First Timers on a DREAM Anniversary Cruise 2/2/12
I've never done a trip report and haven't posted much--soaking it all in. I have learned so much from other's trip reports, maybe this will help someone.
Dave and I are high school sweet hearts. We graduated in 1984 from Cocoa Beach High School. Back then, there were no cruise ships out of Port Canaveral other than one and 2 day cruises to no where. I did a one day our senior year, but that was my only cruising experience.
We were married in May 1987 and with our 25th anniversary coming up, we decided to cruise for something different and exciting. So, the search began and I had quotes from every major cruise line that sails in Florida. But I kept looking at DCL site and wishing we could afford that. In May it would have been $1600 for a 3-nighter. Just was not going to happen. We don't DO credit cards--we pay cash or it doesn't happen.
I was just about to book a RCI cruise, feeling like I was "settling", when a friend texted me to check disney, that FL resident rates had opened up. The rate was almost HALF the cost of the RCI. FINALLY, a cruise I could get excited about! We sat on the hold for 48 hours -- I was unsure about celebrating in Feb for a May anniversary--and then booked it. It was 78 days from sailing.
We will just celebrate early!!
So, those 78 days passed by so fast with holidays, 2 DDs bdays, and a major history fair project in the middle. I have been reading the disboards and learned SO much by reading questions, answers, and trip reports.
Suddenly, it was time to pack! Aack!
This was the plan:
Stay the night at Cocoa (not cocoa beach) Holiday Inn Express (nice place if you want a cheaper alternative), then a friend of ours would drop us off at the port on Thursday am. He would also pick us up on Sunday. PERFECT.
Day one--embarkation and sail away!
We arrived at the port around 11:15, checked in quickly, and then went outside to look at the ship. I had seen the Magic and the Wonder in port but never the Dream. She was GINORMOUS! Wow!
Before we knew it group 4 was being called. It was fun walking through the big ears and having our name announced. Once we stepped into the atrium I think my jaw was on the ground. Photos don't do it justice!
We don't care too much about swimming, but we were hungry so we walked down to Cabanas and looked everything over before grabbing a plate. It all looked so good I wanted to try one of everything. All the servers were so nice and the drink servers were a little obnoxious, and I eventually gave in and bought a Paradise Punch so it works.
After lunch we hung on the pool deck and when that got noisy we left for quiet cove. We found a big round chair and sat in there looking over the port out toward the Space Center. It was nice and relaxing. DH took a nap.
About 1:45 we headed to our stateroom. No mob for the elevators, we just walked down one level as we were on 10. We found our room easily and it was prettier than I had imagined.
Our room was a Category 5A Deluxue Oceanview Stateroom w Verandah. We were on Deck 10 room 10532.
Now, this was my first dissapointment. I expected rose petals, maybe a heart shaped towel art, something. None of that. I also thought DH would have had flowers sent, but I shoulda known better, he's never been one to do that kind of thing.
I brushed that off and we began unpacking, setting up the room, hanging up our clothes, decorating the door...all the fun stuff. We watched the Muster video. Then they said the drill would be in 5 minutes and STILL, I nearly jumped off the veranda when the horns blasted. Duh!
Here's a view of the deck 10 verandah overhang. It was not horrible, but I would not book deck 10 again, for a few reasons.
After the Muster Drill it was time to head to the Sail Away party. My kids were back home watching on web cams, and they were texting me every 5 seconds. It was insane. We watched the party from deck 12 right by the Aquaduck funnel, we had a great view there and no people around. I thought people would hog the rail at sail away but we were not crowded at all.
This was taken deck 12, forward, as we left the port.
We had late dining so went to the early show. The only thing I hated about this was we didn't get to watch us leave land as long as I would have liked.
