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Old 10-13-2012, 08:52 PM   #1
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ohboyx3's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 636

Just off the Dream! Thoughts from a first time cruiser!

Let me start off by saying that we are a family of five and have never cruised before. This will be an honest report of the good and not so good (there were a few) times aboard the Disney Dream sailing 10/7-10/11.

I had first looked into doing a cruise several years ago when our youngest was just a baby. My boys are now 13, 11, and 8. We decided against it due to the fact that we would have to pay for childcare in the nursery. We felt we could wait a few years when he was older and they all could enjoy the kids clubs. Instead we went to Disney World and of course were hooked. We toyed with the idea again a few years later, but decided against it again as we all just wanted to do another big Disney trip at the parks. Fast forward to January and we started talking about taking another Disney trip. I had 8 nights at the Beach Club booked when I started looking at what a cruise would cost…. Then I started reading trip reports…. Then I started thinking about how I’d like to try something different for a change…. Then I decided that doing the parks sounded exhausting and what I really needed was a true vacation! I wanted to go on a cruise, be pampered, eat yummy meals, and lay out at the beach. Next came convincing my husband. He was a little skeptical at first and it took some bargaining on my part. He didn’t like the fact that it cost as much for 4 days on a cruise ship that it did for 8 nights at the parks. He had a valid point, I mean; a week goes by fast… let alone four nights! We decided that we would visit a friend in Tallahassee for a day, spend one day exploring Cocoa Beach, and then follow up the cruise with one night at the MK for MNSSHP. All the plans were in place; I booked, joined a DIS meet thread, started making fish extender gifts and got our family excited for what surely would be our BEST VACATION EVER! Was it? You’ll see…. Keep reading.

I’m going to break it down into little parts and I’ll add on as I think of something. If you have any questions feel free to ask!

Pre Cruise- We stayed the night before the cruise at the Country Inn and Suites close to the port. The room was fine. No complaints there. It wasn’t fancy by any means, but for the price it worked great for us. The boys had their own room with bunk beds and a twin. We enjoyed the pool and hot tub as well as the free breakfast the next morning. We could not have timed everything better. We drove into Port Canaveral and saw the Fantasy docked. It was great seeing her. Even though it wasn’t OUR ship, it was close enough! We checked into the hotel and then went right over to Fish Lips. We grabbed a table upstairs by the water and within just a few minutes were able to see Freedom of the Seas and the Fantasy sail away. I STRONGLY suggest this! It got our vacation off on the right foot. Good food, but even better was seeing all the excited people on board and getting to wave to them, knowing it would be US the next day. It made the boys even more excited than they already were…. Which I didn’t think was possible.
Embarkation- We were up early and grabbed breakfast before it got crowded. We had an 11 am check in time. We got to the port VERY early. We were just a tad excited. They let us in to park, but of course we couldn’t go into the terminal yet. We drove up to the top of the parking garage and took some great pictures of us in front of the ship. We saw some people walking back to their cars after disembarking their three night cruise and chatted with them about how they liked it. Of course they did… a lot. We were able to get a great parking space right by the terminal. At 10 am they started taking bags. We dropped them off and tipped the attendant and they directed us upstairs. We were about the 6th family in line. I guess we aren’t the only early birds! At almost exactly 10:30 they let us through the first security point. I think at this point I only had to show our licenses. They also gave us our first Navigator and a health form to sign for the whole family. Not too soon after that we were let into the terminal. Check in was very easy and luckily we had no problems. I had stressed over this a bit, as we were only travelling with birth certificates and no passports. They took a family picture for security reasons and then sent my family on their way while I dealt with the rest of the paper work. We were given the number 4 boarding number. Not too bad huh??? I was happy with that! We were issued our key to the world cards and I was sent off to meet my family. I jumped right in line to register DS8 for the kids club. I had registered online, but I needed to get his tracking device. Ha-ha. TIP: Take your child with you so he/she can be properly fitted for the bracelet. They just handed the wristband to me since he was sitting by my husband. I h=gave it to my husband to put on and he had it entirely too loose…. I ended up having to get them to fix it once we were on board. We wandered around a bit and took some pictures and waited for them to start boarding. It really wasn’t very long. At just about 11:30 they started boarding. It did not take long for them to get to four. We walked right on, had our picture made, and they announced us. Great touch! Though it was no surprise to me… because I am a DIS junkie. My DH and boys on the other hand were surprised. It was a great start.

