Monday morning dawned cloudy and cool, but luckily it was not raining when we woke up.
Getting to the Port and Checking In
Since we were staying in one of the Disney hotels, we could have signed up for the Disney shuttle to the port ($30/per person/one way). The shuttle is kind of nice because they take care of getting your luggage from the bus onto the ship. But when we found out the first bus wasn’t going to leave until 11:30, we decided to cab it instead because I wanted to get to the terminal as early as possible (I’ll explain why in a bit).
We were a bit worried about getting all our luggage to fit in the trunk of a cab, but it all fit without a problem. At about $15 for the 10 minute ride to the port, I think cabbing it was the way to go, even though we had to handle our own luggage. Way cheaper than the $120 it would have cost for the 4 of us to ride the bus!
We got to the port around 10:30 and walked right in to drop our luggage off at the xray scanner and then went upstairs to wait in a pretty short line to go through security. There are lots of people standing there to explain what you need and to answer any questions, so it was a pretty smooth process. After getting through security, we had to sign the requisite “is anyone in your family sick” questionnaire and then we were able to go over to the check-in booths.
They don’t like people taking pictures in the terminal area, I guess for security reasons, but Colorado Dad was able to get one picture while I was standing in line. The picture below shows the basic setup of the terminal – you enter at the very far end of the room (back of the pic) where the security checkpoint is located and then come over to the middle section where all the check-in booths are. Colorado Dad took this picture from the seating area where there are a whole bunch of seats set up and then behind that is where you enter the ship.
After checking in, I moved over to the supervisor’s desk (you can see me standing in that line in the foreground of the pic above) to check on…an upgrade!
Trip Tip #1: If you’re interested in upgrading your stateroom, you might consider waiting to do so until you get to the port on embarkation day. Here’s why – If rooms are available, you can upgrade for a significantly reduced cost to what it would take to upgrade if you did it before sail day. Why? Well, at this point they’re not going to sell those rooms to anyone new, but if they upsell to an existing passenger and get some additional money, why not! The upgrades go pretty quickly and aren’t always available, so if you want to try for this, get to the port as early as you can!
Our initial room was one of the secret porthole rooms, which provided us with a porthole that was obscured but for the price of an inside room. Definitely a great value, but for Alaska we felt like having a verandah room would be nice. There was one available so we went for it. One thing to mention here – if you do upgrade, they’ll ask if you’re expecting any stateroom gifts to be delivered so they can make sure to get it to your new room. If you are a Castaway Club member or a DVC member, make sure to say “yes”! We did not do this and it took several days for everything to get sorted out with the DVC desk (they give gifts and do trivia phone calls all throughout the cruise).
After upgrading, the kids and I went over to get a picture with Minnie (which didn’t turn out ) and check-in at the kids club. The line for the kids club check-in was pretty long, so if you want to, you can wait until you’re on the ship and just do it later in the day.
Trip Tip #2: All kids in the kids club get a “Mickey band” which is a plastic bracelet with a scannable plastic piece on it that is used to keep track of them. It’s about the size of a large wristwatch. You have the option of either putting it on the kid’s wrist or around their ankle. For young kids, I would recommend doing the ankle. We originally put it around Colorado Princess’ wrist, but in order for it to not slip off, it had to be really tight. Over the course of the first couple days, her wrist swelled a little bit and the band ended up cutting into her skin. Luckily, it’s easy enough to cut off and get a new band, but we would have saved her some pain if we had done the ankle originally!
After all the check-in stuff, we sat down to wait until they called our boarding number. When you get to the terminal, they give you a card with a boarding number on it after you’ve filled out the “are you sick” questionnaire. The numbers start at 1 (for concierge guests) and go up from there. We got group 6, which wasn’t too bad. I think our group was called about 12:15 or so. When they call your group, you have the option of having an embarkation photo taken or just heading straight to the ship. We opted for the pic
and then headed to the gangway. We boarded on deck 4, which was a little different. Normally you go in on deck 3, so your first impression is of the 3-story atrium with the awesome chandelier.
Not sure why they didn’t do it, but regardless, we were still “announced” as we boarded. From there, we headed to Beach Blanket Buffet for lunch. I took zero pictures of our food and honestly cannot remember a thing I ate, but I guess it was pretty good I guess I was too busy taking pictures of the view to remember much else.
Up next: Sailing away to an Island-inspired dinner.