Live From the Dream – Disney Cruise Line Back to Back Procedures

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You'll never see the terminal this empty except at 9:30 AM!

You’ll never see the terminal this empty except at 9:30 AM!

Welcome back to Day 4 (or Day 1 depending on how you’re counting). Today was the last day of our first cruise and the first day of our second. We are doing the Disney Cruise Line back to back with consecutive 3- and 4- night cruises on the Dream. The procedures for disembarkation and embarkation of our back to back cruises were clear and easy to follow. On the first day of our first cruise, our stateroom host already knew that we were on the following cruise in the same cabin as well – we were “on his list” as he said. Last night, each of us received a letter with instructions for today and extra customs forms and a payment form in case we hadn’t already set that up during online check in (which we had).

Last night we tidied the room to make sure we knew where the stuff we’d be taking off the ship today was so it would be easy to find in the morning, but other than that everything was still unpacked and in the drawers or hanging in the closet. This morning we went to Cabanas for breakfast instead of our rotational dining room (we recommend this whether you’re doing a back to back or not). Though we were asked to be off the ship by 9:15, we got out of our cabin before 8AM for breakfast. After a leisurely breakfast, we headed to the Vista Cafe to fill out our comment cards and customs forms. We left the ship with the other passengers around 9:00 with just the bags we planned to carry off with us. They contained:

  • Our passports and customs forms
  • Our wallets
  • The paperwork for our next cruise
  • Cell phones (it was so nice to be on LTE inside the terminal)
  • A deck of cards from the Castaway Club welcome gift
  • Our iPads so we’d have something to read
  • Any prescription medicines we might need in case for any reason we were delayed re-boarding the ship.
  • Our Key to the World cards so we could leave the ship
  • Sweaters because we knew we’d be waiting in the air conditioning

Here’s what we did NOT take off

  • Any unwrapped food or produce
  • Our laptops (locked in the safe in the cabin)
  • Jewelry (also in the safe)

We headed off the ship and into the customs line. It was the same line as everyone leaving the ship – a little long (because we left as everyone else was leaving) but quick. I don’t think we waited more than 5 minutes. We presented our passports and customs cards and confirmed that we’d made no purchases on this trip. If we had purchased anything that might owe duty, we would have held onto the receipt for the duty as well as the purchase receipt so we wouldn’t be taxed on it again when we left the ship at the end of the second cruise.

So far this is the closest I've gotten to Concierge level on DCL

So far this is the closest I’ve gotten to Concierge level on DCL

We finished customs and headed to the port exit on the first floor. Except this time, instead of heading to our car, just circled back up the escalator (no security check because we were still on the inside) to the 3rd floor waiting area. At this point, it was around 9:30. It was so empty! We hung out with handful of other back to back cruisers until around 9:45 when the first check-in window opened. We had already filled out our health forms (they were out in the same place they are when everyone is boarding). Then we checked in just like normal, except instead of the usual boarding card, we were given a different green boarding card and told we could wait in the concierge waiting area until they were ready to walk us back onto the ship (it has to be cleared by US Customs before guests can come back on). We filled the time by enjoying our cell phone coverage and playing cards. At 10:40, we were invited back on the ship. We scanned our Key to the World cards and walked back into the Deck 3 atrium. Again, it was SO EMPTY. Someone I was traveling with may have done snow angels on the carpet just because he could.

While we could have gone back to our stateroom at the point, we instead went up to Cove Cafe for some tea, reading, and more cards. The sweets case was stocked, so we could have had that too (families can do the same thing at Vista Cafe). The upper decks of the ship were really quiet until just before noon as the first guests boarding started to make their way up from the atrium. We went to Senses at noon to purchase our Rainforest passes and then down to Enchanted Garden for a quick lunch). We knocked around the idea of booking Palo brunch but decided against it. If we had wanted it, we would have gone to Royal Palace at 1PM to book it. Instead we went back to our cabin a little before they were opened for everyone else. It was made up like any other morning, but we did get another Castaway Club gift.

Other notes: we are at the same table and have the same stateroom host as last week. We assume we’ll have the same server team, but if not, we’ll let you know. If we were not booked in the same cabin, the stateroom hosts would have moved our luggage for us.

If you have any questions about back to back cruising, let us know in the comments.

Enjoy our cruise content? Consider subscribing or purchasing the newest Unofficial Guide title, The Unofficial Guide to the Disney Cruise Line, by Len Testa, Erin Foster, and Laurel Stewart – available at Amazon or Apple iBooks.

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Posted on May 4, 2014

4 Responses to “Live From the Dream – Disney Cruise Line Back to Back Procedures”

  • by Alex Duncan on May 5, 2014, at 4:02 pm EDT

    Hi Laurel. I love reading this. Reminds me of our first cruises which were back to backs in the Dream just like you and Len and Kieran had his cast and Daddy broke the flip using it on the aqua duck. Lol

    We did have the same servers but that’s because daddy asked the head server on the first cruise and he arrange it. They were great. Did you get the same one.,

    Love
    Alex xxxx

  • May I ask what are the benefits of back to back? Why not do a 7 day cruise?

    • by Laurel Stewart on May 7, 2014, at 3:58 pm EDT

      We wanted to spend more time on the Dream, which only offers 3- and 4- night itineraries. This has us Thursday to Thursday as well, which worked better with our schedule than the Fantasy’s schedule.

    • by Laurel Stewart on May 7, 2014, at 4:00 pm EDT

      Also, this counted as 2 cruises in Disney’s loyalty program, which goes by total cruises, not nights onboard. This fulfilled my 9th and 10th cruises, which brings my Castaway Club status to Platinum from Gold.