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Old 04-21-2014, 03:28 PM   #1
Ivo Shandor
Earning My Ears
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 9

4 Night Dream Trip Report (like the title says)

Pre-travel Epilogue

This is already stressing me out and there are still 3 months until the cruise. I have very world-travelled, cultured folks who SWEAR by the Disney cruises. Today, I discovered there are message boards where people have listed underneath their names as their message board signature, all of the Disney cruises and WDW trips they’ve been on. I understand this is a message board for Disney fans, that fact has not escaped me. They decorate their doors, wonder why people eat fruit from the buffet while on a cruise, and inquire incessantly about the all-you-can-refill soda and ice cream.


I keep telling myself, this is for the kids. For the record, I’ve never been on a cruise, and not because I don’t like boats, I LOVE boats, big ships, navy ships, any type of large mechanical device and/or equipment. I don’t dislike people who are “into” Disney, I’ve been there and know 100s of people who have been (who hasn’t”). People who have been married there, go there 3-4x per year, every year, even without the kids. It’s creepy to me, and I’m the most childish adult I know. I don’t like the idea of being trapped on a boat. It’s like staying at a hotel that you can never leave. See the world people. I think the same goes for “Vegas people”, but that’s another story. The folks who visit the fake Eiffel Tower and are content that it’s just like the real thing while ordering a hamburger at the Paris restaurant. It’s only a couple of hours more on a plane to the real Paris, and they have much better food.


I picture the cruise being like the second half of Wall-E. Suggested packing items are“button extenders”. For those who don’t know, they’re a device that lets you add an inch or two to your pants without buttoning original buttons, so you can eat and extend your waist without shame.

Judgments and prejudices out of the way, I’m looking forward to embarkation.


Post-travel Report

Read this with a sense of humor, or try at least, it was written from a pessimistic skeptic who wasn’t all that into it from the beginning. I did come around from my initial condescending prejudices, but it would be dishonest of me to not include them. This was all for the kids.


My wife and I both agreed that while we didn’t dislike the cruise, if we never had to do that again, we’d be fine with it. We were on the Dream for a 4-day trip around the Bahamas. The end of the story:

Pros: friendliness and knowledge of all the staff

Cons: being trapped on a boat
asking a staff member to perform a task outside of their delegated task (see below)
the schedule ... being told when to eat. I'm not always hungry the same time, every day.


Embarkation

Quick, easy, and painless. For those wanting to register their kids for Oceaneer’s Club, do as much of it online, and get the bands on the boat. Do as much online for all of your registration needs online, it saves time at check in. Lunch at Cabanas was our introduction to the ship, how friendly the staff is, what your fellow cruise mates are like, and how a typical meal is run. Since it’s the first thing most people do, as the rooms are not yet ready, Cabanas is very crowded. Very.


The lifeboat drill was interesting to watch how all of the staff suddenly turn into very trained people who all have this second job to do. There was the typical and expected family who showed up 10 minutes late. They were shamed by the staff, as they should have been.


The Food

Dinners - I think the food was hyped up to a degree where we thought we were going to have some sort of magical experience. We’re food snobs, and happen to live in one of the world’s best food cities. We’re spoiled, I admit that. Aside from a dinner at Remy (which was nice, but not spectacular) our other dinners at Animator's Palate and Royal Palace weren’t much better than decent wedding or banquet food. Most of which came out was room temperature, and EVERYTHING had butter on it. Our wait staff was spectacular, like all of the staff on the ship. I know that a kitchen can’t crank out 1,000 made-to-order meals on the line, and there’s a process to it, but I just expected something different. My expectations were a little off. Like I said, maybe my expectations were hyped up, and I had never been on a cruise before, so I wasn’t quite prepared for things. I loved the desserts though.


