March 2, 2015
Disembarking on a New Adventure
As if it weren’t bad enough that they kick you off the ship on disembarkation day, the fact that it happens so early in the morning really makes everything worse.
Tracy and I woke up sometime around 6am and continued the process of throwing all of our “stuff” into our bags. We’ve still never taken advantage of the typical baggage handling system, wherein you leave your suitcases outside of your stateroom the night before and have them magically appear at the port the next morning. For both Alaska and this cruise, we decided instead to do the Express Walk-off. Honestly, unless you have absurd amounts of luggage (or like 15 kids in tow), I almost can’t imagine a situation in which we would find it preferable to give up our bags at 10pm just so we wouldn’t have to carry them off the ship ourselves… But that’s just us!
Anyway, as I mentioned when describing our final dinner, we had decided not to go to the table service farewell breakfast on this last morning (in part because it was at such an ungodly hour). Instead, we just headed to Cabanas to raid the breakfast buffet.
We clearly weren’t the only ones to have this idea.
When breakfast was done, we went back to our room to grab our bags (they were all ready, and technically, I think you’re supposed to bring them with you to breakfast, but this way we were able to keep our hands free…)
Then we went out to the atrium and waited for customs to clear the ship for walk-offs.
That’s the other major advantage of holding onto your luggage—you generally get the all-clear within moments of the ship being at the dock. Sure, it sounds a little counterintuitive to want to get off a Disney cruise as quickly as possible, but when you realize how little of the ship is kept open for disembarkation day, it actually just minimizes the amount of time you need to spend sitting around one of the lounges, waiting for your luggage group to be called.
Just as we were among the first people on the ship, we were also some of the first ones back on solid ground in Florida.
Even though we had tried to disembark as soon as we were able to, the customs line was already a little monstrous.
Luckily, we got through it painlessly and were spat out in front of the DCL terminal building.
We found the transports to Walt Disney World and were the first ones on our bus.
And now, if you can believe it, we’ve come full circle and you can continue to read about the adventure we had (which was just getting started) in the Walt Disney World trip report entitled What a Time to Be Alive.
Before moving on to the “land” portion of our land-and-sea trip, however, I thought I’d recap a bit about our thoughts on sailing to the Bahamas.
As you know, this was our second cruise with Disney. It was also my first cruise to a tropical destination (Tracy had been to the Bahamas and Jamaica before). And it was our first time aboard one of the larger Disney ships.
For all the firsts, the structure of the vacation felt very familiar after having gone to Alaska on the Wonder just about nine months earlier. That’s one thing that DCL does really well across the fleet—the process of checking your Navigator for things to do, eating on a rotational dining schedule, seeing shows each night, booking and going on Port Adventures, etc. doesn’t vary too much with each sailing. There were a couple differences between the two classes of ships that took a little getting used to, but nothing overwhelming. In general, I think I may have slightly preferred the size of the Wonder to that of the Dream. You don’t notice the larger occupancy all that often, but there are some times when the ship inevitably feels a little more crowded (because it is).
The length of this cruise was also much different from our last voyage. Three nights sounds short, but it feels even shorter. I think that one of the more relaxing things about cruising is feeling like you can really allow yourself to kick back on the ship, and we definitely weren’t able to do that on this trip. Personally, I doubt whether I’d ever want to do another three-night cruise (unless we could score a killer deal) because it really feels too rushed. I also would ideally want to avoid ever doing another cruise that didn’t have at least one day entirely at sea. As fun as the various ports were in Alaska, some of my fondest memories of that cruise are days spent lounging around the ship while enjoying the motion and the changing scenery. Even if the views wouldn’t be as exciting sailing southward, it still would have been lovely to spend a day without getting off the ship.
And speaking of ports of call, the ones in the Bahamas were a little uneven. We loved our Port Adventure in Nassau, but I don’t know that we would have found much to do on the island if we’d skipped a scheduled excursion. We’d probably like to go check out Atlantis sometime, but I don’t really know if Nassau would have much appeal to us once those few bucket-list items were ticked off our list. Castaway Cay was really beautiful and extremely well kept up by Disney, but we eventually did get a little tired of just laying out in the sun. Next time, I’d love to try one of the Port Adventures there—whether it was snorkeling, renting a bike, or doing something a little more exotic like the stingray encounters.
Combining this short cruise with a longer trip to Walt Disney World was definitely good planning on our part. Again, with how quickly our time on the Dream flew by, I think our vacation would have felt a little unsatisfying had we just flown to Florida for the cruise and flown back immediately upon returning. I guess it would make for a fun “weekend getaway,” but not really a full-on vacation.
I don’t want my review of this cruise to come off as negative at all—we were really glad we went and we had a lot of fun—but these thoughts would definitely influence our future planning.
We actually booked another sailing while we were on board (just a placeholder for the discounts and shipboard credit), but we haven’t turned that into a real plan yet and our two years are almost up. Regardless of whether we turn that reservation into an actual booking or not, though, you can be sure that we will be back on the Disney Cruise Line sometime in the not-too-distant future. We’ve officially fallen in love with cruising, and I really can’t imagine doing it with any company other than Disney!
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