Disney Cruise Line out of Miami

I want to share our experience sailing out of Miami since I couldn’t find a lot of information before our cruise. We always sail out of Port Canaveral so this was all new to us.

We stayed at the downtown Holiday Inn . It was an older hotel and the parking situation was ridiculous. It was valet parking and they put the cars VERY close together due to the small lot they have for guests’ cars. For that reason and a few others I doubt I’d stay there again even though it was very close to the port.

We called DCL the night before to ask what terminal to go to and we were instructed to go to Terminal C. Our check-in time was 11 and we left the hotel about 10:15 since we weren’t sure what traffic and parking would be like. We found C quite easily (though don’t be expecting digital signs with ship names like at Port Canaveral). At Port Canaveral there is a man directing traffic telling people where to go along the curb so a porter can assist with the luggage. No such thing in Miami. IT WAS A MESS! Buses trying to get out, limos trying to pull in, cars trying to figure out what to do, including us! I saw maybe 2 porters. We decided to park in the garage and bring our own luggage (thank God for spinner luggage.)

Once we handed off our luggage we walked across the street to stand in a long line that snaked around outside of the terminal. We weren’t there long once it started moving. Once we went inside we were directed into a line for a security officer to check our IDs and our port arrival form (printed out from when we did our online check-in. I’ve never had to show it in Port Canaveral but print it every time just in case). Then we walked through the metal detector while our carry ons were scanned. The line for Castaway Club was longer than the first time cruiser line but in our experience the Castaway Club line gives the earlier boarding groups so we went to that one. It moved slower than what I’ve experienced at Port Canaveral.

After we checked in and received our Key to the World cards and lanyards we were instructed to go up one level. Up there they were handing out Navigators and directing people into 2 separate “holding tank” areas (I’m assuming the higher numbers that came early were put in the other area). There was sufficient seating in our wait area but most people were too excited to sit.

Once our group was called we could have gone to the picture area to have embarkation pictures taken or keep going up the ramps to get on the ship. It’s not like Port Canaveral where you have to go through the picture area to get on the ship. When you enter the Magic in Miami it’s not into the Atrium but the deck above! It’s a little less Magical but who cares?! I was just thankful to be going on another Disney cruise. We got the warm, personal welcome aboard we’ve come to expect from Disney. It never gets old.

Fast forward to disembarkation.

The night before we got back to Miami we were given purple Minnie luggage tags to fill out and attach to our luggage. We were instructed to have the luggage out in the hallway by 10 (I think it’s the same on all ships). The next morning we got up, got ready and headed for Cabanas for breakfast (we don’t ever get up super early to eat in the main dining room). The plan was after breakfast we’d get off the ship and head up to WDW to continue our vacation. We assumed the disembarkation process was like Port Canaveral (you know what they say about assuming!) and the morning was not at all what we expected. The express walk-off people were cleared to get off the ship after 7:30. Then they started announcing color/character luggage tags and only those people with those tags could get off the ship! I think we heard most of the Disney characters and colors by the time they finally called purple Minnie. Once we got off the ship to collect our luggage we had to search for a bit since it was scattered all over the Minnie section. That’s never happened to us before, all our suitcases have been together. There were no porters available to assist with luggage and the customs line moved the slowest we’ve ever seen on any of our cruises. It was around 10:15 when we got to our car throwing our schedule off quite a bit. There were a lot more ships in port since it was a Saturday so traffic was heavy but we finally got out of the port area and on our way to WDW.

Of course I’d sail out of Miami again but I’d hope to fly and not drive. I think that would take away a lot of the hassle. We’d also look into park and rides and hotels that have a shuttle to the port. I realize that Port of Miami is huge and many of the things we didn’t like were due to the port, not Disney Cruise Line. Port Canaveral is so easy and they make it fun. There was nothing fun about Port of Miami. Next time I won’t compare but just take things as they come. I’m glad I have an idea of what to expect though. We had a great time on the Magic and can’t wait to cruise again.

Aft of the Disney Magic in Port of Miami. No, these birds did not poop on me like the ones in Port Canaveral.

5E GTY! Assigned 9670!

I’m a control freak, I totally admit it. I like to plan every aspect of our vacation and that includes researching where I want our cabin to be. Booking GTY was definitely out of my comfort zone but I’m so glad we rolled the dice!

We received our cabin assignment 48 days before our cruise. It was on a Friday. Everyone says it’s normally Tuesday but it can be any day and at any time! It was in the afternoon (I know this because I was obsessively checking). We were really hoping for a side cabin with the HUGE verandah and we got one! Cabin 9670. It was supposed to be handicap accessible but for whatever reason it couldn’t pass so it has handicap features but anyone can book.

9670 doesn’t have a privacy curtain but that was okay since we were sailing without our kids on this one. I was most concerned about the bathroom since we’ve always had the split bathroom design but I didn’t need to be concerned at all. We absolutely came to love the bathroom! It was so big. The location at the very back of deck 9 was so quiet. It’s probably the most quiet location we’ve had in all our cruises.

HA bathroom shower that I was nervous about at first. The water goes where it’s supposed to.

The best part was the verandah! We spent a lot of time out there. We even traded a few dinners in the MDR for room service out on the verandah. It didn’t have a slider but a normal door which I actually preferred. We had 3 loungers, 2 regular chairs and a table. On the last night one of the loungers was taken so I’m assuming we were meant to have 2 loungers (one was leftover from previous cruise). It was so nice to go up the stairs into Cabanas, make a plate and bring it back to the cabin to enjoy on the verandah. We loved being out there as we backed into ports. I enjoyed that more than expected.

I miss this verandah!
Best view ever! 5E is my favorite cabin category.

There were a few cons (but they wouldn’t stop me from booking this cabin again):

In Port Canaveral there were a lot of seagulls. I’m not sure if this is because people a few decks above in Cabanas were feeding them but they were aggressive! I also got pooped on (I was going to leave that part out but I’m going for full disclosure here). After I changed my shirt from that experience (and thank God it didn’t get in my hair!) I leaned on the railing and got more poop on me (UGH). I really hated those birds in that moment and was wondering if I made a mistake going 5E. The good news is that we had no issues with birds the rest of the time, only in PC. Constant bird poop would have been a deal breaker for me.

The TV was pretty far from the bed. I didn’t have to get out the binoculars it was close! The TV size works in other cabin layouts, just not this one.

The smell of exhaust would come and go. It didn’t bother me but I know some people are sensitive to that. We always wore flip flops on the verandah because there could be soot (but not a lot and not an every day thing).

Vibration was not an issue for us. I expected it and it wasn’t near as bad as some of the reviews I read. Of course it was worse when backing into port. We don’t sleep in on port days so it wasn’t an issue for us. It was a rude awakening on the last morning since it meant we were back in PC and the cruise was over.

So in closing, our GTY experience was a good one and I’d do it again. it’s hard with my OCD and all but I’d have to get over it. We have another cruise planned and it’s a 5E. I booked on opening day so I was able to get a 5E without waiting for it to go GTY. We will have 3 people in the cabin so decided to go the normal design (split bath, privacy curtain, etc). It’s Cabin 8188. Leave me a comment if you’ve been in that cabin on the Fantasy or Dream.

P.S. Since my last post I’ve also sailed on the Magic. Stay tuned for a post about Disney Cruise Line’s first ship and our experience sailing out of Miami.