Disney Cruise: back home (and recap)

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No sleeping in today! We woke up early (6:30am) to find the ship already docked back in Port Canaveral. Since we were using the Express Walk-Off service we decided to skip breakfast on the ship and just debark and get through customs. In hindsight, we should have not been in such a rush to leave, but being one of the first families to debark meant no lines at all. In fact, by 7:15am we were through customs and 15 minutes later we were in the car and on the road home.

We grabbed a light breakfast at a Starbucks outside of Orlando and spent a few hours at Downtown Disney just to keep the Disney “high” alive for just a little longer. By 4:30 we were back home and unpacking … vacation officially over.

To recap, we had a great time on our first cruise on the Disney Dream. Here are a few final notes about what we  liked and didn’t like.

  • the dining staff’s attention to our specialized food requirements (vegetarian, gluten-free, nut allergies, etc.) was excellent. each night at dinner we got to review the next evening’s selections so we could ask questions and plan what to have ahead of time. and the “special” food was just as good (if not better, in some cases) than the “normal” menu.
  • in fact, all of the crew members we interacted with (from our stateroom attendant, to the dining staff, to just people we passed in the halls) were extremely friendly and helpful.
  • the variety of on-board activities was almost overwhelming. I wish we could have gotten the daily Navigator on-board newsletters ahead of time so we could take that schedule into account when planning excursions and other activities. we got to do a lot on our three-day cruise, but we didn’t get to do everything we would have liked to due to scheduling conflicts or timing issues.
  • as we expected on a Disney family cruise, the different activities available for kids of all ages is incredible. all of the youth clubs on the Dream (Oceaneer’s Club, Edge, Vibe, etc.) were pretty cool … I wanted to hang out in them! the downside to this is that on your “family” vacation your only family time might be at dinner since everyone wants to run around and do their own thing.
  • the Wave phones were very handy, when they worked. you get two of these in your room and can use them to call each other while on board or at Castaway Cay. they were a little frustrating to use, however. most of the settings were locked so I could not turn up the volume of the ring (so they were stuck on vibrate which I never felt) and the previous users had changed the name and added items to the address book I could not remove/change. not a big deal but it was a little maddening at time. that being said it was nice to be able to give one to  my daughter and let her roam about the ship knowing we could get in touch with her.
  • why doesn’t Disney use its PhotoPass service on board the ship? instead of being able to browse your photos online after your cruise, you’re forced to look at physical printouts they put in your specific folder and you cannot make changes. there was one photo we really liked but didn’t need it in an 8×10 … sorry, you can’t get a 5×7. what? and the inability to review these photos and purchase more online after the cruise is baffling to me. I know they are trying to force you to make your purchases on-board and lock you in, but it’s all digital, just throw them up on PhotoPass so I can give you my money later to buy a photo I regret not purchasing during the cruise.
  • in a related note to photos … sometimes the photographers were intrusive. do we really need to have a separate photo of everyone at our table during dinner and a group picture? we’re trying to eat and I’m not going to buy a photo of myself at the table with someone else’s unfinished dinner on the table behind me in the background.
  • accessing the internet on-board can be expensive. we had planned on purchasing a block of minutes to use the iPad to check in on e-mail but ended up not doing so … and it was actually nice to be completely unplugged for three days. our phones stayed in the room safe for almost the entire trip, unused, since we had the Wave phones on board (see above). unfortunately there was that flood of incoming messages on our devices when we got back to Port Canaveral signifying vacation was indeed over.

Overall, I think another cruise vacation might be in our future.

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