Julia’s Best Week Ever, May 5, 2016: Dream On

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About halfway through this week’s adventure, my husband turned to me and said, “There is no way if we were living anywhere else that we could justify traveling down for a three-night cruise.” Ah, the benefits of the Florida life. Grab breakfast, drop that cats at the kitty hotel, pick up daughter from school, head for a late lunch at Cabanas as we set sail away for a weekend on the Disney Dream (and still have time to get daughter back to school on time on Monday).DSC03727

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our pre-cruise breakfast at My French Café, located a short distance behind the Magic Kingdom in Windermere. Between the quality of the food and the prices, it makes for a delightful treat. I had this sugar crepe (which, if unfolded, would have more than covered the entire plate), and only set me back $4. And yes, that whipped cream is heavy cream that has been whipped, not stuff from a can.

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Time flies when you’re on a sugar rush, and soon we were headed out 528 towards the port. I love the position of Disney ships at Port Canaveral, as you get little glimpses of the ship as you get closer and closer to the port.

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We had booked a category 6B GTY (Deluxe Oceanview with Verandah), and when I checked to get our stateroom number before we left, we had been upgraded to a 4A–as high as you can be upgraded without going into concierge. Sweet! We dropped off our luggage, headed through the check-in process, and then on the ship and up to Cabanas for lunch. We were walking into the port terminal at 12:30 and sat down with a plate of food by 1 PM. The check-in process was smooth and efficient as always. Lunch at Cabanas was high-energy with people excited to get underway.

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Rooms become available at 1:30, but it was closer to 2 when we wandered down to our room on Deck 10, Aft. The room was very spacious, and having the murphy bed meant that we had the sofa available in the evenings while our daughter slept. I would certainly do this room again. (Who am I kidding–if given the option to cruise, I’d sleep on a blanket in the engine room!)

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Once we dropped off our stuff, it was time to get a MagicBand for the kid’s club for the kiddo, and get rainforest room passes for the adults. It was open house for the Oceaneer’s Club, which meant that the adults got to go in and see all the surprises. I had heard that “some Star Wars stuff” had been added, but had tried to stay somewhat in the dark about it all. (Spoilers begin here.) There was a new Disney Infinity room, which may have appeal for some, but the other addition is what had everyone’s attention: Star Wars. There’s several sections to the Star Wars room, but the biggest attraction is the Millennium Falcon cockpit. There’s space for a pilot and a co-pilot, and the screens take you on the flight missions from Star Tours.

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Seeing my daughter manning the controls made me wish I could stay in the club for my whole cruise. The counselors did a fantastic job of making sure that everyone got a chance to try a hand at the controls.

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Once we had explored the kids’ club and headed up to Senses to get our Rainforest Room passes paid for, it was almost time for the safety drill. We stopped by Flo’s (the counter-service area on Deck 11) to grab some food for the sail away, which we planned to do in our room, dropped it off, and headed to our profoundly hot safety assembly point. Because it was brutally hot, we had already decided to skip the sail away party, and we went to grab some drinks from Vista Cafe. In addition to coffee drinks, they now have several iced tea specialty drinks that were really fantastic. While we were getting our drinks, we noticed two things: First, the ship had already started moving. Second, there was next to nobody there. Instead of heading to our room, we grabbed a comfy chair and watched the scenery go by in air conditioned comfort. Eventually we stepped outside to listen to the horn, play a little bit of shuffleboard, and then head to open seas.

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The next few days zipped by, with stops at Nassau and Castaway Cay. For Nassau, we briefly got off the ship to visit the Nassau Straw Market, but spent most of our time on ship.

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We spent more time on Castway Cay, however the water was a little too chilly for my personal preference to go swimming.

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By the time the days were done, I had amassed photos and information to write many more articles in upcoming weeks. Our goal, in addition to relaxation, was to see what sort of new and interesting things we could try outside of the normal “big ticket” experiences. In the end, I had a variety of unusual photos that aren’t the standard photos that people see from their cruise experience, but wanted to share them here.

During my time on ship, I received some questions via Twitter about merchandise for sale. While I was looking around, I found two items that I had to take photos of to share. First, Swatch watches, because I grew up in the 80s when they were totally cool.

