Lets just say the wedding night was rough. Not that I was drunk, the problem was that I wasn’t drinking or eating anything. I was so anxious and wound up, even my wedding dress the day of felt lose because I lost what felt like 100 pounds from the . It didn’t help that our flight to Orlando that morning had us up at 5 AM.
Thankfully getting on the flight was easier with Eric, my husband, and my Disney College Program roommate and bridesmaid Aly sitting next to me. Once we touched down in Orlando and hugged Aly goodbye, we headed for Disney’s Magical Express. We opted to splurge for our honeymoon, and spend one night in a villa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Waking up to seeing the giraffes from our balcony in the warm Florida sunlight reassured me that I was safe and sound in the place I call home – Walt Disney World.
While the stay in our safari villa was short, we were excited to jump on the Disney Cruise Line bus after checking in for our cruise. I had been on one cruise prior to this with Norwegian Cruise Lines about 14 years ag/o with my parents and brother to the Mexican Riviera. I always knew Disney cruises were something special, but OH MAN I had no idea how special this was going to be!
This was the first cruise for Eric and we made sure to load up on Dramamine, SeaBands, and ginger candy in case we felt sick. We opted for a 3 day and 4 night cruise to the Bahamas just in case the sea was too much for us. We stopped in Nassau and Disney’s Castaway Cay with one day at sea for us to do whatever we wanted.
Setting sail aboard the Disney Dream
The bus ride to Port Canaveral was about an hour and 10 minutes long, but we were entertained on the way by the TVs on board playing the old Mickey Mouse animated shorts and Disney trivia. I never fail to laugh at the episode where Mickey goes to the zoo and a baby seal jumps into Mickey’s picnic basket. When we pulled up to Port, our luggage was whisked away by the Disney Cruise Line porters and we walked towards the security building where the skywalk to the ship is.
At first glance, I wanted to cry. I was probably overtired and overwhelmed, but there was something so magical and beautiful about the Disney Dream. I’ve always dreamt of seeing Sorcerer Mickey painting the stern of the ship. Something about cruise ships that I learned is that they look so intimidating on the outside. All of the lifeboats, flotation devices, and safety precaution signs make you feel like you can’t touch anything. However, that wasn’t the case after seeing and getting help from any of the Cast Members around. The crew was working fast but made it very simple for us to find our way upstairs after security and onto the ship.
On the skywalk, you could feel the humid Florida air and smell the ocean, but got the cross breeze of air conditioning and the crisp smell of the ship. You could FEEL the magic and light heartedness in the room. I watched so many vlogs on YouTube, Googled so many articles in preparation for the cruise. I wanted to know everything! We weren’t hesitant at all that a Disney Cruise would be perfect for us, but since the last cruise I was on was over a decade ago, I admit I was nervous boarding without my parents around who always seemed like they knew what they were doing.
As we boarded the ship, they asked for our party’s last name and that was the first time we were announced as a “family” with just one last name. There was no more confusion on whose last name to use on any reservations, we were finally one unit. Being married to someone who loves Disney as much as you do is amazing.
“The Disney Dream welcomes the Duchesneau family!”
We made it! We were on the ship! What seemed like every Cast and Crew Member welcomed us on board. We were all smiles as we both wore our “Happily Ever After” celebration pin and started to explore the ship. The very first thing that grabbed my attention while walking into the foyer was looking up to see the most vibrant and brilliant chandelier I’ve ever seen. One of my favorite parts about it was how the longer you look at it, the more Hidden Mickeys you can spot within the crystal. We walked the length of the ship, exploring both what the kids can do and the adults-only parts of the ship since it was an open house.
After a little bit of exploring, we headed up to Cabanas, the buffet area themed to Finding Nemo. The seagulls from the movie playfully decorated every crevice of the restaurant as real seagulls would, nests and everything. My stomach was still upset with post wedding jitters, but Eric happily indulged in what seemed like one of every choice on the buffet menu. If there is one thing we both love more than each other, it would be food. We knew that Disney Cruise Line cuisine and the cruise itself is like nothing we’ve ever experienced before and we were looking forward to eating and relaxing the most.
Before we left Port Canaveral we downloaded the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App for our cellphones because we knew that if we had somehow lost each other obviously a text wouldn’t send in the middle of the ocean. One of the nice things about the app is the free messenger they provide, along with free W-Fi to be able to contact your family or friends if you share your friend code. We ultimately decided to really disconnect from the world and enjoy what could very well be our first and only Disney Cruise. You can also purchase a Wi-Fi package that allows you to use more than the DCL app, but the packages are pricey and we planned to just skip it and spend time with each other anyway.
