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cwnhokie 10-11-2013 08:17 AM

Surprising the kids with our first DCL cruise on the Dream!
This is my first attempt at a DCL trip report. Actually any trip report. I love reading others so I figured it's time I give back. I had excellent intentions of taking notes, but of course once we got there all those thoughts left my mind.

We are Mom, Dad and three boys. Christopher 12, William 10 and Matthew 6. DH and I have been on several Carnival cruises on the the smaller older ships. We took the boys on a RCI Dreamworks cruise last year. We have always talked about going on a Disney cruise but just couldn't justify the cost. Then DH started talking about a quick trip to Disney to go to Night of Joy and wondered if we could add on a cruise, a DISNEY CRUISE! I did some research and the dates worked out! I showed the boys tons of videos on youtube trying to decide where we wanted to stay and showed lots of videos of DCL trying to decide if we would go. Finally we told them it was too expensive and maybe we would do another RCI cruise sometime soon. Then for almost 5 months I had to just talk about our Disney trip and keep the cruise a secret! It was so hard!

I was a wreck leading up to the trip. I had gotten very sick the last couple weeks of the summer and lost a lot of valuable time for making FE gifts (I told the boys that we were handing them out at our resort) Then school started and my youngest started Kindergarten ( I was super nervous about that, but he did great) Then one week later we picked them up early from school and headed for the airport. All the while going over and over in my head how we were going to unveil the surprise and how they would take it.

Before the Boat:
The cruise didn't leave until Sunday but we decided to head down on Friday. The original plan was to use old non expiring tickets that we had one day to the parks and tons of plus options left on. We were going to spend all day at the parks on Saturday and then take it easy after the cruise playing mini golf, going to the water park etc before Night of Joy. Then free dining came out and we couldn't pass it up. We were still keeping the original plan and just eating our meals outside the parks except in MK during Night of Joy. Then Magic Bands and Fast Pass + were released for testing at our resort. It got complicated and I changed our whole plan one week before we left including dining reservations. Thank goodness it was September and not busy at all. I was even able to change our Le Cellier reservation. So new plan called for Legoland on Saturday. We stayed off site at Caribe Royale. Once we landed and got our rental car and dinner we were exhausted. There was milk and cookies waiting for us in the room since I had liked the hotel on Facebook. That was a nice touch and the boys really enjoyed it.

Saturday we spent the day and Legoland and went to Chef Mickeys in the evening.

Sunday morning we went to an early breakfast at Ohana and then sat down to plan what we could do for the week before Night of Joy. I was a mess all through breakfast trying to figure out when and where we would tell them. I had t-shirts made that said "Our parents just surprised us with a Disney Cruise!" I thought about asking Mickey to give them to them but wasn't sure how to arrange that so I waited. After breakfast we found a quiet spot at the Poly and video camera in hand asked them what they would like to do this trip that they had never done before. One wanted to do Expedition Everest, one wanted to go to the water park, one couldn't think of anything he hadn't done before. So then we gave them the shirts! They said "What? What? Cool" Very anti-climatic. We said are you good with that? I think they were in shock. Except the little one who was upset that we hadn't done anything in Disney yet. There happened to be a model of the Disney ship right next to where we were sitting so one of his brothers took him over to show him all the great stuff he could do on the ship, then he was happy. The oldest said he was excited but didn't want to go crazy in public :)

ready4mouse 10-11-2013 10:04 AM

As the mother of 3 boys heading onto our first Disney Cruise, I can't wait to read your report!

bbn1122 10-11-2013 10:38 AM

Another Mom of 3 boys...anxiously awaiting to hear about your families first Disney cruise!:thumbsup2

We went in 2010 on our first DCL, at the time my boys were 16, 12 and 10. We sailed on the MAGIC....our family fell in love with DCL. We went the following year on the Dream and we are going again next summer. We loved our experience on the cruise so much we joined DVC. DHubby and me used some points to go on a 2 night cruise out of NYC for my birthday in 2012!:)

teatah 10-11-2013 10:44 AM

That is so sweet! I can't wait to read more. :yay:

Shoobie124 10-11-2013 11:32 AM

Do you live in VA? we are in NoVa and taking our 6 year old on our first disney cruise in Nov. So i am interested to see how he liked it!

jedijill 10-11-2013 12:15 PM

Awesome surprise!

