Ohana Means Family: The Disney Difference
Day 2: Embarkation and Sail Away
Bags and Breakfast
As I mentioned in my previous post, we had gotten a letter in our room giving us more information regarding our transfers to the ship. We were told to have our bags inside our rooms by the door by 8:00 a.m. We set our alarms for 7:40 so that we would not wake up to bell services and began getting ready for the day, though we already had our bags by the door from the night before. At 8:02 we got a call from bell services to remind us about our bags and ask if they were ready. Ten minutes later, they came and took our bags. They did say, however, that you did NOT need to be in the room for them to take your bags. So if you have kids who are early risers, are early risers yourselves, or are just too excited for your upcoming cruise; you are welcome to go about your day and not wait for them.
Since I had spent the last three months going to bed after class at 11 or 12 and waking up for my internship between 4:30 and 5:00 we were not one of those people that morning. Instead, we took our time getting ready, had some coffee in the room (another welcomed villa perk) and headed to Whispering Canyon Cafe for breakfast at 9:25. We chose Whispering Canyon Cafe because we didn’t want to go too far from the resort, but also I have loved the antics of the restaurant and wanted Dave to experience them.
If you haven’t been recently (as I don’t think they had this the last time I went in 2008ish) they give you a coaster that you can place one side up if you want to join in on the antics and the other side up if you’d rather not. Though we were up for it, our waitress didn’t seem so. I was kind of surprised that she was placed at Whispering Canyon as she was a bit shy and reserved. We did see some things going on at other tables but it seemed so much more subdued than other times I’ve been. Requests for ketchup were met from children from other tables running over, but not the 20 bottles piling the table that I was used to. We also saw one table getting really into it with their waitress, yelling for her in unison, etc. but that was really it. The food was delicious (I had an Egg white omelette with spinach and chipotle pico de gallo and Dave had eggs benedict with pulled pork), but I missed that laugh out loud atmosphere that I was used to.
We still had some time before our transfers so we went and grabbed our bags and relaxed in the cozy lobby of the villas in comfy rocking armchairs by this beautifully ornate fireplace:
Then it was time for one last picture of the lobby before heading off to our transfers:
Disney Transfers and Embarkation
We were told to meet by the fireplace in the main lobby by 11:00 for our 11:15 transfers. That’s when Disney Cruise Line’s dynamite service began. We were met by two Disney Cruise Line representatives who welcomed us and talked to us about our upcoming vacation. They then told us to relax in the air-conditioning until they had word that the bus was just down the road. The bus had already made a couple stops before us and we made one additional stop at Port Orleans Riverside before the 1:20 minute ride into port.
We got to the port somewhere between 12:30 and 12:45. Embarkation was a very smooth process at that time with very little lines. You first go through security where your carry ons go through a scanner and you walk through a metal detector. There are signs around that say that alcohol is prohibited to be carried on, but pay no attention to those. There were some people around us panicking a bit because they were concerned the policy has changed, it has not.
After that you go to upstairs into the terminal to check in. Again, little to no lines at this time and a very streamlined process. Be sure to complete your check in on line and bring your signed document from that process as well as the health questionnaire you are sent via email weeks/days before your cruise. You will also need your whole family present to take a picture. This is used for the picture that pops up when your ID gets scanned at ports and also to ensure all of your pictures end up together for your viewing and purchase on the ship.
At this time, open boarding was available and we could just walk right on the ship. The entire process of security, check in, and boarding took about 15 minutes. We did not feel we missed out by taking Disney transfers on more time on the ship because our cruise was 7 days and really enjoyed not having to wait in lines during this process!
Lunch and Stateroom
Adults who have not been on a Disney Cruise may be thinking that getting your name announced in the lobby is nice but not necessary when you don’t have kids with you. I was right there with you, until they announced us. You are walking in to this grand atrium with people standing on decks above you looking down and the crew is clapping for you. It is actually a really magical way of saying you are finally here and we can’t wait to show you the amazing vacation you’re about to have. You may think that’s a corny explanation now, but just wait, you’ll jump on my bandwagon soon enough!
