2018 Christmas Disney Cruise Part 3: Boarding the Disney Dream

We went on a Disney Cruise just before Christmas in December 2018 with our friends the Riedels. See more about it at the 2018 Christmas Disney Cruise page. Finally, the day of our cruise was here…

Monday, December 17, 2018

Our day of embarkation had arrived! Although no one really says “embarkation” any more, do they? So our day to sail away had arrived! We were up around 7:00, and we did not have much trouble getting up. Going to bed early the night before helped, and the excitement of going on a cruise helped even more.

The day before, Laura had said she would like to eat breakfast at the hotel food court, so that is what we did. And once again, we used our Magic Bands to pay. Sort of like the Wonder Twins or something. That is still pretty cool to me. I got some Mickey Waffles and orange juice, while Laura and Jaylin got omelettes and milk. Once again, we did not have trouble finding a table. And once again, there were several people there in their pajamas. Were pajamas all that some people had brought for their vacation? Was I missing out on something?

We went back to our room, stopping for a few more photos along the way, because that is the kind of thing that we do. There were a few more things that we wanted to try after our previous day of photo taking around the grounds.

One of the nice things about only staying one night is that we did not have all that much to pack up, because we had not gotten out all that much. So that part of the morning went rather quickly. I called the front desk to make sure there was nothing more that we needed to do to check out, and the cast member guy said we were all good to go. So we went. It only took us one trip to get everything to the car, and we once again took the elevator, because of all the stuff we were carrying.

With just a few turns out of the parking lot, we were back on Osceola Parkway and heading for Port Canaveral. As with the previous day, I was thankful for our SunPass and being able to skip the toll both lines. I don’t know why everyone who goes there with any regularity does not get one of those.

It was a nice, sunny day, and a perfect day to drive over to the coast for a cruise. So far, the weather had been just great. Hopefully, that would hold out for a while. And this time, we were passed by a Porsche. Lots of big name car brands had passed us so far.

We had arranged to meet the Riedels at McDonald’s in Cape Canaveral, so that we could all drive to the port together. That meant that we actually drove past the port to get there, but that’s okay. We got a good view of the Disney Dream as we drove past, and there were two other large ships in the port, too. It must be a good day to cruise!

We stopped just before we got to McDonald’s to fill up the car with gas, so that we would not have to do that after leaving the ship. We also got a drink from the convenience store, because we were all thirsty. Sure, the Cokes on the ship were complimentary, but sometimes you just can’t wait a few hours.

When we arrived at McDonald’s, the Riedels were not there yet. But a quick check of Find My Friends on our phones showed that they were close by. We waited around for a few minutes, just enjoying the sun and the excitement of what was ahead. I’m sure the McDonald’s drive-through girl thought we were strange for just sitting there, but we had our reasons. The Riedels soon arrived. When we saw them turning in, we got out and stood by the car, because they had no idea of what kind of car we might be in. We enjoyed a few minutes of conversation, because we had not seen them in a few days. And we had not seen Zach since he was home for Thanksgiving break. It is always good to have friends that you are happy to see, whether it has been a few days or a whole month.

It was almost time for our port arrival, so we got in our cars and headed that way. It was not a big drive, since it only takes about 5 minutes. Fortunately, I had noticed which port we should go to on our way there, because the signs coming from Cocoa Beach don’t show which ship is where. We arrived exactly at 11:00, which was the arrival time that we signed up for. We are almost pros at this cruise thing now.

When we pulled up to the first check point, the guy mumbled, “Are you dropping off luggage or parking your car?” I wasn’t quite sure how to answer that, so I said, “Both. We are dropping off our luggage and then parking in the garage.” He said, “Is everyone in the car going on the cruise?” We were, so he directed us to Disney crew member inside the gate, and we knew that would eventually lead us to the side of the terminal building to drop off our luggage there. Interestingly, we saw that he directed the Riedels the other way, which we knew would lead to dropping off their luggage at the sidewalk, which is where you also drop off people. No problem, because we would both end up at the garage eventually.

The Disney crew member guy asked what our room number was. I couldn’t remember, although I had it on a piece of paper with my passport. He was able to look us up from our name, and he did some sort of preliminary check-in, although I am not really sure what it was. He saw that we had cruised several times before, so he knew that we knew what we were doing. He wished us well and sent us on ahead to drop off our luggage.

As we were getting our bags out of the car, the Riedels called to say that they were on the third level of the garage. Apparently, they dropped their things off more quickly because they did not have to stop and talk to a second person. We dropped off our bags and headed that way.

When we pulled up to the machines to pay for garage parking, the guy in front of us was having trouble using the credit card machine to pay for his parking. Not sure what the problem was, but he finally got through. The machine was working just fine, I think, because I did not have a problem with it. Must have been an operator error. We paid and drove up to the third level of the garage, where the Riedels were waiting for us.

We made sure that we had everything we needed out of the car. And then I checked once or twice more for good measure. That was after we had checked for passports several times during the course of the morning. I just wanted to make sure that we had everything we needed. We locked the cars and headed on our way.

One of the nice things about parking on the third level is that there is a walkway from that level to the Disney Cruise Line Terminal building. On our last cruise with the Riedels, we had waited in a line on that walkway to get into the Terminal, but this time there was no one there. We checked in with the crew members on the walkway, and this time I was prepared because I knew our room number. I am sure it is some sort of security thing to keep checking in like that, but I sometimes wonder why we have to check in so often. Also, we Burnses had to hurry and finish our drinks before going through security, but that was not too much of a problem.