Cabanas- We were one of the first families on the ship. We headed straight up to Cabanas for lunch and grabbed a seat outside. We had a great view of Kennedy Space Center. They were supposed to be launching a rocket that night, but it got scrapped due to the weather. Anyways…. Lunch was great that first day. My kids and DH are seafood lovers. They filled up on shrimp and crab legs. DH is picky about seafood and he said everything was cooked well. The Salmon he had that day was the best he had ever had. Sadly, he never had anything else that lived up to it. He was hoping they would have it again on the sea day, but we never saw it. I have no idea what it was exactly… I just know it was salmon. If you can’t find something you like than you are too picky. There is plenty to choose from. Also, don’t worry about cleaning up after yourself. LOL. There is always someone there waiting to take your plate away. Hahaha.

Exploring the ship- We had to make the choice of either to swim and ride the aqua duck or explore the ship. I knew if we waited much longer the pools would get crowded. The boys wanted to swim, but I kind of wanted to get my bearings… The ship is vast and almost a little overwhelming at times. I went against my better judgment and we decided to explore. There would be plenty of time to swim later. The boys got over it quick as soon as we told them we would find their kids clubs. TIP: Explore early… it may not be a favorite, but I’m so glad we did. Maybe I just have a terrible sense of direction, but we got turned around countless times. I thought we would never find the Vibe! Our first stop was there. I think we were the first family in there. All I can say is wow. I was almost jealous. My DS is 13 and he was hoping he would be allowed in. I talked to the counselor, they looked at him and all I had to do was sign a form. WOO HOO! All was right with the world. The teenager is happy! They issued him a new card that looked different from ours and I took a bunch of pics… The only time I’d be able to do so. More on how he liked it later. Oh… I should add that they told him he could do the Edge and the Vibe… but he never did.
Next we checked out the Oceaneer Club/Lab. They fixed Cole’s bracelet that my husband managed to butcher and I also registered my 11 year old for the lab. He had JUST turned 11 three days prior to the cruise and I thought he may be more comfortable in there with his brother. He also had access to both the Lab and the Edge. I gave both my boys privilege to check themselves in and out of the club with the understanding that they do so together. DS 8 was not to check himself out of the club without his brother. I thought I would be really worried about this, but after the first night I was fine.
Up next was The Edge. I have to say that after seeing the Vibe and then the Oceaneer Lab… the Edge paled in comparison. I kept thinking… This is it? It was a bit of a letdown for DS11. I’m sure they had fun activities, but I think he was more intrigued by the Lab which is where he spent most of his time. More on the kids clubs later.

Our Stateroom: We were in a deluxe family stateroom with Verandah. A little after 1:30 we were able to go into our rooms. Two of our bags were already there and the other three showed up a short time later. The room was fine. Small, but of course we were prepared for it. The verandah was lovely. I really enjoyed sitting out on it in the evenings or opening the door while I was getting ready for dinner and feeling the ocean breeze. Just lovely. The sleeping arrangements worked fine. I was a little worried about there being 5 of us and feeling cramped, but we really didn’t. Frankly, we weren’t in the room that much. Bathroom and shower were fine except I can’t tell you how many times I tripped or stubbed my toe on the freaking step up to the bathroom!!!!! You would think I’d remember, but nope….. Upon getting to our room I took the magnets for our door I had packed in the carry on and got to work. I LOVED having the magnets on the door. It’s worth it just for the mere fact that it made it easier locating our room. Especially for the boys! We also put a little dry erase board on there and it was fun getting little messages on there from fellow DISer’s.  I also hung up the Fish Extender. More on that later. No complaints about the room. TIP: Don’t do what I did and over pack. We spent most of our time in swim suits. I honestly think I could have done without about half of what I packed. It just cluttered the room, as we had clothes everywhere. Also, it wouldn’t have hurt to wear shorts twice, as we rarely had them on long before changing into a swimsuit or something nicer for dinner. The H2O products were good; except for some reason I thought they were full size bottles. I swear I read that somewhere before I left. Either that or they just look bigger in people’s pictures! Don’t let it fool you…. They are small!

Our Hostess: Her name was Nichole… I can’t remember where she was from. Honestly we never saw her much. She kept our room nice and we never needed anything. We had nightly towel animals and chocolates. She was fine…. I have to even say that I was let down… because I mean… she did her job… but nothing just stellar. There were a few times when I even felt a little rushed. We had the late seating and I think she was always wanting us to go so she could turn down our room. I read some things on here about their host/hostess really going above and beyond… I thought she did her job, but nothing more. She didn’t really try and get to know us or anything… she was busy. There were a couple times she asked if anyone else was in the room, so she could turn down. I just found that a little weird. Also… she was on her phone… A LOT. Pretty much everytime I saw her. It may have been for work and not person… It was just unexpected. Lol.

