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Dreamin'....and needing some help!

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line' started by shimmerplanet, Apr 4, 2012.

  1. shimmerplanet
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    shimmerplanet Earning my ears

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    We have an opportunity to go on a Disney Cruise over the summer. I'm thinking the 4 night Dream cruise and would like some feedback. My daughters are 8 & 13 - and I think will be great for this type of vacation. They both have favorite characters - who are available on this trip. Can you talk to me about character dining, teenage activities (I typically keep them close to me, but I'd like to know what there is to do. :tongue: ) and excursions? I don't know that we'll get off the boat in the Bahamas, but I'm sure we will at Castaway Cay. What would you suggest NOT missing out on? ALL opinions are welcome and appreciated! Thank you!
     
  2. catrancher
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    catrancher Assistant Cruise Director Forum Host

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    Do NOT think about it anymore. Go, go, go! Do it right now. :yes:

    The only thing you'll find wrong with it is that 4 days will not be long enough.

    What to do for kids and teenagers? More like what's not to do. They have their own clubs on the Dream that cater to specific age groups. Add to that the pools and, of course, the Aqua Duck and the only problem you'll have is getting them to go back to the stateroom at night to go to bed.

    Dining is a rotational affair. There isn't any character dining per se. The way it works is your whole party (and possibly some additional folks depending on how big your party is) will be assigned to a table with your own servers. Both you and your entire table will rotate through one of the three main restaurants each night. Your servers go too. So, tonight you may eat in the Royal Palace but tomorrow night it will be Animator's Palete. The following night would be Enchanted Garden. But in all cases, you'll have the same servers so they become familiar with you and your preferences. There's also casual dining available too.

    The characters are all over. All the time. It's not beyond the realm of possibility to run into Captain Mickey in the hallways. Additionally, there's usually something going on around dinner time in the main lobby area. On formal night, they have photographers set up and you can get pictures with almost all the characters. I've seen the princesses all sitting at one table in the lobby signing autographs and taking photos. You won't lack for character interaction. Not at all.

    On Castaway Cay, there's a separate family beach, an adult beach, a teenage beach and a separate area just for the little kids. There's excursions you can sign up for (I went para-sailing one time there). It's just a wonderful place. IMHO, it's the best thing this side of heaven.

    Quick story about one of our earlier cruises. It's only my DW and I who go. When you first board (around noon), Disney has a nice buffet lunch set out in one of the dining rooms. Well, my DW and I got our lunch and went and sat down at one of the tables. A nice family joined us (mom, dad, and a little girl). The little girl was extremely shy. I guess she was about 5. She kept hiding behind daddy. Mom and dad told us they were concerned about her. She wasn't very outgoing and they were afraid she wasn't going to enjoy the cruise. We told them not to worry. Take her to the Oceaneer Club or Oceaneer Lab and let Disney work their magic. They thanked us and went about their business. We ran into mom and dad again on almost the last night of the cruise in one of the night clubs and asked them how their daughter was doing. They enthusiastically thanked us for talking with them that first day. They said that after talking with us they had taken her immediately and registered her for the clubs and the only problem they now had is getting her out of them to go the stateroom and go to sleep. She was having the time of her life and mom and dad were so happy they just couldn't contain themselves.

    So, that's it in a nutshell. At least all I can think of right now. If you've got more questions just ask. There's a couple of us on here who think a Disney Cruise is the best possible vacation experience you can have.

    Oh, and by the way, our last cruise (the Dream) stopped in the Bahamas also. My DW and I just hopped a horse drawn carriage right outside the cruise terminal there. Took us all over Nassau. We really enjoyed it!

    Tom :)macwave:... don't forget the evening shows!)
     
  3. shimmerplanet
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    shimmerplanet Earning my ears

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    AH-MAY-ZING!!! Thank you so incredibly much!! I'm going to call my travel agent this week to get set up for an appointment. The summer is a little expensive, but it's the best time for us to go so I'm just going to do it. :) You are the BEST and I appreciate your knowledge!
     
  4. catrancher
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    catrancher Assistant Cruise Director Forum Host

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    Glad I could help! :yes:

    Like I said before, you won't believe how wonderful a Disney cruise is! :thumbsup:

    Just to get feel for it, there's some DCL podcast videos here on the Disney Cruise line website. You may also want to fill out and order the planning DVD here. Both of these are great resources for learning about DCL cruises and all the activities. The DVD is especially good to use to surprise the kids. If you haven't told them about it yet, just order the DVD, don't tell them and pop it into the DVD player one night for family movie night. Then watch their faces! :mental:

    Tom :)macwave:... are you still here? Why aren't you talking to your travel agent? :sail:)
     
  5. catrancher
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    catrancher Assistant Cruise Director Forum Host

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    I just noticed you said summer. If you're planning on going this summer, you'll want to call your travel agent or book online immediately. The cruises are very popular and they fill up fast. If however, you're talking about waiting until summer next year (2013), you'll find that the fares are lower the farther out in advance you can book. My DW and I typically will book at least a year in advance and possibly more if we can.

