Disney is magical because there’s always something new to experience. There’s a different park to visit each day. There are too many restaurants to ever eat at every one. There are so many runDisney events that you can’t race them all. There are parties, and decorations, and no two days at Disney will ever be the same.
You know I love Disney vacations, so I was a little nervous when my husband and I embarked on our first Disney cruise. My expectations of a Disney vacation are unbelievably high, and my husband is kinda hard to impress sometimes.
We flew into Orlando a little bit late, and arrived at the cruise ship on the very last possible bus. As soon as we entered the cruise terminal we were blown away. Security was quick and friendly, and the building was immaculate. There was a gorgeous stainless steel inlay of Cinderella’s Castle in the floor and a beautiful scaled model of ship as a centerpiece. After a three minute check in procedure we were issued our “key to the world” cards and we took our first fateful steps through the glowing Mickey head that indicated the ramp to the ship.
The words “wow factor” are usually hyperbolic. In the case of the Disney Dream, the wow factor was literal. Literally. We walked into the lobby of the ship and both of us whispered “woooooow.” That wow factor continued through the entire ship. Every square inch of the ship was maintained to perfection. During the day, when most people went to Nassau, we saw maintenance crews sanding and repainting lamp posts, sanding and re-lacquering bar top tables, powerwashing every surface imaginable, and cleaning and sanitizing every surface any person might have touched. That’s not to say the maintenance got in the way of enjoying the ship, it’s just that somewhere on the boat, at all times, someone was improving the appearance or function of the ship.
It wasn’t just the ship that blew us away. The cruise delivered above and beyond our expectations in every way. For example, we passed a human sized portal window that looked perfect for sitting in, and we thought “wouldn’t it be nice if there was a little cushion in there?” Three portals down the hallway, there were cushions in every other portal down the entire hallway. The only reason there weren’t cushions in the first few portals is that they would interfere with how people lined up for dinner nearby. At one point, I said to my husband “it would be nice if you could watch video versions of the shows in the stateroom.” We returned to our stateroom that night and turned on the TV for the first time, and guess what I found? Filmed versions of the shows I watched, available at any time. Our first experience in the hot tub was at night, and it was amazing that the bottom was made out of clear glass, so you could look down at the roiling waved below. After we returned to our room, I said to Brad, wouldn’t it be cool if the outside of the hot tub was also glass, so you could see out? When we returned to the hot tub during the day, we realized that the outside wall of the hot tub was actually glass and you could actually look out.
The value of a Disney cruise is phenomenal. Every night you receive the Navigator, an all encompassing schedule of the next days events. Throughout the day you could meet characters, take tours of the ship, watch current movies, attend Broadway style shows, attend dance parties, play games, and the list goes on. The best thing though is you can also just hang out by the pool and that is awesome too. There is literally something for everyone, and something for every age onboard. Brad and I took full advantage of the adults only sections of the ship, and luckily staff members were on top of keeping it that way.
While we loved the cruise, there were some times when the service was almost obtrusive. There are about a million cast members walking around the pool with drink menus, so while beautiful, our lasting impression of the pool experience went something like this:
“Would you like a drink?” said cruise guy.
“No thank you,” we replied politely.
-30 seconds pass.
“Would you like a drink?” said cruise girl.
“No thank you,” we replied politely.
-One minute and 30 seconds pass.
“Would you like a drink?” said cruise guy version 2.0.
“No thank you,” we replied tersely.
-45 seconds pass.
“Would you like a drink?” said cruise girl version 2.0.
“No thank you,” we replied exhaustingly.
It was just too much drink pushing for us. With less than ten cast members offering drinks, they would have been able to remember that we didn’t want a drink, but it was always a new person, always offering a drink.
After the great cruise sickness outbreak of a few years ago, Disney is poised to make sure that there is never any sickness on their ships. What that looks like for the average cruiser is someone in the 50 square foot public restrooms watching you…ya know… and then wiping up any stray droplets of water from the sink (or wherever.) It got a little awkward. It also looks like being handed a wet nap every time you enter a restaurant. I get the point, but it got a little tedious being all clean and polished and fresh from a shower and being handed a wet nap like a child each time we entered an eatery.
The only other part of the cruise that didn’t get top marks was the dinner service. Don’t get me wrong, the food at the restaurants was fantastic. You could order as much as you wanted, and there was always someone there smiling at you. But when there’s a server, assistant server, and head server all catering to only several tables, it’s a little disappointing when ordering coffee with dessert is followed by a 10 minute wait for the coffee cup, and another 10-15 minutes before the coffee shows up.
Overall the cruise was beyond amazing. We loved the ship. We loved the food, drink and ice cream station, and room service. We loved the shows and the general, laid-back atmosphere. Three days was not quite enough awesome. We have already booked another cruise on the Disney Wonder for a bit longer so we can experience the magic again.