Started off the morning sleeping in a bit and going to breakfast around 8:30 at Everything Pop. After breakfast made a quick detour to get some Art of Animation Resort photos then back to the room to pack up and head out to meet our ride to the Cruise Terminal at 9:45am. Arrived at the port just before 11am and headed inside to check in and wait to board. Once onboard headed up to Cabanas for lunch and then stopped by the District to get some pictures before heading to Deck 5 to catch a tour of the ship. After the brief tour stopped by our Cabin to see it before going to explore the ship on a self guided tour. Visited the Oceaneers Lab, Club, Small World Nursery, and Vibe. Swung by the cabin again to pick up someone and then headed to the upper decks to tour. Walked through the sports area on Deck 13 and then across deck 12. Went up to the Edge and the Outlook then up to the front of the ship. Headed down to Deck 11 and walked through the Senses Spa area then back by the pools to the side of the side to check out Remmy and Palo. Headed back to the room to unpack and then up to Deck 12 for the Sailing Away party. After the party spent some time on the rail watching us head out to sea then headed down to Deck 2 and the Enchanted Garden for Dinner. Back up to Deck 4 for the tree lighting and did some shopping on Deck 3 before heading in to watch the 8:30 Golden Mickeys show. After the show walked through Deck 11 before heading back to the cabin to call it a night.
Thoughts & Observations:
- The Art of Animation Resort is moving right along, as you will see in the pictures. The first phases to open look to be Finding Nemo and Cars. Both are receiving details and finishing touches it appeared as they enter the final stretch of construction.
- After roaming the resort in the morning we headed out to the Port for a four day cruise on the Disney Dream. We opted for a Town Car vs the Disney Busses. Cost wise it was a little more expensive. The Disney Busses run approx $70 a person round trip and since we had three people in our group would have been $210 we ended up paying about $240 for the car but it allowed us to pick our times and have a grocery stop on the way back so we thought it was worth the extra money. Ride out to the Port was uneventful and easy.
- Once we arrived it was a quick and smooth process to drop our luggage, go through security,and check in. We arrived at the terminal just before 11am. It was less than 15 minutes from the time we got dropped off till I was done checking in and roaming the terminal building taking pictures. Curious if the process is that smooth all day or if it was because of the time we arrived or if we were just lucky.
- We were in boarding group 5 and were called to board about 11:40ish so I really did not have that much time to explore the terminal but felt I had enough to get a flavor for it. The lighting was a challenge, as you will see in the pictures. There were some Christmas decorations scattered about too.
- Once on board decided to head for lunch before the masses arrived. The only place open initial was Cabanas so we headed up to Deck 11 to check out the Food Court (I would have called it a buffet, but they call it a food court). I guess this is a good time to preface all my food comments. I am not a big food person. I have very very basic tastes. For example I am the type of person that goes to Yachtsman. Orders the filet well done with the sauce on the side and fries with no season. To drink a Coke. If on a meal plan with dessert a scoop of vanilla ice cream (no toppings and only want it if its regular ice cream). So theme park food of burgers, hot dogs, and chicken agree with me. With that disclaimer out of the way time to move back to lunch at Cabanas. There was a decent array of choices that you would expect on a cruise. I ended up with turkey (which would have been much better had it been hot vs bordering on cool). Everyone enjoyed the meal and the view out the windows was nice. Cabanas is located on Deck 11 Aft so you look over the back of the ship and there was plenty of indoor and out door seating available. We found it funny how very few guests were listening to the cast members. They said you do not have to line up, you can go to any station any time but they still tended to form a line at the ends.
- After lunch I had some time to kill till the first ship tour which was scheduled for 1:00pm so I did a little exploring and ended up in the District. Sort of by accident. The one thing that amazed me was how open the ship was. You were free to roam and take pictures in the guest areas pretty much any time you wanted. I never had a cast member say no to me or ask why I was there. I actually had several say to come back when people are not around or they would point out details to take pictures of. This was great for a geek like me!
- Made my way to the Port Adventures Desk on Deck 5, Midship and waited for the 1pm tour. I was a little disappointed with the tour. First it was only about 20 minutes long and it was really a simple orientation of the ships main dining areas and entertainment venues. There was no detail or substance to it. It was really a surface level tour. The guides were accessible and willing to answer questions but they just did not take us anyplace interesting or go into any real details beyond the function of the space. I guess this was aimed at an audience wanting to know where some things were vs one wanting to learn about the ship. It was confined to the spaces on Deck 5 and then down to Deck 3.