    Tom :)macwave:... just something else to think about. :sail:)
     
  6. Slowhand
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    Slowhand Cruise Director Forum Host

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    I can`t add much to what Catrancher has so eloquently said but I agree that you MUST do a DCL cruise and I can guarantee that it won`t be your last one. :yes:
    We are soon to venture on our 10th cruise with Disney, so you could say that we are well and truly hooked!
     
  7. shimmerplanet
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    shimmerplanet Earning my ears

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    One last question - are the prices on Disney.com fairly standard? I know there are often ways to find discounts or coupons/special offers online or through other places. With it being a cruise, I wasn't sure about those same discounts. :)
     
  8. catrancher
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    catrancher Assistant Cruise Director Forum Host

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    I don't know for sure. I've always booked us directly through the DCL web site. I just checked and you can book through sites like Travelocity or AAA. I'm sure there's others. How much of a price difference there is I don't know. I doubt if it's much. As popular as the Disney cruises are, I doubt they have to compromise much on the pricing. I'd suggest though that you check with your travel agent to see what they can do. Or, contact Johnie here on the forum. She's a Disney Travel agent and I'm pretty sure she can help with cruise bookings also.

    Tom :)macwave:... if you find them cheaper, let me know!)
     
  9. shimmerplanet
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    shimmerplanet Earning my ears

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    Okay it's done! We leave in early June! :D :D :D :D




     
  10. catrancher
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    catrancher Assistant Cruise Director Forum Host

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    Excellent! Congratulations! You're going to have such a marvelous time. :yes:

    In the meantime, if you want to get more excited, here's a link to the Port Canaveral web cam. Right now, it appears that the camera is oriented to point out the channel toward the Atlantic. But sometimes (like when the Fantasy arrived) they have it oriented to point into the turning basin. You can get unbelievable views of the Disney ships as they enter or leave the port. Right now, according to the map below the camera, the Magic is in port.

    Another thing you might be interested in. Based on where you are, will you be driving down to Port Canaveral? On our first DCL cruise, my DW and I drove down a few days in advance and stayed a night or two in St. Augustine before taking a casual drive down the coast to Port Canaveral on the day before our cruise. We then stayed the night in Port Canaveral and were right there on the morning of our cruise. Of course, the cruise terminal typically doesn't open till about 10:00 AM and we were ready long before that. So, we had to sit around and get ridiculously excited for a couple of hours. Wouldn't have missed it for the world!

    Tom :)macwave:... I'm soooo excited for you! :excited:)
     
  11. Wendy
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    Wendy A hui hou kakou makuakane Staff Member Administrator

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    :happydance: :happydance: Congratulations, you will have a brilliant time :yes: Can't wait to hear all about it :wiggle:
     
  12. shimmerplanet
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    shimmerplanet Earning my ears

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    Thank you :) We just went to Disney World in December, and my daughters FINALLY got their mama's Disney Bug. :D When this cruise opportunity fell into my lap I felt like they just had to go. ;)
    Thank you for the web cam link - this will definitely help me make it more real to my kids!! I am driving down, I figured we'd leave on Saturday and make a day of it. I am reading there are many hotels in the Port Canaveral area that offer a park and cruise package. I think this is the best way for us to do it - I'll need to spend the night anyway and it will save on port costs.
    I'm a researcher by nature so I've looked into things like Vinylmations and pin trading and have read mixed reviews. Some say there is limited pin trading and no Vinylmations, although both are for sale, and some say both have limited trading. Anyone know for sure? We are big Vinylmation collectors and began pins in December during our trip to WDW.



     
  13. catrancher
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    catrancher Assistant Cruise Director Forum Host

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    We've always stayed at the Radisson at the Port. It's "adequate" for a single night, has a nice pool. There's a nice little restaurant right next door named Kelseys. In fact, Kelsy's is to a large degree one of the reasons we continue to stay at the Radisson when we're cruising. The hotel restaurant is kind of fun for breakfast on the morning of your cruise. It's fun to sit there and pick out the other people going on DCL who stayed there too. They're usually not too hard to pick out. The Mickey t-shirts and such tend to give them away. The hotel does have a park and cruise package available although we've always just parked our car in the covered parking deck at the port. Granted, it's more expensive but it's sooo much more convenient after the cruise to be able to just have the porter throw your bags in the car and leave rather than having to wait for the bus back to the hotel to pick up your car.

    Not being Vinylamtionites, I can't really speak to those on board. I did notice some of them in the gift shops but I can't recall how many. Most of the ones I saw were cruise oriented like these:

    VMBlog_20110914_DCLMagic.jpg

    Don't recall if there were others. Also not too sure about pins. I "think" they had some on board but since we didn't go shopping specifically for them, I can't be sure. There's some, but just how much I can't tell you.

