Disney Dream Cruise Review by Sabihah
- Sail Date: April 2018
- Destination: Bahamas
- Cabin Type: Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah
This year, we wanted to continue our family tradition of taking a Disney cruise about once a year, but instead of taking a 7-day cruise, we decided to take a shorter cruise combined with some time visiting the amusement parks in Orlando. We had a few days at Universal Orlando (the Hard Rock Hotel for one night and a few nights at a rental house in Kissimmee), four nights on the Dream, and two nights at the Contemporary Resort. This review is really just about the cruise, but I mention our other plans because it made our transportation to and from the cruise interesting.
We flew into Orlando for this trip. We had 5 large suitcases and 5 small bags for our 11-day trip, so we looked into transportation options with plenty of space. We ended up hiring a private SUV transport from Kissimmee to Port Canaveral. That was simple and comfortable, and the costs were on par with the other options we considered (Uber X, transport to the airport plus the Magical Express, a rental car plus parking, or a one-way car rental).
Check-in at the cruise terminal was quick and efficient. We were sure to reserve a nice early boarding time well in advance. We arrived at the terminal 30 minutes before our assigned boarding time of 12:30, and we were on board by 12:45. I appreciate how they improved the kids’ club check-in this time. We were able to register our girls on-line and get their Magicbands right at the check-in desk. Gone are the hour-long lines just to get the Magicbands!
They said our stateroom would be ready by 1, so we checked our big bags and just brought a couple of carry-on bags to lunch at Cabana’s. Our girls LOVE all of the selection at Cabana’s, so they were excited about lunch. After lunch, we went to see our room.
Room 9590 is a Deluxe Family Oceanview with Verandah. We have always chosen this type of room because the size and layout work well for our family of 4. It’s located just aft of the midship elevators. The location is ideal for everything except laundry; the launderette is all the way forward. We really appreciate being close to all of the dining and shows with the midship-aft location. It’s also far enough below the pools that you don’t hear noise from above you while you’re in the room, but high enough that you can easily walk up to the pool deck. Another useful bit of information is that the room faces the beach at Castaway Cay, so it has great views that day. So far as the quality of the furnishings, everything was in excellent condition. I would choose the same room again.
Next it was time to explore the ship, because this was our first trip on the Dream. We also wanted to scope out a location on deck to watch the SpaceX launch from Cape Canaveral at 4:30. We were disappointed to see that a huge Carnival ship was between us and Cape Canaveral, but fortunately, by going all the way back to the mini-golf course, we were able to see the launchpad and rocket set up and ready to go. There are several active launch pads at Cape Canaveral Air Force Base and the Kennedy Space Center, so the best viewing may vary by launchpad. You can identify the rocket with your naked eye if you have good vision and know what to look for. Spaceflightnow.com had a picture of the rocket on the pad from that morning, so that helped us figure out which one it was. Now that we knew where to go, we grabbed a Midship Detective Agency clue sheet and ran around doing that with the kids until safety drill time.
Our meeting point for the safety drill at 4:00-4:20 was at the opposite end of the ship from our launch viewing point and several decks down, so we had to walk very fast and weave through crowds of people to get there by 4:30. We made it with about 1 minute to spare! There were probably 100 or more people on the mini golf course with the same idea as us, but the kids were able to wiggle up to the railing. Suddenly we saw a very bright orange flame, and the rocket lifted off to cheers! It flew straight up above us, and after about 30 seconds we clearly heard it rumbling. About 2 minutes after launch, it was too faint/distant to see. Pretty cool! SpaceX sometimes lands the boosters back at Cape Canaveral, but unfortunately they were not landing the booster that day. I’d love to see a rocket land someday too!
We decided to chill in our room during the sail-away instead of going to the deck party. The deck party is great, but after days and days at amusement parks, we were ready for a bit of quiet. Next was dinner at Animator’s Palatte with Crush (so fun), and for dessert, the ridiculously huge Family Challenge ice cream sundae from Vanelope’s Sweets and Treats. It was delicious, but we only managed to eat about half of it before we surrendered. Finally, instead of the show, we decided to watch A Wrinkle In Time in 3D in the theater together.
Day 2 was at Nassau. I have to say, other than the parliament building and a few very expensive shops, the area near the cruise ship docks is... sketchy. There were a lot of derelict buildings that were abandoned and literally falling apart. I can see why most people went on an excursion or stayed on board, rather than just walking around. Our choice was to spend the day at the Atlantis Resort. We met in the theater with several hundred other guests for our bus transfers to Atlantis. That whole process, including the bus ride, took a little over an hour.
Atlantis itself is quite nice. We started off with the aquarium, which is on par with other good aquariums we’ve been to. It has some fun archeological theming too. The girls really just wanted to get outside to the water park, or we could have spent a couple of hours there.
I would compare the Atlantis water park to Disney’s Blizzard Beach in terms of its size, number of attractions, and crowds. We didn’t get in the water until around 11, and the last bus left at 3, so we didn’t have time to do too much. The girls especially enjoyed swimming under waterfalls in the pool area, the inner tube water slide that takes you through a tunnel in the shark tank, and the Rapids River, which takes the lazy out of lazy river. Our package included lunch at one of several quick service restaurants in the water park, which was good. I would recommend this excursion to anyone who enjoys water parks. I would not recommend trying to combine it with another excursion on the same day, because there’s not enough time.
