After deciding that we could live here forever, we decided to head up to Cabanas, up on Deck 11, for our first meal onboard. This buffet is traditionally a popular stop, so I fully anticipated that it would be jammed with people gaining their first 2-3 pounds on the cruise at this time. Before leaving the room, however, Sheri insisted on another selfie of us.
(I DON’T LIKE TAKING SELFIES!!! #113likesonFacebooklater #youallareenablingwifey)
We walked out (remembering to grab both key cards on the way) and made our way to the elevators. Reuben found us and asked how the room was (seriously…Mr. Deeds). We immediately liked Reuben and let him know that we were planning on hiding in the stateroom for another cruise.
We must have timed it right, because there was nobody waiting for an elevator, and one arrived within a few seconds for us. The elevator opened up, and who should greet us on Deck 11 but none other than Nigel from Finding Nemo!
We were greeted by a crew/cast member handing out hand wipes (this was our first experience for this…and it was definitely not the last). We headed to the right and noticed that it was actually fairly quiet in Cabanas. I wondered if maybe we made it after the big rush early on and that a lot of people were just getting into their staterooms.
Hey, whatever works, man…I’ll take it!
We found a table on the starboard (which side?) windows, and I stayed around to watch the camera while Sheri grabbed her lunch. While she was gone, I simply stared out the window, which overlooked the parking structure along with the bridges and Port Canaveral/Cocoa Beach. I took a few minutes to reflect where I was and what I was doing. It had been a rather intense few months for us, with all the volunteering that both of us have been taking on in addition to our jobs and the parenting thing. It wasn’t going to be easy to fully relax in a mere three nights, but I was going to try to shed a few layers of stress. As I sat there, I reflected on the fact that I had started my career as a travel specialist only six months earlier and have absolutely loved every second of it. My business was experiencing growth unlike what I had imagined; I had estimated what I thought I could get in supplier bookings over my first year, and I had found myself already more than 2.5 times my annual estimate in bookings after only six months, and I was looking to expand into the cruising industry. Here we were, on our first cruise, soaking up the experience. The crew members were probably wondering what was wrong, as I’m sure I had a smile plastered on my face as I just sat there looking outside for several minutes.
Sheri returned a few minutes later, and I transferred responsibility of the camera over to her while I headed out to find sustenance. I’ll be honest here – I wasn’t expecting too much regarding the quality of the food on the Dream. I had read multiple outlets that said that the food, especially the buffet food, was average at best. Still, I went in with an open mind and looked around for a little variety.
I had worked hard for a bikini body for this trip (and failed miserably…besides, there was no way I was waxing my chest, which might win a contest on another cruise line), so I went fairly light on the amount of food. A little peel-and-eat shrimp (when in Rome…), a slice of pizza, a couple of lamp chops, and a slice of rib roast. Yeah, I know what y’all are thinking, but that’s actually taking it fairly light for me; besides, I could still see quite a bit of the plate, so I could have fit a LOT more on there if I wanted to. I grabbed some water in an effort to continue my test at not having any regular or diet soft drinks for a while (nearly two months as I am writing this, and my knees are feeling a LOT better).
You know what? The food is pretty darned good! This reinforces the notion that food is such a subjective item. Each person will have their own perception of how “good” or “bad” food is, so don’t let online reviews sway you either way. Sheri agreed that the food at Cabanas was a pleasant surprise. We sampled each other’s food (she actually liked the lamb, which was almost perfectly cooked).
We talked as husband and wife as well as friends during the meal…something that, with the hectic schedules that both we and our boys have, doesn’t happen too often. The previous night at the Boardwalk Inn was the first night in nearly 13 months that we didn’t have the boys with us, so we were going to try emphasizing being married to each other over being parents for a few days. All the parents out there know what it’s like, right? Don’t get me wrong…the boys will never forgive us for going on a Disney Cruise without them, but I’ll bring it up when they’re married and going in ten directions with their kids. I bet they’ll understand then.
Another layer of stress starting to melt away.
Sheri headed up to grab dessert, and I hopped on the phone (stupidly) to check my school e-mail for advising/teaching disasters awaiting my response, my Hotmail account for ongoing issues that were adding to my stress levels, and my travel agency account to see if anyone had any questions for me. It looked like the world was going to continue with me off the grid for a couple of days (maybe). Sheri returned, and I hopped up to grab my dessert – carrot cake! Sheri got cheesecake, so we were able to sample different offerings.
Sheri also got a cup of coffee to go with her dessert. Okay, I’ll have to shoot from the hip here…the coffee in the restaurants…well…Len Testa (I’m assuming that he was the one that wrote the coffee review in the Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line) mentioned that you might question your will to live after trying the dispensed coffee onboard. We’d have to agree with Len on this one.
Divine intervention (or plain old good timing) came to us, as a crew member approached our table with the Drink of the Day…the Bahama Mama…in a souvenir cup. Sheri and I both bought one, and, just as we were starting to pay for it, Jimmy Buffett’s Boat Drinks starts playing in the buffet.
