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).



DCL Cruise Terminal

DCL Cruise Terminal

DCL Cruise Terminal

So off to the ship!  Once we arrived at the terminal, Dad let Rachel, mom, and me out, and he went to park the car (he also tried to give us his passport, which would have been bad because then he wouldn't have been able to get in the cruise terminal on his own later... always keep your own passport).  We went ahead in the terminal, through security, and were told that it would be fine if we went ahead and checked in.  Rachel and I checked in at a different desk than Mom because we had separate staterooms - well, Mom got held up when it came to take the security photo and checking Dad's passport, since he wasn't there.  But the agent had already started the check-in process, so she had Mom wait at the desk until Dad arrived.  A little awkward...

Since Rachel and I had been checked in for awhile and already had a boarding group, we got called to board very soon after Mom and Dad finally checked in.

Embarkation

Embarkation

Disney Dream

A little different for Disney Cruise Line - normally, you board in the Atrium on Deck 3, and they announce you onto the ship, "Now boarding the Shin..ehhh(mumble mumble) family!" Well, there was an issue with the gangplank, so instead we boarded the ship on Deck 1, which is where guests board the ship at Castaway Cay. On the Facebook group there were many complaints, "This feels different!" And one lady even said that she found two Cast Members and made them announce her (all hail Queen Admin!). Personally, I enjoy it when things get switched up a little or are different, especially if that means you go into some backstage areas and "ruin the magic" a little. Like, I'm a Disney lover, but I'm not delusional - I don't think that our luggage is flown onto the ship on Aladdin's magic carpet or that Ratatouille is in the kitchen whipping up our dinner. I like seeing how things work and learning how Disney adjusts to solve problems, so I'm totally cool with "different."

The only issue with boarding on the first deck is that we didn't really know where to go after that. We found our way up to Deck 3 and started waiting in a line that we thought was for the embarkation photo - but it turned out to be a very long line for Guest Services (we waited here for maybe 5-10 minutes). We then found the embarkation photo which didn't have a line.

Next up was lunch at Enchanted Garden - this is a tip that Rachel had picked up from Disney Cruise Mom Blog. The buffet (Cabanas) is always crazy on embarkation day, so you can avoid the crowds by eating at the sit-down restaurant that is open. It was very quiet and relaxed, and our wait staff seemed especially fascinated with us, which would turn out to be a theme for the cruise. Apparently an all-adult family like ours is a little more rare on Disney Cruises - like children are rare on Holland America Line.

The appetizer, Beef Empanada, is very good. Highly recommend it -

Beef Empanadas

Rachel ordered the Pennette Pasta, probably only because steak wasn't on the menu, because we all know that Rachel looooovvveeeessss steak. And pub mix.

Pennette Pasta

But me, I only eat to survive. So the Grilled Salmon Salad was as good as I could do. (Just kidding, this was my first and only attempt to be healthy on this cruise.)

Grilled Salmon Salad

And I'm pretty sure I undid that salad with the desserts....

Carrot Cake -

Carrot Cake

Cookies n' Cream Cheesecake -

Cookies N Cream Cheesecake

And the Welcome Aboard Sundae -

Welcome Aboard Sundae

Honestly, I can't remember whose was whose (rather confident the Sundae was dad's), but they were all delicious. Seriously, do not unnecessarily torture yourself by going to Cabanas on embarkation day. You actually never really have to go to Cabanas. There is always a dining room open during meal times where you can sit down and eat a relaxing meal and not have to worry about tripping over little kids while trying to fill your plate with bacon (because if you haven't been on a cruise, that is a thing - I guarantee you will see at least one person make a large plate specifically for bacon).

Now, done with lunch and time to check out our staterooms -

We had a Guaranteed Inside Stateroom, the cheapest room on the ship. There is also a Deluxe Inside Stateroom which has a split bath - the shower and sink are in one room, and the toilet and the sink are in the other. This is supposed to make it easier for families to get ready, but since there are only two of us in the room, it's not really necessary for us to have a split bath.

Magical Porthole Stateroom

The Magical Porthole doesn't take well to the flash because essentially it's a television which shows real-time views of the exterior of the ship, specific to whether your stateroom is port or starboard. At night when the sun sets, it turns into a lovely animation of nighttime water and stars, so you aren't looking at complete blackness. You can turn the magical porthole off at night if you don't want the monitor glow, but Rachel and I actually left ours on because we wanted to be able to wake up and see "sunlight."

