A Disney fan blog about the good things in life.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Sailing Away for Christmas on the Disney Dream - What You Need to Know

A year ago when I started planning our Christmas trip on the Disney Dream I had no idea how it would go. Traditionally we are a stay-at-home in our PJs kind of Christmas family. My husband and I both being only children, travelling was never necessary.

As I told people of our plans, some of the same questions would come up again and again. I thought it would make a good blog post since I really couldn't find the answers myself so here goes.

Q: What are you doing about presents?
A: Lets just get this one out of the way. You wouldn't believe how many people asked me this question. As a mom of two young boys (5 and 2), I can understand the curiosity. Toys are a big part of their life so essentially taking the biggest toy day away may result in a mutiny (appropriate on the high seas). Thankfully they are young enough that the Christmas present fever is not in full swing yet. In fact, Grayson (my 5-year old) asked for four things. Quentin (the 2-year old) only wants what his brother has so he received an age appropriate counterpart to his gifts.

All the items were small and easily packed in their own suitcase. I didn't wrap anything as I was not sure if the TSA cares-- plus I really hate wrapping. My mother was a little upset that I didn't make the effort and I would likely bring along some gift bags the next time if only to make the experience a bit more festive. No presents for the adults. The cruise was the present, to which my oldest would respond, "you're just kidding."I appreciated his concern for our lack of gifts, but it really felt nice not worrying about it. 

Q: Who is going and are you all staying in the same stateroom?
A: As mentioned, my husband and I are only children so extended family is not an issue. For this trip it was my husband and I with our two boys along with my mother. We got two staterooms on the 8th floor (with veranda) that adjoined. Connecting rooms was a really important feature as it opened up our space considerably. Each room sleeps 4. One double bed and a bunk bed that pulls from the ceiling.  I'm not going to lie-- its a tight space. We all had bruises from walking into the bed, doors, tables, etc. You get used to it.. sort of.

Like a dorm room with fancier sheets

Q: Are you getting a tree or decorating your stateroom?
A: We just brought the boys stockings. You can order a tree as a special request but it is over $100 and, as mentioned, space is a premium in a cruise ship cabin. The tree in the main lobby of the boat was more than enough to gaze at.  I did see people carrying their own decorations off the boat during debarkation. Watching them struggle with a medium size fake tree AND all their luggage made me realize I would have likely left decorations behind. I'm glad I didn't bring anything more.

The stockings were hung on the boat railing with care.

Q: What happens on Christmas Day?
A: We were at sea for Christmas Day. Our daily navigator had all the activities, but what I didn't realize was some events fill up on the first day of the cruise. Case in point, Make Your Own Gingerbread House. My mother was obsessed with this as she watched families walk by with rather elaborate houses. We learned there was a sign up at Guest Services the first day of the cruise but by Christmas, it was full. Lesson learned. 

side note: after making the houses you can take them back to your stateroom but you cannot take them off the boat. In other words, eat it before the end of the cruise.

Navigator Christmas edition

There were however, plenty of things to do that required no sign-up. Santa was in the main atrium for pictures. And when Santa needed a bathroom break, Santa Goofy took his place. I think my children were more interested in Santa Goofy, but we wanted the real thing.

Santa finds his way on the boat
We went for breakfast at the Royal Palace on Christmas morning not realizing that there was an entire Christmas spread available in the main lobby. So after breakfast we had second breakfast consisting of giant sugar cookies, cream filled pretzels, mince pies, hot chocolate, and more. 

The Christmas spread. A post-breakfast feast.
And just in case the normal decorations weren't enough, a massive ice sculpture of santa's reindeer was in the atrium. How/when they found time to carve that is a mystery.

Santa and his reindeer in ice form
I think one of the best parts of the morning was seeing all the families walking around in their Christmas Pajamas. Entire families had matching sets of plaid PJs and they just strolled through the ship in their slippers like it was their living room. It was obviously a tradition for these folks. Not going to lie, I had a sundress on and I was jealous. 

Q: Did it feel like Christmas?
A: Yes and no. After the 4 presents were opened by the children it was really cruise business as usual. Eating, Aquaduck, pool, spa treatment, cocktail of the day, and more eating just about covers it. Even though there were loads of holiday related activities, we really spent the afternoon enjoying the normal ship offerings. I had a massage around 3PM and I was surprised how crazy busy the spa was. Grayson went on the Aquaduck around 5-6 times. Nothing says happy holidays like a hot stone massage and water coasters. For those more religious than I, there was a Catholic mass early Christmas day as well as an interdenominational service.

Side note: They did show the Disney Christmas parade on the funnel vision (giant screen on deck 11 overlooking the pool). 

Q: Did Disney do anything different for Christmas dinner? Any special entertainment?
A: Christmas night was the formal night of the cruise. We were scheduled at Animators Palate Christmas night and they had a special menu along with a special theming (not the normal Nemo and Crush) along the walls. Visuals and sketches from all various Disney movies slowly rotated the screens while the the appropriate song played along. 

For dinner I had the turkey in keeping with our normal Christmas tradition, but there were loads of options to chose from (a sampling of the menu below). It wasn't exactly the same as home, but I suppose that was the point. And the best part-- no clean up! After dinner we went to see the Golden Mickeys. If you are not familiar with this stage show, it's a must see for all ages. We all walked away saying "wow".

A menu fit for Christmas day
decisions, decisions

Q: Would you do it again?
A: Yes, yes, and yes. In fact, we booked the 7-night Fantasy cruise for next Christmas while we were on board. They have some serious financial incentives for booking while still cruising and we were not the only ones jumping at the chance. Every time we visited the cruise booking desk the line was a few people deep. The last night there were at least 20 people waiting. 

Tip - if you think you would like to book again, jump at the chance early on the cruise. No point in waiting.

While Cruising over Christmas is a special experience, I think it is safe to say that I am officially a year round Disney cruise addict. Trust me when I say, its the type of vacation you will never forget. Keep an eye out for more cruise related posts. 

Have a safe and happy New Year!



1 comment

  1. Yes, next year I am going to make a Gingerbread house and wear Red pajamas.
    I tell you I just felt so much less stressful about all that crazy shopping.
    Isn't CHRISTMAS about being with family and your love ones not how many gifts you got.
    There was a family of 22 on the ship, it goes with out saying their gift was just spenting having a fun time together and they will always remember that special Christmas. mimi


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