Can't wait to hear more.

Jill in CO

Belle mom 10-11-2013 09:53 PM

Can't wait to hear more...
We're going to not-so-scary Halloween on 10/25 and boarding the Dream on 10/27. Love to see that fellow Hokies are enjoying Disney cruises. We're taking our 3 children and everyone's very excited. Eager to read your next post. GO HOKIES!!!

cwnhokie 10-12-2013 08:05 AM

I'll add more in a little bit when my son lets me have the computer back. I don't like typing on the iPad. Thanks for following. Ive never done a trip report before.

TexMomma 10-12-2013 04:08 PM

We are planning to surprise our 12 year old son with his 1st cruise (and our 1st DCL one) in November. We're still working out the "reveal" but part of me wants to tell him a couple of weeks early so that he can have time to research ports, the ship, etc since he really enjoys that kind of thing. DH is leaning toward keeping it a secret until the morning of departure. I know which ever we choose will be fine, and I expect he will be blown away. I'd be interested in hearing what others have done for the reveal.

cwnhokie 10-13-2013 07:53 AM

And we're off!
We drove the rental car to port and dropped off the luggage,

then dropped off the rental car at Avis which is right next to a 7-11 if you want to get alcohol and sodas which you are allowed to bring onboard with you. We didn't for this trip since it was short and we had the kids so we figured a few fruity drinks and some wine would be plenty. Dropping off the rental was quick and the shuttle driver was great, hysterical! We dropped some folks off at Royal Caribbean first and then on to DCL.

It was about 12:30 by this point and all groups could board. We waited in line for a couple minutes then got the kids bands and proceeded to board.
We stopped by Guest Services to register for the Mixology class but the only time that was available didn't work for us.
My King waiting for me at Guest Services:
Then we were off to lunch before the 6 year old had a meltdown. There were lots of friendly cast members to direct us, we decided to eat in the Enchanted Garden dining room because on of the CMs said it would be quicker and less crowded than Cabanas. We went to the buffet and the 6 year old that was near meltdown from starving to death (even though we had just went to Ohana for breakfast) couldn't find a single thing to eat. There was no kid friendly food on the buffet. Which I thought was very strange since it was Disney and chicken tenders and mac and cheese are pretty standard. We got back to the table and quickly found out that kids meals were brought out by the servers. A few minutes later we chicken tenders and catsup shaped like Mickey and all was right with the world again.

Next we went to check out the sports deck because we had reserved the golf simulator but couldn't remember what time. Everything was closed up tight but we got to check out the mini golf and basketball courts.

Then we headed back to the room. The pictures don't do it justice! We were in a deluxe family stateroom with verandah and it was huge!

The split bathrooms were wonderful too! This is when I reminded the kids that we could order Mickey Ice Cream bars from room service and that's what we did.

cwnhokie 10-13-2013 07:59 AM


Originally Posted by TexMomma (Post 49810625)
We are planning to surprise our 12 year old son with his 1st cruise (and our 1st DCL one) in November. We're still working out the "reveal" but part of me wants to tell him a couple of weeks early so that he can have time to research ports, the ship, etc since he really enjoys that kind of thing. DH is leaning toward keeping it a secret until the morning of departure. I know which ever we choose will be fine, and I expect he will be blown away. I'd be interested in hearing what others have done for the reveal.

I was worried about not including them on the planning too. Especially since we had talked about going to Atlantis in the past and my husband and I decided not to go on this trip. Turns out they were fine with staying on the boat that day, but it made me nervous. I wonder if their reaction would have been different if I would have waited until we got to port, but I wanted to make sure I got it on video because all of our family and friends wanted to see.

cwnhokie 10-13-2013 08:32 AM

More First Day
At this point it was our time to use the golf simulator. There were cards in our stateroom for all the reservations we had made. We all walked up to check it out and then Matthew and I decided to leave the Dad and the older boys and go check out the line for the AquaDuck.

