Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Day 1 - Embarkation

Once we had officially checked in and handed in our signature form, we were given our Key to the World (KtoW) cards and a boarding card with a number (12), and sent to the waiting area.

Key to the World cards

When we had booked our cruise, the early (6pm) seating for dinner was full, so we were put on the late (8pm) seating. Our travel agent told us to speak to Guest Services on embarkation and ask to be switched as we have young children. When I checked our KttW cards, however, it appeared that we had already been switched :) The card also had our dining rotation (PTTAPTA) on it, though I literally only realized this on the last day of our cruise!

Waiting Area
The waiting area was relatively quiet, and they were boarding group number 8. The kids were pretty excited to see the large posters of Captain Mickey, but we just sat and waited around, as we were pretty tired from the flight. There was a section for Castaway Club members, but this being our first cruise, not for us :(
Boarding card

There was quite a bit of activity at the booth to sign up for Youth Activities, but I had already signed in DD1 online, and booked nursery time for DD2, so there wasn't anything left for us to do.

Anna and Elsa meet and greet in Personal Navigator
We had also received the Personal Navigator for the day, and it confirmed what I had read in the cruise forums - that Anna and Elsa from Frozen would be onboard, and there would be pre-booked 'private' photo ops! (The Personal Navigator is basically a schedule of all the activities and entertainment for the day: what's happening onboard, character appearances, weather forecast, dinner dress code, menu theme, restaurant opening times, etc.). There is an app for smartphones with similar info.

Ship supplies being loaded
It wasn't a long wait - when our group boarding number came up, we rushed through to get onboard. Our first glimpse of the ship was really up close, and we watched people loading supplies. It looked like a ton of food!

As we walked up to the gangway, we were greeted by DCL staff requesting that we sanitize our hands, then head over to take a family photo. One of the very first Disney crew members we met was a ship's photographer, Andre, to take a group family photo prior to embarking. All the crew wear name badges, and underneath is listed their country of citizenship. Andre is South African - Disney South African crew count = 1 :) We had our pictures taken, and headed on up the gangway!

Boarding photograph

As we approached the ship, we were asked our family name for our announcement and then... we were onboard! It was pretty surreal boarding the ship - it just felt like walking in to a luxury hotel.

We saw some signs directing us, and as planned, I headed straight to Guest Services to secure the tickets for the Anna and Elsa meet-and-greet. This was a very simple process. I was told that the system basically checked our cruise schedule, including excursions, and assigned tickets for the best slot. (Another good reason to book port excursions through Disney, I guess). Our tickets were issued for the very next morning at 10 am! I also confirmed that we had been switched to the early seating for dinner.

Tickets for Anna and Elsa Meet and Greet

Lunch at Parrot Cay
We unintentionally wandered into Parrot Cay for lunch. We were hungry and went in search of food, and Parrot Cay is on the same deck as the gangway. We left our luggage (along with all the others) just inside the restaurant and we were given sanitizing wipes and led to a table. DH went straight to the buffet to get food for the kids, whilst I got them settled at the table. It's a very informal restaurant with really bright decor.

The food selection was great, we all found something we really enjoyed. The crew members we interacted with were really friendly, chatting to the kids, and they brought drinks for us (chocolate milk for DD2!). DD1 and I really enjoyed the mini desserts!

Our Stateroom and Exploring
Midship stairs
Now that we had eaten, we then went to our room to settle in and explore a little. We got a bit lost, as we took the nearest elevators down to deck 1, but the deck 1 staterooms are only accessible from midship, so we ended up in the crew only section. We really had to get some deck plans and familiarize ourselves with the ship!

In our room, we had some 'mail': a welcome note, tickets for our dinner rotation and a pack 'n play crib (which we had requested when booking our cruise)

Dinner tickets

Miscellaneous other information we received in our room:
So here are pictures of our stateroom - they were actually taken on the last day of our cruise. We were in the Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom, mid-ship on deck 1.

View from the door - there is a bunk bed that comes down from the ceiling. The bottom of the bunk folds up to a couch. There's a privacy curtain between the two sleeping areas.

Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom PortholesMain bed Main bed

View from the other side of the room to the door, bathroom(s) on the right opposite the closet and just inside the door.
Deluxe Oceanview stateroom

Split bathroom - each side had a sink. The tub was tiny but perfect size for the kids.
Split bathroom - toilet and sink Split bathroom - bathtub and sink

Next - the Sail Away party and our first dinner onboard

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