2017 Disney Cruise Vacation, Version 2.0

Here’s what we’ve done since our September 9th cruise aboard the Disney Fantasy was cancelled due to Hurricane Irma…

First we were sad.  Sad for everyone and everywhere that experienced Irma’s devastation.  I’d be lying if I said we weren’t a little sad for ourselves too, but seriously, we couldn’t be mad – life happens and there’s way worse stuff than a lost vacation.

2017 Disney Cruise Vacation, Version 2.0

We took a few days to think about our options.  We knew we were getting 100% of our money back from Disney Cruise Line and a 25% discount on a future cruise.  We decided to cancel our time off from work (September 11-15) and try to squeeze those days in sometime before the end of the year.  We’d already registered for a few weekend cycling events and had a 4-day Disney World visit booked in mid-November.

While trying to decide on Plan B, I paid close attention to social media to see what other cancelled-cruisers were doing.  Turns out, a whole bunch of them were being super mad!  Mad at Disney Cruise Line for not refunding their money fast enough (10-day time period).  Also mad they lost their 10% discount and $200 on-board credit for booking their lost cruise while on a previous sailing (even though a 25% discount is much better).  Some were mad that other fall cruises were booked up and all the adult dining reservations were gone.  Others were just mad in general and Disney Cruise Line was a convenient outlet for that anger.  Watching these people come unspooled was not helping our situation, so I gave that up.  We spent a weekend away, rode our bicycles, and thought about what to do.

Time to End the Pity Party

Exactly a week after Irma left us vacation-less, I decided it was time to stop moping around and get busy.  On September 14th, I called Disney Cruise Line and a wonderful woman named Gianna helped me add a 4-day cruise on the Dream to the front of our already scheduled WDW trip.  I knew from information posted on Disney Cruise Line’s website that we would not be eligible to receive the 25% discount until September 18th.  Gianna assured me I could call back then and apply the discount to this cruise.

Next I called American Airlines.  When we cancelled our flights for the original cruise, we were penalized.  We got the tickets back but would pay a $200 change fee to use them again.  I was going to see if I could do something about that.  I didn’t know this until the day I called, but Raymond had booked first class tickets for our trip to WDW as a birthday surprise for me.  If we moved our Orlando-bound flight in November up by four days to make the cruise, there would be a penalty for that too.  First class might have to go.  American Airlines hasn’t always been easy to deal with, so I took a deep breath and chanted, “be nice, be nice, be nice” as I placed that call.

I actually managed to be very nice (shocker, I know) and the young man who answered my call put me on hold while he spoke with his supervisor.  Next thing I knew, I was speaking to the supervisor, David, who had lots of genuinely helpful options for me to consider.  He was patient and kind and by the time I hung up, I’d gotten a penalty-free refund on the cancelled flights to be used towards future travel.  I was also able to move our Orlando-bound flight in November with no extra charge.  Still in first class even!  Shout-out to David at American Airlines for his amazing customer service skills!

The only thing I’m worried about now is that we are flying to Orlando on the morning our cruise sails.  Normally we would never do this!  But we’d already registered for the Bayou Teche Brewery Bike Bash and Giant Omelette Celebration Ride (two-day cycling events).  There’s no way we wanted to miss out on that.  (Can you blame us?  Beer!  And omelettes!)  So Raymond, Joseph and I will bicycle 100 miles over the weekend, then Raymond and I will catch our plane on Monday morning.  I’m thinking it’ll be a great way to burn off some of those cruise calories in advance.  I’ll be trying not to think about all the things that could go wrong and cause us to miss our ship.

I called Disney Cruise Line on Monday (9/18) and they were happy to apply the 25% discount to this new cruise.  So, while not exactly the 28th anniversary celebration we had planned, we ended up with a solid replacement in the form of a sea-and-land Disney vacation instead.

We’ve got to stop scheduling vacations during the peak of hurricane season.

 

 

 

 

 

Disney Dream – Midship Detective Agency

Midship DetectivesIf you’re sailing on the Disney Dream (or Fantasy) and you want to explore the ship and have fun at the same time, you cannot beat the Midship Detective Agency for providing you with an amazingly cool way to see the beauty of the newest Disney Cruise Line ships while sharpening your sleuthing skills.  This activity is fun for the whole family…or two grownups even or one grownup and her semi-reluctant co-detective husband.  I loved this activity!  Raymond….well, he was supportive if a bit unenthusiastic.  There is quite a bit of detecting involved.  (Recommended for guests ages 9 and above.)

