May 26th, 2016, my brother and I flew down for our very first Disney cruise. We were going on a three-day cruise aboard the beautiful Disney Dream. We had not sailed out of Port Canaveral since our Big Red Boat cruise in 1994. For being first time cruisers then, we couldn’t complain. This time, we knew that things were going to be far different than we had experienced. To avoid the rush, we stayed overnight at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. That night, we treated ourselves to the Spirit of Aloha luau show. We had not seen the show in nearly thirty years. We were happy that we saw it. It was truly awesome. After the show, we went to hang out at the Top of The World Lounge at the Contemporary Resort’s Bay Lake Tower. The Top of The World Lounge is exclusively for Disney Vacation Club members.
The next morning, we were packed up. We were greeted by a cast member at our door who was going to deliver our luggage to the Port Canaveral terminal. Easier done than said! We treated ourselves to a counter service breakfast at Captain Cook’s. After breakfast, we did some last minute shopping at the Polynesian’s gift shop. We then went for a joyride on the resort monorail. Afterward, we we went for a joyride on the Epcot monorail. Once done joyriding, it was time to head back to the Polynesian to board our Disney Cruise Line transfer bus. The ride from the Disney property to Port Canaveral is ninety minutes; forty-five minutes from Orlando International Airport. When we arrived at the terminal, our stateroom was going to be ready in the next ten minutes. We couldn’t have been more excited.
Checking in for the Disney Dream was an absolute breeze. The same goes for the other three ships in Disney’s fleet. We were on board in no time. As we boarded, our names were announced. On the microphone, the cast member said “Please welcome aboard the Kriso family!”. Everyone in the ship’s main lobby applauded as we walked in. The cruise was off to a great start. Later, we attended a Disney Vacation Club members reception in the D Lounge. There we were treated to champagne, an exciting round of Disney song trivia, company news, and Disney Vacation club updates. We even had the opportunity of meeting new members. We’ve been visiting Walt Disney World since 1981. and it was fun just sharing our Disney memories with them on the spot.
Once the reception concluded, it was time for the lifeboat drill. As an avid cruiser, it pays to know the lifeboat drill by heart. Once the drill was over, the sail away party was about to kick off. With the lines pulled in, we started pulling away from the pier. The sail away party on the pool deck was in full force. It was time to wave good-bye to Port Canaveral. Then, the Disney Dream sounded her vanity horn. The horn played “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes”. That’s not all. The Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy have six vanity horn tunes, including “When You Wish Upon A Star”. Once in open ocean, it was time for the fun to begin, and time for dinner.
The on-board entertainment was out of this world. The first night, we were treated to an Oscar-like show known as “The Golden Mickeys”, a tribute to Disney’s most iconic characters. The second night was Pirates Night. There was a Pirates celebration on the pool deck followed by fireworks at sea. Half a dozen ships were in the area to watch the show from a distance. It was a show within a show. The third and final night, we saw the show “Believe”, a theatrical production inspiring people of all ages to always believe in themselves and others. It was a tear jerker for sure.
The rotational dining aboard Disney Cruise Line is truly amazing. The first night, we ate at the Royal Palace dining room. The food was truly fabulous. The following night, we at at the Animator’s Palate dining room. This is a dining room no one should take lightly. This is a dining room that comes alive. All of the animation sketches on the wall come to life including the star of the show, Crush, from Finding Nemo. Throughout dinner, Nemo swims around from one end of the dining room to the other mingling with the guests. That evening, we celebrated my 39th birthday. It was the utmost incredible experience ever. The final night, we ate at the Enchanted Garden. The food was fantastic. We had the same servers and same table mates all cruise long.
During our three day cruise, we stopped at two ports of call, Nassau and Castaway Cay. Castaway Cay is Disney’s private island in the Bahamas. We didn’t do much in Nassau. Nassau is, well, Nassau. Castaway Cay was incredible. It looked like Typhoon Lagoon towed out into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The detail was mind-blowing. We were able to use our Key To The World cards, our stateroom key cards, on land for making room charges. How easy is that?! There were two eating areas at Castaway Cay; Cookies and Cookies Too. As opposed to Royal Caribbean’s Coco Cay and Norwegian’s Great Stirrup Cay, Disney’s Castaway Cay topped them both. At Great Stirrup Cay and Coco Cay, guests eat at picnic tables out in the elements. So, if it rained, well, tough luck! They’re also given paper plates and plastic utensils in plastic packaging. At Cookies and Cookies Too, guests eat under full coverage. The guests are supplied with a tray, a plastic plate, and silverware wrapped in a cloth napkin. If you want to be treated with true class, Disney knows how.
Before we knew it, it was time to set sail from Castaway Cay. We were headed back to Port Canaveral. The ship blew all six of its vanity horns as cast members waved good-bye, donning their Mickey mouse hands. Touching, no? It was time to get packed up and prepare for our flight home. We all said thank you and good-bye to our dining staff and to our table mates. Disembarkation was a cinch; not as hectic as on other ships we’ve sailed on. We were off the ship in no time. We found our luggage with no trouble and cleared through customs without any wait. Minutes later, we were on board our Disney Cruise Line bus headed for Orlando International Airport. Quick, no?
Our cruise aboard Disney Dream was a three-day trip from Heaven. It was also the best birthday present ever. I turned thirty-nine on the final day of the cruise. We were officially members of the Castaway Club, Disney Cruise Line’s guest loyalty program. What ship will we sail on next? Most likely a Disney ship! When will we be sailing again? Maybe out of New York City this fall on the Disney Magic or sometime later on the Disney Fantasy. The Disney Fantasy does the seven-day cruise to the Eastern Caribbean, including Castaway Cay. Overall, Disney Cruise Line tops all of the cruise lines we’ve sailed with in the past. Our three-day experience aboard the Disney Dream was indeed a flying start to becoming Disney cruisers.