The Disney Dream – Very Merrytime Cruise

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

The Disney Dream was the very first cruise ship I sailed on in 2012 and then again in 2014. I wasn’t a Travel Agent in 2012 yet and still learning my way as a Travel Agent in 2014 so I haven’t written a blog about my experience on the Disney Dream…

The Disney Dream’s first voyage was in January 2011 and it was last refurbished October 2015. As the first of the larger Disney cruise ships to set sail, the Disney Dream is still just as magical as her sister ship, the Disney Fantasy.

So, here you go! I actually sailed on the Disney Dream early November 2018, this was a regular Disney cruise experience, and then again early December 2018 which was a Very Merrytime cruise experience.
The Very Merrytime sailings offer many fun holiday activities in addition to the normal onboard fun! This was my second Very Merrytime Disney Cruise experience, my first was on the Disney Magic out of the port of Miami. This time we sailed out of Port Canaveral for both November and December. On a Very Merrytime cruise, you experience the magic of the holidays before even boarding the ship!

And remember to download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app before you sail away! The Navigator app will help you locate experiences while onboard, check out dining menus and the drink of the day and stay in touch with your fellow cruisers via the messaging feature.

The holidays seem to make anything more magical, even a Disney Cruise! The ship was all decked out for the holidays and there was a tree lighting ceremony, a gingerbread house as well as gingerbread house making classes, even Castaway Cay was decorated for the holidays, and Santa and Mrs. Claus sailed with us too! And, as a special touch, many of the characters were also dressed in their holiday themed costumes.

Once onboard I always head straight to Cabanas for lunch and I get a big plate full of fresh peel ‘n’ eat shrimp and then dessert – what can I say, it’s vacation!

Around 1:30 pm my stateroom is ready, and I head there to unpack and then go explore the ship – catching up with crew members that I have come to know from my previous sailings on the Disney Dream and meeting new crew members too. This is time for you and your family to also start enjoying the pools and water slide onboard and check out the kids clubs and other activity areas. And if you would like to make any changes to your dining rotation you can do this now as well.

After the safety drill (which is required attendance for all cruisers), we head to the upper decks for the Sail-Away Party. Our favorite location to view from is the deck just above the pool area/stage on the port side of the ship.

Once we set sail the shops open and I can check out the Disney Cruise Line souvenirs – I like to get a new Tervis cup with each cruise. And then it’s time to get ready for the evening activities – Broadway-like musical productions, dinner and other fun activities for adults and children. And there is even a move theater onboard – movies are free to watch and they always show the most recent Disney movie – while the movie is included with your cruise, popcorn, snacks and beverages for your movie are available for a fee.

My husband was cruising with me and we always choose a Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah or Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah. We enjoy going out on our verandah to “feel” the ocean and we always choose the Starboard side because we love seeing Castaway Cay as we enter the port!

Disney Cruise Line has thought of everything to ensure first-rate comfort and convenience during your cruise. We have never felt cramped or crowded in our stateroom when cruising with Disney. The Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah design features include:
      A sitting area with a couch, TV and desk
      A heavy privacy curtain to separate the sitting and sleeping areas
      A “split bath” (in most) that includes a bathroom with a vanity, sink, shower and tub and a half bathroom with a
      vanity, sink and toilet
      A leather-upholstered ottoman with hollow inside storage
      Cabinets with storage space in the living area
     And my favorite feature – Elevated wooden bed frames for under-bed storage of suitcases and other large items
For the kids (or kids at heart), a mural of Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, Wendy and her brothers soaring through a starry sky reveals itself when the upper-berth bed is pulled down!

And don’t forget about the fun and amazing towel art that the talented crew leave in your stateroom – you can also sometimes find towel art around the pool area too!

The itinerary for both November and December were 2 ports of call – Nassau and Castaway Cay – with the December itinerary offering an additional day at sea as well.

