Living the Suite Life on the Dream ~ Sept. 1-5, 2013
DH and I returned yesterday from the 9/1 four-night sailing on the Dream. We booked this cruise in early January, after considering and discarding many, many ideas for a trip to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. DCL offered a deal that we just couldn't pass up with the DRM promotion for sailings in late August and September. The promotion included special pricing for a category 7A room ($599 each for the two of us) and a $100 OBC. None of the Caribbean resorts we had considered could touch that price.
We've been on two cruises with our 10yo DD (a 4-night on the Dream and a 7-night Eastern on the Fantasy), and this trip was different in every possible way. To illustrate this point:
Number of dinners in MDRs: 0
Number of shows attended: 0
Number of trips to Oceaneer Lab: 0
Number of minutes at Donald Pool: 0
Number of character lines waited in: 0
Number of meals at Palo & Remy: 4
Number of minutes lounging in various lounge chairs: Too many to count
Here we are with DD on the Fantasy this past March:
Me, Lisa; DH, Ben; and DD, Kendall (9 at the time)
I'll be writing this trip report gradually over the next few days or so. Hot topics that will be covered include:
-Booking a room at the Hyatt MCO
-Pre-purchasing day passes to and using the Rainforest Room
-Upgrading at Port
-Signing up for tastings
-Booking a room at the Comfort Suites (CS) in Paradise Island for access to Atlantis
-Getting from the pier to CS, from CS to Atlantis, and finding your way around Atlantis
-Visiting Serenity Bay at Castaway Cay
-Getting the most out of Concierge
-Tipping the Concierge staff
-Booking a dummy cruise while onboard
-Eating at Palo and Remy
-Celebrating a special occasion onboard
Magnet created by goeva of Eva's Cruise Designs
Installment 1 coming soon...
I'm excited to read your report especially since you upgraded to a T at port. I hope you and your DH had a wonderful time. Isn't it great being able to relax by the adult pool and just doing what you want when you want?? We loved it but of course we also love our family cruises BUT it was nice. ;)
Hi Lisa! :wave:
I can't wait to read about your adventures and I'm so excited you upgraded to a T! We considered asking since we were among the first there (I wonder if we were on the first bus together?) but we decided not to since we knew we wouldn't be in the cabin too much. I can't wait to hear how much it was since as you know I booked under the same 7A GTY rate.
Looking forward to it! :cool1:
Congrats on your upgrade! I can't wait to read your trip report. I have a 00T booked for May 2014, so I can't wait to hear about your experience and pick up a few pointers from you.
Saturday, 8/31: Pre-Cruise Day
After eight months of planning and waiting, the day had finally arrived! We dropped our 10 year old DD and our dog off at my in-laws’ house and headed to the airport. We had originally planned to fly in the day of the cruise, like we had for our previous two Disney cruises. US Airways forced us to change our plans in early June, though, when they cancelled our 8:43 a.m. flight and put us on the next flight… departing Washington, DC just before noon. We ended up switching to an early evening flight the day before embarkation, and the change of plans turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The next thing we had to do was figure out where to stay and how to get to port. After going back and forth about the advantages and disadvantages of staying at/near the airport vs. staying near the port, we decided to stay at the Hyatt MCO and take DCL transportation. I had read here on the Dis that passengers on the first bus from MCO are generally the first people to get into the terminal. That was important because, by this time, we had decided that we were going to try to upgrade to Concierge at port.
Next step: Figuring out how to get a good deal at the Hyatt. After checking rates via the Hyatt web site, I looked into joining the Last Minute Travel Club (LMT). I found a code online that allowed me to join for free (see below). Their price for one night at the Hyatt MCO was $125.96. I went ahead and booked, but had second thoughts later because of the following wording in the Remarks section of the confirmation e-mail:
Please note that while your booking has been confirmed and is guaranteed, the rooming list with your name may not be adjusted in the hotel’s reservation system until closer to arrival.
Even though others on the Disboards have used LMT without issues, I was just not 100% comfortable. I then decided to go the Stay Certificate route. I called the Hyatt directly to see whether they could take a certificate reservation for the night of 8/31. They said that they could and confirmed that they would accept Choice level or above (this has since changed, apparently). I asked if I could go ahead with the reservation and then call back with the certificate number once I had received it and was told that wasn’t necessary – that I should just plan to present the certificate at check-in. The Choice level Stay Certificate cost $152.22 and covered the room and all taxes and fees. It has been reported recently that the Hyatt is now accepting only Premier level certificates and above. A Premier certificate costs $188.89, so using a Stay Certificate may not be the best choice going forward.