Magical Porthole Stateroom

This storage table actually really got in our way because we were always crossing behind one another while standing at the vanity. I wanted to move it, but wasn't sure where to move it to, and by that point the cruise was almost over, so we just lived with it.

Magical Porthole Stateroom

It's the details! So cute -

Magical Porthole Stateroom

We received a tote bag as Castaway Club members (you'll be automatically enrolled in Castaway Club after your first Disney Cruise).

Magical Porthole Stateroom

Also, not pictured, but like I said before, we had adjoining staterooms with our parents next door (cabins 8669 and 8671).  It's been awhile since we've had adjoining staterooms, and I admit that it's a concept we weren't thrilled with, but it actually turned out to be pretty convenient.  There is a door on either side, so you can't just barge in unannounced, but it's a lot easier to answer that door than to go out and into the hallway.

Magical Porthole Stateroom

Magical Porthole Stateroom

Even though we had the smallest room on the ship (which I must add is larger than the smallest room on most other ships), it still had a full bathtub/shower combo. Other cruise lines have tiny little locker room showers enclosed only by a curtain, but Disney always gives you a full tub so you can bathe the kiddos.

Magical Porthole Stateroom

Magical Porthole Stateroom

Now off to explore the ship!

Move over, Queen Admin, the real Queen has arrived -

Disney Dream

I won't lie, we spent a good 20 minutes here trying to get the perfect Instagram photo.

Disney Dream

Disney Dream

Disney Dream

Disney Dream

It was SO HOT outside. Time to go find a beer!

Quiet Cove

Rachel was not a fan of the bartenders at the Currents bar. Mainly because she went there for a specific beer (Big Wave), but they weren't super friendly. Actually, they were hardly friendly at all. I think that's not something you usually notice, except on Disney when everyone goes out of their way to be so nice and accommodating, if they aren't going out of their way, they really stand out.

Currents

If you can't tell, there are people smoking in this photo, behind that photo that says no smoking while refueling is in process. Thankfully they didn't blow up the ship.

No Smoking Please

Disney doesn't have an adult drink package, but they do sell a refillable beer mug. It's $14.95 for the mug, and you get a 22-oz beer for the price of a 16-oz. They say it pays for itself after 5 beers, but also you're getting a solid souvenir mug - I would buy it just for the mug, honestly (but for some reason I didn't get it, only Rachel and Dad did.... next cruise!).

DCL Beer Mug

DCL Beer Mug

Now, they were getting ready for the muster drill and the Sail Away party, so they started stacking up and removing all of the chairs!! It was quite annoying because we were just looking for someplace to enjoy our beer but deck attendants kept coming to kick us out of our chairs. We ended up going downstairs and chilling in The District until Muster Drill.

For Muster Drill, we were fortunate enough to get an assembly station located inside, in Evolution. Before on the Fantasy we had been stacked side-by-side outside in the heat. So it was nice to be able to sit down in the air conditioning.

Immediately after Muster Drill is the Sail Away Party. It's pretty adorable, really gets you in the mood for cruising!

Sail Away Party

Sail Away Party

Embarkation

Good-bye, Port Canaveral!

Embarkation

Also, the crazy thing about the Sail Away party is that a lot of families have first seating for dinner, so after the party they have to immediately run inside and get ready for dinner. Since we had the late seating (8:15 - not really late at all!), we weren't in a rush.

Disney Dream

We went to unpack our suitcases and I put up our door decorations. I went with classic patriotic Minnie and Mickey. I make mine myself using Adobe Illustrator, but you can buy them from Etsy or get designs to make them yourself from different Facebook groups. This time I printed on Avery photo paper, and I really don't recommend it. It wasn't nearly as strong as the photo paper I had used last time.  But our rooms were in a little alcove off the main hallway, so we didn't get a lot of foot traffic (but that also meant that not as many people got to see our cute magnets!).

Fourth of July Door Decor

Fourth of July Door Decor

After unpacking, Rachel and I went to Pink, the champagne bar in The District, for pre-dinner drinks.  One thing Disney does really well is adults-only areas.  This entire section of the ship can't have kids after 8 PM.  I'll admit that I didn't think the theming was as great for The District on the Dream as it is for Europa on the Disney Fantasy (which makes sense, since The Dream is older).

