Sometimes it’s hard to plan travel in advance, so when I noticed a short block of time available to both my husband and me, we decided to book a cruise. We chose to go on a cruise because it was an affordable and easy way to travel at the last minute. We returned to Disney for this cruise because of their high standards of service and the positive experience we have had with our recent visits to Walt Disney World.
Our cruise was a three-night voyage aboard the Disney Dream. We left out of Port Canaveral, and visited Nassau and Castaway Cay in the Bahamas. We also spent the night before the cruise at a Walt Disney World hotel. Three nights cruising was definitely too short, but the cruise did allow us to get away for a few days to a warm and, mostly sunny, destination.
• Travel to Disney and stay at the All-Star Movies Resort – We took a morning flight into Orlando International Airport and from there we traveled to the All-Star Movies Resort via the Magical Express. We flew in a day before the cruise so that we didn’t have to worry about any delays causing us to miss our all-aboard time. This was the first time we stayed at a Disney value resort, and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality despite the lower cost. I still prefer the luxury and attention to detail that goes with staying at a deluxe resort, but for those looking to spend less, the budget hotels are a good option. The All-Star Movies Resort is part of the All-Star hotel complex along with the All-Star Sports and All-Star Movies resorts. The All-Star Movies resort is movie themed and has oversized depictions of classic movie characters featured throughout the property. It has a central pool area, as well as a quick-service dining facility. We ate both lunch and breakfast at the World Premier Food Court. It had ample space to sit and a variety of fast-food options.
• Dinner at The Edison in Disney Springs – We chose to spend our one evening on the Disney property by visiting Disney Springs. Transportation from our hotel and entry to Disney Springs is free and we enjoy walking around the shops and trying the different restaurants. On this trip, we did some shopping and then ate at The Edison. This is a newer, industrial-gothic themed restaurant that has both family-friendly dining and adults-only late night entertainment. We had drinks at the bar, before being seated for dinner. The drinks menu is extensive, but the food menu is limited. However, what is featured on the menu is unique and our meals were tasty.
• The Void: Secrets of the Empire – After dinner we went to The Void for the hyper-reality experience Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire. It’s an extra cost to do this, but it is worth the money. The experience is intense, and really shows how technology can be used to immerse yourself in fantasy.
• Travel to Port Canaveral and Embarkation of the Disney Dream – We were picked up at the All-Star Movies Resort by Disney Cruise Lines transportation to travel directly to Port Canaveral. I will add that this was not a free transportation service offered by Disney, we had to pay for this transfer. Despite the extra cost, it was an effective way of traveling to the ship. We arrived shortly after 1:00 pm and proceeded quickly through check-in and embarkation. Cabins on the Disney Dream were not ready until 3:30 pm, so we went to Enchanted Garden for lunch. You do have the option to eat in Cabanas, the buffet style restaurant, but we chose to go the sit-down lunch route. After our lunch, we went directly to our cabin located mid-ship on deck 6. We had chosen a deluxe stateroom with a verandah. We chose this room because we liked the idea of being able to have a small outdoor space to enjoy while sailing. The room was a decent size, and included a queen bed, a sofa with pull-out bed, a desk, two closets, and a bathroom that was separated into two areas for convenience.
• Senses Spa – While the ship was preparing to sail away we unpacked and explored the ship. We decided to attend the spa open house for a chance to win gift certificates for spa treatments during the cruise. Unfortunately we didn’t win, but we did end up booking the Couples Bliss Package which included a mini-facial, hot stone back massage, scalp massage and foot massage for a highly discounted rate. The catch was that we had to schedule the treatment for that same day, so we opted to do this instead of going up on deck for the sail away party. It was totally worth the splurge and we left the spa feeling relaxed and ready for the next three days of cruising.
• Dining at Royal Palace – Disney Cruises utilize rotational dining to ensure that guests have the opportunity to dine at each of their signature restaurants. They also have two dining times to accommodate all of their guests. We chose the late seating of 8:15 pm and were seated with two other couples. Your wait staff will rotate with you, which allows them to get to know you during the cruise. The dining staff were very attentive, sometimes overly so, but we enjoyed seeing the same friendly faces each night. The first night we dined at Royal Palace, a fairy-tale castle themed restaurant. The décor was nice and the food was very good given that these restaurants have to serve thousands of people each night. There was plenty of variety, and the waiters were happy to accommodate any dietary requests.
• Whiskey Tasting – After dinner my husband had signed up for a whiskey tasting that took place at the Meridian Bar. The bar manager was fantastic and provided a lot of information about the history of whiskey and the tasting samples. Even though I did not sign up for the tasting I was allowed to stay and listen while my husband tasted. This experience is also an additional cost, but we both thought it was worth the price paid.
• Arriving in Nassau, Bahamas – We were up early to watch the ship pull into port in Nassau, Bahamas. We ate a buffet breakfast at Cabanas, which had many choices for both food and seating. We also had an excursion booked for 9:15 am that morning. The Disney Cruise website allows guest to pre-book excursions, so we decided to book the Blue Lagoon Segway and Beach Safari in advance. I had been to Atlantis before and after researching, decided that a visit to Blue Lagoon Island would be the best use of our time. Neither of us had ever been on a Segway before, so we thought this would be a fun novelty to try while traveling.