The line didn't look too long so we decided to try. FYI, the deck and steps are super HOT! But you can leave your flip flops on and sit on them while you ride. Also there is a whole lot more line inside the funnel so it looks shorter than it actually is and it's a little warm in there too. But we stuck with it. It was fun, I screamed my head off when we went out over the water and through the tunnels. The 6 year old liked it too.
Then we had a little time to hop in the hot tub:

After that we met back up with the others for the muster drill. This is when we learned to use the wave phone or learn that we didn't know how to use the wave phones. We finally figured it out later though. DH and the other boys were hanging out in the room and I was getting frustrated that they weren't at muster yet. I didn't want to be that family that held up muster for everyone else and he didn't want to be the ones that got there first and had to stand up the entire time with crying kids and wait forever to get started. Turns out we were in the middle. We had to line up by cabin tallest to shortest which did not make little guy happy at all.

The golf simulator was a bust :( It is on the top deck inside a room made of tarps. The tarps have to stay closed so it's dark, you can imagine how hot it was in there. They said they program kept stopping too. DH who is in IT said it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that it's too hot in there for the computers. They ended up cancelling their time for later in the week too. Hopefully Disney will find another location for this activity so that it can be enjoyable. I had read about this before we left but DH and the boys had to try for themselves.

After the muster drill it was time for sail away. We went on deck with everyone else on the boat to watch sail away. This was the one of the downsides I found to DCL. They have some really great events on board (positive) but it draws everyone on board (negative) and it is super crowded. There is enough magic I think to outweigh the crowds and the kids didn't seem to notice at all. But expect A LOT of people and kids gathered in one place, like a Disney park parade. Not what you see when you watch the planning videos, lol.

Not sure if I should share, because this is one thing I actually didn't read in all my research and was a nice surprise for me on my first DCL cruise. So if it's your first time and you love all things nostalgic Disney and you are an overplanner, maybe save this little tidbit so you can have a little surprise when you sail away. Ok? Here is comes...
The DCL horn plays Disney songs. It nearly brought me to tears. Of course the boys thought I was crazy (but they are used to it, since I watch youtube videos and listen to the monorail voice when I need a Disney fix and that makes me cry too) They even had the nerve to say it was borderline annoying, lol.

Grandma called during sail away and was really kicking herself for not coming with us. She had found the webcam on the internet and said she could see the people on the Carnival ship sailing by. So we went up and stood next to the front funnel so she could see us as we sailed by.

Next we went to check out the kids clubs...

cwnhokie 10-13-2013 08:50 AM

3 posts and I'm not even though Day 1. Are there too many pictures? We took tons and I'm using them to help me remember what we did, lol.

jedijill 10-13-2013 10:18 AM

You can never have too many pictures! Love the matching tshirts you gave the boys.

Jill in CO

cwnhokie 10-13-2013 06:19 PM

Kids Club, Show, Dinner
We first went to check out the Edge club. DS10 was in love at first sight and thank goodness we had no problem signing him up. He was a month and a half shy of his 11th birthday and they just had us sign a wavier saying he could come and go since many of their activities are done around the ship. I'm not sure why but we didn't take a single picture in there. I was in a hurry to get ready for the show and dinner so that is probably why.

Next we went to check out the Oceaneers Lab and Club. Disney excels in this area. Much better than what we saw on the Carnival ships and RCI in my opinion.

I dragged the kids away kicking and screaming, well not literally, to get ready for the show. They were not excited AT ALL about going to the show, but I knew they would like it once we got there. When we went on RCI about a year and a half ago we choose early dining and by the time we finished eating everyone was too tired to go to the shows, so this time I did the late dining. They were a little tired for dinner but it worked out better for us this way.

When we got to the theater I quickly figured out why so many people recommended movie theater candy for FE gifts. They sell popcorn, sodas, and candy right outside the theater and of course we had to buy some popcorn. The show was The Golden Mickeys and we had fun walking down the red carpet and getting our pictures taken by the paparazzi. There were people dressed in some pretty awesome outfits too. The boys and DH loved the show just like I knew they would and it wasn't as difficult to get them to go the rest of the nights.

Our first night dinner was in Animators Palace. It was really neat, but none of the pictures I took really did it justice. There was another family that was supposed to sit with us but they must have had their dining changed because they never showed up. When we got there the boys had drinks already at their places with their names on them and facing the screens to see the characters etc throughout dinner.

Our servers where awesome! This is another area that Disney excels. The kids got their meals quickly and they servers entertained them with jokes and logic puzzles while we finished up. I personally liked the food on Carnival and RCI better but DH said his was just a good as RCI and better than Carnival.

After a full first day we headed back to the cabin to go to sleep.

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