Being a veteran of over 70 cruises, I believe that I have experienced most cruise experiences and seen and done most things within the cruise industry. However a few months ago, Disney Cruises UK approached me and asked if I would start selling their product. Of course most people would jump at the chance, however Disney UK are not the easiest in the world to deal with so I thought I better try the product first to make certain it lived up to its hype and if the back office pain would be worth it?
As I was already in Florida I waited for a last minute deal and booked myself onto one of their newer ships the Disney Dream for a 5 night cruise to Castaway Cay their own private Island and Nassau in the Bahamas.
Once we arrived at Port Canaveral we proceeded to check in desk, this was a smooth process considering I had not been able to print off my electronic tickets. Whilst waiting there were a buzz and some noise and across the concourse, came Mickey and Minnie. Within in seconds a line had formed with kids and adults looking to get a picture with them. My immediate thought was what have I let myself in for?
Once through check in, we went on to board the ship and this really where the magic does begin. We was asked what our surname was and we was then announced to the whole of the ship that “the Disney Dream would like to welcome the Gilder family.” A nice little touch I thought. We then proceeded to our stateroom. I was intrigued as the brochure stated 206 square foot which is quite a lot bigger than the main stream cruise lines. We walked in and to be honest I was a little disappointed with space. However I soon noticed where it had gone. Firstly there were 2 large closets to hang your clothes and this was more than bigger enough for the four of us. I then also noticed 2 doors. One each for the bathroom yes it had a tub and another one for a separate toilet. In all my years this is the first time I had seen this in a standard cabin. Everything else was the norm but as the cruise progressed the closet and bathroom certainly made sense.
After quickly changing we went upstairs and found “Cabanas” the buffet restaurant. After a quick scout around our plates were full. My wife was in heaven as there was a whole fish area with clams, King Prawns and Crabs legs a plenty. My initial thoughts were this is the best opening buffet that we had seen. This continued though the whole of the cruise and I am certain my wife ate her tickets worth in crab legs alone.
Our next stop was the open deck area above us we could see the water coaster and 2 kids swimming pools. The clever part of this was the mechanical stage which went not in use covered up the pools and turned the whole outside deck area into a big stage.
The sail away party started once the ship left dock and the excellent entertainers performed with Mickey and the other characters and then finished off with a deck party. Again the best and most lively sail away party that I had seen and words cannot really describe it.
After the party my kids wanted to find out about the kids club so we went up to the club to enrol. To our pleasure it was already open. Other kids club don’t normally start until the following morning. We were also informed that it was open until 1am and unlike other children’s clubs, there was no additional charge if they stayed after 10pm. Once in to the kids club, it is by far and away the largest one afloat. It took near enough half of deck 5 with many different games, crafts and experiments going on. It was open for 3 to 12 year olds and everyone was together. This had it its pro and cons. The pro was my 6 year old son could play with his 10 year old sister. On the other hand though, they were also playing games with 3 year olds.
I will let you into a little secret the ship was carrying around 3500 guests in which 1500 were children. To most people this would be hell. However Disney are very clever and create adult only sections of the ship. At the back of deck 11 there is an adult’s only swimming pool, swim up pool bar and comfortable sun loungers. This took you away from the noise and hurly burly around the main pool. The other excellent part was the adult only bars of the district down on deck 4. After 7pm no children allowed so our kids would go to kids club and we would stay down their having adult fun on a conventional cruise ship.
The adult’s only theme also continues on their private Island Castaway Cay. Upon arrival our children wanted to go to kids club which was on the Island. We dropped them off and jumped on the little train to Serenity which is the adult’s only private beach. As you can imagine I am fairly well travelled but I have never seen a beach like this. The sand was talcum powder white and then the crystal clear blue sea went out for at least half a mile. My wife suggested they had used food colouring in it to give its colouring. The beach was idyllic and arguably the nicest beach we had ever seen also with having no kids was an unbelievable bonus.
There are too many things to write about on this cruise but the highlights are the shows. Yes they are Disney and you will be humming Hakuna Matarta and Mary Poppin’s but these are some of the most elaborate stage shows afloat with fireworks at sea, food as good as any this really is a cruise for everyone whether you are an adult or child. No one does it like Disney and this really is the case with this cruise. Yes compared to other cruises it is expensive but the whole family agreed it was arguably the best cruise we have ever had.