If anybody is travelling with someone who has a food allergy, they go out of their way to accommodate. I have a small one with a certain allergy, and at each meal, there was always some way that he was accommodated. There was Rice Dream ice cream at Cabanas, at dinner, they made him a special dessert, they made plain pasta, they were always asking how they could help us out. Somewhere, we could always find soy milk. Make sure you tell them before you get on the ship, and in advance. We planned well for this.


Breakfasts/Lunch - we had our breakfasts at Cabanas, which I thought were great. Who doesn’t love a great breakfast buffet. I did thoroughly enjoy both breakfast/lunch buffets although I didn’t get why people went crazy for the shrimp/crab claw pile. It seems like a lot of work for very little reward. The crab claws are the least desirable part of the crab. Risk/effort to reward is very low.


Staff

Not enough can be said for the knowledge and friendliness of the staff. This is everybody from our housekeeper, to the gentleman behind the ice cream station at Cabanas, the bartenders, the man sweeping the floor, busboys, Oceaneer Club counselors, EVERYBODY. They all work so hard at being 100% dedicated to the traveler and the kids, and it really shows.


What I found odd, and this may be just me (and I’m sure a lot of you have rolled your eyes a few times by now), but I soon learned that every cast member (staff member, worker, etc.) has a particular task … well, most of them do anyway. If asked to perform a certain task that is not their actual task, something happens. For example, when I went to see a movie, I went to get some popcorn. I wasn’t in the mood for an entire container of popcorn, I just wanted a little. As a form of self-control, why get an entire bucket if you’re just going to eat it all when you don’t want to. The gentleman could not understand why I wouldn’t want it filled up to the top. He said that you’re paying for a full one, why wouldn’t you want what you paid for? Fair enough … but that’s not what I asked for, I didn’t feel like explaining why, I just wanted to get into the movie. It’s like something short circuited in his head, he just stood there, but eventually gave me a ½ full popcorn. He didn’t charge me and told me that was ok, I didn’t have to pay for a ½ empty bucket. Something similar happened when I asked for a bowl of fries at Flo’s Cafe. “You don’t want anything else with that?” “no, just fries please” “Are you sure?” “Yes, I’d just like some fries, it’s what I’d like” “No hamburger? No hot dog? Nothing” “Please give me what I asked for” He eventually did, but seemingly couldn’t understand why I only wanted fries. I wanted a drink, but not in a souvenir cup. I think most of these occurrences happened around food and drink now that I think of it. All was handled very nicely by the staff … again, the nicest people ever.


Bathrooms

During our morning family routines, I would happily walk down one deck to do my business in one of the stalls by Shutters. With the exception of the bathroom outside of Enchanted Garden on debarkation morning, every single bathroom I walked into on the ship was spotless. If I walked into a stall and saw pointy, folded toilet paper, I knew it was one clean seat. To the gentlemen who keep those bathrooms clean, kudos to you. You are fantastic and everybody notices it. I felt like tipping them.


Housekeeping

I forget the staff-term for those, but our woman, who I’ll call Ms. N, as I don’t want to reveal her actual name, was the sweetest. I remembered her name from the first meeting. She was aware of a food allergy in the family and made a point to ask me whether or not she should leave chocolates out in the open, or give them to me or mom to hold. We had an emergency, she dropped what she was doing in the next room to help us out. She was always in a good mood, in public at least, and made it feel like we were her guests, and we respected her room.


Castaway Cay
5K - I kicked ***. Hotter than hell though, be prepared. My time was 21:46, I think I came in 5th. BUT, the course is .16k short of a 5K. Someone had a Garmin GPS, which are fairly accurate, more so than an iPhone, and it read 3.01 miles, which is .16k short of a full 5K which means it would have taken me another :30 to :45 seconds to finish. I knew I couldn’t have run that fast. A 5K is 3.11 miles, not 3.0 miles like some thought. If anybody wants my medal, I will gladly mail it to you.


