I recently went on my first ever cruise abroad the the Disney Dream. It exceeded every expectation that I had about cruising and exemplified what makes Disney Cruise’s so special
My family and I were recently invited to attend the much raved about Disney Social Media Moms Conference in Orlando which included 3 non-stop days at the Walt Disney World parks and 3 days aboard the Disney Dream Cruise Ship. In this post, I’m excited to highlight the incredible things that I experienced and that impressed me the most abroad my first ever cruise (yes, I’ve never been on a cruise before!), and why Disney sets the bar incredibly high for other cruise lines to measure up to.
Truth be told, while my family and I are seasoned travelers, we have been rather resistant to cruising because we perceived them to be packed with tourists, unrefined and mostly that they do not allow you to pursue your own interests. I’m not gonna lie, our cruise had over three thousand people onboard and at times certain areas or activities were packed. However, because Disney has so many seamless procedures in place and a myriad of enticing activities for everyone of all ages to partake in, I was incredibly surprised by how incredibly different, enjoyable, not-at-all touristy and finessed a cruise can actually be. Let me tell you what I think sets a Disney Cruise apart from all the rest:
1) Top Notch, A+ Customer Service – Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the standard and level of service that I experienced aboard the Disney Dream was mind blowingly good. Like I said, we are a family of seasoned travelers so we know good service when we see it. While doing research for this post, I asked around about friends experiences on cruises and the caliber of service that they received and none compared to what I told them about Disney’s gold standard of service. From our stateroom attendant to our rotating dinner staff, everyone went above and beyond what was expected. And they also took such incredible joy and pride in their work, it was amazing to witness. Let me share a couple examples of what I am talking about.
The most salient example that sticks in my mind was the evening that my hubby and I ordered a cheese plate and some other snacks from room service to enjoy while the sun was setting. When our server arrived, he had inadvertently forgotten our cheese plate and he was terribly distraught about this oversight (BTW we weren’t upset in the least!) About ten minutes later, not only did he arrive with our forgotten cheese plate, he also brought the room service manager profusely apologized for this oversight AND he brought us a bottle of sparkling wine as a gesture to say he was sorry. Now that is SERVICE and we were totally blown away by it!
One other example of the high caliber of service that we received relates to our dining staff. So on most cruises including Disney, your dining team studies you and your family before you arrive so that they know your names, preferences and allergies. But Disney does it a level above the rest! My son has a nut allergy and this is always a stress factor when we dine out, but our server already knew about his allergy and what he could and couldn’t eat, so we able to relax and enjoy our dinner each night without having to think about his allergy one bit. If you have a child with allergies, you can imagine how reassuring this is. In addition, since our server knew we were traveling with digitally obsessed hard to please teen, every night he had one or two thought-provoking brain teasers to challenge his mind while we dined and every night my son was stumped, he LOVED it!
2) Broadway Caliber Entertainment – As many of you know, I am passionate about live musicals and I regularly cover theater in LA. Needless to say, I am a discerning and savvy theater-going critic, so when I say that Disney Cruise’s offer Broadway caliber entertainment, I mean it. Every night abroad the Disney Dream, there was an opportunity to see an hour long state-of-the-art musical production and I didn’t miss a single one. While all of the shows were fun, high quality and super entertaining, their newest production, Beauty and the Beast, was an absolutely dazzling show-stopper to rival anything currently playing on Broadway today.
Drawing inspiration from the recent live-action Beauty and the Beast film, this musical uses state-of-the-art high definition video projections to take the audience on a magical journey to 23 different locations throughout the show. This heartwarming show includes all of the popular characters and hit songs from the Disney classic, plus 2 new musical numbers written by Alan Menken and Tim Rice for the re-imagined film. This spectacular live production uses innovative puppetry, cutting-edge theatrical design and breakthrough story-telling techniques to dazzle and immerse theater goers into a tale as old as time. I LOVED every moment of it, it was top notch!
