We are not a cruising kind of family. Quite the opposite, actually. The thought of being “confined” to a cruise ship for any length of time just wasn’t appealing to any one of us. So when a close friend suggested we book a Disney Cruise, my immediate reaction was, No Way! But somehow, I was convinced. I booked a Disney cruise! Concern loomed in my household about “mom’s sanity.” Had I truly lost it?
Setting Sail For The Bahamas On The Disney Dream
Ok, a little history. I know this may be blasphemy to some, but we aren’t, gasp, Disney fans. My oldest loved Disney – when he was a preschooler. He’s now fourteen. He’s moved on. My youngest has never been “into” Disney. Not as a toddler. Not as a preschooler. Not now as a precocious nine year old. Disney just hasn’t ever held his attention.
So what in the world was I thinking? Booking not just a cruise, but a Disney cruise! Momentary lapse of sanity? Parental guilt that my kids weren’t “into” Disney characters and TV shows like other kids? Or perhaps it was the allure of Disney’s brand new cruise ship, the Disney Dream, that tipped the scale.
Whatever the reason, this cruise was was going to be a new experience for all of us.
So was this “magical Disney cruise” a success? Yep, it sure was! Here’s our family’s favorite highlights of our five day Disney Dreams Bahamas cruise.
A Day At Castaway Cay
To say we were pleasantly surprised about Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, is an understatement. I just wish we had another day on the island! Alas, we only had about eight hours of island time, which we filled with biking, swimming, snorkeling and lazing on the beach. Lots of great family-time fun.
Castaway Cay Disembarking Tip – We let the crowds disembark for Castaway Cay before we made our way off the ship. Great for missing the crowds. Not great for character photo ops. Jack Sparrow was already moving on by the time we arrived. Sigh. Moral of our story? Don’t wait too long or you might miss a favorite character.
Calm Respite In A Private Cabana
Reserving a cabana was pricey, and we weren’t sure it was worth the splurge. Was it? That’s a resounding yes! The cabana price does include lots of extras – bikes, beach toys, floats and snorkel gear. And best of all, our own respite from the sun, complete with comfy lounge chairs, a fully stocked drink and snack station at our fingertips, even sun screen. All this at the foot of our very own private beach, exclusive to the Cabanas. No crowded beach here!
Cabana Booking Tip – Reserving a cabana is not easy. The limited numbers are gone almost as soon as they become available. Know when your reservation allows you to book excursions, and be ready to book a cabana as soon as the clock ticks to that time.
Tubing Down The AquaDuck
What kid isn’t thrilled with a water slide? For that matter, what adult? And what better way to enjoy a hot afternoon on the Disney Dream than to take a ride on the AquaDuck. Take in the views as you race down through the clear tubes – you really do glide out over the ocean at one point! It’s fun, it’s fast. Definitely a must-do.
Aqua Duck Tip – Wait lines can get quite long. Ride the Aqua Duck as soon as it opens, during first dinner seating, or later at night. On land-based days, return to the ship early and enjoy practically no lines. That’s what we did. While everyone else was still in Nassau, we were enjoying ride after ride on the AquaDuck.
Doing Time In The Disney Oceaneer Lab
Disney Cruises are known for their kids’ clubs, but our kid’s club experience started out rocky. My youngest just wouldn’t go. But then, half way through the cruise, he didn’t want to do the same activity we wanted to do. So, we did what all good parents do. We “made” him go to the club. And guess what? He loved it! In fact, he didn’t want to leave. Guess we should have “made” him go earlier. Who knew?
Kid’s Club Tip – Pre-register the kids online before you cruise. It’ll save time. And if you have a “no I won’t go” child as we did, negotiate a time for him to spend at least an hour in the kids’ club. The odds are, he’s gonna love it. If he doesn’t, that’s ok too – there’s so much else to do anyway.
Partyin’ With Disney Pirates In The Caribbean
Embrace your inner pirate at the Pirate Night deck party. Those “in the know” actually bring their own pirate costumes. No worries if you don’t – you”ll find pirate bandanas in your cabin. Yep, Disney makes sure you really do embrace the pirate party spirit.
Pirate Night Tip – There’s no way to avoid crowds unless you skip Pirate Night altogether. But don’t. The stage show and fireworks afterwards are worth dealing with the crowds. Arrive early for a front row spot. Consider an upper deck vantage point. We scored a sweet view by staking claim along an upper deck railing.
Goofing Off At Goofy’s Sport Deck
Channel your inner golfer, or challenge a sibling to a fun-filled adventure at Goofy’ Golf. Yep, Goofy’s miniature golf was a fan favorite! It’s also a great way to spend a morning on the ship. Goofy’s Sports Deck has other activities if golf just isn’t for your gang.
Goofy Golf Tip – It can get crowded on the links. Head straight to Goofy Golf as soon as you board the ship. We had the course all to ourselves while most everyone else was unpacking their bags. Mornings are also fairly quiet.
Every Night A Gastronomic Delight
Complete with dessert! The Disney Dream has a three restaurant dinner rotation, The Royal Palace, Animator’s Palate, and The Enchanted Garden. We loved each and every one of them. We also loved that you didn’t have to dress up every night. Another cool feature? The wait-staff rotates with you. So if you have a pretty cool lead waiter as we did, it just adds to the dining fun.
Dinner Rotation Tip – Choose your dinner rotation as soon as you book your cruise. If you must have first seating, book immediately as this time fills up fast. Don’t like crowds? Arrive for seating ten to fifteen minutes past the start of your dinner seating. Your table’s going to be there as it’s reserved just for you. By shifting our arrival time by fifteen minutes, we didn’t wait once to be seated.
Experiencing A Disney Stage Production
We didn’t take full advantage of the onboard stage productions, and all I can say is, We really messed this one up! We saw only one show, Villains Tonight! It was fabulous. Even my teen enjoyed the show. It was our last night so we had no chance to see the other shows. We were sad.
Stage shows tip – Take full advantage of the stage shows. They are included in your cruise, no extra fee. Don’t miss them like we did!
Will we cruise again?
Yes. Maybe. I don’t know. It’s not for lack of effort on Disney’s part. The cruise was fantastic. We are all very glad we did it, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The question of mom’s sanity has been answered. But in the end, we just aren’t cruisers. If you are like us, start small, book a four to five night cruise, no more. See what you think. You might be hooked.
Ready to set sail on your own Disney Cruise adventure? Stay tuned for my next post where friend and Mouse Counselor extraordinaire, Bethany Chapman and I will share insider tips on booking and maximizing your Disney Cruise experience.
Do you like to cruise? Have you cruised with Disney? What’s your favorite cruise line? Let us know in the Comments section below.
Images from Disney Cruise Lines and C.Biederman.