All packed up in our car and on our way to Cape Canaveral at around 9am on December 10th. We live about 2 hours away from the port. We had a smooth drive into Cape Canaveral. I wasn't nearly as excited this time around leading up to departure day as normal. However when we rounded the corner and I saw the Dream sitting there, my heart did a little flutter. It's funny how the expectations I have about how I should feel in the days leading up to the cruise are similar to the expectations a bride to be has that she'll cry when she tries on the perfect wedding gown.
I love the way the port is set up for dropping off your checked luggage. You wait in your car in a line and then when you get into the parking garage structure, you pull into a space where a porter meets you and takes your luggage. This set up allows 30-40 cars in at a time where everyone can take their own time getting their luggage out of their cars. We had all of our stuff ready and total from drive in to drive out took less than 10 minutes. Our big luggage was checked and we were off.
We drove 5 minutes away to the nearest Park N Cruise facility, where we had pre-arranged to leave our car for the week. Their rates are a little less than 1/2 of parking at the port and they have a free shuttle that takes you back to the ship. A lot of people went straight to Park N Cruise with all of their luggage and then had to carry them onto the shuttle and check them in at the port. I didn't want to have to lug them around in the inbetween steps. We still had a couple of small carry on bags plus my camera bags.
I should mention now that I didn't take photos during this first part of the day. I own 2 photography companies and all I do is take photos. So, there are lots of things I didn't take photos of since I needed a vacation away from work. However, as the week went on, I brought the camera out more and more. Guess the inner geek in me couldn't stay away!
Back on track - the wait at Park N Cruise was about 20 minutes but well worth it for the savings. We were on the shuttle and headed back to the ship and the excitement truly started to kick in as we were now surrounded by other people in the shuttle that were oboard our ship. Conversations began immediately and the excitement of others fed into my excitement even more!
We got off the shuttle at about 11:45am and the line for check in was wrapped outside the terminal. It took us until 1pm to get onboard the ship. An hour and 15 minutes is by far the longest time I have ever spent in line to get on a ship. With that said, I normally board around 2pm and perhaps the time had more to do with it than anything. Everything seemed to be moving smoothly, there were just a lot of people that were boarding all at once. They did have cold water containers that were available while waiting in line and that was nice. :-)
1pm - we're finally walking the gangway and into the Atrium on Deck 3 of the Dream. First impressions - the ship is very clean and the welcoming staff, very friendly. The Dream Atrium is pretty, not my personal taste but nothing bad about it either. I overheard a lot of people commenting how gorgeous they thought it was throughout the week so again, personal taste.
1:15pm - We're up on Deck 10, (Lido deck) and quickly got a table outside next to the main pool. Latanya stays with our carry on bags at the table and I go in search of my first meal. I smelled something amazing and followed my nose to the Mongolian Grill. The line was quite long and it took about 2-3 minutes per person because they cook the food to order and can only cook 3 dishes at once. But the food was absolutely amazing and worth the wait in the line. It was the best meal I've ever had for lunch on a ship and made me a believer in waiting in the lines for the freshly cooked food.
A photo of my shrimp and beef meal cooked in just soy sauce.
I made it back to the table about 30 minutes or so later and Latanya went off to find some food of her own. She went to the Italian lunch station (not the Pasta Bar). The first day was the only day they did Italian lunch and she was able to get a plate full of food within 10-15 minutes. She thought her food was quite yummy as well.
Tummy nice and full to tide us over until our first dinner!
Off to our cabin, which should be ready by now to drop our carried on bags!
It's about 2pm now and we're at our cabin and to our surprise, all of our checked luggage is already waiting on us! Yay! We open the door and take our stuff inside.
Stateroom - 7220. Location - Empress Deck, 7 - Forward. I didn't take photos of our stateroom because it's just another stateroom, although it looked really new. More on the location of our stateroom later.
We hurry up and run off to the Crimson dining room to meet the Maitre'D. I should pause now to go into a little back story. We were part of the cruise critic roll call for our sailing on the Dream. I was the one that kept track of the spreadsheets for our official Meet N Greet and over the course of the couple months leading up to the cruise, made some awesome friends. One of those couples and us bonded a bit before cruising and although we were scheduled for late dining, we'd decided to visit the Maitre'D to change to "anytime dining" to be able to eat with them.
Unfortunately, they were overbooked for anytime dining and said they could not accomodate us. I won't lie, I wanted things my way and it really bothered me for a couple of hours and put a sour taste in my mouth. I realized I'd have to get over it and not let it ruin my cruise though so I held my head up and tried to move on.