It’s weird that, even though you’re on what was once really a mound of sand with trees in the middle of the Bahamas, it’s been built-up Disney-style to resemble what may have once been, or would have been actual Caribbean culture. It was all very artificial. I thought the food was one of the highlights of the trip. We loved the chicken, the ribs, cole slaw, fruit! My boys and I stayed down at the family beach, they played in the water, and we took one trip out to Pelican Point to hit the water slide. The swim out is over most people’s heads, if you’re thinking of pulling a couple of kids out there, make sure you’re a strong swimmer. Most small kids will have to wear life jackets anyway. I saw several adults who had no shame in wearing them too.


We did enjoy CC very much, notwithstanding the manufactured look of the island. It was nice to be off the boat and sit on the beach. We thought we’d need water shoes for the boys as some people had suggested, but they were just fine without them. They liked collecting as many quarter-sized white shells as they could find. We didn’t snorkel, it just felt silly to be snorkeling with a life vest on. How do you go under with a buoyancy device on? There is sooo much to do, and you won’t get to ½ of it. We had plans to rent bikes, rent a paddle boat, but didn’t do any of that. After the morning 5K, my wife’s beach yoga, and a little time on the beach, it was time for lunch. After lunch, the kids were dropped off at Scuttles Cove, went to our massage, grabbed the kids and headed back to the boat at 4:30ish.


Scuttles Cove was something that we didn’t hear much about. We dropped off the boys, they were there for 2 hours, didn’t want to leave when we came back for them. I’m not sure what the hell they did in there, but they were soaking wet, had red arms and necks, there must be some sort of water feature. They didn’t find much shade. They were like breaded cutlets. Water, sand, water, sand. Long baths that night. It’s run very much like Oceaneer’s Club. They check in, you leave, they play, you pick them up.


We got a couples massage, which was nice. I fell asleep toward the end. It’s very nice in the cabana, with nothing but the sounds of the wind in the trees and the feeling of the wind through the open shutters. It’s more of a rubdown type of massage, there’s not much therapeutic about it if you need specific work done on a specific area. They don’t do muscle knots, but they do have a soft touch.


Solitude on the Dream

It’s tough to find peace and quiet, even in the adult pool section there is a steel drum playing Stairway to Heaven. The chairs outside on deck 4 are nice if you want some fresh air alone, but what I found myself doing, if I wanted to read a book or listen to music in solitude was find a spot in the District in one of the adult clubs and zone out. This was during the day, and not at night. We were in bed by 9-10 most nights, so I don’t know if the clubs even fill up, or what happens there. They seemed pretty interesting in the way they’re laid out.


One other very enjoyable moment was a late afternoon tequila tasting at the 687 bar. About 20 of us sat there, got a good education and lecture on tequila, got to taste some really nice tequilas, and left with a very nice day buzz. I remember this being a highlight of the trip.


I got to take a run around the track, which got boring after a while. I’m a distance runner, and thought it would be nice, which it was, but after 5-6 laps it gets old. I can see where this would be very enjoyable for lots of people. It’s 2.5 laps to a mile, or so it reads. I didn’t measure it. You can run unobstructed around the ship, maybe dodging some walkers or shuffleboarders, but all in all, it’s a very nicely designed amenity to the ship.


The exercise room is well equipped. There’s not much space in between machines to do any stretching, yoga, or PT/calesthetic (sp?) work though. There were always lots of people there and it was getting well used.


I don’t know what else to say, but I can see how people really love these cruises. Like I said, we didn’t dislike it, it just wasn’t for us.

Last edited by Ivo Shandor; 04-21-2014 at 03:49 PM.
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Old 04-21-2014, 04:52 PM   #2
MouseMomx2
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Are they making fresh popcorn on the Dream now? That would be wonderful. On all of our cruises they only have pre-popped popcorn in bags.
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Old 04-21-2014, 09:53 PM   #3
Kurukthemal
Earning My Ears
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 27

I liked reading your review and thank you for sharing!
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