We have finally reached part three of the trip, the sea portion! We set sail for our second Disney Cruise and Nicole and Cameron’s first in May for the 3-night Bahamian with a stop in Nassau and a stop at Castaway Cay. Corey and I were excited to be back on this amazing itinerary and get to try some experiences we missed out on the first time including an amazing brunch at Palo, lounging on the adult only beach on Castaway Cay, and getting to watch some of the awesome Dolby 3D movies in the Buena Vista theater.
Friday setting out to Sea
If you remember from part 2, the four of us arrived back at our resorts pretty late on Thursday night from the Magic Kingdom. So late, that it was already Friday when we got back. Corey and I had packed up most of our things before heading out to After Hours and that worked to our advantage. The excitement of heading out to sea definitely worked better than coffee at 8 AM. We ate breakfast at Captain Cook’s (the large Mickey waffle and bacon is my favorite pick), gabbed some coffee in our resort refillable mugs, and headed out front to wait for Nicole and Cameron. They had driven their own car down so that we could car pool to the port.
Our goal was to depart the Polynesian by 9:30 AM, so that we could get to Port Canaveral by 10:45 AM to check in. We left a little later than expected, but still arrived on time. From November to May, the way we had to check in and park had changed and I will say, it was much improved. The driver showed their ID to someone out near the road. Next, you were looped in to drop off your luggage and/or people. Then the option was available to park in the preferred parking lot or the parking deck. For our sailing, the preferred parking lot was only $5 more per night than the parking deck. I’m not sure if that amount changes per sailing or not, but I will say, it was completely worth it after we got off the boat. We stumbled to our car and were on the road much quicker than if we had parked in the parking deck. If you decide to hand your bags over to be delivered to your room, that’s a contracted company and not the cruise line. There’s no additional cost and it’s nice when you arrive and check in at 11 AM and can’t get into your room for 2 hours that you don’t have to lug around your baggage. Corey and I have done that both times and really enjoy the freedom. After handing over our luggage, the four of us went through baggage check and up the escalators to check in. While the terminal is always crazy crowded and loud, Disney always does an amazing job of managing the crowd and you hardly wait in line at all to check in. Corey and I were on our first Silver Castaway Club cruise, so we received key card lanyards at check in.
By the time we were done checking in and used the restroom, they were already letting our group on to the ship. We bypassed the first photo op and went on board to be announced. The atrium on the Dream is literally a dream. The cast members announce your family’s name and you’re released into the beauty of the heart of the ship. Once we had soaked it all in, Corey and I moved to the elevators and took the posse up to Cabanas to eat lunch. Knowing the ropes this time, I moved swiftly and had a server point us to a manager so we could make special diet orders. Our orders were delivered to our table as we took our time dining on the eleventh deck of this beautiful ship. Cabanas is the “all-the-time” buffet available to guests. It’s exact hours are published in the paper navigator and the app each day. It’s the only place to eat when the Dream is loading on Fridays for 3-night cruises. From Cabanas, I toured the ship up and down, checking out the kids clubs, which are only open to adults during open house. I also went to the Overlook lounge on deck 14. I love the intimate feel of that deck of the ship and how swank that little area is. It’s just for private events, like wedding receptions. Don’t wander up there looking for a bar because you won’t find anyone to serve you!
As the clock struck 1 PM we went to our rooms to refresh, drop our carry-ons, and become mesmerized by the magical porthole in the interior staterooms. This trip we chose to try the standard inside stateroom without the split bath and we found that it worked great for us. I would say for a family of four it might be tight, but that magical porthole is worth everything! I’m going to miss it on our next cruise, since we’re not going to be on the Dream. Our cruise in November we enjoyed a balcony and I think there’s a time and place for both rooms, but there was something very special about the magical porthole.
We reported for our safety drill in the Buena Vista theater and after confirming our safety, the four of us headed to deck eleven to watch the Sail Away Party, leave Port, and head out to sea. This departure was vastly smoother than our departure in November. By Sunday, everyone was commenting on how placid the sea was. Even the cast members were noticing how smooth the sea had been on our cruise. May is a great time to set sail! There isn’t a lot of time after the sail away party ends before first dinner, so many cruisers leave the deck to get their families washed and ready for dinner. The first show starts while the first seating of dinner is happening. Corey and I retreated to our stateroom to relax until second dinner since we had just attended all the shows in November. Our goal was to enjoy the ship more this time. I had worn and failed to wash one of my dresses for the dinners on the cruise in the parks, so I took the time to visit the shops. I picked up a dress perfect for cruising. It later shrunk and was too short to wear, but I wore it twice on the cruise. It was so perfect. The prices weren’t bad either on board and it’s duty free.
