Sailing With Disney – A Day in Nassau

Recapping our first full day on board while docked in Nassau!

Our second day of the cruise saw us docked in Nassau. The original plan had been to stay on board all day, if for nothing else, to allow us to check out the entire ship. Well, the plan changed, as most tend to do. While we were signing up for the brunch in Palo the day before, we were given the basic dress code, which we were mostly prepared for. This is a good time to mention that on Disney ships, the dinner attire requirements are relaxed. Like really relaxed. Shorts and t-shirts relaxed. That made me very happy, as I’m not really one for the pomp and circumstance of dressing up for a meal, and not having to pack that extra clothing was amazing. I did throw in one pair of pants and a casual button down shirt just in case, which was perfect for Palo, but in the shoe department, all I had were sandals and tennis shoes, neither of which were suitable according to what we were told. That meant a short trip off the ship in Nassau to hunt down a cheap pair of shoes that would fit the requirements.

Before our trip into Nassau, however, we had a couple of things on tap. First up was breakfast in Royal Palace. We didn’t really have any wait at all, and menu in hand, I immediately spotted what I wanted, the waffle sandwich. Two waffles with dulce de leche and whipped cream in between them. Out. Standing. the human body doesn’t retain calories on vacation, right?

We also had a scheduled character meet and greet that morning with 3 princesses. This is one of the ones you have to sign up for in advance due to popularity, and even with as late as we booked, Jen was still able to get tickets for this one and for the Frozen character meet and greet about 5 days prior to sailing. If you don’t see availability when viewing your booking online, keep trying! Anyway, we made our way through the line, taking pictures of Bayley with Belle, Tiana and Rapunzel:

Our morning events done, we headed for the exits. Getting off was pretty quick, and since we were getting off well after debark started, the line was relatively short. It wasn’t as busy as we’ve seen it in port, as there were only 3 ships there, including us. We walked around the shop areas for a bit not really finding anything but sandals shops, until finally we ran across what was basically a shop carrying a bunch of knock-offs. Clothing, jewelry, you name it (check out the “Apple watch” in the shot below). Fine by me, I just want shoes to get me through the upcoming brunch, so I bought a pair of solid black “Vans”, and we headed back to the ship.

Once back on board, we had a fairly busy schedule ahead, starting with our other pre-booked character meet and greet, with Anna and Elsa! This one was held in Animators Palate, and was easily the longest character line we saw all week. Again, this one requires booking in advance, so if your kids are Frozen fans, be sure to keep checking your booking online and grab tickets when they come available!

After our time in the kingdom of Arendelle, we headed back to Royal Palace for lunch. I’m not sure what it was about my appetite that day, but I felt the need to continue my kid-level food binge, and went with the Mexican pizza on the kids menu. I wasn’t super hungry, so as small as this looks, it was the perfect amount of food for me when combined with the molten chocolate cake on the dessert menu:

Our bellies full, we headed up to D Lounge for an animation class. This is one of those activities that the girls always loved at Hollywood Studios, at least until that entire area was replaced with the Star Wars Launch Bay, so they were excited to see it on the schedule . For today’s class, they’d be drawing Donald Duck! If you’ve never attended one of these classes before, it’s worth the time, they’re fun, and the instructors do a good job of walking you through each step.

After drawing Donald, the real fun began. One of the other things we’d done the previous day was to sign up for one of the mixology classes. The only one with availability was the 2pm class, held in Skyline Lounge. The class is $20 per person, and really was a good time. There were somewhere around a dozen people in there, and over the course of the class we learned how 5 different drinks are made, getting to make only two of them ourselves. The drinks included a Bahama Mama, Raspberry Mango Mojito (which was my favorite), a Captain Maitai, a B-52, and a Pomegranate Martini. One additional drink that got slipped in due to one of the participants celebrating a birthday, we all had what amounted to a double shot of Fireball. Like I said, it was a fun time. The only things we wish they’d change: We’d have like to have actually made more drinks. Only making 2 out of 5 was a bit of a let down. That, and one of the two we made wasn’t rally us making it. Some of it was pre-staged (pre-mixed juices, for example), so I wouldn’t truly say that we were learning the art of mixlogy. Good times, though, and we certainly got our money’s worth!

Having some time time left before the show, we decided to give the waterslide a few runs. If you’ve never seen the Aquaduck on the Dream, it’s a pretty long slide that takes you along a good portion of the ship, and it’s an absolute blast. The tube is see-though and totally enclosed for most of the ride, and the rafts you sit on have two seats, allowing you to either go solo or with someone else, and speed-wise, it’s pretty casual. Having those unobstructed views of everything around you makes for an outstanding ride, too. I think we rode it 2 or 3 times before heading back to the room to get ready for the show.

Tonight’s show theme was Villains, and I admit I didn’t recognize many of them, as they appeared to be from newer Disney shows/movies. The performers and sets were outstanding, up to Disney’s usual production level, but not much else to say about it, especially due to the fact I took no pictures or video, adhering to their rules. I will say that the area we sat in, up in the balcony to the far right, 3 rows up, isn’t a spot I’d choose to sit in again. While I had a clear view of the stage, I couldn’t see any of the stuff happening on the right-hand monitor or right-hand box. Again, stage sight lines are pretty good throughout the theater, you just want to be closer to center to be able to see things going on in either of the forward balcony boxes.

After the show, and a little bingo action in Encore, we headed for dinner. As mentioned in my previous post, our dining room schedule had us repeating one location, and as a result, tonight’s location was the first of two scheduled evenings in Enchanted Garden. While I enjoy the decor in this restaurant, that same crowded feeling we had for lunch in here the previous day returned. Couple that with the continuing slow service, and dinner here was just an okay experience. I think we’d have all preferred to be back in Animators Palate, if for nothing other than Crush’s tableside visit. No biggie, the food was still good, and was capped off with another delicious sundae 🙂

Once we hurriedly finished our desserts, we headed for the one thing left on our schedule, a character meet and greet with Captain Mickey! We got there a few minutes early, and the line wasn’t too bad at that point, so it didn’t take long for our turn to arrive once he came out:

We did make one more stop on our way to the room, at the late night snack table in the lounge area. Just outside the District lounge, on the way to Evolution, there’s a small buffet area open somewhere in the 10pm timeframe. Mostly just finger foods that were okay, nothing special though. Following that quick snack stop, we headed to the room to get some sleep before our arrival in Castaway Cay the following day. We did order room service for the second night in a row, and this is something I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post. One thing available at no charge that isn’t listed on the menu are the Mickey ice cream bars! On the first and second night, we all ordered them. Again, the human body doesn’t absorb calories on vacation, right?

Next up, the day we were looking forward to the most, our stop at Castaway Cay!

Sailing With Disney – Our Expectations

Kicking off my Disney Dream cruise review, here’s a look at the expectations we went in to this sailing with!

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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