Disney Dream – Midship Detective Agency

The adventure begins at Headquarters where you start your self-guided adventure by picking up your badge and selecting the case you’d like to solve.  Midship Detective BadgeWe chose a crime involving the Muppets and some missing show props.  Clues are located all over the ship and, by using your badge to unlock them, you’ll gather the information needed to solve the crime.  Midship Detective Agency Muppet CrimeThis is not an activity for wimps!  Use your clue map to gather details related to the crime, take notes and carefully eliminate suspects from the list provided – Logic, cunning, and analytical thinking will all be involved in exposing the true culprit. Midship Detective Agency Clue MapMidship Detective DirectionsMidship Detective Agency - Walt PictureMidship Detective Agency Missing Items

We took the stairs in the beginning, but after a while, if the number of decks between us and the next clue was more than four, we’d take an elevator.  If we’d been on a cruise longer than four nights, we  probably would have attempted solving more than one mystery (I’m using “we” liberally here – I’d have been solo on any subsequent sleuthing to be honest, but that’s not important now, is it).  Midship Detective Agency Door Clues Midship Detective Agency Muppet Mystery Midship Detective Agency Crime NotesAll of our efforts (and believe me when I say this took a lot of effort) paid off and we were successful in solving the crime and nabbing our bad guy!  I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment.  Raymond felt like a beer.  We celebrated our victory over the forces of evil by toasting our brilliance at the Bon Voyage bar.Midship Detective Agency Gonzo Midship Detective Agency Clues

The Midship Detective Agency is a very cool interactive activity with some pretty amazing technology – I highly recommend it for great exercise, ship exploration, and good family fun!

Have you solved a crime on the Disney Dream or Fantasy?  What did you think of the experience?  Yea or Nay?

 

Disney Dream – Dinner at Remy

Remy-TableOne of the best things aboard a Disney Cruise is the opportunity to enjoy adults-only dining.  I am not ashamed to say – dining without children around is sometimes a rare treat on a Disney vacation…One we’re inclined to take full advantage of!  When sailing on the Magic and the Wonder, our choice for this was Palo – which we have loved every single time we’ve been there.  On the Dream, we had two choices for grown-up dining and opted to try them both.  Palo as a tried and true favorite and Remy as a new and highly anticipated experience – so much so, we booked both brunch and dinner.  For today, let’s just focus on one particular meal…

Disney Dream – Dinner at Remy

If you’re interested in a night out sans little ones, Remy is an excellent choice.  We were delighted with our meal, in fact, and I have only glowing, positive things to say about it.  So, in the manner I so often employ, let me give you FIVE good reasons to enjoy a dinner at Remy.Remy-chair

  1. The atmosphere – I’ll do my best to describe the setting, but Remy’s ambiance will need to be experienced in order to truly appreciate every detail.  The restaurant is named for the famous chef from Ratatouille and there is no shortage of Remy references and tributes throughout the dining room.  The  hostess, Maître D’, and servers are French and their pride in the restaurant and the service delivered is obvious from the moment of arrival until the final au revoir.  Remy-displayThe tables, chairs, lighting, windows…so much attention to detail is incredible.  There are even little padded footstools near each table in case a guest should need a place to set down a handbag.
  2. You like a culinary adventure – Remy boasts two world-class chefs – one French and one American – Chef Arnaud Lallement of L’Assiette Champenoise restaurant (two-Michelin-stars) located near Reims, France and Chef Scott Hunnel from Walt Disney World’s Victoria & Albert’s.  The two chefs present two different six-course meals and guests may choose one of those to enjoy OR meals can be built of separate, individual menu offerings.  Remy-menuI chose the six courses presented by Chef Hunnel and Raymond preferred to build his own meal from the a la carte menu options.  Both meals are accompanied by “surprises” (amuse-bouche) from the kitchen sent out by the chefs during the meal.  Remy-amuse-boucheOur first surprise was a tiny brown ball that looked rather like a small hush-puppy, but was instead a delicately wrapped “bite” of tomato soup!  The second offering was a foie gras foam with macadamia nuts topping a bit of salted caramel.  Remy-foie-gras-foamThis sounded so ridiculous, but was, in fact, absolutely wonderful.  The rest of the courses would take many hundreds of words more to describe (ask me if you have any questions), but included things like shrimp, duck, sablefish (personally my favorite part of this meal), Kobe steak, pork tenderloin, chicken, and more.  Dessert for both of us included a lot of chocolate.Remy-plate Remy-sablefish Remy-duck Remy-presentation Remy-dessert Remy-dessert2
  3. The exquisite service – Alexia was amazing!  Remy-AlexiaShe helped us through all our food selections (with her gorgeous French accent) and as our courses kept being presented and we gradually got fuller and fuller – we were confronted with a real dilemma – the cheese course.  Had this surprise on a cart arrived bearing anything other than cheese, we could have resisted, but it was full of CHEESE!  Remy-cheese-cartAlexia understood that we were quickly running out of intestinal real estate but wanted to taste all the cheeses, so she prepared tiny samples of 12 different cheeses with their dried fruits and honeycomb accompaniments for us to try.  Remy-cheesesShe placed the cheeses on the plate in a particular, circular order and explained their presentation from hard and mild to softer, to the most strongly flavored.  We were even presented with a list of the cheeses to take with us!  Remy-cheese-listIf you love cheese like we do, this alone was worth the price of admission (see #5).
  4. Romance – There’s a dress code at Remy.  There’s candlelight and lovely china and table linens.  We like dressing up from time to time and acting like mature human beings, plus, we enjoy each other’s company.  26 years of marriage is not something that happens by accident.  Remy was the perfect combination of delicious dining in a romantic setting – exactly right for spending the evening with your favorite person in the world.
  5. You have an extra $400 lying around.  The up-charge to dine at Remy is $85 per person.  If you don’t want to pay for water with your meal (there are a staggering number of pricy options), specify TAP WATER.  If you opt for the wine pairing offered with each course, add $105 per person.  We (having learned our lesson about wine-pairing-perils at Jiko) opted for a single bottle of wine – one of the more economical offerings – with help from the sommelier for $187.  Remy-wineOnce gratuity was added…well, we’d spent much more on this meal than we’d intended.  Was it worth it?  YES!  Raymond and I both gave this experience a resounding two thumbs up, but for sure it needs to be accurately budgeted!

