Why Sail with Mickey?
I had never been on a cruise in my life, and wasn’t super-keen about it. Something about being out in the middle of the ocean made me a little skittish. I reigned in the thoughts, and the images from The Titanic movie I watched repeatedly during one season of my life, and we booked a cruise, something my husband had on his list of vacation goals to experience.
With over a hundred dollars of anti-emetics in tow, because yes, motion sickness is a challenge of mine, we boarded the most magical cruise sailing the big ‘ol blue.
Let me say, it was way more than I imagined. Thankfully, I never needed any of those motion sickness meds, and The Titanic briefly came to mind only once out on the deck during our mandatory pre-sail safety drill.
This cruise was one of the most relaxing family vacations we had had up to that point in our family. Our kids were a bit older, but the cruise had so many activities available, and French fries, and the AquaDuck, and French fries.
Here are some of our highlights from our sail on The Disney Dream.
Get the Info
The Navigator is an in-room, newsletter with the ship’s activities, information on character meet-and-greets, dining and more! Also at any time you can use your in-room phone to contact guest services or visit them. The crew is more than helpful in helping guests be in the know.
Boarding & Bracelets
I remember thinking there is one essential quality to boarding. Patience. It was quite a long process, mostly I’m sure, because it was our first time. I feel it took a couple hours or more for the entire process. For those with children, they each received a bracelet they wore onboard. It had a tracking device which was reassuring should you get separated. It was also used to check in and out of the kid’s zone, mentioned below. Regardless of wait time, checking in and verifying documentations and such, we were all pretty excited to see Pluto and then walk through those Mickey ears.
For Little Ones & Not-so-Little Ones
If you have a child in your group, from baby to teen, Disney will have something special on the ship just for them. Our first day onboard, parents were welcome to discover the magical zones created for these age groups. We took the opportunity to enjoy fun family time in the Disney’s Oceaneer Club. Oh my word. Literally it was filled with wonder and awe from floor to ceiling! Even the sinks beckoned children to “come wash your hands.” We could have returned over and over again, but since this is special for kids, that was our only sneak peek. Our kiddos, ranging from four to twelve at the time, all returned for a couple hours later in the cruise, but we probably take the family in family vacation to the extreme, preferring to keep together on these trips. Our preteen didn’t want to leave her brothers and check out Edge, but I imagine our next experience we may have a couple teens who will eagerly pair up to explore the fun of Vibe, The Dream’s teen loft-style lounge filled with karaoke and dance parties. Not forgetting the littlest of littles, for those as young as 6 months, It’s a Small World Nursery is the perfect spot allowing them to “romp and rest.”
Who knew there was so much to do on the deck?! It kicks off with the sail-away celebration. Then there is miniature golf and basketball at Goofy’s Sports Deck. At night things get even better, with parties and perhaps our favorite evening of all, Pirate Night! Read on down below for more on this fun evening you have aboard the Disney Dream.
Rooms & Fun Towels
My biggest concern and reservation about going on a cruise was being seasick. Since it doesn’t take much for me to feel carsick, I was very hesitant to “jump on board” with my husband’s idea of taking a cruise for our annual Disney vacation. I shared this with the cast member assisting me in making our reservation. While many have told us not to spend funds on the room, saying you’re just not in it that much, she encouraged us to reserve a room with a verandah to have access to the deck if I started to feel queasy. Well, I never felt queasy but I sure did enjoy the verandah! And so did my mom. She had waited over thirty years to go on a cruise and this experience was everything she imagined and more. We had connecting rooms, so we asked a cast member to remove the partition on the verandah giving us a little more space and access to each others rooms from the outside. We’d sit out and enjoy coffee in the morning and the moonlight in the evening. It was absolutely gorgeous. The kids were over the top about their bunk beds and the detail to the stars on the ceiling above it. Coming in seeing the different towel creations left for us was a delightful detail to our days on the ship. I know a lot of cruises offer the same services, which makes cruisers want to continue cruising, but I have to say being a Disney girl at heart, that I couldn’t imagine a cruise experience being more magical than what we had on The Disney Dream.
