|11-18-2012, 02:54 PM||#1|
Earning My Ears
Join Date: Oct 2012
Disney Dream November 11, 2012
Gary and Mike on the Disney Dream – November 11-15, 2012
Sunday, November 11, 2012 – Embarkation
The trip to Port Canaveral from Fort Lauderdale would be about 170 miles. We left at about 9am, up the turnpike to Fort Pierce (Exit 152, the
Breezewood of Florida) then crossed over to I-95 to the Port Canaveral exit. We arrived at the port about 11.30am, dropped off the luggage with the porter, parked the car in the garage, and walked over the bridge to the terminal. We passed through a metal detector with some people who acted as though they had never seen a metal detector before, and then made our way to the booking hall. Since we had travelled on Disney Cruise Line before (on the Disney Magic in 2000) we are members of the “Castaway Club” which got us to a separate line – just as long as the line for new cruisers, but separate just the same. We had registered on-line, so we just had to present our passports, sign a credit card charge acknowledgement form, have our security pictures taken, and get our boarding numbers. DCL uses boarding groups, starting at 1 and then up to some high number, based on your arrival time and presumably stateroom class and castaway club level. We were assigned to boarding group 12 but we were told they were already up to 40, so we could board at our leisure. Of course we headed over to the giant Mickey ear passage, made our way through, and stood in the next line. This one was for the welcome aboard family photo – the first of many opportunities to buy professional photos.
Then to the next line, walking across the gangway into the ship. DCL announces passengers as they board. A member of the crew in dress whites asks “What is your family name?” so they can say “Welcome to the Whatever Family” as you walk through to applause. It’s a nice touch. I had seen videos of this on YouTube before we went and knew I would get choked up here. When the Disney Dream was launched in 2011 I was either pre- or just post-transplant and with instructions from the doctors to never go on a cruise, I thought I would never see the Dream. But in September, the doc had a change of heart and consented that we could go, provided we use good common sense and try to avoid germ conditions as much as possible. This meant try to eat in the dining room as opposed to the buffet, don’t go in the pool (that meant no Aqua Duck for me) and drink bottled water.
Boarding the ship, thinking of all that has passed in the last few years, and having thought I would never do it, made me weepy. Somehow I think I am not the only one who gets weepy at this point. By now it was about 12.20pm.
A nice crew member then told us we could head up to Cabanas, the buffet on Deck 11. I had read that one of the dining rooms, the Enchanted Garden on Deck 2 was also open for embarkation lunch. We asked about that and were told no, go to Deck 11, so we asked again, and were told Enchanted Garden was not open, so we pressed and finally the crew member relented and said it would be open in ten minutes. We decided to wait and then head to Enchanted Garden.
Enchanted Garden was another buffet, but smaller in size than Cabanas, and not being as crowded, we could grab a table and drop our daybags before getting in the line. The line was long. People acted as though they had never seen food before, and didn’t know how to decide what to take. The variety was good. We had cold cuts, pasta, carved roast beef, lamb chops, asparagus and artichoke salad, green and black olives, and then cheesecake and chocolate mousse. It was good.
At 2pm there was a ship tour leaving from the shopping area on Deck 3. So we joined that. Two very energetic crew members talked for a while giving pointers on places to go, getting around the ship, then took us on a short walking tour around Decks 3 and 4, where the public areas and bars were.
When this was finished we were able to get into our stateroom. We found it easily, and it was a good location, midway between the midships and aft elevators on the starboard side, Stateroom 7612, a “deluxe family stateroom with verandah.” The room was, except for the suite we had on the Crown Princess for Mike’s 50th birthday, the nicest stateroom we had ever had. It was very large with the split bathroom, a queen size bed, sofa and chair, desk and a lot of storage space. We met our stateroom host, Imade from Indonesia.
At 4pm was the mandatory boat drill. So as not to have to use the stairs we got ourselves to our assembly point before the 4pm whistles blew. I continue to be amazed at how seemingly intelligent people cannot understand the concept of “mandatory” or cannot be quiet for ten minutes to listen to the “in case we hit an iceberg” instructions.
We went back to the stateroom and by now two of our three bags had been delivered. So we started unpacking. Then it was time for the sail away party on Deck 11. It rained so that was called off. By then it was four hours since we had eaten so we got a snack of pizza and sat for a while.
At 6.15pm we went to the Walt Disney Theater for the first of the shows were would see – the “Golden Mickeys.” This was fashioned like an awards show, and included excerpts from Disney movies using live actors combined with scenes on the screens. Shows included Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Tangled, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Princess and the Frog, and 101 Dalmatians. The show was good – MUCH better than the shows we had seen on the Magic in 2000.
Dinner at 8.15pm was next. Our rotation was to be RAEE – that is Royal Palace, Animator’s Palette, and then two days at Enchanted Garden. So this night was Royal Palace. We were at a table for six – the two of us, two women from Vermont, and two women from Jacksonville. Dinner was good. We both had the iced lobster and shrimp appetizer, the French onion soup, and then I had the roasted wild boar and Mike had the beef tenderloin. All were better than I expected they’d be. Desserts were good – Mike had the sweet temptations (small samples of three desserts) and I had the grand marnier soufflé with crème anglaise. Dee-lish-us. After dinner we returned tired to the stateroom and went to sleep.