3) Sophisticated Foodie Eats & A Champagne Bar – Like I mentioned before, my experience onboard the Disney Dream surpassed my expectations. However, none was more surprising to me then the caliber of the food, wine and lounges abroad the ship. In my mind, I pictured masses of people grabbing food at crowded buffets or sit-down meals with sub-standard food, but nothing could be further from the truth. Because you have a assigned, staggered meal times, dinner is never a crowded mob scene but rather an elegant, relaxing dining experience with top notch service.
Every evening before dinner my hubby and I had a glass of gorgeous bubbly at my absolute favorite place abroad the Disney Dream: Pink: Wine and Champagne Bar. This intimate and cozy pink themed lounge is designed to look like the inside of a Champagne bottle with sculpted light fixtures reminiscent of Champagne flutes and back-lit glass ‘bubbles’. Everything about Pink was so ‘me’ and I felt right at home!
The space is chic and modern, they had live piano music nightly as well as a beautifully curated list of bubbly by the glass or bottle. This is not at all what I expected to see on a Disney Cruise and that is what surprised and delighted me the most.
After cocktails each night, we dined in one of three distinct and different Disney thematic restaurants. They were all wonderful and Disney-esque, but The Animator’s Palette restaurant was my favorite. What made it more memorable for me was the unique animated show that allowed us to chat and interact with an on-screen Crush from Finding Nemo as he swam around the dining room on different screens, so fun & SO VERY DISNEY!
At each restaurant, we had the opportunity to order from a menu of inspired choices and my foodie palette was continually amused. Two of my favorite dishes that I can’t seem to get out of mind are pictured below so that you can see the kind of inspiration and quality that I am talking about: the tuna tartar tower and the grilled lamb chops were exquisite!
4) Continual Up-Close & Personal Access to Disney Characters – Anyone who is a Disney fan knows that the Disney characters are treated like celebrities (i.e. lines for photos, autographs and limited appearances) throughout Disney venues and theme parks. Something that makes a Disney Cruise extra special is that you have multiple daily opportunities to meet and take photos with some of your all time favorite Disney characters. And the best part about these onboard meet-and-greets is that there are minimal lines (I personally never even had to wait) and ample opportunities to get those memorable pictures with your Disney favs. I love this shot that I captured in front of the Walt Disney Theatre with Mickey in his dapper Captain’s ensemble and the fabulous and affable Cruise Director Mike Gibbons.
And many of you know that I am a huge Disney Villains fan, but sadly they rarely make appearances at the Disney parks, so I was beyond thrilled to strike a pose in the Bahamas with Captain Hook.
5) Disney Has Their Own Private Island – Castaway Cay – Spending a day on Disney’s Private Island Castaway Cay is such a treat! Because it is their own private property (Fun Fact: While I was there, I learned that they don’t actually own it, but they have a 1000 year lease on the land!), you don’t have to share this tropical paradise with vacationers and tourists from other cruise lines which makes it so much more enjoyable and relaxing.
Not only is Castaway Cay a beautiful island escape, there are also plenty of things to do while you are ashore like: Lounge under an umbrella on the beach (my personal fav), enjoy a BBQ lunch and all-you-can-eat ice cream at your leisure, snorkeling, hiking, a kids club and an adult only beach to name a few.
However, the highlight for me was power walking the Castaway Cay 5K in the morning. Not only are you the first group to disembark the ship, but doing a 5K in a tropical paradise with fun memorabilia to look at along the way was so fun and refreshing! And the best part is crossing the finish line and receiving a collectible Disney finisher medal.
We loved every moment of our maiden voyage abroad a Disney Cruise and it surpassed all of our expectations. The next time you are thinking about taking a cruise, I can’t begin to recommend a Disney Cruise highly enough, you’ll be dazzled, delighted and immersed in an incredibly memorable journey that you will never forget.
I would like to thank Disney Social Media Moms for inviting and hosting my family and I on this trip of a lifetime. As always, all opinions are my own.