Sailing With Disney – Our Expectations

Taking a short break from my Norway series (which I’m way behind on already), I wanted to get a few posts up on our experience sailing on the Disney Dream while it’s still fresh in my mind. I don’t consider a sailing on a Disney ship to be your average cruise experience, and as such I want to give it my complete attention for a few days. To that end, I’ll start by documenting our expectations going in to this sailing.

To start with, this was very much a last minute booking for us. Some agent rates opened up about 3 weeks before the sailing date, and the timing of it fit perfectly in our schedules, so we decided to jump on it. I’d have liked to have had more time to research things, but thankfully the Facebook group that already existed for our sailing provided us with a ton of useful information. We’ve joined sailing-specific Facebook groups before, but have never found them as active or helpful as this one. Generally we’d be looking at the Cruise Critic roll-call for whatever sailing we were on, but in this case, the group was incredibly active and I don’t even recall looking for a CC roll-call leading up to the trip as a result. For Disney sailings, I definitely recommend searching Facebook for a dedicated group related to your sail date.

Normally the first time we sail a new line we go in without any real expectations, but Disney’s a different beast, one with a land product we know pretty well. We’ve been to Disney World a number of times over the years, staying both on and off property. We’ve visited Disney Land a couple of times as well, including one last summer where we stayed at Disneyland Resort in an effort to compare the on-property experiences. In short, there is no comparison in my mind. Disney Land is fun, for sure, and offers a smaller park experience that has its benefits, but nothing compares to the fully immersive experience a stay on-property at Disney World offers. They’re exceptional at, among other things, making people forget there’s a world outside of the one they’ve created, a feeling we didn’t really get with the “on-property” stay at Disney Land. They’re also very good at customer service (something true for both sets of parks), and frankly, we went in expecting both to hold true aboard the Dream.

Past experience at the parks wasn’t all we were basing our expectations on, however. Additional things included our tour of the Dream back in December of last year, a couple of days prior to sailing on the Carnival Vista. Seeing the ship in person, we saw that Disney’s attention to detail wasn’t limited to their land properties. The decor was outstanding from bow to stern, and they were meticulous with upkeep. Heck, on the tour, all agents were asked to refrain from pictures in areas that hadn’t been cleaned yet or were in the process of being cleaned, because they only wanted the ship shown in the best condition possible. That’s the first time on any ship inspection that we’ve had that request. We were impressed throughout the tour, and having spent those 2-3 hours on board were really excited when the agent rates opened up for this ship.

We’ve also talked to people in the past who’ve sailed on Disney, as well as some of the normal contemporary lines, and have heard phrases used like:

  • It’ll ruin cruising on other lines for you
  • The food is some of the best we’ve had on any line
  • Their private island can’t be beat
  • You’ll need a vacation from your vacation

I’m sure there were others, but those were the ones that have stood out over the years. When you add it all up, we definitely went in to this with high expectations. We were definitely looking for that Disney magic they’re so good at in the parks.

Did the experience live up to the hype? Keep up with this blog to find out, as the next post begins my review of our time aboard the Disney Dream on the May 29th sailing!

 

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