|01-30-2014, 09:52 AM||#1|
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Northern Virginia
A mini trip report for the Dream January 19-22
I just wanted to add a little information to the community since everything I read was so helpful. This was our first time on the Dream and we were celebrating DD's 6th birthday. It was a BEAUTIFUL ship. I wanted to start this mini report off by saying how lucky we should all consider ourselves to be that we can take our kids on such a beautiful destination. O.k. - now on to the details.
We flew in the day before from VA to Orlando. Booked a room at the MCO Hyatt. It was a great experience. I was not able to secure a great deal, so I paid a little over $200 for the room. We had a few hours to kill that night so it was nice being able to take our time and look around the airport. There is a large food court for quick meals. We ate at the Macaroni Grill which was in the same area; however, other restaurants such as Outback and Chilis were probably not a far walk away. Quick word of advice - buy your dramamine before leaving - it was $9 in the airport!
In the morning we ate breakfast in the hotel at the Hemisphere restaurant, another great experience. They do have a buffet for around $15 pp but you can order a la carte and they have less expensive options. Definitely most everything served here is free range, cage free, organic, so you can get a great meal here. I got a egg white fritatta with goat cheese and arugula for $11 - delicious!
As others have mentioned, you leave your bags in your room and the hotel gives you a paper to complete which you hand to the Disney Cruise desk people. They reconcile everything at the airport to make sure your bags get sent. Our bags were not waiting for us when we got to go into our room at 1:30, but they were there by 5 or so.
The paper that was given to us said that buses started leaving at 9:30. We were down by the Disney Cruise desk by 8:50 and we were able to get on the first bus and were on our way to the port by 9:19! (I kept notes on my phone so I could remember these details )
We arrived at the port by 10:03 Have your camera's ready - there is definitely opportunities to take pictures of the ship as you are pulling into the port.
I was able to secure a PAT of 10:30. (this was our second cruise - so it wasn't a factor of being concierge or anything - it was just planning and checking in on the website at midnight on the 90 day mark). It was a quick check in process (print your contract and take it with you). We got boarding group #2! We had pre-registered DD for the kids club so it was a short line to pick up the kids club bracelets. After that, it was chill time in the port - picture with Mickey and watching Dumbo on the tv's. They loaded groups #1 and #2 together. We bypassed the line for the formal portraits (there was a little big of jam there). We were on the ship by 11:30!
First stop was guest services where we got our Mixology tickets. Our mixology time was 4:00 on the Nassau day. There was another time offered on the sea day. I don't know if they added that because of the class selling out, but I think I would have preferred to go on the sea day, so I wish I would have asked if there were other times. Mixology was SO much fun and DD really enjoyed it. There were only 7 of us in the class and we made five drinks.
The nice thing about being on the boat so early was that we didn't feel rushed to get food. So we are able to take a good amount of time just to tour the ship. We went up on the sports deck and were able to play ping pong for quite a while with no interruption. We did not pack our swimsuits; however, the water is heated and it would have been fine for us to swim.
We had lunch in the Enchanted Garden at 1250. It was actually pretty crowded at this time, we had to wait in line for a seat. Lunch was good; got plenty of shrimp and crab legs. After that, it was time to check out the room. We had a deluxe family ocean view room and we really loved the large port hole. It became DD's favorte spot on the cruise. We had a verandah on the previous cruise and I honestly didn't miss it. I had ordered the birthday package and everything was set up. It was really nice - a banner on the bed, a card, a happy birthday sign hanging from the ceiling, and a large magnet.
After a nap and some Mickey cartoon we had the safety drill (please...don't be THAT guy and not show up for the safety drill - everyone ends up waiting for the cast member to realize you aren't coming).
We headed down to the sail away party after the drill. It was a lot of fun for DD - she got a spot right in front; however, to me it felt like a war zone. The amount of pushing and cutting in front from adults and older kids alike was unreal. You are best to follow the advice on these boards and go on the 12th deck and watch. If you have a 5:45 dinner time - time really moves quickly after the sail away party. We went back to the room and it was a quick turnaround to unpack and get ready for dinner.
Dinner on the first night was in the Enchanted Garden. We were seated with another family who were wonderful. They had a daughter the same age as DD so they became quick friends. Food was good. DD ordered the soup and it came out piping hot! so be careful. Our wait staff were good; however, the head waiter was a little hard to understand. We were celebrating DD's birthday and it was difficult trying to coordinate a birthday celebration. We did not order a cake - but all I wanted was a Mickey bar with sprinkles. We got that plus a small cake from the back with a candle in it, which unfortunately we wasted.
Since this was our second cruise, again we didn't feel compelled to do the shows. DD went to the kids club and DH and I went to the District to catch the end of the football game. We did a quick tour of Pink. The bartender told us that the pink lights had just gone through a refurbishment so that the lights would "twinkle" like bubbling champagne. We dropped of DD's birthday card (the one we got from the package) at Guest Services to be signed. We also got a Bahamas stamp from guest services (.65 charged to the room). I am glad we did this early because the post office was closed when we got off at CC and they only excepted cash.
I really like the way that Shutters is organized. All of your photos are kept in a book so you don't have pictures of your family for the whole world to see.
The kids club is HUGE and so much fun! There is a ton of stuff to do there. You may want to consider going to the open house even if you get your band at port. We did not. When we picked up DD on the first night we found out that she only stayed in one room the whole time because she basically didn't know the other stuff existed. The check in/check out process is not very organized IMO. People just crowd and the CMs don't have very good control of the whole process. The hallway gets very crowded and because they are trying to get people in - you have to wait to get out. They really need a dedicated line or some signage to help out.
We stayed on the boat for Nassau day. We did not do a ton of characters but we made sure to see Princess Anna. Her arrival time was 9:00 on Nassau day (she also had a second appearance on the sea day). I think there were 3 showings for the Princesses. I am glad we got to see her on the boat because the wait at Epcot was 4 hours!! We ended up doing both of the Midship detective agency puzzles - a lot of fun. DD loved the moving artwork. We saw three movies on the boat over our three days (Saving Mr. Banks, Thor, and Frozen). There were a lot of opportunities to see movies.
CC was amazing! First time there. The weather could have been warmer but we found a great spot with a hammock (there are plenty; especially on the first beach) and we hung out all day. Cookies BBQ was really good and DH and I enjoyed a few cocktails at the beach bar while DD went to the kids club on the island.
DH and I did Palo brunch on our Sea Day. I am sure I am in the minority here, but I enjoyed the dinner we took on our first cruise much better (the Wonder) The brunch food was good - not amazing IMO. In the end, I paid $50 + tip for brunch. I would be happier paying that price for dinner. I'm pretty sure the restaurant is located right under the basketball court because we heard pounding throughout our entire breakfast.
So...in a nutshell that's it. It was a GREAT trip. I loved the Dream and can't wait to go on the Fantasy someday. We have been on five other cruises, all of which have been 7+ days. I was worried that four days wouldn't be "enough" but it really was a great four days. I think getting on the boat early and staying on the boat at Nassau helped us to get the most out of our trip. Sorry, but I'm not able to scan navigators.
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