For anyone interested in learning more about Stay Certificates, here is the link:
For anyone interested in booking through LMT, here is the info you’ll need:
• Go to www.LMTClub.com
• Click on “Become a Member.”
• Enter an email and password you wish to use for your membership login, and continue.
• Under “Promo Code” enter MAYNOJ, hit apply and finish registering for free.
Our flight arrived at MCO at about 8:00 p.m. We got our luggage from baggage claim and were happy that we didn’t have far to go. We walked through the terminal to the Hyatt and were able to check in with no wait. I presented our Stay Certificate and let the person checking us in know that we would be on a Disney cruise the next day and wanted them to handle our bags. I was given a letter explaining the process and a brief form to complete and hand to the CM at the DCL transportation desk.
After checking in and dropping our bags off in the room, we decided to eat at McCoy’s, which is on the same level as the front desk. It was a little on the pricey side, but the food was very good and the location couldn’t have been more convenient! We were back in the room by around 9:30 and decided to turn in early.
Next up: Getting to port and embarkation.
Sunday, 9/1: Transportation to Port & Embarkation
Getting to Port
We had asked for a 7:00 a.m. wake-up call when we checked in, but for some reason (keying error?) the call came at 4:00 a.m. DH and I both sat bolt upright in bed and stared at each other in confusion. At that point DH set the alarm on his watch and we attempted to go back to sleep (he had more luck with that than I did). We had put in an order for breakfast from room service, and it was delivered at about 7:30. It was on the expensive side and we both thought the food was just okay. Lesson learned: we will grab something in the terminal next time. We left our room at about 8:25 to head downstairs to the DCL transportation area. I knew we wouldn't be the only ones there, but I was surprised to see about 25 people in the seating area near the DCL desk. A couple of CMs came out and started getting things set up at around 8:40. Within a few minutes, a line had formed. By 8:50 we had checked in for the bus and moved to the waiting area. We boarded the first bus at 9:00 and pulled out by 9:05. The bus arrived at the DCL terminal at PC at 9:50, but we had to wait on the bus until about 10:10 because they were not ready for us in the terminal.
Checking in at the Terminal
The passengers on our bus were the first to enter the terminal. When we arrived, there was a handful of people milling around outside. I'm guessing that they were let in right after us, but I'm not positive. [ETA: I have since learned that those who took private transportation were not allowed into the terminal until 10:30.] We had no wait to check in. It only took a few minutes and then we headed down to the supervisor's desk, which is at the far right if you're facing the check-in area. We were the first ones there at 10:20. We wanted to upgrade to Concierge, so we asked about the prices for categories V and T. The CM asked us for our room number, keyed it into her computer, and then pulled out the infamous chart. Based on what I had read here, I expected the cost of the upgrade to cat V to be about $700 and the upgrade to cat T to be about $1,500. Sure enough, the price we were quoted to upgrade to cat V was $700. I literally held my breath while the CM was telling us the price for the T. I swear, it sounded like she was speaking in slow motion! When she said it would cost $1,100, I took one look at DH and knew he was onboard.*
I may actually have jumped up and down a little at that point. I seriously felt like a kid at Christmas. We got the last cat T on deck 12. I think there were 3 available on deck 11. The CM asked for our KTTW cards and printed out new, gold cards. I was weirdly excited about those cards. She then called the concierge desk and asked someone to come over and escort us to the concierge waiting area. By this time it was about 10:40. We sat in the waiting area looking at our Day 1 Navigators until about 11:20, when we were told that we could go ahead and board.
Boarding & Concierge "Welcome Aboard" Reception
Once our names were announced and we had boarded the ship, we were grouped with the other passengers who had been waiting in the concierge area and escorted to the Concierge Lounge.
We found a table in the lounge and were immediately offered snacks and beverages. The three concierge hosts (Annie-Marie, Wensdae, and Andy) went from table to table to review itineraries and take special requests. After about 15 minutes, Annie-Marie pulled a chair up to our table. She did not have an itinerary ready for us, but after asking our last name and room number, she walked over to the desk and printed one out. She then went over it with us and asked if there was anything she could do for us. Well, since you asked:
Can you make us a Palo reservation for 7:30 tonight? Yes.
