Sailing with Disney – A Day at Sea

The final day of our sailing on the Disney Dream was also a sea day, something we always look forward to. On a normal ship, that means the occasional activity mixed in with some resting out on deck, all things we love. On the Dream, the only sea day of the sailing brought a full schedule of fun!

First up was our reservation for brunch at Palo. We’d heard good things, so much so that spending the $30/pp on this was a no-brainer. We got up there a few minutes early, and were led over to the Meridian Lounge to relax while we waited. It didn’t take long, within a couple of minutes, they came to take us to our table. That’s where the awesome really began.

We were led to a nice table right by the window. Nothing beats good food with an ocean view! Our server came over, introduced herself, and took us on a tour of the buffet. This part is definitely a nice touch, as there are a wide variety of items on the tables, but it also kinda gets in the way when you’re up trying to get food and another group is on their buffet tour. Anyway, after our tour, she also covered the menu we could order various items from in addition to what was available at the buffet. The Disney Cruise Line Blog has a picture of it here.

In addition to enjoying the buffet items, we ordered a few things off of the printed menu. I had the buttermilk pancakes, which were some of the best I’ve ever had, along with the lasagna, which was delicious as well. Jen and Bayley tried what turned out to be an excellent flatbread that was half Italian sausage and half margherita, and both of them also had the Parmesan crusted chicken breast. The latter was so good that Bayley skipped finishing her meal off with dessert to have a second one. How often does a kid skip dessert for chicken?

We absolutely loved our meal and felt it was easily worth the cost. I have to say, if you only spend money on one specialty meal aboard the Dream, do it for brunch at Palo. I say that totally biased and without anything to compare it to, since it’s the only specialty meal we did, so keep that in mind :). Also remember that brunch at Palo is adults only.

After brunch, we had some time on our hands and decided to just walk around and see what was going on. While doing so, we managed to again run across whatever thing they were filming while we were out on deck:

IMG_4017

I’d still love to know what they were shooting! Shortly after, we made our way inside for baby racing. I can honestly say I’ve never seen this on a cruise ship before, and it was exactly what it sounds like. The only thing missing was people throwing money on the ground around the mat placing bets on the racers. I kid :), this was actually pretty entertaining to watch.

Shortly after a winning baby was crowned, we got what we came for, the character dance party! All of the main characters take turns in the spotlight on the stairs, while the others rotate to various positions in the lobby atrium area. It was pretty packed in there, and everyone seemed to be having a fun time. Definitely an activity I’d recommend for Disney fans young and old!

We had some time to kill after this, so we did a little more walking, thins time checking out the shops on board. Jen’s got a Pandora bracelet with a few Disney charms, so we wanted to check out the exclusives they had on board, and ended up adding one to her bracelet. This was also the only time we encountered service on the ship that didn’t live up to Disney standards, as the woman working the counter really wasn’t all that helpful or friendly. This is really the only staff encounter during our time on board that was sub-par. We made up for it shortly after, however, as the captain was signing autographs and posing for pics, so once the line cleared, we decided to jump in for a picture with him.

Bayley had been waiting for our next activity all week. As mentioned in a previous post, she loves the animation classes Disney does, and had been looking forward to drawing Stitch, which was the final animation class of the sailing. They obviously know this one is popular, because it was held in Animator’s Palate, and there were a lot of people there for it. We got a seat with a pretty good view of the instructor, but if you happen to be far away, don’t worry, they show what she’s doing on the screens around the restaurant. While drawing, Stitch even comes in to see what’s going on!

After finishing up the animation class, the next couple of hours were filled with a combination of character pictures, walking the ship, and attending one of the arts and crafts events. This one was held in Pub 687, which ended up being a poor choice of location. I was happy, as I finally got to have a beer in here, but it’s way too small of a venue for something like this, and resulted in an overcrowded pub. I saw more than one family come in for this, only to turn around and leave after seeing the lack of tables and line for supplies. That’s not to say it wasn’t a good time, just that a larger room would have been better.

