Disney Magic Trip Report Day 2: Embarkation and Sail Away

Trip Report

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:

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Then it was time for one last picture of the lobby before heading off to our transfers:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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Then it was up to the top deck:

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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).

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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.

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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:

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O’Gills, where we actually spent a good amount of time later in our cruise:

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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.

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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!

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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:

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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.

Magic Quest

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!

Enjoying this trip report? Looking to plan your own trip on the Disney Cruise Line or to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or Aulani? Contact me at m.pigden@magicalvacationplanner.com to let me help you plan your next magical and memorable vacation. I can help take the hassle out of reservations, give you information and recommendations, and book everything including dining so that you don’t have to wake up early or spend time on hold! All at NO ADDITIONAL COST to you! Contact me today for a FREE no obligation quote at m.pigden@magicalvacationplanner.com!


Disney Magic Trip Report Day 1: Wilderness Lodge and Monorail Loop Resort Fun

Trip Report

Ohana Means Family: The Disney Difference

Day 1: Wilderness Lodge and Monorail Loop Resort Fun

 The weeks leading up to our trip were extremely hectic. Just days before Christmas, I had finished my child life internship and coursework for the semester. As much as I loved my placement, it was such a load off not to have to commute so far (2 to 2.5 hours each way by subways and buses) and to not have to worry about assignments during the holidays. Then of course there were the holidays. It was seriously a mad dash to get all of our gifts ready to take up to my family in Connecticut. When we got up there, we were able to spend a good amount of time visiting my family and some friends. We came back to the city, celebrated New Years with some friends and my brother, and then I headed back up to Connecticut on New Years day for an interview on Friday. After my interview, I took the last possible train home to New York to fly out to Orlando the next morning! It was seriously a whirlwind!

The Flight to Orlando

Living in the city, it makes getting to the airport both easy and difficult. We took the subway which took about 1.5 hours, not so bad. Luckily it was a Saturday and 5:30 in the morning so the trains were not packed! We were also lucky to time our arrival at the subway stop to get right on a train and leave as sometimes they run much slower earlier in the morning and especially on weekends.

We usually fly JetBlue to Orlando, but this time had elected for Delta because it was oddly much cheaper. However, after our flight, comparing the two we will stick with JetBlue any day. The service is so much better, the seats are more comfortable, not having to pay for a first checked bag is awesome, and  I’m not going to lie, it’s really nice to get a full sized drink and snack. Delta was fine of course, I’m not complaining, but we really did miss the service and experience we get at JetBlue. Allowing Disney to pick up our bags at baggage claim, we headed onto Disney’s Magical Express to the Wilderness Lodge!

Wilderness Lodge

Now there will be more pictures, I promise! We got to Wilderness Lodge and I went to go check in while Dave wandered around the lobby. It was his first time at this resort, and within 10 minutes decided it was his favorite one. I had stayed there a few years back, but with all the Christmas decorations up it looked like a completely different resort!2015-01-03 13.55.02

Christmas tree in the main lobby of the Wilderness Lodge.

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Christmas tree in the entrance to the villas.

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My favorite Wildnerness Lodge decoration, but please ignore the scaffolding in the background!

All checked in and with our room already ready for us, we went to check it out. We would be staying in a studio villa in the vacation club area. This villa sleeps 5 (one queen sized bed, one pull out couch, and a twin sized murphy bed) and has a kitchenette with a mini fridge, toaster, microwave, and coffee maker. We love staying in the villas and being able to have breakfast in the room in the morning and a balcony to eat it on!

Here are just a couple pictures of the room:

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From there we went out to grab some lunch at the Roaring Fork quick service. We tend to share meals at least for lunch at Disney because the portions are usually pretty big so we split the Grilled Northwest Chicken Sandwich which I highly recommend. It does have Canadian bacon on it for those that do not eat pork, but otherwise it is delicious and has a very tasty sauce. After eating by the pool and exploring the resort a bit, we decided it was time for a rest. We spent longer than we meant to in the room but, hey, we were on vacation!

Monorail Resort Loop Fun

We didn’t have park tickets or any reservations for that night, we weren’t really sure what we were going to be in the mood for after an early flight. So after our rest we decided to go resort hop a bit through the Magic Kingdom resort loop to see some of their Christmas decorations. We hopped on the boat from Wilderness Lodge to the Magic Kingdom. We tried to make up elaborate plans that would get us into Magic Kingdom for the night, since they were open to 1:00 am, but knowing they were completely ridiculous sighed a bit and moved on to the resort monorail.

Our first stop was the Grand Floridian to see the gingerbread house and their tree in the lobby. Neither of us have ever been to Disney during Christmas and after seeing pictures of the gingerbread  house I really wanted to see it in person. You can actually smell it when you walk into the resort, it’s pretty wonderful. Here are some pictures of the Grand Floridian decorations:

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From there it was on to the Polynesian. We skipped the Contemporary mostly because it is our least favorite resort (though we’ve never stayed there) but also because they had a HUGE line of people trying to get to Magic Kingdom on their monorail. It just didn’t seem worth it. Instead of jumping back on the monorail, we walked along the water. If you are ever at Disney World without tickets or a plan (I know, a rarity if you aren’t a Floridian) definitely check out this walk at night. It was so peaceful and a very pretty walk!

We grabbed dinner at Cap’n Cooks at the Polynesian: a spicy shrimp sushi roll and the pulled pork nachos. Both were so-so. We used to be huge fans of the pulled pork nachos but they seemed to have changed the recipe and added a whole lot of mayo that neither of us remember them having on them at all before. They used to be one of our favorite quick service meals (we could get one and split them for dinner) but we probably won’t be getting them again.

We took our meals out to the beach and watched Winnie the Pooh on the outdoor movie screen and waited for Wishes and the Electrical Water Pageant. We made sure we got one of the few seats that wasn’t blocked by construction or the new bungalows and had a great view. Unfortunately, though, they weren’t pumping in the music that night. Hopefully once construction is done they will begin doing that again, or maybe it was just that night?

We considered stopping at the Tambu lounge for drinks before heading back, but figured we’d have enough fun and fruity drinks on the cruise. Our favorite drink, the Backscratcher, would just have to wait for our next trip. But we did stop through the lobby to take some pictures of the decorations before heading back to Wilderness Lodge:

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Time for Bed!

When we got back to our resort we did a few quick changes between our checked bags and carry ons. Disney allows guests to bring alcohol onto the cruise, but it must be in your carry on luggage. We bought one bottle of rum with us knowing we could stop in port if we needed anything more. We also made sure we had swim suits and dinner clothes for the first night in our carry ons so that we could change before dinner.

We also received a letter in our rooms giving us a time for pick-up because we would be using Disney transfers. For a family of four it might be cheaper and easier to rent a car, but for us it was cheaper to go with Disney and not have to worry about our bags! We were told to meet in the lobby at 11:00 for an 11:15 departure and were told to have our bags inside the room by the door by 8:00 the next morning. We put them there in preparation before going to sleep and hit the hay. We were in for an exciting day the next morning!

Next Up: Embarkation, Sail Away, and Meeting the Table Mates

Enjoying this trip report? Looking to plan your own trip on the Disney Cruise Line or to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or Aulani? Contact me at m.pigden@magicalvacationplanner.com to let me help you plan your next magical and memorable vacation. I can help take the hassle out of reservations, give you information and recommendations, and book everything including dining so that you don’t have to wake up early or spend time on hold! All at NO ADDITIONAL COST to you! Contact me today for a FREE no obligation quote at m.pigden@magicalvacationplanner.com!