Back onboard, we quickly rinsed off and took the girls to the Oceaneer Club. They really love the onboard kids’ clubs! My husband and I had signed up in advance for the Martini tasting, so we made our way to the Meridian bar for that. We didn’t know we were also going to learn how to make the martinis ourselves, so that was a fun surprise! The class was engaging, tasty, and worth the fee.
We wrapped up day 2 with dinner together at the Enchanted Garden and the Broadway-style show Believe. I think it’s my 3rd time seeing that particular show, because it’s also playing on the Fantasy, but we still loved it. Somewhere in there, DH and I also snuck in a date at Pink: Champagne and Wine bar. We were the only guests in there, and it was quite romantic.
Day 3 was at Castaway Cay. My husband ran the 5K, while the rest of us slept in and had breakfast at Cabana’s. This is the third time he’s run the 5K, because he always enjoys it. We met back in our room around 10 and made our way to the beach together for our 11AM stingray feeding. This is probably the 4th time we’ve scheduled that activity, but the first couple of times it was canceled due to high winds! This time we had a few showers, but overall it was a nice sunny day. We fed the stingrays and laughed as they slid around our legs, and then snorkeled in the stingray lagoon.
I made one mistake here by renting snorkel gear instead of tubes/rafts. The girls had had enough snorkeling already, and really wanted tubes instead. It took a bit of walking back and forth, but eventually I talked to the customer service rep at the information booth, who changed my snorkel gear rentals into tube rentals. That was tedious, so next time we’ll just rent the tubes.
We found some beach chairs and hammocks, and spent the rest of the afternoon hanging around the beach. Our 10-year old asked to join a dance party nearby, and we felt she was old enough to do that unsupervised and then come back to us. We had the BBQ picnic lunch too, with ice cream and tropical drinks. We would have enjoyed spending as much time as possible on the beach, but we had scheduled a beer tasting at 3:30 at Pub 687, and a pirate makeover for the girls at 4:45, so we had to leave the beach around 2 to get cleaned up. Mistake #2 was over-scheduling that day. We should have skipped the beer tasting to have more time at the beach.
Pirate night was great fun, as usual. We all like to dress up and get some silly pirate photos. After dinner, the girls really wanted more time in the kids’ club, so they did that while I watched the Pirates in the Caribbean fireworks, and my husband watched a soccer match in the pub. Sometimes it’s nice to split up, instead of doing everything together! I got our laundry done too, because I know the day at sea is the worst time to do that.
Day #3 was at sea, and we had a few things planned. My husband and our 8-year-old went to meet Anna and Elsa, and then to the Princess Greeting, while I slept in with our 10-year-old and had breakfast with her. Then we headed for the pools and water slides like, it seemed, everyone else on board! It was insanely crowded on the pool deck, but the kids didn’t seem to mind too much. We all love the Aqua Duck!
The girls went back to the kids’ club for a while, so we could take the Mixology class in the Meridian bar. This was my favorite of the three tasting classes. We learned how to make 4 popular cocktails.
We also made an appointment to book our next Disney cruise. We’ve learned that we can combine the booking credit from our travel agent (I’d recommend Dreams Unlimited or Costco) with the discount for booking on the ship, by just asking to list them as the booking agent. I can’t think of any reason why you wouldn’t want to stack discounts like that! We’re not sure exactly when we’re taking our next cruise, so we just booked an interesting looking “holder cruise” on the Wonder next summer, and we can always change it later.
We took the girls to dinner poolside, because they never actually eat in the kids’ clubs when we ask them to! Then they were happy to get one last visit to the clubs while my husband and I had a wonderful dinner at Remy. We always enjoy the chance to enjoy top-notch food and service at least once per cruise, and Remy is the best of the Disney restaurants, in my opinion.
Another glitch was that we didn’t allow for enough time to re-pack and get our luggage set out for the couriers. It takes more than an hour to put just what you need for the last morning in carry-on bags, and just what you need for Walt Disney World into a backpack, then pack everything else in the room in the large bags, so they can take them to customs for you. We managed to get four of the bags set out by 10:30 PM, but they never picked up the last one that was set out too late, so we had to take that with us on disembarkation day.
We usually like the early dinner because the girls are easier to deal with at dinner, but our assigned breakfast time at 6:15 was too painfully early. So, we just brought our luggage to Cabana’s at 7 and had breakfast there. Our Magical Express bus departed at 9, so at 8:15, we sadly bid farewell to the Dream.
The Magical Express bus took us to the Contemporary, and I won’t go into that part of our trip here, except to say that we were in the Animal Kingdom by 11:30! Another useful tidbit is that the Contemporary provides free Magical Express transfers to the airport, but you need to reserve that in advance. We were also able to check our luggage at the hotel directly onto our Delta flight home. They offer that for a few airlines now, and it’s very nice to not worry about your big bags on your last day.
So, would we do this cruise again? Absolutely. In fact, we may change our holder cruise to the same itinerary. On the one hand, the 4-night cruise almost feels like it’s over before it starts, but on the other hand, it fits nicely into a short school break.
I don’t feel the need to go to amusement parks before or after the cruise next time, because that makes for a rather tiring vacation. But, if you haven’t been to Disney World in a while, they do make it easy to combine the two.
Next time, we’ll have to allow for more unscheduled time each day. Those big unscheduled blocks of time are precious!
Until next time... Happy Travels!
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