Yeah, I'm not the best at blogging, and this is something I'd like to work on for 2018. You see, instead of creating a resolution, I choose a word, and my word for 2018 is ADVENTURE! I'm starting the year off with a trip to Walt Disney World and a couple of months later, I head to the west coast to visit Disneyland.
My plan is to make blogging part of my adventure, so I figured I should start with the vacation I promised a few months ago. Get ready for an adventure on our very first Disney Cruise Line vacation aboard the Disney Dream with me! This post is only for Day 1 (Departure Day) and will be FILLED with information and pictures, so if you have questions about anything, send them my way. If you'd like to skip reading and see the highlights, scroll to the bottom of this post for a video sharing all I saw on Day 1.
Prior to departure day, we spent a couple of nights in Cape Canaveral, so we were close by when we arrived at Port Canaveral. It was easy to find the terminal and leaving our car rental at the parking garage was a breeze. Cast members greeted us at the curb to help us unload everything and shortly afterwards, passengers were allowed to check in.
Once we got inside, we were directed through security and upstairs to the check-in desks. The cast member quickly checked over all information for us, gave us our Key to the World cards, and then we waited a short while to board. While inside, there were opportunities to take photos with characters, look at a cross-section of the ship, mingle, we took some fun photos, and off to the side, we used the pressed penny machines. This is the only place where you will find them, so bring several quarters and pennies if you would like these as souvenirs.
When it's time to board, you will listen for the group you were assigned to at check-in. If you're lucky, you might even be the Family of the Day who gets some extra special goodies and lead the way for the rest of the passengers!
All aboard through the golden Mickey ears! Make sure you have your Key to the World card and your boarding number available to show the cast members.
The day we departed, July 31, 2017, a Tropical Storm popped up in the Gulf of Mexico from out of nowhere and was traveling across the state (west to east), so while the ship typically doesn't depart until around 5:00 p.m., we ended up heading out earlier so that we could get ahead and away from the storm. I'm someone who easily gets motion sick, but I took Bonine prior to boarding, and I honestly wasn't bothered by the higher winds and waves, and I didn't take any more the entire trip. A few others who hadn't taken motion sickness medicine did need some. The winds were strong, so some events were canceled.
After the photographers take some family pictures, you enter the main lobby where you are greeted by several cast members who you'll see often during your time on the Dream. Looking around, you'll see the grand staircase and if you glance up, you'll notice the most beautiful chandelier, and while you will see characters, I felt like many Disney touches were elegant and more subtle than what you would find in the parks. See the Hidden Mickeys?
Once on board, make sure to connect your Navigator app on your phone while you're still in the port. This will help you stay connected with other family members on board.
We had one of the earlier port arrival times, so once on board, we decided to head up to Cabanas for the lunch buffet before it got too crowded. There were plenty of options available for even the pickiest eaters, and I was immediately impressed by the warm and friendly service.
Knowing that others were eating, I decided to sneak over to Vanellope's Sweets and Treats nearby. If you have a sweet tooth, you will LOVE it in here! Having eaten gelato in Italy, I was hesitant to try some, but it was delicious. The candy, gelato, and other sweet treats will cost extra, but it was worth it to me!
Afterwards, we headed to our cabin. We reserved two deluxe family oceanview staterooms with verandahs. The white wall between both outdoor areas can be removed if you ask your stateroom host/hostess. Here is a quick video of our room (cabin 10606) which is on the Starboard side of the ship. This side gave us a nice view of the coast as we departed and a great view of Castaway Cay when we were docked there. It's definitely something to consider when booking your room.
A few things you might not have seen clearly in the video are that Disney provides you some toiletries: soap, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion. There is plenty of storage! Suitcases can slide under the beds, the footrest by the couch opens up, and lots of cabinets and drawers are located for you to put all of your belongings away. Additionally, you'll find a daily navigator placed on your bed, and if you have reserved tickets in advance, they are often found attached to the seahorse, fish, or starfish outside of your cabin door.
After checking out the cabin, it was time to walk around and check out other areas on the ship. I had my heart set on visiting the children's clubs because the only time you're able to visit them is during Open House on the first day and other select times during the cruise. If you miss the Open House, check your Navigator for others times when you may visit.
While heading to the clubs, I came across a desk that had a sign naming it the Midship Detective Agency. It's kind of like a scavenger hunt, and there are different mysteries that children can choose. They are given cards to use around the ship while solving clues. I thought it was a clever way to get people moving around on board! It's an activity that I saw children completing independently, but I also witnessed families working together on this.
The first location I stopped in is called "it's a small world nursery" and it's for the little ones. Children ages 3 months to 3 years are able to be checked into this area while parents enjoy some adult time on board. Note that there is a fee here and reservations are highly suggested. Looking around at the interior, you can see why it's called It's a Small World because you'll feel like your surrounded by familiar designs from the popular ride. Due to safety concerns, parents are not able to interact with their children inside. This made me feel as though they took extra precautions to prevent the infants and toddlers from being exposed to other guests. They did allow me to come in to take some photos since no children were enrolled in the program when I arrived.
Next, I headed over to Disney's Oceaneer Club and Lab where children ages 3-12 are having fun. If I were a kid, I can assure you that THIS is where you would find me! I'm only showing a few of the rooms available. There are several, so all kids will find something to love. I was kind of jealous that I didn't get to experience the fun (my kids are older) that I saw parents having while interacting with their young ones. When I entered, the cast members were having what appeared to be a dance party. Everyone was laughing, singing, and dancing along. So, I tiptoed over to Andy's Room, and you probably can figure out what I found there.