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Next, some shoes for….I’m not sure what occasion you’d wear these for.

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Star Wars was certainly present throughout the ship, even though this was not a Star Wars at Sea cruise. It’s hard to tell if my favorite was seeing R2D2 in the Oceaneer’s Club.

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Or spotting Stormtroopers marching through the halls.

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Whether you say we ate at Vanellope’s Sweets and Treats a lot or we ate a lot at Vanellope’s Sweets and Treats, you’d be correct.

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To balance it out, some nights we had nothing for dessert.

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I ended up taking photos of little details that most people wouldn’t, like the addition of the Shanghai castle on the mural behind Guest Relations.

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Or the addition of doors on any of the trams that would carry children on Castaway Cay.

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And even though this is what I was feeling like when I had to get up to head for home….

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I do know it won’t be real long before we “See ya real soon” on our next cruise.

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And until then, this sign will be the one that I see as I head to and from home, living each week as the Best Week Ever.

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Julia Mascardo

Former writer, editor, and social media manager of TouringPlans. Embarking on new adventures with husband, kid, and cats.

36 thoughts on “Julia’s Best Week Ever, May 5, 2016: Dream On

  • May 5, 2016 at 8:34 am
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    This came off as really braggy :-/ No details shared except “look at me. I live close to a port”

    Reply
    • May 5, 2016 at 9:01 am
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      Sorry you feel this way. As I hinted at in the article, I will be covering some items on board in depth in future articles, however I did share four of the aspects of this cruise that were new to me in this article (namely the Millennium Falcon simulator, the new safety doors on the Castaway Cay trams, the addition of the Shanghai castle at guest relations, and sampling one of the treats at Vanellope’s).

      If you’d like more in-depth information what’s new on the Dream, may I suggest the following:
      http://blog.touringplans.com/2015/11/04/10-favorite-things-new-disney-dream/

      Reply
      • May 5, 2016 at 10:19 am
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        I disagree with Philip. I thought it was fun and to the point. Thanks for sharing.

      • May 6, 2016 at 10:30 am
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        Thanks, Disneydadben! Glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

    • May 6, 2016 at 12:16 am
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      So “______’s Best Week Ever” doesn’t sound “braggy”?

      Reply
      • May 6, 2016 at 7:39 am
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        The Best Week Ever series started back in 2014. It went from Daisy Lauren to Seth and now to Dani and myself, and essentially is a combination of “Whatcha doin’?” for the week and an opportunity to share experiences of life as travel writers in Florida. During its run, we’ve visited all four WDW theme parks (multiple times), Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Mini Golf, myriad WDW Resorts, Downtown Disney and Disney Springs, Universal Orlando, Islands of Adventure, and CityWalk, Disney’s water parks, the Orlando Eye, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and (by proxy) Shanghai, Disneyland, Busch Gardens Tampa, Disneyland Paris, and Disney Cruise Line, just to name a few. And no matter what is going on that week, whether it is a trip that we’ve been eating ramen and rolling pennies to afford (because unless specifically mentioned, we pay for these things out of our own pockets) or just grabbing a sandwich at Disney Springs, the purpose behind the Best Week Ever articles isn’t necessarily about what you do–it is about how you do it. Everyone has the ability to live their own best week ever, no matter where they are at. Living in the vacation capital of the world, I’ve got some unique opportunities of places to go for my best week ever. But I’ve been living the philosophy of making every week my personal best week since well before I moved to Florida. Hope that answers your question, and thanks for coming along for the ride all these years!

      • May 6, 2016 at 7:53 am
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        “Best Week Ever” has always been my favorite weekly blog series, and I look forward to it every week! It really makes me feel like I’m on the adventure with you, and keeps me excited for my next trip. Thank you for all that you do! Can’t wait for next week! 🙂

      • May 6, 2016 at 3:27 pm
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        Thanks, Jenn! I can’t wait to see what Dani is up to next week, too. 🙂

      • May 6, 2016 at 7:52 am
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        Has been the title of the weekly article for at least the three years I have been reading it, written by several contributing artists, and read by a loyal group of fans that don’t appreciate baseless negative Commentary in this space.