After eating at Cabana’s, we headed out to the pool area. To our dismay, it was raining meaning the Sail Away Celebration would be moved inside. I’m not going to lie, I was a little disappointed. I was looking forward to a sunny Florida send off outside where we could watch the ship pull away from the dock. Then I realized after living in Florida during my Disney College Program that you can always expect a good downpour with the worst timing. Eric and I made sure to get good seats inside the foyer near the stage they had set up.
Since the cruise was in September, the whole ship was decorated for Halloween which we did not expect at all! We knew there was a themed pirate night with fireworks, but we walked into and sat near the ominous Pumpkin Tree in the atrium with jack-o-lanterns hanging from some of the eerily bare branches. The kids sat up front, closest to the stage and then the music started. Crew Members pumped up the crowd with singing and dancing as more people started to fill both the atrium floor and the balcony above. Goofy, Chip, Dale, Donald, Pluto, Mickey and Minnie came to the stage and danced around when I burst into tears hearing the tune of “When You Wish Upon a Star” ship horn as we pulled away from the dock.
As the welcome party wrapped up, our room was ready and we were excited to drop our carry-on luggage and freshen up before dinner. On the back of our Key to the World card (your room key, credit card, identification, and dinner rotation plans) we figured out that for dinner the first night was at Animator’s Palate and I was the most excited for the atmosphere of dinner that night, as that was the only restaurant that I knew the most about because of the interactive aspects from the waitstaff to the lights and walls.
When dinner started, the majority of the uplighting and accents were white, including the shirts of our amazing waiters Andre and Air. Dinner begins with bread service, and the music and lights go up and you can hear something magical in the air. Soon we see Crush, the totally awesome 150 year old sea turtle from Finding Nemo swimming around the room through huge “tanks” where he talks to all sorts of humans about the sea turtle world.
We learned that we could order whatever combination off of the menu we wanted. Whether that’s two appetizers for dinner, or two entrees and a salad. I was going to opt out of dinner that night because my stomach was still not up to par, but our wait staff went above and beyond and brought me a plate of sliced apples and crackers with a Sprite. Yes, I cried. Everyone was already so kind, and I was just so happy to be there. If Andre and Air ever read this, please know you have made a lasting impression on me and what it means to be a Cast Member and you’re still very much appreciated even months later. After dinner it was straight to bed for us since we had gotten up so early and didn’t know how we would react with the waves of the ocean. That night did end up very rocky, but the rest of the cruise was so smooth and calm, thankfully!
Cruisin’ to the Bahamas
Day two we woke up and felt a lot better after sleeping. We are not early birds by any means, but we did an excursion that had us up to check in for our glass bottom boat tour of Nassau. We honestly didn’t know what to expect as neither of us have ever been to the Bahamas, but the boat tour was amazing! We learned so much about the city, we saw all of the huge celebrity mansions, and we fed the fish while drinking fruit punch out on the water.
After the boat tour, we were hungry ourselves and headed back to the ship for lunch at Cabanas. Luckily my stomach felt a lot better and I loaded up on everything I could get my hands on. Then we walked around the ship more and got a feel of how to get to each deck and where everything was. We hung out and watched a couple minutes of the movie playing on Funnel Vision outside on the pool deck, before returning to our room to change and get ready for the Broadway-style show before dinner.
The show that night was Disney’s Believe and if you haven’t seen it, just have to if you ever sail aboard the Dream! It was about a serious scientist father and bubbly daughter who believes in magic, and how magic is everywhere and not just for children if you just believe. There were original songs and Disney classics, and what I love most about Disney and Broadway mixed together- the magic. To top it all off, after being in the beautiful Walt Disney Theatre, we went to dinner. That night our rotation had us at Enchanted Garden with our amazing servers. That’s when I really cried, but let me explain.
The first night on the cruise, I wasn’t feeling well. I was so upset that I had missed dinner and wasn’t able to fully enjoy the experience at Animator’s Palate. Andre had really recommended the lobster tortellini as an appetizer, but because I was so sick I just stuck to my apples and crackers. At Enchanted Garden, we were happy to see Andre as he took our order for dinner. He closed his notebook and would be right back with our drinks, but when he came back, he came with a white plate with a silver cover on it. He said he felt terrible that I didn’t eat the night before, so he asked the chef at Animator’s Palate to put aside a plate and had it delivered to our table at Enchanted Garden.
