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Old 11-27-2013, 06:31 PM   #1
lighthouse10
Earning My Ears
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 43

Disney Dream First Timers

Hi all, just came off the 11/17/13 4 night Dream and wanted to post a trip report. I found this board invaluable during the planning process for this cruise, so hopefully some of my experiences will be helpful to others as well.

DH and I planned this cruise (no kiddos) together after not having a vacation for several years. Would have liked to do a 7 night, but couldnít get away for work for too long, so chose the 4 night Dream. We have cruised in the past on Carnival, RCL, and Princess, but this was our first Disney cruise.

After doing lots of research online and on these forums, we decided we wanted to try concierge, cat V. We used a travel agent and the category we wanted was booked, so we booked 4A got on the waitlist for concierge. The TA got us a nice onboard credit. A cat V room opened up after about a week on the wait list and we took it - room 12504. Since it was already less than 120 days out (probably about 100 or so) we paid in full right away so we could begin making some bookings.

We were lucky to secure a cabana at CC, and also made a spa appointment, and a reservation to Palo for brunch. Shoreside concierge called us to see if there was anything else they could help with, but I had done the bookings myself online already - very easy to do. All that was left was too wait for our sail date to arrive!
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Old 11-27-2013, 06:32 PM   #2
lighthouse10
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Departure Day

After getting some great advice on these boards, we decided we would try for an upgrade to a cat T (1 bedroom suite) on our departure day. While we felt we would be happy with the cat V regardless, we were hoping for some of the extra perks that would come with the slightly larger suite - hot breakfast, in-room dining from the MDRs, extra balcony space, etc. The pre-cruise price for this suite was out of our budget because we wanted to spend some on the spa and CC cabana, so an upgrade would be the only way to make it affordable. According to the DCL website, there were 4 cat Ts open.

We drove ourselves to the port, parked in the garage, and were in line at the terminal entrance on the 3rd level by about 9:45am with 3 families ahead of us. A huge line formed behind us by the time they opened the terminal shortly after 10am. We had a couple of bags with us that we had tried to drop off on the 1st floor, but were told porters would be sent upstairs for them before we entered the terminal. Unfortunately, being newbies, we didnít realize that this information wasnít exactly accurate and we could in fact have turned our bags over on the first level. The result was that as we waited for porters to come collect our bags once the terminal opened, everyone behind us in line who had left bags at the curbside was allowed to go in front of us to enter the terminal. We were freaking out at that point because we had purposefully arrived so early to be one of the first in line to try for an upgrade, and our hearts just sank as we watched droves of people going ahead of us into the terminal.

We finally made it inside by about 10:30, but were then way back in the line from where we started. Luckily since we were able to go straight to the concierge desk, we didnít have a long line to check-in inside the terminal. We were told at concierge that there were still some upgrades left and were escorted to the supervisorís desk where we were 3rd in line. We were offered cat T for $400 and cat R for $1400. We decided to go for the R, not knowing if we would ever get an opportunity for it again! The total price we ended up paying was way less than what we would have paid if we had booked a cat T ahead of time, and we got an amazing room - 12002.

We were then directed to the concierge waiting area where we only waited about 15 minutes before we were called to board the ship. We were the second family to board and loved walking on to the quiet ship and seeing the lobby all decked out for Christmas. We were brought straight to the concierge lounge where we were offered snacks and drinks. Our concierge hosts were Andy, Annie, and Ashley. Andy sat down with us and went over our itinerary, talked us through each day, and made sure all of our questions were answered.

By the time we finished with him the lounge was filling up, so we checked our carry-ons with the concierge reception and headed to Cabanas for lunch. It was quite crowded by that point and we had to hunt to find a place to sit. The food was decent and we thought Cabanas was very cute.

