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Old 11-21-2012, 01:26 PM   #1
FlyingBelle
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Dreaming away without the kids - Nov 15-18

First of all, thanks for coming along my little journey of a cruise trip report!

My family consists of me, a Disney fanatic practically since birth, thanks to a mom and grandma who love Mickey, I work full-time for an airline, so DH can stay at home with our two kiddos – DD(5) and DS(18mos).

I’ve been on DCL twice before (both times on the Wonder – you can visit my last trip report here:http://disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2616095), but my last trip I unexpectedly found myself pregnant (with now DS) – which was not how I planned to spend my “I’m turning 40 and want to have a fu-fu drink on the beach” cruise. So while I had a Wonder-ful time, I’ve since still felt like I was jipped!

Fast forward 2 years, and I’m sitting at work , despondent that we decided not to renew our Premier Annual Passports (boy has the price gone up!), and thus no Disney plans which hasn’t been the case for about 5 years! Suddenly I get an email from an interline company (travel industry discount) that the DCL is offering deep-discounted cruise for airline employees (but read the fine print that these deals may already be gone) that leaves in 3 days. I quickly text DH while clicking through to the website, only to find that, indeed, the deals are already gone.

We hadn’t even been thinking about taking a cruise until DS turned 3 (and could take full advantage of the Oceanears Club!), but that email teaser kept tickling the Disney part of my brain. After talking more rationally about it with DH, we decided if a deal like that ever came up again, we would book it for just the 2 of us and work out the details later.

A few weeks go by, and WHAM! Another email – but this one is even further discounted, and is offering sailing leaving between 1 – 6 weeks away. As my heart rate rises, I see that one of the sailing dates comes back the day before my birthday – DONE! I clicked through, secured a balcony cabin for two adults, and paid in full before I gave it a second thought! DH was super excited, Grandma… not so much. She would have much rather gone with us, then stay home and watch the two kiddos! Well, I had 5 weeks to smooth things over.

Plans were put in motion for our inaugural Disney Dream cruise – November 15-18 to Nassau and Castaway Cay!
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Old 11-21-2012, 02:01 PM   #2
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Fast forward to November 14th – I had to go in to work for a few hours, so DH and the kids are driving me to the train and DD asks “Mommy, where are you and Daddy going on your trip?”. Oh boy! What do I say? Disney? Absolutely not, she’ll never forgive us for not taking her! A cruise? Nope, she had too much fun last time. Florida? No, she’ll ask about Disney. Orlando? Nope, she’s too smart for that. I got it… “Port Canaveral, honey.” “Oh,” she says, uninterested. Whew – dodged that one!

After a few hours at work, I take the L train to O’hare, and meet up with DH, just as my dad is dropping him off – so I was able to run out to the truck and give DS a few more (ok, a LOT more) kisses before leaving. I’m having all kinds of guilt for leaving the kiddos behind, but DH assures me it’s important for the two of us to spend time together too. :

The flight was uneventful, except for DH and I both having to sit in middle seats, but that’s the price we pay for flying stand-by. We arrive at MCO, head down to the rental car counter, pick up our car and head to the hotel!

We decided to stay near Downtown Disney, since we didn’t get a chance to get over there in our last trip in September. I found a good rate at Clarion Inn, just 1.9 miles from Downtown Disney. The hotel was clean, the beds were comfy, there was a fridge and microwave in the room, and it was very close to restaurants and grocery stores. I only have 3 complains about the hotel. 1) I didn’t realize it was more of a “motel”, meaning no inside hallways, until we got there. And our room was facing the highway. I feared a lot of noise, but it was surprisingly quiet in the room. 2) The water pressure was terrible. Seriously. Barely a dribble. 3) I should have known this, but if you arrive at the hotel after the parks close, you won’t find a nearby parking space anywhere!

So we drop our goods in the room, and head to Downtown Disney – very easy to find! We had a sandwich at Earl of Sandwich (our favorite – I wish they had these in Chicago!), and a free sample of Ghiradelli chocolate, yum. Then we wandered over to the stage to watch a hula-hoop contest and dance contest. I always get a kick out of those kids! I purposely stayed out of the shops, I’m trying to stick with carry-on bags, and it’s just too tempting once I walk in the World of Disney store! I resisted, and we headed out.

Before going back to the hotel, we decided to stop at Walmart to purchase a few adult beverages to bring on board. DH was disappointed that there were no room-temp 6-packs of beer available! So after picking up a few other essentials, we drove back to the hotel, since I remember seeing a sign for a liquor store. Turns out there was a 24 hour grocery store practically in the hotel’s parking lot that had a great liquor section, so all is well!

