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Old 03-22-2011, 02:36 PM   #1
Betzfamily
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Dream 3/17 to 3/20

Hi All... Here is my trip report ... I'm paying it forward as I did a lot of lurking over the past year or so...

Traveling Party -- Myself, hubby, our three sons (21, 20, 18) and my parents (ages 65 and 63). This was our family's 4th Disney cruise. It was my parents FIRST cruise ever. We booked two cat 5a rooms and one 11a room.

Pre-Cruise Hotel -- My parents flew into MCO and we drove down from Birmingham on Wednesday. We stayed at the Hampton Inn for the night before using hotel rewards points. The hotel was sufficient for one night. The rooms were dated, but clean. I probably would not stay there for an extended amount of time but would do so again if it is free.

Thursday Morning -- We were pretty leisure about the morning given the prior reviews of long lines at the port. My dad does not like crowds and my mom has some health issues so we decided not to subject them to an early port arrival (which is what we normally do). We checked out of the hotel around 10am and went to iHop just down the road for breakfast. Finished around 11:20 am and loaded up to head to the port. It was just a 10 minute drive from the iHop.

Disney Terminal Arrival -- We had noted our expected port arrival time on our check-in docs as the 10:30-11:00 am window. We arrived at 11:35 am. There were no cars coming into the terminal. I dropped off my parents, the kids and DH at the curb. The porter took our luggage. I drove our car about 200 yards to the parking structure located across the street from the Disney Terminal and parked on the first level. It took 3 minutes from the time I dropped them at the curb until the time I rejoined them. Parking is very easy. The cost was $15 per night.

Embarkation -- We got out our ID's for the security guard with the list of passengers at the outside gate. There was one family in front of us. We checked though easily at the first gate and headed into the terminal. Before going up the escalators, there is the x-ray machine. We waited behind one family and went right on through and up the escalators. Once on the second level, we completed our medical form and took the form over to wait in the main check-in line for Castaway Club members. There were two families ahead of us in this line but it only took like 5 minutes for them to call us to an available person.

We checked our documents with Barb - super nice lady. She reviewed our docs, signed us in, took our security photos, handed us our KTTW cards and said good bye. It took about 10-15 minutes. I reminded her that we needed a boarding group number. She was like "OH my gosh!" I winked at her and said, "Oh, anything below 10 will work for us." She gave us group #4.

We walked over to the large group of people as they had starting boarding while we were checking in with Barb. They were on group 2 by the time we joined them. A DCL rep was trying to move the crowd back to let those boarding through. One family had group 10 and were asked to find a seat. We were allowed to stay. I think it took about 10 minutes for them to call group 4 and we made our way pretty easily to the front.

As we scanned our cards, we noted it was 12:30 pm -- exactly one hour after we arrived. We stood for our picture and walked on board. A DCL rep welcomed us - she directed us to Enchanted Garden. I asked if we could go to Cabanas - she said it was closed. We went anyway.

DH went to guest services to try to get a private cabana at Castaway Cay - we were not successful but I'm glad (used the money to rebook). We went to Cabana's and of course they were open. We weren't that hungry because we didn't expect to get on the boat so quickly. But we somehow managed to eat. We explored the ship until our rooms became available at 1:30 pm. We hung out there and also went up to the top deck to watch us sail away. The sail away party is lame but we watched for a few minutes. The kids pools were crowded - which didn't matter to us because we had the adult pool and quiet cove areas. Never saw any little ones there as expected. I know there has been some discussion about the pool size - the adult pool was completely adequate. The children pool is too small for the number of kids on this ship (I heard 1000 kids were on board and it was sold out).

Our Rooms -- DH & I were in 10056 (cat 5a). My parents were in 10058 (connecting). Our sons were in 10545 (cat 11a). I have posted a stateroom report for these. In a nutshell, we liked our rooms. The location was good. Very little noise from deck 11 above - some moving of chairs around 7am and some late night running by kids but nothing that disturbed our sleep. My parents really loved having the verandah - can't imagine their cruise would have been as enjoyable without it as my dad spent a significant amount of time there. The inside stateroom for my boys was just big enough for them - can't imagine having 4 adults in there. Our rooms were mid-ship. We had absolutely no elevator or hallway noise. Would book them again as my sons eat a lot and were constantly going up stairs for ice cream.