Spa & Fitness
I’m not too fitness minded on vacation. I’m more food minded, as evident in what I share about the dining experiences. I prefer to leave my exercising at home for vacation, but if you prefer to keep with your daily workout routine aboard your cruise, then Disney has the fitness center for you. Lucky for me they also have a Senses Spa and Salon where the fitness and food people all come together.
Oh Castaway Cay. Spelled Cay, but pronounced “key,” was one of the first clarifications I’m glad to officially know. But pronunciations don’t really matter much when you can simply say, “Castaway” and immediately images of snorkeling, beach seats, island greetings and pictures with Mickey, souvenir shops and an incredibly delicious on-island meal come to mind. This was my MOST FAVORITE day of all and I really wish they could have left me there for a week, picking me up on another ship back to America. It’s so gorgeous you just won’t want to leave.
Beach towels are available upon disembarking. And get ready set go. There is so much in store on this island.
· A Family beach,
· a snorkeling lagoon,
· Serenity Bay for adults eighteen and older,
· Pelican Plunge that is a floating platform with two twisting water slides and a giant water bucket dump,
· Spring-a-Leak for kids,
· Teen Hideout for teens thirteen to seventeen,
· Scuttle Cove, fun for the youngest cruisers,
· In Da Shade Game Pavilion,
· Sports Beach for volleyball and tetherball fun,
· character greetings, and
· kayak, paddleboats, aqua trikes, snorkel gear, and inner tubes all available for rent.
Castaway Cay is a stop you’ll want to return to again and again. The Meadows Family sure does. And Castaway Cay isn’t just about fun. Disney is about island preservation too, from restoring the health of coral reefs to utilizing solar panels to fuel water heaters. It’s incredible to see the complete community on this island keeping it running and gorgeous, grateful we cruisers get to come and enjoy.
If there was one highlight of our cruise, it would be the AquaDuck. And if there is one thing the kids look forward to going back for, it’s the AquaDuck. Okay, and maybe the endless amounts of French fries, but mostly the AquaDuck. This is a water coaster. You get on a raft, and set off on your own sailing, from the sail you’re already on. This tube you are traveling in extends out over the side of the ship. So you are riding out over the ocean for a brief moment. As in, ocean water below. Whew! It was fun! I rode once. The kids rode countless times and they enlisted the Dad and the Grandma to wait the line for several rides of their own. We learned the line is not as long during Ports of Call, so keep that in mind if you decide to stay on the ship and enjoy some fun AquaDuck time.
We booked our excursion on-line before our trip, but you can visit The Port Adventures Desk and they will help you arrange an adventure that sounds fitting for your family. Your Personal Navigator newsletter will have hours they are available.
We had one stop in Nassau and then another at Castaway Cay. We aimed to experience some of Nassau’s history so we went on the Nassau Forts and Junkanoo Discovery excursion. It was an interesting tour, and they had elements to make it fun for the kids.
There’s just something about being on a ship that makes you want to say, “Argh!” or maybe even, “Ahoy Matey.” And Disney knows that. It’s why Pirate Night is so fun—for the big people and little people. There are games, trivia, a “Pirates in the Caribbean” show on the deck, and characters are all in character, if you know what I mean, donning their pirate attire. If you don’t feel like packing your whole pirate get-up, no worries, Disney will have your bandana awaiting you. And if the little guys or gals in your group are up for it, they can hit the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for their complete pirate transformation. The fireworks are AMAZING, and just even more incredible at sea, so this is a night you’ll want to be rested up for to enjoy from beginning to end, or to your end, whichever comes first.
