The Prebiltastics take on the ocean! June 16-20, 2013 Dream Cruise
Welcome to my first DIS trip report! I am so excited to share the story of our fantastic first ever Disney cruise… what a vacation!! It was beyond amazing and we had a fantastic time! I always write up a post trip report but decided I would share this time around as I so appreciated reading the reports here before our trip!
Who: Me,Tracy- Disney lover and planner who loves everything and anything Disney. DH, Adam- is learning to put up with Disney for my sake. Once every 3-4 years is enough of a park vacation for him, but he was up for trying a cruise. DD11, Maya- Disney lover like her mama, she could go to Disney every other week if you let her. DS8, Tristan, my high maintenance child, who loves roller coasters and rides and games, but is looking forward to seeing what a cruise is all about. DS5, Josiah, also a thrill ride lover, but adores all the characters and so excited. DD2, Tessa, our very attached toddler who has a recent fascination with all things princess.
When: June 14-20, 2013
Where: We drove from Iowa to Chicago and flew into Orlando. We spent one night with my cousin who lives in the Orlando area, one night in Melbourne, and then 4 nights onboard the beautiful and amazing Disney Dream.
How this trip came to be: We just had a week-long vacation to WDW last October. I had figured it would be some time before we were able to make it back. In December I had a nice surprise of getting a big check for money that was back owed to me from when I was a resident. We debated a very short time with what to do with this money… be practical or pretend it never came and sock it into a wonderful vacation. I have ALWAYS dreamed of doing a Disney cruise but did not figure there was any way we could afford it. Well suddenly we had this unexpected money which was enough to cover a whole trip!
We contacted a wonderful lady I had met through my October DIS group who is a travel agent. Having never cruised I knew we would need some help in what to book and any advice possible. Katrina had great advice on what rooms to book, and in less than 24 hours we were booked for June 2013! We had initially planned to just book inside cabins to keep cost down, but we wouldn’t have been able to choose our rooms which was important since we didn’t want to be on two totally different decks. So we ended up booking two Cat 9B rooms, midship, deck two.
Over the months that followed I did lots of research on cruises and arranged for rental car, accommodations before, and some special things we could do on the ship. I enjoy planning almost as much as the vacation! I read all I could about it, and joined my cruise meet thread on the DIS board. I even ended up being in charge of the fish extender exchange on board! We anxiously awaited the day to arrive!
Friday June 14, 2013:
Friday morning we were up early. For once everyone was up without any complaining, and after donuts for breakfast and dropping our dog at the doggie hotel, we were off and on our way. I had booked air tickets back in Dec and the rates out of Chicago Midway on air tran were about 200 dollars less than anything else I could find closer to us. With that big of a price difference we felt driving was most certainly worth it. The drive was smooth. We arrived at the park and fly and they quickly had us and our luggage on board the shuttle and we were on our way to the airport. Once arriving, we curbside checked our baggage and were on our way. We had a lunch of pizza in the airport and everyone was in high spirits.
I had booked our flights on air tran. With the merger with southwest airlines in the works, we had notice two months before we left that one leg of our journey out had been changed to a southwest flight. I was really worried about this! I like choosing our seats and the idea of open boarding with the kids had me worried. Since I had booked on AT I was not able to add early bird check in. When I checked in at 24 hrs, we got boarding numbers B17- B22. Fortunately during boarding they called for any families with kids 4 and under to board after the A group. We were all able to board and there were about 6 open rows in the back of the plane. So yeah, we all got to sit together. And as an added bonus we got bags free BOTH legs of the journey!
It was nap time and Tessa just wanted to be held so it was not a pleasant flight… she cried at least half of it. So sorry to our fellow passengers!! I was so glad when we landed. We had less than an hour in the airport in St Louis and fortunately she fell asleep and stayed asleep when I put her in her car seat on the night flight. The last leg was smooth and easy and we arrived in Orlando around 730pm. It took quite some time to deplane, and for our luggage to come. Once it finally did it was almost 830. We had rented a minivan with Dollar and are dollar express members so we were able to go right out to the garage. It was awesome, our van was waiting for us and we were in the van and on our way within 10 min. I love the ease of dollar, this is the second time we have used them!
