!! DISNEY DREAM !! To Bahamas ^_^ The Ultimate Review and Complete Pictorial Guide
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Lets see, where do I start this time around… I have been cruising for a little over a year, this cruise kinda marks the 1 year anniversary since we started cruising. We have been on a total of 5 cruises, the NCL Sky, Allure of the Seas, X Silhouette, NCL Breakaway and now the magnificent Disney Dream. If you are new to my reviews I invited you to check out my reviews, they are in my Blog. I have also separated all the information into sections, and it makes it easier to access.
Our quest to experience all the cruise lines, has been slightly modified. I think we are now more focused on sailing on the flagships of each company. I am fascinated by innovation and technology, and what better way to experience this than sailing in the best ships each cruise line has to offer. Of course this all comes at a high cost, since those vessels are usually priced much higher than the older ships. But we do what we can with what we have, so its all good :).
This time around we traveled with my friend Sarah, I also asked my boy friend to come with us but he decided not to go since Disney is not really his thing. Of course a few days before the cruise he kept giving me a guilt trip, but it was to late to anything about it :-/. So anyway, it was my mom, Sarah and myself in this trip. This cruise was booked about 2 weeks before sailing, due to several complications I had to cancel my Breeze cruise, and I was lucky enough to be able to fit this cruise during that week and have my mother come with us. I really think that a Gambee cruise is a not a real cruise unless my mom comes with, so I was very excited that all the dates lined up together to make this possible.
Something really neat is that all 3 of us are die hard Disney fans, and this is something that we all had on our plans for a long time. Mom and I thought that a Disney cruise would not be possible until 2014 or even later. So you can only imagine the level of excitement that we all had when I finally pressed the "Book now" button and we realized the cruise was really going to happen! The only drawback of the cruise is that it was only going to be a 3 day cruise, as this was the only time that I managed to get off from work. But that really did not matter to us, just the fact that we were able to go on a Disney cruise was an incredible opportunity, almost like a "Dream" I know, I know corny :o. I just had to keep in mind that in order to document the entire ship, I had to stay moving at all times.
So anyway lets get this party started!!!
We were very fortunate that Disney was holding a very short sale for Florida Residents, and that is pretty much the reason why we decided to finally book this cruise. The sale was a rather odd one, for slightly less (about 2%) of the cost of an interior cabin, you could get any category balcony cabin that your heart desired. I say odd, because from my experience they usually offer sales on all of the cabin categories, in some cases dropping the inside rooms by up to 40%. My guess is that they were having trouble selling a few of the balcony cabins and that is why they offered it. Anyway, lets keep on going, so it was a good sale. I mean we would still have to pay Disney prices, but we would have a much better room enjoy ourself in.
If you already read my Breakaway cruise review, you know by now how much I love AFT balconies. They offer so much more space than the average balcony cabin does (on some ships), and the views are fantastic! So as you can imagine, my first question to Sarah (she was doing the research while I was at work) was if the aft cabins where available with the offer. And surprisingly they where, that got me even more excited. Later on I discovered that just like the Breakaway the Disney Dream cabins also had large extended balconies.
So here is where I kinda messed up... All I have to say is, do your research! I did some research before setting down foot on the cabin, but maybe it was just not enough. Now don't get me wrong it is a great cabin, with one of the largest balconies on the ship (other than suites). The problem you ask? I ended up booking the infamous flag pole room, cabin number 6192.
To clarify it is not all that bad of a room, and in reality I could of changed the room if I really wanted to. But ultimately decided not to do it. Most of the reviews I read have very little to complain about the pole, and since they only raise the flag on port then it was not much of a problem. I guess in a way the benefits outweighed the negatives, the balcony was so big that it was hard to justify a room change. And since it was going to be 3 of us in the room, the extra space was an added bonus to spread around.
If you think about it we were very fortunate to have this room, specially considering that we booked just few weeks ahead of time, and even more with the rate that we paid for it. Overall we were very happy to have that room!
Planning & Details
First I will go over a few points that are different about Disney.
So given those details I will go over our a planning mentality for this cruise. With this cruise there was very little planning involved. For those who know me, you're aware that I like trying different specialty dinning venues. But with the disney cruise we decided not to, we wanted to try all 3 MDRs and we only had 3 dinners aboard this ship. For those intreated in more, aboard the Dream there are 2 specialty dinning venues, Palo $20 (Italian) and Remy $75(french).