I should note that the two character meet and greets we did during this time were with Stitch and Donald Duck, both of whom Bayley and Jen learned to draw in the on-board animation classes, so Bayley brought her pictures for them to sign. Both characters were excited to see pictures of themselves, and responded in various ways. Donald grabbed the one she did of him and held it up for the lobby to see, while Stitch couldn’t believe shed brought a picture of him, and proceeded to slide onto his belly on the floor to sign it. Definitely a nice touch 🙂

Our next major event after all of this was the final stage show of the cruise, Disney’s Believe. It’s a fun show with some fun acting and excellent singing. Once again, happy to oblige the ‘no photos or video’ rule, all I have is a shot from our seats, which gave us a full view of the action:

IMG_4316

After dinner was one of the coolest events of the cruise, if you’re in to Disney’s pin trading culture: Officer pin trading night! It’s exactly what it sounds like, an opportunity to trade pins with various officers of the ship! It was a lot of fun, and for anyone sailing on Disney that’s never done this, here are a few recommendations:

  1. Bring a lot of pins you want to trade with you. They’re not picky, they’ll take any cheap pin in trade for anything they’ve got!
  2. There’s a mobile box out there where you can also buy pins. The person running it has lanyards full of trading pins behind that, and they will occasionally swap out with officers participating in the event who may have traded away all the good stuff, which gives them fresh good pins to trade. Keep an eye out for the swaps, as the fresh lanyards generally have some good stuff. Bayley got a number of excellent pins this way!
  3. Have fun!

It’s really an awesome event, and wasn’t super packed, at least not as much as I expected. It’s held in the little rotunda outside the shops, which seemed to be a perfect fit size-wise.

Dinner was next on the schedule, moving us to Royal Palace this time around. I love the venue, and service was a bit quicker tonight. The food itself was pretty good, as I had a double serving of the breaded and deep-fried Brie (sooooo good), the Chateaubriand roasted filet steak, and the Grand Marnier souffle for dessert, always a favorite of mine.

After dinner, we finally got around to our night-time ride aboard the AquaDuck. As mentioned before, this is easily the best waterslide at sea we’ve been on, and taking a run or two down it at night is an absolute must!

Following our Aquaduck rides, we weren’t done yet! We decided to catch the magician’s show in Evolution. John Cassidy’s show is definitely worth catching, he’s both a good magician and funny to boot! For one of his tricks, Bayley ended up on stage helping out, too!

We also hung out for the ’80’s music challenge, which was an absolute blast. No pictures or video of this, as we were participating. The room is divided up into two teams, and you take turns guessing what the song name and artist are for a given clip. Additionally, both teams then hit the floor to dance for bonus points, and the more creative, the more bonus points you get. At one point, we were crowd-surfing Bayley around the room. Fun times, and our host Chris was great!

IMG_4529

Well, that’s about all for our final day on the ship, and proved to be an excellent way to wrap up an incredible sailing aboard the Disney Dream! Next up, our debark experience and final thoughts on this cruise!

Sailing with Disney – Pirate Night!

After a little rest following our fun on Castaway Cay, it was time for pirate night aboard the Disney Dream! This is another part of the cruise we’d been looking forward to, as we’d even picked up some Disney-themed pirate shirts for this night while we were at Downtown Disney a couple weeks earlier. Disney also leaves you Mickey-themed ‘Pirates in the Caribbean’ bandannas to wear as well, as we found out when we got back to our room!

IMG_3573

First on the night’s agenda, pictures with Captain Hook and Mr Smee! These took place down in the little rotunda outside the shops, and there really wasn’t too bad of a line:

We walked the shops a little during that time, and one little tip for those who want to participate but didn’t have a chance to pick up pirate shirts or gear prior to sailing: There’s plenty on-board. Disney knows it’s worth stocking the stores on pirate night, and they had a pretty good selection of shirts, hats, and other pirate garb.

