Two if by Sea

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As I mentioned last week,  I’ll be boarding the Dream this coming Sunday for my very first cruise.  Since the Dream is a brand new ship it has been getting a lot of media attention.  While reading all about the amenities on the ship has gotten me really excited for this trip, I figured many of our readers have have also seen these reports from the first few sailings.  And while all that coverage is funI wanted to take a different spin on things.  In getting ready for this trip I’ve learned how different planning and preparing for a cruise is compared to my usual Disney routine.  So with that in mind I wanted to discuss the steps to take before setting sail with Disney.

First things first and the easiest thing to do to start your cruise adventure is to log onto the official website. Here guests can do some research and get basic knowledge about the various ships and itineraries.  This is also the place to order your free planning DVD chuck full of info.  I found the DVD was fairly informative and entertaining.  I also recommend a simple google search to find various fan sites like allearsnet.com which provide great insight.  Once you have done your research and you are ready to book, you can either go directly through Disney or talk to your favorite travel agent who will be happy to help you and answer any questions.

So you’ve booked a high seas adventure on the Disney Cruise Line.  What’s next? You’ll want to decide if you want to spend a few days at WDW before or after taking the drive or bus ride to Port Canaveral.  Since I have an annual pass to the parks it is easy for me to tack a few extra days onto my trip before I board the ship.  However, if you have a family and will have to buy tickets for them you may want to seek out a more affordable option.  The beauty of a Disney vacation is that you can alter it to your own needs.  Bus transportation to the port is available through Disney for WDW resort guests for a fee of $35 each way.  Buses also make stops at Orlando International Airport for your convenience.  You will want to go ahead and book your ride or rent a car once you figure out what works best for you.

Now that you’ve got the basics of your trips planned out, you’ll want to attend to some important details before moving on to more fun stuff.  Once you book (or even before), make sure your passport is up to date.  These documents are valid for 10 years for adults and 5 for kids so check those dates!  Its easiest to renew your passport while it is still valid rather than applying for a new one.  I renewed mine last year so this trip will be my first opportunity to use it!  It is easiest to use a passport, but guests can also use a valid government issued ID along with your original or certified birth certificate.

Now comes the fun stuff!  Guests can log onto Disney Cruise Line website to book excursions, spa treatments, and special dining experiences.  My itinerary includes a stop at Nassau in the Bahamas as well as a day at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island reserved just for its cruise ships.  At both of these destinations activities and excursions are plentiful for those seeking them.  For example, folks can swim with dolphins in Nassau or take a kayak tour around Castaway Cay.  Some of these events can be pricey, but options for everyone’s budget are available. Keeping our budget and interests in mind, my friends and I opted not to book anything for the Nassau stop.  Our plan is to get off the boat and roam around for a while on our own before heading back for the pedicure I have booked in the ship’s spa called Senses.  However, when we are on Castaway Cay we decided to rent snorkeling equipment.  It will only cost us $25 (as opposed to a much more expensive snorkeling tour) and we can swim around at our own will.  There are tons of activities from boating, to spa treatments, to a special dinner at one of the signature restaurants to pick from.  Simply check out the website to see what suits you and your party best.  Keep in mind the sooner you book, the better chance you have to land your first choice activities.

The Disney Cruise Line website really is a great tool for guests preparing to set sail.  You will return here once again to fill out online forms in order to provide information such as passport numbers, credit card numbers, etc. for each person in your party.  It was a fairly simple process and you should have no problem completing this task.  At the end, you will be asked print out a form for you and your cabinmates to sign.  You will need to bring this form with you to the port and hand it in upon check in.  Also, shortly before your embarkation date you will receive a package in the mail which will contain essential information for you to look through before heading to the ship.

Now, that all of that planning is done its time to get to packing.  If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you may remember I have a tendency to over pack.  I am overwhelmed trying to decide what to bring on this trip!  I’m so excited by the idea of being able to dress in fun clothes rather than my usual park commando attire that I can barely contain myself.  Pardon me while I get all girlie for a moment to rejoice in the fact that I will not have to wear sneakers every day on the boat.  Anyway, guests should pack according to the activities they plan to pursue on board.  If they want to lay by the pool all day every day, bring several bathing suites; if planning on dining at one of the finer restaurants, bring the appropriate clothing.  You get the idea.  Also keep in mind what time of year you will be traveling.  Since my cruise is at the end of February it may be chilly on the water at night so I will bring a few sweaters in case I should need them.

I think I’m as ready as I’ll ever be for my journey aboard the Dream!  To experience something completely different than my usual WDW vacation is thrilling for me!  I can’t wait to walk up the gangway and get away from the real world for a few days of fun, sun, and dare I say relaxation!  I’ll be sure to report back on what is sure to be a wonderful experience when I return!

I may have missed a few things since this is my first cruise experience so if you have any words of wisdom I’d love to hear them and share them with the other readers!

Next week I’ll be taking a break from writing to enjoy my up coming trip, but then I’ll be back to tell you all about it!

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Posted on February 23, 2011

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