Dining, Excursions, and Activity planning on the Disney Dream

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Before booking my cruise on the Disney Dream, I had heard about some of the excursions and activities, and toured the restaurants on the Disney Fantasy. But that didn’t really prepare me for the reality that when booking your cruise, you really do need to plan everything you’re going to do in advance. I was shocked to see how much was actually sold out when I started making my arrangements. 

As a first-time guest on Disney Cruise Lines you can start making your reservations 75 days in advance, unless you’ve booked a Concierge stateroom in categories 1 – 3, in which case you can start 120 days in advance. But who am I kidding, since I booked my entire trip 59 days in advance, that means I started right away!

If you are interested in going on any shore excursions, eating in either of the adult-only restaurants on board, going to the spa or fitness center, doing on-board activities, or sending your child to the nursery, you will want to reserve these as far in advance as possible.

First, typically you would choose your “seating” for dinner. Seatings are either around 6pm or 8pm. The earlier tends to fill up first, so my family was automatically assigned the second seating. I’m actually fine with that – my child is 12 and is looking forward to staying up late at the tween club. But I can see how that would be a real issue for families with small children. If you find yourself in this situation, you can avail yourself of a very cool thing that Disney does for younger kids. You can let your server know that your child would like to go to the Oceaneer’s Club after dinner. They’ll bring your child’s dinner very quickly, and then after a little while the Oceaneer’s counselors come to take the children up to the Club. They can play, while parents stay and have a more leisurely dinner. I know I would have LOVED that when my kiddo was young.

Shortly after you’ve booked your cruise you’ll receive a login for your personalized Planning Center on DisneyCruise.com. DO NOT LOSE THIS EMAIL! You’ll need this login. Jump right in to the Planning Center. It’s really helpful in showing you what’s available on each day of your cruise.

Disney Cruise Planning Center

Disney Cruise Planning Center

Click on My Cruise Activities. Here’s where you can see the excursions and activities available to you to book each day. Click Add Activity, and you’ll arrive at a screen that shows each day of your itinerary.

Daily Activity Planner Disney Dream

Daily Activity Planner

When you click “Add Activities” on one of the days, you’ll receive a menu of available types of activities – Port Adventures, Adult Dining, Spa & Fitness, On Board Fun, and Nursery. Clicking on any of these will give you the list of options. For instance, here’s what it looks like for “Port Adventures” on our Nassau, Bahamas day.

Port Adventures Nassau Bahamas Disney Dream

Port Adventures (not the complete list)

Choose the adventures that look fun and fit your budget, and reserve as soon as possible. Some do sell out.

If you’re interested in some adult dining time while on your vacation, there are two adults-only restaurants on the Disney Dream – Palo which is Northern Italian, and Remy, which is French. You can go ahead and book these reservations within your Planning Center, just as you would using an online dining reservation service like Open Table.

Dinner at Palo will cost $20 per person. You can check out the menu here. Dress at Palo is more formal than the “cruise casual” expected at the family restaurants on board. Remy will set you back $75 per person and is considerably dressier. Jackets

Remy Disney Fantasy

Remy

are required for men, but not ties. I’ve read on some websites that men wear tuxedos to Remy. Pretty sure I’m not talking my husband into that one. You can check out the menu here. I had a chance to visit Remy on the Disney Fantasy, and the room was gorgeous. I have no qualms spending money on food – it’s one of the highlights of vacation for me – so we booked a night at Remy.

Spa and fitness services work much the same way. You can peruse the spa menu, and choose any services that look appealing.

Spa menu Disney Dream

Spa menu (portion – not the complete list)

And what is in the “On Board Fun” section? Here you can book time for virtual reality Golf and Sports simulators. These were completely sold out by the time I booked my cruise. They’re limited, and apparently popular.

Options will vary of course based on your cruise destination. For example, if you’re stopping at Castaway Cay, your Port Adventures section will be where you can rent Cabanas or snorkel equipment in advance. (Cabanas sell out very, very quickly.)

Whew! Lots of thinking and planning online up front, and a little stress now, but presumably this will lead to everything being taken care of so that when you are on your vacation you don’t have to think. I’m really hoping that’s how it works, anyway!

Wondering what we planned? In Nassau we’ll be going on a Blue Lagoon Island Dolphin Encounter, because it’s a long-held dream of mine to interact with dolphins and I never have done it. We’re eating one night at Remy, and we rented snorkels at Castaway Cay. Otherwise, my plan is to sit by a pool with a fruity drink in my hand. No reservations required.

Next up – Travel Documents!

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Disney Fantasy Christening Gala – Part 2 The Food!