Can you sign us up for a Mixology class? Yes.
Can you add our $300 in Disney Visa rewards to our account? Yes.
Can you take care of getting this tote bag signed by all the characters? Yes.
Can we get a cabana on Castaway Cay? Yes. (I was really just curious. Although it was a bit tempting, we did not grab the cabana. The upgrade had already set us back enough!!)
Once we got all that squared away, we found the nearest restrooms, changed into our swimsuits, and headed out to the Quiet Cove pool.
*Just for reference, I had been monitoring DCL's site for months, and the prices for cat V and cat T never moved from $3,290.44 and $5,226.44, respectively. We booked a 7A under the DRM promotion for $1,304.44 plus a $100 OBC (so $1,204.44 total). Adding the cost of the upgrade, we got a cat T room for $2,304.44. We had $300 in Disney Rewards dollars, which took our cost down to just over $2,000.
Next up: The rest of Day 1
Joining in. Your cruise sounds like the pace I want for my upcoming Dream cruise for my birthday although I probably won't spring for Concierge. :)
Can't wait to hear more!
Jill in CO
I'm joining in too!!! Can't wait to hear more!!!
Sunday, 9/1, Part 2: Day 1
Day 1 Navigator
When we finished up in the Concierge Lounge, it was about noon. The weather was sunny with temps in the low to mid 80s, so we didn't waste any time changing into our swimsuits and getting poolside. There were only a handful of other people in the Quiet Cove area, and we only saw two or three in swimsuits. I can't stress this point enough: Pack your swimsuits in a carry-on! We got two lounge chairs in the sun, put our two small carry-on bags between our chairs, and sprawled out. I think we made it about 10 minutes before we had to get into the pool to cool off. For a little while we were the only two people in the pool. We enjoyed that while it lasted because we suspected that there would be lots of adults on the cruise. That turned out to be a correct assumption as the Quiet Cove pool area was PACKED for the rest of the cruise.
Our One-Bedroom Suite (Room 12020)
We had been told that our room would be ready at around 12:30, but I can't confirm that because I could not peel myself off my lounge chair to check. I finally left the pool briefly at around 1:30 to drop our bags off in the room and check it out. And to take some photos, of course.
http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b1...ps979f88af.jpg http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b1...ps2d5a8dd5.jpg http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b1...ps4ef76cc6.jpg
I knew the room would be nice and large, but it exceeded my expectations. The further I walked into the room, the more impressive it was. There was a small-ish full bath near the entry, three closets (one of which was a walk-in), a desk area, a living room with TV, a dining room, a bedroom with TV that could be closed off via 3 sliding doors, and a HUGE master bathroom. I think that bathroom is what blew me away the most. It had a very large jetted tub, a separate walk-in shower, and a double vanity with a TV built into the mirror! When I finished taking pictures, I headed back out and DH and I went to Cabanas for lunch. Then it was back to the pool for more lounging. By that time, the adult pool area was getting more crowded and more people were in swimsuits.
Muster Drill & Sail-Away
We headed to the room at about 3:30 to get changed and ready for the muster drill. Our muster station was in the Walt Disney Theater, and after being outdoors for the muster drills on our two previous cruises, we really appreciated the air conditioning! Afterward, we headed up to Currents for a quick beer and then got ready for sail-away. We had told everyone in our families exactly where we would be -- at the rail on deck 12 just forward of the first funnel -- so we wanted to make sure to be in position when we passed by Fishlips. That was a great spot to be as most people were clustered midship and aft. Sail-away was just a bit late; I think it was around 5:15 by the time the ship pulled away from the dock. The captain played all the horns as we sailed by the restaurants lining the channel. I always get such a thrill when I hear those horns! Clouds were rolling in at this point, so we decided to head to the Concierge lounge to catch the end of the first cocktail reception.
