Trip Report A DREAM is a wish your heart makes

Hello all! I thought I would finally share our trip report from our very first DISNEY CRUISE 😍
Our cruise dates were 2/23-2/28 on The Dream. This trip was just my husband and I- we were celebrating our 15 year anniversary. When we were discussing vacation options, it was actually my husband who suggested a cruise. Neither of us have cruised before. 🥳

Our anniversary was 12/20. December is a busy month for us with Christmas and also our daughter’s birthday so we initially decided on a January cruise. Unfortunately just a few days before we were set to leave, my grandmother passed away. Her services were scheduled for while we were gone. We of course wanted to attend her services but also, my parents were going to be watching our kids while we were gone and we didn’t want to burden them any further. So we chose to reschedule the cruise for February. I was actually shocked by how difficult this was. We weren’t asking to cancel and be refunded, simply reschedule, but it was a multi step process. But I suppose a good experience to have should I have a similar situation with a future client 😉

Before I officially get going, I just want to say that the first few days were very rough for us. We had a quite a few things go wrong early on. So while it may seem like a negative trip report to start, I promise you, I absolutely LOVED our cruise and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I do want to mention the negatives however in case anyone has any advice or can relate to our experiences.

First a few pictures to introduce ourselves - a family picture from our last Disney trip in March 2023, myself (Jillian), husband Nick and our daughters Sage and Aria.
And also a picture of me and the kids on Mother’s Day last year with my sweet sweet Grandma. She was Polish and we called her Babcia.
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Sorry about your loss. Grandmothers are the best!
It's too bad you had a rough start to your trip but I'm glad things turned out well.
Looking forward to your TR!
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Thursday 2/22

We decided to fly into Florida the day before our cruise. We always fly Southwest, we have a rewards credit card with them and we use our flight credits quite often. Since this trip was just the two of us, no kids, and we really only needed warm weather clothes, we decided to only take carry ons. We were looking forward to skipping the baggage claim and saving a little time. Prior to our trip, I purchased this carry on suitcase-


Per the description, this is size of the suitcase-


And per Southwest, these are their carry on limits-

As you can see, the bag is perfectly fine.

As we are waiting to board, the crew mentions several times that this particular plane is an older, smaller model and the overhead storage area is limited. They ask several times for people to check their carry ons and mention that anyone with a C boarding group will likely have to check theirs. I have an A boarding group so I’m not worried.
But as I approach to scan my ticket, the crew member immediately says, that bag is too bulky, you must check it. I also have a backpack that is fairly empty so I ask if I can move things to my backpack. She says no, there is no time, you must check it.
Needless to say, I was not happy. I bought this bag specifically to use as a carry on and it was clearly within the limits. I really think they were just picking random people since they knew they wouldn’t have space.

It definitely put me in a bad mood for the rest of the day. Even more so because of what happened next 🤦🏻‍♀️

We arrive at the Fort Launderdale airport and get my bag and it is completely soaked. We had a layover in Baltimore and it was pouring so I’m guessing it was left out in the rain for a significant amount of time.

We were staying that night at Sleep Inn & Suites in Dania Beach. We chose this hotel because it has a free airport shuttle, free continental breakfast and was priced well. We called for the shuttle to come pick us up and they told us where to wait for them outside. I don’t know if any of you have been to the FLL airport but the best way I can describe it is CHAOS. The outdoor pick up area is essentially one long sidewalk with signs labeling each area- Uber pick up, hotel shuttle, cruise bus etc. I want to say the letters started at A and went to about K. Adjacent to the sidewalk is four lanes of traffic, all going the same way. It’s extremely loud and crowded. This is important for later 😉

Thankfully, we find the hotel pick up spot, our van arrives soon after and our driver is the kindest, happiest man and he definitely helped me feel better after our long travel day.

We check in and go up to our room. I open my suitcase and the top layer of clothes are completely soaked. Not only soaked, but stained as well. I had a pair of sandals in an inside mesh pocket and I’m guessing they got wet and the dirt ran off and saturated the shirts. Which of course never would have happened had I been allowed to carry on my carry on suitcase 😤 It was late and we really just wanted to go to bed so I hung everything up to dry and we decided we would spend our first few hours on the cruise doing laundry and hope for the best 😩
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Friday 2/23