I think that was the moment I knew that this was special. I had never felt so much passion in what an amazing experience each Cast Member provided us. It was something as small as a couple lobster tortellini that Andre had gone above and beyond for that mattered the most to me. In that moment I fell in love with the Disney Company all over again. We thanked him profusely for everything he and Air had already done for us, and the cruise wasn’t even halfway over.
Later that night, we walked into the sweetest towel swans covered with rose petals on our bed, thanks to our practically perfect Mousekeeper. We watched some of the Disney Nature documentaries in our room and fell asleep. The ocean was calm and quiet, we honestly didn’t even notice we were moving at all!
Disney Dream(in) of Castaway Cay
The next day was our relaxing day at Castaway Cay. We opted for the adults-only beach and found two chairs to lay out on, as well as two chairs to go sit by the shore. The adults-only part of the island is called Serenity Bay, and we definitely recommend using the tram to get there, otherwise it will be quite the trek. We switched up laying under the umbrella and taking a dip in the water. When lunchtime came, we headed to the buffet on the island. They were grilling steaks, burgers, chicken, and fish. We had our eyes on the huge juicy ribeye steaks being cooked and found a spot at a picnic table to eat at. After lunch, we wrapped up our day on Castaway Cay by catching a couple more rays before returning to the ship.
That afternoon we had a beer tasting event at Pub 687, the sports bar we learned that is named after the hull number given to the Disney Dream prior to the ship being built in the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany. We tasted beers, met other couples on the cruise and had a lot of laughs. We learned more about the history of beer and what makes a good brew to serve on a cruise.
Later we walked into some Disney trivia being hosted in another room. We didn’t play, but it was amazing to see how much people know about Disney history when you feel like you’re the biggest nerd on the planet. That night was our Pirate Night, so we looked forward to seeing Captain Jack Sparrow and having a pirate themed dinner at Enchanted Garden again. Almost every night we really pushed ourselves to try as much food as we could but usually couldn’t make it to the dessert course.
After dinner, we waltzed around the ship to explore more before the fireworks outside on the pool deck, where Captain Jack himself came swinging down for some swashbuckling fun. The fireworks were everything I love about Disney. The music and timing were perfectly entertaining and I loved watching the kids faces light up with a smile below us from the balcony. We turned in early again that night, watching the Sherman Brothers documentary as well as Will You Be My Neighbor?, the documentary about the life of Fred Rogers.
Sailing home ❤️
Our final day (at sea) arrived, and we decided to really sleep in, then play the Muppet Mystery Detective Agency game on board. We grabbed our maps and pencils and headed to all of the interactive portraits around the ship. After we booked the prime suspect, we went to the pool to take a ride on the Aqua Duck, the water coaster that takes you around and even off the ship! It was SO fun, and after we dried off, we found a couple of cozy lounge chairs in the shade where we watched the clouds and other boats go by and listened to the waves churning against the side of the ship.
The show that night was Beauty and The Beast, and let me tell you I’ve never seen any Broadway show like that. The cast was amazing, but the set blew me away. That was the first time I had ever seen the use of projection mapping used in theater. The stage was literally filled with color and liveliness. It felt as if the whole theater was turned to Beast’s castle. It was totally immersive and mind blowing. After the show… Surprise! I cried. I was sad that this was coming to an end, but so thankful to be in that moment. I didn’t take anything for granted.
Dinner that night was at Royal Palace, the final restaurant that we would be seeing Air and Andre at. We ate Gaston’s escargot, duck breast, lamb, and steak. I cannot stress to you enough how important it was for us to try everything we could. There was never a meal that we were disappointed in, and we appreciated every second we could with Andre and Air. We said our goodbyes to them with a hug, and I even wrote a letter to Air about how sweet she was to us, thanking her for everything. We went to bed that night sad that our cruise was at an end, but the second leg of our trip was just as exciting. The next seven days we would be taking on Walt Disney World, where Eric was able to see Pandora for the first time, and where we both walked into Toy Story Land ready to play alongside Woody and Buzz Lightyear!
Have you taken a Disney Cruise before? Sailed aboard the Disney Dream? Let us know what you loved or if you’re planning a trip in the comments!