My preference for Nassau is to stay onboard and enjoy the ship – movies, pools, water slides, games, dining, entertainment and all the soft serve ice cream you want – IT’S ALL INCLUDED!

Every Disney cruise that departs from Port Canaveral or Miami stops at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island, consistently rated by Disney Guests as their favorite port of call – and MY favorite port of call when cruising with Disney!! And, as I mentioned previously, the island was decked for the holidays with a large Christmas tree greeting you on arrival.

Castaway Cay is reserved exclusively for Disney cruisers and the ship will dock right at the island to allow you to come and go as you please while enjoying experiences such as snorkeling, boating, swimming and sunbathing and bicycles can also be rented if you want to explore the island’s nature trails. While all areas of the island can be reached by walking, an island tram offers four stops to help you easily get where you want to go.

Your “Key to the World” card will work for all purchases on Castaway Cay except at the local post office where you can send mail to your loved ones back home with a Bahamian postage stamp; the post card postage rate is approximately $0.70 USD each. Dining on the island is also included as part of your cruise package with covered outdoor restaurants serving burgers, BBQ chicken and ribs. Alcoholic beverages are available for purchase and, if you are traveling without children, Disney offers “adult only” areas at Castaway Cay – Serenity Bay is a secluded beach exclusively for adults (where you just might encounter Captain Jack Sparrow strolling the beach!) and families can have fun together at the Castaway Family Beach. Cabanas are also offered for rent in both beach areas but it’s best to reserve in advance during your online check-in as they are very popular and sell out quickly!

I am a runner and since I have started cruising with Disney Cruise Line they have offered a 5K on Castaway Cay – IT’S INCLUDED. It’s very informal and you can run or walk. You also receive a race bib and medal at the finish line. If you want to participate in the 5K on Castaway Cay, you can register at Guest Services when you board your cruise and your registration ticket will be added to your onboard activities. Your “Key to the World” and photo ID are required the day of your event to participate. The 3.1-mile out-and-back event is free and family friendly – open to walkers and runners ages 10 and older. The race takes place first thing in the morning on the island, typically with a meeting time onboard of 8 am, and the runners are the first group to disembark the ship. The vibe of the event is casual, a fun experience worth the early wake-up!

Cruising with Disney is a very casual experience – I wear comfortable dresses and flip flops while my husband wears shorts and polos – even to dinner. The only exceptions are if you reserve adult only dining experiences at Palo or Remy which both have dress codes. And, unlimited room service is also included!!

I enjoy the rotational dining exclusive to Disney Cruise Line, experiencing a different restaurant and menu with the same servers each evening – my favorite is Animator’s Palate on all 4 Disney ships.

It’s fun to get to know your servers and I requested the same service team for my December cruise that I had for my November cruise and, even though it was a month later and they had served many Guests since me, they remembered everything about my likes and dislikes! Amazing service is just one of the things that keeps me coming back to Disney for my vacations – land or sea!

In addition to Castaway Cay and exceptional dining experiences, Disney Cruise Line offers many entertainment options including Broadway-like musical productions, viewings of recently released Disney movies, character meet & greets that you often cannot find at the parks, deck parties, dance clubs, karaoke, trivia and so much more – be sure to say hi to Tony from Spain when you cruise on the Disney Dream!

Some experiences are included, and some are offered for a fee. There is definitely enough to keep everyone – adults and children – busy on a Disney Cruise if you aren’t the lounging at the pool or beach type. And Disney is the only cruise line allowed to display fireworks at sea!

There are also “adult only” experiences and areas on the ships, including spa services and mixology classes, so if you are traveling without children, which we normally do, you will be able to find adult spaces.

And be sure to purchase your photo package in advance for the best price – you can then just pick up your photo prints or digital images from Shutters on your final morning.

There is so much more I could share about cruising with Disney but then this would be a very long blog… If you are thinking about a Disney Cruise Line vacation, reach out to me and I will help you make the most of your magical experience!