As we headed to Animators Palate we stopped in the lobby to see if we could get photos but there was a small line and we were running late. So I took this one of the Atrium:
Dissapointment #2--We really hoped to dine with other adults and requested this. We were seated at table set for 2. It felt odd and so many tables were set this way I wanted to just move to one of them. I finally told my server I wanted table mates adn within minutes he moved me. We met Lisa and david from NC. Yay!:yay:
AP was so loud and shaking side to side. It made me nauseated. I ordered some kinda beef, and it was good, but my stomach was upset. Dinner ran til well after 10 so I missed our cruise meet. We were going to wander the ship a while but instead went to see WAR HORSE.
After that we went to bed. I was BEAT.
Great start :goodvibes
May I ask why you wouldn't book deck 10 again?
The other reason was the motion. Our cruise had high winds every night and I think we were always crossways to it. We didn't notice it much in the theatre or atrium, but our room was swaying so much it felt like we were going to tip over any second!
I will say deck 10 was quiet and seemed to have less people in the hall. We were right near the forward elevators and were worried about traffic noise and it was never a problem.
Looked over my Day 1 notes, a few things to mention:
The ship is cleaner than clean. It looks brand new. CMs are constantly cleaning.
Even though this cruise was full, and over 1400 kids, as travelling adults with no kids, we didn't feel that at all. On a ship this big, there were a lot of places to "get away". Deck 12 forward, where it overlook the teen pool, was a nice quiet place any time we went up there. I imagine this is where we will hang some on At sea days on our 7-niter and watch the world roll by...
The Golden Mickey's show was cute, but all the shows could be shorter. They were just under an hour and it seemed too long.
Our captain was Henry Anderson and the cruise director was Leslie.
Our Stateroom hostess was Sri from Indonesia (who didnt get the message it was our anniversary). She was sweet as could be. On Friday I was in hall going to Cabanas and she said "good morning Miss Paula, where is Dave". I was amazed. I barely remembered her name at this point. She was great.
Our Servers for the new seating were Ali (Head Server), Murat from Turkey (Server) and Alexandre from France (Assistant). Ali only stopped by a few times but he was nice, and Murat was GREAT. Alexandre must be new as I was having to ask for drink refills.
The diversity of the CMs is one of the things I think makes the cruise special. It was nice chatting with CMs about their home countries, how they like working w Disney, etc. They were very willing to talk with you.
Every CM is so nice and "on" at all times. This is how it used to be at WDW but has gone down hill some. It has been our personal experience that CMs from other lands are nicer and more "on" than CMs from the US. I think they just have a better work ethic in many cases.
We didn't take photos of our food because there are so many here. I dont often try new foods and so I wanted to do that this cruise since it was easy to get a different item if I didnt like it. I'm a very picky and bland eater, so I was really stepping out of my box.
At AP I had a shrimp/onion/cheesecake appetizer. It was better than I expected, but just odd enough I didnt eat the whole thing. The Baked Potato soup was delish--Murat brought me a 2nd one even though I didnt ask but he saw I didnt eat my appetizer. The beef tenderloin was undercooked so the next 2 nights I ordered medium well which was a mistake.
I was a little nervous about cruising so didn't sleep well that night. Morning came way too early!
We did not bring our own sodas or water and that was a mistake as we were FAR from the drink stations. But, room service did bring a glass of ice water at no charge, which is good to know.
DH and I just booked a 3 nighter for our 15th anniversary. I am enjoying your report.
Day 2: Nassau
Friday I woke early, I really wanted to watch us dock, as we were fasicnated by the whole "turn around and back in" idea. Turns out we were not even there yet! I turned on the TV to the Bridge View cam and we could see Nassau right ahead.
So I hung on the veranda in my PJs, then showered and came back out and finally we were turning around. I don't know why they back in, instead of just pulling in and then backing out... I hung out there a long time taking photos. This was our first time in another country and I didn't want to miss a thing.
The water was SO blue. I truly thought brochure pix are photoshopped.
We had a 9:45 excursion meet, so ate a quick meal at cabanas (again I think I tried everything!). Then we went down to the 687 Lounge to meet for the excursion, which was the NASSAU HARBOR TOUR. Once everyone checked in we walked to the dock ( about 10 minute walk) and were hounded by the hair braiders and horse drawn carriage drivers. Cabs everywhere. They are in your face but got it when you say No Thank You. Only one hair braider kept bugging me.