As far as port planning we really did not have much planned. The main idea behind this cruise was to spend as much time getting the Disney experience as possible. We had already been to Nassau, and had no major plans on anything to do there. As for Castaway cay, we wanted to see how different it was from the other cruise line own private islands. Plus maybe get some snorkeling done :D. But I really had no plans on any other than a lazy beach day.
Since we live in Ft. Lauderdale, it was just about a 3 hr drive to Port Canaveral. I also made reservations in Park N' Cruise to park our car for $8.00 a day instead of the $20 if you park in the terminal itself.
Other than there was not much in the way of planning, it was going to be a quick getaway and a chance to sail on Disney Cruise line.
I am a proud owner of one of the Sony NEX systems, more precisely the Sony NEX-F3. This camera is possibly the most affordable camera on the NEX lineup, yet she still has the same sensor as some of its more expensive siblings (the NEX-F3 is being replaced by Sony with the new NEX-3N, although most reviews claim that the F3 is a better performer). What makes this system so great is that she delivers quality pictures while still being such a compact size. I cannot say enough good things about this camera. This is possibly the best camera that I have ever owned and one that is very easy to travel with due to her size. I have considered upgrading to a full frame DSLR, but honestly, since I am a really easy going person, the thought of carrying a heavy camera while traveling just turns me down. I love great pictures and I won’t settle for just any system, but I have finally found a compromise in my camera’s weight, size and picture quality. This is, after all, my vacation ;-).
I also carry a few lens with me:
The Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar 24mm F1.8. What can I tell you about this lens? This is my absolute favorite piece of glass! This is my #1 lens. If I was told that I could only travel with one lens, then this would be it. If you see interior pictures, the odds are that they were taken with this lens, as it is very fast and it delivers very good pictures (even during the most unpredictable situations). Of course, all this comes at a high cost, but unfortunately that is the sad part of photography… good equipment is just not cheap.
The Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 is my only zoom lens. It is a pretty basic lens and nothing really special to write about here. As long as there is enough light it performs pretty well, however, it does tend to struggle when light becomes scarce. Hopefully, Sony will soon release a faster zoom lens, but until then I am very happy with this one!
The Rokinon 8mm F2.8 Fisheye lens is just a really fun toy to work with. This time around I really did not use this lens at all, I am not sure why. Maybe it was because I was not carrying my bag like I usually do. I am also considering selling this lens.
How does the camera perform with the provided kit lens? For those of you wondering, she does very well. She might not have the capabilities of low light that the Zeiss has, but the overall pictures are excellent. If you are thinking of buying it, I can guarantee you that you will not be disappointed with the results!
I am constantly looking for better equipment, in an effort to improve my underwater pictures I recently acquired a new rugged camera. I went for the Olympus Stylus TG-2 iHS Digital Camera, this camera is an overall excellent tough camera, with good image quality. I hold a very high standard for my pictures, and in a way I compare all my pictures to my NEX camera results. I know this is not fair as the sensor of the cameras simply don’t even compare in any possible way, but still it is just something that I do. Not only does this camera offer good picture quality, but she is also a dream to operate! Everything about it is just PERFECT! I guess you would have to play with it to really see what I am talking about. I highly recommend this camera for those days when you find yourself in a shore excursion on a boat, or snorkeling around in your favorite island. I am very happy with this upgrade, my old underwater camera was not to my standards, this one DEFINITELY pleases me. Oh I forgot the GPS in this camera is possibly the BEST one that I have ever used to date! Not to mention that it has a really fast F2.0 lens, that allows you to shoot pictures with poor lighting without a flash. If you’re looking for an all around great rugged camera that is a blast to use, this is your baby!
The New Addition
So one day in my Celebrity review someone suggested looking into the Sony DSC-RX100 20.2 MP Digital Camera this was a product I was not familiar at the time. This camera is basically Sony attempt to make the BEST point and shoot EVER! And I have to say that they pretty much accomplished it, the camera is a solid performer, and paired with a 1 inch CMOS censor she delivers some solid pictures. The main reason I bought this camera was to try to have a light camera when I don’t feel like hauling my NEX setup with me. I would like to conclude by saying that the NEX still delivers way better pictures, but the RX100 still holds her game with impressive results. One thing you should look into is the Illustration mode on the RX, it is the only camera to have this mode, and it delivers some very cool pictures. keep an eye open for them. Overall I am very excited to have bought this camera and added her to my tool kit :D.
