DON'T BOOK A DISNEY CRUISE WITHOUT READING THIS!
Interview with Cody Harlow
A cruise is a delightful way to relax and reconnect with the people you love. There is something so restful yet exciting about gliding across the open sea and dropping anchor in some of the world's most beautiful and interesting ports. A Disney cruise ratchets the typical experience up a notch with its unique and elegant touches and that extra sprinkle of pixie dust for which Disney is known.
With so much having changed in the cruise industry during the COVID pandemic, you may be wondering if the magic is still there. Our Castle Coach Cody just sailed aboard Disney Dream and he has generously offered his time to share with us just how magical his experience was.
CCT: Hi Cody, thanks for visiting with us today. Can you start by telling us which ship and itinerary you recently traveled?
Cody: Thanks for having me, I sailed on the beautiful Disney Dream on the 4 Night Bahamian itinerary departing from Port Canaveral.
CCT: We've all heard about what went missing during COVID and we'd love for you to fill us in on what is back and better than ever! Please tell me that Theme Night's are back (aargh...)
Cody: Pirate Night is back along with the deck party and fireworks. The show for the deck party has changed somewhat though. We still have the fun show that teaches us the 5 most important things of being a pirate, but Jack Sparrow was missing. The entertainment now features a cast of pirates singing some pirate shanties before leading into some amazing fireworks at sea.
CCT: What about deck parties and movie nights? We have wonderful memories of curling up on the deck chairs under the stars and enjoying a great Disney film together.
Cody: Yes, the deck parties are back, and the movies are running all day long! The schedule can be found easily on your Navigator app so that you know exactly which movie will be playing for that night's feature under the stars.
Also, the Buena Vista theater is running all day long, too! On three different sailings, I've been so lucky to have watched brand new Marvel movies a day before they were released worldwide. Doctor Strange, Avengers: Endgame, and now Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness have all been featured on cruises I've sailed before their actual theatrical release dates. And all of it is included in the price of your cruise. DCL really makes you feel like you're being treated to something special with these advance screenings. And the kids have some bragging rights when they get home.
CCT: When my kids cruise, one of the highlights is the time they spend away from us in the awesome Kid's Clubs. Upon the return of cruises, you had to have a reservation for the Oceaneer Club and time was limited per day. Has that changed? If so, how? those returned and what did your kids think of the experience?
Cody: Kids Clubs are back in full force and reservations are no longer needed too! FYI, those under five and not eligible to be vaccinated must wear a mask when inside both Disney's Oceaneer Club and Disney's Oceaneer Lab. My child was too busy playing in Nemo's Reef on Deck 11 to want to go to the kids club, but we did take the tour on the first night to let her see all of the amazing extra activities the Kids Club offered for them. On the Disney Dream, kids can enjoy Andy’s Room, Disney Infinity Game Room, Pixie Hollow and Star Wars: Millennium Falcon. There is so much more though! For those unfamiliar, children must meet the age requirement (3 to 12 years of age) and be fully toilet-trained to attend Disney's Oceaneer Club and Disney's Oceaneer Lab. Also, while it hasn't been officially announced yet or updated on the official Disney Cruise Line website, “it’s a small world” nursery!” is back open on some ships. It was on the Dream. This is great for those traveling with littles under three so mom and dad can get some R&R or enjoy the many adult only offerings. For the time being, you would inquire onboard to book.
CCT: How about character greetings? Who did you visit with? Are "warm hugs" back (please, please, please)?
Cody: Unfortunately, hugs are not back yet like they are in the theme parks. However, there are many socially distanced character interactions throughout the mornings, afternoons, and evenings. My daughter was so excited to see all the Princesses and Fab 5 characters in their different outfits each night. Every evening was filled with magical character moments.
CCT: What are the mask and safety protocols at sea? What about in the ports you visited?
Cody: For our sailing, masks were only required at the terminal during embarkation and debarkation for all guests, and in the kids area for all non-vaccinated eligible guests.
CCT: There's so much to see and do on a Disney Cruise, it’s easy to miss out on important features. Even if our guests think they know all about the ship and onboard activities, you can still return home without ever knowing about secret sundecks, unannounced character greetings, special onboard tours and events and unexplored shore excursions. Fill us in.
Cody: So many of the cool onboard activities are also completely free. There are a couple of "Anyone can cook" activities where you will gather in a room and they will show you how anyone can make something like a lobster ravioli. There are also some tours you can partake in that will show you some of minor and major details that immerse you into the environment and will also give you a glimpse into the Palo and Remy restaurants. Something that is more common knowledge, but also free for the running fan, is the Castaway Cay 5k. While it's not officially back yet as a full event, guests can still sign up for and run the 5k course, then go claim their medal to show off their personal victory.
CCT: Everyone knows that dining aboard a Disney cruise is exceptional. Tell us everything you can (and we will try not to drool all over the keyboard.)
Cody: I always tell people when going on a cruise that if they don't gain at least 5 lbs then they didn't do it right. Every morning, we visited Cabanas for breakfast. The full buffet is back with such an enormous assortment of food you could eat for days without repeating a meal.
For lunch we mostly went back to Cabanas for the huge buffet, or we would go to Flo's Cafe which features 3 different window options: Luigi's Pizza which has, you guessed it pizza; Tow Mater's Grill where you can find burgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches or tenders, plant based burgers, and a daily special burger.; and Fillmore's Favorites ,which features a great variety of roll ups, sandwiches, wraps, paninis, salads, and fresh fruit.