Restaurants & Servers -- Our rotation was Royal Palace, Animator's Palate and Enchanted Garden. AP was our favorite. Our servers were Jayson and Zacky -- Both very good. Zacky went ABOVE AND BEYOND for my mother. Again, with her medical condition she needed to use the restroom during dinner. He said he would show here where to go - he took her to the restroom, waited for her and brought her back to our table. My mom gets lost easily - This excellent service was above and beyond in my opinion. On the final night, they went back to AP to get us our favorite cookies and cream shake. The head waiter (a nice lady from South Africa) came to our table every night - not what we expected as other cruises we rarely saw the head waiter. Sometimes our food was not "pipin' hot" - probably due to the walk from the kitchen or staging for so many people or whatever. But it was still good nonetheless and nothing that we felt needed to be brought to their attention. The service was excellent and we tipped accordingly.

Nassau -- We typically stay on the boat, but with this being my parents first trip, we did Discover Atlantis excursion. Left at 11:15 am -- walked to the buses, about 20 minute drive to Atlantis and then a 45 minute walking tour through the aquarium. We then spent another hour walking around the resort before heading back on the buses at our leisure. It was a beautiful resort and I recommend the excursion, but probably not something we'd repeat.

Castaway Cay -- GORGEOUS weather. We got off the boat at 830 am and headed to Serenity Bay. DH ran the 5k. We found the beach too windy and cold on that side (we're warm weather people) so we relocated to the family beach around 10am. There were plenty of chairs still at that time and there was less wind and more sun. We then went to our stingray adventure at 11am. Feeding the stingrays was absolutely amazing! We didn't snorkel because the water was too cold for us - other people did. I think we're just whimps. Lunch at Cookies was disappointing - food was overcooked. But the ice cream was good as were the Lays potato chips. We got back on the boat around 2pm, took showers and went to the 4pm matinee showing of Disney Believe. I recommend it highly.

Pirate Night, Fireworks & Other Entertainment -- Enjoyed the pirate show and recommend it highly. We watched fireworks from the bar area above the adults pool. DH & I listened to "Jet" (or whatever their names were) in the District Lounge one night - they were pretty good. It was nice to just relax and have a drink and listen to some music. LOVED the Detective Agency game even though our kids were not really little. It was a fun way to learn your way around the ship so I recommend doing it earlier than later.

Debarkation -- Seamless again. Went back to Enchanted Garden for breakfast at 6:30 am and then to Shutters to claim our reprint by 7:20 am. Then we went to get in the short line to get off the boat. We were off and through customs in about 20 minutes (if that). Our luggage was easy to find and we waited behind one family to see the customs agent.

Hyatt MCO -- We booked a day room at the Hyatt MCO for my parents as we were driving home and their flight left later in the day. This was the best thing I could have done for them -- they needed the nap as they were just worn out from all the walking.


THAT'S ALL FOLKS! I think that's plenty but let me know if I can clarify or answer any questions. We did rebook for a 7 day on Magic ... couldn't pass up the 10% off and stateroom credit.

Cindy

PS: I have no idea how to post pictures so please don't ask for some unless you tell me how to do it.
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Old 03-22-2011, 04:27 PM   #2
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A few more things to add:

1) Aquaduck was amazing - we rode it just once on the CC day while all the people were still at the beach. Our wait was 10 minutes but it is worth a longer wait.

2) Went to Cabana's for breakfast on day 2 - got there about 9am. I went to the CM station for help with seating and was disappointed. The gentleman told me they were full and I would have to find a place to eat outside. Unfortunately, this was a missed service opportunity for Disney - outside was a bit windy and our food got cold fast. I later heard that the other side of the restaurant WAS seating people so we went to that side on the other days. If you go to Cabana's, be aware that there may be issues with the port side seating and you might try the other side if you don't have any luck.

3) We had our family pictures taken on two nights. For our experience, the girl working the white background was much better than the one working the other background so those are the ones we bought. Our dinner was at 6pm - we lined up for pictures at 5:30 to allow plenty of time. It normally took us 20 minutes to wait and get our picture taken. We ended up purchasing five 8x10 photos for $100. Packages started at $150.

Ok...NOW I think that covers it ... I think ...
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Old 03-22-2011, 04:47 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Betzfamily View Post
A few more things to add:

1) Aquaduck was amazing - we rode it just once on the CC day while all the people were still at the beach. Our wait was 10 minutes but it is worth a longer wait.

2) Went to Cabana's for breakfast on day 2 - got there about 9am. I went to the CM station for help with seating and was disappointed. The gentleman told me they were full and I would have to find a place to eat outside. Unfortunately, this was a missed service opportunity for Disney - outside was a bit windy and our food got cold fast. I later heard that the other side of the restaurant WAS seating people so we went to that side on the other days. If you go to Cabana's, be aware that there may be issues with the port side seating and you might try the other side if you don't have any luck.