Before heading up to lunch we decided to book our Mixology seminar since the booking had just opened up. There was only one mixology seminar that week on the schedule so we wanted to make sure we were in! Once you get on the boat, check the navigator for booking opportunities like this (or Anna and Elsa/ Princess Gathering Tickets) some of these events go quickly so don’t miss out!
There are usually two options for lunch. Cabanas which is a self-seat buffet and Carioca’s which is a similar buffet, however, you are seated by the staff and your drinks are brought to your table by a server. We decided on Cabanas because it was 80 degrees and sunny and we came from the New York and were desperate for sunshine! We both noticed that our plates were very meat heavy. There were so many things we wanted to try. Lots of great seafood (crab claws and shrimp), carved roast beef, lamb chops, chicken. All delicious, particularly the lamb! I “rounded” my plate off with some asparagus which was also tasty and well cooked.
After lunch, our room was ready. We had an 11B standard inside stateroom. We did not have a split bathroom, and the stateroom was fit for 3 people max (fold down couch but no pulldown bed). Here are a few pictures:
For the two of us, this room was more than adequate. The space under the bed held all of our suitcases and bags and we had more than enough space for our clothes in the closet and the drawers. The bathroom was also adequate for two of us. Of note is that the shower was in a tub which would be perfect for a couple with one child who preferred baths. I had also read the need for a gift card to keep the lights on in some ships, this is no longer required on the Magic.
Another thing of note is the outlet situation. There are two outlets with USA three pronged plugs and a semi outlet in the bathroom through the not so good hair dryer (no worries ladies, they give you a better one in one of the drawers to the vanity). Other than that, all outlets were round international ones (including the two by the bed). There is one USA outlet that is clearly visible on the vanity and another one behind the TV. If you have multiple devices that need charging, I would suggest getting a converter or getting a USB splitter (other power strips and the like are not allowed on the ship).
Exploring the Ship
After putting our carryons down, it was time to do some exploring. I knew this would be the only time for me to see the kids clubs, so we went to check out those first. We only went to see the club for the school age kids (Oceaneer’s Club and Oceaneer’s Lab). Here are some pictures of those:
They truly seemed to have such a variety of activities going on throughout the week as well as enough free play areas to keep kids entertained and enjoying their cruise. Such great interactive spaces with opportunities for socialization and making friends with other guests as well as the attentive and specially trained Kid’s Club staff members.
We also stopped by the movie theater which is along the same floor where we saw a few other movies (some in 3D) on our cruise:
Then it was up to the top deck:
Above is the aqua lab and the Twist ‘n’ Spout waterslide. This one is very tame and great for kids, but adults can ride too (they didn’t turn either of us away).
Above is the adult area. The hot tubs got crowded on sea days, but it was always a relaxing environment and there was always room to enjoy it.
Above is the AquaDunk- you can see how it goes over the edge here. When you’re on it though, you can’t really tell.
We couldn’t help but grab a soft-serve cone while we explored, I went with Banana while Dave went with chocolate-vanilla twist. There were always chocolate and vanilla but the other flavor changed a few times on our trip from Banana to Strawberry to Pineapple.
We made a few more stops before heading to our room to unpack a bit and get ready for the muster drill, including the larger theater where the shows would be:
O’Gills, where we actually spent a good amount of time later in our cruise:
And some of the restaurants, which I will post pictures of as we get to them in the trip. When we got back to our rooms, the luggage was already there so we unpacked everything before the muster drill and put our suitcases under the bed.
Sail Away Party
After the muster drill, we headed back up to the top deck to get ready for Sail Away. If you have kids, deck 9 is definitely the place to be where they can truly enjoy the dance party and playing with the pompom/streamers that get handed out. For adults, deck 10 provides a great view of the show from afar without the pressure to dance (for people like my husband who wouldn’t be caught dead doing so) and you can also get a great view of the ship as it pulls away from Port Canaveral.