    I can tell you they have plenty of merchandise in the gift shops. I don't think you'll be disappointed. One caution however. I always buy shirts. Polo shirts specifically. Since I take an extra large in those, I've learned to get them early in the cruise. On one of our first cruises I waited until later only to discover they had sold out of my size. Just something else to think about.

    Tom :)macwave:... you're going to have so much fun!)
     
  14. catrancher
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    catrancher Assistant Cruise Director Forum Host

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    Check the web cam on any given sailing day (4/10, 4/15) at 5:00 PM. That's sailing time. All passengers have to be onboard by 3:45 but the ships actually sail at 5. You can see the ships leaving at that time on the web cam. If you're lucky, you may also hear the ships horn playing "When you wish upon a star"!

    Tom :)macwave:... that'll get the old juices flowing! :sail:)
     
  15. uscwest
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    uscwest Senior Cast Member

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    Tom,

    I'll second the Radisson. We stayed there on our only cruise. The restaurant was very nice. We didn't drive however, so didn't have to worry about parking, but it nice to know they do have that option.
     
  16. Mari
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    Mari Serious Forum Regular

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    Ohhhhh... Now I really NEED a Disney cruise!!!!!




    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  17. shimmerplanet
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    shimmerplanet Earning my ears

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    I CAN NOT believe I'm 60 days away from it. When we booked the WDW trip last year it was April, and I held in the secret until the day we left in December. Omiword...hardest thing EVER!!! This trip is going to be here before I know it, and the girls both know and I'm even MORE excited. Can that be????


     
  18. shimmerplanet
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    shimmerplanet Earning my ears

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    Fantastic!!! We are actually excited about the Vinylmations that commemorate our visited places -- so the one you pictured (or one like it) would be perfect. I am not crazy about the pins, but the little Princesses who live here are. :wiggle: I simply can NOT wait. 60-ish days.

    I'll check out Kelseys! :)


     
  19. Mari
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    Mari Serious Forum Regular

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    Thats fantastic!!

    I love Disney surprises!!

    We were able to keep the last trip hidden until we were on the plane :) best surprise EVER!... longest plane ride ever too! hahahaha

    You will have a wonderful time!!
     
  20. catrancher
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    catrancher Assistant Cruise Director Forum Host

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    Yep! It can. And it will get worse. :ROFL:

    Your drive down to Port Canaveral will be unreal. Try to keep the speed below 3,000 MPH. The Port will still be there if you take your time. But the excitement will build to incredible levels.

    Once you arrive in Port Canaveral on Saturday, I'd take a drive over to the area with the actual cruise terminal is and just have a look around (you may want to peek first in Google maps). That way, you'll be familiar with how to get there the next morning. Now, when you do that on Saturday, the ship will not be there. It won't arrive back in port until the Sunday morning of your cruise. Do not plan on getting any sleep on Saturday night. You will be too excited to sleep.

    And it won't matter a bit. :shrug:

    The next morning, take your time getting up and getting ready. You'll be up at oh-dark-thirty but the cruise terminal won't even open till 10:00 AM. Have a nice breakfast. Play the "bet I can pick out other people going on DCL" game. When you finally do head over to the cruise terminal, you'll be presented with a view that looks something like this (that's the Dream by the way):

    DSC_0043.jpg

    At this point, your excitement will have built up until it's distinctly possible you'll bust. No problem. Ambulances are standing by (just kidding). Pick your jaw up off the ground, drop your luggage with the porters (except for your carryon), go pass through security and make your way upstairs to the terminal. Here, you'll check in, present your credit card for your onboard charges, have your passports checked, get your Key to the World card, and be assigned to a boarding group. First come, first served. This is the reason my DW and I like to get to the terminal early. An earlier boarding group gets you onto the ship earlier. Now, just find a place to park yourselves and wait till they call your boarding group. Boarding usually starts around noon. While you're waiting, take a look around. Take a peek at the model of the Magic:

    Magic.jpg

    Say "Hi" to Captain Mickey:

    Mickey.jpg

    And finally, when it's your turn, pass through the mouse ears portal (that's them in the background) and board the ship:

    Portal.jpg


    At this point, you've made it. Go have a nice lunch. You'll probably be able to get into your stateroom somewhere around 1:00 PM. Your luggage will be delivered to the hall outside your stateroom sometime later. Should be in plenty of time for dinner and the show though. Now, just head on up to deck 10 for the sail away party at 5:00PM. And be sure to listen for the ships horn as you depart.

    Have a wonderful time. :yes:

    Couple of things to be aware of though. You will need proof of citizenship for you and your kids. A passport will be required for you and Disney strongly recommends passports for the children also. It's probably not a bad idea since this will not be your last Disney Cruise.

    Keep watching the mail for your cruise documents from Disney. They should be showing up soon! :mental:

    Tom :)macwave:... I wanna go again! :sail:)
     

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