Port Canaveral, Disney Cruise Line’s home port in Florida, is based about an hour from Walt Disney World Resort (you can book transfers when you book your Disney cruise, and if you’re going straight from Orlando Airport to your Disney ship, your luggage will be whisked straight to the ship while you board one of Disney’s Magical Express coaches).
The ship boarding process itself is quick and easy. You have to go through security, then it’s straight up into the light and airy lobby where you go through a quick check-in process (there’s usually a character or two about to welcome you on board as well!). As you walk on board, your names are announced and you’re welcomed into the ship’s atrium with a round of applause from waiting staff members. It’s a lovely touch!
The Disney Dream is the third Disney ship in the fleet of four. The Disney Magic, the original Disney Cruise Line ship, which set sail for the first time in 1998, was joined by the Disney Wonder in 1999. Both have the capacity to hold 2700 guests. The two newer vessels in the fleet, the Disney Dream (2011) and Disney Fantasy (2012) are larger, weighing in at a stonking 130,000 tonnes (compared with the Magic’s 84000 tonnes) with a 4000 guest capacity, and would dwarf the Eiffel Tower if it was laid next to them (my favourite fact) as they’re both 1115ft long.
The atrium of the Disney Dream is one of my favourite places. The area spans three floors (with loads of balconies overlooking the main atrium floor) and is decorated in full-on Disney princess glam – with a sweeping staircase, a gorgeous Art Deco glass chandelier and sumptuous nautical theming.
Our sailing away party was moved indoors because of the rain, but it was still a great way to get everyone in a good mood. And look who put in an appearance:
It’s always a good idea to leave exploring your stateroom until after the sailing away party (you don’t want to miss anything), so by the time we visited our stateroom I’m afraid it was a bit gloomy. Sorry for the poor lighting. The Disney Dream has a total of 1250 staterooms (80 percent of these with views to the outside, 90 percent with a balcony). If you want to save a bit of cash, an inside stateroom can be the way to go – let’s face it, unless you’re getting ready for dinner or sleeping, there are so many other places on board you’d rather be. All the inside staterooms have a ‘magical porthole’ what shows views from the ship – and some very cute animations too). Our room had a nice balcony, a main sleeping area with a double bed, and then a lounge area with a sofa bed (and another that drops magically from the ceiling). You also get a bathroom (with a sort of half-sized bath with a shower over the top of it) with a sink and storage, plus a toilet with another sink and more storage. It’s so handy to have two bathroom areas – especially when travelling with a teenager!
So what is there to do when you get on board? Well, where do I begin? Let’s start with the sunny bits, shall we? The AquaDuck – the first EVER water coaster at sea is just the best fun. You can fit two people in each raft and you whizz down the watery tube together round bends and up and down little slopes (see my video below for an inside view!).
On deck 11 there are the main pool areas: Donald’s pool, right next to the huge ‘Funnel Vision’ screen, Mickey’s pool, and the really cute little toddlers’ wet play area, Nemo’s Reef water-play area.
The adults only pool and bar area is called Quiet Cove. There’s a pool and shallower sunbathing area, plus a bar and café. It’s a lovely spot and we spent quite a lot of our time here. On sea days, when it gets a bit crowded, it’s worth heading up to the higher decks, where there are some lovely quiet areas away from the bustling pool areas.
The Buena Visa Theatre shows movies, and there are also tons of kids clubs: a nursery for the smallest guests, aged 3 months to 3 years, the Oceaneer Club and Lab (3 to ten years), Edge (for ‘tweens’), and Vibe – an whole area reserved just for teenagers aged 14 – 17. This is a fantastic area – think part coffee bar, part nightclub, with a video wall, a media room and a great outdoor sundeck with loungers, pools, misters and all sorts of games.
Add to all that the fabulous shops, a sumptuous spa and salon, a gym, an art gallery and a packed schedule of entertainment, and there’s really no reason to be in that state room!