It was close to 1pm by then, time to check out the room! It was amazing - beautiful decor, comfy furniture, a full-sized fridge stocked with sodas, water, and milk, high-end coffee machine, and a beautiful master bedroom and bath with tons of closet space. The room was bigger than our apartment at home. There were many really cool little features that we enjoyed, like being able to have the bathroom windows either clear to see the view or frosted for privacy on port days. Also, there was a tv in the bathroom mirror which totally won over my sports fanatic husband, who was able to watch football while shaving that evening. The deck is massive, with beautiful lounge furniture and a hot tub (which we used daily - what a treat!). My one and only qualm with this suite is that people on the deck on 13 are directly above and can see right down onto the Waltís deck. There is an overhang you can sit under, but you can still constantly hear people upstairs talking and they can see you if youíre out on the deck except for right under the overhang. It would have been nice to have better privacy, especially in this class of suite, but that was truly the only thing ďwrongĒ with it in my opinion.

Our stateroom host and assistant (Suzana and Heru) checked in with us and were very attentive and helpful. They immediately switched out the feather pillows when I told them I have allergies, and brought us lovely pillows from the menu in the room. They made sure we knew our way around the suite and left us to enjoy it.

By the time we settled in and unpacked, it was time for the sail away party, which we got tips on the best place to watch from our stateroom host (deck 12, go early to get rail space). Very fun and gets you in the mood for the start of the vacation. We also attended the tree lighting, which was short and sweet, and the tree is beautiful.

Our dining room rotation was ERAA, so we headed off to Enchanted Garden for the second seating after enjoying a very nice cocktail hour in the concierge lounge. (We decided to skip the most of the shows and things, preferring to have a more laid back, less scheduled experience). We had a table to ourselves, which I heard is typical for concierge unless you request otherwise. Our servers were Herbert and Lisandro, and they were both wonderful and efficient. My husband and I both have some dietary restrictions, and Herbert had them down after the first night, and always made great suggestions for both of us. Enchanted Garden was nice, but the menu and decor were my least favorite of the 3 MDRs.
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Old 11-27-2013, 06:34 PM   #3
lighthouse10
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Day 2 - Nassau

We took advantage of the ability to order hot breakfast from room service for our Nassau day. The menu is nice with many options - you place your order with a concierge host the evening prior. It came at the specified time and everything was hot and tasty. This saved us a lot of time in the morning and gave us an opportunity to enjoy eating out on the lovely deck. The weather was just right - sunny and in the low 80s.

We had been to Nassau before on another cruise and had already done the Atlantis and city tour thing, so decided to strike out on our own. There are many people touting tours and things at the terminal, and they seem to be good deals for those who might want to try them.

We decided to take a local bus (#10) to Ardastra Gardens for the morning. The bus was $1.25 pp, air-conditioned, and left us right down the street from the zoo. Itís a small zoo, and full of beautiful foliage. It was a relaxing morning, not crowded at all, and we enjoyed the marching flamingos. The local bus took us back into town where we had a quick stroll through the straw market and got back on board the ship by about 1pm.

We ordered lunch from the room service menu, as well as mickey bars for dessert (not on the menu!) and asked them to send some extras to stock up our freezer a bit for the next couple of days. Theyíre so good - not just for kids :-) The food was good, but in general we found room service to be spotty as far as getting things accurate in the order. Sometimes there would be items missing, or if we asked for anything specific (ie no mayo) it didnít always happen. Weíre not terribly picky, so while I make that observation and Iím sure they would have corrected any issues had we asked, we usually didnít feel like waiting for someone to leave and come back to fix it, so let things go.

After a very relaxing afternoon sunning and reading on the deck, we headed to the spa for the Couples Choice treatment. This was amazing! It is a pricey treatment, but worth it and they really do make it into a whole experience for you. It begins with a consultation to see what you would like. We both opted for the 50 minute hot stone massage and a 25 minute facial, so weíd get the head to toe treatment. You then move to the deck where you get a foot scrub, and then about 30 minutes to soak in the hot tub. We were lucky because although we were still in port during our hot tub time, the ship beside us had already left so we got an unobstructed ocean view. The therapists collected us to start the treatments, which were wonderful and relaxing. It was very sweet that they joined our hands at the end before they left the room so we could get robed up again. When they returned to the room they did give us a product pitch and also tried to get us to sign up for more treatments, but we politely declined and didnít feel pressured. We were then taken back out to the deck and served tea and fresh fruit. The moon was out by then and we were back out at sea - it was so pretty shining on the ocean. What a great experience!

