Now, let's continue on our saga..
We left our house in rural Georgia (just outside Atlanta, but still rural!) at 7 am. We had decided to drive down the day before our ship sailed and stay the night at Hampton Inn in Cocoa Beach. (anyone remembering my disastrous attempt at a cruise on the Magic the January before knows why we chose to arrive early!)
Along the way we stopped in Savannah for brunch at Cracker Barrel. This is a family tradition and it just isn't a vacation without a stop at Cracker Barrel!
We arrived in Cocoa Beach around 4pm. As we drove in I was awestruck seeing the cruise ships. I could barely contain my excitement!
First stop was Hampton Inn. There was a great deal of construction goin on-which bothered me a bit. Half the parking lot was closed.
But the staff was extremely helpful and friendly! When I booked the room I was only concerned with a free breakfast and reduced parking at the port. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered all the rooms had an ocean view. We even had a private walk way to the beach! The room was comfy, clean, spacious, and almost beautiful! The balcony overlooking the pool was perfect!
After unpacking, we explored the town a bit. Of course, we had to buy shirts from Ron Jon's and somehow we ended up at Wendy's for dinner.
By the time we got back to our room we were all exhausted from the trip. Fantastic hot showers and extremely comfy beds did their job and we were all fast asleep before we knew it.
The next morning we packed up our overnight bag and headed down to breakfast. It was standard Continental breakfast buffet fare (with some scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon added) Nothing memorable, but tasty.
As is our custom, we attended Sunday morning church services and then headed to port. The excitement mounted as our ship came into view.
Parking at the port became our first obstacle. We had chosen the Hampton Inn because of the reduced parking fees offered. First step was to check IDs as we entered the port. Husband dropped us and our luggage off (which we checked in with the friendly porters...do not forget to tip them. They work VERY hard!) and took the van to find a parking spot. Unfortunately, there had been a change in procedure at the parking garage a week or so earlier, and the Hampton Inn was unaware of it. They had given us a card to give to the parking attendant when we left the port. So of course I did not send it with my husband! It was in the important papers I was carrying with me! The new procedure was to pay upon entering the parking deck (which really made so much more sense anyway!). My husband had to pay full price.
After getting back together we entered the terminal. Here you go through a small check in area. Your carry on luggage is sent through an X-ray machine and you walk through a metal detector. Similar to the way airports used to be. You will also need to show your ID again.
Once inside the beautiful terminal, you start going through the total Disney immersion! Characters, decor, and a small replica of the Disney Magic greet you!
Checking in required either showing your passport (recommended) or your driver's license and birth certificate. For us, we also had to show our court ordered guardianship papers for our two youngest children. At this point I won't go into details, but suffice it to say make sure you have ALL these documents! Then double check! (A BIG thanks to my daughter, Amanda and her wonderful husband, Korey, for helping out on that!)
After this is completed, they give you a boarding number/letter. Early birds will wait patiently while your boarding sequence is called. While you wait, there are comfy seats and non stop Disney cartoons to entertain.
If you arrive later, as we did, you will find a much abbreviated wait. We went right to the boarding door (of course, shaped like Mickey ears!). Here you will have your picture made and you will be given your key cards. Your picture is attached to your card electronically. They will match the card to the person each time you exit and enter the ship. You will be announced as you board ship..."The Morris Family has now boarded!"
Next up...what happens when you board!
Most of the content is written by people at JMorris Travel. Every once in a while we will have a guest blogger, usually it is part of our 'family'.Always with a nod to Family Travel!