Yep, you read the title correctly. As I sat here and framed out this blog post, I realized that I didn’t have a single bad thing to say about our recent trip aboard the Disney Dream cruise ship. We were there as part of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration conference but my opinion of the cruise has nothing to do with that either. It was just a really, really fun experience and is something we are absolutely going to do again!
Let me walk through it from start to finish as best I can remember it all. I’ll try to throw in some tips along the way but seeing as how it was my first Disney cruise, what the heck do I know about tips and tricks? That said, tip #1 is to try to get an early boarding time if possible. Boarding was quick and easy, with the added touch of having your family announced on the loud speakers as you walk onto the ship as the staff are all lined up clapping for you. It felt like we were walking the red carpet! I say to try to board early because we walked by the main lobby a couple hours later and people were still being announced! All I could think of was how sore the staff members’ hands would be from all the clapping.
Tip #2, which probably should have been tip #1, is to download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app. You will get an itinerary left in your room each day but the app was a far better resource in finding out what was happening on the ship at any given time. It’s also handy for its chat feature in case you get split up on the ship. We mostly used it to find out when the character meetings would be so we could get there early to avoid lines.
Speaking of Disney characters, they were everywhere! There was definitely no shortage of character meetings and we never saw a line that was excessively long. On the last night of the cruise, you are treated to a long list of characters and it was amazing to see both children and adults alike, myself included, smiling for pictures with Mickey, Minnie and the gang. You can’t help but relive a bit of your childhood while surrounded by so much joy.
Oh, Tip #3, which should actually be tip #1, then bumping the last tip that should have been #1 to #2… Anyway, you should definitely pre-plan your vacation in advance by reading reviews of the ship and even joining a Disney cruise group or two on Facebook. They are incredibly helpful and will have you feeling like a cruise veteran from the minute you get on the ship. Knowing about things like door magnets, fish extenders, pirate night and where the best seats are for the shows can really enhance your experience.
Speaking of the shows, every single one of them was amazing! I’m not just talking about the shows in the beautiful Walt Disney Theatre either. The sail away party, fireworks display and pirate party were all really fun for the kids as well. Tip #4, we grabbed the same spot on the upper deck, right next to the stage for each show and it was a great view for the kids. There isn’t tiered viewing from the main deck so it made it seem like if you weren’t in the front row, you wouldn’t get the best view of the fun. Also, we spent the extra money on pirate makeovers at the Pirates League in the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and the kids ended up looking amazing and loving their new pirate looks. I have to admit I was skeptical about spending the money, as it wasn’t cheap, but it was totally worth it.
I forgot to mention the big production shows! Not being a big theatre guy, I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy the shows on board the Disney Dream but they absolutely blew my mind! The first night we were treated to the Golden Mickeys, which was an award show with some amazing performances. Tip #5, maybe, if your kids like to be a part of the shows, you’ll want to sit in the front row for this one as Snow White needs a few extra dwarves and that’s where we saw them pick the kids from. The next night we were treated to a Beauty and the Beast show that easily could have been on Broadway, not that I’ve ever been to Broadway, but in my mind it was Broadway-worthy! Finally, the show I was least interested in attending prior to attending was called Disney’s Believe. As it turns out, it ended up being my favourite of the trip and not just because it was the story of a workaholic father and a daughter who wants him to find his imagination again. So what if I cried during the show, it’s totally acceptable in today’s society!
Where was I? Ah yes, the shows were great and the popcorn was even better, which brings us to Tip #6. Not everything is covered on the trip. Popcorn is one of those things but you can cut the cost considerably by purchasing the refillable container on your first day aboard the Disney Dream. Refills are only about $1 after that so you and your kids can enjoy as much as you want without breaking the bank!
Since I mentioned food, we might as well talk about it. This might be the single greatest reason why I would choose a Disney Cruise over almost any other vacation from now on. Every meal I ate became the greatest meal I have ever had and while that sounds like an exaggeration, I promise you I was melting into my seat with each bite. I’m a terrible food photographer but I am excellent at eating food, so I mostly stuck to that skill.
We had a couple meals at the Enchanted Palace, including (tip #7) lunch immediately after boarding the ship, which I highly recommend doing as it is not very busy at this time. We also ate dinner at the Royal Palace and Animator’s Palate, both of which were excellent. Animator’s Palate was neat because there were video screens on the walls and characters were pop up from time to time and talk to them. I’d also love to give a shout-out to our dinner crew, Ravindra and I Made, who made our dining experience a magical one. From making Mickey Mouse out of ketchup blobs to performing magic tricks for the kids throughout our stay, they were the best duo we could have asked for. Side note and tip #8, there are 2 dinner service times, so make sure you sign up for the one you want way before your trip. Our kids are better suited for the 8pm time slot, so it worked out that I screwed up and didn’t pick one in time. You have no excuse now!