Cocktail Reception in the Concierge Lounge
The lounge hosts two cocktail receptions per day: one from 5:00-5:45 and another from 7:30-8:15. We ate at around 7:30 every night, so we always made a point to be at the first reception. There was a full bar which was tended by an awesome bartender named Tiago. DH and I each had one drink and a few yummy bites to eat in the lounge and took another drink to go. We tried to keep ourselves in check because we had Palo reservations for 7:30, but it was hard! I don't remember many people being at that first reception. The lounge got progressively more crowded each day, but there was never a time when we were unable to find a table. When the cocktail reception was over we headed back to the room where we finished our drinks on the verandah. The verandahs for most of the category T rooms on deck 12 are the same depth as regular verandahs, but twice as wide. There are a few rooms on either side of the ship further forward that have deeper verandahs due to the way the ship bumps out. The verandahs on deck 11 are a little deeper than those on deck 12, but they are mostly enclosed with glass. Our verandah was equipped with two chairs, a table, and two loungers (I was standing next to one of them when I took this photo).
Dinner at Palo
Once we finished our drinks, it was time to shower and get dressed for Palo. Unfortunately I forgot to take my camera that night, so I don't have any photos of us at dinner! We got to Palo at 7:30 and were immediately seated. Our waiter was Sasa (pronounced Sasha) from Croatia. He was amazing! We told him we were on the cruise to celebrate our anniversary and that we had another Palo dinner reservation for Tuesday night. He decided that Sunday night would be our Happy Second Honeymoon dinner and Tuesday would be our Happy Anniversary dinner. We started with an Antipasti plate that Sasa composed from a rolling cart. Delicious! Next up was the pesto marinated grilled shrimp and the grilled Portobello mushroom over polenta. We would not have chosen the Portobello appetizer if Sasa had not highly recommended it, but DH and I both loved it. We both thought the shrimp appetizer was just okay. I had the tenderloin for my entrée and DH went with the tuna. We were both very happy with our choices! For dessert, we each had a chocolate soufflé (divine) and shared the panna cotta (light and delicious). In addition to the desserts, Sasa brought us a beautifully decorated plate with Happy Second Honeymoon written in chocolate, along with several chocolate covered strawberries. We were both very, very full at the end of the meal. Before we left, Sasa assured us that he would arrange for us to be seated at one of his tables next to the windows for our dinner on Tuesday night.
We decided to stop by the concierge lounge one more time for decaf cappuccinos before heading back to the room. I've read about the espresso machine in the lounge many times here, and I honestly wondered what all the fuss was about. Let me tell you: It is everything people say it is. It makes wonderful, piping hot espresso drinks in moments, at the touch of a button. What I wouldn't give to have one of those babies at home!
Next up: Day 2 (Nassau)
Lisa, Love seeing the pictures of your Cat T room! It was nice to meet you last week in the conceirge lounge. I'm looking forward to reliving the cruise in your trip report.
Monday, 9/2: Day 2 (Nassau)
Day 2 Navigator
Pulling into Port between the Allure of the Seas and the Carnival Ecstasy
After a great night's sleep, DH and I woke up feeling energized and ready for a busy day. Closing all the doors to the bedroom had made the room nice and dark, and the bed and linens were very comfy. The only thing we didn't love was the pillows, which we both found to be too soft for our taste. Our stateroom host (Benny, who was great) encouraged us to try some different pillows via the Pillow Talk program. After checking out the list of options in our room, I went with the Beyond Perfect pillow and DH chose the Snore Reducer (or, more accurately, I chose it for him!). The Beyond Perfect pillow was much firmer, and I stayed with it for the rest of the cruise. DH wanted to try another option, but we never got around to requesting it. We had some things that needed to be dry cleaned, so before we left the room we filled out the Laundry Service form and left the laundry bag out for Benny. We sent a 2-piece suit, a men's dress shirt, 2 pairs of khaki pants, and a dress. The total cost was $29 and the items were returned to us, on hangers and looking great, on Tuesday afternoon.
After a quick breakfast at Cabanas, we disembarked and took a taxi to the Comfort Suites on Paradise Island. I had booked a room back in February when I discovered that the AAA rate for the night we needed was $143.10. With all taxes and fees, the total came to $213.62. The price for the DCL Aquaventure excursion is $169/adult. That price includes transportation and lunch. The cab ride to CS was $4/person each way, which came to $22 with tips. We ate lunch at Splashers, and that cost about $30. So our total cost was about $265, compared to $338 for the DCL excursion. Not a huge cost savings, but we liked the fact that we could just walk off the ship and grab a taxi at our leisure. We also got to Atlantis early and were in the water quickly, and that turned out to be a bigger perk than the cost savings.