I decided early on that we would be utilizing the Disney transport to get to the port. We always had very positive experiences with the Magical Express and even Mears & Sunshine Flyer. So I assumed the cruise transport would be a similar experience. We thought it would be the easiest and least stressful option. Also, if you use the Disney transport, you are automatically assigned an early port arrival time. This was important to us as we didn’t want to kill time between hotel check out time and boarding the ship. We wanted to board as soon as possible! When I checked in for our cruise, we were assigned boarding group 6 with a port arrival time of 11:45am. I was told boarding began at 11:15 and that the first few groups would go quick so arriving at 11:15ish was fine. Our plan was to take the free hotel shuttle back to the Fort Lauderdale airport and then take the Disney bus from there. Our hotel offered shuttle pick up on the hour so we asked for a 10am pick up.
Our driver was prompt and despite the absolute madness of FLL, got us there in good time. He didn’t know where the Disney bus was located so he dropped us off in the outdoor section where we were picked up the night before. We walked toward the section labeled for cruise pick up and couldn’t find anything related to Disney or any sort of check in area. We went inside and found guest services and they pointed us to the Disney kiosk.
This is it guys. A giant, massive, insanely crowded airport and this is the Disney check in location with absolutely no signage leading you to it.


I have no idea how they expect people to find this. I should also note that the Fort Lauderdale port is new. Disney used to cruise out of Miami but just recently switched to Fort Lauderdale. So we assumed they were still figuring things out.

We checked in around 10:45 and were told the bus would be arriving shortly. Two important things to note. First, the drive from the hotel to the airport is approximately 11 minutes. The drive from the airport to the port is approximately 9 minutes. So roughly 20 minutes of travel time.
Second, we did not receive luggage tags for this cruise. We did for our original January cruise but when we rescheduled, we did not receive new tags. We were assured that they would be waiting for us at the port.

So we wait. And wait. And wait. At 11:30, I go back to the kiosk and ask when the bus will be arriving. She says soon. A minute later, they tell us to line up. We are told to stay in a single file line and follow her. We go back outside to the insanely crowded pick up area and follow this woman through the crowd for a solid 5 minutes. I don’t even know how to explain to you how far we walked. And how crowded and loud this outdoor area is. We were weaving in and out of this crowd, pulling our suitcases, trying not to lose this random lady we are following. Nick and I were fine, being two adults, but I can’t even imagine how crazy this must have felt for people with small children or mobility issues. We finally arrive at the area we are told to wait. We wait for another 10 minutes or so and finally a bus shows up. Once we are sitting on the bus, I send a text to my boss to ask her if this is the norm for Disney transport. According to my timestamp, it is now 11:59. So we are already past our port arrival time. Nick and I are both so angry and frustrated. This was not how I pictured the Disney transport at all.

The bus finally arrives at the port and Nick and I start looking for a cast member so we can get our luggage tags. We see no one. For the people who have luggage tags, they just walk away from the bus, leaving their luggage behind. But of course we can’t do this. We stand there for a minute or two but still don’t see any workers. We assume they must be in another location so we follow the crowd through the parking garage. After waiting in line, walking slowly through the garage area, we arrive inside the port terminal. To another long, snaking line. We finally get to the front to check in and the first thing I ask is where the porters are and if they have our luggage tags. She says they are outside where the buses dropped us off. I told her no one was out there. She called for a manager who apologized for no one being outside and told us that unfortunately at this point, we would have to take our luggage with us. Once we are checked in, I snapped this picture, mainly for the timestamp.


This was taken at 12:55pm. Almost THREE HOURS from the time we left our hotel. With only 20 minutes of actual travel time. We were well past our port arrival time despite the fact that I planned it perfectly fine. Leaving at 10am for a port arrival time of 11:45 should have been easy peasy. Getting to the port was by far the most horrible experience. Again, the port is new, so I am praying that they are still working out the kinks. If anyone has taken the Disney transport from MCO to Port Canaveral, I’m interested to hear if your experience was anything like this. Hopefully not!


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Ok guys, I promise you it’s uphill from here 😂
We enter the atrium of the Dream, take a few seconds to look around, and snap a few pics of the Donald mascot.

What you maybe cannot tell from this picture is that we are HANGRY. So we quickly look in the app to find where the food is and off we go to the elevators!
Our plan was to get a few things from the various counter service windows. On the Dream, these dining locations are Cars themed so at Flo’s Cafe you have Mater’s Grill, Luigi’s Pizza and Fillmore’s Favorites. I watched several YouTube videos prior to this cruise and it seemed most people ate here on arrival day. For some reason though, it was closed 🤔 So strange. There was a cast member in front who directed us to go to Cabanas. The only problem with that was that since it’s a buffet, and we were wearing backpacks and pulling luggage, we had to take turns waiting in line.
But we finally ate, everything was good, especially the chicken tenders, and we were feeling much better.
As we were sitting there eating, I realized we had no way to get into our rooms as we were not given our Key to the World cards when we checked in. I was so frazzled with the port process, I forgot to ask. I also forgot to ask how we would know when our rooms were ready. I was assuming we would get a text like WDW.
Our cruise Facebook page was an amazing group of people so I posted there asking about keys and how we would know when our room was ready. We got several responses almost instantly from people who were already in their rooms. Rooms were ready and our keys would be in an envelope outside the door. So not like WDW at all 😂

