We are from the Midwest and have been on several cruises (Princess, Carnival and NCL) and have been extremely anxious to try Disney, even though their price is crazymoney...but it is Disney, right?? There were five of us traveling on this adventure and we shared one room, myself, husband, daughter and two granddaughters ages 7 and 10.
Decided to go in January (due to the price), hoping that a snowstorm would not cause us issues getting to our destination. Therefore, we booked the airfare for Monday, January 9, 2012, just in case of a snow/ice storm and that would give us a few days for a cushion if the weather turned bad. No bad weather, so we made it to Orlando and rented our vehicle and checked into our hotel, Quality Inn & Suite Universal Studios on Monday.
We went to Universal Studios / Islands of Adventure on Tuesday. I was a little concerned that one day at Islands of Adventure would not be enough, but didn't want to buy tickets in advance due to the rain in the weather forecast. One day was plenty. We got there around 11:00 a.m. and left at closing time. By the end, we were actually struggling to find something to ride that we had not yet ridden or seen. This was a great day to go as there were virtually no lines in the park until you got to Harry Potter World. Even then, we did not really stand in line for anything except the Castle and that wasn't really standing in line. The line to get in just goes on forever as it wraps what seems like half way around the castle then back to the front and then to the back again...crazy layout, but I leave that to the architects. We are not Harry Potter fans, but the kids are and this was their trip. They LOVED IT!!!!
Wednesday, the weather was dreary and rainy so we went to a place in Orlando called WonderWorks. Indoor, kind of educational and hands on interactive place. It was okay...something to do in the rain to keep the kids occupied.
Cruiseday Thursday...So Exciting!!! Got up early and drove to Pt. Canaveral with no problems. Parked the car at a place called Park and Cruise. SOOO CHEAP and great. We booked online and paid $4.99 a night. They shuttled us to the Port in no time. We got to the port around 11:00 a.m., checked in and within thirty minutes they were already calling boarding pass numbers. We were in Group 19 I believe. There were apparently not many people checked in yet, as we only waited about thirty minutes after they first started calling numbers. Keep your cameras out as there are Disney Characters everywhere. The staff is very organized and friendly. If you plan on utilizing the Kids Club on the ship, you will want to register them while waiting to board the ship. Disney is top notch when it comes to organization.
The ship was very impressive. Nothing short of the magic that Disney always presents. The meal in Cabanas upon arrival was AMAZING!!!! We are big seafood lovers and to have shrimp, crab legs and prime rib....WONDERFUL!!!!
Before leaving home, I purchased two 8x10 photo mattes and put them each in separate one gallon size ziplock bags with a package of bright colored Sharpie Markers. I put a label inside with my granddaughter's names and our room number and dropped them off at the Guest Services Desk for the Disney Characters to sign. They were signed and delivered to our room the last night of the cruise.
First night was Dinner in the Enchanted Garden. This was our favorite food night. And the Snowfall Drink was awesome. We met our tablemates, another couple about our age that had brought their little grandson.
Went to the show that night, Golden Mickeys. This is an AMAZING STAGE. HUGE!!!! And so TOTAL DISNEY!!! Just the little touches that Disney adds to everything amazes me.
Also showing that night at 12:01 a.m. was the premiere of Beauty and the Beast 3 D Movie in the Walt Disney Theatre. We really wanted to attend this, but were totally exhausted.
Up Bright and Early the next day as we had scheduled the Dolphin Encounter at Blue Lagoon. Had a difficult time deciding which Dolphin Adventure between Blue Lagoon and Atlantis but am VERY GLAD I chose Blue Lagoon. The trainers and the beach were great. Having a bright, sunshiney day was a Big Bonus!!!
Got back to the ship early with the hope that the kids would be able to use the pools. Wrong.....they were packed, almost like no one had gotten off the ship. The kids did still use the pools and rode the Aqua Duck, but it was a little crowded.
Tonight was dinner in the Royal Palace. The ambiance here was off the charts. Beautiful, elegant and the girls were wishing it was their dining room at home. Food here was okay. It wasn't so much that the food wasn't good, maybe just the choices of food.
After dinner my daughter and 7 yr. old granddaughter went to see the Villains show. My hubby and 10 yr. old granddaughter wanted to go on the deck and play shuffleboard. Not for sure either of them knew what they were doing, but they had fun and enjoyed the one on one time.
Went to the Pirate Celebration on Deck 11 and 12. The music, the laughter, the weather all added up to a perfect evening.
Next day......Castaway Cay. Really looking forward to this as everyone seems to like it better than the other islands.
Woke up early, not in a rush as it was pretty cloud, cool and windy out and we really weren't for sure we wanted to get off the boat. Castaway Cay was absolutely beautiful. Again, Disney left no detail untouched. EVERYTHING is on this island. We walked rather than taking the tram. We stopped and visited with a few Disney Characters along the way. While us adults sat on the beach chairs with our swimsuit cover-ups on and towels wrapped around us, the kids enjoyed building sandcastles and swimming in the ocean. We ate lunch on the island and then headed back to the boat. Once back on the boat, the sun came out and it warmed up. The boat was virtually empty so the girls FINALLY got to enjoy the pools and the ship. Then back to the room to pack our bags and get them in the hallway.
Ate dinner in Animator's Palate this night and it was remarkable. The dining room is full of Disney Detail and Magic. And Crush made a visit to our table. Again, dinner selection wasn't all that great, but what we had was sufficient.
Watched the Disney's Believe Show tonight. The show again was very good and again Disney did not disappoint.
After the show, we made the usual trek through the shops and picked out our pictures from Shutters before going to the See Ya Real Soon get together.
Shutters and the organization of the photo shop was top of the line. EVERY OTHER CRUISELINE needs to learn from Disney how to organize the photo department. Much easier, much more convenient and fun. We had purchased a $149 photo package online before the cruise. All our pictures were in our "Book" where they were supposed to be. I do not think the Disney photographers themselves were as good as the photographers on Carnival and NCL, but they were okay and the prices were a steal compared to other cruiselines. AND, if you didn't use all your photo credits, Disney would refund the unused amount back to you. PERFECT!!!!
Last morning and time to get off the ship to catch our flight home. There was no pushing or shoving to get off the ship. The Captain made the announcement that the ship was cleared for disembarking. So we finished breakfast and made our way off the ship. No lines and the best part, no stressed out people from being 'forced off "the ship at a certain time. Another lesson other cruiselines could learn from Disney.
For the most part, we were happy with this cruise. We are not "nightclub" people. That seemed to be the only activity for adults on this ship in the evening. We have always enjoyed the comedians and the other adult shows on the other cruiselines. All the restaurants seemed to close at 11:00 p.m. on the ship, again, unlike the other cruiselines. Not that we usually eat that late, but we would usually get pizza or something after the late shows. The Dream seemed to have trouble with the ice cream machines on the pool deck. Everytime the kids would try to get ice cream, it was either closed or they were broken.
The girls wanted to participate in the Oceaneer Club on several occasions, but there was just not enough time. The ship is very busy and full of activities. We checked out the Oceaneer Club and Youth Areas when we boarded the ship. I believe there were some adults that would have liked to stay there. Two things that stood out most to me was that on the pool deck people wore appropriate swimwear. This ship is VERY child friendly. Secondly, during this whole cruise, I did not encounter ANY people drunk and out of line on this ship...YAY DISNEY!!!!
I don't know that I would ever splurge for another Disney Cruise, but I don't regret going on the Dream. It was a trip for the kids and they LOVED it!!! Therefore, we were happy.