Our excursion guide was pretty funny, but he did talk alot about booze and getting drunk, so if that kinda thing turns you off, consider that when booking this tour.
A few sights:
Looking back at our boat:
A rusted out boat, beautiful in her own way. I enjoy photography but didnt have my SLR with me and I wont make that mistake again! This is pretty good for a Sony Point and Shoot:
About 30 mins in the group doing the Sea World Explorer See and Sea or whatever it was called got off our boat and onto another boat. We later learned it was like the old 20,000 leages under the sea where you look out portholes at fish and sea turtles, etc.
While we were gone the Norweigian Epic Showed up. We had to wait a while for her to dock, then finally we just went around her.
After we docked we walked around Nassau a bit. We stopped at a drug store to get some postcards and sodas as well as a litre bottle of water. We bought some tee shirts from a man on the street--his were 3 for $21. Surely slightly irregular but my kids would love them--they were the embroidered style rather than screen printed so that was a good deal even so.
Then we wandered through festival place looking for something interesting for my mom (never found it) since she kept the kids for us. Mailed our postcards, then walked over to customs and had our passports stamped.
Then we headed back to the ship. We got a good look at the EPIC, and her odd shaped back end. It looked like a floating apartment building.
A nice lady took our picture:
Once we got back on we freshened up and went to Tow Maters for lunch. Now comes my BIG MISTAKE. I brought my DOTD glass and had it refilled with a yellow bird at Frozone--and watched her really pour a good amount of booze in. I was SO thirsty I drank half of it before we got our burgers. After we ate at Tow Maters, and chatted with a nice family, I took my Meclizine for the upcoming evening.
We went back to the room and planned to go to the Rainforest, and then the adult pool. While DH was in the bathroom, I laid my head down as I felt dizzy from the Yellow Bird. After a while I was awakened by a screeching flock of seagulls at our verandah. DH was out there reading. I looked at the clock--2 hours had passed!! TWO HOURS! I yelled at dave for not waking me up, then was mad we could not do rainforest, etc.
Instead, we went for a walk to explore some of the ship.
We went out onto Deck 4 and walked the whole way around and only encountered one family and one CM.
A rare good shot of me:
There is a lot of talk about the heavy crowds on our trip but we didn't feel it like some others did. Its all about timing. This is the Atrium at 5:51 on Friday:
One annoying thing--this staircase is almost always closed. Its a photo prop rather than a means of getting from one deck to another!
After our walk we headed to the VILLIANS TONIGHT show. I did not like this show. Maybe it was my "haze" still around from the Meclazine/Yellow Bird mix. Maybe it was that Hercules, being my least favorite Disney Movie that I have only seen once, I just didn't get it. I had another short nap.
Then we went back to our room to get ready for Pirate Nite! A quick shirt change and we were good. More on attire later!
In our room we found a giant sea turtle and my missing sunglasses!
After dinner we headed out to the deck for the Pirate Party. We were late but it didnt seem like we missed much. It was fun watching everyone and their costumes. Everyone seemed to be having a great time.
Dh and I are not big costume people so we wore pirate-ish clothes. This is a shirt I found at WalMart and ironed on a pirate bling:
Hubby Wore a Miami Ink shirt with a harley riding skeleton pirate. It worked.
Afterwards we walked some and then watched fireworks from the Currents Bar area on deck 12. We had a front row seat!
Afterwards we had a nice walk out to Dec 12 forward, snuggled a while on the big round benches, and when it got too cold, we headed in, excited for castaway Cay the next day!
Subscribing . . .I'm interested in your trip just because DH was mentioning how he'd like to do a 3 day Bahamas prior to our trip to the world in October for our 25th Anniversary . . .Last time we did a DCL cruise it was 2005 and we had our 2 kids with us . . .this time, it'll just be us and honestly, I'm kind of thinking it might be nice with just us . . .:goodvibes
Day 3 - Castaway Cay
7 am or so on Saturday I am awakened by a loud rattle sound over my head. We were forward, but the vibrations when the ship turns around are loud!
