After MONTHS of reading these boards and planning our cruise I thought for sure I would write a TR. However, time is running short with school fast approaching. I do have some things I would like to share, and so here it goes. On this trip with me was my DH, DD14 (15in Nov.), DS 9, DD 6, DS4. This was our first trip on the Dream, but DH, Oldest DD, and me have sailed on the Wonder two times 6.5 years ago and it was the same itinerary as this trip.
We used private transportation since DCL charges an arm and a leg. It was great to come and go on our own time. We arrived around 12:15, and most of the crowd was gone. We hired a stretch limo and the kids were really shocked. It was a fantastic way to start our trip. We had booked connecting inside staterooms because that is what we could afford (after all we are family of six.) In the last week before we left I started to worry about the closet like feel of an inside stateroom. We decided to look into upgrade at the port, thinking it was probably a no go because we needed the connecting room. I also did not want a verandah because of my active DS4. Well we were able to upgrade to connecting large porthole ocean view family room on deck 7 at port for much less than what we would have had to pay in advance. So my advice is book what you can afford and what you will be comfortable with, then see if you can upgrade at the port. It's not always an option, and some upgrades can be costly.
We loved Palo brunch. The price was right. The food very good, and the service wonderful. I was not willing to spend the money on Remy. Palo offered a nice break from the kids, and a great way to spend our morning at sea. Maybe on a longer trip I would be more willing to go to Remy.
Loved the Skyline lounge. The Eco-tini was delicious and the bar staff very friendly.
We had the late seating for dinner since we are late eaters at home. For us it was perfect. We used the dine and play, so the kids were done by 9:15, and I just had to walk them to the front of the restaurant. Even my teenager was done by 9:30, and headed off to the teen club. So my husband and I got to enjoy dessert alone, and then after dinner would head to a lounge for a while. We would pick the kids up around 12 from the club, and had lots of alone time each evening. Of course the kids thought they were very cool staying out so late at the club.
The shows...I saw them all. The pirate one is very corny and was much better on the Wonder, but I wasn't going to miss the fireworks. We went up at 10, and found a spot to sit on the pool deck without a problem. Do not sit next to the yellow Mickey slide, as the fireworks will be blocked from view. I left my stateroom each night at 6:15 for the show, and was seated in a row maybe five from the front each night. These shows are much less crowded than the later ones.
Our wait staff was nice and attentive, but nothing magical. They did there job nicely, and were kind. I was a little jealous of the tables that had servers doing magic tricks or telling funny stories. My kids are pretty social, and would have really enjoyed that type of server. Our stateroom attendant was also very good. She would make very elaborate animals for the kids, and made sure each room had a different one. On our first night she asked how I wanted the rooms set up. I told her one for kids with one for adults. When we came back it was set perfectly.
Warning children can only get off the boat if they are registered to your stateroom. My Dd14 was registered to my room, and DH, DD14, and DS9 went to the Atlantis for the day in Nassau. DH could not take DD off the ship because she was not registered to his stateroom, even though our reservations were linked. i had to go and say it was ok. They came back at 3 not impressed, and said it was nice, but not worth the money, and would not do it again. I stayed on the boat at Nassau. I took the younger two kids to character greetings then to club.
Prior to leaving I had booked a hot stone massage for the day in Nassau for 11am. After reading the Navigator for that day the night before, I saw that the special in the spa was a Pamper Yourself special. A Swedish massage, a facial, and a scalp massage for less than my hot stone. I called the spa first thing in the morning and switched my treatment to the special, but got to keep my time slot. So my advice here is to book a treatment and a time that you would like, then look at the Navigator to see if one of the specials might work out better.
The Aquaduck is great fun, but oh the lines. We found that the best time to ride the Aquaduck started at 5pm. The first day my DH and DS waited 55 minutes at 4 pm. The third day I was determined to ride it. I went up around 4:45 when we returned from Castaway Cay. I waited 20 min. On our fourth day, the day at sea, DH and DS waited 30 min. I got on line at 4:45, came down in 15, after that we were walking right back on with maybe five people ahead of us. I left the pool at 6:15 to see Believe. DS went on the Aquaduck 10 times before he came to get dressed for dinner. So next trip we are not even trying the Aquaduck until the first dinner seating clears out the pool area. Such a difference.
Speaking of the pool area, it is INSANE. The Mickey pool and Nemo splash were great, but the Donald pool drove me crazy. I am not a nervous nelly by any means, but boy did that pool worry me. It is 5' 3" deep in the whole pool. Which is over my head and my kids. I even made my DD6, who is on our swim team wear a life jacket when in that pool. On top of the overall depth, the kids were jumping with out looking to see if anyone was in the way. Parents were no where to be seen. Kids were jumping too close to the edge of the pool, and once I actually thought a kid was going to hit his head on the wall. The pool area is VERY crowded. I did my best to avoid it until it started to clear out. There are plenty of other things to do to stay busy until the pool area is quieter and safer.
My children all enjoyed the kids clubs/ teen club. The wave phones were a big help. My DH, Dd14, and I each carried one around. Make sure you charge them as the battery drains quickly. We all turned our cell phones of and held them in the safe. It was soooo nice to have my family "unplugged" for four days.
I brought sharpies and two picture mats to be signed. They turned out awesome. I purchased a photo of all of the kids with sailor Mickey for shutters, and put it in the frame with the mat. The only other picture I purchased from shutters was a formal picture of the kids. All of the rest I had copies on my own camera.
When we got of the ship I asked the kids what the best thing they ate was and they all loved the chicken fingers, but the strawberry and banana twist ice cream was a close second. I then asked what their favorite part of the cruise was. DD14 said parasailing on castaway cay, DS9 loved Goofy Sports deck and any games played on the magic play floor of the lab. DD6 and DS4 said the last day at the club was the best. The Midship Detective agency was a big hit as well.
There is no need for shoe holders or extra outlet cords because there is ample storage and plugs. Myself and my DDs wore summer dresses to dinner each night. The boys all wore nice shorts and a polo shirt. We seemed to be dressed as the majority of people were dressed. To our Palo brunch I wore the same dress I wore to dinner that night an DH wore dockers with a button down short sleeve shirt no jacket or tie.
I used Barb on the DCL thread to design my magnets and they came out great. The kids really got a kick out of them. It also helped the kids recognize our stateroom door during the trip. I also made tshirts for one of our park days from one of Barbs designs.
Ok I think I covered it all. If not please feel free to ask a question. We rebooked a dummy cruise since we are looking to sail with DCL again in 2015. It was a great trip.
I forgot to mention that we did not rush off the ship at Castaway Cay. We got off at 10:45, brought my Dd to her parasailing, and headed to the family beach. Take the tram if it is there because its a very far walk. We found plenty of chairs under a nice shade palm tree right past cookies, across from the rope climb thing in the water. We stayed until last call. I got my conch coolers at 2 for 1. It's my favorite day of the trip.
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Thank you for taking the time to post this......some very helpful tips there for first timers like us :-)
Glad you all had a great time!! Shame your family didn't enjoy Atlantis too much. CC sounds devine lol
Agree with you regarding AquaDuck....if you have late seating just wait till about 5pm...and you have the ride almost to yourselves, same with the pools....
Family pool and hot tubs empty....
I also hear at night is a great time with the lights....going to try that next summer.
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