Dresses and suits aren’t required in the main dining rooms, but I personally like to look my best for the occasion. There are photographers that come around and take your picture at all of the dinners. Also the restaurants have a slightly formal feel to them in my opinion. There are people that show up to dinner in shorts and a t-shirt though, so you won’t feel out of place in whatever you decide to wear. Trying on the dress was one of the neatest things I did on this cruise. The dressing room has a porthole in it! Due to first dinner and the first show going on, I was the only one shopping and had three cast members waiting on me in the store. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again– I never feel more like a princess than on a Disney cruise! With the stores deserted I finished my shopping for the extent of the cruise before going back to the stateroom to ready myself for dinner.
The four of us were assigned to eat our first night in Royal Palace on deck five midship. This restaurant is themed to honor the princesses. Royal Palace has my favorite appetizer, deep fried brie. Literally the fanciest cheese stick I’ve ever had. They’re so rich and cooked perfectly every time. In November, I skipped the appetizer and just had a salad. Boy did I regret that once I had my own plate of these. So stinking good! I highly recommend them if you’re not gluten free. The four of us enjoyed our meals, but after the brie, the star at Royal Palace for me is the creme brûlée. Royal Palace is the only restaurant on the Dream that creme brûlée is on the menu and as my favorite dessert, I made sure to save room for it. Next time, I’m ordering two! We parted ways after dinner and Corey and I headed to watch Captain America: Civil War in 3D. It started at 11 PM and the theater was PACKED by the time the movie started. Gradually, some excused themselves from the theater and by the time it was done, we were for the second night in a row, heading to bed on the following day. Hey, that’s what vacation is for, right?
Saturday in Nassau
It was our second visit to Nassau and Nicole and Cameron’s first. We admired Nassau from the boat again. One day, we’ll get off. Perhaps when we’re not on the Dream, but on the 3-night sailings, it’s nice to treat the Nassau day as the day “at sea” and enjoy a less crowded ship. Most travelers get off at Nassau and head to the straw market or Atlantis. We slept in easily in the cave that was our inside stateroom, almost to our Palo reservation time.
Palo brunch was offered on the day in Nassau and Corey and I made it a point to get reservations for brunch after hearing the WDW radio crew always rave about it. Before we got on the ship, we tried to get a reservation for 4, but the cast member suggested we wait until we got on the ship and ask at Palo. Well, we headed straight to Palo on Friday and they told us that it looked like we were already together for brunch. I let out a sigh of relief knowing the Disney took care of putting us together.
Saturday morning, we arrive a little early and we were escorted to a large round table that could probably seat 8 and given napkins that MATCHED OUR OUTFITS. Nicole and I looked at each other slightly bewildered. Nicole, Cameron, and I like to drink sparkling water. When we ask for some, we were given a sparkling water MENU. There wasn’t a single brand on there we recognized, but Nicole and I stuck with Italian and Cameron tried a Scottish sparkling water. What was wild is how different they tasted.
If you’ve heard of Palo, you’ve heard it referred to as an “experience.” It is definitely an experience. We were there for three hours almost enjoying meat and cheese courses, pastries, desserts, warm meals, pizzas, expertly crafted egg dishes– there’s absolutely no rush and you can order as much as you like. My favorite has to be the eggs Benedict that I ordered as well as the blended cheeses on the buffet.There was a party at a table at the window that had the first reservation and they were still sitting there when we left! There were others though that came and went while we were taking breaks, discussing, going back for favorites. This is an amazing meal and at only $30 per person in addition to the cruise fare, a steal considering the quality and even more exceptional service. On a Disney ship, it’s funny to think that it could be possible, but it is. I will never miss Palo on a cruise again.
After stuffing our faces sufficiently, we split to refresh and relax for a bit. Nicole and I headed to try out the rainforest room in the spa. We ended up spending close to three hours here too! The rainforest room is this amazing shower and sauna experience. When purchased ahead of time, you can get a one day pass for $18 per person. It’s an excellent value. There are four showers that are varying temperatures and intensities, some mimicking a southern rainstorm or a rainforest. Then there are three saunas of varying heat and moisture intensities. After you enjoy the various saunas and rain showers, you can relax in a hot tub overlooking the starboard side of the ship. Once you emerge from the hot tubs, there are hot tile loungers for relaxing. Both Nicole and I almost drifted off completely laying there! These are heavenly. For privacy purposes, there’s no photography allowed in the rainforest room, but here’s a great review with photos. Nicole loved it so much, she and Cameron went back for a few hours before dinner!
The four of us grabbed a super late lunch after being stuffed from Palo at Flo’s. Instead of heading back to the rainforest room, Corey and I got ready for dinner and pirate night and decided to catch The Jungle Book in 3D. It was great to have so many new releases available to us on the ship. Neither of us had seen the the Jungle Book yet. The Dolby 3D was perfect for this movie and we both enjoyed it in a nearly empty theater this time. From there we headed to the deck to watch the Pirates deck show. It’s fun and the tune is very catchy. After getting a bad view for the show on our first sailing, we made sure we were on the deck with plenty of time to get a good view.