We wanted Pink to be... a little more Pink.  When we arrived, there was a large party sitting in the main floor area, and only two bartenders to wait on them.  Service there was really slow when we arrived, but the bartender kept assuring that she would be with us soon.

Now, you might notice new menus.  I didn't because I had never been on the Dream before, so I didn't realize that this menu is different!  And I'm very upset that I didn't take a photo of the drinks listed inside (I assumed I could just get them online).  So I can't tell you the exact name of what Rachel and I ordered (hopefully she'll straighten me out once she reads this), but it was a taster of two, the Elderbubble and something else...

Duo

After that, we tried the trio, which had three Champagne cocktails. Also, Mom and Dad caught up with us.

Trio

Before dinner we took this photo with Minnie Mouse. Rachel has the official DCL photo, and I have this one taken on my camera by my father. Now, while he's certainly not the world's greatest photographer, this isn't entirely his fault. I always shoot in manual focus, and I'll switch it to automatic before I have someone else use my camera. Well, I didn't realize that my autofocus is clearly broken. I don't know what's wrong, but this was a real dilemma throughout the entire trip because Dad can't really manually focus (it's not his camera, so how can he really learn?) so all of the photos that I'm in aren't really in focus. Also, it is a pretty high-pressure situation because you only have a few seconds to quickly take a photograph with a camera that isn't yours and you don't know how to use. I'm cutting him a lot of slack here, but I was really hard on him in person because I was frustrated with the camera situation. I need to take it in to a shop to get it fixed, but I also don't have the money for that right now, so I need to come up with a solution for our upcoming trip to Disney World.

Minnie Mouse

Before the cruise, I had called to request a dining rotation that would put us in Royal Palace on the dress-up night (they don't call it formal night on the 5-night cruises).  This gave us the dining rotation Enchanted Garden, Royal Palace, Animator's Palace, Enchanted Garden, Royal Palace.

Dinner at Enchanted Garden was wonderful.  It was actually one of our least favorite dining rooms on the Fantasy, but we really loved it on the Dream.  Mainly because compared to the other dining rooms, it was a very quiet, enjoyable atmosphere.

You know, I remember ordering the Ahi Tuna and Avocado Tower, but this is clearly the Cucumber Garden Roll -

Cucumber Garden Roll

I think this is Rachel's Applewood Smoked Bacon Wild Mushroom Tart -

Applewood Smoked Bacon Wild Mushroom Tart

And Mom's Cream of Green Asparagus -

Cream of Green Asparagus

For the entree, the Seared Pork Tenderloin Medallions are really good -

Seared Pork Tenderloin Medallions

Mom and Rachel had reread the 2014 Disney Fantasy trip report, which turned out to be very helpful when it came to the restaurant menus. Also, I had written a Glad I Did/Wish I Did post in which Mom remembered that she had wished she had ordered a Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Bar, so she made sure to cross that off her to-do list on the first night! They're listed on the kids' menu, but they're always available!

Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Bars

Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Bars

Dad and I got Chocolate Brownie Sundaes (here my manual focus isn't so hot) -

Chocolate Brownie Sundae

And I guess because they were confused why two adults would order dessert off the kids' menu, they also brought a Warm Sticky Date Pudding which turned out to be really good -

Warm Sticky Date Pudding

We had a really great serving team - our waiter, Ondray, assistant waiter, Ivan, and our head waiter, Selo. They became pretty fascinated with us mostly because of Rachel's ability to solve all of their after-dinner puzzles. And then they learned she was an engineer, so they'd bring her special puzzles "for the engineer." It's been awhile since we've really bonded with a serving team!

Here's some Disney waiter magic:

Waiter Tricks

After dinner, we headed to Evolution to play Quest, a popular adult scavenger hunt on cruise ships.  I think this is actually the most G-rated version I've seen, though.  I don't think anyone took their clothes off.  Also, it was very difficult for us to play because we only had one guy (Dad) on our team.  You really need at least two men and two women per team.

We then headed to Skyline Lounge but started chugging water because we had a 5K to run the next morning!

We had asked our stateroom attendant, Roni (who wasn't the greatest, and I'm also fairly certain he pocketed my necklace that I left on the vanity on the last day of the cruise) to fold down the bunk just for one night so we could check it out and take photos. Probably not the best accommodations for an adult, but really cool for a kid -

Pull-down bunk

Pull-down bunk

Sweet dreams!  See you bright and early for the 5K!!