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Yes, there has been a ton of coverage of the Disney Fantasy Christening Celebration from March 1, 2012. It was a star-studded evening, and the Fantasy is an amazingly beautiful ship. In fact, you can read my coverage here, in Part 1.

But I haven’t seen much about the food. And that’s a shame, because the food was VERY good. And as any cruiser knows, half of the fun of cruising is eating. (At least, that’s what I’ve been told.)  So here you go – a recap of what we ate, and how it was.

First up, we had a variety of passed hors d’oeuvres at the cocktail reception. Sorry for the blurry pics – I was juggling my purse, camera and champagne, while attempting to tweet live on my iPhone and taste the food. I could have used another three hands.

The highlight for me of the cocktail reception was the venison. It was lovely and medium rare. I think I ate four or five…

Venison on root veg puree with berry gelee

Smoked salmon with cream cheese and caviar

Gazpacho

After the evening’s amazing entertainment (have you read Part 1?), we moved into the Royal Court restaurant for dinner. Royal Court is a lovely space, with decor inspired by Disney Princesses and their Princes. The place setting set the tone:

Royal Court Place Setting

Then the bread was delivered – warm herbed brioche, with olive spread. The spread was a little too mild for my taste, but the bread was very nice.

Herbed brioche with olive spread

Next up, a trio of appetizers.. The menu descriptions were: (1 from Animator’s Palate) Smoked Salmon Tartare, Capers, Onions, and Micro Greens topped with American Black Caviar (2 from Royal Court) Iced Lobster and Jumbo Shrimp, White and Green Asparagus, Micro Greens, and Lemon Dill Dressing with Horseradish Cream, and (3 from Enchanted Garden) Ahi Tuna and Avocado Tower with Crispy Noodles and Wasabi Dressing

Appetizer Trio

All three were very nicely done. I think my favorite was the lobster and shrimp, probably because I hadn’t had it already in the form of an hors d’oeuvre. Besides, I like how the asparagus is like a little arrow.

Moving on to the entrees, there was again a selection from three of the restaurants. Our table tried four of the five options – all but the vegan.

First, from Enchanted Garden, the Pan-Seared Sea Bass with a Mushroom Herb Risotto, sweet Onion Marmalade and garnished with a Potato Crisp.

Pan-Seared Sea Bass

The fish had a really nice seared crust, and the risotto was delicious. I’m not sure the textures were totally right together, and the risotto was a little thicker than I like, but that’s just splitting hairs.

I had the Crispy Roasted Duck Breast with braised Napa Cabbage, Potato Cake, and Pomegranate Jus from Animator’s Palate.

Crispy Duck from Animator's Palette

The duck was just fine, and I certainly ate it all! But it was a little overcooked, and just sort of boring. I loved the braised cabbage, though. Could have eaten a whole bowlful.

From Palo, one of the adult-only restaurants on the Fantasy (and the only one I didn’t get to tour), there was an Oregano and Parmesan Crusted Rack of Lamb with Sangiovese roasted Shallots, Olive Oil, baked Roma Tomatoes, Potato Torta and Herb Jus. My dining companion had this, and said it was absolutely delicious. Truth be told, I was sort of taking one for the team by ordering the duck, just to make sure we had a good selection of the food. But man, I really wanted this lamb.

Rack of Lamb from Palo

Finally, it wouldn’t be a cruise without surf and turf. It came in the form of the Royal Court Aged Angus Grilled Beef Tenderloin and Lobster Tail with sauteed Snow Peas and Marquis Potatoes with Cognac reduction. It looked divine, and my dining companions really enjoyed it.

Angus Beef Tenderloin and Lobster Tail

Moving on to dessert, again there were a trio from three restaurants. (1 from Animator’s Palate) Mini Lava Cake (2 from Royal Court) Tahitian Vanilla Creme Brulee and (3 from Enchanted Garden) Celebration Cake.

Dessert Trio

Frankly, this was the least-successful course. The two cakes were OK (but very boring), and the creme brulee was just not the right texture. The custard was not as soft as it should be, and the crust not as hard. It’s tough to do creme brulee properly at a large scale, particularly with such small cups. I don’t think they should have attempted it.

HOWEVER, here is where the Disney Fantasy service kicked in. Our table of Disney experts from Magic Carpet Travel Service asked our wonderful server if they had Mickey Bars. His answer? “Of course! How many would you like?” Oh, six please!

Disney service at its finest

The other tables were jealous. Mickey Bars suddenly began appearing at neighboring tables, to the delight of all.

Mickey Bars all in a row

So were we done eating? Nah. We headed to the Europa club district for the after-party, and found treats there as well. I hope these are still around for the regular cruise, and not just for the christening party. The salted caramel truffles were delish!

Treats at Europa

Chocolate dipped strawberries

Salted caramel truffle

I can’t wait to go back.