We made it through security rather easily. Only a couple of us set off any alarms, and I was not one of them. But everyone in our group was able to get through, so that was good. I would have hated to leave someone behind. But it did not come to having to make that decision.

We then rode the escalator up to the main floor of the terminal building, and we found where all of the people were. But then once we got a second look, we saw that most everyone was in line to have their photo taken with Goofy in front of the large model of one of the ships. Who would have thought that line was longer than the check-in line? We went to the check-in line, and the crew member directed us to the general line, because it was actually shorter than the Castaway Club line. My guess was that there were not going to be that many first-time cruisers on the ship this time.

There were some rather unique Christmas decorations in the Disney Cruise Line Terminal. Those hands look familiar!

There were some rather unique Christmas decorations in the Disney Cruise Line Terminal. Those hands look familiar!

The check-in crew member was quite helpful, as they always are. He got our passports checked without any problems. That is always nice, because my old passport used to give some trouble. Since I renewed last year, everything has been just fine and dandy. The crew member went to get our lanyards, and Laura and I got gold lanyards, since we have been on enough cruises to be Gold Members of the Castaway Club. Jaylin’s lanyard was just silver, since he has not been on as many cruises as we have. Not that it really matters all that much. I was also interested to see that they still use cards instead of Magic Bands or something similar. Maybe one of these days they will convert. We were assigned to boarding group 7, and then we were good to go.

It took us a minute to find the Riedels, but we finally saw that they were still at the check-in desk. Once they had finished, they were in boarding group 8. Not that big of a deal. We would wait for them instead of going on without them. Group 3 had already been called, so it would not be a long wait. We took some photos of ourselves in the terminal building, and then a crew member volunteered to take a photo of all of us together, which is always nice. We also took some photos in front of the large Christmas tree in the terminal building. With the warm weather and the fact that we were about to board a cruise ship, it seemed a little strange that Christmas was just a week away, but it was.

Who is ready for a cruise? I think we all are.

Who is ready for a cruise? I think we all are.

Laura and the Christmas tree in the Terminal

Laura and the Christmas tree in the Terminal

I suggested that we go out to the observation deck, partly because I knew there would not be as many people out there. We had to go through the crowds to get there, but we made it. We took some more photos, just to pass the time while we waited.

Disney Dream at Port Canaveral

Ahoy, Disney Dream! Nice to see you again! Oops, I see you are still getting ready.

Laura on the Observation Deck

Laura on the Observation Deck

After hanging out there, we went back inside, just in time to hear them call group 7. We found a place slightly out of the way to wait, and it was not long before they called group 8. They were really moving quickly this time.

We got in the line to go through the Mickey head portal thing. And then the line stopped moving. A literal standstill. That does not usually happen to us. Fortunately, it was not a long delay. I would guess that they just got behind in their photo-taking on up ahead, and we had to wait for the crowd to clear out.

Boarding the Disney Cruise Line

Here we go! About to board!

The line started moving again, and we got our cards scanned. We had a big group photo taken with all seven of us, and we were ready to board the ship. The Riedels went first, getting their name called as they were welcomed aboard, and we Burnses were right behind them. I checked my watch, and it was 12:01. That was pretty good timing, and it was the earliest we had ever boarded the ship. Cool!

We immediately noticed the Christmas decorations, which were everywhere, although the main decorations were not lighted yet. That would come later on in the evening. And we saw the almost life-sized gingerbread house, getting a few photos of it even though we could not go inside it.

The Disney Dream gingerbread house

The Disney Dream gingerbread house. It smelled really good, but we did not break off any pieces to eat.

The Riedels were wanting to do the Castaway Cay 5K run, and Karen had read that we needed to sign up for that as soon as we boarded before the list filled up, so we got in line at Guest Services. Fortunately, it was a quick line, and we did not have to wait long. The crew member asked if there was anything else, and we Burnses did have one other bit of business to take care of, making arrangements for something later on.

We were all ready for lunch, and our rooms would not be ready until 1:30. So we went to our traditional boarding day lunch place of the Cabanas buffet. As always, there was almost too much to choose from. I got some of everything. Not quite, but it felt like it. We decided to eat at one of the tables outside of the actual restaurant space, because it is a little quieter out there. It was a good lunch, and we were already happy just to be on the ship, even if it was still in the port. It was like we were really going! Because we were, of course. As soon as they started sailing the ship. We also used the time to get text messaging set up on the Disney Cruise Line app, knowing from previous cruises that it would be a valuable tool as we were sailing.

There was still some time to pass before we could go to our rooms, so we went out on the upper deck for a while. For whatever reason, the kids always want to play ping-pong, so they did, with Laura being their fourth person. Brant, Karen, and I just enjoyed the view, enjoyed not being at work, enjoyed the sun and warm weather. There was lots to enjoy, even with the ship still sitting in the port. We could look out across the way and see the garage, and we could see our cars inside the garage, too. Good to know that they were still there. Hopefully, they would still be there when we returned. But who wanted to think about that now?

Ping pong on the Disney Dream

Ping pong. Fortunately, no one was injured this time. That is not always the case when this group plays.

About to set sail on the Disney Dream

It is a great day to go sailing!

Check back soon for the next part of the 2018 Christmas Disney Cruise trip report, as we sail away to adventure!

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Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through Burnsland.com, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.