As we pulled out of the airport I called my cousin. He and his family live about 40 min from the airport and had invited us to stay the night with them. We hadn’t eaten yet so we had a quick dinner at chick-fil-a and then headed to their house. We didn’t get there until 10pm, but it was wonderful to see him, his wife, and their three kids who I had never met. What a wonderful family! We talked about an hour and then turned in for the night!
Saturday June 15, 2013:
I didn’t sleep well, I think due to excitement, a strange house and sleeping on a not very comfortable pull out bed. It was overcast and warm but a nice day. We all headed down to the lake area in their subdivision and the kids had fun jumping and swimming in the lake.
After the lake we headed back and the kids spent a little time in their pool as well.
After lunch and the kids had more time to play, we packed it up and by 230 we were on the road. There was a lot of traffic getting through and around Orlando but before we knew it we had made it to the 528 expressway which would take us all the way to the ocean! We couldn’t wait! It had been a long time since I had seen the ocean and the kids either hadn’t seen it or didn’t remember it! As we came over the bridge, crossing the water, the terminal came into view and what was there, but the Fantasy, getting ready to take off for its week long voyage. What a beautiful and exciting thing for us to see!! It got us so excited that we would be checking in there to board the Dream in the morning!
I had initially booked a hotel in Cocoa Beach for Sat night to be close to the port. Well, I had had a really negative experience at a Radisson at a dance competition back in January and I ended up getting a voucher for a free night. There is a Radisson at the port but it didn’t have room big enough for us so I did some searching and found the one in Melbourne, just 25 miles down the road. It is right on the beach and I thought it might be fun for the kids to get to spend some time in the ocean. They even had family suites which had a bed, pull out and set of bunks. Its not easy finding rooms to fit the six of us without having to get two rooms. We were able to get the room for only 50 dollars for the night with my voucher. We LOVED the hotel! We checked in and headed up to the room only to find a beautiful balcony and full view of the beach and ocean! We were in heaven!!!
Saturday part two:
We quickly put on our suits and headed to the beach. The kids had a wonderful time playing in the waves and we spent a good hour plus here. The kids just loved the ocean and had a blast swimming in the waves! We could have spent all night here!
After the ocean we went up and swam in the pool and hot tub for a bit too.
After our fun time swimming, we headed out to find somewhere for supper, finally finding a cracker barrel which is one of my favorite places to eat. Yum!
When we got back, the sun was almost down and we decided to all take a nice walk on the beach in the water. What a beautiful night! What must it be like to live on the ocean and walk on it every day! We had such a great time walking in the water, picking up shells, just having a great time together. After our walk we headed back to our room, showered and turned in for the night to prepare for our busy day to be.. finally boarding the disney Dream!
Enjoying your trip report so far! :thumbsup2
Sunday June 16, 2013:
Sunday morning we got up leisurely. Maya and I were dying to get back out on that beach so she and I took another nice walk. It was so peaceful! We had breakfast of yogurt and granola bars and juice in the room. We had an 11am port arrival time, but I had read they often open the terminal around 1030. We left the wonderful Radisson at about 10am and made the drive up the coast. How exciting as we neared the port to see the beautiful Dream! What a huge and wonderful looking ship. We were in awe of how big it was! The excitement of seeing the ship for the first time is just amazing! We couldn’t wait to get on board and see all the things we had read all about.
We pulled up to the luggage drop off zone and gave our bags to the porters. We had decided to just park at the terminal instead of returning the car for ease this first cruise and this was a great decision. It seemed silly to pay to park a rental, but we had room to leave one of our suitcases and the carseats in the car which was so nice. We made our way to the terminal where we were asked our names and checked off the list. We then had a quick trip through security before going into the main terminal. This is quite the place! It was huge. Everyone was so helpful and friendly too. We saw Mickey greeting guests standing in a huge line. We were directed over to the check in lines. It looked long but it was so efficient. We had to fill out the health questions to make sure we weren’t sick and turn those in. When we got to our turn, they scanned our passports, gave us our key to the world cards, our boarding number which was 5, and talked to us about our dining rotation and what to expect. They also took a picture for facial recognition. The whole process of waiting in line and checking in couldn’t have taken much more than 10 min. It was very efficient and I was impressed. I wish I had taken pictures in the terminal but no luck because...
