DREAM 4N May 23-27, 2022 Mini-trip report and thoughts

tee11

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 19, 2014
These were really helpful when I was getting ready for our cruise, so I thought I'd make one, too.

For context: Frequent DCL cruisers, but this was our first cruise since the pandemic started. (2 adults/2 kids)
I'll frequently mention levels of "crowdedness" for those interested in that. FWIW we sailed with ~2700 passengers (of which 700 were Oceaneers-registered)

Arrival and Embarkation:
Drove to park our car at the port for the first time - everything was very smooth. We arrived about 10-15 min earlier than our PAT window and were asked to first drop off our luggage (we also needed tags!) and then proceed to pay to enter the garage. We had rapid tested before leaving and worn medical grade masks indoors prior to the trip, so fairly confident, but still nerve wrecking! Process was very smooth. Testing on ground level of garage, you are directed to a parking spot and have one attendant handle/supervise/assist with the testing procedure. Then asked to pick any parking spot in the upper levels and wait there. We liked this set up and the ease of parking at the garage. The sounds of horns honking in the garage as families appeared to be getting their "clear to sail" and the exuberant screams of our children when I announced ours, is something I will never forget!! I recommend to make sure that you remember the password(s) and have the "Save Passage" set up on all adult's phones ahead of time, since the adult can only see themselves and the children, not the other adult(s). It was not crowded in the port terminal, and after passing security, our boarding group was called within 5 min. The optional boarding-photo is now prior and separate from boarding, we liked that as well. Our arrival was announced on board with clapping by the crew just like always.

DCL App and Virtual Drill
We were advised to proceed to our assembly stations to check in for the new "virtual drill" first, so we did. Here we hit a snag, I could tell that my app was not responding as it should have and I was busy for the next hour+ trying to fix it. (Our check in was accepted though via our other phone). One very helpful cast member advised me to uninstall and re-install the app, something I was worried to do (and took FOREVER!!), but thankfully, that worked. My advice is to make sure you have the latest operating system update on your phone installed first. Then (uninstall and re-) install your DCL Navigator App, even if it seems to be working fine (as mine was). Do all this prior to boarding. To have a working App is absolutely critical on board. Everything is via the Navigator App now. (make an appointment with guest services, look at the menu at your restaurant, book your placeholder, communicate with your family, etc.)

Cabanas/Main Dining Rooms/Snacks
As far as I could tell, everything was offered, available, and open as it always had been before the pandemic. Possible exceptions: We were very surprised to learn that there was no (a la carte) dinner at Cabanas as an option. We had really enjoyed this in the past. Must have overlooked this in the reports. I also cannot confirm the pastries that used to come out in the afternoon starboard on deck 4 and also did not make it to the Cove Café pastries and some other "snack" spots. Also, we thought there may have been slightly reduced opening hours for the different pool side snack options (1st and 2nd day only). The MDRs were the same with the exception of no more adult menus (Navigator App!), the tables were spaced and it was not crowded (2nd seating). Anyone who requested a private table could get one. However the line to get into the restaurants was absolutely a bottle neck and very crowded. If you are concerned, arrive either very, very early for your seating or late so you can walk right in.

Characters
Lots of characters on board, and the lines were very short compared to pre-pandemic. Characters talked to the kids, but did not hug. The DCL Navigator has a character section that shows the location and time - but it did not specify the characters! Hope they will fix this.

Castaway Cay
Was beautiful in every aspect! Best weather we ever had there, just perfect. I only realized how "empty" our ship was on Castaway Cay, it was just wonderful. We went snorkeling and hung out at the beach. BEST DAY!

Pirate Night
IS BACK in full swing! I don't think anything was not there from prior... We had the "kids" Mickey Pirate show (deck 11), and later in the evening the Jack Sparrow Pirate show on deck 11 followed by spectacular fireworks to the iconic "He's a Pirate" masterpiece by Hans Zimmer and Klaus Badelt. There was some spacing possible on deck 11/12 and it was, of course, all outdoors.
Followed by the Pirate Night midnight buffet including the crepe station! The latter got a bit crowded (and in hindsight, I should have probably passed on this, but I always love to take pictures of the amazing creations for this night)

Shows
Also back to B.P.T (before pandemic times). Concession stand is open prior to show, and cast members are taking orders in the theater. It did become quite full eventually, and we saw nearly no masks. Leaving the theater is another bottle neck. If you don't want that, take your time leaving, or perhaps choose deck 4 (there seemed to be more open seats there, too).
Beauty and the Beast is spectacular and Dream-exclusive, do not miss. My kids love "Believe" but we have seen it many times (and it's shown on other ships).