We reconvened for dinner at Animators Palate at 8:15 PM. While this is undeniably the most fun restaurant on the ship, the menu isn’t my favorite. However, it did rise up my list this time since I wasn’t sea sick and didn’t order off the “lighter fare” menu. Those are great options, but the roasted chicken off the menu is far tastier than the lighter fare one. Next time, I’ll be having the pasta. I think I’ll enjoy it more and it’s my only other option on the dinner menu with my allergens. The baked potato soup is good as well. Of course, while I had to go to the rest room, Crush picked on Corey to chat with him. One thing I noticed about having Animator’s Palate on Saturday night versus Friday night is there are more empty tables. Most choose other eateries on Saturday night evidently.
From dinner I dashed to deck 11 and staked out a spot for four on the railing, starboard side. We were behind the funnel in November for the fireworks and I wasn’t missing them this time! Since we were behind the funnel, we didn’t see any of the Jack Sparrow stage show that accompanies the fireworks either. Hanging out for an hour before the fireworks started was worth it! The view was perfect and the fireworks were much better seeing them straight on. Pirate night is the best. The four of us hung out a little once Club Pirate started to let the crowd die down and see if Club Pirate was something we wanted to hang out during. It looked like fun and there were some families really partying, but we were bushed and decided to turn in for the night.
Sunday at Castaway Cay
Easily my favorite day of the 3 night cruise. Castaway Cay is an amazing private island. The ship pulls right up to the dock and travelers can come and go from the boat as they please. Our group again took our time getting up and making it to breakfast. I skipped the 5k this time and with our waiter’s recommendation, we went to breakfast at Enchanted Garden. I was so excited to have breakfast here. It’s my favorite restaurant on the ship. Our table that morning was port side and right out the window was the beauty that is Castaway Cay. We filled our tummies and then dressed to head ashore.
The sea is a beautiful color at Castaway Cay. At some points it’s blue, sometimes it’s green, and near the shore it’s clear. It’s incredible. All of us made the walk to the tram to the adults only beach. For hours we went back and forth between the cool water and warm sand. I read a little, bobbed a little, drank a little– it’s perfection. Since three of the four of us are special diet, we had to head back to the main Cookie’s quick service to eat, so we waited until the last minute to eat. Once we headed back from the adults only beach to eat, we barely had time to order. Everything was cleaned up and the restaurant had closed by the time we finished. It was warm so I enjoyed a rice dish, salmon, and some veggies. It was perfect on the warm day and held me well until dinner.
Though we were full, we weren’t quite ready to head back to the ship, so we tried the family beach for a while. There are different offerings than the adults only and we enjoyed every minute we could on it. All aboard is 4:45 PM on Castaway Cay days and we took our sweet time before getting aboard. We got back to the ship around 4 PM to find Chip and Dale meeting guests at the gangway. Nicole and I met them and it’s one of the cutest photos ever of us. I love it.
Getting back on board is quick at Castaway Cay and we split to refresh ourselves. Corey and I grabbed a snack and headed to Buena Vista Theater to catch Star Wars: The Force Awakens in theater. It was awesome to see that movie on the big screen again. There were lots of little details that I felt like I missed on the much larger screens. Once the movie ended, we met Nicole and Cameron on deck 4 to watch the sunset, as they had been doing the previous evenings. The sea was so beautiful to watch on either side of us as the sun set. It was so placid and perfect. Nicole has a great picture of the ocean from Sunday evening. While everyone was crazy getting photos taken and checking out shutters, Corey and I visited the future cruise planning desk to put down a deposit on our next cruise (which is currently May 2017).
For dinner, the four of us returned to my favorite restaurant on the Dream. Excitedly I related to Nicole how different Enchanted Garden is at night than in the morning and how it changes colors and the feel changes. She agreed that it is beautiful at night and we enjoyed my second favorite meal on the dream. I enjoyed the ahi tuna and avocado tower for my appetizer, something out of my comfort zone, as well as the enchanted garden tuna salad. I thoroughly enjoyed both and highly recommend each of them for a lighter meal. For dessert, I enjoyed the chocolate mouse. Being thoroughly exhausted from the day and a bit sunburn, we parted ways and Corey and I retired to our stateroom for the night to enjoy our last night at sea.
On disembarkation day, you can eat breakfast in the restaurant that you ate dinner at the night before. Once again we had breakfast in my favorite restaurant. Since we had second dinner, that meant we also had second breakfast and were seated promptly at 8 to enjoy the quick breakfast offerings. We all said good bye to our waiter again and grabbed our bags from outside the restaurant, breezed through customs, and reached the car in record time. Our goal was to lunch at Disney Springs, take a quick look at the new things that had just opened the day before, and be home by dinner. All was accomplished and we returned home rested and eagerly awaiting our next cruise!