The pools/Aqua duck- After checking into the room and having explored most of the ship we headed down to the pool. It was crowded, but not as bad as what I had heard. The aqua duck had about a 15 minute wait. The boys all got to ride it a few times. It did not disappoint. They LOVED it! My husband and I rode later in the week. I really enjoyed it. I’m not big on water parks or rides, but this was very smooth. Not really a thrill ride… it’s just fun. Interesting note was that on the very first day DS11 was allowed to ride alone. This was the only time… Not sure why. When he went to ride again, they wouldn’t let him. He had to have someone with him. Odd.
The pools are small. I think everyone was a little disappointed by this. Especially on the at sea day… Don’t even bother going. Find something else to do! We swam and rode the aqua duck either early in the morning when it first opened, late at night before it closed and during the first seating dinner. It worked great for us.
The adult pool is FREEZING! I don’t know why it is so cold!!!!!!
Luckily the hot tub is nice. We utilized the adult hot tub several times and never set foot in the family one! The adult area was generally uncrowded. Even on the day at sea.

Muster Drill- We were at station G. It was easy to find. It was also hot up there! Luckily it didn’t last long. Just imagined being smushed together with several other people. I wanted to say, “Aren’t you glad you use dial? Don’t you wish everyone did?” But I refrained.

Sail Away- Disney knows how to throw a party! It was great. I wanted one of those little things to wave… but I didn’t get one. In fact… I’m not sure I even saw any. Strange. This is when you can see how full your boat is. Ours was packed. I think most of Tennessee was there since we were all on Fall Break! Wow. I had my family tune into the webcam and they saw us! Definitely do this! We were up on deck 11. It was a little quieter up there and we had a great view of the festivities. LOVE LOVE LOVE the ships horn. We heard a few different tunes.

Seasickness- I have no idea if I get seasick or not, but I really didn’t want to find out. I took preventative measures by taking Bonine. Cannot stress enough how much I love this product. Dramamine knocks me out and I am useless for two days. I felt no effects from the Bonine. There was one evening that the boat was really rocking and my husband started to feel queasy. He took one and within about 30 minutes he was feeling good as new. On another night DS8 was at dinner and coloring doing crosswords and such on his kids menu. That spelled disaster for him and he was feel VERY sick. So much, that we had to get his food to go for later and I left dinner early to tend to him. I gave him half a bonine and he was feeling so much better. He never threw up and was better in time for the fireworks on pirate night. PHEW!

Alcohol- We aren’t drinkers and though we always had people asking us if we wanted a drink. I never ever felt as though they pushed the alcohol. Dinner it was nice too. After the first night, they never even really asked. I had heard that on other cruise lines they push the alcohol. This wasn’t the case on Disney. We did however have some yummy virgin drinks!

Meals- Our rotation was AERR. The first night was Animators and we met our servers. Keep in mind that we were celebrating our anniversary, plus DS11 birthday. I can’t remember exactly what we got every night, but I do know I ordered veal the first night. I thought it was supposed to be tender. It wasn’t! It was the toughest meat I had ever eaten. It was very hard to cut! I was worried that this would be how it was for the whole trip, but luckily that was the worst thing I ate the whole trip. At least I got it over with right off the bat! We got picked to talk with Crush the first night. It was fun. The show was very short though… I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was a bit of a letdown. I kept waiting for him to come back out and talk to other people. I felt kind of bad that he didn’t talk to some of the other kids sitting by us. Oh well.

Enchanted Garden was the next night- I loved the feel of that place. I can’t remember what I had, but I do recall my husband eating swordfish and he LOVED it…. Almost as much as the Salmon he had that first day at Cabanas.
Royal Palace- The first night was the pirate menu and the second night was the regular menu. I had prime rib which was outstanding one night. My husband almost always ordered an extra entrée. They never blinked an eye. He is a big eater and sometimes the portions are small. The do look very pretty though!
We were always too full by the time dessert came around. We would always order something, but rarely could finish it.
My boys have very adult taste in food. They love seafood. Very rarely did they order off the kids menu. The would usually order shrimp or scallops. DS8 would sometimes order a burger AND mac and cheese! Nothing was ever said about this at all. They would always usually clean their plates.
I was afraid that some of this food would be too fancy for our tastes. We aren’t big foodies and are usually meat and potatoes kind of people. I took this as an opportunity to expand our palate some. I enjoyed almost everything I tried. I was very surprised at how well my boys ate and willing they were to try new dishes.