Although we were totally veggíd out, I didnít want to miss the Royal Palace, so we got dressed for dinner (followed by cocktails in the concierge lounge again of course!) RP was my favorite menu. Itís a very traditional looking dining room, but prettily done up for Christmas. It also has nice touches like a bread basket shaped like Cinderellaís coach. After a delicious meal and coffee I was done for the night - we never went to any of the lounges or bars on the ship. We really enjoyed spending time in our suite, on our deck, and just being together. Upon returning to our room we found a model of our cabana for the following day, as well as the wristbands we would need. Our stateroom host also did a wonderful display with swans and rose petals, which was the perfect romantic end to the day after our couples massage and all.
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Old 11-27-2013, 06:37 PM   #4
lighthouse10
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Day 3 - Castaway Cay

We ordered the hot breakfast again and got it as early as possible to we would be able to debark and enjoy a full day on Castaway Cay. The weather was perfect - low 80s, just a few white puffy clouds.

We got off the ship quickly around 9am- no line - and decided to walk to the cabana check-in to enjoy the beautiful day and scenery. On our way, there were several places you could stop and get pictures with characters - we saw tropical Mickey, Goofy, and Donald, and the lines were not too long for pics.

We walked right along the edge of where the beach began, and did not realize we missed the cabana check-in, which is further to the right as you walk towards the cabanas. A staff member delivering people to their cabana by golf cart told us not to worry, to go ahead to our cabana and someone would check us in there. Our cabana host was one of the concierge hosts and she arrived promptly to show us around and make sure we knew how to reach her, order drinks, etc, before leaving us to enjoy.

We had Cabana 5, which was great. When I originally booked it, I would have preferred one on Serenity Bay, but they were all sold out and I was glad to get anything! The cruise was not full though and I heard there were even 2 vacant family cabanas. It turned out that Cabana 5 was beautifully situated - very private, close to Cookies 2 and the restrooms, and the family cabana beach was quiet and peaceful. I would recommend this spot if you have a choice when youíre booking. We preferred to walk everywhere (to snorkel, lunch, even back to the ship at the end of the day), but the nice thing about Cabana 5 was that it was so close to everything that the walk would have been easy for most anyway, and eliminated the need to wait to be picked up and dropped off by the golf carts every time you wanted to go somewhere.

The cabana really made the day so special. My DH is not the beach bum that I am, and he would never have lasted the whole day on CC if we hadnít had the cabana - he had a place inside that was shaded and cool and comfortable for when he had enough of the sun. We stayed at the cabana pretty much the whole day, as it had everything we needed to enjoy CC - stocked with towels, sunscreen, a safe for our personal items, a fridge full of soda and water, fresh fruit, chips, and granola bars, even magazines. The music piped in was Christmas music with a tropical flair, and we enjoyed it for a while and then turned it down when the tracks started repeating.

In the morning we snorkeled (equipment included), and had a great time looking for the sunken Mickey and sub and all. The reef is pretty much artificial, so not so impressive in that regard, but we still enjoyed the swim. The water was quite cold for my taste and I came out full of goosebumps after about an hour in there. The sun heats you right back up though! We returned to the cabana and relaxed for a while in the hammock and sun loungers before heading to lunch. The set up at Cookies is very smart - they have several lines for the same food so it does not get crowded. There are many salads to choose from, burgers, hot dogs, fruit, cookies, and chips. I am a vegetarian, and was able to request a veggie burger. We took our food back to the cabana and called the host to order some cocktails. The service was quick and the drink prices were reasonable. We enjoyed the BBQ lunch - a perfect choice for a beach day.

