Note: I have decided to split each day of the trip report into multiple parts as the posts were getting overly long.
I was a bit nervous about the logistics surrounding embarkation on the Disney Dream. The Disney Cruise Line had traditionally been known for a very smooth embarkation process at Port Canaveral, but the terminal was designed for the substantially smaller Disney Magic and Disney Wonder and there had been quite a few reports of problems handling the larger crowds arriving for the Dream.
For our previous cruises, we had arrived at the terminal via Walt Disney World transportation, which got us there late enough that we immediately went on board after checking in. This time, we had rented a car and planned to arrive at the terminal as early as possible, so I wasn’t really sure how it would work. Fortunately, we found that the embarkation process went very smoothly and with a minimum of hassle.
On Sunday morning, we managed to wake up fairly early and it didn’t take too long to get showers and pack everything up. We had a light breakfast at the hotel’s breakfast buffet. Holiday Inn Express has pretty much standardized their included breakfasts from location to location, meaning that the quality and selection is predictable and fairly decent. I particularly like their cinnamon rolls, which are served warm and fresh. My only real complaint about breakfast was that they didn’t have enough seating in the breakfast area, something else that is unfortunately fairly standard to the chain. We had to squeeze all three of us around a table for two, but we were able to manage.
Rental Car Return
I was very unsure about was whether it would be better to drop my family and our luggage off at the port and then go to return the rental car by myself or for us all to just take the shuttle. We finally decided that the logistics would simply be easier if we all took the shuttle, so we headed straight to the rental car return.
We found Budget’s return process at the Port Canaveral office to be chaotic and a bit confusing. We initially expected someone to come out to meet us to check in the car, as is typical at airport returns, so we wasted a few minutes waiting for that. Once we realized that wasn’t the process there, I noted that the paperwork had instructions for doing an express check-out by filling out a form and dropping it in a drop box.
When I went inside, there was no drop box in sight. This left no choice but to get into the line, which was very long due to the large number of people returning from cruise ships that had arrived in port that morning. Fortunately, we didn’t wait too long before an employee walked the line offering to collect express check-out forms. While the process wasn’t exceptionally difficult, they definitely should put in a drop box and also place some signs outside giving instructions for returns.
The wait for a shuttle bus was, fortunately, short and we were soon on our way to the Disney Cruise Line terminal!
Arrival and Check-In
We arrived shortly before 10:30am, which was the time that the terminal opened. The shuttle pulled up at a drop-off spot outside the terminal and a cruise line porter quickly collected our checked luggage. We then joined the line of people waiting to go in, which ended pretty much right where we had been dropped off.
It took us about 20 minutes to make it up to a security gate, where they checked our cruise documents and IDs before directing us into the terminal. Inside the terminal, we then passed through airport-style metal detectors and sent our carry-on bags through an x-ray machine. This process was very quick and efficient and we were soon headed up the escalators to the main terminal area. We then were asked to quickly sign a form stating that nobody in our family had been sick in the last 24-hours and then we were directed to the check-in line.