Getting to Atlantis, and Getting Around Once There
We rode to Paradise Island in a van with two other couples. The driver stopped at Atlantis first, and the other two couples got out there. Then she dropped DH and I off at the Comfort Suites (pretty much right next door). There was no line at the check-in counter, and within a few minutes we had checked in and out and been given our vouchers for Atlantis. It took us about 10 minutes to walk across the street to Atlantis and through the resort to the Aquaventure check-in desk in the Royal Tower. We walked right up to the counter, exchanged our vouchers for wristbands, and were on our way. We breezed fairly quickly through the aquariums and headed out onto the grounds. We wanted to find lockers and towels, and we had to ask for directions twice before we found them. Big hint: You are looking for the Hospitality Center. No one told us that. Just follow the signs and you'll eventually get there. Lockers cost $9 for a small, $11 for a medium, and $13 for a large. A small locker was big enough for our fairly large beach bag. There was a towel hut right around the corner from the Hospitality Center. We asked for two towels each and then found some out-of-the-way lounge chairs to leave our towels and flip flops on. In retrospect, we probably could have left our flip flops in the locker because the ground wasn't so hot that we needed to wear them.
Here is a link to a helpful pocket guide that includes a map of the property. They hand these out at the resort as well.
The weather in the morning had been mostly sunny, but as the day wore on, more and more clouds began to roll in... and they were getting progressively darker. DH and I had been in the water and on the rides for about two hours when it started to thunder. After about 15 minutes of intermittent thunder, everyone was told to get out of the water. It was lunch time, so DH and I decided we might as well eat. We headed over to Splashers Snacks, which is right next to the Splashers Kids Pool. They have meal deals that cost between $8 and $11 and include a sandwich, fries and a drink. With tax, our meal came to around $30. Expensive for what it was, but we were expecting this. After we ate, we hung around for awhile, walking on the beach and around the grounds, until it finally started to rain. It absolutely poured for about 20 minutes, and even when it stopped there were no visible breaks in the clouds. At that point we decided to head back to the ship. We would have liked to have more time in the water park, but we were thankful to have gotten there as early as we did. I would definitely book a room at the Comfort Suites again for access to Atlantis. The whole process was very easy, and it can be a big money saver -- especially if there are 3 or 4 in your party.
After we got back to the ship, we showered and headed to Skyline for our Mixology class. We had intended to hit Guest Services right after boarding to sign up, but that became unnecessary when we upgraded to concierge. Mixology was offered twice on our cruise: on Nassau day at 4:00 and on the sea day at 3:00. We got to Skyline just as the bartender, Suellen, was getting started. The group was fairly large (about 20?) and she had her hands full keeping everyone in order! We made four drinks:
1. Black Velvet - Guinness beer and champagne. This one did not sound appealing at all, but I liked it more than I thought I would. The champagne definitely softened the taste of the Guinness.
2. La Paloma - I can't remember all the ingredients but I know it included tequila and grapefruit soda. This one tasted a little like a margarita.
3. New Yorker - One of Skyline's signature cocktails and my favorite of the night. It's made with Kettle One Vodka, Acai Liqueur, Pomegranate Liqueur, and freshly squeezed lemon juice, and it has a sugar rim. It's a beautiful color, and the full-size version is served with a souvenir glow cube. I went behind the bar to help with this one, and it was extra fun since it involved a shaker. Wish I'd remembered to take my camera! (This was sort of a chronic problem on the trip, but I attribute it to the fact that I was living in the moment!)
4. B52 - This is a layered shot made up of Kahlua, Baileys and Grand Marnier. DH helped with this one, and it was a little tricky. He had to pour the Baileys and the Grand Marnier very slowly over the back of a spoon so they wouldn't mix with the layers below.
We had a great time at the Mixology class and enjoyed the cocktails, which were smaller versions of the real thing. I was just a smidge buzzed when we left -- not enough to stop us from hitting the cocktail reception in the concierge lounge!
