by Lori Edelman
The ship arrived and docked early at Disney's private island, Castaway Cay. We chose Cabanas for breakfast before we headed ashore. They had lots of good choices including eggs benedict, omelets and corned-beef hash - a favorite of Aaron's and Michael's. When we'd had our fill, we made our way down to the gangway on deck 1. Once on the dock we had our first up-close and personal view of the ship. Wow. She is at the same time beautiful and massive.
A number of things have changed on the island. The tram stop for the family beach has moved down island closer to the new Pelican Plunge water slide. This relocation seemed to help spread out the crowds along the family beach. Right as you exit the tram is another shop very similar to She Sells Seashells. Merchandise choices seemed nearly the same. They also have Cookie's Too; a second BBQ service located at Serenity Bay, the adult beach.
Once we got to our favorite spot just beyond the Conched Out Bar, Aaron and I decided to do a little exploring. We hopped on the tram to check out the adult beach. It was quiet and peaceful, but a bit windier. Then we decided to rent bicycles. Great bargain at only $12 for two bikes! Good old, solid Schwinn with the pedal-backward style brakes. And, my bike was pink! There were a couple different paths that we took. On one loop we stopped at a look-out tower that offered spectacular views of the entire island.
After our ride we headed back to our spot where Michael had settled in with his kindle, a cigar, and a Mickey margarita. (We made up this one ourselves: tequila, club soda, and lime juice and by the time we left the cruise a number of the bar tenders and servers were using the name!) We tried dipping our toes in the water, but it was pretty cold! Even though the water was cold, the temperature outside was very pleasant: 73 and sunny.
They started serving lunch about 11:30am. Selections were about the same as we remembered from past stops at Castaway Cay. Hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled mahi mahi, BBQ ribs, chicken, a variety of salads, fresh fruit, and desserts. You will never go hungry on a Disney cruise, that's for sure!
It turned out to be a beautiful afternoon. Michael and I did not go in the water choosing instead to simply nap/read/ipad on the beach. Aaron tried to lure us all into the water and did brave it himself for a short time. He's 19. It was our perfect day in paradise.
We headed back to the ship about 3pm on foot in order to capture a few more photos of the ship. When we got back to our stateroom, I decided to start on the dreaded task of packing. It went pretty quickly even though I had, of course, brought along way more than we needed.
Aaron wanted to head to deck 12 to watch the crew throw the lines in preparation for sailing away. We sailed promptly at 5pm preceded by the lovely tones from the horn of the Dream. This afternoon we were treated to "Be Our Guest" and "When You Wish Upon a Star". A trip to Castaway Cay is bittersweet; paradise arriving and during the day, very sad to leave as it signals our trip is coming to an end.
Tonight we were treated to a brand new production in the Walt Disney Theater: Disney's Believe. I absolutely loved it! The story is about a little girl celebrating her birthday and trying to get her dad to believe in magic. I was delighted that they included many musical numbers from some older classics like Mary Poppins, the Jungle Book, and Pocahontas. The genie from Aladdin acted as host trying to convince Dad to believe.
Dinner for us on this final evening was in Animator's Palate. This restaurant is located on deck 3 just down a really long hallway from the Royal Palace. The highlight of Animator's Palate is supposed to be the show. The screens around the room transform throughout the evening coming to life with characters from Finding Nemo. Unfortunately, our table was more toward the center of the room making it difficult to see and hear. If you've ever been to the "Turtle Talk with Crush" attraction at Epcot, you would find this show somewhat familiar.
Besides the show, I loved the decor. The color scheme was primarily black and white with splashes of color here and there. The backs of our chairs were red with yellow "buttons" -- kind of like the shorts of our favorite Mouse!
This was probably our least favorite menu. Michael had tenderloin, Aaron had a shrimp pasta dish, and I had a steak salad. Good, but not great as we've come to expect. While our servers did their best to be attentive, service was just not up to par. What we later learned is that the galley for this restaurant was quite a trek for the servers. (This is a good example of Disney building a beautiful ship, but not giving enough thought to what it would really take to make some things work.)
After dinner, Aaron went exploring after getting himself packed. I met Michael at Meridian. When he finished his cigar, we headed back to Pink for one final cocktail. Also, our friend, Yelena, had left a special gift for us -- a pair of champagne flutes from two of the pre-maiden voyage cruises. We promise you will not find ours on eBay!
Just before we left, our new friends, Dottie, Donna, and Carol stopped by. Fingers crossed, we plan to all meet up again when the Disney Fantasy sails her maiden voyage next year! (We have our reservation! Do you?)
And, one final thing. Donna mentioned that she was able to order one of the new Dooney & Burke designs available only on the Dream. People snapped them up within an hour or two (maybe minutes) the day they were released. Crazy. At any rate, I was so excited! We dashed to the store, White Caps, only moments before they closed the doors at midnight. Whew. Made it! And, I placed my order! It should arrive in plenty of time before our next cruise.
We called it a night around 1pm. All too soon we will be on the airplane home.
The previous post in this blog was Dining on the Disney Dream: Enchanted Garden.
The next post in this blog is Disney Dream Maiden Voyage - Heading Home.