Before the party began, Dave picked up a Chicken Schwarma from the quick service location next to Pete’s Broiler Bites (the one with the burgers and chicken fingers). He loved it, and it is definitely not an option to pass up if you’re thinking about a quick meal on deck! We also got a drink of the day which was called a “Cool Breeze” and had peach schnapps, vodka, cranberry juice and sprite; a tasty way to celebrate the start of the trip.
The Sail Away party was really engaging, high energy, and fun even if you weren’t enjoying it from deck 9. The cruise staff gets introduced and gets everyone dancing, passes out streamers, and warms you up for the fab 5 to join in. If you have kids, definitely check this out for them to have a glimpse of their favorite Disney pals. For us, it was a great kick off to the trip!
After watching the boat pull away, we went down to get dressed and ready for dinner then made our way to Deck 4 to explore that deck. For couples, taking a stroll around deck 4 at night (especially that first night before the runners get started) is really lovely and romantic. Watching the waves roll by with the light of the moon in front of you. It was beautiful. Here are a few pictures:
From there it was on to Carioca’s for our first dinner. We were put at an 8 top table with three other couples, two were on their honeymoon and the other was engaged. They were also all young couples in their mid twenties to early thirties. We were all from the USA (us from NY, one couple from CT, one from DC, and one from CA). Of course it is a bit awkward at first especially when you think that the two honeymoon couples have to spend their dinners with 6 other people. One of the girls even said “Wow, I wish they had question cards at the table on the first night!” That quickly passed though and we found ourselves going to events with our table mates, laughing hysterically at times together, and sometimes talking past the time we had food left on the table. It was such a great group and Disney did a great job in putting people of similar ages and life stages together.
I do not have many food pictures (sorry!) except Palo and one night at Animators. While I don’t mind taking pictures when it is just us, I did not want it to detract from other people’s experience of dinner since none of them were taking pictures. However here’s a quick run down of what we had:
Melissa- Ahi Tuna and Avocado Tower (if you love sushi/sashimi definitely try this, it was delicious and the smokiness of the caviar on top truly made the flavors pop) Lobster, Shrimp, and Salmon Skewer (I loved this, especially the quinoa that it was served with) and Coconut Tres Leches Cake (a bit dense and sweet but very good).
Dave- Lobster Croquette (he described it as an upscale Lobster Fish stick), tomato soup with jalapeño (he liked it, but it was not as spicy as he would have liked), the rum marinated swordfish with black bean puree (he said the fish was very good, but the black bean puree was definitely the star of the dish) and the sweet temptations (usually three bite sized portions of desserts available) which included strawberry cheesecake, cream cheese flan, and chocolate torte.
Overall, we were pleasantly surprised by Carioca’s, despite some of the reviews I read before we went. It must be all on what you get and the kind of day the restaurant had I guess! Our server was Okim from Indonesia and Jay from Jamaica who we really loved and had a good time with as the trip went on.
After dinner we headed to Fathoms for the adults only version of the Magic Quest. There are a few of these throughout the trip but there is only one “Adults-Only” version which was probably much more hilarious than the family oriented ones. The Quest is a scavenger hunt where anything you need is either already in the room or on your person. The host calls out an item, say your Key to the World card, and your team captain must bring up that item with your team number (a laminated sheet they give you). Everyone who can bring up that item gets points, but the first two numbers he sees get more points. We formed a team with our table mates and a couple who we ended up doing some other events with later in the trip.
The woman in the other couple came prepared with a bag full of things they had asked for on her prior cruises, but most of them did not come up. The only thing is, if you do not have someone completely obnoxious with New York City subway elbows, don’t expect to win. However, it’s definitely fun to play regardless! I will not spoil the surprises for you, but if you are traveling without children or your children enjoy the kids club try to make it down, if only to watch!
Wow, what a day and what a post! Sorry for this one being so long, for subsequent days I’ll break everything into a couple posts to make it less to read at one time.
Next Up: Animation, Lobster Ravioli, and Cappuccinos, Oh My!