Sun and Caribbean fun on our first Disney Cruise vacation

by W. Andrew Powell
Disney Dream

If you’re wondering what a Disney cruise vacation is like, and what makes it such a unique trip, my family and I went on our first ever at the end of April and we loved every moment.

We’ve been planning our cruise since the start of 2020, and the pandemic delayed us a little, but it just made us more excited to get on the ship and set sail for our four night Caribbean adventure.

And there are so many things that made it an amazing vacation. You’ll love the pools and the food, and the excursions, there are liquor tastings, trivia events, or just watching movies under the stars on Funnel Vision. And your little ones will love the kid’s clubs.

Here’s the full story about our trip, some of the incredible activities, and why we had such a great experience. If you have a question about Disney cruises, just leave a comment at the bottom of the story and I’ll get back to you.

Why we chose Disney Cruises

Disney Dream's atrium lobby
Disney Dream’s atrium lobby

Our family loves Disney, and that was a big reason why we booked with Disney Cruise Lines, but there was a lot more to it.

I’ve been watching Disney movies since The Fox and the Hound came out, I’ve interviewed stars and filmmakers for Disney movies, and we’ve been to Walt Disney World a few times.

But you don’t need to be a huge fan, or have kids, to enjoy Disney cruises. There’s a lot more to the cruises than the activities for kids.

We met a few characters, and we watched a Disney stage show in the theatre, but we spent most of our time in the pools, riding the AduaDuck water slide, eating ice cream, checking out Castaway Cay’s beach and activities, and just soaking up the sun on the deck chairs.

It’s like a resort on the ocean, with a full schedule of events to choose from all day long, and it can be as relaxing or as exciting as you’d like it to be.

I also love that the main activities on the cruise are included in the price of the cruise so you don’t have to think about the cost of soda, your meals, or seeing shows. You’ll just pay extra for excursions at ports, alcoholic drinks, or if you want to dine at the premium restaurants like Remy or Palo.

And we love the cast and crew on board. They’re so welcoming and helpful, and they go out of their way to give you the best experience. The team helping us included our server Moral F., assistant server Natascha L.D., and stateroom host Cassio, and we can’t thank them enough for taking such great care of our family.

For those reasons, we chose a Disney cruise as our first cruise ever, and it was a big hit for us.

Our cruise adventure

Quiet Cove on the Disney Dream
Quiet Cove on the Disney Dream

We boarded the Disney Dream at about 11 AM on Monday, and the cruise set sail at 5 PM that afternoon. After boarding, we had to check in to our muster station, for safety instructions, which only took about 5 minutes and then we went straight to eat at the buffet, Cabanas.

Cabanas has a fantastic outdoor patio, in addition to indoor seating, where you can enjoy your meal and they have a really wide range of food and desserts for breakfast and lunch, and sometimes surprise midnight buffets.

After we ate, we went straight to Mickey’s Pool, and our daughter ran off to slide. Rooms are ready for guests at 2 PM, so we wandered the ship and had a chance to tour Disney’s Oceaneer Club for their first day open house. Our daughter loved the club, to say the least.

Our room was also pretty special. We had stateroom 6192, which is actually the flag room, if you see the boat at port. The room is fairly standard, at the very end of the ship, but what makes it special is the verandah that’s not only a little bigger than most, it also has the ship’s flagpole. At port, the flag is raised from below, and it’s really a unique perspective, both at port, and when you’re sailing, looking out behind the ship as you travel.

The deluxe oceanview stateroom is also fantastic, and we’re planning to book it again some day.

Over the next four nights we had the chance to try all three of the main dining rooms (Animator’s Palate, Enchanted Garden, and Royal Palace), we ate pizza late at night while we watched movies outside, we had brunch at Palo while looking out over the waters of the Bahamas, and we had so many ice cream cones.

On the second day, rather than getting off at Nassau, we explored the ship for the day, and it was extra quiet, giving us more chances to go down the water slide, grab free deck chairs, and explore the boat. I also had a chocolate and liquor tasting, and we really appreciated the food all day long.

It was one of those rare perfect days, and then there was the third day of the cruise, when we went ashore at Disney’s private island in the Caribbean.

Castaway Cay

Disney's Castaway Cay

On Wednesday morning, we woke up, went to Cabanas for breakfast, and brought everything with us to get off the boat at Castaway Cay. This is one of the big highlights of a Disney cruise because it’s their own private island, and it was so perfectly wonderful.

We grabbed beach chairs by Pelican Plunge–the water slides and play area not far from Cookie’s Too BBQ and the Sand Bar–and just enjoyed swimming and relaxing for a while.

Then we fed the stingrays at the Stingray Adventure, snorkelled with them for a while, and went to go parasailing. If you only do one thing on the island, you really have to go parasailing. You go out on a speed boat with a few other guests, they strap you in to the gear in pairs, and you then you get to soar over the water with incredible views of the island, the ship, and the ocean for five minutes.

If you’re nervous, you really don’t need to worry because you go up so gently, and the teams are incredibly professional. I have to give a very big shout out to E.K. and Rinaldo for the fantastic experience on the water.

After soaring over the ocean, we went for lunch at Cookie’s Too, with some great BBQ food, and then we went back to the beach until 4 PM when we had to get back to the ship to set sail and have supper. It was another perfect day, and that’s saying something.

And then, after supper, the ship had Pirate Night. Almost everyone was dressed up as pirates, and Disney put on a kid’s pirate show with Captain Mickey and Captain Hook, followed by a stage show with Jack Sparrow for Pirates In The Caribbean. Then there were fireworks, and a dance party, and it’s hard to have a better night whether you’re a kid or a kid at heart.

Saying goodbye, for now

The last full day on the Dream was our day at sea, and it was a beautiful one.

Throughout the whole trip we had pretty much perfect weather, and on our last day, while our daughter enjoyed the kids club, we spent the time in the adult-only area, with a couple of cocktails, and making sure our tans were good.

We didn’t have a lot planned on our last day on purpose, because we really wanted to feel like the trip was a break, and it also just made the whole trip feel so much longer.

In the afternoon we also made time to sit on our balcony some more, we ordered lunch to the room, and we split a celebratory cupcake we ordered.

The only thing we thought about otherwise was how much we wanted to get back out on another cruise as soon as we could.

We packed up, and had dinner out, and we tried to soak up every last ounce of magic.

The next morning the ship was already docked by the time we got up and we went down for an early breakfast before we had to disembark.

It was such a fun, phenomenal trip that our daughter cried as we got off the ship because she really just didn’t want to leave. We had to promise her that we would be back, and of course, we will, because my wife and I are as excited as she is to get back on a Disney cruise one day again soon.

Stay tuned for my full video from the trip. I’ll also have more stories on the trip, my top tips for making the most of your Disney cruise, and more photos.

Disney Dream
Disney Dream

Powell’s Travels is my chance to talk about the most incredible adventures around. I share stories from my trips, news, and more. I’d also love to hear about some of your favourite travel memories, so tell me all about them in the comments, ask me questions, or reach out on Twitter. Watch some of my travel videos on YouTube.

All photos by W. Andrew Powell.

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