Sailing with Disney – A Day at Sea

A look back at our final day aboard the Disney Dream. Sea days are the best!

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:

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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 šŸ™‚

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:

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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), theĀ Chateaubriand roasted filet steak, and theĀ 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!

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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 – 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.Ā 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.Ā 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 šŸ™‚

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!

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