Ordering Room Service from the MDRs
We had planned to eat dinner at Cabanas, but it occurred to me at some point during the day that guests staying in 1-bedroom suites are able to order room service from the MDRs. I knew that only from reading the Disboards -- at no point was this mentioned by any of the concierge hosts or in any of the printed materials we were given. I asked Annie-Marie when we got to the lounge whether we could, in fact, order from the MDRs, and whether it was too late to do it that night. She said we could just make it for the 6:30-7:00 delivery window, or we could wait until 8:30-9:00. We decided to go ahead with the earlier option and Annie-Marie showed us the menus, which were lined up on the bookshelves across from the concierge desk. After looking at all the menus, we decided to go with Royal Palace.
A server rang our doorbell at about 6:45 and brought in a tray loaded with our meal and everything needed to set the table. I started with the double-baked spinach soufflé, and DH started with Belle's French onion soup. For our second course, we both ordered the beef tenderloin. (I actually thought it was just as good as the tenderloin I'd had at Palo!) We both finished with the Grand Marnier soufflé. So, so good. It was a real luxury to be served such a fantastic meal in our room!
After dinner we did a little bit of shopping for DD and the grandparents, and then we stopped by Meridian for a drink. I ordered the crème brulee martini (yum!) and DH went with the Gin Garden. We had discovered Meridian when we were on the Fantasy in March, and it's our favorite bar on the ship (Skyline is a close second). The outside seating area is the perfect place to be when it's not too windy, and the view off the stern of the ship is incredible. After our cocktail it was time for our nightly visit to the lounge for a decaf cappuccino (me) and a decaf Americano (DH). All in all, an amazing day!
Next up: Day 3 (Castaway Cay)
Joining in. :wave:
Tuesday, 9/3: Day 3 (Castaway Cay)
Day 3 Navigator
I'm cheating a little here. We were on the port side of the ship, so we were not able to see CC as we were docking. This photo is from our March 2013 cruise on the Fantasy.
I woke up early on Castaway Cay day and headed straight to the verandah to see whether the island was in sight. I was happy to see that we were close and that the weather was warm and mostly sunny. I couldn't wait to get the day started! Unfortunately, DH did not feel quite as enthusiastic as I did. I was up, showered, and dressed before he had even dragged himself out of bed. On our previous two cruises with DD, we had woken up at the crack of dawn, eaten a quick breakfast at Cabanas, and lined up to disembark as soon as the ship had been cleared. DH and I did things a little bit differently this time. The announcement letting everyone know that they were free to disembark had already been made before we left our room. We stopped by the concierge lounge for a light breakfast and some coffee, and then we headed down to the midship gangway (they used the midship and aft gangways for disembarkation). It was a few minutes past 9:00 at this point, and the line to disembark was pretty short. We headed to the first tram stop and waited no more than 4-5 minutes before a tram arrived.
Foggy Lens. Ugh!
Our plan had been to spend about half the day (through lunchtime) at Serenity Bay, and then head over to the family beach for some swimming and snorkeling. We got off at the second tram stop and waited a few more minutes for the tram to Serenity Bay. (The trams that run between the ship and the two family beaches do not go to SB.) We arrived at SB at around 9:30, found a couple of lounge chairs with an umbrella, and made camp. We were blown away by how beautiful and peaceful SB was. I took a few photos, but unfortunately I didn't realize until it was too late that my lens was foggy from the humidity. There were probably 20 or so people there at that point, but it was really quiet. Everyone was just lounging, or in the water, or lounging in the water. People continued to trickle in throughout the day, but it was never crowded. Initially DH and I alternated between swimming and hanging out in our lounge chairs. There was a sandbar a couple of hundred feet off shore, and we spent quite a bit of time swimming to it and diving off of it. We found all kinds of shells in the water, as well as a couple of sand dollars. At one point I saw an enormous conch shell, but when I bent down to pick it up I noticed that it was inhabited! We saw quite a few fish, one of which was pretty large, but nothing that looked scary! The water was so clear that we could easily see our toes, and we were both able to stand in most places all the way out to the sandbar.
A quick photo and then back into the ocean!
We had just moved our chairs into the water when Captain Jack Sparrow came stumbling down the beach from the undeveloped side of the island. No one had any idea where he had come from! As he got close to me, I yelled "Hi, Jack!" and he stopped, put his hand on his hip and said "Captain Jack." Of course I had to run up and grab my camera for a photo:
Our one and only character photo from the cruise
After sitting in the water for awhile, we decided to head over to Castaway Cay Air Bar-B-Q for lunch. We had enjoyed the food at Cookies BBQ on our two previous visits to CC, but the food at SB was even better. We had some excellent mahi mahi, BBQ ribs, and jerk seasoned chicken, along with some very tasty side dishes. Ribeye steak was offered as well, but neither of us tried it. I've read that lobster is sometimes offered, but we didn't see any the day we were there. For dessert, we both had banana ice cream. Yum! Wish I had some right now.