Software & Image Hosting
For most of my picture editing I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5. Like I said, I am not a pro. I use this software for some light color correction and sharpening. It is also great at compressing 5mb files into 400kb files with minimal quality loss. The one thing that I don’t like about Lightroom is that it is not capable of doing panoramas on its own. For panoramas I use Adobe Photoshop CS6. And lastly, for collages I use Picasa, and Paintbrush for adding arrows and text to some images.
I also host my images on Facebook for those who just like browsing through pictures. Feel free to ask for a friend request and follow me on Twitter.
Day 1 Embarkation
Let me start by talking about the Navigator. I was not particularly taken by it, I found that finding activities was rather annoying with their format. By day 3 it had slightly grown on me and I have found how to navigate it a little faster. I guess then again it was not a really big for us since we really never used the navigator. Most of the activities on this ship were geared towards children and we found very few for adults. Understandable, but maybe they could use a little boost on the adult activity department. I will comment much more on this as the review goes on.
Day 1 Embarkation
So like you all know by now I have an issue dealing with anxiety and I usually get sick prior my cruises. This cruise was unfortunately not the exception, during the week before the cruise I dealt with a pretty nasty headache. Fortunately as I got closer to the cruise date it got slightly better, none the less it was a pretty stressful week. I have to learn how to deal with anxiety in a better way, it is just not good for me at all.
Our plans for that day were to wake up around 6:30 and leave around 7am, but as you can imagine I was fully awake at 4:30… Not the ideal scenario, but one that was expected from me anyway :D. I woke up and did the usual online wake up routine, in addition to that I checked on CC and noticed this beauty.
So we ended up leaving home around 7am, and after a quick stop to McDonalds we were on our way. The drive from our home is about 3 hours, but we decided to head out earlier just in case we hit traffic on the way. The drive went without anything out of the ordinary, we made good time and only stopped once to stretch our legs.
Once we got to the parking place we dropped off our car and within minutes we were aboard the shuttle on our way to Port canaveral. The parking venue was overall good and fast. The only issue I experienced with it was that we had to wait for about 40 minutes for the bus to pick us up to get the car when we got back from the cruise.
I do have to say that I really like the bay in Port Canaveral.
The Disney terminal in Port Canaveral is extremely organized, I think this is my favorite port ever. It is just a painless and very relaxing process to check in.
So right after check-in we just sat there and I took some pictures, I also took advantage and played with my new camera. My mom was as she said unimpressed with the terminal, I am not really sure why. Personally I think there was about the right amount of Disney essence, without being overwhelming. May I note that there was no line whatsoever and it was really quick. They also took the picture of all of us in the same frame and the computer split the pictures on its own, pretty neat. All this little details is what makes DCL the amazing experience that it is.
They had this really cool model of the Disney Magic (I think). On one side of the model it was just like a normal ship, and they used that side to take pictures with both Mickey and Minnie Mouse. The really cool think about this model was the other side, they opened it up and showed you the view of the model inside. It was really really AWESOME!!! I am actually just now starting to look at the model in the pictures, everything happened so fast on that day.
You can see Mickey there on the other side.
Soon enough the terminal started to get really busy, I noticed that there were not enough chairs for everyone. I think we had boarding number 15, I am not sure how they give them out but I thought we would get an earlier number considering that we there so early. I forgot to mention that when I booked the earliest boarding time available was 12-12:30 and I was a bit worried that they were going to make us wait for that time slot. Fortunately that was not an issue.
We just waited there and relaxed for a little while we had a nice little place on a curved sofa and we all had a seat.
At one point in time my mom noticed that they had a ship viewing area and we headed to the area to get some pictures of the ship. This area is also were you can go and smoke. Disney ships are just so good looking, I was told that the Disney fans call them Classic Disney ships. I am not sure about that, but I know for a fact that they are now some of my favorite looking ships along with the s-class ships from Celebrity.
So they started calling the boarding process at around 11:20 and we were on our way into the ship at around 11:40. Not bad at all.