We had a verandah room on deck 7 and I absolutely LOVED our room. It was a great size for 2 people and we actually had leftover storage space that we didn’t even use. The room technically slept three and I think the size was perfectly adequate. The bathroom set up is a little weird, it’s a split bath with a sink and toilet in one room and a sink and shower in another room. This seemed unnecessary and we definitely would have liked one bigger bathroom. Especially since there was a nice big vanity area outside the bathroom for another person to get ready. Also neither bathroom had a fan which was very odd. Not only for privacy/ noise but also because the bathroom got so steamy after showering. But other than that we loved our room!






There were two closets this size so we each had plenty of space!


Sunset from our balcony that night 😍
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Sorry to hear things started out bumpy. When we cruised out of Port Canaveral, I decided against Disney transport b/c I had heard many stories about there being lots of waiting. We ended up staying the night at the Orlando airport hotel and renting a car to drive to Port Canaveral the next morning, we drove down early and had breakfast, then we dropped the car at Budget and they shuttled us to Port. It was a very quick and easy process. We are cruising again next year, but going to Disney beforehand, so I'm leaning towards booking a private car to bring us to port.


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A few more room pictures!

This is standing by the couch looking back towards the entrance. We didn’t even use that small storage area on the left. Above the glasses were a few open shelves and below, a few more drawers. So plenty of storage.


It was hard to get pictures of the bathrooms because they were so small but this was the sink/shower combo. Plenty of shelves and storage.

And this is the sink/toliet combo

I realized after the fact that I never got a good picture of our verandah to show our kids. So I found this one online. This was exactly the size of ours. We loved it.


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Sorry to hear things started out bumpy. When we cruised out of Port Canaveral, I decided against Disney transport b/c I had heard many stories about there being lots of waiting. We ended up staying the night at the Orlando airport hotel and renting a car to drive to Port Canaveral the next morning, we drove down early and had breakfast, then we dropped the car at Budget and they shuttled us to Port. It was a very quick and easy process. We are cruising again next year, but going to Disney beforehand, so I'm leaning towards booking a private car to bring us to port.
Thank you for sharing your experience. I would love to do a WDW/ cruise combo someday so this is good to know.
OMG what an awful start to your cruise. I am relieved you say it gets better. Looking forward to next instalment.
Thank you 😊


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After unpacking, we started to explore the ship!

The main pool area was always packed! We didn’t spend much time there but I imagine it would be quite chaotic (but fun!) for families.
All of the quick service food, the soda refill area, ice cream and main pool were all on the same deck 🤪


Toy Story playing on the pool screen


Mini golf! It was quite windy up there 😂


One of the smaller adult only pools. The top deck had a large adults only section and this was where we spent most of our time.


OBSESSED with this Finding Nemo splash area! It had just closed for the muster drill so I was glad to take a few pictures of it empty.


The atrium area was beautiful!


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After the muster drill, we went right to the Sail Away party. Super cute show, I mostly took videos to show my kids so only a few pictures.

This main pool area is where several stage shows were throughout the cruise. I learned that the area fills up fast so definitely get to the shows a little early!

After the show, I just continued to walk around, getting the lay of the land and I stumbled upon Donald with almost no line! Donald is my number one guy so I was so excited that he was the first character I met 😍

I was also able to meet Pluto. He held his ear out and the character attendant told me to hold my hair out 😂 Awkward.

It was then time for the first of the Broadway style shows- The Golden Mickeys. This ended up being my favorite of the 3! Nick did not go with me. Not his jam.


After the show, I walked back through the atrium and was able to meet Mulan!


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We used the Disney bus from MCO to the port several years ago and didn't have any issues. It wasn't marked as well as I would have expected, but it was fairly easy to find and then left in a timely manner. I'm guessing that the confusion was a new airport and new port and the kinks haven't been worked out yet.


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We used the Disney bus from MCO to the port several years ago and didn't have any issues. It wasn't marked as well as I would have expected, but it was fairly easy to find and then left in a timely manner. I'm guessing that the confusion was a new airport and new port and the kinks haven't been worked out yet.
Thank you for sharing, that’s good to hear!


