First-time Cruise Tips, Part 2

If you read part one of my blog post, you’ll know that I decided to surprise my husband for Father’s Day and book our family on our first-ever cruise! Even though I plan travel for a living, I still had so many questions about the cruising experience that I couldn’t find sufficient answers for, so in the interest of helping others, I decided to write about our cruise on the Disney Dream.

This is part two of a three-part primer for the first-time cruiser. For you experienced cruisers, you can use these posts to help get you more excited for your next adventure on the high seas!

We woke up on Day two to find that the ship was slowing. We stepped out on the verandah and saw that we were coming into Nassau! Here’s a picture of Atlantis Paradise Island Resort through the haze, and then one when we were closer and the haze had lifted.
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Personally, I would always spend the extra money to have a verandah; I don’t like to feel that I’m missing anything! You get to see so many things without having to get dressed for the day and leave your room. I think I would love river cruising – so much to see! We stood on our verandah, drank coffee, and watched our ship being led into port by a tiny, local boat. It looks like a toy, doesn’t it?

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And then the ship spun 180 degrees and backed into the dock. Pretty amazing!
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Since the ship had backed into port and we had a port side room, we got to see the town of Nassau, until a giant Carnival ship parked beside us and blocked our view. Such is life in a busy port! One of my favorite parts of the cruise was looking at the many other cruise lines’ ships that were docked. It’s very cool to be that close to these large vessels and to see how the shapes and styles differ.

I didn’t book any excursions for us this day because we wanted to explore Nassau on our own. TIP: Having done that, my advice when stopping in Nassau is to either book an excursion, or stay onboard and enjoy the ship. Look at the size of these ‘boats’!
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TIP: When you get off the boat at any port, Disney Cruise Lines allows each adult to bring back up to two bottles of wine, OR one six-pack of beer. We bought a six-pack of beer back to the ship from Nassau. But that’s all we bought there. There were plenty of street vendors, but it was very hot and very crowded and we had the Dream waiting for us!

After going through security to get back on board (easy, just be sure to take your room card key and ID), we ordered room service for lunch, enjoyed a beer on our verandah, did some shopping on board, then went to catch a movie. The best part about movies on a Disney cruise is that there are no previews because they own the films! (At least that’s good for me – I know many people enjoy previews). The movie theater was lovely. And since we were moving again, our seats rocked just a little bit with the waves. It didn’t make me sick (as I had feared) and was actually neat to feel while watching The Jungle Book.
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My girls and I headed to the AquaDuck, then the oldest and I went to the adult pool (18+), while our youngest daughter had her hair braided (an extra charge, but very inexpensive), and took a nap. My husband did some writing and relaxing on the verandah. This is what is great about a cruise – so many options for everyone to do their own thing and explore individual interests.

At 6:00, we went to see the ‘Villains Tonight’ live stage show and I could’ve watched it again as soon as it ended. I’m involved with musical theater and am often critical of stage productions; I was pleased to see that Disney Cruise Line lives up to its reputation for superb live, Broadway-caliber productions. I immediately started regretting that we skipped the show the first night. TIP: Don’t miss the shows!

Next - time to get dressed for Pirate Night! Our room steward left us bandanas to wear, but we were prepared and had packed a pirate costume for everyone! We hit the deck party before heading to dinner. I have to say that I was surprised not to see many people dressed up for Pirate Night. But in talking to cast members, they say that for the 3 night cruises, not as many people (including the cast), dress as pirates. We didn’t feel out of place, but it was not as immersive as I thought it would be. We got there late, so we stayed on the upper deck and watched the big screen.

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Since it was a Disney cruise, we wore our costumes to dinner. We could have skipped our regular dinner to eat the Pirates of the Caribbean buffet, but we were scheduled to eat at Animator’s Palette and didn’t want to miss that experience. While we didn’t find the food there to be as good as Royal Palace the night before, the desserts were amazing (make your own pie? Really?!)

Plus, watching little ones as the black and white restaurant ‘came to life’ and Nemo visited their table was a treat. As usual, our servers were excellent; Aut even made our youngest daughter a special birthday hat and brought us an anniversary treat.

After dinner, we went up to watch fireworks at sea! I loved seeing that a few other cruise ships stayed nearby so they could watch Disney’s fireworks. For the deck party, the cast members cover the pools with a dance floor, and that really is the best place to watch the fireworks. TIP: get there early for a spot. We wanted to stay out of the crowd, however, so we watched from the deck above the party. Didn’t mind the AquaDuck in our way one bit!
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The dance party started right after the fireworks, and it was hopping! I danced from where I was and was quite happy there.

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We didn’t stay long because we were tired. And look who was waiting for us in our stateroom, along with gold (chocolate) Pirate coins, of course!

It was a great Day 2 on our cruise and we slept great that night. In my next post, I’ll talk about our last day – we had a lot of adventures that day, including a visit to Castaway Cay. That stop was worth the price of the cruise all by itself.


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