And when the sun goes down? The Disney Dream really comes alive. Entertainment is obviously what Disney do best and the live shows in the Walt Disney Theatre were some of our favourite moments. The productions are top quality and the performers quite extraordinary. I won’t spoil it, but it even snows in one show! Pirate night is THE BEST night – everyone dresses up and there’s an incredible firework display and then a massive party. I cry every time!
Adults have their own areas too. The District is a buzzing evening entertainment area with cocktail bars, a pub, a nightclub and much more. My own particular favourite is Pink, a gorgeously decadent cocktail bar, perfect for a glass of bubbly before dinner.
The Skyline bar has the most amazing cocktails and boasts an state of the art ‘window’ that shows changing night views of cities around the world:
The Disney Dream operates a rotational dining system which means that you dine in different restaurants depending on what day it is. You’re followed around the different restaurants by your waiting staff and you REALLY make a connection with them. Our servers knew our names, and remembered our preferences for things like drinks and food likes and dislikes. It makes every meal a joy. The main restaurants, whimsical Enchanted Garden down on deck 2, clever Animator’s Palate with walls that come alive with talking characters, and classically beautiful Royal Palace on deck 3 are complemented by Cabanas, a casual dining ‘International grill’ style buffet up on deck 11, and some quick service dining options like Luigi’s Pizza, Flo’s Café and Tow Mater’s Grill.
There are some pretty special fine dining options too. You may remember a while back I told you about Petites Assiettes – a new tasting journey available exclusively in Remy, Disney Dream’s gorgeous French-inspired restaurant, named after the hero of Disney’s Ratatouille movie. I was lucky enough to experience the tour, hosted by our Executive Sous Chef. We started with an unusual emulsion of foix gras, with salted butter caramel and roasted macademia nuts, teamed with a glass of delicious, strawberry scented Taittinger Rosé, experienced in the wine room of Remy, where 500 bottles of wine are stored, including the Latour 1961 featured in the film (valued in excess of $25000!!).
From there we moved into the main restaurant, tasting langoustine with a yuzu reduction, and then delicate salmon with celery, celeriac purée, smoked salmon and tomato in a balsamic reduction served with the most incredible smoky, buttery Puligny Montrachet Chardonnay by Louis Latours. Remy’s sommelier was on hand to talk us through the wines as each dish was served. It really was the most enjoyable experience.
The whole thing is just $50 per person including wine pairing and I think it’s a total bargain. I learned absolutely loads about wine and food pairing and tasted some incredible wines, including a particularly stunning Vin Doux Naturelle – similar to port, but French – with notes of delicious chocolate and cherry – the perfect, velvety partner to our final plate – creamy vanilla scented creme caramel. Wowzers.
Sadly, we weren’t quite as lucky with the sea conditions as we were with the delicious food and wine, and our visit to Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay had to be abandoned. The captain tried valiantly to battle strong currents and winds, but it wasn’t to be, and we didn’t manage to dock. Still, the weather was beautiful and we had to settle for snoozing on deck in the sun, sipping a cocktail with a view of the gorgeous white sand beach tantalisingly out of reach!
What a wonderful trip, though. My highlight? That food and wine, or maybe the AquaDuck, oh, but wait, meeting Minnie of course! Want to see more? Here’s the video of our trip. Thanks again to everyone at Disney Parks and Destinations for making our trip so special!
4-night Bahamas cruise on Disney Dream from £1,540pp
Walt Disney Travel Company offers 1 night at Hyatt Orlando Airport hotel before boarding Disney Dream for 4 nights from Port Canaveral calling at Nassau (Bahamas) and Castaway Cay, from £1,540pp. Price is per person based on two adults and one child (under 10) travelling and sharing an inside stateroom on a full-board basis and includes return Virgin Atlantic flights from London Gatwick to Orlando. Based on departure date 07 June 2015. Offer is subject to availability and includes all applicable taxes and fuel surcharges which are subject to change.
To book: Visit www.disneyholidays.co.uk or call our Disney Experts on 0800 085 0695