Family Travel

Cruising on the Disney Dream

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Disney cruise ship.

Our Caribbean Family Adventure

In celebration of our grandson’s 9th birthday, our family took a four-day Disney cruise to the Bahamas. The excitement and anticipation were almost too much to bear on embarkation (departure) day as we boarded the towering 14-deck Disney Dream cruise ship in Port Canaveral, Fla.

Stepping aboard, we felt like Hollywood stars as Disney cast members broadcasted our arrival. The “wow” factor hit us immediately. Our eyes landed on a stunning three-story atrium. Warm subtle Disney touches made us feel right at home while a nautically attired Mickey and Minnie excitedly welcomed us aboard. The mood was set. Let the journey of discovery begin!

Disney Dream staterooms are beautifully designed for family comfort. Our balcony rooms had familiar Disney touches with unique features such as raised beds for extra storage and bunks that conveniently fold away. Even inside staterooms feature virtual portholes with piped-in outside video and Disney animation.

Onboard entertainment catering to the entire family is a hallmark of Disney cruises. Activities are specifically designed for each age group from toddlers to teens. As one Disney cast member said, “We don’t build ships just for the kids, we build ships for the entire family.”

The Sail-Away Party is a high-energy celebration with confetti, streamers and of course, Disney characters. Mickey’s ship horns play seven different melodies like “When You Wish Upon a Star” and “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes.” Kids and adults love dressing like buccaneers for Pirate Night, a complete swashbuckler-themed evening that concludes with spectacular fireworks. Disney’s stage shows are Broadway-quality, knock-your-socks-off performances featuring traditional Disney characters.

water slide on the Disney cruise line.
One of our first goals aboard was to experience the AquaDuck. A first of its kind at sea, this crown jewel of water coasters is more than two football fields long and four stories high. We screamed as gushing water propelled our rafts through clear tubes extending 12 feet over the edge of the ship and 150 feet above the ocean.

A major part of any cruise experience is the food, and oh does Disney deliver! Unique to Disney cruising is its concept of rotational dining where guests dine in a different themed restaurant every night. We loved it! Animator’s Palate is inspired by the art of Disney animation, while Cabañas is a delightful California boardwalk beach house. The kids were amazed as the flooring magically changed from wood and sand to a sea of ocean-blue carpet. Inspired by the gardens of Versailles, the Dream’s Enchanted Garden features a picturesque ceiling that slowly transforms from an azure blue sky to a golden sunset and finally a nighttime sky filled with twinkling stars.

Other dining options include buffets, quick service and adults-only fine dining restaurants. Kids love the poolside quick-service ice cream and drink stations. Our daily joke was, “How many ice cream cones have you had today?”

Our first port of call was lovely Nassau in the Bahamas, but our biggest delight was arriving in Castaway Cay, Disney’s 1,000-acre private Caribbean island. The sheltered pristine waters of stunning Half Moon Bay are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking or relaxing on the beach.

Our kids loved Pelican Plunge, a towering whimsical floating platform with twisting waterslides that dumps riders into the lagoon. A surprise around every corner, our grandson couldn’t believe his eyes when he ran into the notorious, fun-loving pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow.

Lunch was provided at Castaway Cay’s Serenity Bay. We were treated to a scrumptious Disney buffet that included burgers, hot dogs, ribs, ribeye steak, rotisserie chicken, mahi-mahi, and innumerable sides and desserts. After lunch, we rented bikes and found more adventure and stunning views on the other (more remote) side of the island.

Our family smiled and laughed a lot on this cruise. We shared touching moments and made precious memories. We believe happy outcomes are exactly what Walt Disney intended when he said, “The most important thing is family.” Now, it’s time for this family to book another Disney cruise!

Disney cruises travel to multiple destinations, including Alaska, Hawaii, Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean. Two Disney cruises will depart from San Diego in May 2016 and one in August 2016. Find more information at

Noreen L. Kompanik is a writer, photographer and San Diego resident. All photos were submitted by Noreen.

Published November 2015