Cruise report: Disney Dream, Sept. 29-Oct. 2, 2017

posted by Jeff | Thursday, October 5, 2017, 6:00 PM | comments: 0

There usually isn't a lot to talk about on these cruises, but this one was different. Our lucky 13th Disney cruise was the first one that did not include my dear child. It was just me and my darling wife. And it was awesome.

Well, mostly. It turns out that our first attempt at adulting the shit out of a cruise may have been a little overzealous the first day, so we didn't approach the second and third days with quite the same energy. Saturday morning was met with the realization that we're not 24. Fortunately, I was in my happy place, and a good nap helped a lot.

Friday involved some of the usual getting settled, but we got into pool gear via the spa locker rooms (pro tip!) and enjoyed one of the many beverages of the day in the Cove pool. That was the start of the new territory for us. We also nailed down a brunch reservation for Palo the next day, a free perk that goes to platinum Castaway Club members that we were unable to use the last two times. Once the evac drill was done and we were underway, we went up to deck 13 so I could get a selfie wearing my SpaceX Of Course I Still Love You shirt with the actual Of Course I Still Love You landing drone ship in the background. I'm a nerd like that.

Our dinner party included two other couples that were sans children. We don't always get seated with other families, but this is the first time that they were not socially inept, uppity or otherwise not interesting. One couple was from southern Ontario, the other from the Nashville area. They offered good conversation every night, and we periodically saw them around the ship.

Evening was about spending quality time in The District, the set of bars and clubs on deck 4 aft. None of them were very crowded. We started in 687 (named for the hull number of the ship) for 90's music trivia, which arrogant 90's DJ me thought we could win, but we missed two that I didn't recognize while getting the really hard ones. Our host, #TonyFromSpain, would be a fixture at many of the adult events throughout the cruise. The comfortable place we ended up was Skyline, the martini bar where one side has virtual windows to the skylines of NYC, Rio, Hong Kong, Paris and Chicago. There we met a nice military family that had the kids in the kids club. It was also the start of many great conversations with the bar staff there.

Saturday was slow to start, but what we missed is that the pilot designated by the port of Nassau backed the ship into a pier, causing a lot of presumably superficial (but expensive) damage. Typically the Dream pulls into the harbor, spins around, and backs in to the pier, but somehow, they managed to strike the pier. I remember thinking from our verandah that they started the turn really late, but I didn't know that happened until someone mentioned it at dinner. Not sure what the convention is, but having pilots steer the ship is custom for many harbors and inner waterways, and I've seen them board a few miles offshore on prior sailings. In Alaska, they apparently had one up and down the fjords.

Two programs that I've done a few times were the Making Of The Dream, more or less a slide show, and Art Of The Theme, a walking tour around various parts of the ship. These are adult-only programs, and we've not had a chance to do them together, so that was a lot of fun. I've done them on the Wonder as well.

At noon we had our Palo reservation. We opted to do brunch instead of a dinner, which would mean we'd not see our table mates or our dining team, and I like getting to know them. The menu is a little different, and they offer a buffet as your appetizer and dessert courses. Let me tell you, I've had variations on parmesan crusted chicken in many places, and it was never as awesome as this. The cheeses they use are imported from Italy in small batches, and I was particularly impressed how they're not greasy at all. I've never had anything fried that did not seem to be fried. I'm not a fancy eater, but this blew my mind. The service was also about as good as it gets, with the manager (an Italian fellow, naturally) and our server (from Croatia) taking good care of us. This is normally a $30 upcharge per person, but again, it's a perk for platinum members.

Our afternoon involved a nap, another pool visit and some true, not thinking about anything relaxation. After dinner, we continued our social trek, and landed in Skyline after a stop in Pink, the champaign bar. More good conversation with folks stopping in, and one bizarre conversation with a woman on her first Disney cruise who thought that Carnival was better, especially the food. Of course, instead of taking advantage of the superior service, she was waiting to unleash complaints at the end of the cruise. And to quote, "You don't put barbecue sauce on a plate next to prime rib and call it a day." What an idiot.

Sunday was our beach day at Castaway Cay. I think at one point we considered renting bikes, but thoughts about wet swimware and chafing kind of diverted us away from that. This was another first for us: going to the adult-only Serenity Bay at the north end of the island. Upon arriving, it was impossibly quiet and, uh, serene. No kids. That's some serious Disney magic. I had two minor quibbles, the first being that there aren't enough umbrellas compared to the main beach areas, and the water never goes more than waist deep. On the plus side, the sealife you can observe is staggering. That beautiful clear water is filled with all kinds of stuff swimming around.

My other minor complaint is that, while the adult food serving includes some adult-only items, they don't have the spicy chicken that the main locations have, which non-red-meat-eating me mostly sticks to. That was disappointing. So for me to get something I like, and for Diana to enter water deep enough to get wet in, we did head back to the main area for a little while. We only stayed out there until 2 or so, because again, we were up late the night before. That, and we're pretty sure the stuff they serve in Skyline (with glow cubes!) had at least three shots of alcohol in every drink.

We wrapped up that day after dinner with Believe in the main theater (the new cast is really good, the choreography tight, and an obviously solid group set to debut Beauty And The Beast next month), second dinner on deck 11, and eventually landed in Skyline again. This time, it was crazy crowded, so we ended up sitting not at the bar but in a corner talking to a family from the Carolinas (maybe?) that were our age, but recently became empty nesters. It was a pretty great end to a cruise where we met a ton of interesting people. We were social with adults. It was a good feeling. It was also a much needed break where we could be a couple with nothing to worry about but each other. I can't thank our friends Kara and Sean enough for watching Simon.


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