Thursday, October 12, 2017

[Day 3] Princesses and Palo Brunch

This morning we arrived in Nassau.  However, we decided to treat today like a sea day and not get off the ship.  We've been to Nassau many times, and it's not our favorite port of call.  The public beaches are no match for those of Castaway Cay, and the private beaches, like Atlantis, are expensive (you have to pay just to walk inside Atlantis Resort).  Since we only had a few days on the Disney Dream, we figured that today would be better spent enjoying the ship.

Nassau

Rachel booked us two character meet and greets in the morning, along with Palo Brunch.

We started with the Princess Meet & Greet in the atrium at 9 AM.  These character interactions require a reservation to be made online in advance, similar to booking and excursion, and you receive a printed excursion ticket in your stateroom with the time of your meet & greet printed on it.  Note that it's important to get an excursion ticket for all members of your party, even if they aren't meeting the characters.  For example, if you have two kids and only book two meet & greet tickets, only the kids will be able to go through the line to meet the characters, and you won't be allowed to follow with a camera (which might be fine if you have the photo package because there are photographers with every princess).

Monday, October 9, 2017

[Day 2 | Part 2] Serenity Bay and Afternoon Rain

Rachel and I rinsed off and got ready for the beach, then we headed back out to Castaway Cay.

In case you forgot, it's still beautiful.

Disney Dream

When you're getting off the ship, they have an area where they are passing out towels, selling bottles of water, and also distributing bug-repellent (lotion, not spray).  Make sure to get at least two towels per person, maybe three, because there is no other place to get fresh towels on the island, and it will most likely rain at some point during the day, soaking at least one of your towels.

You can pass on the water if you bring your own bottle and fill it before leaving the ship - there are soda/water fill stations on Deck 11 of the Disney Dream (and Fantasy, Deck 9 of the Wonder/Magic).  But a trick I like to use is to get ice delivered to the room the night before, let it melt a little overnight, then fill the bottle with icy water the next morning.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

[Day 2 | Part 1] Castaway Cay 5K

Rachel and I had signed up at Guest Services to run the Castaway Cay 5K. We had done this before, so we knew what we were getting ourselves into, but they've since upgraded the medal from a generic Mickey cruise medal to a themed Castaway Cay 5K medal (rubber), so we decided it was worth it for the hardware. Also, if we knocked out the 5K first thing, we wouldn't feel so bad about eating a Mickey Mouse ice cream bar later....

Castaway Cay

The 5K met at 8:30 AM in Evolution - don't forget to bring your drivers license (like I did), or you'll have to run back up to the room to get it.  The 5K has turned into a popular event because supposedly, you get off the ship first (by the time we actually got off, they had already announced that the ship was cleared and all passengers could disembark).  So a lot of families may have one or two people running, but they'll all come and register for the 5K and then go and lay claim to some beach chairs while the 5K is happening.  Also, there you can check your kids into the club on the island before the race (children must be 8 or older to participate in the 5K).

Monday, October 2, 2017

[Day 1] Disney Dream - Sail Away!

Embarkation

We flew/drove in the day before and stayed at the Fairfield at MCO the night before the cruise.  This trip begins how they normally do - with me scrambling to get to the airport.  This time I was confused and thought my flight left an hour later... only to realize that it didn't, and I didn't have time to take a shower.  Luckily there were no people in the two seats next to me, so no one had to put up with my un-showered self.  Once at MCO, I had the hardest time finding the complimentary airport shuttle to the Fairfield.  I circled the entire shuttle deck twice - the only clear and visible signs in the entire darn airport are for Disney's Magical Express.  Finally, after complaining to Dad, I learned that I actually had to call the hotel, then they would send the shuttle over to get me.  Once I did that, it was super quick and painless.  No photos of the Fairfield, but it's very close to the airport and a decent budget travel hotel.  I have no complaints, but I remember Rachel saying the gym sucked.

Before going to the terminal, we stopped by a liquor store to buy wine.  Disney used to have an alcohol policy which allowed you to bring hard liquor aboard, but they have since switched to a policy which allows two bottles of wine or six beers per person over age 21.  Since we like to try the different bars and lounges on the ship, we only got two bottles per stateroom (and I'm not sure we finished them all).

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Fourth of July on the Disney Dream!

Hey, guys - long time no see!  Now that I'm done with grad school (woohoo), I can finally resurrect Victoria on Vacation!

And what better way to start than with a trip report of our 5-night cruise on the Disney Dream?!

Disney Dream at Castaway Cay

We booked this cruise very last-minute (for a Disney Cruise, at least), just one month in advance.  My dad had actually booked a stay at the Margaritaville Resort in Pensacola Beach, Florida.  Then Rachel and I stumbled across a 5-night cruise on the Disney Dream with two stops in Castaway Cay and dates that aligned perfectly with her work schedule and a fare that seemed reasonable for Disney Cruise Line.  After some heavy persuasion, Dad agreed to ditch the parrotheads for some mouse ears.

Our Itinerary:

Day 1 - Port Canaveral
Day 2 - Castaway Cay
Day 3 - Nassau
Day 4 - Castaway Cay
Day 5 - At Sea

Dad called to book two Guaranteed Inside Magical Porthole Staterooms (rather than reserving online).  When he called, he requested that the rooms be near each other (we were just hoping not to be on opposite sides of the ship) - well, they gave us adjoining staterooms!  So if you have a family that needs two staterooms, you might still be able to get two guaranteed cabins next to one another.  I wouldn't recommend this strategy if you have young children that you're planning to put in one room by themselves just in case you aren't so lucky, but it could definitely work with teenagers or families that do a girls in a room / guys in a room sort of arrangement.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

[Day 09] River Rafting in Puntarenas, Costa Rica

We arrived Christmas morning in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Puntarenas is on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, very far south. We'd visited Costa Rica before on our Panama Canal partial transit cruise at Limon on the Caribbean coast.

Pacific Princess

If you read my Panama Canal partial transit trip report (2012), you might remember that we had an excursion-gone-wrong in Costa Rica. Since we didn't have the best luck with a DIY shore excursion last time, we decided to not take any chances and book through Princess.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

[Day 08] Volcano Hiking in Nicaragua

This morning, we woke up in the port of San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua - another unique port that we'd yet to visit!

Since it was our first time, we opted for one of Princess's cruise excursions - "Masaya and Mombacho Volcanoes, Vistas & Lunch" (SJ1-340), "a rigorous full-day guided photo experience via air-conditioned transportation". The activity level was rated "strenuous".

San Juan Del Sur is a tender port, which lets guests off at a very narrow floating pontoon with steep steps. The message in the Patter was very specific - Due to the size of the pontoon, no assistance is available to our passengers and therefore all passengers going ashore today need to be able to walk unaided (there is no room for wheelchairs and not wide enough for walking frames) along a narrow, moving pontoon and negotiate approximately 8 very steep steps.

They really packed us onto the tender boat tightly. I was in a very uncomfortable position near a window leak, and it kept dripping repeatedly on my shoulder, water torture all the way to the dock.

Nicaragua