• Excursion to Blue Lagoon Island – We met other guests going to Blue Lagoon Island on-board the ship and then disembarked as a group. We then made our way over to a boat that would transport us to the island. Once on the island, guests made their way to their chosen activity. The Segway meeting point was just past the dock and once there we signed liability waivers and picked out a helmet. The staff instructed us on how to use the Segway and then we were off on a tour of the island. The Segways were easy to use, and it turned out to be a great way to explore the island with our knowledgeable guides. We made a few picture stops along the way, and ultimately made it back to the beach in time for lunch, which was also included in the cost of the excursion. We then spent some time relaxing on the beach, before boarding the boat to take us back to the Disney Dream.
I enjoyed getting out of Nassau, and visiting Blue Lagoon Island because it allowed us to do something we had never done before and learn a little bit of history about the islands, while also giving us the opportunity to relax on the beach. I will say that Blue Lagoon Island exists for the sole purpose of entertaining tourists, so it is not the most authentic experience. What it lacks in authentic character, it makes up for in activities and beauty.
• Beauty and the Beast Stage Show – The ship departed Nassau at 5:15 pm, and we had just enough time to shower and change before attending the Beauty and the Beast live show. The show itself is based on the live action movie that was released recently and it was incredibly well done. The actors and set design were fantastic, and it was a nice way to relax and be entertained before dinner. It is a show that both adults and kids can enjoy!
• Dinner at Animator’s Palate – Dinner tonight was at Animator’s Palate, the coolest restaurant on the Disney Dream. The reason the restaurant is so cool, is that the artwork on the walls changes throughout the meal and the digital characters interact with people at each table. The dining experience is both an innovative and beautiful tribute to the creativity associated with Disney animation. The food was also very good, with the truffle and cheese filled pasta in a champagne sauce being the star.
• Pirate Night – On select sailings to ports in the Bahamas and the Caribbean, Disney hosts Pirate Night. On this night guests are encouraged to dress in their pirate best, and Mickey hosts a Pirates in the Caribbean themed deck party. Pirate bandannas are left for each guest in your stateroom, so even though we didn’t bring costumes we were able to add a little pirate influence to our evening attire.
• Cognac Tasting – That night my husband signed up for a Cognac tasting back in the Meridian Bar. I once again went along to just listen to the commentary, while he enjoyed the tasting.
• Castaway Cay 5K – Today we arrived at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island. I had done some research and found out about the Castaway Cay 5K. Now, I’m not a runner, but I do enjoy fitness activities, so I decided this would be a good opportunity to run my first 5K. All of the participants were asked to meet on board so we could go over the course and the rules before disembarking the ship as a group. The race itself takes runners/walkers around the island on flat, paved terrain. It was an easy course and gave me an opportunity to see more of the island. I finished the course in 43:20 and was rewarded at the end with a participation medal. I felt very proud of my accomplishment so also bought a Castaway Cay t-shirt, which are only available on the island.
• Castaway Cay Excursion (cancelled) – After I ran the race I met up with my husband, who was relaxing on the beach, and we took the tram to Serenity Bay, the adults-only beach. We had planned on doing the Abaco Ridge Hull Snorkeling Adventure that afternoon, but that was cancelled due to high winds. I can’t say I understand the decision to cancel the excursion, because it was a beautiful day, but our money was refunded and we enjoyed a day of relaxation in paradise.
• Castaway Cay Serenity Bay – Castaway Cay is truly a small slice of paradise. Serenity Bay had sandy beaches, lounge chairs, umbrellas and crystal clear, calm waters to swim in. There was also an adults-only BBQ restaurant that was open for lunch. Castaway Cay was definitely the highlight of our cruise!
• Aquaduck Water Slide – When we returned to the ship we decided to try the Aquaduck waterslide. The line was short at this time, so it was the perfect opportunity to try something else fun on board. The waterslide winds around the pool deck and out over the side of the ship. Two people can ride this mildly thrilling ride together, but know that there is a height restriction for little ones.
• Palo – Last minute we decided to try and get reservations at Palo, one of the adults-only exclusive dining venues on board. Luckily they still had availability so we dressed-up and headed to dinner at 6:00 pm. The dining experience here was phenomenal! The menu is Italian inspired and everything we ordered was fresh and delicious. Our server was also top notch and we enjoyed talking to him throughout the evening. Palo is located at the rear of the ship, so we also had beautiful oceans views as we sailed back towards the United States. Palo does cost an extra $30 dollars per person, but it is definitely worth the price!
• Disembarkation and Travel Home – After three short days we arrived back in Port Canaveral to disembark the ship. We had an afternoon flight so we were able to eat breakfast in Enchanted Garden and take our time disembarking. This was the most chaotic part of the trip, with long lines and a lot of standing around waiting to have our documents checked by both Disney and US CBP officers. Once we finally left the terminal we took Disney transportation back to MCO for our flight home.
As you can tell by many of my descriptions, we had plenty of opportunities to enjoy adults-only areas and activities on both the ship, and in port. We appreciated the way Disney catered towards all ages, and gave us an opportunity to connect, and spend time as a couple. Overall we really enjoyed our first Disney Cruise, and while three nights on the ship was definitely too short, it still gave us the opportunity to travel and enjoy the magic of Disney. With so many destinations all around the globe, I don’t think this will be our last time sailing with Disney Cruise Lines…