic) is recommended that you disembark the ship by 8:00 am to allow enough time for you to clear Customs and depart on your motor coach for the airport by 8:30 am.”
The P.A. announcement made it sound a bit more like a requirement rather than a recommendation.
Well, crap…there went breakfast with everyone. Good thing we all exchanged contact information with each other the night before! Luckily, Sheri already had most everything packed, leaving only the carry-on items to be taken care of. We made sure we had everything, triple-checked two more times, and headed out. I had intended to give a couple of our servers an extra tip, so we made our way to Guest Services on Deck 3. The line was longer than I had previously seen, and I hoped that people weren’t trying to remove gratuities. The line moved quickly, and I was able to hand the gratuity envelope to the Cast Member within just a minute or two. As luck would have it, we saw a couple of our tablemates in the atrium area, so we were able to wish them well on their trip home; they were from the Chicago area, so we hoped we’d have a chance of meeting up with them at a later time.
One last look at the atrium, and we stepped on the gangway and back onto land…
…and, with that, our cruise was over.
Welllllllll….we were no longer on the ship, but we still had to clear Customs. We walked towards the exit point and had our cards swiped one final time to let Disney know that we were no longer on the ship. I wondered how Customs worked in the terminal and realized that we didn’t actually go into the check-in/embarkation area. We took an escalator down a level and noticed a cavernous area where people were picking up their bags and getting in line for Customs. Since we were taking Disney transportation, we didn’t have to get our bags (woohoo!!!). I have heard horror stories about the lines at this stage, but I can definitely say that we were done in less than three minutes. Granted, we may have been in between rushes (those wanting to get off early were already off, while those trying to hide on the ship to avoid getting off were still finding their hiding places)…
Disembarkation was amazingly painless and quick. After we cleared Customs (which took all of 45 seconds), we followed the directions to the ground transportation, and, within two additional minutes, we were on a bad bus. We were the last ones to make it on that particular bus, and we were on the road just a couple of minutes later.
For some reason, I found myself looking back at the Disney Dream multiple times as we headed west.
The ride to MCO was eventless, and, thanks to our onboard airline check-in, we bypassed the check-in counter. We went straight to the Disney and Universal stores in the terminal to look around and then (grrrrr) grabbed breakfast in the Atrium area. I joking told Sheri that I wanted to use my Key to the World card one final time, and (as she does every time I make that joke while waiting at the airport after a Disney trip) she rolled her eyes and gave a fake sarcastic laugh.
Plane ride…connection…plane ride…all luggage picked up…drive home…vacation over.
I’ve had a couple of months to digest the experience. The first question that I was asked by everyone was, “Did you have a good time?”
YEP!!!!!! 1,000 times over, YES! YESYESYESYESYESYES
The second question was typically, “Did Sheri puke?”
No; however…we found something out the hard way. Not long after we got on land, Sheri removed the new patch (that she put on the previous night), and she had sea legs for several days afterward. Research and commentary from several friends let us know that it’s often best to wean off of the patch by continuing to wear it for a couple of days until the dose wears off. She seriously felt terrible for 3-4 days…to the point where she was threatening to not take another cruise. I offered an olive branch of bonine for the next cruise :) .
Surprisingly, I received a lot of questions along the lines of, “So, which do you prefer…Disney World or Disney Cruise?”. To me, it’s an apples/oranges comparison. They both can be amazing, but the experience is so different that it’s hard to justifiably compare the two. With Disney World, you get to experience the magic that makes you feel like a child again, without a care in the world. With a cruise (Disney or otherwise), I think you feel like an adult without a care to worry about. Some seem worried about being claustrophobic on a ship; while I can’t speak for everyone, I think that having a balcony stateroom gives the exact opposite phenomenon; you realize just how big this world is when you see nothing but a calming expanse of water in every direction, with the sea gently lapping up against the hull as the ship cuts through it. Do you get an adrenaline rush on a ship like you would riding Expedition Everest or Space Mountain? Most likely, the answer would be “no”…while the Aquaduck is thrilling, it’s not that thrilling.
With a cruise, you get a number of different possible experiences, and the desired experience varies from person to person. Some people like the idea of traveling to many different destinations and only having to unpack once (Norwegian’s Pride of America itineraries come to mind for visiting Hawaii; it visits Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island). Some are content with a book or two, some earbuds, and servers bringing the drinks to their chair by the pool. Others like the all-inclusive nature of the cruise (lodging, entertainment, food, etc. are all covered in the cost of the cruise). Some even consider the ship to be a destination in itself (think of the Oasis-, Quantum-, and Freedom-class ships from Royal Caribbean, the Breakaway class ships of Norwegian Cruise Line, etc.). Some want the ultimate in pampering, with the finest service, the finest food, and the most luxurious of accommodations; others are looking for a quick getaway over a weekend and feel the sea calling their names. With a Disney Park, you get magic, you get thrills, you get emotions. With a cruise, you get what you want (if you find the right cruise).
To make a long story short, I can’t really give an answer for whether I prefer a Disney Park vacation or a cruise vacation. It depends on what I’m looking for in a vacation. I definitely need a cruise of 6+ nights though to get a feel for how relaxed one can actually get on a ship; 3 nights was a good taste, but man, was it short!
Sooooo….what’s next for Mush?
Well, I have another small trip report to post for a Disney World trip that we took in October; Sheri felt guilty taking the cruise without the boys, so she tasked her favorite travel agent to book a quick 3-night trip to Orlando for her, her husband, and her boys (okay, I guess I can’t be 100% certain that she picked her favorite travel agent…).
I also feel like I need to get more familiar with other cruise lines; I want to know what I’m selling so I can provide the best service. I’ve completed training and am certified to sell Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Azamara Club, Norwegian, Princess, and Carnival. Can I book any of these? Yes; however, one cruise does not make me a cruise expert. I’ll be utilizing my network of expertise (Cathy and Michelle from Starfish Travel, LLC., who collectively have well over 100 cruises under their belts) for assistance in making your cruise amazing. I’m already looking for my next opportunity to get on a ship, and I’m working on steps to achieve the “Accredited Cruise Counselor” status with Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). I’m a researcher by nature (remember, my other job is an instructional assistant professor), so I’ll continue to gather as much knowledge as I can for the cruise industry, from podcasts to blogs to videos to additional agent training to cruise conferences to whatever else I can find!
Hopefully you enjoyed the trip report and that, while laughing a little, you gained a little knowledge. Thanks for staying with me on this journey!