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So many families tell me that they are intimidated to try cruising. After all, being on a cruise ship for an extended period of time really isn’t the time to learn that cruising isn’t for your family. That’s why I recommend that most families start with a shorter cruise to see how they enjoy it. For my 40th birthday, I booked a three-night Bahamian cruise on the Disney Dream for my family, and I think it’s a great way to experience a family cruise without a major commitment.
Because we wanted to arrive in plenty of time for our cruise, we flew in to Orlando International Airport the evening before and stayed at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport, which is located right in the airport. Since we’d booked transfers to the cruise ship, baggage service was provided at the hotel. We were able to give our checked bags right to a porter on the morning of our cruise. It was brought directly to our stateroom on the ship later that day.
In the morning, we walked down to the Disney Cruise Line transportation in the airport, where we were led to a motor coach that took us to the port (about 45 minutes away). After an easy check-in, we were on board in the Cabanas buffet area. The chilly weather in Port Canaveral prevented people from wanting to eat outside, so the dining area was more crowded than expected. Once we finished eating, we took a quick tour of the Oceaneer Lab/Club (the kids’ club), where my kids got to hang out with Chip and Dale.
Our room on the Disney Dream was a nice size for our family. I had booked GTY (guaranteed at a specific level, but without a room assignment) and was pleasantly surprised with our small upgrade. Our stateroom was on the 9th deck and offered a private verandah. The kids really loved the bunk beds, which our stateroom steward pulled out each night.
Each night, after dinner, we went to the main show. These were the highlights of our stay – my kids really loved them! I especially appreciated how kid-appropriate they were (not always the case on other cruise lines) and the length (about 60-90 minutes) was perfect.
I’ll write separately about our port adventures, but I definitely would have liked to have a day at sea. While three days is a nice introduction to cruising, I don’t think it was enough time. My kids really wanted to spend more time in the Oceaneer Lab/Club, and on the sports desk (they did play some ping pong and basketball). We also didn’t have the opportunity to see any of the first-run movies in the theater – there just wasn’t enough time!
Dinners on the Disney Dream were fabulous. Our server team was excellent and the food was great. A note for families with food allergies – at our first dinner, our server already knew about my daughter’s tree nut allergy. He told us that since we were on vacation, he would do the work for us in making sure all of her food was safe. In addition, the head server also came by and acknowledged the allergy. It definitely made us feel more comfortable.
You can learn more about the Disney Cruise Line on their website.