As we were walking away from the desk, we had the most amazing thing happen to us! This DCL CM came up to us and asked if we would like to be the family of the day!!! We said sure! We were all wearing our matching Mickey/Minnie head shirts which I think helped us stand out. It was so exciting, we felt like royalty! They walked us to our own table to sit at and the kids could color. She then took me and the boys to the front of the long line to register for the kids clubs, and they quickly were given their mickey bands. She then walked us over to where mickey was meeting and told us to hang on another minute or two because Minnie would be arriving soon and we would be the only ones to get a picture with both! The kids were so excited… we got to go right to the front of the line!
Not much longer after this, we were told it was time to board and we would be first. They walked us over to the huge mickey ears and we were announced as the family of the day and then brought onto the ship. We had our boarding photo taken first.
AS we walked into the elaborate atrium, they welcomed us by name to the ship with applause. What a cool touch!!!
Great pics! In for your TR! :)
The lobby was breathtaking… from the hugeness of it all, to the chandeliers, the grand staircase. Wow, it was lovely! We were so in awe we just didnt stop and take pictures! We didnt take nearly as many pictures as I wish we had this trip! We hopped on the elevator and rode up to Cabanas that was just opening for lunch. What a spread… they had every kind of food imaginable… sandwich bar, salad bar, seafood, carved meats, kid’s choices, fruit, desserts… about anything you could think of. We all got something a little different and much enjoyed the beautiful window seat view as we ate our lunch. Tristan especially was so excited and upon walking up to the dessert counter he promptly requested one of each! I talked him down to two things though!
Following lunch, the kids were aching to try the aquaduck. We changed into suits and they had a couple rides with dad and then another one with me. It was fun! Not quite as fast as we were expecting, but we enjoyed it. Lines were very minimal at this point. The kids also swam in the pool. It wasn’t very busy just yet, but was getting busier by the moment. I took Tessa into Nemo’s reef, the splash area but she didn’t like it much. Since she isn’t potty trained she could not go in the pools on board. She pointed at the pool but I explained she couldn’t go in and she seemed ok with it fortunately!
After about 90 min of swimming, it was 130 and we were told the rooms should be ready! We took the elevator down to deck two and found our rooms for the 4 days. 2020 and 2022. They were nice! We had a couch and bed, with plenty of storage and cabinets. We also had large porthole window the kids loved to sit in and look out. I forgot to get a picture of the kids in the rooms! Our rooms were connecting which was really nice and we only closed the door between the rooms at night. We changed out of our suits and back into clothes and decided to explore a little.
We explored decks 3, 4 and 5 mostly. The kids clubs were in open house so we headed to check them out. Wow, these are amazing places!!! The kids loved all the creative play spaces, games, music, movies and just fun things to do.
The boys were having a blast so I walked Maya up so she could see Edge, the tween club. She was really excited to have a space just for kids her age and while it was small, it had a great view! We didnt have the camera so darn it no pictures again!
After our exploring, we headed back to our rooms to see if our luggage was there and it was. We did a little unpacking until it was time to head to the mandatory muster drill. Our location was up on deck 4. Tessa had fallen asleep so I held her as we stood on deck. I couldn’t believe all the people who kept showing up late! But finally they reviewed the drill and it didn’t take very long at all.
After the drill we headed up to deck 11 to find a spot for the sail away party. We ended up on deck 12 looking down at the action from above. We grabbed a soda and had a perfect view.
Before long, the party started and there was great music, dancing and even characters that came out. Next thing we knew we realized we were moving! I hadn’t even seen us pull away! It was so exciting to be up on deck on a beautiful day with all the excitement of just setting sail and a four night cruise ahead of us! The party finally ended and they blew the horn to the tune of When you wish upon a star! It brought tears to my eyes! Finally we were underway!