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Next up was dinner! We chose to do the late seating so our dinners were at 8:15. Our thinking was that we were hoping to sleep in a bit, something we can never do at home, so after having a later breakfast, then a later lunch, we weren’t sure if we would be ready for dinner by 5:30. The schedule actually worked out perfectly for us and we loved the later dining time.
Our first (and second) dinner were at Enchanted Garden.
One more tiny complaint then I promise I’m done 😂 Way back when we first booked the cruise, the first thing I did was request a private table and I noted we were celebrating our anniversary. When we switched cruises, I confirmed that these were still noted in our reservation. When we first got on board, I saw in the app that our table number was 44. I actually went to guest services and asked if this was a private table. They weren’t sure but said if we requested one, we were almost guaranteed to get one.
So imagine my surprise that first night when they walked us to a table set for 6 and two other people were already sitting down. Nope, sorry. This was literally my only request. I very nicely asked if we could please have a private table. We were walked back up front to the podium and thankfully the manager was able to find us a new table. Table 99. Why we weren’t just given that in the first place, I don’t know. And please don’t think I am rude or anti social or anything. I tend to be fairly introverted and making small talk with strangers is actually very difficult for me. I just didn’t want to be forced to talk to random people every night 😂

Enchanted Garden was a very pretty restaurant but probably my least favorite of the three.

I didn’t take a ton of food pictures, mainly because the plating was often very odd. The portions were sometimes smaller, which I actually prefer so we could try multiple things, but they were always plated on giant plates. So not always photo worthy.
This was my dinner the first night, Harissa Lamb Salad. It was really good!

And we liked the little Mickey on Nick’s dessert.

People talk a lot about their cruise servers and how amazing they are and how you really get to know them over the course of the cruise.
Ours were fine, we liked our drink server a little more than our main server. But I don’t think the service or attention is any different than a normal restaurant. We mentioned on this first night that neither of us ate seafood. But every night, our server recommended several seafood dishes. We thought that was a little strange 🤷🏻‍♀️
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After dinner, Nick went back to the room but I decided to stay out in the atrium area to meet a few more characters. Looking back, I’m really glad I stayed because character lines were definitely shortest that first day. I was exhausted, and I’m guessing most people were on day one and probably thought, oh we’ll have lots of time throughout the cruise. And you really do, there are plenty of character opportunities. But lines definitely got longer as the days went on.
According to my timestamp, I meet Chip and Dale at 10:31. That’s actually so late for me 😂

Group hug!

I love these guys so much 🥰

At that point, I was like ok, enough is enough, time for bed. I walk to the elevator and literally bump into Mickey! I was so lucky this happened because his lines were by far the longest all week. It was literally just me, Mickey and the character attendant. After he took my picture, a dad came running over with a little boy and was like, please can we sneak in a picture too? And the character attendant was like, of course! It was such a sweet moment and I was so happy to see them taking their time with everyone despite the fact that Mickey was definitely on his way out.

Back to the room and day one ended with this blanket seal 😂
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Hello everyone! Continuing on with day 2 but before I get started, one of the reasons I’ve been putting this off is because at times, I find the process of posting here to be a bit clunky. Especially when adding photos and typing out longer paragraphs. I feel things will sometimes post before I’m done (that happened to me once yesterday) and this morning, I was at the very end of my first post and for no reason, the page suddenly refreshed and everything disappeared 🤦🏻‍♀️

So please bear with me if this process takes me a while to get through 😂

Saturday 2/24

Today was….

Marvel Day at Sea!

Now, we did not book this cruise specifically for Marvel Day at Sea. We booked it for the time of year, the length of the cruise, and the fact that it stopped at Castaway. I am actually not a Marvel fan at all. The only Marvel movies I’ve seen are the Guardians movies and I actually do really like them. But I don’t know any other Marvel movies/characters/shows etc. Nick is actually a big Marvel fan and I think has seen most of the shows and movies. However he is not at all into live shows and meeting characters. So we really didn’t have too much planned for the day.

We started off our day with breakfast at Cabanas.

Obsessed with this Nemo mosaic 😍

We actually weren’t super crazy about the breakfast at Cabanas. It was super busy, the line was long, we had trouble finding a table and after all that, most of our food was cold. I told Nick that Royal Palace offered a sit down style meal each day for both breakfast and lunch so (spoiler alert) we ate lunch there later and many other meals throughout the week.

We actually much preferred eating in Royal Palace vs Cabanas. It was quieter, calmer and just overall more relaxing. I understand that for families, eating a quick service lunch while at the pool is probably much easier but if you are able to sit and relax and take your time, I definitely recommend checking out which ever restaurant offers table service breakfast and lunch.

