A couple of weeks ago, my family and I took our first-ever cruise on the Disney Dream. Not just our first cruise on the cruise but our first cruise, as a family, on any cruise line. I had taken a week-long cruise around Hawai’i with my parents when I was a teenager but a lot has changed since my last cruise. The ships are bigger. They have more amenities which are more luxurious and comfy. They offer more port excursions. Just everything is different and mostly for the better.
The Check-In Process
I’m going to have to base the check-in process on what I observed and hear from other guests. My family sailed concierge level which has an entirely different check-in experience (I will detail that experience as well).
For guests not sailing concierge level, they have to choose a boarding time and get assigned a boarding group. With a ship as large as the Disney Dream, this can lead to long lines and a lot of standing and waiting. To ease the congestion getting on the ship, people are allowed to board the ship based on their boarding group. Guests who have higher status in Disney’s Castaway Cay Club get higher priority in obtaining one of the early boarding groups.
Don’t want to wait in line. Get a later boarding group. Most guests check-in early so they can maximize their time on the ship. Check-in, usually, starts at noon and there is a big rush at noon to check-in. Wait until 2 pm or so to check-in. The lines should be shorter as most people should be on the ship.
One of the major advantages to sailing concierge level is the dedicated walk-up check-in area. The hardest part for my family was finding the concierge check-in. The check-in area is very large and was full of people when we arrived. We asked a cast member where the concierge check-in was and she pointed us in the right direction. Upon our arrival to the concierge check-in, we handed our documentation to the cast member which was quickly processed. The cast member walked us to the photo area and we got to skip the line to have our pictures taken. Next stop was walking on the ship and taken to our stateroom which was waiting for us to arrive. The whole process took about 15 minutes.
Our check-in experience was not done. We had to go the concierge lounge and meet with our concierge hosts (Danny, Angeline, and Tracey). The lounge is a nice quiet space away from the crowds. The lounge has a lot of tables and chairs in the indoor area. The upstairs has a private deck area which a lot of couches. The lounge always has, at least, one of the three hosts working at the concierge desk and one or two hosts working the food station and bar area. The food station is always stocked with a rotating menu of snacks and sandwiches. Bags of popcorn are always available at the desk (you just need to ask for them). These free bags of popcorn are important because Disney Cruise Line does charge for drinks and snacks at both the show and movie theater.
I did not take any pictures inside the lounge. There was always other guests in the lounge and I wanted to respect their privacy by not having them in my photos which could find their way onto my blog.
I did take some pictures of the upstairs area.
After a short wait, our concierge host made their way to us. They introduced themselves to us and went over our personalized itinerary for the cruise which was very brief. We wanted to keep our schedule as open as possible so we could enjoy a wide variety of activities both on the ship and off. After some lunch, we went back to our room and then to explore the ship.
The concierge staterooms are very large. These rooms sleep five guests. There is a queen-size bed to go along with a double-sized sleeper sofa and an upper berth pull-down bed. The room also features a split bathroom. There is a door to the sink and toilet area and then another door which leads to the shower area. This allows one guest to use the bathroom not disturb another guest trying to use the shower.
My daughter was thrilled to have an upper-berth pull down bed because it felt like a bunk bed to her. We were thrilled because it meant that our room attendant did not open the sofa bed at night. This would have restricted our access to the verandah because the pulled out sofa sleeper would block access to the door unless we climbed over the bed.
At night, we also got a fun towel animal and chocolates which again thrilled our daughter.
After checking my daughter into both the Oceaneer’s Club and Edge (the Tween club), my wife and I took a brief walking tour of the ship before the 4 pm muster drill. Our initial impressions:
- The ship is way bigger than we imagined
- The theaters are theaters like the ones you would experience at home – on my Hawai’i cruise, the theaters were very small, dark, and on the lowest levels of the ship
- The restaurants looked amazing (I’ll have a whole post just on them).
- You would have a hard time getting bored on the ship – there is always something going on.
- Even though ship is big, it didn’t feel crowded. Everyone seemed to have plenty of space.
- Disney Cruise Line takes sanitation and potential virus spread very, very seriously. From cast members handing out anti-bacterial wipes outside restaurants to even having a paper towel dispenser at the exit to the washroom so your hand did not have to touch the door handle.
My next post will involve my dining experiences while on the Disney Dream.
Thanks for reading!