It was SO windy and overcast. It seemed to take forever to dock. At one point we pulled back out and I was worried we'd miss it. Our captain was patient though and while it took nearly 2 hours, we made it in!
I was really not in a hurry to get off the boat. We ate a leisurely breakfast, during which the announcement came at like 10am that people could disembark. We did not want to get into a jam so we went back up to room, straigtened up, packed the beach bag, etc. We headed down at 11am and walked right off.
We had rented bikes and I did not want to ride in my skirted suit so we wore reg clothes and would change later. BIG MISTAKE #2. more on that later. We get down to the shutters lady, get the photo done, and I realize I left my cover up. Being pooh sized (more like Ursula sized) I wanted my coverup. Hubby ran back to get it, and was back in a flash.
We found the bike rental. Thank goodness they had a bin to hold the beach bag. It took a few minutes to find the right bike and then we were OFF. The bike ride was fun. We rode to the tower, down to the trail at Serenity Beach, and back. I would say we spent an hour or a little more total.
Not easy to take a pic while riding:
From the observation tower, see how hazy and overcast it is?
We worked up an appetite so went to Cookies Too for lunch. Basic food, we wished there were more choices there--maybe some cold sandwhiches? But it was good and we ate plenty! Tried the banana ice cream and it was yummy! Popsicles would have been nice here.
we walked down to the family beach as it was not crowded, but then decided to check out Serenity Bay. I decided I'd change into my suit when we got there...
Here's where the BIG MISTAKE happened. At the restroom at SB, a water pipe had burst. The floor was covered with water. A CM was mopping it constantly, but it was wet. It was nearly impossible to change into a suit without letting my capris or suit touch the floor--never mind having to put my feet into that water!! But, I managed it!! How I wished I had just worn my suit under my clothes!
One note here--the bathrooms on Castaway Cay are the worst of all disney bathrooms anywhere. I'd rather use a wal mart bathroom, no kidding. They were very rustic and un-disney like. I wondered if some other cruise line sold disney the island and left their tired bathrooms. UGH. It was not just the wet bathroom either, the one at pelican point was the same deal.
Finally we arrived at Serenity Bay, ready to search for a chair. Imagine our shock to see NO ONE here. I asked dave "Did they call us back and I missed it?". Nope, just the clouds scaring folks off. There were maybe 25 couples and a few small groups. Only one hammock was occupied.
We parked it, ordered a Konk Kooler, and relaxed a while!
I ventured into the cold water and found some sting rays swimming by:
Here you can see how deserted it is, this is right near the entrance.
After a nice nap we headed back to Pelican Point for some shopping. I collect pins a little so got 2 and a few postcards. Then we headed back to boat, stopping at Mt. Rustmore. SO Glad I sent dh back for beach cover--we also forgot the flip flops:
Now this is where things got interesting...
I don't do rollercoasters, water slides, etc. I am not a good swimmer and am afraid of water. Going on a cruise was stepping way outside my box. Sometimes I hate myself for being such a big chicken, as it really holds me back.
DH really wanted me to go on the Aquaduck with him. I REALLY did not want to go. Don't like slides, going fast, heights... not a good thing for me to do. I had thought of this the whole cruise. He would not go alone, so I needed to gather up the bravery and do it. What was the worst that could happen?
So, we set out for deck 11. I'm praying that the line is 2 hours long. We get there and HOORAY, its closed. A beautiful little rope is saving me from certain death by waterslide!
Then a CM comes over, apologizes for being late and sends us up the stairs. DRAT!
There is like a 15 minute wait and I'm looking terrified and little kids are laughing at me and 2 dads are telling me its a piece of cake, I will love it. My legs are shaking. I'm convinced I will fall out of the raft or it will just STOP and I'll be trapped. The lady in the boat is giving us instructions for what to do if it stops, and I'm really panicking!
But then whoosh, we are OFF!
And dangit, it was SO MUCH FUN !! It was high, but you can't tell inside. It looks like it goes fast, it does not.
