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Disney Cruise 2014: Getting to the Ship

March 27th, 2014

We decided due to airfare and schedules that we would drive to Port Canaveral. The drive is less than 9 hours, which isn’t much different than our drive to Kentucky. Maddie wasn’t too thrilled when she learned that we would be driving on her birthday, but she got over it. We made sure to emphasize how special it was for her to be on her way to a Disney cruise on her birthday!

Maddie and I spent most of the day together as she had two different appointments. In between her appointments, we went to the toy store so that she could pick out something for her birthday. She decided on a Frozen set with younger Anna and Elsa ice skating figures. We had only started to realize how much Frozen had influenced Maddie by this point! She got a special balloon for her birthday, and we headed to breakfast at her favorite place (where she always gets chocolate chip pancakes).

We ran back to the house to put all the luggage in the car, and then headed to her next appointment. After that appointment, we picked up Cullen. The cleaners were scheduled for that day. I liked the idea of coming back to a clean house, so this was fine with us! They were finishing up when we got back home, ready to pick up Daddy and hit the road.

We had a few last minute errands to run, so we didn’t get going quite as early as we had hoped. We picked up an adorable cake for Maddie to celebrate her birthday on the road. We were driving about halfway to Savannah, and we had very little traffic for most of the ride. We stopped for dinner which was subpar, but we enjoyed the cute cake! Maddie loved it.

We had a very easy time until about 30 miles from our hotel when we witnessed an accident that was a bit scary! Two 18-wheeler trucks smashed a small car between them right in front of us. Bits and pieces of debris from the car were flying everywhere. Thankfully, the smashed car didn’t lose control and ended up pulling over after pulling ahead of one of the trucks. We were shocked that neither truck stopped to be sure that they were ok. They had to have known that they smashed the car! That was crazy. We called the highway patrol to report the incident with all the information that we had. That left me shaking with adrenaline until we got to the hotel.

We stayed at the Savannah Airport Embassy Suites, and we were impressed. The suites were similar to another Embassy that we’ve stayed at that is tailored more to business travelers. It worked out fine for us, and the kids settled pretty quickly. They had both slept in the car a little bit.

In the morning, we had breakfast at the hotel. We were less than impressed with the breakfast, but it was “free” and adequate. We ran into more traffic issues on Friday between Savannah and Port Canaveral. We also encountered heavy downpours quite a few times, and the kids needed to stop for the potty numerous times. We arrived at The DoubleTree Hotel Cocoa Beach Oceanfront around 5pm. We chose this one because it was the most expensive option that we could pick for the same number of HHonors points. We weren’t impressed, but it was fine for one night. We didn’t take advantage of the location on the beach since it was rainy and overcast during our short stay (not to mention that we were exhausted from the drive).

We decided to get dinner in the hotel. The kids were definitely getting restless from all the driving in the car. They were pretty good on the drive down, but they were really trying our patience in the evening! We had two double beds. I shared a bed with Cullen while Gabe shared a bed with Maddie. I don’t know how often we would want to repeat this tactic! I didn’t sleep particularly well, though I’m not sure it was all Cullen’s fault. He was snoring, talking in his sleep, grinding his teeth, and taking up most of the bed, so that was certainly part of it! I had forgotten to put my phone in “do not disturb” mode, so I think some notifications kept waking me up, too. And I think I was just generally excited about the trip! I ended up being awake for the day and unable to go back to sleep by 4am.

Once everyone was awake and ready, we went downstairs for a free breakfast that we had been comped when our room wasn’t quite ready upon arrival. The “free” breakfast was pretty pathetic. Some fruit, cereal, pastries, and toast. The options were quite limited. I’m glad we didn’t end up paying for that breakfast! We knew we’d have plenty of food once we got onto the ship!

It was a dreary, drizzly morning, but we were all excited. We repacked some of our bags as we decided we probably wouldn’t be taking advantage of the swimsuits before getting the rest of our luggage later in the afternoon. It was good to lighten our load a little with our carry on bags.

We weren’t sure exactly where we needed to go and took a little longer to get there due to some wrong turns, but we made our way to the terminal right on time for the earliest check in time. It was exciting to get glimpses of our ship as we neared the terminals. We parked right across from the terminal in a spot that was less than 50 yards to the entrance. We were very pleased with the convenience, and parking was $120 for the week.

We registered up as early as we could, so we could board as early as possible. We were able to get the first boarding time. We always like to take advantage of the lunch on the ship as well as give ourselves a chance to get to know the ship a bit before departing. We had some lines to wait in to get through security, and some more lines to check in and get our boarding number. We had some time to wait until they started calling the boarding numbers, and the kids were antsy. Just as we experienced when waiting to get into the parks, the kids were bickering and fighting a bit. We wandered around, snapped a photo with Olaf (from Frozen, of course), and tried to keep the kids from driving us crazy.

We were excited when Minnie Mouse showed up in the terminal, and we made our way to her and got in line to meet her. This meant we were in another line, but it helped the wait for the ship go by quicker. While we were waiting for Minnie, Gabe’s parents showed up and were able to hop in line and get their picture, too. The timing was perfect as they showed up just as we were about to be next!

I like how the photographers are nice about suggesting different group shots (kids only, grandparents with kids, parents with kids, whole group) rather than making us feel guilty about doing multiple shots.

Gabe’s parents went to get checked in and get their cards. While they were in that line, they started calling boarding numbers. Ours was #2, and they go through the numbers very quickly. We went through the ears and had to wait in another line to get our boarding photo.

I’m a fan of these types of pictures, and we already knew we were going to buy the photo CD at the end of the cruise. Our boarding pictures turned out pretty well, too!

After our photo, we were able to board the ship…and I’ll save the rest of the official parts of Day 1 for the next post!

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