At this point, it should have been show time for us, but based on the schedule, we decided to skip it. It wasn’t a Disney show, it was one with the on-board magician, and while I’m sure we’d have enjoyed the show, we wanted to partake in as much pirate goodness we could. As such, we also decided to skip eating in our assigned dining room (a repeat of Enchanted Garden) and instead headed for the buffet to try and save time. On arriving, we encountered a twist we’d never seen with any other ship’s buffet before: it was table service, and pirate themed at that. The service was outstanding, and while the food was good, I’d have preferred to have had a full buffet selection vs a smaller table service menu. We went to the buffet for a reason, to shorten our dinner time, and table service doesn’t really accomplish that.

After dinner it was time for the first pirate show, so we headed up to deck 12 to get a good spot overlooking the stage. Having decided on a faster dinner, we got a pretty solid spot that gave us a clear view of the entire deck below, and even allowed us to participate in the pre-show fun. They have various cast members dressed in pirate garb walking around  deck 11 playing various games with the guests. In our case, Bayley played ring toss with one of the girls. In addition, there was some pirate ship basketball going on a little farther aft on 11:

The first show, named Mickey’s Pirate Academy, was more targeted at the younger kids, and was a musical show that taught them the necessary steps to be pirates in Mickey’s crew. As you can see from the video, it’s a typical high-energy show Disney that the kids seemed to be enjoying!

Once over, we had a bit of time on our hands before the show that opens the fireworks, so we headed inside and walked around a little before getting in line for pictures with Pirate Stitch. Bayley’s always been a huge Stitch fan, and waiting for this was a no-brainer for her. We got there early enough to only be 78 people back in line, but this line did get and stay pretty long, so if you have plans to get pictures with pirate Stitch, get there early! Right below Stitch was Pirate Minnie, so we ended up getting pictures at both places! Those lower lines had been pretty long at one point as well, so we were happy to at least get shots with Minnie!

Shortly after, we ran in to the cruise director, who in my opinion had the best costume of the night. I’ll add that there were a number of guests in some pretty good costumes, but living on the ship, especially in an entertainment role has its benefits, one of those being that you have a reason to go all out for your theme costumes :).

IMG_3953

After all of our pictures, the time had finally come for the fireworks! We headed outside and found ourselves a spot a little over halfway back in the pool area on deck 11 (which they cover for these shows). In hindsight we probably should have gotten there earlier to get a little closer, or even aimed for the starboard side of deck 12 to keep the water slides out of our view. No matter, the spot still wasn’t bad, and we were able to sit down for the show and fireworks and still see all of it. Note that deck 13 aft was closed for this show, so don’t assume that area will be open if you want to see fireworks from there.

The pre-fireworks show was a Pirates of the Caribbean themed show where Jack battles for possession of some, for lack of a better work, magical wrist guard, which is billed as the ultimate weapon. The show is fine, but went on a little too long in my opinion. Most of it was made up of the bracelet going back and forth between Jack and those trying to get it. A long game of keep-away, basically. We really just wanted to get to the fireworks, so we were happy when they finally began. As you can see, even sitting in the back half of the open area on deck 11, we were able to have a pretty clean view of the show:

Not a bad show, especially on a moving ship at sea! Once again, Disney does not disappoint! That wasn’t the end of the night, either, we still had a couple of things going on, starting with the 10:45 pirate themed buffet! As soon as the fireworks ended, we headed up and grabbed some food, eager to get to our final event of the night. One thing I might not have mentioned yet is that Disney has a pretty large movie theater on-board, equipped with a solid snack bar. They do charge for items on the snack bar, but they also allow you to bring in other food, including stuff from the buffet, so all three of us had loaded buffet plates, including some dessert crepes, tacos, and other goodness.

The nice thing about the theater is that it plays some popular movies from the Disney catalog along with a first-run movie or two, so on pirate night, our goal was to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean while sailing in the Caribbean on pirate night, and by the time we got there, we realized we weren’t the only ones! The theater was pretty full, but we managed to find 3 seats down low and spent a couple of hours enjoying a movie that had only released days earlier while eating our buffet food. All in all, not a bad night!

A successful pirate night behind us, we headed back to the room to get some rest for our last day on the ship, which just happened to be a sea day! Next up, all the fun we had on that final day aboard the Disney Dream!