In the morning we planned to have enough time to pick up Chick-fil-A breakfast, a drive-thru of Starbucks, and be on the road by 10am for the 1-hour drive to the Port.
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Old 11-21-2012, 02:58 PM   #3
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Through the drizzle we drove… and as soon as we passed over that huge bridge… ahhhh, there she is! The Disney Dream. My, she’s a big beauty! I just can’t help but get giddy! DH has to keep reminding me to keep my eyes on the road (I’m driving) and calm down. But how can I? We have an 11:30am check-in time and I’m ready!
[IMG][/IMG]

Thanks to the good folks here on Disboards, I know to park in the parking garage, level 3, close to the access bridge. Easy-peasy! There was no one there at 11:15am! They checked our id’s, and sent us across the bridge.

As we got across the bridge, we came right to the security checkpoint. You would think DH has never been through the TSA before (hello – I work for an airline!). He left his belt on, his phone clipped to his belt, keys in his pocket. You name it! I stood there on the other side of the metal detector in disbelief and embarrassment. I swear we hadn’t even started drinking yet! Now, as a line starts forming behind DH (who is practically undressing at this point to see what else he has on that is setting off the metal detector), and I realize that we have our two roller board suitcases with us (that we had planned to check), along with the rolling duffle of beverages (that we planned to carry on). Uh… hadn’t figured on that (my bad for not realizing that!). So once we got into the port, we were directed to the line for Castaway Club members, and a cast member called for a porter to come up to the terminal to retrieve our 2 bags.

There was no line, so we walked right up to the counter, presented our documents, received our Silver Castaway Club lanyards (DH’s first one!), and a porter was there within a few minutes to carry away our two bags.

[IMG][/IMG]

There was a large crowd in front of the Mickey ears entrance, as they hadn’t started boarding yet. So we found a spot to sit and wait for our Group 5 boarding announcement. I used the time to check Facebook and email for the last time in a few days. After about 15 minutes they announced the family of the day would be entering the ship and boarding would begin. I didn’t know how long it would take to get to Group 5, but it was a very short time. They were already on Group 6 by the time we walked over to the Mickey ears, and it looked like a big line still, but it turned out to be a big group just hanging out there. We had our Key to the World cards scanned, bypassed the photo op (I never buy the photos anyways), and before you know it we were being introduced!
[IMG][/IMG]
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Old 11-21-2012, 03:07 PM   #4
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Nice start. Good for you for giving without the kids. Can't wait to hear more.
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Old 11-21-2012, 04:04 PM   #5
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DH and I will be doing our first trip without the kiddies in a few months. A 7 night Western. Ours are 18 and 10 and I'll still probably be flooding their faces with kisses as we are pulling out!

Keep it coming!!
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Old 11-25-2012, 09:30 AM   #6
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Can't wait to hear more. My DW and I are headed to the Dream in late April for our kidless 20th anniversary sailing.

Hoping to steal a few tips from you!!!
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Old 11-25-2012, 02:30 PM   #7
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Joining in. We are cruising next year for the first time so reading reports to get tips,

off to a nice start.
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Old 11-26-2012, 01:50 PM   #8
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Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving weekend – I tried to stay away from the computer as much as possible (except for some Christmas shopping to avoid the malls!)

So where were we? Oh yes! Getting on the Dream!

I LOVE the way that DCL welcomes you on board! It’s so fun! The only thing is, we’re immediately rushed through the lobby and directed to the left for the aft elevators to take you to Cabanas. I know they do it intentionally to keep the lobby open, but I don’t think I really was able to take in the grandness of it because I was trying to listen for the directions as we were escorted through lobby. I did stop however, as the smell of gingerbread wafted to my nose and I noticed the walls…



That’s Gingerbread dust! Yum! Of course, I had to peek my camera over the wall…



Then we made our left turn and headed aft, as instructed. As we walked past Animators, we were again directed to the elevators. My first impression is that the ship seems to be laid out similarly to the Wonder (which I’ve been on twice before).
As we head up to 11, we are met by a friendly pelican from Finding Nemo…



…and head into Cabanas for lunch. I don’t have any photos of Cabanas, primarily because we were walking and looking at the food, walking and looking at the food, walking and looking at the food – and telling DH “Yes, we’ll find a place to sit, but I just want to see what all there is!” My impression of Cabanas is not what I thought it would be. From what I read it is different from the buffet on the Wonder – which is a long line, I understood Cabanas to be a series of food stands with different selections at each. I guess I pictured a food court in my mind, but it looked like one long buffet – probably because of the way people lined up. I inserted myself into line (and got a few dirty looks), but I didn’t want to stand in line for food I wasn’t interested in! I selected the salmon (which I heard on the Disboards is better than the salmon in the restaurants), it was wrapped in prosciutto and sitting on a bed of mashed, bright green “stuff” (which I think was wasabi??). I scrapped as much of the green stuff off and the salmon was pretty good. I also had pasta that looked to be in a light tomato sauce with fresh ricotta (that was my favorite), some asparagus (which were a little too thick for my taste), and a salad. It was a good meal, but nothing spectacular. I know they had crab legs and shrimp, but I’m not a big fan of either. As for the other selections, it was difficult to see and I wasn’t in the mood to stand in line because I was hungry!