Monday, November 12, 2012 – Nassau
We got up and decided to have breakfast in the dining room, which was the Royal Palace again. We were seated at a table for two. I had eggs benedict, and Mike had lox and bagels and the scrambled eggs and ham, sausage, bacon combo. Probably the same food as in the buffet but we were on vacation so it was nice to be waited on.
We decided not to leave the ship in Nassau. We had been there a few times before and did not have a great desire to buy jewelry or liquor, or to have our hair braided. So we stayed onboard. It seemed a lot of people had this same idea; the ship was still fairly crowded. We didn’t do much after breakfast and at 1pm headed up to Cabanas for lunch. I had shrimp and veal, with some rice and salad. Mike had salad, carved beef, and shrimp. It was not bad, and we didn’t have trouble finding a place to sit.
After lunch we went to Evolution, the disco on Deck 4, for a presentation called “The Making of the Dream.” This explained how the ship was conceived and constructed. It included a video compressing the 18 months of construction into 60 seconds. We learned that the seeming black hull is really a very dark blue and that the forward smoke stack is just for show.
At 4pm I went to a mixology tasting held at Skyline, another of the bars on Deck 4. There were about 20 in attendance. One of the bartenders showed how to make a few different drinks, which we all got to taste. It was fun, and by the fourth drink the crowd was chatty. Several of the attendees were called on to practice what the bartender had shown us, to applause from the rest of us.
I returned to the stateroom for a nap (hmm, the four drinks?) and we both lay down for a few minutes, which turned into an hour or so, and we missed the 6.15pm “Villains” show. Dinner was at 8.15pm, this time at Animator’s Palette, which was very disappointing. On the Magic, Animator’s Palette is very clever, the room changes colors, the waitstaff uniforms change colors, this is to show how animators fashion cartoons from imagination. On the Dream, Animator’s Palette is a large room with movie screens all around the walls. Crush, from Finding Nemo, interacts with the crowd sitting at tables near the screens. I don’t know how they do this, Crush will ask where someone is from, and then respond appropriately to what they say. But if you are at one of the tables not immediately next to the screens you get none of this. I think the creativity that was so evident on the Magic is gone from the Dream. At a later tour during the week we learned that it cost $35M to make this restaurant. Not worth it. The food was OK. I had the shrimp and onion cheesecake appetizer (sounds odd but was good, the waiter said I was the exception to actually like it, apparently no one does). Mike had the mushroom risotto, which he said was crunchy. Mike had the butternut squash soup and I had the endive and arugula (it’s peppery!) salad. For the main course I had the sautéed black cod and Mike had a large salad of grilled vegetables and beef tenderloin. For dessert, Mike had the sweet temptations again, and I had a dish of ice cream from the kids menu.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012 – Castaway Cay
We docked at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, around 8.30am or so, and passengers began leaving the ship immediately. We headed up to Cabanas for breakfast, pretty much the same as the day before – eggs benedict, scrambled eggs, various pork products, cereal, yogurt, fruit.
We left the ship about 10am and walked down the pier to the first tram which took us to the second tram which took us to Serenity Bay, the adult beach section. No kids! We found two chairs together, dropped our stuff and headed into the water. The doc had said I shouldn’t get in the swimming pool but ocean water was fine. But it was cold. Of course I get cold easily, and so we never got much farther than waist level. We stayed in the water a while, it never getting warmer. We got out and sat for awhile, eavesdropping on conversations all around us, we were surrounded by Buffalonians, so Mike was able to relate to everything they were saying. On Castaway Cay, there are two BBQ locations called Cookies and Cookies Too near the kids and family sections. There is another BBQ location, not well publicized, intended just for the adults in Serenity Bay. No kids! The food was not bad. I had a bratwurst and some chicken. Mike had a steak sandwich and a hot dog. They had salads, and beans and stuff like that. And for dessert, a self service soft ice cream dispenser and cookies. We returned to our beach chairs for a little while longer, and then headed back to the trams back to the ship. We mailed a post card from the little Castaway Cay post office (Bahamas stamps only), and then reboarded.
The show tonight was a magician/juggler. We passed on that. Dinner was at 8.15pm at Enchanted Garden. This being the third night, it was “Pirate Night” so all three restaurants had the same menu, the waitstaff was dressed in pirate garb, and all passengers were given pirate-y bandannas to wear. We had those and two pirate-y Mickey Mouse hats from Disney World years ago, from what event I cannot remember. Dinner was OK. The appetizer was a crab cake. Being a Baltimorean, I am extremely picky about crab cakes. These had onion and green pepper in them (WRONG!) but were nice and crabby, not much filler. They were served with a carrot raisin salad, again, not something you would ever see accompanying a crab cake in Baltimore, but it was good. I had the conch chowder. I was expecting it to be red, a tomato based soup like Manhattan clam chowder, but it was creamy. It was spicier than I expected, and actually very good. For the main course we both had shrimp and scallops on pasta. Good but could have used a little more sauce.
