We’ve visited Disney World in Florida more times than I can count. After so many years of driving to Florida and visiting every theme park in Orlando, it was time for a change. Our bags and passports were ready to travel abroad.
We knew we wanted to go on cruise and we knew we wanted it to be on a Disney ship. After years of wonderful Disney experiences we felt loyalty to the brand and comfortable with their level of family entertainment. We began our research online and started laying out our plan. The first questions we answered were “Where and when are we going?”. Traveling with my my wife and two daughters, we wanted to make sure we had as much available without spending a small fortune. We decided on a four night Bahamian voyage from Cape Canaveral, Florida to the Bahamas. We decided to sail the second week of January to save on Disney’s off-season prices. The itinerary included a stop at Nassau, Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island in the Bahamas) and a full day at sea.
We drove from New York to Jacksonville on Saturday, Jan. 19th 2013. This 14 hour drive has become a yearly ritual for us, so it was just an ordinary occurrence. We departed Jacksonville at 9:00am the following morning in order to arrive at Cape Canaveral in time for our 1:30pm boarding hour. Cape Canaveral is incredibly easy to get to from I-95. We followed the signs to terminal B and before 1:00pm, we were already dropping off our bags and parking our vehicles.
Disney’s terminal at Cape Canaveral offers on-site parking at $15 per night rates. Higher rates apply for premium parking. I’ve read many reviews of families saving about $30 by parking off-site at private parking lots or hotels. Although this may seem like a bargain, I suggest parking at the terminal simply for the convenience. The parking lot is directly connected to the terminal via catwalk. This makes disembarking a breeze, too. Once you round up your bags, all you do is walk across the street and get in your car. No need to wait for any further transportation or taxi’s.
Check-in at the terminal was incredibly fast and easy. Be sure all occupants of your stateroom are together. You will need to sign some paperwork and take a picture that will be used for identification when boarding or disembarking. The entire check-in process, a few pictures, and waiting for our boarding number to be called took roughly twenty minutes. Once we walked into the gangway, we took some more pictures, then entered the ships atrium.
The Disney Dream’s atrium is a huge, rectangular, three-level gathering area adorned with an art-deco glass chandelier, marble steps, a grand piano, and a statue of Admiral Donald Duck. Once onboard, we hardly had a chance to take in the sights before we offered two dining options: option 1 would send us to deck 11 aft for a buffet lunch at Cabanas while option 2 led us down one level to the Enchanted Garden lunch buffet. We chose the Enchanted Garden. The buffet offered many seafood selections like shrimp and crab legs as well as a carving station, cold cuts, vegetables, salad, and grilled lamb chops.
Immediately after lunch, we headed to our stateroom. Our family had chosen a category 4A family verandah room on level 9. Once we entered the room, the first thing we did was figurelive carts out the lights. We had to insert a room key at all times in order to turn the power on in the room. Once we figured that out, we explored the balcony. Once we pulled the curtain and opened the sliding glass door, we knew this was the place we’d spend most of cabin time. The balcony added approximately 30 square feet of outdoor real estate. The glass wall offered unobstructed views of ocean while sitting or standing. The balcony had two chairs and a small coffee table that served as our breakfast table every morning.
Once we were acquainted with the room, it was time to head to our station for the mandatory drill. Once the drill was over, we headed to the pool deck for the sail away party. The kids liked the dancing Disney characters and the streamers flying everywhere. Definitely a good time if you have kids. Shortly after the party started, the ship pulled away from the terminal, sailed slowly down the jetty and into open ocean. We watched our first sunset from the deck 12 sports area. Our cruise was finally underway!