      • May 6, 2016 at 3:28 pm
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        Thanks, Ali! Glad to have you as a reader. 🙂

  • May 5, 2016 at 9:14 am
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    We have booked to go on the Dream next April after a break of five years (bragging that I’ve been on a cruise…) I am really looking forward to your future articles. I really appreciate the effort that you make for this site.

    Reply
    • May 6, 2016 at 7:41 am
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      Thank you so much, Suzy! I can certainly understand taking a break. (At least for me, the bank account appreciates when I don’t have a cruise booked.) Have a fantastic time on the Dream!

      Reply
  • May 5, 2016 at 9:28 am
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    Clearly you would wear those C3P0/Vader shoes on May the 4th!

    And I hope you did.

    Reply
    • May 6, 2016 at 7:45 am
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      They would have been perfect — but the price was a little too much of the Dark Side for me. What’s funny is that this company makes even more extreme Star Wars shoes.
      http://www.irregularchoice.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=star+wars

      Our family absolutely rocked out Star Wars t-shirts for the occasion, though. And I may or may not have spent all day responding to e-mails as Yoda.

      Reply
  • May 5, 2016 at 9:47 am
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    Great teaser post Julia! I am jealous, but can’t stop grinning from ear to ear for you that you get to LIVE your best week ever every day! I’m sending this to my parents, who will be joining us on their first Disney cruise on the Dream in November! Blog on, Woman!

    Reply
    • May 6, 2016 at 7:47 am
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      Thanks Jennifer! I know November can’t come soon enough, right? Have a fantastic trip!

      Reply
  • May 5, 2016 at 1:55 pm
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    Thank you for your article and all the wonderful pictures! I am looking forward to more articles about your cruise. We took our first Disney cruise in January (first cruise ever) and we are still processing all the things we did and saw in 4 days. We felt a bit overwhelmed at times since the whole cruise experience was new. The detail on the Dream is amazing, I know you have a lot more to write about!

    Reply
    • May 6, 2016 at 7:50 am
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      I have no idea if there’s a length of cruise that would be enough to really explore everything there is to see and do on board. It can be overwhelming, because there’s so much to do and see. I’ve never had a cruise where I feel that I ran out of things to do and explore (and hope I never do!). Thanks for following along!

      Reply
  • May 5, 2016 at 5:19 pm
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    Looks like a wonderful short holiday. The stormtrooper is pretty cool and the “Nothing” dessert is hilarious. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
    • May 6, 2016 at 7:53 am
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      At the theme parks, a lot of times when someone is finished with their meet and greet, they’re whisked backstage, but more often than not on the ship, I’ve found that characters have a bit more free range to wander around for spontaneous encounters like this. On our Castaway Cay day, the elevator opened and there was Goofy pretending to be asleep. I wish I had my camera out for that one, because it was, well, Goofy!

      Reply
  • May 5, 2016 at 6:26 pm
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    Thank you for a lovely post! We have been on two DC’s and loved every single minute! Sigh! Time to do another one 🙂

    Reply
    • May 6, 2016 at 7:54 am
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      Agreed, Belinda. Make sure to bring a suitcase large enough that I can stowaway! 🙂

      Reply
  • May 5, 2016 at 7:06 pm
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    I really enjoyed reading your article, and got goosebumps reading this phrase: “living each week as the Best Week Ever.” What a great philosophy that would be for all of us wherever we happen to be!

    Reply
    • May 6, 2016 at 8:03 am
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      Thanks, Deanne! I started embracing the idea of living the best week ever after seeing The Last Lecture with Randy Pausch. Two quotes really stuck out to me:

      “I don’t know how not to have fun. I’m dying and I’m having fun, and I’m going to keep having fun every day I’ve got left.” (He had been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.)

      and

      “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”

      To me, that’s what this is all about — wherever you are, you have the ability to live your own best week ever! Thanks for following along on the journey!

      Reply
      • May 6, 2016 at 10:47 am
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        Could not be prouder to partner with such a positive, optimistic, and caring person on the Best Week Ever series. You rock, Julia!!!!