Dinners were very special and creative in both the environments and cuisine. On our first night we dined in the Enchanted Garden, which is inspired by the French gardens of Versailles. During the next 2 nights we dined in the Royal Court, and then during our last night we enjoyed dinner in the spectacular Animator's Palate where we got to interact with Crush from Finding Nemo. All have elaborate decor that makes these magical and whimsical spaces seemingly come to life.
Also, one of the must have treats everyday is the free soft serve ice cream. I make sure to have a couple cones, because after all, calories don't count on vacation.
Unfortunately we missed out on Remy this trip. There are just too many choices for great food on a Disney Cruise! ( *Remy is an adult-exclusive restaurant that serves fine French cuisine that's specially crafted by Chef Scott Hunnel, from Victoria & Albert's at Grand Floridian in Walt Disney World.)
CCT: Hard ball question now...what was your favorite experience on your cruise?
Cody: Without a doubt my favorite experience was and is always the theatrical, full scale broadway style productions every evening in the Walt Disney Theater. For our sailing, we had the pleasure to watch Disney's Believe, The Golden Mickeys, and Beauty and the Beast, which was absolutely amazing.
CCT: Can you give us the scoop on Castaway Cay, Disney's private island? What is a day at Castaway Cay like?
Cody: Castaway Cay is such a great destination. It is a tropical paradise where the only people on the beautiful island are guests and crew members from your ship. There are two family beaches and one adults only beach. You relax and unwind on the beautiful beaches. From here you can swim out to the platform with the water slides, rent some snorkeling gear, or just relax by the water or in the shade in a hammock. Lunch is included and features wonderful barbecue from either Cookies or Cookie, Too. They both serve the same foods, they're just conveniently located close to each of the family beaches.
Something I experienced for the first time on the island was snorkeling. The rental cost is $34 per adult and $18 for children ages 5-9. This was a really fun experience and well worth the small added expense. It can involve a lot of swimming so I do recommend being a confident and skilled swimmer to get the full experience because you do need to swim pretty far out to see some of the underwater structures. The structures are marked on the surface of the water with either a black or orange buoy. The black buoys will mark an underwater structure that will act as a reef for fish and the orange buoys mark a Disney structure. The Disney structures included statues of Minnie Mouse, Mickey Mouse, Daisy Duck, and my personal favorite, the Dumbo ride vehicle from the Disney Parks.
Another great offering is Scuttle's Cove, which is the youth club on the island. Kids can find a water play area and a giant sandy excavation site to explore. The youth counselors also host games and events there throughout the day. This gives adults the chance to check out the adults only Serenity Bay beach. It's gorgeous and very peaceful. This beach has a great lunch spot here as well, Serenity Bay BBQ, that serves some of the best food on Castaway Cay.
CCT: You got tons of amazing photos onboard, thanks for sharing them with us. Did you purchase a package?
Cody: Yes, we purchased the unlimited digital package. This allowed us to take all the pictures we could, and then not have to choose which ones we want at the end of the trip. Some of the packages you can purchase only allow you to pick your 10 favorite photos, and we could never narrow it down to only 10. I definitely recommend adding this package on before your cruise, because the price increases when you’re onboard. Anytime you want to look at your pictures, you just go to the 4th deck and there are a lot of monitors to use. With the photo packages, you get a special code and a link, the link is available to login to for 45 days after your cruise is over to download your pictures to your phone and computers.
CCT: You've shared so much great information with us. Thank you! Can you take a minute to share with us anything else about your cruise that you think would be of interest?
Cody: Disney has really worked with Safe Passage to make the COVID testing process so easy and as stress free as possible. before arriving, I was nervous about the pre-boarding testing process. I had read about the procedures, but really didn't feel prepared as to what to expect. When we first pulled in during our port arrival time, we were directed to the luggage drop-off area. After dropping our luggage we were pointed towards the parking garage where we did our pre-boarding covid testing. They have you pull into a parking spot, then an individual comes to your window and talks to you about the process. They then proceed to give you the swabs, and you personally swab each nostril 10 times before placing the swab in a tube. I was allowed to exit the vehicle to walk to my 3 year old daughters window to help with swabbing her. Then we waited maybe about 15 minutes until we got our emails that we were cleared to sail. It was that simple and so worth the fun we had on our "dream" Dream vacation!!
Policies and testing requirement are constantly changing right now, which is why more than ever, it is so important to have an agent specializing in Disney Destinations on your side. Just the other day, it was announced that all fully vaccinated guests on sailings departing U.S. and Canadian ports must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result (paid for by the Guest) taken no more than 2 days before their sail date. Test Results for all guests must be then be uploaded into the Safe Passage website by midnight prior to embarkation day. Guests who are not vaccine-eligible because of age (ages 4 and under) must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result (paid for by the Guest) taken no more than 3 days before their sail date. Those guests are also required to take a second COVID-19 test (paid for by Disney Cruise Line and administered by Inspire Diagnostics) at the terminal before boarding.
All the policies in place make you feel extremely safe and are so worth it. We can't wait to cruise with Disney again!
Reach out to Cody today to book your next DREAM vacation! firstname.lastname@example.org