by Angie Carriero
Kevin and I decided it best to wake up before 8am, even though the shuttle from our resort to Port Canaveral wasn’t to arrive until 11am. The reason for this, for all of you future resort-to-cruise travelers, is because, if you want Disney to take care of your luggage for you (that is, bring it from your resort to the ship), they start coming around to pick up luggage at 8am. Another morning of vegan, gluten-free Mickey Waffles, home-fries, and coffee to start the day, then we were off!
We explored the other All-Star Resorts and picked up a couple of souvenirs I had my eye on; charms for my Pandora bracelet! I got a Minnie bow and a pink classic Mickey. All-Star Music is still my favorite themed of the 3 All-Stars (and seemingly the most popular and well kept), but staying in All-Star Sports this time around made more sense, since we only stayed 2 nights and it was the cheapest of the 3!
(Now, I’d like to really explain the process from the Ground Transportation to the Check-In for the cruise in detail, because not everyone who travels to WDW has been on a cruise. For me, I feel like a pro when it comes to knowing my way around WDW, but it was as if I was in a foreign place when it came time to plan and get to the cruise! I hope that this post will help other first-timers!)
Time rolled around to check-in for the shuttle, so we went back to our rooms to pick up the bags we had packed to take on as carry-ons. The check-in for the shuttle was in the same lobby as the resort check-in/out, but it wasn’t obvious to us where we should go. We asked a Cast Member at the resort check-out desk while we were checking-out and they directed us to the counter across the lobby. It was then that we noticed the Cast Member holding a clip board appropriately labeled as the Disney Cruise Line (DCL) shuttle service. We asked if we had time to pick up a snack and she said we had 10 minutes, so we walked over to the food court and picked up a fruit cup and a bag of the Disney brand BBQ Kettle Chips, both foods being vegan! When we got back over to the shuttle, there were a lot more people, some that had opted to carry on all of their luggage instead of having it brought to their room, and we started lining up to get on the bus! Those with luggage put it in the compartment below the seating area on the outside of the bus, while small carry-ons could be with you on the bus. The bus already had other people on it from other resorts, but our group filled it up pretty fast!
Some quick notes about traveling to Port Canaveral via Ground Transfer Shuttle from your Disney Resort:
– When you initially check-in to your resort, let the Cast Member know you will be taking the shuttle on so-and-so date. They will tell you what time the shuttle comes and where to wait.
– The night before your cruise, you will receive luggage tags (much like the ones for Disney’s Magical Express) in your room. The tags are for the service Disney provides to take your bags on board for you. Your bags eventually arrive at your on-board stateroom door. You may also receive Magical Express tags in your room (like we did), so make sure you are putting the correct tags on your luggage! Once they pick up your luggage, you don’t see it again until you are on the ship, so make sure you have appropriate ID (for access to the bus and the cruise ship) and all necessary cruise documentation to board the ship on your person instead of inside your luggage!
– You will not receive a voucher for the Ground Transfer shuttle service, rather your name is on a clip-boarded list carried by the Cast Member guiding you to the bus. You tell her your name and a show of ID, in this case we had our passports, and she checks your name off of the list!
– Because we didn’t book our flight through Disney, there was a fee for the Ground Transfer; $70 per person round trip. The extra fee on top of our plane tickets was still significantly cheaper than booking the flight through Disney!
– On the bus, there are tv screens that play a Welcome to DCL type of video, some Disney cartoons, and a special America’s Funniest Videos episode where the host is on board a Disney ship! There is also a small bathroom in back, with no sink, just hand sanitizer. I recommend sitting at least one seat back from the tv screen unless you want to strain your neck trying to look up at one!
The bus ride there is an estimated 90 minute ride, but really doesn’t seem that way if you keep yourself occupied (or take a nap). Now, this is actually a “being vegan in Disney” blog, so let me mention that on the way to the port, Kevin had a Clif bar that I packed in my carry-on, while I ate my Luna Bar and bag of BBQ Kettle Chips! I mentioned in a previous post that all Clif bars and Luna bars are vegan when it comes to their energy/protein bars, but it’s worth mentioning again!
When we were almost there, the bus driver pointed out that, though you could see the ship from where we were, he would be pulling in a certain way so we could get better pictures! The bus pulled right up to the port, and we were instructed on where to go.
It was only a short walk to the security check point. The security here is much easier than airport security. You don’t have to take off your jewelry or shoes, but you still have to remove metal items from your pockets and take off your belt. Your things are placed in a plastic bin that rides through a metal detector as you are stepping through one as well, then it’s off to the check-in counters!
The check-in is on one floor up, which you can take an escalator to. It’s pretty obvious where you need to go when you get in there. We saw a sign when we arrived on the floor to the left that said “check-in.” There, a cast member stood between the entrance to two lines. One line was backed up to the very end and the other was completely empty. He asked us if we’d ever been on DCL before and we both said “No,” and he directed us to the non-existent line! It was nice being first in line after not having to wait at all, and Kevin mentioned to the Cast Member standing near us that we expected to go into the long line. She said that it was because we were returning customers and the other line was for first timers. We said, “but we told the Cast Member over there that this is our first time, too!” and she shrugged her shoulders and said, “Oh well!”
At the Check-In counter we showed the Cast Member our passports, and the paper we had printed out after doing the online check-in with our signatures on it. Disney Cruise Line encourages you to do the online check-in, where you fill out your contact information, flight info, credit card which you will be charging everything to, etc. You then print out the last page which you just sign and bring with you. They also ask you your room number, so be ready to answer that, because we weren’t! The Cast Member asked if we would be taking advantage of the Airport Check-in service where they take your bags the last night of the cruise, much like Magical Express, and bring them to your flight. This service is for participating airlines only, which JetBlue is. You will need to know your flight number to do this. They also check you in to your flight and your boarding passes arrive in your room the night before you depart, but enough talking about departing and more talking about arriving!
The Cast Member took our picture together, no hats or sunglasses, and we were given our room keys, which are also the keys that you must use any time you board or exit the ship. They are also what you use to charge items to, much like your Keys to the World.
We decided to skip taking a picture before boarding, because the lines were so long. It was just about 1pm when we finally stepped on board the ship, and we were welcomed via loud speaker onto the ship, “Welcome Carreiro Family!” And the Cast Members standing at the entrance all clapped for us!
The first WDWRadio event was already in progress in D-Lounge, so we decided to head up there, but let’s save that for the next post (which will also include much more about vegan and special diet dining aboard the ship!)…
Angie has been a WDW addict since her first visit at age 8, and since then her life has never been the same! She lives in southeastern MA with her boyfriend, Kevin (fellow Disney lover), and their 3 dogs, Flip, Josie, and Hildy, where she is currently training to become a professional dog trainer. Please join Angie every week in “Fish Are Friends, Not Food: Eating Vegan in WDW!” Angie believes that WDW is the most magical place for people with special diets, so, should you have any special diet questions (especially about vegan and gluten-free dining) she’d be happy to help! Angie is also an artist, and you can see her work at www.angiecarreiro.com!