Following the party we went back to our rooms. I loved that unlike the parks, it was easy to run to the room anytime you wanted. We briefly met our cabin steward Bart for the week. He was very nice and told us to let him know if there was anything we needed. We had first seating for dinner which was about a half hour away. At this point, I could really feel the movement of the ship. I had bought some seasickness meds with worries of it being too rough after reading a recent trip report (thanks tweis!!). I gave each of the kids some and took one myself. It seemed to make the kids a touch drowsy, but I was worried someone might get sick. I was glad I had taken it as it was really rocky for a bit. I have heard that that first day getting out of the Florida straits it could be very rough. And we had good weather too! Fortunately it only lasted a couple hours and it settled down. We never took any further meds after that night.
How fun to all dress up for dinner!!! I was so excited about this. We got ready and headed up to Royal Palace for our first dinner at 545pm. Royal Palace was a very fancy restaurant and the cuisine is French inspired. It was here that we met our wonderful serving team. Miguel was our server and Alit was our assistant server. We loved these guys. Each night they greeted the kids by name, and learned what drinks they wanted quickly (cherry cokes full of real cherries, more each night!!). Miguel would tease the kids and did many unbelievable magic tricks. Our boys just adored them!!! They made a mickey head out of ketchup on their plates each night and it was so cute! Tessa stills asks for mickey ketchup!
Dinner moved along at a very good pace and we were always done in about 1hr 15 min. The kids had colors and with that, the atmosphere, the food and the magic, our kids had no trouble getting through the dinner, even our two year old. I am glad we did first seating though. I ordered a green salad that was good, Belle’s French onion soup that I found just ok, and then I had a chicken breast and baked potato. This was also just ok. For dessert I had the Crème Brule which was pretty good. I can’t remember what Adam had but he loved every meal! Our kids are picky and I am not the most adventurous so he loved getting to eat all these cool things he doesnt normally get to have! The kids liked their food as well… mac and cheese, chicken tenders and pizza for the most part.
After dinner we walked around until it was time to go see the first stage show of the trip. This was called “Golden Mickeys” which was like an awards show and it had musical numbers from many of the different films. We all enjoyed it. The musical shows were top notch and even better than the shorter ones at Disney. We loved them all!!
After the show, the kids all wanted to go to the clubs. The boys spent about an hour playing and then we got a message on our wave phone that they were ready to be picked up. Maya enjoyed some time at Edge with the opening night ice breakers and games, but found it to be mostly boys her age, the girls seemed to be older. She seemed to enjoy the time she spent there, but didn’t make a friend to hang out with like she had hoped. We actually had about an hour where everyone except Tessa was off, and she had fallen asleep during the show so I carried her in my front pack. It was so peaceful to sit in a lounger and relax in one our favorite spots on deck 4 where it was seldom very busy, and wander around up on top deck too.
We finally headed back to the rooms where our room steward had turned down the beds, and set up the sofa bed and pull down bunk for the kids. He also left chocolates on the pillow! We turned in for the night, melting into the most comfortable bed ever!! There was so much going on but we were ready to get some relaxation and sleep time!
Hey Madzac, great trip so far! We must of had the same dining rotation as you-we were in Royal Palace the first night too. its hard to be home, isn't it?
Monday June 17, 2013
We all slept wonderfully in the comfy rooms. It was very quiet on deck two and I really didn’t hear much of any noise from around us, the halls or above. We heard the rare banging from above but very little noise. We really really liked deck two. We were just one floor up from where we would debark the ship when in port, and within a floor or two that was easily walkable from the theater, restaurants, shops, shutters for photos, the atrium, and the kids clubs. The only thing quite far was cabanas and the pool deck but being so low we were usually first on the elevators and we often took the stairs when going down! I would definitely book deck two again.
We were all up by 745-8am and got dressed and headed up to cabanas for breakfast. It was pretty busy but we found a nice table outside overlooking the water. We could see Nassau in the distance. The breakfast buffet here was extensive. The kids were most excited about the Krispy Kreme donuts since we no longer have a KK here and I think each had two or three every day! They had everything here… fruits, cereals, pastries of every kind, pancakes and waffles with toppings, a yogurt bar, eggs, meats… you name it! We really enjoyed it all. It was fun to sit outside and watch Nassau come into view in the distance. We could see Atlantis, and we could see the hotel and beach where we would be spending the day.