      • May 6, 2016 at 3:29 pm
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        Thanks, Dani! I can’t wait to see what fun adventures you’ve got in store for next week!!

  • May 6, 2016 at 10:27 am
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    We’ve enjoyed three cruises on the Dream, but DCLs latest prices have moved us to Royal Caribbean. Same week, same room type, same ports, $4400 on Oasis of the Seas, $8200 on the Fantasy.

    Reply
    • May 6, 2016 at 10:35 am
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      I can completely get behind this. We looked at Royal Caribbean and priced it out (we also looked at Norwegian, but couldn’t find anything to work with our schedule). My guess is that sometime within the next year or two, we will try out RCCL. The big challenge I have is, for the smaller ships, I looked at what they offer for kids, and didn’t see much that my daughter would be interested in at this point. If it were just my husband and I, saving the money and going with RCCL would be a very likely option. I don’t blame you in the least for going on Oasis of the Seas for that kind of savings, and I’ve heard wonderful things about the RCCL experience. Have a fantastic cruise!

      Reply
      • May 6, 2016 at 2:26 pm
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        I looked a lot, and decided on Oasis because with three teenagers, the more to do the better. The new Harmony looks even more exciting, if you can sail out of Ft. Lauderdale.

      • May 6, 2016 at 3:47 pm
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        Three teenagers = RCCL hands down, IMO. Between things to do and cost savings, it’s the best choice.

  • May 6, 2016 at 12:51 pm
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    Maybe you’re planning to touch on this in a later post, but how did the Rainforest Passes work for you? My hubby and I tried to buy them on board the first day, and were told we had to wait until all the cruise-long passes were sold before they would release daily ones. We were told to call back every day, multiple times a day, to see if they were available. Then we were bombarded with a heavy sales pitch to purchase spa packages. I think we tried calling back once, but after getting the same spell (and sales pitch), we gave up. What’s the trick??

    Reply
    • May 6, 2016 at 4:02 pm
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      I think we’ve done the Rainforest passes on every cruise. We’ve only done the full-length passes, so sometimes it has been a perceived good value, and sometimes I know we lost money on it because we didn’t have time to get up there with everything else going on. I’d suggest stopping by in person instead of calling. Especially if there’s other people around in the entrance area, they’d be less likely to do the treatment spiels. They do offer one up-charge to the Rainforest packages, where you can get exfoliating scrubs to use in the hamam. I personally like them because they work amazingly well to get my feet feeling less dry after a day walking around on the beach, but you can always bring your own with you — and if you don’t plan to use any of the hot rooms, there’s no need to do the upgrade. They open very early, so I’d suggest stopping by either on your way to or your way from breakfast and ask if they’ve got any daily passes available. And, if it is a must-do, there’s always the option to do the length-of-stay version, which still works out much cheaper than any other treatment they offer. For our cruise, a couple’s pass was $102 and single was $69.

      Reply
    • May 7, 2016 at 5:58 pm
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      At least 2 days before your cruise, go to http://disneycruise.disney.go.com/gifts-and-amenities/ and click the checkbox for “Spa & Merchandise Pre-purchase Options.” Download the order form and fax it to Disney.
      I have not done this personally, but when I had the same question about daily passes, someone shared this link with me.

      Reply
  • May 6, 2016 at 4:31 pm
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    We are fans of DisneyQuest. After seeing your pictures of the Millennium Falcon I guess we’ll have to book a cruise after the DQ is gone! Looks awesome!

    FWIW: it’s not bragging if you can do it!

    Reply
  • May 6, 2016 at 5:18 pm
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    I would love to do a cruise with my family in the future so I enjoyed this post and am looking forward to what else you have to say about this in the coming posts. Also – love the best week ever feature!

    Reply
  • May 7, 2016 at 9:14 am
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    I love the idea that this is your best week ever! Just like it was last week. I can’t wait to hear more about the Dream. i’ve never been on a cruise but we are thinking about it for next year. I’m really looking forward to seeing all of your details. Can you tell me if there were meet and greets people needed to get tickets for? I have heard about this but don’t know what deal is.

    Reply

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