Before the cruise: you will receive a booklet in the mail 2 weeks prior to cruise day. READ IT. Book you port adventures and dining reservations as well. It will save you time on board. You won’t have to line up while on the ship to sign up for anything. Just use that time to line up for the AquaDuck.
Alcohol: Had we known about the wine package on board for about $130, we would not have brought our own wine! 12 bottles of wine!! You will have wine with every dinner or take it with you to enjoy at your own pace while on the ship.
But, we didn’t so we brought our own. We called customer service to ask how much alcohol we can bring on board. They said as much as you can carry in your day bag. While on board, we called guest services to find out if we can bring our bottle out on the deck, and they said yes again. We did not bring our wine to our dinner table though.
Embarkation: We chose a 1 pm arrival time at the port, but we spoke to some people who said they were able to check in earlier as soon as the port opened at 11 am even when their arrival time was in the afternoon. We dropped our bags off at the terminal, which was not busy at all. Checking in on line prior to sailing day made our check in easy. We only waited for about 10 minutes for a representative to sign us in. We were told that our stateroom will be ready by 1:30. Our luggage was waiting for us outside our door at that time, which was a surprise since we thought it will come later that evening.
Debarkation: We opted to walk off instead of having our luggage picked up at 10:30 the night before. We were out of the port in 30 minutes. Instead of waiting for our 6:45 sitting time for breakfast, we got some pastries and cereal from the buffet the day before and ordered room service before 1:30 am debarkation day. We had that for breakfast before leaving the ship. We saw the area where the luggage should be picked up before going through customs. It seems organized, like the bag check area during Disney races. But it will still be busy with all 4,000 people trying to get to their luggage!
Adult activities: Kids, don’t have them and we can’t stand them! Disney Dream had a lot of activities for adults. They have areas on deck 11 and 12 that are for adults only. The District is also a place that is kid-free after dinner. Still, we enjoyed the Sailing Away party and Pirate Night. No experience on the Disney Dream will be complete without dinning at Palo! We had dinner there but we plan on trying the brunch buffet.
Exploring the ship: Try the Mickey’s Mystery Detective game which will allow you to explore the decks in a fun Disney way. You also need to explore the ship or you will spend around 10 minutes looking for activity venues such as The Walt Disney Theater, D Lounge, etc. The ship is so big it is easy to get lost. Also, take the stairs instead of the elevator. It will save you time and help burn the calories you inhaled at the buffet. (Ice cream, tacos, and cookies at 12 midnight plus 24-hour room service?! Mickey Ice Cream bars at 2 am?!? Seriously!)
Nassau: Disney has a shopping seminar the afternoon of embarking. Attend that one to receive coupons and other freebies. Disney picked out stores that are “guaranteed”, meaning they made sure the prices are fair, customer service is at Disney-level, and the merchandise has good quality. It is a 45-minute talk, but it helped narrow down the stores we want to go to. This was helpful since we spent the morning in Nassau doing the Sea Lion experience. We only had 2 hours to shop. The stores that Disney recommended were at a relatively safe area as well. Speaking of Sea Lion experience, book the earlier group for 9:15 am. It will be around 10 when the boat leaves for Blue Lagoon Island for the dolphin and sea lion experience. It will be around 11 am by the time the sea lion experience starts. We got back to the ship at around 2 pm. By the time we showered and had lunch (buffet on board again!), it was already 3 pm. We only had an hour and a half to shop before the ship leaves Nassau. It only took us an hour to visit the shops we picked out, thanks to the seminar.
Castaway Cay: Do the Castaway Cay 5K! It will help burn off the calories from all the food you have ingested after being on the ship for 3 days. We booked the Extreme getaway package, which includes the sting ray experience, bike rental, tube rentals, and snorkeling gear. You will need the snorkel gear to see the underwater Mickey Mouse statue. There were 3 life guard posts on the snorkeling area. One by the entrance and 2 by the far end. Mickey will be between the 2 life guard posts at the farther end, the second buoy from the left post when we went snorkeling. You can claim the bike and floating tube at Serenity Bay, but the sting ray and snorkeling area is at the Castaway family beach area, so be prepared to share the water with kids.
The family beach was filled with people. There were lines at the buffet area. But that is also where the Disney activities were being held. We opted to go to Serenity Bay, which is accessible by either tram or bike. You can tell it was an adult-only beach because of the peacefulness, stark contrast to the chaotic kid-infested family beaches. We spotted a sting ray and some fishes , thanks to the calmer water.