After breakfast we headed back to our rooms to get ready to head out for the day. I had debated a lot about what to do when docked in Nassau. I had originally planned to just stay on board and enjoy the less crowded ship, but since we knew Tessa couldn’t use the pools on board we thought she may want a chance to swim. We didn’t want to spend the money to go to Atlantis since two of our four were too short. I had also read about issues with very aggressive vendors which made me nervous about doing things on our own. We aren’t big shoppers either. About a month or so before we sailed, I saw some reviews about day passes you could get at area hotels. I wondered if we might regret not even getting off when we were all the way in the Bahamas, so I booked a day pass to the Grand Bahamian Hilton. For the six of us it cost 180 dollars and we got full use of their pool, beach, loungers, cabanas and 120 dollars in food vouchers. And the best part was it was walkable from the cruise port so we didn’t have to worry about a taxi. I just wasn’t sure how hard or safe it would be with the kids.
Before getting off the ship, I wanted to deliver the gifts for our fish extender exchange. Our DIS board meet group was pretty small. We were only a group of 8 families. I enjoyed getting a fish extender and thought the kids would enjoy getting little surprises and I was right. We had received several already on the first day. The kids got pirate things, stickers, bows, lotion, candy, glow things, bandanas, Disney night lights, lanyards. AS a family we got some things specific to people’s hometowns such as Texas chili mix, some magnets, barbeque sauce and we also got a couple bags, a handmade scrapbook, bottle cap magnets, a whiteboard, post it notes, many personalized for our cruise. IT was really fun to come back and see the gifts each day! For our gifts for the family gift we had made a two CD movie music tribute with 47 songs on it, glow sticks and an Iowa magnet. For the kids we had little goodie bags with a variety of things I got at the party story from pencils, lip gloss, tiaras, cars, stickers, etc. I hope everyone enjoyed their things! It was kind of fun to walk the ship and deliver the items! I would do FE again, but I would want to be in a smallish group again… not one of the big 100 cabin groups I have heard about!
After playing gift fairy, we got off the ship and walked through the terminal.
We were the only ship docked in Nassau that day so it was very quiet. We had several people ask if we needed a taxi or wanted our hair braided and we politely said no thank you. No one was aggressive or pushy at all. Everyone seemed friendly. It took a good 20 min to walk along the water and around past Senor Frogs to the entrance to the Hilton. The property here is lovely. The lobby was large and grand. The front desk clerk checked us in, gave us our bracelets and vouchers for towels and food/drinks. We headed out back and it was beautiful! The garden area was lush and tropical. There were many cabanas that were covered with mattresses on them you could lounge on, as well as other padded lounge chairs.
The pool was large and the water temp comfortable. The kids just loved it! We spent the vast majority of our time hanging out in the pool. They also had a very nice beach area. It wasn’t huge, but fine for us.
It opened into a lagoon that had a full view of the cruise port so we could see our ship docked which was quite the sight!
We had bought some cheap sand toys and played with those in the sand for quite a while which was fun. Tessa wasn’t too sure about the sand but did ok sitting on me or on a towel. The sky was overcast which helped keep it reasonably cool, and even with reapplying sunscreen every two hours we all managed to get a little red!
After some swimming time, Adam walked over to the bar area and grabbed a menu. He and I both had a sandwich which were quite good and the kids each got a plate of nachos. The kids had sodas and we each got a daiquiri. Yum! The food was good as were the drinks. The brought everything over to us on our cabana and we enjoyed a nice tropical lunch. After our meal and another drink we swam a bit more, and headed back to the ship around 3pm. IT had been a fun way to spend the day and we enjoyed ourselves. In retrospect since we ended up with a full beach day at Castaway Cay the next day, we would have been fine just staying on the ship in Nassau and that is what I would do next time. But it was an easy and relaxing way to spend the day, and the kids really loved having the pool mostly to themselves. They sell a very limited number of day passes which keeps it from being too crowded. It was really a pretty place.