Breakfast- We always ate at Cabanas except for our last day. It was average breakfast fare. Something for everyone. I’m not a huge breakfast eater, so I was happy with fruit and yogurt. The boys were happy with glazed donuts every morning. Lol.

Counter service- I didn’t have anything I didn’t like. We would usually snack midday since we had the late seating. I loved the pizza! I know a lot of people don’t but I loved it. I like the thin crust. The salads were also a highlight for me. One think I didn’t expect was that for some reason I had it in my head that the counter service places would all be open at the same time. This isn’t the case. I walked down several times in the afternoon wanting to get pizza and it would not be open. Only the burger place would. The pizza place would open later and then the burger place would close. No big deal… just a lack of communication on my part.
Ice cream station- I think my boys ate their weight in ice cream this trip. The soft serve was yummy.
Drink Station- The cups are small. I found myself drinking more soda than I ever do ordinarily. I guess because it’s “free” and so easily at your disposal. There were several times, however that I went to get Coke and it was out…. On BOTH machines. I settled for some fruit punch. Again… I feel spoiled even complaining about that, but when you pay that much money it kind of stinks to have it happen!

Our servers-
Here we go…. Our servers were just ok. I can’t help that I was a little disappointed. I have read all these great stories about people getting very attached to their servers. We didn’t get that. I wish it wasn’t the case. I saw lots of other servers interacting with their families. It just didn’t happen to us. They were attentive and kept our drinks filled, etc… just nothing stellar. That was probably my biggest disappointment of the trip. Dinner took a very long time. I should have warned my husband before the trip. We are used to being in and out. By the end of the two hours everyone was getting antsy. I had heard that the kids club people come and get kids at the late seating. We never saw this or were asked. I’m wondering if they even do it anymore. There were a few times that the boys left before dessert so they could go to their clubs.

Tablemates- I was REALLY hoping for tablemates… but I wasn’t sure if we would get them since there were five in our party. I was so happy to find out that we did. We met a great family ALL THE WAY from KNOXVILLE! ….. We are from Chattanooga! HAHAHAHA! Really they were great. They have a son DS13 age. We became instant friends and hung out at the adult shows after as well as the pirate party. We even met up in the MK for the Halloween party the night after we got off the cruise. They aren’t far from us and we have plans to get together here in town soon. SO thankful for making new friends. Definitely a highlight of our trip!

Activites- We tried just about everything. Mid ship Detective agency is cute. We started, but didn’t get to finish. Just ran out of time. It’s a workout!
Animation class- Fun. It was a highlight. DS8 especially loved it.
Putt Putt- Never crowded. We all loved it.
Golf Simulator- NOT worth the $$$. First off it’s HOT up there. There is no fan or air conditioning. My husband went at 2:30 in the afternoon. I’m not kidding when I say it’s hot and there is literally no ventilation. I’m surprised no one has had heat stroke up there. DH says it’s not very accurate and it kept messing up on him. He was disappointed.
Adult activities/Shows- We went to Evolution almost every night. Very fun. I found out I stink at trivia and some people have WAY too much time on their hands. Our Adult entertainment director Frankie was hilarious. Loved him. Loved the comedian Taylor Mason and caught both his shows. SO sad we missed match your Mate. I had been wanting to see that so bad, but it was the night after Nassau and we were both just wiped out. The cruise staff farewell the last night is not to be missed. So hilarious.

Entertainment: Sadly, the only shows we saw in the big theater were the family show with the comedian and Believe. We thoroughly enjoyed both. I really wanted to see Villians Tonight, but we just didn’t make it there. It was also the Nassau night and the boys wanted to go to their clubs and DH wanted to hit the hot tub. I SHOULD have gone myself…. But I just didn’t want to….

I’ll recap more later including the kids clubs, VIBE and the excursions we did. Thanks for reading! Please feel free to ask any questions! I also hope to post some pictures. I took a bunch!
Link to my PTR: Mickey, Memories and Magic Bands PTR

January 2006 Animal Kingdom Lodge
January 2008 Port Orleans Riverside

May 2011 All Star Music Family Suites
Disney Cruise aboard the Dream October 2012
October 2013 Fort Wilderness Cabins
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