While eating lunch, DH and I looked over our Navigator to get a sense of what we wanted to do. There were 2 things that caught our eye. 1) The ships tour, which was at 1 or 3pm (we were aiming for the 3pm tour so we could drop our bag), and sign up for the champagne (for me) and beer (for DH) tasting. So we made our way out onto the pool deck (silly me, I was all turned around and couldn’t figure out how to get out!) and walked the length of deck 11 toward the 18 and older pool area. There we found the forward elevators, and were going to take them down to 10 to see if our room was ready, but we were interrupted by the spa staff asking if we wanted a tour. Sure!

I’m funny with spas, there are some treatments I love, and others I can do without. Living in the Midwest, I’ve spent a few weekends at the Kohler Spa (yes, Kohler, like the toilets) in Kohler, WI, and it’s to die for! Highly recommended, if you have a few hundred dollars to spend. Anyway – I wasn’t planning on doing any spa treatments, but I was interested in seeing what it’s all about. Our tour guide let us leave our bag at the reception desk (filled with all the beer and bottled water, it was getting cumbersome!) and showed us around. The spa is really beautiful. They offer everything from a men’s shave to an exquisite couples massage complete with hot tub and champagne. After the tour we entered the raffle (which you must be present to win, at 3pm) and headed down to the 10th floor. The entry to the hallway was roped off, so at 12:45pm it looked like it would still be awhile before our room would be ready (our card said 1:15). So, off to find where we register for the tastings!
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Old 11-26-2012, 02:34 PM   #9
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[edited: whoops! posted part of this twice!]

We made our way to Evolution  which was pretty easy to find, kind of stumbled upon it actually!



The sign on the bar said that tasting cost between $15-20, depending on which one. I knew I wanted to do the champagne tasting, since that is something Ive never done before. DH asked about the beer tasting, but the bartender wasnt sure they were doing one on a 3-night cruise. He left to ask someone else and came back and regrettably confirmed no beer tasting. So he rang me up for the champagne tasting (which was $30, by the way!), and he wasnt sure his printer was functioning properly, so he gave me a copy of the receipt in case he couldnt get my ticket printed. All set for my tasting tomorrow (Nassau day) at 1pm! While that was occurring, DH had wandered into 687 and was tasting a sample of the beer on tap. Guess that was his beer tasting! (and it was free too). I have to say, the bathrooms in this area are super cool!



They are round rooms with curved doors. I cant imagine trying to manage in there after a few drinks and rocking on the seas!
By this point it was after 1pm, and we caught up with the 1pm tour in front of the Walt Disney Theatre.



After listening in for a few minutes, we decided we didnt need to do the tour, we were managing just fine, and we heard them say they were only covering the main areas, which we had managed to find on our own. So we headed up the forward elevators to the 10th floor in hopes our room would be ready, and it was! Welcome to stateroom 10504!



And even though I took this photo much later in the trip, I had to take it to show the contrast between my door and our neighbors door  for all my friends and family back home that think I go overboard on Disney. Their response was that 10506 had a head start. We never did see anyone come in or out of the room  so if youre on the Disboards  Hi!



I just love DCL staterooms! This was our first time ever with a balcony room. DH really wanted to try it without the kiddos to see how safe it would be. Hes a little (or, a LOT) overprotective. Here are a couple photos of the room and the view  notice were only a few doors down from the bridge  that was fun to see!





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Last edited by FlyingBelle; 11-26-2012 at 04:51 PM.
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Old 11-26-2012, 04:13 PM   #10
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My DH and I were on the Dream from 11-15 Nov. Did they finish the gingerbread house while you were on the cruise? It smelled so good and we liked to go by at night and watch them working on it.
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Old 11-26-2012, 04:22 PM   #11
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Great review so far!

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Old 11-26-2012, 04:45 PM   #12
FlyingBelle
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VowRenewal13 View Post
My DH and I were on the Dream from 11-15 Nov. Did they finish the gingerbread house while you were on the cruise? It smelled so good and we liked to go by at night and watch them working on it.
It looked mostly finished by the last night. The construction walls were down and there was a fake fireplace inside. More photos to come!
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Old 11-28-2012, 12:42 PM   #13
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I apologize for being a little slow on updating... you see, I haven't unpacked my Navigator's yet (I know!), and I want to make sure I get some of the details correct. Hopefully I'll have something more tomorrow...
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Old 11-28-2012, 11:44 PM   #14
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I'm enjoying your TR and photos!
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:30 PM   #15
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Hello! Enjoying the start of your TR so far ... trips without kids are super happy fun trips!

We are headed back to the Dream next November with my parents (I think that means my husband and I just became the kids ... ) and I'm looking forward to your pictures and any great tips you have from your voyage!
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