Disembarkation and Journey Home, Final Thoughts on Covid Protocols and Cruising during this time...
Again very smooth, our easiest and least stressful getting of the ship ever. No crowds upon disembarking, nor in the terminal. Leisurely walked off the ship, through customs and to our car.
Because we were all sunburned (Bring plenty of sunscreen, sun/water hats) we decided to head straight home (12+hrs drive).

I started to feel a mild sore throat while driving, and rapid tested immediately upon arriving at home... I was positive. Was completely out of it for the next days. It hit me hard and fast, and only now starting to feel better. My spouse is also positive sadly with a similar course, while our kids have remained (rapid and PCR) negative and without symptoms. So if you are asking, if you should go on a cruise at this time- if you are immunocompromised (or quite elderly) - I would say no. We remained on board in Nassau, but I think ports-of-call are a weak spot in the protocols, because fellow passengers mingle with non-passengers off the ship and then don't get tested upon returning on board. And of course the tests are only as good as the self administered swab (and that would go for a rapid as well as a PCR). Otherwise, it's good that all crew wear KN-95s, because I cannot imagine their exposure to 1000s of passengers on a rotating basis of every 3-4 days. There were no special/new protocols to adhere to once on board (other than masks for ages 3-5 in Oceaneers), and general hygiene for all - as always on a ship (also a daily message from the Navigator to let them know if you have symptoms).

We do not regret going - we had a wonderful vacation. However, I'm not certain we will keep our 7N reservation this fall, since getting ill on board would not be good.
The period from point of contact to symptoms with the current variants is about 1.5 days. Travel medical insurance with evacuation insurance is a MUST.

I'm happy to offer more thoughts and answer questions regarding the current cruising experience.
 
Last edited:

Sophie’smom

Earning My Ears
Joined
Feb 4, 2022
Thanks for sharing. I had a similar experience after our May 14 Fantasy cruise. I would have hated to be sick on the ship. We had a lovely vacation, which we all really needed,had tons of fun and good food. Great memories, I don’t regret going but I honestly never thought I’d get so sick, needing paxlovid. Am fine now so glad things went well.
 

tee11

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 19, 2014
Thanks for sharing. I had a similar experience after our May 14 Fantasy cruise. I would have hated to be sick on the ship. We had a lovely vacation, which we all really needed,had tons of fun and good food. Great memories, I don’t regret going but I honestly never thought I’d get so sick, needing paxlovid. Am fine now so glad things went well.
Yes, absolutely, exact same. Thankfully all went well, and we are recovered now (spouse also needed Paxlovid). Yet, we had the most wonderful time as a family, and great memories were made.
 

DMMarla07860

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 12, 2005
These were really helpful when I was getting ready for our cruise, so I thought I'd make one, too.

For context: Frequent DCL cruisers, but this was our first cruise since the pandemic started. (2 adults/2 kids)
I'll frequently mention levels of "crowdedness" for those interested in that. FWIW we sailed with ~2700 passengers (of which 700 were Oceaneers-registered)

Arrival and Embarkation:
Drove to park our car at the port for the first time - everything was very smooth. We arrived about 10-15 min earlier than our PAT window and were asked to first drop off our luggage (we also needed tags!) and then proceed to pay to enter the garage. We had rapid tested before leaving and worn medical grade masks indoors prior to the trip, so fairly confident, but still nerve wrecking! Process was very smooth. Testing on ground level of garage, you are directed to a parking spot and have one attendant handle/supervise/assist with the testing procedure. Then asked to pick any parking spot in the upper levels and wait there. We liked this set up and the ease of parking at the garage. The sounds of horns honking in the garage as families appeared to be getting their "clear to sail" and the exuberant screams of our children when I announced ours, is something I will never forget!! I recommend to make sure that you remember the password(s) and have the "Save Passage" set up on all adult's phones ahead of time, since the adult can only see themselves and the children, not the other adult(s). It was not crowded in the port terminal, and after passing security, our boarding group was called within 5 min. The optional boarding-photo is now prior and separate from boarding, we liked that as well. Our arrival was announced on board with clapping by the crew just like always.

DCL App and Virtual Drill
We were advised to proceed to our assembly stations to check in for the new "virtual drill" first, so we did. Here we hit a snag, I could tell that my app was not responding as it should have and I was busy for the next hour+ trying to fix it. (Our check in was accepted though via our other phone). One very helpful cast member advised me to uninstall and re-install the app, something I was worried to do (and took FOREVER!!), but thankfully, that worked. My advice is to make sure you have the latest operating system update on your phone installed first. Then (uninstall and re-) install your DCL Navigator App, even if it seems to be working fine (as mine was). Do all this prior to boarding. To have a working App is absolutely critical on board. Everything is via the Navigator App now. (make an appointment with guest services, look at the menu at your restaurant, book your placeholder, communicate with your family, etc.)