Upon returning to the ship, we went promptly to deck 11 to grab an ice cream cone (yum! We had several of these a day, it was so good!) and headed back to our rooms to shower off the sand and sunscreen. Tessa was pretty wiped at this point, and I knew she needed a nap to be able to get through dinner, so I snuggled her in my arms on the bed and looked over the navigator. Adam and the boys went up to check out the arcade for a bit while we relaxed until it was time to get ready for dinner. Tonight was optional dress up night. We did dress up each night… the girls in dresses and boys in khaki pants and polos. We didn’t get more formal than that. I was kind of surprised how many people came, first seating especially, to the dining room in shorts and tanks. I guess to each their own and some don’t like to dress up but I loved doing it since I don’t get to dress up at home often. I don’t feel like Disney asks that much of people so it would have been nice if people had abided by the recommended dress codes as nice as the dining rooms were. But oh well! One of my goals this trip was to get a nice family photo. We tried this night, but unfortunately every picture had someone not looking! Some of the photographers were better than others at getting the kids looking in the right place and helping Tessa to smile.
Dinner tonight was in Animator’s Palate and I was most excited about tonight! I was looking forward to the menu here and to see the restaurant and show. The restaurant is super cool, with animation designs all over the walls. We didn’t get any pictures here as we forgot our camera tonight and I sure wish we had! The waiters were ready for us when we arrived and had the kids’ drinks out quickly. Adam and I decided to order a bottle of wine to share with dinner, which we drank over two nights. It was nice, they saved the bottle and brought it to the next night dinner. Miguel once again made his meal recommendations and most nights Adam ordered what he recommended and was very happy with them! I had the wild mushroom risotto, baked potato soup, lemon thyme chicken with sour cream mashed potatoes, and then a brownie cheesecake for dessert. Everything was just fantastic! I loved all of them, and I think this was my favorite meal of the trip. The waiter also brought a plate of the wild boar out as he said it was the only place one could order this dish. Adam loved it! I was too full to try any more! After the orders were taken, the lights dimmed a little and the show started. We were not by a screen, but weren’t too far away. Crush came around and talked to people at their tables which was cool and there were other characters that came and went on the screens. We really enjoyed it and I think this was my favorite night of the cruise!
After dinner, we wandered around the ship a bit. We explored the shops and the boys made a couple purchases. Maya was wanting to go to Edge for a session of anyone can cook. She really enjoyed that even though she was pretty full to enjoy much of the cupcake she made and decorated! We arrived outside of the entrance to the theater again just before 8pm and the doors opened right at 8. The first night the theater was full and it would have been tough to walk up and get seats later, but this night it wasn’t quite as full. We were able to sit in the center section just a few rows back which was perfect. Maya met us here and we waited for the show to start. Tonight was Villains Tonight and the boys were especially excited for this! In this show, Pain and Panic from Hercules and Hades were the “hosts” so to speak and were trying to fill the evil meter by visiting many of the notorious Disney villains. This was another great performance by Disney with tons of humor added. They had scenes with Cruella, Ursula, Maleficent, The Evil Queen, Jafar, Captain Hook and the villain from Emperor’s new groove. It was a little slower moving than the other shows but still great and oh my goodness I have never seen my boys laugh like that, they LOVED it!!!
When the show was over, the boys were wanting to try out the aquaduck at night so they went down to put on their suits and headed up to the pool deck. The girls and I did a little shopping, and then after dropping our purchases back at the room, we went to the D Lounge for the musical game show set to take place for families that night. I loved that there was so much families could do together on the ship! Family karaoke was going on so we caught the end of that which was fun. Tessa fell asleep waiting for the game to start. The boys came in just as it was starting. The game was called Mirror Mirror and two of the entertainment cast members played a husband and wife and were quite funny. We were divided into teams and we were with this family of a mom and her three grown boys and their significant others. They were HILARIOUS and so into it all… we saw them several times the rest of the cruise at various events. The magic mirror from snow white came to life and gave us instructions for several rounds, one of which was a trivia game, which our team won. The second was a complete the lyric of Disney song game, and the third was a relay type race. Maya and Tristan got to be our team’s reps for the relay and did great! Dopey from snow white was there and super cute as well. We had a fantastic time! I just wish Adam had remembered the camera for this event!
Following the show, we went back up on deck 11 and grabbed another ice cream before making our way down to our rooms to turn in for the night after another fun and busy day! Once again it was after 11pm! We found a cute towel elephant in our room and a towel monkey hanging from a hanger in the boys’ room as well as chocolates once more on our pillow! I could get used to this!
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