We were enjoying ourselves so much at SB that we decided not to move to the family beach. We spent the next few hours in the water, either swimming out to the sandbar or sitting in our chairs. We may also have consumed two buckets of beer. ;-) At one point late in the afternoon, a single rain cloud rolled in and it sprinkled for about 15 minutes. I looked around and didn't see anyone move as a result. The cloud passed and it was sunny again. We decided to head back to the ship at around 4:15 so we'd have time to shower before the early cocktail reception in the concierge lounge.
ETA: We had hoped to buy one of the DCL soft-sided coolers that I've read about here, but unfortunately they are currently not available. We spoke to a CM at Serenity Bay, and he told us that DCL has stopped selling the old one because of leakage issues. He said that DCL tested various replacements and has identified the one they'll sell going forward, but that it was not ready to go at that time. Apparently the new cooler will be a little larger and round/barrel shaped. He didn't have definitive information re: when the new coolers will be available, but he said it should be "soon."
Future (Dummy) Cruise Booking
The list of amenities we were given on the first day indicated that the concierge hosts could schedule appointments with the Future Cruise Sales Manager. I had asked Annie-Marie about this the day before, and she told me that they were no longer handling future cruise bookings that way. She said just to write down exactly what we wanted and she'd take care of it. So when we stopped in the lounge for cocktails, I gave Annie-Marie a note containing all the necessary info to book a dummy cruise in late 2014. I had scoped out DCL's site about a week before the cruise to find an inexpensive sailing, and we went with the 11/14/14 3-night on the Dream. I asked for the least expensive available category (which turned out to be 11A) and indicated that we wanted to designate Costco Travel as the TA. I thought about making the reservation for just DH and myself, but decided to add DD in hopes that it will streamline the process of moving the booking later. We received a printed confirmation in our room the next morning. As has been reported here, pre-paid gratuities were added to the reservation, although that amount was not factored in when determining the deposit amount. The total deposit for the three of us was $112.05. When the 2015 dates are released and I move this booking, I will ask that the pre-paid gratuities be removed. I know some people like to pay them in advance, but I am philosophically opposed to the idea of paying tips before we've set foot on the ship! (Note: The day after we got home, I called Costco Travel to make sure they had been designated as TA. They had, so they were able to pull the reservation over to their system and send me a confirmation with a Costco booking number.)
(Another) Dinner at Palo
We had a reservation for our second Palo dinner at 7:30. I had made this reservation when our booking window opened at 90 days out. At the time, it seemed like a good idea to eat dinner at Palo twice. If once is good, twice must be even better -- right? They weren't quite ready for us when we checked in at the podium, so we were asked to wait in Meridian. This seemed to be common practice when we were on the Fantasy, but we didn't notice it as much on the Dream. I tried a Pomegranate Passion (tasty, but not my favorite), and DH stayed with his tried-and-true Gin Garden. After about 10 minutes, we were seated at Palo. In retrospect, I wish we had only eaten dinner at Palo once. It didn't occur to me until we were looking at the menu for the second time, but there are not a lot of choices, and DH and I had both had our favorites already. We didn't want to order the same entrees, so we both ended up feeling like we were settling for second best. Also, it didn't help that the couple at the table next to us argued all through dinner. DH and I tried to make light of it at first, but it got a little ridiculous after awhile. They were not being particularly quiet about it, despite the fact that they had couples sitting on either side of them and behind them. It was obvious that their waiter was uncomfortable, but he allowed it to go on and on. DH and I both thought that he should have asked the front-of-house manager to step in. Despite all of that we did manage to have an enjoyable dinner, but unfortunately I didn't get any photos! If we could have a do-over for that night, we would either have ordered room service from another MDR or gone to Cabanas.
After leaving Palo, we went straight to the concierge lounge for our nightly decaf cappuccino and Americano, which we drank while sitting on our verandah. Another incredible day!
Next up: Day 4 (Sea Day)
Thanks for following along! Let me know if I can answer any questions for you!
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