I was a reluctant cruiser. After years of traveling through the US and Europe “independently,” setting our own schedule, stopping when we want to stop, eating when we want to eat, left me with a bias against cruises. Someone else having control of my schedule just isn’t my thing, I’d tell friends and clients alike. But earlier this year, our family was made an offer we couldn’t refuse and next thing we knew, we were booking our cabin on a Spring Break cruise to the Bahamas on the Disney Dream.
We boarded the ship on Monday leaving Port Canaveral for our first stop in Nassau. The ship’s lobby was gorgeous, very old Hollywood glamour, with a glass chandelier handmade in Italy, open ceilings and a touch of Disney with a bronze Admiral Donald Duck greeting passengers as they board.
Others had told me that the ships weren’t overly “Disneyfied” and that was true. Certainly, Disney was present in its décor, but subtly so. The biggest Disney characteristic was in the service provided on board. The staff was accommodating beyond words. Our wait staff, Gilbert and Christina, who remained with us every night despite rotating through the onboard restaurants, entertained the children along with providing impeccable wait service. The spa esthetician was the best I’ve experienced.
My husband found the workings of the ship itself fascinating. Never having travelled on such a large vessel, watching the crew “park” and secure the ship, was amazing itself. Watching the ship approach Nassau from our verandah, first a lighthouse, than a slip of land, then the massive Atlantis complex raised excitement from everyone. However, the most excitement for the day was swimming with the dolphins at the Blue Lagoon, one of ship excursions. After an hour with the dolphins and a few more spent snorkeling in the crystal blue lagoon, we were well on our way to becoming cruise converts. Going to dinner and a show then waking up in Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island, made us fully converted.
I would be remiss to not mention the Oceaneer’s Club and Oceaneer’s Lab, the kids clubs for the younger kids onboard. Our children chose to go for an hour or so each day after dinner. During that time, my husband and I explored the ship’s adult areas. My personal favorite was the swanky champagne lounge, complete with pink and silver décor and a bubble fixture and corset bar. While I think my husband probably preferred the sports bar, what was clear is that there was plenty to do without children on board.
Perhaps the highlight of the trip, however, was Castaway Cay. The morning began with the Castaway Cay 5K, crossing the island at my slow and other passengers much faster pace. After the run, the beach provided plenty to do, from lounging to in-ocean waterslides and ropes area. The island itself has large family beach areas and adult beach area, bike trails and designated snorkeling areas. Despite the cruise being completely booked, the island never felt crowded or cramped. Snorkeling equipment and floats are available for rent. Our favorite activities were swimming with the stingrays and snorkeling searching for the sunken “treasure” off the beach.
After 5 days onboard, I must admit that never once did I tire of having the schedule set for us. There were dozens of activities scheduled each day, but we never once felt pressured to do any of them. They were options, not requirements. As the person who typically makes the plans on vacations, it was refreshing to not have to worry about where we were going to dinner or what we were doing on a particular day. Would I want to cruise for every vacation? Probably not. Will I do it again? Absolutely.