Cabanas/Main Dining Rooms/Snacks
As far as I could tell, everything was offered, available, and open as it always had been before the pandemic. Possible exceptions: We were very surprised to learn that there was no (a la carte) dinner at Cabanas as an option. We had really enjoyed this in the past. Must have overlooked this in the reports. I also cannot confirm the pastries that used to come out in the afternoon starboard on deck 4 and also did not make it to the Cove Café pastries and some other "snack" spots. Also, we thought there may have been slightly reduced opening hours for the different pool side snack options (1st and 2nd day only). The MDRs were the same with the exception of no more adult menus (Navigator App!), the tables were spaced and it was not crowded (2nd seating). Anyone who requested a private table could get one. However the line to get into the restaurants was absolutely a bottle neck and very crowded. If you are concerned, arrive either very, very early for your seating or late so you can walk right in.

Characters
Lots of characters on board, and the lines were very short compared to pre-pandemic. Characters talked to the kids, but did not hug. The DCL Navigator has a character section that shows the location and time - but it did not specify the characters! Hope they will fix this.

Castaway Cay
Was beautiful in every aspect! Best weather we ever had there, just perfect. I only realized how "empty" our ship was on Castaway Cay, it was just wonderful. We went snorkeling and hung out at the beach. BEST DAY!

Pirate Night
IS BACK in full swing! I don't think anything was not there from prior... We had the "kids" Mickey Pirate show (deck 11), and later in the evening the Jack Sparrow Pirate show on deck 11 followed by spectacular fireworks to the iconic "He's a Pirate" masterpiece by Hans Zimmer and Klaus Badelt. There was some spacing possible on deck 11/12 and it was, of course, all outdoors.
Followed by the Pirate Night midnight buffet including the crepe station! The latter got a bit crowded (and in hindsight, I should have probably passed on this, but I always love to take pictures of the amazing creations for this night)

Shows
Also back to B.P.T (before pandemic times). Concession stand is open prior to show, and cast members are taking orders in the theater. It did become quite full eventually, and we saw nearly no masks. Leaving the theater is another bottle neck. If you don't want that, take your time leaving, or perhaps choose deck 4 (there seemed to be more open seats there, too).
Beauty and the Beast is spectacular and Dream-exclusive, do not miss. My kids love "Believe" but we have seen it many times (and it's shown on other ships).

Disembarkation and Journey Home, Final Thoughts on Covid Protocols and Cruising during this time...
Again very smooth, our easiest and least stressful getting of the ship ever. No crowds upon disembarking, nor in the terminal. Leisurely walked off the ship, through customs and to our car.
Because we were all sunburned (Bring plenty of sunscreen, sun/water hats) we decided to head straight home (12+hrs drive).

I started to feel a mild sore throat while driving, and rapid tested immediately upon arriving at home... I was positive. Was completely out of it for the next days. It hit me hard and fast, and only now starting to feel better. My spouse is also positive sadly with a similar course, while our kids have remained (rapid and PCR) negative and without symptoms. So if you are asking, if you should go on a cruise at this time- if you are immunocompromised (or quite elderly) - I would say no. We remained on board in Nassau, but I think ports-of-call are a weak spot in the protocols, because fellow passengers mingle with non-passengers off the ship and then don't get tested upon returning on board. And of course the tests are only as good as the self administered swab (and that would go for a rapid as well as a PCR). Otherwise, it's good that all crew wear KN-95s, because I cannot imagine their exposure to 1000s of passengers on a rotating basis of every 3-4 days. There were no special/new protocols to adhere to once on board (other than masks for ages 3-5 in Oceaneers), and general hygiene for all - as always on a ship (also a daily message from the Navigator to let them know if you have symptoms).

We do not regret going - we had a wonderful vacation. However, I'm not certain we will keep our 7N reservation this fall, since getting ill on board would not be good.
The period from point of contact to symptoms with the current variants is about 1.5 days. Travel medical insurance with evacuation insurance is a MUST.

I'm happy to offer more thoughts and answer questions regarding the current cruising experience.
Thanks for your experience I will say I have Lupus, but will still be cruising in August and will wear and mask, minus swimming and eating/drinking
 

msboyd89

Earning My Ears
Joined
Oct 18, 2016
I was also on this exact sailing and had a fatastic time but several of our party tested positive for Covid a couple days after disembarking and we had a pretty rough week or so dealing with it (thankfully pretty much all better now). I agree that it's most likely the mingling with passengers who've been to Nassau and as you say, there were bottlenecks exiting the theaters and going in for dinner. Still a fantatic time though!
 


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