I don’t have many pictures from the morning but I remember we looked through all the gift shops and played a little shuffle board. Here are the two random pictures I took-

One thing I definitely do remember doing 🤦🏻‍♀️

That morning, I saw something in the app happening in the movie theater that I thought sounded interesting. I forget the name of it but it was something about shopping in the Cozumel port which is where we were stopping the next day. I assumed it would be a video showing the shops and restaurants and highlighting the best spots of the port. The description also said each attendee would receive a free charm bracelet. Sounds good right?

I could not have been more wrong 🤣

The event was hosted by a woman who introduced herself as a professional shopper. And she essentially spent an hour talking about diamonds and jewels and why you should buy at least 3 of each- one for yourself and the others as gifts since the deals offered in the port are so amazing. And in order to get the free bracelet, you had to follow the woman to the onboard jewelry store after the presentation for a tour of the store. Needless to say, I did not follow her to the store and I also want that hour of my life back 😂

Anyways, on to lunch at the Royal Palace! This restaurant is really pretty and loved all the portraits of the princesses transforming from their rags to riches. I was happy to be in there during the day when it wasn’t very crowded so I could get some good pictures.

I ordered this delicious mocktail for my drink. It was called Salted Stitch and it was essentially a pina colada with salted caramel added in. So good, I ordered it a few times throughout the week.

For our food, we decided we would split two things. Nick ordered meatloaf and I ordered an impossible burger. I am not vegan or vegetarian but I actually like a lot of vegan foods and I LOVE impossible burgers.

Our server brought our food over and I was instantly a little suspicious because the cheese was completely melted. For those of you who have eaten vegan food, you know that vegan cheese doesn’t really melt. Before I could check it out further, our server asked if we wanted ketchup for the fries. One thing that was a little strange at every meal, if you wanted something extra like ketchup or syrup, they would never just leave a bottle or a cup, they would put it directly on your plate or food. So I took a picture of my plate solely because he made the ketchup into a little Mickey 🤩


So once I cut the burger in half, I could definitely tell it was actual beef. When our server came back to check on us, I did mention it to him mainly because if we were actually vegan, it would have been a bigger deal and I didn’t want him to make the mistake again. He felt bad and apologized and did bring us out an impossible burger as well. I was glad he did because it was really good!


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For Marvel Day at Sea, there were a few meet and greets you could reserve ahead of time. I did decide to reserve the Guardians meet for us. I honestly don’t remember what the others were.

We took these two photos on our way to the meet. The ocean water was such a pretty color!

And finally, it was time to meet Gamora and Groot 😍 I was so excited to meet Groot. Such a unique character!

I know we did a Marvel trivia after that. There were several trivia games offered throughout the cruise and we played quite a few. I wanted to win a medal so bad. Sadly though, I never did. We came super close twice- once on 2000’s music trivia we got 37 out of 40 and finished just behind a few other groups. But the best I did was on Disney Food Trivia (obviously). I got 18 out 20 which actually tied for first but I lost the tie breaker. Which wasn’t even a food question! Whomp whomp. So sad.

After trivia, we stopped to get some soft serve and check out the amazingly themed Vanellope’s Sweets and Treats. Everything in this store is an added cost, not included with the cruise, but it has tons of pre-packaged candy, ice cream, and a bakery case.

I took a picture of Vanellope’s race car because I really wanted to remember to get a sundae in one at some point but I never did. Ran out of time and filled up too much on the included food 😂

I know at some point we also hung out at the adult pool. No pictures from up there though.

I have a few pictures from back in the room after this so I’m guessing we were relaxing in there for awhile. My mom was asking about our fish extender gifts so I took a picture of some of the stuff we had received at that point.

Someone also put this super cute magnet on our door 😍

And something absolutely amazing that I don’t have a picture of, someone gave us an anniversary card with a $25 Disney gift card in it! I was honestly amazed with the fish extender gifts we received. Everyone was so sweet.


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Two more pictures in the room of this little duck. Lots of people were posting in the Facebook group about hiding ducks throughout the cruise. I only found one though so I guess they were well hidden 😂 The little note said to take a selfie and post it in the Facebook group.

I did not go to a show in the main theater this night. I honestly don’t remember what it was but I know it was Marvel themed. So no Broadway style show.

We then went to Mickey and Minnie’s Super Hero Celebration which was a show on the pool deck stage. Essentially the characters dressed in Marvel themed costumes. It was cute but not my fav.


My magicband worked quite well during all these shows! A nice little touch.

We went back to room to freshen up before dinner and found this cute little towel and blanket rhino.

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