From there, I wandered over to the STAR WARS Millenium Falcon area. I've been watching those movies since I was a little girl. In fact, I owned the Death Star Space Station and had all of the action figures. I geeked out! If you're like me, or a fan of STAR WARS at all, it's a must see location when you are allowed inside.
After I got my STAR WARS fix, I continued to walk around and noticed they had so many different hands-on activities for the kids to do. There were arts and crafts, dance parties, tables where I they could do guided experiments with cast members, tables to eat, movies, video games, and so much more! I wouldn't hesitate to have put my child in here. The attitudes were positive and spunky. The children surrounding the Disney employees had smiles from ear to ear. They also had the coolest sanitation system that makes it FUN for kids to wash hands.
Here are some things to be aware of:
Around this time, it was time for the muster station safety drills. This is mandatory but you do not need to bring a life vest with you. Report to your assigned location. Look for the cast members holding the Mickey sign with your letter on it. Be sure to have your Key to the World card with you since they scan it to make sure all guests on board are accounted for.
This is actually when we ended up leaving the port. It was funny because I asked the person assigned to our station when the ship would set sail, and I was told it wouldn't be for another couple of hours. That's when the ship started moving. Nobody knew why but the captain explained about the tropical storm and why we left early. Again, I was grateful that Disney was putting safety of guests first. In addition to certain activities being canceled, there were areas roped off that prevented guests from going into unsafe areas. Lots of the outdoor furniture was also tied down, and guests were encouraged to remain indoors until wind speeds died down. I was impressed with every aspect of how this unusual experience was handled.
After the drill was over and we were on our way, signaled by the Dream's horns (they are musical), I was able to check out more areas on the ship. Knowing there were going to be several shows during our sailing, I headed to Buena Vista Theater. This is the main theater where the night shows happen. This was also the location where we were asked to meet cast members prior to our excursions when we arrived in Nassau.
As big as the ship is, I did have some trouble finding the next club, VIBE. It's tucked away in the tip of the forward on Deck 5. Like I mentioned, our kids are older (14 & 16), so it was time to check out where they would be spending most of the time. Guests 14-17 are able to visit VIBE. While I was unable to go outside to check it out, there is a private pool area just for teens here, too. Inside, there are comfy places to hang out, video games, movies, and lots of scheduled activities. Parents are not allowed to interact with anyone checked into this club, so again, safety is a top concern. I'm thrilled to share that our kids made friends with others from around the country, said they had lots of fun with the different activities, and as soon as we arrived back home, they asked when we could go on another one. I was worried they wouldn't find it cool enough, but they did!
Since our 14 year old had a choice of clubs, I visited EDGE, too, which is in the center of the ship on Deck 14. Again, this area was filled with things that tweens (ages 11-14) love! Upon entering, kids were already interacting with one another while playing a video game. There were also cushions to lounge on, movies, board games, and plenty of other activities arranged for them daily.
Knowing that it was almost dinnertime, I was curious to see the exclusive adults-only restaurants, Remy and Palo. I'll share more about meals here later, but I got a glimpse into these two upscale dining locations, and boy were they gorgeous! One of the things that impressed me right from the beginning was that you'll find cast members from Italy in Palo and from France in Remy, so you know you are experiencing an authentic atmosphere and immersed in the culture.
As if my body could sense it was time to eat, I met back up with my family to head out for our first meal at sea. On your Key to the World Card, there is a spot that shows your dining rotation along with your table number and time to arrive. I was overly excited to learn that our first location was Animator's Palate!
When you enter, you'll notice animated drawings around the room. They start off mostly black and white. Throughout your meal, color arrives. Pay attention to your servers and you might notice their changes too.
While you're eating, you'll be entertained by Nemo and friends. Crush comes around to "talk" with the tables, and watch out, if you don't do what he says, he might single you out! It's all in good fun, and you will amazed throughout the meal.
Our family tried to get an assortment of items so I could share lots of options. We were seated with a lovely family. We were a party of 5 and they were a party of 3. They joined in the fun and pushed their plates in my direction, so I need to give a shout out to Bobbie, Jeff, and Sarah. Not only did we enjoy their company, but we got to compare stories throughout the trip. While some families may not like being seated with others they don't know, we welcomed it and hugged one another goodbye on our last night.
Since we had the earlier seating for dinner, we headed to see "The Golden Mickeys" in Walt Disney Theater. It was an upbeat show with singing, dancing, and GOLDEN MICKEYS! If you are interested in seeing any of the shows, the theater is located on Decks 3 & 4. If you'd prefer to be closer to the stage, head down to Deck 3, and be sure to arrive early. Seats filled up quickly!
Afterwards, I walked around to snap a few more photos around the Disney Dream that evening. It took time, but at that point, I was comfortable locating different events/destinations on board.
Every night before bed, our stateroom hostess, Nicole from the Bahamas, would leave blanket animals. She would also make sure both the couch bed and the wall bed were neatly opened up. We also received some sweet treats for our sweet dreams!
Disney has been a part of Cheryl's life since 1975. She is married, and she has a son and two bonus children. They live in Northwest Arkansas with their two dogs.