After some more relaxing and hanging out in the cabana we decided to take a walk down the beach. Itís really a beautiful place and we couldnít believe how empty it was by about 3pm or so - it seems a lot of people start heading back to the ship by then. We ended our walk at one of the beach bars (Sand Bar) for another round of cocktails. Apparently we were just in time, as the bars close at 3:30 and they were already cleaning everything up. We ordered pina coladas and the bartender gave us a 2 for 1 deal. Also, he made too much, so gave us an extra cup full - so between the 2 of us we had 3 pina coladas and only had to pay for 1! He sure got a nice tip from us! We took them back to the cabana to relax with the drinks on the loungers before the host began to collect people to head back to the ship shortly after 4pm. We walked back to the ship instead of taking the tram, which allowed us to take our time and go at our leisure. We loved CC and the cabana, and only wished the day could have been even longer!

After such a long and lovely beach day, we werenít in the mood for the energy of the MDR and pirate night, so opted to order from the pirate menu for our room service for dinner. They bring all the courses at once and the room service attendant set up the table very nicely with linens. He offered to wait outside the suite to serve us one course at a time, but we didnít feel that was necessary so he just left us the courses to enjoy on our own. We enjoyed the food and a relaxing meal in the suite, and then headed off to see Thor in 3D at 11pm. The movie theater was freezing - I had to send DH back to the room for sweaters. Most everyone came in sweaters or with blankets. The movie was fun and the crowd was lively. Another wonderful day on the Dream! Should mention that this evening our stateroom hosts brought the tip envelops and prepaid slips, with an extra one for concierge. I know this is a question that comes up frequently - we did tip concierge and the bartender in the lounge. The concierge hosts were amazing and really made the trip stress free - we never had to stand in line at guest services as they took care of anything we needed, even room service orders. They also took great care of us at CC. The bartender Elias made great cocktails and was always a smiling face in the lounge. I also left extra for the stateroom host since we were in a large suite - more for her to clean and look after.
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Old 11-27-2013, 06:37 PM   #5
lighthouse10
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Day 4 - At Sea

We had Palo brunch scheduled for 11:30 on our sea day, so took advantage of the late morning and slept to our heartís content! We skipped breakfast, having heard how extensive the brunch menu is. We had a nice morning in the suite, watching some Disney movies on demand before brunch.

Palo brunch was wonderful! Our server showed us around, let us know which items needed to be ordered, brought us mimosas, and left us to fill our plates. We each had about 4 courses and were stuffed at the end. The food was delicious. We decided to skip most of the breakfast items since there were so many great lunch options. The one exception was the sticky buns - they are to die for - not to be missed! We started with salads and breads and veggies, then shared a pizza for an appetizer, each ordered a main course, and finished with the amazing dessert table. Everything was excellent and the experience itself makes it worth it. The restaurant has beautiful views, it is very calm and unrushed, and the service is top notch. I would definitely recommend Palo brunch.

On the way back from lunch we purchased a couple of souvenirs - they had great Christmas stuff out so we each chose an ornament for our tree at home.

Our afternoon was spent in our suite - with such a huge deck of our own, we didnít find it necessary to go out into the ship. Besides, when we walked through on the way to and from Palo, we could see that the pool and deck areas were super crowded. Since we were after quiet and relaxation, we were happy to have our own spot to retreat to. Some people may wonder why we chose a Disney cruise for our vacation if we wanted peace and quiet. I do love Disney and all the magic involved, so I wanted to try it at least once. Also, since we had booked concierge even before our port upgrade, we planned from the start on sticking to the concierge sun deck and lounge, our own verandah, and adult-only areas of the ship for the most part. The adults only pool was busy, but nowhere near as crowded as the family areas. It is totally possible to do Disney in a relaxing way if you plan it right. This was one reason why we really limited the scheduled activities, so we didnít feel tied to too many things. We were able to enjoy most of the day on the deck, occupied with books, music, and of course the amazing view, until the rain began later in the afternoon. We caught up on some of our favorite Disney movies and enjoyed the last of our Mickey bars for what was left of the day.