Hands down, the coolest feature on the Disney Dream cruise ship has to be the Kids Club. What is Kids Club, you ask? Well, Kids Club is a magical section of the ship where you simply drop your kids off and then go up to your room for a nap, errr, I mean, you go off and explore all the fun places on the ship that kids aren’t allowed to go, such as the adults only swimming area, packed with a pool, hot tub, lounge chairs and bar service.
Back to Kids Club, it is a place for kids to hang out any time throughout the day or night to not only give parents some time alone but also for the kids to have a blast and meet other kids. We were allowed to tour the club during the open house on the first day but it was no parents allowed from that point on. Kids Club has a video game room, a movie room, a craft room and a ton of activities planned throughout the cruise such as baking and slime making. There is also an amazing mock-up of the Millennium Falcon that you can sit in and control. Yes, I was jealous. The security is extremely tight when picking the kids up and you get to create a secret password that you have to tell the counsellor before taking your kids out of the club. Tip #9, don’t pick a stupid password like I did because you will be forced to continue saying it throughout the weekend and it never starts to sound less dumb.
Also, of note, you know how you go out for dinner and your kids finish their meals before you’ve even taken your first bite of food and then they pepper you with questions and hang off your arms talking about how bored they are for the rest of the meal? Yeah, not on the Disney Dream! One hour after you have been seated, counsellors from the Kids Club come into the restaurant and take your kids to the club with them so you and your significant other can enjoy the rest of your meal, and possibly a fancy drink, and possibly dessert, and maybe a 2nd dessert…
I talked about the adult’s only pool area but there were also a bunch of bars/clubs on the ship for the after-hours crowd. While I’m not much of an after-hours person these days, I did spend a couple nights in the very fancy, Pink, bar. While it is technically a champagne bar, our server, Pen, was more than happy to grab us our favourite IPAs from the bar next door. Tip #10, the next time you cruise on the Disney Dream, please go in and say hi to Pen for me. She was a great host and loves entertaining people!
Look, even I’m tired of writing at this point but this stuff is important, so stay with me here another couple minutes, okay? I only have a couple more things and then I’ll finish with a flurry of extra short form notes.
The Disney Dream 3-night cruise docks at Nassau, Bahamas and again at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, which is pronounced Castaway “Key” for some reason I never bothered to ask about. When I found out that there was a Castaway 5K run, that also came with a fancy medal, I decided to register myself and the kids. It was a lot tougher than I expected and the kids embarrassed me by lapping me and laughing while they did it… Still, I finished, got the medal and then ate some delicious BBQ on the beach!
Castaway Cay was definitely one of the bigger highlights of the trip for us. Even with her cast on, my daughter had an amazing time in the water, which, by the way, was ice cold, as I pulled her around in an inner tube. We shared fancy, age appropriate drinks, ate amazing BBQ food and lounged like we never have before. There are plenty of excursions you can book for your day on the island but we choose to make it as relaxing a day as possible, which was absolutely the right call for us.
Okay, I promised to end with a flurry, so here are a few other notes from our time on the Disney Dream!
1. I was very impressed with the emphasis put on cleanliness aboard the Disney Dream. Not that I expected it to be gross but the ship was immaculate. Every restaurant, event and especially the Kids Club required you to either wash your hands or use a sanitizing wipe before entering and it was great to see how seriously they treated those pesky germs!
2. Our cruise director, Mike, was amazing. We met him on day 1 and he told my daughter he’d have to sign her cast later in the trip. Well, true to his word, we found him on our last night and he not only signed her cast but spent some time asking her about herself. What a great guy!
3. We found out that you can order milk & cookies before bed through room service. Consider this Tip #11.
4. Finally, a huge shout out to Shilpa in Guest Services, who definitely had the biggest positive impact on the trip for us. I can’t really get into it because I’m not sure if she was supposed to do what she did for the kids, but rest assured, they will never forget her kindness, and neither will we. Disney has a great one in her and if you happen to be aboard the Disney Dream, you should definitely go down and give her a high five for us!
I’m sure there are a million things I forgot to talk about but this should cover all your basic needs when it comes to climbing aboard a Disney cruise for the first time! It quite literally was a dream come true to sail aboard the Disney Dream and we will absolutely return for a future cruise! That said, if you do have questions, feel free to ask them in the comments or shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org! Cheers!