Spring Break Cruise on the Disney Dream

tm disney dream

Spring break of 2014 our family took a cruise on the Disney Magic that left us so enchanted we took Mickey’s advice after we had somberly debarked the ship: “See ya REAL soon!”

We returned to Port Canaveral, Florida, a year later for another dose of Disney at Sea — this time boarding the Disney Dream, a vessel nearly twice the size of its cousin, the Magic. We were sailing the exact same three-night itinerary as we had the previous year (with stops in Nassau, Bahamas and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay), but our objective was to have new family experiences along the way. I’m sharing the top five of those experiences here:

1. All four of our children were of age to participate in the Youth Activity Clubs!
Far and away this was the most remarkable difference between our 2014 and 2015 vacations. Drop-in childcare in the clubs for children ages 3-12 is included in cruise fare, requires no reservation, and kids can actually check themselves in whenever they wish (at parents’ discretion, of course). Last year, we had to pay extra to send our toddler to the nursery during late mealtimes and had to book the times in advance of sailing. This year, after a rush to make sure she was fully toilet-trained (a requirement!), all of our kids were able to enjoy the Oceaneer’s Club and Oceaneer’s Lab, these incredible child play spaces, together. These are no ordinary care centers. The counselors engage the kids in myriad themed activities all day long – interactive games, science experiments, cooking class, art projects, pajama parties, you name it, they provide it. There are appropriate activities for the entire span of ages and our kids loved spending time in the clubs which, then, led to…

PicMonkey Collage disney dream - Copy

2. Actual adult alone time!
It didn’t amount to a whole lot, mind you (a couple of hours on concurrent days), but to a couple of parents who rarely spend time alone together (and are photographed together even less), it was golden. When the ship docked at Castaway Cay, the kids stampeded for the island version of the ship’s kids clubs and spent happy hours playing sand and water games with the benevolent counselors. TourDad and I sat under a palm tree and – gasp – managed to talk to each other without being interrupted every other sentence. We strolled leisurely on the beach without being constantly on high alert. Back in our stateroom, we relaxed and sipped drinks on our verandah. And speaking of our verandah…

PicMonkey Collage dream verandah - Copy

3. Upgrading to family staterooms with verandahs was worth the price
Six members in the family means we’ve long outgrown standard hotel rooms. The same goes for cruise ship staterooms. This year, we decided to spring for the “Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah” which, all fancy wording aside, essentially meant we were getting 299 sq. ft. per stateroom as compared to last year’s 214. Keeping the adjoining stateroom door open during the day and having adjoining verandahs meant the kids had much more space to move around in, diminishing some of that “on top of each other”-ness that often accompanies a family vacation. Though we certainly spent plenty of time enjoying each others company…

4. Exploring new restaurants, entertainment, and activities on the ship
There were new stage shows to attend, a new water-coaster to slide, new flavors of soft-serve at the unlimited ice cream dispenser, and endless nooks and crannies on the ship that set it apart from our cruise on the Magic. Like all the Disney ships, a rotational dining schedule allows a family to dine at a new restaurant each night of the cruise. The service staff travels with you, so they become familiar faces and are highly skilled at entertaining kids at the table. And speaking of dining with kids…

PicMonkey Collage disney dream dining

5. We were given the early dinner seating this trip (5:45pm) as opposed to late seating (8:15pm)
The jury’s still out on whether we prefer the first or second seating for dinner. This year, eating earlier, the children still had plenty of energy at dinner and were not dozing off in their chairs – and we included our preschooler in the meal as well, instead of sending her to the nursery for fear she’d have meltdowns in the middle of dinner. However, while eating a full dinner at 5:45 is normal back home, it often made us skip lunch on the cruise in order to be hungry at dinner. As there is a bounty of food everywhere you turn on the ships, it can be tricky to plan mealtimes.

That’s it for now. I hope I can further share more of our family’s Disney Cruise Line tips “REAL SOON!”

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