Trip log, day one. Miami.
4-Night Bahamian Cruise from Miami
February 20, 2020
Guests Onboard: 4:00 pm
Personal Navigator – Day 1 (coming later)
Our captain for this cruise is Robert Olmer. As for our onboard entertainment, Trent Hitchcock is our Cruise Director. During this 4-night Bahamian cruise we will be visiting the ports of Nassau, and Castaway Cay.
It is really easy to wake up on days like today; embarkation day! Up bright and early, we left the house around 7:15 AM to drive to Miami to embark on DCL Blog Cruise II, a 4-night Bahamian sailing to Nassau and Castaway Cay aboard the Disney Magic. We have gotten in the habit of packing a few days before our departure dates which seems to eliminate the last minute trips to the store for x, y, or z. If you often find yourself just starting to pack 30-minutes before you plan to leave your house, give it a try next time, it is actually refreshing to grab a packed suitcase and head out the door.
The drive from the Walt Disney World area in Orlando to Miami is really straight forward. Take the Florida Turnpike south until you merge back with 95 then follow the signs to PortMiami. Today, was more than just embarkation day and Disney Cruise Line’s expected itinerary announcement for Summer 2021. No problem, I’ll just take a lap desk and spend the drive hitting refresh every few miles from my temporary mobile office.
The trip on the turnpike is not bad, but it will be interesting to see what happens in the future when the Virgin rail service begins service opening up Miami as a much more convenient cruise port along with a land based vacation at Walt Disney World.
By the time we reached Miami, the morning rush hour was over, but I highly suggest taking the express lanes if you are not blocked out of the entrance by a truck. Today, it would have shaved off at least 20 minutes spent in a slow crawl.
Around 11:00 AM we arrived at PortMiami stopping first at the luggage drop off area before proceeding to the parking garage located directly across from the terminal and Disney Magic.
The garage issues you a ticket and you pay at a machine at the end of the cruise. The machines take cash or credit card, but as we learned a few years back, they do NOT accept debit cards.
By the time I packed up my mobile office it was quarter after 11. The walk from the parking garage to the terminal was the equivalent of walking from the parking garage at Port Canaveral to the entrance of cruise terminal 8. We were preparing for the worst after receiving reports from recent Disney Magic passengers telling us about lines just to enter the terminal to go through security. At first, I figured we arrived during a lull in arrivals, but after asking around, it sounds like it was smooth sailings today.
We met up with some members of our group outside of the terminal and entered the security screening area to discover, little to no line. It was a walk up! This was also the time that I learned the itinerary announcement was not going to happen today, which was a huge relief as I was not looking forward to spending a good chuck of the day adding the new sailings to the website and making the new itinerary maps. You know, it is true what they say, a dream is a wish your heart makes. Thanks Disney Cruise Line for holding off on the announcement.
By 11:30, we were at the check-in desk. We received the latest health questionnaire with the coronavirus questions, and as it has been reported, each page of our passport was reviewed which took under a minute to review 3 passports.
We didn’t have long to wait long as boarding began and soon after we arrived in the waiting area. We were walking the gangway at 11:55. If my math is correct, that is about 40 minutes from the car to boarding the ship.
On embarkation day, there are two primary options for lunch, a sit down option in Lumiere’s, and buffet in Cabanas. We opted for Cabanas as we typically do, where we sat with others from our group for lunch and conversation almost up to the time when the staterooms were available.
We dropped off our bags in our room then headed down to O’Gills for a DCL Blog Group Cruise welcome reception where we met and passed out some group credentials and swag along with a scavenger hunt that we made a little bit tougher than our Disney Dream version. I will be sharing the scavenger hunt following the cruise.
I was really excited to pass out our group door magnets as well as some really cool buttons and coasters we ordered from Sticker Mule. I am really impressed by the fast turnaround and quality of the items we ordered. If you are in the market for some promotional items or just looking for make some cool stickers or buttons for friends, you can get $10 credit by using our referral link.
Recently, the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app updated with a focus on better onboard navigation of the app to make it easier to find the information you are looking for within the app.
So far, it looks nice and seems to work better. I am still a paper navigator fan, but the app has come a long way. I noticed a few changes when accessing the onboard features. First, when linking my reservation, I was prompted to set a PIN for use with in-app purchases — not to be confused with iOS in-app purchases, I mean making a purchase via the app for something onboard tied to your stateroom folio.
So far, this appears to be limited to purchasing placeholders via the app, but I am still searching for the possibility of mobile ordering at Cove Cafe.
Guess what? The Navigator App’s chat now includes a timestamp for received messages!!!
We made our way back to our room to begin unpacking, which we were quickly able to complete and made it to the Muster drill just in time.
We did not attend the sail-a-wave deck party, but instead watched the beautiful skyline and landscape from our friend’s verandah.
Here is something fun to do as you sail out of PortMiami; pull up your favorite real estate app while you still have free cellular data and check out some of the homes for sale. The yachts are nothing compared to some of the asking prices on these homes.
We were very short on time and had to change for dinner, which we accomplished in record time, making it to Animator’s Palate sorta on-time.
A lot of work went into organizing our group cruise including discussions with shoreside. However, there was a bit of a snafu with our group’s linked dining which left us short on seats.
Credit to Tammy and her team from Storybook Destinations for all the hard work they put in organizing our second group cruise and their continued effort onboard. The situation was eventually was worked out, and we should be fine for the next 3-nights; we hope.
However, it put us all behind, including our serving team. Our serving team was great given the circumstances, but we felt bad as we were some of the last tables to finish dinner. If you are an avid reader of our trip reports, we usually aim to finish and be out of dinner close to 7pm.
After dinner, we made our way forward passing a character dance party in the atrium where we ran into Stitch.
We timed it just right to browse the shops, Mickey’s Mainsail, White Caps, and Sea Treasures. The shops are often unshoppable in the evenings, but if you go during main dining and the first show, or the the late dinner and second show, the stores are empty.
I will follow up the trip report with a merchandise preview as there are some new items we have not seen before today including a few Disney Cruise Hawaiian shirts from Tommy Bahama.
Sea Treasures down on Deck 3 is the place to go for Marvel merchandise as it is the home for Marvel Day at Sea items which are available on our non-Marvel sailing. This includes the fleece Marvel Day at Sea fleece blanket!
Tonight, there is an onboard PremEAR for The Call of the Wild with Harrison Ford.
Tomorrow we are calling on Nassau with plans for a group hangout ashore.