3) We had our family pictures taken on two nights. For our experience, the girl working the white background was much better than the one working the other background so those are the ones we bought. Our dinner was at 6pm - we lined up for pictures at 5:30 to allow plenty of time. It normally took us 20 minutes to wait and get our picture taken. We ended up purchasing five 8x10 photos for $100. Packages started at $150.

Ok...NOW I think that covers it ... I think ...
we have the 6pm dining time also I am so happy to hear you got to the show and dinner and had time to do the photo's we don't go until May 2012 and we can not wait love your trip report!
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Old 03-23-2011, 09:29 AM   #4
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Excellent report - appreciate the details esp in regard to arrival and parking

Thank You!
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Old 03-23-2011, 10:14 AM   #5
loveysbydesign
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Great report, thanks for sharing!
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Nov. 13-22 2007-2nd trip to WDW with Baby Hartley #3-it's a boy!!! Total cost including airfare, condo. rental at WH, park tix and rental car =$2200
May 2009- 3 nights in a 2 bedroom at SSR and then our 1st Disney cruise on the Magic! Total cost for 2 Cat. 12's -upgraded to Cat. 10's=$2900

June 11-20 2010- Our super cheap, surprising the kids, 1st time driving, celebrating Ryan's 3rd birthday trip! Total cost=$950
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Oct.10-15, 2011 Crazy Columbus Crowds(did YES program) & cruised on the Dream Oct. 16-20
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Old 03-23-2011, 10:18 AM   #6
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Great Report! Thanks for posting.
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We had a fantastic time at POFQ in July 2010.
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Spent 4 nights at CSR, 7-day Fantasy Cruise and 2 days at the Grande Vista in Sept 2012!
Had a ball at All Star Sports for 5 days in May 2013
Loved All Star Sports so much, we're headed back in Sept 2014!

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Old 03-23-2011, 11:43 AM   #7
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Loved your trip report! Thanks for sharing!
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Old 03-23-2011, 12:18 PM   #8
jerseygal
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Question How did your "older" sons enjoy the Dream?

Thanks for posting the TR!!!

From an "older" sons perspective, did they enjoy the Dream? Have older sons and I am just wondering...... I'm sure they loved Castaway Cay, who wouldn't?

Thanks very much for any info you could provide!!!!
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Old 03-23-2011, 08:06 PM   #9
Betzfamily
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jerseygal View Post
Thanks for posting the TR!!!

From an "older" sons perspective, did they enjoy the Dream? Have older sons and I am just wondering...... I'm sure they loved Castaway Cay, who wouldn't?

Thanks very much for any info you could provide!!!!

My older sons did enjoy the Dream - they played basketball and ping pong on the sports deck. They are not ones to "lay out" in the sun by the pool, but they did that at Castaway Cay. We love to play games as a family - they took cards and sat on the 4th deck at the atrium mid-ship and played cards quite a few times while people watching.

My middle son (age 20) loved the band - he went and listed to them at the lounge every night and talked to them a lot about music. They were very approachable to guests.

My two oldest sons went to the first "18-21 Mixer" but there were only three people that showed up - my boys and another girl. They said the activity for this age group on CC was much better - more participation from what they saw. My oldest son says that this age group is hit-or-miss on their organized activities, but worth the try.

My guys did not get off the boat at Nassau - I think they slept in, watched movies in the theater and played basketball. While they always enjoy the cruise, they said they want to take some of their friends along for our next trip.

Hope that helps you!
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Old 03-24-2011, 09:33 AM   #10
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So Cabanas WAS open even though they told you it was closed?
Did they have the 2 show times instead of 3? and Did the dining times change. I have heard they have or about to change coming up soon
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Old 03-24-2011, 01:18 PM   #11
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Thanks for the report! I'm in Birmingham too! Cruising the Dream on May 12 with my 19 yo DD. I bet she would have liked to hang out with your sons! She'll be glad to hear there is a meet and greet for her age group. Thanks again!
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Old 03-26-2011, 09:26 AM   #12
Betzfamily
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So Cabanas WAS open even though they told you it was closed?
Did they have the 2 show times instead of 3? and Did the dining times change. I have heard they have or about to change coming up soon

Yes, Cabanas WAS open when we boarded the ship at 12:30ish even though the girl who welcomed us aboard said, "it should open in an hour or so." We just walked to the elevators and went up to deck 11 and found it open.

I honestly can't remember the show times. The dining times were as advertised -- 6pm and 8:30 pm. We had main dining at 6pm and our scheduled show time was the late one. They offered a matinee show on Saturday at 4pm of Disney's "Believe" -- I like that they added this time because we wanted to get our bags out in the hallway around our scheduled show time (830-9).

Hope this helps you...
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