And the funnniest thing--the musical horn blast sounded JUST as we went through the far funnel! WHat timing!
So, sometimes its good to step out of your box...
I wanted to go again but the wait was 30 mins now. we had to get in the jacuzzi, shower, pack some, go to the show, get ready for dress up nite at dinner, etc.
I highly reccomend sitting in the jacuzzi as you leave CC--it was heavenly to sit in the warm water and watch the ocean go by.
Then we went down to room and got ready to go to BELIEVE. We snapped a pic of Sri first:
BELIEVE was the best show and the only one that didn't seem too long.
Afterwards we finished packing anything we would not need the next day and put or suitcases in the hall.
We headed to dinner and WOW--the Atrium area was crazy. We stopped at shutters to buy our pictures. We only had 4 in the folder which saved me a bundle. I hate that they are 8x10s . On our 7 day we will get the CD and make sure we get lots of posed shots.
Dinner was Royal Palace and the food was excellent. I had an iced loster appetizer I think, and french onion soup (nothing different than the onion soup at Applebees, it was the only thing we ate that was just okay), and my entree was the beef tenderloin and lobster medallions. YUM!! For dessert we got the sampler. I had never had creme brulee before and its something I did not need to know about it. It was soo good!
It was time to say goodbye to our servers. They were fun, we tipped them well.
Alex was sweet, but has a lot to learn...
Our tablemates Dave and Lisa:
We had planned to go to the 80's music challenege but I also wanted to re-book. So we shopped a little and then waited at the rebooking desk. We booked a random date on the Fantasy 7 night western. How we will pay for it for my family of 5, I'm not sure...lol!
By now the Atrium was empty and I was FINALLY able to get our staircase photo.
Then we headed back to bed. This night the seas and wind really had our room rocking. I was glad I took meclizine at dinner. Next time I will get a patch, but the motion was just annoying...
This night we ordered room service as I just had to have a micky bar:
Day 4 departure
Thank goodness for late seating! We were able to sleep a little, pack everything into the carry ons, and then head down to Royal Palace. we had a great breakfast. The eggs here were actually cookied (but still egg beaters).
Disembark was quick. Scan your card, gather your luggage, ask for the form, glance at our passports... easy peasy!
Then we went outside to wait for our ride. He came a little late as he did not get my text from the Royal Palace. Oops!
So sad to have it end so soon!
We stopped at another friends place near olrlando for a quick hi and then heded home (about 4 hour drive from MCO).
A few thoughts in next post!
We were on this cruise too, it was a lot of fun, we were with the group of 99 people on the "Sailabration". Where is Customs in Nassau? We too wanted to get the passports stamped, but forget, however, cruising again in April.
Cool! We saw the Sailabration signs and shirts and thought it was cute. What was the occasion? we tried to get friends to join us but it was just too last minute that we booked and one friend already has a 7 day Eastern booked in September and couldn't swing the 2, even with the florida resident rate.
Customs in Nassau--we asked at the info desk inside Festival Place. basically you cut through that building and once in the back turn left. There is a little shack with an army guy, and he will check your passport and walk you accross the street to customs. We went in and then down the hall and a lady in an office stamped them for us. It took like 2 seconds. No charge, and we didnt tip! lol!
Walking back the guard checked us again and let us through.
If you can't remember all this just ask at the info desk. It was very close and pretty easy and they didnt think it was weird I was asking at all. The ladies in there were very nice.
A few general thoughts
There is lots of talk about how bad 3 night cruises are, and I wanted to add my thoughts here.
Keeping in mind:
1. We were first time cruisers
2. We were travelling without our children
3. We had no plans to do it all, we looked at it more as a "preview"
4. I have some anxiety and I wanted to "test the waters" rather than get stuck on a 7 nighter freaking out in my stateroom with my life vest on.
3 Night Cruises
They are too short to do it all. Lots of people trying to do it all. Its like going to MK with a one day ticket. You may get to most everything, but in the end you are miserable, your kids are screaming, and you leave thinking "never again". If you bring kids and want to relax, take a longer cruise.