What about you?  Have you dined at Remy?  What did you think about the experience?  If you’re planning a Disney cruise in the future, is this something you’d splurge on?

Disney Cruise Line – The Dream

Disney-Dream-Castaway-CayTwo adults, four nights on the Disney Dream…did we love it?  Yes, indeed!  Was it different from our previous cruises on the classic ships, the Magic and the Wonder?  Yes, quite a bit!  I was worried about the ship being too big and un-cozy.  We’ve always thought the size of the original two ships was perfect.  There was enough similarity on the Dream for us to feel the Disney-ness – we were definitely experiencing all the elements we love most about Disney Cruise Line – the stateroom size and layout, the rotational dining, the amazing service, character meet-n-greets, and those beloved Disney details, big and small, all around us.

Disney Cruise Line – The Dream

What does the Dream have that the Magic and Wonder don’t?  Well, THOSE differences struck us right away!  Besides being bigger and newer, here are the differences we loved the most:

  1. The Artwork – I noticed this immediately after we boarded the ship.  As we took the stairs up to our stateroom on deck 6, I fell in love with the pictures on the walls!  Every deck had different artwork and all of it was fantastic!  Disney-Dream-Art-Sketch Disney-Dream-Art-Silly-SymphoniesWalking around on the different decks, I felt like I was in an art gallery (and there IS an art gallery (The Vista Gallery) with art for sale on deck 4.  Disney-Dream-GalleryI noticed some of the pictures throughout the ship had a metal plate on the floor in front of them.  If I stood on the plate to look at the picture….well, magic happened!Disney-Dream-Interactive-Art
  2. The Interactive Elements – Some of the pictures on the wall come to life!  Because they’re all so different and unique, it’s worth taking yourself on a walking tour of the ship to see every single one.  If you’re going to do that, you might as well solve a mystery with the Midship Detective Agency while you’re at it!  Use the “art of deduction” to solve a crime and discover all the clever interactive pictures at the same time!  I loved this activity!!!Disney-Dream-Midship-Detective-Agency Disney-Dream-Minnie-Lisa
  3. Remy – Adults-only dining of the very fine variety!  We’ve always loved Palo on the Magic and Wonder, but could not wait to try brunch and dinner at Remy, which offered completely different and unique experiences.  Disney-Dream-Remy-AlexiaIf you can fit Remy into your schedule and are willing to pay the higher up-charge ($85 per person dinner, $55 per person brunch before any wine or champagne pairings), we think the luxury, service, and delicious, creative menu are not to be missed.
  4. Adults-Only Areas – They are roomier, fancier, and more comfortable than on the smaller ships.  Disney-Dream-Pool-DeckWe parked ourselves late one morning after a visit to the fitness center (also awesome) on a couple of lounge chairs for a little rest and relaxation; grabbed a couple of beers from the Cove Bar, then spent the next little while lulled by the sunshine and the quiet surroundings.Disney-Dream-Lounge-ChairWhen our idyllic little spot in paradise was rudely interrupted by our stomachs growling, we reluctantly headed inside to clean up for lunch.
  5. The Bon Voyage Bar – On the left side of Deck 3, across from Guest Services and on the way to the ship’s shopping area and Walt Disney Theater, there’s a bar.  Disney-Dream-Bon-Voyage-BarKind of right out in the middle of everything.  We found ourselves stopping there every afternoon for a cold beer or a glass of wine.  It was the perfect place for a beverage, we thought, for these two reasons:  Bartenders, Ryan and Flavio, were great! and the people-watching was primo.  Disney-Dream-Bartender-RyanWe talked with fellow bar patrons while watching other cruise guests, including pirates and princess, go by.  When I first saw the Bon Voyage, I thought, “What a weird and ridiculous place for a bar!” until we bellied-up and discovered the absolute charm of this gem of a spot in the middle of the action.

Have you sailed on the Dream?  What did you like best about this particular ship?  Are you thinking about sailing on Disney Cruise Line in the future?  Where do you think Disney’s ships should visit next?