After dinner was the pirate party on Deck 11. This was very good. Crew members dressed as pirates and wenches danced and sang. Then there were fireworks. At sea! I’d say about twenty minutes of fireworks, being shot from the top of the funnel. I thought they’d be shot from an outlying boat or something like that but no, right from the top of the forward funnel.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012 – Day at Sea
This day was the last full day, and a day at sea. This is the day we saw the most kids. Generally they were all on Deck 5 which is set aside for kids activities, of all age groups. But on sea day, they seemed to multiply.
I planned to take the “Art of the Theme Show Tour” at 9.30am, so ate breakfast by myself at Cabanas then met the tour at Meridian, the bar on Deck 12 between Palo and Remy, the two additional cost restaurants. The same cast member who was singing and dancing as a pirate the night before was conducting this tour. There were about 20 participants. The purpose of the tour was to explain the concepts and theming surrounding some of the public rooms on the ship. We started at Meridian, which was a bar decorated in the style of classic ocean liners of the 1930’s. Then we went to Palo, the Northern Italian restaurant. The guide explained how the imagineers were tasked with going to Venice, painting scenes of canals and buildings and such, then returning with the instruction to use those colors in the design of Palo. Palo is an Italian word meaning pole, like the poles the gondoliers use in the Venetian canal boats. Palo is beautiful, way up on one of the topmost decks with a view out the port side. On the other side is Remy, the French restaurant. Remy is, of course, named for the mouse chef in Ratatouille, the Pixar movie. Whereas in most of the ship you are on the lookout for Hidden Mickeys, here in Remy, you look for Hidden Remys. Everywhere if you look closely, you will see rats – in the backs of the chairs, in the upholstery, in the lights. It was a very beautiful room, done in the Art Nouveau style. After these places on Deck 12 we went down to Deck 5, where the kids activity spaces were. Since they were occupied and entry very carefully controlled, we could only see through windows. The spaces were very creatively done – one room a salute to “it’s a small world,” one to Toy Story, and the oceaneer club and lab for older kids. Looked like fun places.
After the tour Mike and I went to do some shopping, we got a ship’s model which the captain autographed for us, and a few shirts and other souvenirs and presents. Then we went to Cabanas for lunch. It was German day so I had wienerschnitzel and cottage potatoes, and of course some prosciutto and shrimp for good measure. After lunch we relaxed in the stateroom and on the verandah.
Dinner this night was at Palo. Fantastico! Our waiter Nikola was wonderful, taking time to explain all of the options and courses. We started with an antipasto platter Nikola prepared tableside – prosciutto, olives, roasted red peppers, artichokes, parmesan cheese. Then we had appetizers, I had calamari and Mike had mozzarella and tomatoes. We each had a half portion for the pasta course – I had lobster and marscapone ravioli and Mike had beef ravioli. Then for the main course I had calves liver with onions and apples and Mike had scallops. We both had the chocolate soufflé for dessert which was very very delicious. And we finished with a small glass of limoncello. This meal was wonderful and I would recommend it to anyone taking a cruise on this ship. Very relaxed and great service with marvelous food in a beautiful room.
Since we had an earlier dinner than normal, we went to the late show in the Walt Disney Theater. This was “Disney’s Believe.” This was similar to the Golden Mickeys, with scenes and songs from Disney movies. The show was good. Disney really seems to have improved the quality of its shows since we were on the Magic in 2000.
After the show we headed back to the stateroom to get our luggage out in the hall by 10.30pm for the next day’s disembarkation.
Thursday, November 15, 2012 – Disembarkation
This was an early rising day. We were due in the Enchanted Garden for breakfast at 8am, and then would immediately disembark. Breakfast was our last opportunity to thank Mircea and Desiree our servers. We ate then proceeded to Deck 3 to join the line to get off the ship. This was the longest line we ever stood in, probably 20 minutes or so to get to the gangway. We then went to the baggage hall and found our bags in the Daisy Duck section. A porter asked if we wanted help, so we said yes, and he picked up our bags, whisked us by the customs officer and took our stuff all the way to our car in the garage. Definitely worth the tip we gave him.
We were on the road at 9.50am, took I-95 and the turnpike south, and got to our driveway by 12.15pm. Quite an easy drive.
In summary, the trip was wonderful. It was short but not too short. It showed me that we can travel and with some common sense everything will be OK. We did things but not to the point of exhaustion. We didn’t do the pools and Aqua Duck, for health reasons, but I can live with that. The food was good, actually better than expected. The stateroom was lovely and a nice size. Service was good, in the dining room and in the stateroom. The only problem was the length of the line on disembarkation. Well, and some of the parents who were not willing or able to control their kids. I know I sound old but I would have never have been allowed to run around a dining room when I was six years old. Of course I’d never have been on a cruise at six years old either.
So, yes, I would do Disney again.
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