Food & Dining
When I ask my kids about their favorite part of the cruise they all seem to remember the food. Or maybe it’s the all you care to eat part. All you can eat yogurt, and French fries. Jaron says, “mainly the French fries.” People who are regular experienced cruisers know all about the food, but it was eye-opening for us. Let me just say, I gained seven pounds in four days and am not even joking when I say I could not button my pants when it came time to disembark. Eating is a pretty enjoyable experience for me anyway, and Disney makes it even more enjoyable, and convenient. Which I’m sure is why I ate when I wasn’t even hungry! We ordered room service, which is complimentary, on an afternoon we all decided to just have some down time, and also a few mornings to enjoy coffee out on the verandah. It was glorious!
For dinner, we chose the early dinner option which started at 5:45pm with the show following. We savored our offerings at each of themed restaurants: Animator’s Palate, where we were entertained and interactive with Crush the turtle himself, treated like royalty at The Royal Palace and awed by the atmosphere of the food and ambiance of Enchanted Garden. We rotated between all three and what was even better is that our wait staff rotated with us. The kids were wanting to book another cruise just to be back with Bruno and Carlos. We didn’t anticipate getting attached, but did nevertheless. There are casual dining options at Cabana’s, Flo’s Café, Frozone Treats and Eye Scream. And if a luxurious evening for adults is in mind, the ship offers Palo and Remy for those fine-dining experiences. Whatever dining experience you desire, there is something on the ship to fill your tummy while making the most magical memories in the process.
We were able to see Disney’s Aladdin before it retired and also saw the show still currently a part of the Disney Dream, Disney’s Believe. While I’m not a huge fan of cruising in itself, I guess I’m just more of a finding-fun-on-land kind of girl, I would still get back on a Disney ship in a moment for the incredible shows. I mean, what is more perfect than dinner and a show?! And not having to plan it?!?! Even more fabulous! And we weren’t the only ones who loved it, the kids did too, which really is probably the most significant piece of information I have to offer, because we all know if the little ones don’t sit entertained and still, then neither do the parents. It was the perfect ending to our days, but for the night owls, there is way more fun after the shows. We retired a bit early, but there is much lively life happening after ten, eleven, twelve o’clock. As you can see in our picture, some just couldn’t hang that long. In addition to Disney’s Believe, The Golden Mickeys is also showing and if movies are more your idea of a show, then you won’t be disappointed to know that you can see first-run movies, Disney’s newest movie release, some of them in 3D, in their Buena Vista Theatre. Oh and of course I have to say, the popcorn is included, so enjoy all your heart desires.
Halloween on the High Seas
Our Disney’s Dream cruise was during this fun Halloween party at sea, so we packed up Aladdin, Abu, The Genie, and Jasmine, well, I mean, we packed up those costumes for the kids to enjoy all the fun seasonal festivities on the ship. The kids all received treat bags in our room to get started. Adults and children were in character to get pictures with their favorite characters, like Mickey himself, who was of course, in costume and then for more fun at Mickey’s Mouse-quearde Party on deck. Be on observation as the Halloween tree transforms throughout the cruise. Also look for Jack and Sally after the Sing and Scream, an interactive movie experience inspired by The Nightmare Before Christmas. Oh, and then there’s the normal traditional trick-or-treating. You’ll meet lots of fun fellow Disney cruisers, and get some creative costume ideas I’m sure. Maybe even ask for a photo. Brooklyn had a mom approach her with two wide-eyed little girls who truly thought she was the real-deal Jasmine. Brooklyn didn’t mind and squatted down to get a picture with them. It’s still a memory for her—the common components of a Disney vacation.
It couldn’t be easier. Disney Cruise Line offers transportation to and from the Orlando International Airport and many of the Walt Disney World resort hotels (but for a complete list check with Disney Cruise Line).
- pre-purchase transfer tickets,
- purchase transfer tickets from the Disney’s Magical Express representative at the Welcome Center or at the Orlando International Airport, or
- purchase transfer tickets from the Walt Disney World resort hotel where you will be picked up.
When we went in 2013 transfer tickets cost $35 per person one way, so $70 round trip per person. We pre-purchased, and recommend pre-purchase for less hassle or hiccup, and we arranged for our pick-up from the airport.
Visit Disney’s Website for all the information and about booking your magical sailing with Mickey! Disney Cruise Line