My personal experience onboard the Disney Dream

The following post was written by Ken, Branch Manager at our Camp Hill location and is a review of his recent experience onboard Disney Cruise Line’s Dream and the ports of call.

Almost 25 years had passed since I last sailed on Disney Cruise Line. It was both Disney Cruise Lines’ first year and their first ship, the Disney Magic. Walt Disney World was still celebrating their 25th anniversary. Fast forward to October 2021 – my wife and I took our second Disney Cruise on the Disney Dream. This was also our first post-pandemic cruise and I was quite ready to have a change of scenery and take a “real trip.”

I knew that travel during COVID times was going to be a little different. After spending a couple days at Walt Disney World (this time celebrating 50 years), we headed over to Port Canaveral to prepare to board the ship. The protocol was to be vaccinated and take a pre-cruise rapid-antigen test at the pier. Disney very efficiently administered the testing and within 40 minutes we were notified on their Disney Cruise Line Navigator app that we were cleared to board. 

At that time we were required to wear masks in indoor public spaces on the ship, but this requirement has since been lifted. The word on the pier was that there were about 1,500 passengers onboard a ship holding up to 4,000. The lack of people onboard certainly made it easy to space people out. In the theatre we were seated at least one row and three seats away from any other passengers. We were even encouraged to only share the elevators with those you were traveling with.  

Our 4-night sailing was both a special Halloween-themed voyage and a double visit to Castaway Cay, DCL’s private island in the Bahamas. The Dream was decked out in fall decorations and the lobby’s centerpiece was a spooky pumpkin tree (which became the backdrop of many photos). Guests and crew really went all out for Halloween. Costumes were encouraged on several evenings and guests really got into the spirit. The costumes were mostly homemade and either Disney-themed or pirates.  It seemed like the entire ship dressed up for “Pirate Night,” including the dining room staff and all the Disney characters. Pirate Night culminated with everyone out on deck for DCL’s exclusive “fireworks at sea” show.  

Throughout the cruise we gladly lined up to have our photos taken with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald and so on. Sometimes this was in the lobby, other times it was up by the pool on Castaway Cay. We mostly used the adults-only pool deck area; but, since there were hardly any lines, we happily rode the AquaDuck Water Coaster numerous times. This was a Disney Cruise after all, where Disney music plays throughout the ship (except in the adults-only areas) and Disney movies are on the big (make that HUGE) screen out by the pool. We were happy to revert back to being kids for a few days when appropriate.

We kept track of all the happenings on the Disney app on our phone which included our “rotational dining” throughout the ship, plus all the various entertainment. I remembered “rotating” through the various dining rooms on our first Disney cruise and how the wait staff remains with you. The big “wow” show was their Broadway style version of “Beauty and the Beast.” It was extremely well done. Other smaller venues offered singers or music throughout the ship. 

The highlight during the day was our TWO visits to the beautiful Castaway Cay. We took the shuttle to the adult beach, Serenity Bay at the far end of the island. The water here was crystal clear and very calm. You didn’t really have to leave the adults area as it had it’s own bar and a fantastic buffet/grill area. 

I still dream about tropical Castaway Cay and the amazing Disney Dream. I just hope we don’t wait another 25 years to go again!