The dessert was decent, but we both agreed that the main course offerings were the shining stars at this meal. We’d have no regrets recommending dining at Cabanas!
One of the mosaics located inside Cabanas
After lunch, we went up a level to Deck 12 to check out Remy and Palo. There were a couple of cast members there, and, after we talked for a bit, one recognized our name and mentioned that she just left us a message about our dining reservation that evening at 7:00. We asked if it might be possible to see the wine list as we were still trying to decide if we wanted to order wine, opt for the wine pairing, or bring our own bottle in for the meal (merging Napa Valley with Disney Cruise Line). The wine menus were locked away, unfortunately, but they did give us a short tour of the restaurant, complete with showing us a bottle of 1947 Cheval Blanc (trivia time: that’s the wine that food critic Anton Ego orders in Pixar’s Ratatouille).
We could not wait for 7:00 to come around!
We decided next to check out the pool area next to see the pools (obviously), water slides, Aquaduck, Funnel Vision, and the adults-only Cove area. We headed back down through Cabanas and out to holycrapitishotterthanthesurfaceoftheSUN!!!! We decided to stay in the shade as much as possible. In an effort to make things cooler, Frozen was showing on Funnel Vision.
Am I a bit of a fixer-upper?
We looked around as we walked towards the adults-only section. The Cove…..ahhhhhhhhhh. We grabbed a bit of air conditioning as we checked out the Cove Café. We then hopped up to Deck 12 and 13 to check out Currents bar, mostly to see if the smoking section nearby could be noticed at the bar. If one stays to the right part of the bar, you might be okay; those sitting on the left side of the bar, however, might notice the smoking area a little bit, depending on the direction of the wind. We didn’t buy any drinks there; instead, we continued working our way forward to the full “I’m King of the World” front of the ship (well, as close as you could get). I pointed out the concierge lounge section to Sheri, and it appeared to be really quiet in there (from what I could see).
View of the teens-only pool area, accessible through Vibe
The heat was REALLY starting to impact us, so we headed back down to Deck 11 forward and went inside to check out the Senses Spa area on the ship. I contemplated seeing if we could purchase day passes for us for the Rainforest area. It sounded like there may still have been availability (it’s first-come, first serve, and they only give out a specific number of passes for the length of the cruise). Though it was tempting to have access to the lounger area, showers, etc., we decided to pass. We got a tour of the fitness center as well as the couples massage room, the “wrap” room, and more. I told Sheri that, if she wanted to try one of the treatments that they offered, to go for it. This technically was part of her Mother’s Day present from us (Senses Spa). She decided to grab the literature but hold off on booking anything.
The 3:00 spa raffle was about to start, and it was getting a little crowded in the spa area, so we headed back out and toured around a bit more up on Deck 13 before getting back into the a/c.
We decided that we had time to sample a cocktail at Skyline, so we made our way back to the District and, again finding ourselves being the only ones in the bar, hopped up to the bar itself. We met the lead bartender, Don, along with two others, Ray and Efraim. All three introduced themselves and Ray set us up with drink menus. When we opened up the menus, we realized that they were electronic tablets that flashed to life. I decided to put my faith in the hands of Don and asked him what his favorite drink was. He immediately replied with, “I like Jack, so it has to be The Blues.” Sheri opted for the Paris 75, and Don went to work on them, giving both of us glow cubes in the drinks. The Blues has Jack Daniels, Peach Schnapps, Cointreau, and lime juice, served in a martini glass with a sugared rim. Sheri’s Paris 75 was somewhat reminiscent of our favorite Epcot drink, the Grey Goose Slushie found in the France Pavilion. The Paris 75 has Grey Goose citron, peach schnapps, blue curacao, and pineapple juice, also served in a martini glass with a sugared rim.
We tasted our concoctions, and I immediately bonded with Don, thanks to his recommendation. I anticipated that the Jack would be overpowering, but Don mentioned that he lime juice cuts the whiskey and mellows it out a bit. Sheri definitely liked her drink, too. We tasted each other’s drinks, with me knowing full-well that my drink was safe from Sheri stealing some sips (she is not a whiskey fan). As we talked, the Chicago skyline gave way to New York City. A poster in the bar on the back wall quietly changed with the new skyline, and new music tied to NYC started playing in the bar (think “New York New York” and “Memories” from the musical Cats). We told Don that we were scheduled to be part of a private Mixology class in Skyline tomorrow, and he smiled and said that he would be the one leading the class.
Yep, we found our bartender for the cruise.
We couldn’t stay too long to talk, because we had to start prepping for the mandatory muster drill, which was scheduled at 4:00. We paid (and gave an extra tip to the Skyline crew) and promised that we would be back, and we hopped on the elevator back to Deck 7 to our stateroom. Yes, Reuben was right there again, asking how the afternoon was going.
