We flew into Orlando airport the night before our cruise and stayed at the Staybridge Suites across from the airport. Checked out of the hotel next morning at 10 am and started driving towards Port canaveral. Hurricane sandy had just hit the bahamas the week before so we had been praying for calm waters. And indeed the water was calm.
We reached the port at 10:50 am and parked in the parking lot opposite the terminal on floor 3. Walked on the bridge towards the terminal. We did the check-in and received our key to the world card. There were already a lot of people waiting when we arrived there and so we were given boarding position 4. They let in groups of 30-40 people at a time.
Mickie and Minnie were available in the waiting area for photo ops, that kept our 3 yr old occupied. We also registered him for the oceaneers club during the wait.
At around 12 pm, our number was called out to board the ship. As we entered the ship, our names were announced. We headed straight to deck 11 - Cabanas buffet. There was a lot to choose from, particularly liked the lamb chops and dessert.
At 1:30 pm, we could get into our rooms. Our baggages arrived at around 2 pm. At 3:45 pm, there was an announcement that everyone needs to attend the mandatory drill. At 4:30 pm, we headed to deck 11 for the Sail away party. Disney really knows to throw a party.
Next, we grabbed a quick bite (chicken tenders and fries) at the tower maters grill right next to the sail away party on deck 11 and then headed to deck 3 for the first show - Golden Mickeys. This one is not to be missed if you have kids under 10.
The first night, we were assigned to the Royal palace restaurant. I liked the Escargots Gratines. For the main course, we had the rack of lamb but preferred the lamb at the cabanas. For dessert, make sure you try the mickeys ice cream bar. For kids, would highly recommend mickeys pasta.
the second day, we had breakfast at the cabanas (made to order omlettes and strawberry smoothies are the best) and explored the ship. Since a lot of the passengers had gottenoff at Nassau we had an easy time exploring the ship as well as character encounters without the wait. Daily navigator newsletters are delivered to your stateroom the night before, look out for open houses. We visited the Vibe (for teens only at all other times) during the open house and loved it.
Had lunch at the cabanas and watched a 3D nemo movie in the buena vista theater. The second day show - Villians tonight in the Walt Disney theater is real nice too. If you have smaller kids sit in the balcony on deck 4, they may get a little frightened if they are too close. That night we had dinner at the Animators palate. This was the best restaurant of all. The food was also the best here. I ordered the white shrimp penne pasta and loved it. Try to request a table close to the walls with the big screen, thats where the turtle crush comes out and interacts with you while you dine.
The third day morning, ship docked at castaway cay. We had breakfast at the Cabanas and headed off to the island. Swam in the clear water of Castaway Cay for a while and then grabbed a bite at the Cookies bbq (ribs, fried chicken tenders, corn, fruits). At 12:15 pm, there was a crab race followed by a character dance party in the gazebos area.
Character dance party was fun. My preschooler loved shaking a leg with Mickey, Minnie and Pluto.
The show on the last evening - Disney believe (6:15 pm - 7:15 pm) is a must watch. The cruise director does a wonderful job as the host of the shows. Our dinner on the third night was at the Enchanted garden. We didnt get seated close to the garden where the ceilings change from day to night but we did see it from a distance. Its a beautiful restaurant. We liked the fact that the waiters travel with you on the restaurant rotation, our hostess Larissa was wonderful. She went out of her way to get my son Mickey pasta from the animators palate restaurant. Luggage needs to be kept outside your stateroom with the new luggge tags that will be supplied between 8 pm and 10 pm if you do not want to haul it yourself next morning. Do keep most of the heavy luggage outside during this time to avoid embarrassment the next morning.
The 4th day morning, we got ready and headed to the Cabanas for breakfast with our carry on luggage. After breakfast, we headed off to get off the ship at 8:30 am. This was the only part of the cruise that we disliked, long lines to get off the ship. Disney can do better than that.. assign times to get off the ship so there's less commotion. Unless you really need it, do not subscribe to the wi-fi service on board the ship, its a rip off and it doesnt even work. Attend all 3 shows at 6 pm or 8:30 pm, they are totally worth it. Diet 2 weeks before going on the cruise, so you wont have any guit after eating at the restaurants.