It's amazingly beautiful. It feels less like a cruise ship and more like an ocean liner. As I stook at the rail on deck 4 I thought "this must be what it was like to sail on the Titanic". It just feels Luxurious.
Its CLEAN. It looks brand new. The bathroom floor is white tile making it look like it just came off the assembly. Everywhere we looked, someone was cleaning, polishing, vaccuming. Oddly, I never heard a vacuum.
Maybe I am not picky, but I loved the food. We liked everything we ate. I ate things I had never tried before, like Lamb and Cous Cous. I've never had Creme Brulee because I would hate to order it and not like it but have to pay for it. On the Dream, it didnt matter if I didn't like it. (but YUM).
The Ice Cream we hear so much negative about was really good. The hand scooped stuff tasted like Edy's, and the soft serve was like a wendy's frostee. We really liked it. The banana flavor was really really good.
It would be nice if Cabanas was a buffet all day and night, but we never needed it at night so no matter.
This is also a hot topic on this board and I'm sure I'll be flamed for saying this--Wear what you would normally wear to dinner at any family restaurant. There was such a vast spectrum of clothing choices from the biker wear look to the ball gown, every night. Ya know what, no one really cares what you are wearing. Use your brains, keep your private parts and chest hair under cover, and no one will care. Pirate nite, all bets were off--there were kids in costumes, adults in costumes and many MANY sexy pirates showing a LOT.
I let myself get really wigged out by the attire police. There was no way I could have dressed innapropriately. At Palo, sure, dress up. But for Animators Palate, which was louder than T-rex and much like a DTD restaurant, dress accordingly unless it is formal nite.
I really didn't notice what people were wearing except for a few I saw very overdressed and a few teens in flip flops. And I was really looking to see what the "typical" was. It's disney folks, its not first class dining on Titanic. Period. Should you wear shorts? I have shorts that are much nicer than some of the jeans I saw, and many shorts longer than some of the cocktail dresses. Sandals that look like flip flops but no flip flops? No shorts allowed but micro minis are? Yeah, that makes no sense to me either. I overpacked by packing separate clothes for dinner and won't make that mistake again.
There were a lot of kids on the cruise--I think Leslie the cruise director said 1400 kids? They were running amok often and I think the only way this will change is for disney to set curfews or age limits on being unsupervised. Perhaps require kids to be accompanied by an adult after 8pm or some such. Not that hard, and it would go a long way toward making passengers happy.
While the main pool area was loud just a few feet away in quiet cove it was not. So it is possible to escape the little ones.
Late dining also had fewer kids --we were sat in areas with only adults but am guessing there is less of that kinda space in early dining.
I just didnt get why this was such a long drawn out thing. Have the party, shoot the fireworks as the grand finale. This could be 30 minutes tops. Those little ones need to get to bed!
Go even if it is overcast. It was still nice, cool enough to ride bikes, water was not too cold.
Cubbies to keep bags and stuff in by the bike rentals would be nice. One giant bin was piled high.
There is food at Serenity Bay. we had no idea--its not listed as such anywhere. On the map it sounds like a covered place to eat, but not a place to GET food. All they talk about is cookies and cookies too.
A Few Tips
Unless you have a lot of things that need charging, you won't need the power strip. We brought one and never used it.
We used a CVS Card in the power slot to make it easier than digging the KTTW cards out every time. Any card with a magnetic strip should work.
Take your photo in a porthole window seat. I forgot and am bummed about that!
The Ipod charger will charge an ipod, but not an Iphone. At least not my Verizon Iphone 4. Bring your plug in charger.
Use the aft elevators to get to Cabanas. Less crowded and you can avoid the highly congested pool area.
If you can't find a deck chair, go up to 12--tons of them up there, or in Quiet cove upper deck, or deck 12 forward.
I'm sure I will think of more.
Oh--and I am sure someone will ask, we did rebook a dummy date, and changed it today when we learned spring break dates for our County.
We're doing the 7 night Western on the Fantasy next March!
Can't hardly wait!:woohoo:
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