Our family went on our first Disney cruise last summer, a 5-night cruise on the Disney Dream out of Port Canaveral, Florida. (You can read that trip report here). We had a wonderful time and knew we wanted to go on another Disney Cruise again. This past Fall, Disney started sailing out of Galveston, Texas, which is about a 6-hour drive from our home. I had looked at the cruises out of Galveston, but thought they were too pricey. Then in October, Disney offered a special "Kids Sail Free" rate, and split some longer cruises into shorter 4-day cruises. So we ended up getting a great deal on a 4-night cruise to Cozumel. We invited my mother-in-law to join us for her first cruise. So in total there were 6 of us--me, my husband Brian, my son Nathan (age 8), my son Joshua (age 5), my daughter, Alyssa (age 2) and my mother-in-law Pat.
On Monday afternoon, February 4, we picked up our oldest son from school and started driving to Houston. We had booked a hotel on the south side of Houston because we didn't want to get up early and do the entire drive on the first morning of our cruise. We researched ahead of time and found a great rest stop with a playground.
The next morning, our kids woke up at 6:15 a.m., which is the norm no matter how late or early they go to bed. Around 7 a.m. we went downstairs in the hotel lobby for breakfast and the kids saw their Nana and Grandpa. Since our scheduled port arrival time wasn't until 11 a.m. in Galveston, we had some time to kill before heading out. So we headed back up to our room to watch TV.
I happened to look online at the Port of Galveston webcam around 8:30 a.m. and noticed the Magic was not docked. What???!! Where was she? Then I logged onto Facebook to see if there was any chatter on my cruise group (Yes, I joined a Facebook group specific to our cruise--it was hugely helpful). Some people said they got a call from Disney saying the entire Port of Galveston was closed due to fog and that they should delay arriving by one hour. I never got a call, but kept watching the webcam. Finally, around 10 a.m., we saw the Magic arrive on the webcam and we decided to drive to the port.
The Port of Galveston looks nothing like Port Canaveral in Florida--it is much more industrial. You can see our first glimpse of the Disney Magic in this video:
We had reserved parking at a small lot online before our cruise (Lighthouse parking--I highly recommend. All parking spaces are covered). The plan was to have Brian drop us all off at the curb at the terminal and then he would drop off the car. When we pulled up to the port, we were handed a letter that said to come back 2 hours later because the ship was still unloading. I tried to charm my way in, but it wasn't working. So we parked our car at a nearby lot and decided to have lunch at the Fisherman's Wharf.
We sat outside on the patio. The weather was nice--the fog had cleared and it was in the high 60s. Next to the restaurant we were admiring this yacht that had its own helicopter on board. Nice.
It was almost 2 hours past our original port arrival time and I got on Facebook on Brian's phone to see what the scoop was. (No, I don't have a smartphone of my own, I usually don't need one, but I do admit that on this day it would have come in handy). Some people from our group were already inside the cruise terminal, so we headed over there.
Brian dropped us off, with our luggage, and headed to park the car. While we were waiting for him outside, we heard from a few people that the official Port of Galveston parking lot was backed up and it was taking an hour to park your car. We were glad that our lot wasn't that bad and Brian joined us in about 10 minutes.
I snapped this picture quickly outside. This man coming off the ship snapped at me that I was in his way. People were kind of grumpy and distraught at the ship delays and the parking delays.
At the security checkpoint.
When we got past security, there were two lines inside. One was for Castaway Cay members, which is anyone who has ever sailed Disney Cruise Line at least once. The other was for first-time cruisers. Luckily for us, most of the people on this cruise were first-timers and our line was very short! We got boarding group #3 and then headed to get our picture with Mickey Mouse.
Then we waited. And waited.
I think it was around 2:45 p.m. they started boarding. Yay! We had go to through another security checkpoint, then up an escalator.