Our sea day ended with cocktails in the concierge lounge, where we were presented with a lovely gift by the hosts, and then dinner in Animatorís Palate. This was my favorite MDR for capturing the Disney element. All of the details were so much fun. We sat near a screen, but not one of the ones with a camera, so Crush did not interact with us, but we still enjoyed watching him and the other Nemo characters popping up throughout dinner. The menu was great in this dining room as well. The water began to get a bit choppy on this last night and people were stumbling around getting back to their rooms after dinner. Both DH and I were a little uncomfortable by that point - I wouldnít say seasick, just really feeling the motion of the ship, and glad for the dramamine I had packed.
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Old 11-27-2013, 06:38 PM   #6
lighthouse10
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Leaving the Ship

We had our last breakfast in the concierge lounge rather than going to the MDR. They put out a nice continental spread and have an amazing coffee machine. We had also opted for Express walk-off, so we didnít have to put our luggage out the evening before. Since it was just two of us, it was easy to walk our own things off and saved time. We exited the ship at about 8am, walked right through customs and were on the road by about 8:15.

To sum up, for an adults only cruise I would recommend doing concierge level if you can, spend time in the spa, do Palo and/or Remy, and leave plenty of time to relax. Itís impossible to do it all, and unless keeping extremely busy is how you like to spend your vacation, just know from the start that you might not get to everything.

Just about everything from start to finish was magical and we had a wonderful cruise. Hopefully some of the information Iíve shared will be helpful to others. If there was anything I didnít cover, feel free to reply with questions and I will do my best to answer! Happy cruising!
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Old 11-27-2013, 07:50 PM   #7
CarolyninCO
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Thanks so much for the report...so much detail! Just like you, we are booked for a V and hoping for some of the pixie dust you had. Your trip sounds soooo relaxing.

Thanks for sharing!
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Old 11-28-2013, 02:30 PM   #8
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Navigators

Thank you for the wonderful trip report. You did not happen to keep the Navigators did you? I would love to see them if you did.

Thanks,
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Old 11-29-2013, 07:08 AM   #9
lighthouse10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nick262 View Post
Thank you for the wonderful trip report. You did not happen to keep the Navigators did you? I would love to see them if you did.

Thanks,
No, sorry! To be honest we didn't really follow them much.
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Old 12-01-2013, 03:29 PM   #10
bld disney
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We met you on the ship. Our experiences were very similar. We upgraded to 12502 at port. It was a one in a lifetime experience! We were able to get a cabana as well. None were available when we booked, but we got one after we upgraded! A perfect trip!!!
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Old 12-02-2013, 06:02 PM   #11
lighthouse10
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Originally Posted by bld disney View Post
We met you on the ship. Our experiences were very similar. We upgraded to 12502 at port. It was a one in a lifetime experience! We were able to get a cabana as well. None were available when we booked, but we got one after we upgraded! A perfect trip!!!
Yes, we enjoyed meeting you! It was a perfect trip and will be hard to top.
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Old 12-06-2013, 09:53 PM   #12
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What a great trip report. We will be on the Dream on the 15th of Dec. It is our first ever cruise and it will just be my husband and I. We too have the same kind of cruise mind that you and your husband were on - quiet, relaxing and laid back. So your trip report was very helpful. Thank you.
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Old 12-09-2013, 08:30 AM   #13
lighthouse10
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Originally Posted by Jenntx View Post
What a great trip report. We will be on the Dream on the 15th of Dec. It is our first ever cruise and it will just be my husband and I. We too have the same kind of cruise mind that you and your husband were on - quiet, relaxing and laid back. So your trip report was very helpful. Thank you.
I hope you have an amazing trip!
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Old 12-09-2013, 09:40 AM   #14
frannie12
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Thank you for sharing!
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Old 12-09-2013, 09:54 AM   #15
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Following along!
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