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!

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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 Β 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 :).

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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!

 

Sailing With Disney – Fun on Castaway Cay!

This stop is one of the reasons we really wanted to sail Disney. Beyond the tales of outstanding service, excellent entertainment, and delicious food, everyone raves about Disney’s private island. Finally getting the chance to set foot on the island was something we were very much looking forward to!

Before getting off the ship however, we needed to get our breakfast on, so we (finally!) headed to the buffet. They have a very solid spread, and I can honestly say that everything I had was tasty. This was also the one time I got those famous Mickey waffles on the sailing:

Following breakfast, we headed off the ship. Again, a fairly quick debark, and once outside we took advantage of the bug repellent they provide, and grabbed towels from the table:

Our next stop is the one thing that really makes your realize you’re in Disney’s hands: the tram. Of course there’s a tram on a Disney property! We rode the tram from the dock over to the family beach area, where we grabbed a second tram to the adults only beach, named Serenity Bay. Being one of the first to arrive, we grabbed two hammocks under palm trees. As far as I could tell, these were the only ones that had any shade all day (even though it only lasted until ~noon), so if you happen to get there early and want shaded hammocks, grab the first ones you see on the right as you walk on to the beach. Here’s a 360 degree look at our serenity πŸ™‚

Serenity Bay beach was pretty quiet all day, and the water was just about perfect. In the first hour we were there, a Disney film crew was at the waterline just in front of us doing some filming for what I think is some contest just based on some of the lines we overheard. No idea what contest, but they were filming all week. I’d also seen the female lead and the kid filming some family shots at the sail away party, and would also see them on deck the following day. Whatever it was, that crew must have been hot out there.

The morning was pretty much just a combination of us relaxing in the hammocks and chairs, along with some to cool off. Just after 11am, we started to catch the scent of meat coming from Serenity Bay’s BBQ stand. By the time it opened at 11:30, we were already there, and were some of the first people to enjoy the food. Our lunch spot never got all that busy, as I imagine most people were over on the family beach, so that’d be one tip for Castaway Cay, if you don’t want to wait in the lunch lines on the family side, and can get away from the kids, Serenity Bay’s lines may be worth the trip! The food was pretty good, and consisted of things like BBQ chicken, hamburgers, brats, hot dogs, and steak. I had a burger and brat, and enjoyed both. I may also have made my own little ice cream cookie sandwich :). They have a full topping bar as well, along with soda machines for drinks, along with a small dessert table. One word of warning: the seagulls that hold residence on the island know what’s up. If you leave your plate alone on a table for any reason, be rest assured that at least one of them will be stealing food from you, we saw it happen more than once!

After lunch, we made our way over to the family side to do some snorkeling. Once over there, we saw the water slides on the Pelican Plunge platform and just had to try them. Yea, that turned out to be a bad choice for me. Of the two water slides available, I chose the faster, fully enclosed one. Not realizing how fast it was, and being focused on my GoPro shutting off right as I started down it, I hit the water in a way that resulted in my taking a lot of it up my nose. I was done with those slides :).

After the slide failure, I headed over to the snorkeling area ahead of the girls. We’d brought our own gear, so I put mine on and headed out. It was probably the effect of taking all that water up my nose, but their snorkeling area really didn’t impress me. You have to swim out a ways against the current, so by the time I got to an area where the water was clear, I was a bit tired. Swimming around, I did spot some fish among the relics they’d put on the bottom, along with a turtle trying to avoid some of the kids following it, but all in all, I didn’t really find the swim worth the effort. Being a man-made snorkeling area, not too surprising.

The swim out and back really drained me, so I decided to head back to Serenity Bay for a bit to relax. On arrival, I only hung out for a few minutes before packing up my stuff and catching the tram back to the family side. At this point, I figured I’d walk from the family beach back to the ship to get an idea of what all there was to see and do on Castaway Cay. While it was a hot and humid walk, it was well worth it. The family side does have a lot to offer, as covered in the “Things to Do” section here. I spent a little time walking around the rental area, a little sad we hadn’t come over to rent something, or even signed up for the jetski excursion. Oh well, next time, right? Regardless, walking back was a solid decision that supplied me with some great views of the island, as well as the ship, as you’ll see in the pictures below. On arrival at the ship, it was nice to see a stand with cold water available as well (shown in the last picture below), something not all lines do. You could choose between fruit-infused water, or non-flavored water.

That about covers it for our time on Castaway Cay. We really enjoyed the island, especially the relaxing beach of Serenity Bay, and hope to sail there again in the not too distant future! This is definitely a selling point of a Disney cruise, as it’s one of the best private islands we’ve visited in our travels!

Next up, pirate night aboard the Dream! For now, check out some of my pictures of the island!