There was a slow wait for the pictures to be taken so we just went around and skipped the entrance picture. Sarah said that picture was the one that they use for facial recognition for the rest of the pictures. But I think that they use the one that they take for your key card, who knows… The funny thing is that I actually purchased a picture in this cruise…. I know right? Did Gambee go crazy? no, not really. It was my mom, she wanted the Aquaduck picture, there is no way that I could of taken that picture, lol.
Walking into a Disney ship is unlike anything else I have experienced. As you walk into the ship a cast member asks for your family last name. Then they call out your name saying "Please welcome the Blah Blah Blah Family" this goes on all day in the Atrium, let it be said that by sailing time all the guest are sick and tired of hearing that, lol. Well I can not speak for all the guests but that was my case. In any case it make for a very special way to board the ship.
For some reason I said my moms last name and not mine or Sarahs last name, don't ask me why. I guess they caught me off guard, for some reason I thought that they made swipe your card and called that name. After we boarded, my cynical side started thinking what if prankster decided to say a last name of an infamous dead dictator or something for that manner. Please don't judge me, like I said it was just my cynical side thinking for uncalled situations :D, lol. Anyway you would never catch me doing such thing, but I was wondering if anyone has ever done such thing, and what the cast members are directed to do on those situations.
Anyway so once they call your family name there are cast members on both sides and they clap as you walk in. Right then someone approaches you and welcomes you in and gives you information on what is opened and where you can eat lunch. Just avery nice touch for them to do, these are little things that make Disney such a different experience than any other cruise line.
Here is a short video of people walking into the Dream. Remember Just click of the small picture.
So here is what you will see once you go in.
So we decided to head over to the Buffet (Cabannas) for lunch, I had heard so much about this buffet and we were all dying to try it. I took a few pictures on the way up there. Disney ships are incredible inside, they are just stunning while not over doing the Disney theme. There are so many hidden touches around the ship and it is so much fun to see all the little details.
This is the adult pool.
The Jacuzzis are just awesome!! They have a glass wall and bottom, making the experience a truly unique one. I just wish that they had an additional 2 tubs on the other side. They are also kept impeccable at all times!
How cute is this? They had the ice cream place open most of the cruise, maybe that is why I gain 3 pounds on this cruise. I think this is first cruise were I actually gain weight, I have to keep an eye on it before it becomes a real problem.
The main pool area.
Funnel vision and the aqua duck!
The small children area, that stingray is a water slide. Soooooo cute!
Hi Gambee! I'm a fan! lol jk I've read your whole trip report on your blog as someone in DIS shared how awesome your cruise reviews Were and provided us with a link. I've also seen the videos on YouTube! Hoping to read more and thanks for sharing!
I'm looking forward to hearing all about your trip.
Glad that you are sharing your review here. We never cruised RCCL, and was wondering how their buffet compared to Disney? We actually preferred the buffet food vs the MDR food. Did you find the buffet area more busy with Allure?
Already read your review and loved it, I kept on going back and refreshing the page several times a day, but never commented, so I'm glad you made your way here.
Then we went into the buffet, I have to say that Disney has by far the best buffet that I have ever seen on ship. Not only they have a much better selection, but everything is rotated often and kept fresh and warm. The venue is also very cute, and it follows along with a finding Nemo theme, very cool. Finding a seat was not really challenging once we found out that there was no one the other side of the Buffet. And please don't forget there there is an unlimited supply of sodas, for us sodaholics. Service never lacks, there are servers everywhere and they remove your plates promptly after you're finished. My guess is that they want you to clear the table fast for the next family coming in, but we never felt pressured. It is small details like the ones experienced in this buffet that make the Disney experience a very remarkable one.
I did not get pictures of it, but they also offered veal chops, cut fresh for you.
Sarah said that their Macarone and cheese is famous.
Ohhhh the memories, such great food.
They decorate the polls with a palm tree.
Of course it did not take long for mom to drop a crab craw, and for me to cut my finger cracking another claw. But no worries after cleaning myself and covering it up I was ready for the next challenge :D. It was just a small cut, but a little deep. I hate how scandalous blood is. I took the picture of the cut, but ultimately decided not to post it, thought it might be a little inappropriate.
How cool that those two pictures link, that was not planned, lol.
A few more pictures while leaving the Buffet.
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