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Disney Cruise to the Bahamas


The Disney Dream at 4,000 passengers is for sure not a small ship, but it is different enough that we thought you would be interested in hearing about our first-hand experience on it. We came aboard after four days in Orlando as part of the annual Cruise One/Cruises Inc. national conference for travel agents. We attended meetings, networked with cruise line representatives, played a bit at the Disney Parks including the Halloween Parade at Magic Kingdom, then all went by bus to Port Canaveral and set sail aboard Disney Dream for the Bahamas.

There were many memories for me -- I lived in the Bahamas for 5 years. First port stop was Nassau, and most people checked out the straw market or went to Atlantis and shopped on Paradise Island. The big Nassau news -- at Cable Beach outside of  town a huge resort development is being built called Baha Mar, a $3 billion complex that will be even bigger than Atlantis.

The next day cruise stop was Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island. It was just a few miles off the big island of Great Abaco where I used to live. Indeed it had the same azure almost luminescent clear waters and smooth white beaches, but on this island amid the palm trees were shelters for on-the-beach massage, the coral reef had Disney characters looking up at snorkelers looking down, and the air strip was now used as a bike and tram roadway.
 

     

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Available for passengers were kayaks, paddle boats, sailing catamarans, waverunners, glass-bottom boats, round-the-island sightseeing boats, snorkeling from a 63-ft. power catamaran, a sting ray adventure, water slides, naturalist-guided walks for learning about the local flowers and herbs and their uses, and parasailing for the brave. Some passengers took part in a 5 K run, others participated in a sand-castle-building contest, and others just plopped in the sun or under a tree. There was even a wedding going on under a cluster of palms.

 

Some 80 employees live on the island full-time to take care of maintenance and upkeep. Despite the several thousand passengers on shore, the facilities were widespread enough and the landscaping designed so that it did not seem crowded. And there was a separate area, Serenity Beach, for adults only.

Onboard the Disney Dream there was also good division of activities. The Disney stage shows and the many movie offerings could be enjoyed by all the family. There were special facilities for various age groups such as nursery tots, older tots,  in-betweener tweens, and teenagers (where no adults were allowed).

And there were adults-only areas such as the cocktail lounges and premium restaurants. There were spa services available, as well as medical services, and we were pleased to see that acupuncture treatments were available and lectures on acupuncture, and there were yoga and pilates sessions.

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We talked to the ship’s hotel director Lloyd Machado,  and Clayton Lyndsey, the cruise director, about the high quality of service on board. They detailed the lengthy training for the ship crew and staff.

"It's the Disney Difference", said Clayton, who has been with the cruiseline since serving on the first Disney ship as a DJ in 1998. "We build family memories. We try to make an emotional connection. Many of the teenagers coming with us today first came as children. They loved it and now are coming back."

Indeed we saw that children and teenagers are made to feel special on Disney. There are many enrichment activities such as the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab. There is a welcome party just for teenagers. On this cruise there were 200 teenagers, Lyndsey said, in the summer  there are usually about 350 teenagers on board.

The 3-day cruises are very family-oriented, he said, the 7-day cruises have more adult shows and entertainments and there are dance hosts on board. On all cruises there are Disney characters from Mickey Mouse to Donald Duck, Goofy and others.

Passengers in the beginning were almost 100% from the U.S., according to hotel director Machado. "Now our  passengers are more international with many from Europe. And we are marketing in Latin America and expect many passengers from these countries."

"We don't nickel and dime people", Machado said. "Sodas, juices, and ice cream are always available and free."

One thing that we noted was that attention and service were directed not only to adults but also to the children. Children were given recognition and treated as individuals of equal importance as adults. They were directly greeted by staff and crew, and Disney characters got down to tiny-tot eye level for conversations.

The Disney Dream was launched in 2011 with the same sleek dark hull and Mickey smokestack logos of the other Disney ships. It rode very smoothly. Walt would be be very proud

On this cruise there were 3564 passengers (most of the children without doubt had played hooky from school to come, but who's asking). Staterooms ranged from inside cabins to a suite to sleep 5. A nice amenity in some staterooms was the split bathroom: toilet and sink in one room, shower/tub and sink in the other.

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Family dining rooms featured Disney and film characters. We found the food on Disney to be excellent, and the experience at Palo, one of the adults-only premium restaurants, was well worth the $20 per person charge. Typical offerings of its Northern Italian fare included Portobello mushroom and polenta, calamari, lobster and mascarpone ravioli, rack of lamb, and a totally decadent chocolate soufflé with chocolate and vanilla syrup.

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Hotel Machado said food is obtained as freshly as possible, and especially on Mediterranean cruises features regional foods. We talked him into revealing the chocolate soufflé recipe http://dclnews.com/?s=recipe&x=0&y=0  See other cruise recipes at our sister website www.cruiserecipes.net

Disney cruises range from 3 nights to 12 nights and ships cruise the Bahamas, Caribbean, Alaska, and the Mediterranean. 

                                                                                                                                      --- Cruise Story by Shirley Linde

LINKS:
Disney Cruises www.disney.com
Disney Cruise Line http://disneycruise.disney.go.com 

CruiseOne & Cruises Inc travel agent network www.cruiseonefranchise.com

In the area:
NASA  - Kennedy Space Center    www.kennedyspacecenter.com      
Orlando Premium Outlets with 150 stores
  www.premiumoutlets.com/vineland

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