We relaxed for a few minutes in the cool air, and then I decided to check out our verandah. I unlocked the door, figured out how to open it, and stepped out to see what it was like. While I was out there, I heard the emergency blasts of Enchantment of the Seas as they were conducting their own muster drill. Carnival Sunshine appeared to be preparing for their own drill, too.
The Florida love bugs were in a particularly amorous mood around the verandah, so I closed it back up and watched the safety video that was looping on the television. Since we also wanted to see the Sail Away Party, which followed immediately after the muster drill, we decided to head up to our muster station about 15 minutes early in the hopes that we might be able to get done quicker. We headed to Deck 4 and found Station K in just a few minutes. There were crew members already there helping cruisers find their ways. It was definitely warm, though we were fortunate to be in the shade. We checked in early along with a couple of other families and hung out, watching the Enchantment of the Seas sail off in front of us. Carnival Sunshine was in the process of casting off, too, as we saw the mooring lines slackening and retracting into the ship. At precisely 4:15, we heard the blasts from our ship, indicating that the muster drill was commencing. We listened as best we could to the directions on how to don the vests (Sheri was taking notes, I think) along with how they would handle children in the various kids’ areas. All the while, the Sunshine moved out alongside and then ahead of us and started its journey to the southern Caribbean.
Soon after, we were released from the drill, and an entire sea of humanity headed the same direction…towards the aft stairwell/elevators. We were on Deck 4 but were planning on going to Deck 12 to view the Sail Away Party from above. About 2,500 people seemed to have similar plans, and we encountered one of only a few bottlenecks on the ship. I looked at Sheri to see if she was okay taking the stairs, and, as she looked at the lines for the elevators, agreed; I don’t think she realized that we had 7-8 flights of stairs to ascend. Around Deck 7, she was staring daggers at me and stopped at our stateroom to grab a water bottle before continuing up. At Deck 9, I think she was trying to find an actual dagger to use against me. We crawled the last few steps up to Deck 11 (my joke regarding how much my Fitbit was going to like this didn’t go over too well) and collapsed next to Nigel to catch our breath. We flitted through Cabanas and found a drink station near the pool area to ice up and water down Sheri’s bottle. I told her that we only had one more flight of stairs to go up, and then we could relax and enjoy the show.
I think I was glad that I couldn’t hear what she called me under her breath.
Deck 12 wasn’t too crowded at all for the Sail Away, so we grabbed some handrail and started baking in the sun as there was no shade.
Immediately, I told Sheri that, if she got too hot, to let me know so we could get out of the sun. I didn’t want to have her feeling sick as we left the port.
I decided to bring my phone out and Periscope the Party, and it was a great idea...in theory. Within a minute or two, several friends started following the feed, and I got to have a conversation with them while the show went on below us. A 95 degree day with 80+% humidity, though, does wonders to an iPhone, and, for the first time ever, my phone indicated that it was overheating and shutting off to cool down…in the middle of my Scope.
Oh well. I tried.
I made sure Sheri kept drinking water, and I didn’t even mention that I could tell we were starting to push away from the terminal. When we starting moving forward, I asked her if she could tell we were moving.
We decided to head to the starboard rails to watch us float by Port Canaveral and Jetty Park. I noticed the sign for the Port Canaveral Webcam and pointed it out to Sheri as we went by it. There was a really exuberant family to our left waving like crazy, and I told her that they were likely trying to get on the stream to wave to friends/family watching. We didn’t realize it until after the cruise was over that the family to our left was part of a Facebook group for our cruise. If you go to http://portcanaveralwebcam.com/replay.php and find our cruise (Disney Dream, September 11, 2015), you can see us at around the 3:05 mark until the 3:17 mark.
As we neared Jetty Park, we saw quite a few people out there watching the ships leave. The Captain announced that he was going to fire off three of the Dream’s six horn songs. The breeze from our movement was nice…dare I say refreshing. As we continued out towards the ocean, Sheri and I watched a Brevard County Sheriff’s boat escorting us out, doing circles, running up and down the length of the ship, etc. Soon enough, we were past the beach and in the ocean.
We decided to head back to the stateroom to see if our luggage had been delivered, and, sure enough, three of our four bags were there. As we started to bring the bags in…POOF, Reuben arrived and helps us with the bags. He asked if we had them all, and I mentioned (in no panic at all as I’m sure they were still delivering the bags) that we had one that hadn’t arrived yet. He asked what our dining plans were, and, when we said, “Remy”, he immediately asked if we had our formal wear or if those clothes were in the missing bag.
That, folks, is service right there.
We assured him that we were good on the clothes and thanked him. He said that he’d look for the bag and POOF vanished into the bowels of the ship.
About 3 minutes later, there was a knock on the door, and Reuben presented us with our last bag.
That guy is freakin’ AWESOME!!!
(We end this day with this post)