- Since the tour was so short we headed back toward the room. The rooms were to be available at 1:30 and we found that to be true. They kept the ropes up till 1:30 then opened the cabin hallways. Our bags were outside our room and waiting for us when we arrived there. My first impression of the cabin was positive. I thought it was decent size and really liked the two bathroom areas. As with all cruise ships it is a tight space but I thought it was well laid out and no real problems jumped out to me on my initial moments in the space. I was only there for 10 minutes or so. Just long enough to move the bags in, drop the carryons, then it was off to get pictures.
- All of the children/youth spaces were in an open house mode all afternoon. So I took this opportunity to visit them all and get pictures. Once their official activities started they would be off limits except for the appropriate children and their parents (which would exclude me since no children were in our traveling party). There are five different spaces divided up by age group. The spaces encompass a good portion of Deck 5. You cannot help but to be impressed by the amount of space and attention to detail given to each of these areas. Ranging from the scale, the ceilings are actually lower in these spaces to the Disney character infusion. Also it being the holiday season all had their own Christmas decorations.
- It's a Small World Nursery! - This is a reservation only space for infants and toddlers (three months to three years old). The decor is Small World/Mary Blair inspired. I thought the space was laid out a bit awkward with the small lobby then hallway to the main room in the back, but I guess it makes sense to have the Nursery toward the middle, probably more quiet area.
- Oceaneer Club - For ages 3 to 10 this space has several distinct areas to play and interact in. Pixie Hollow, Andy's Room, Monsters Academy, and Explorer Pod. I thought this was the most interesting of the spaces to explore. The themed rooms were well done and the detail was great. Luckily when I went through there were very few people around so I was able to get pictures with no problem.
- Oceaneer Lab - Connected to the club and targeted at the same ages this space has a Media Room, Animator's Studio, Wheelhouse, Sound and Craft Studios. This space seemed geared to the slightly older end of the spectrum with less emphasis on the Disney/Pixar characters and more on the activities themselves. Technology reins in all the areas but here there was an abundance of computers and screens to interact with.
- Edge - located on Deck 13 in the forward funnel this space is for tweens ages 11-13. I thought this was a very awkward space and was the smallest of all the areas. It is targeted at an awkward age group stuck right in the middle so having their own space in a unique location seems to make perfect sense to me.
- Vibe - located on Deck 5 forward, this space is for 14-17 year old. It includes a club space, rooms, as well as a sun deck in the very front of the ship. This was a fairly extensive series of spaces with more of a night club feel to it. The outside deck has a great location and it was fun to look back and up at the front of the ship.
- Not to be left out the Adult Spaces (18+)include the Senses Spa and Salon, which I also toured. This was a good size area on Deck 11 forward. There was also an adults only area around the Cove Pool and up on Deck 13 around the Currents Bar. Both had signs but I saw no active presence to keep families out. The night club area also became adults only after a certain time each evening when the clubs really picked up for the night.
- The one age group that there was no designated space for would be the older set. I joked with several that there was no place to check in your senior citizens or ways to track and claim them. I guess the closest would be the Bingo in the D-Lounge??
- I was able to walk through most of the ship before the lifeboat drill and on a first impression the ship is impressive. I did find some odd design choices and accessibility is weird in some spots. Such as hallways that do not go anywhere or elevators that do not go to the floor you want. Or no way to get where you want without going up a deck over then back down a deck. Or one that really seemed odd was if you took the aft elevators up to deck 11 to access the pool area you had to walk through Cabanas. There was no other way to access the area.
- We headed up on deck after the lifeboat drill for the Sailing Away Deck Party. This was a typical Disney Production featuring dancing, characters, as well as plenty of music and energy. After the party we headed to the front of the ship to watch us head out of port.
- As we headed out to sea it was time to go downstairs for dinner. For those who are not familiar with Disney Cruise Line, dinner is done on a rotational basis. So your dining team follows you each night to a one of three restaurants. There are two seatings a 5:45 first and 8:15 second. We were in the first seating. Our first night was at the Enchanted Garden, located on Deck 2 Midship. The menu was described as Continental Market Cuisine. I ended up with a decent sirloin steak.
- After dinner attended the King Triton's Tree Lighting Decree in the Lobby Atrium on Deck 3, Midship (I watched from Deck 4). I thought this was a nice, brief ceremony to light the tree and atrium. I found it kind of surprising they only did this on the first night of the cruise. Nothing on subsequent days. I almost did not go the first night figuring I would catch it later but glad I did not!
- The show in the Walt Disney Theater this evening was the Golden Mickey's. This stage production is on par with anything you have seen in the parks. I thought it included a great mix of films from the classics to Pixar to some smaller ones such as Hunchback and Tarzan as well as the Fab 5.
- This evening the ship was rocking quite a bit. The TV channel that had information on our heading, etc.. said there was a 51mph wind hitting the ship. This plus the gulf current (think that is what it was called) made for a rocky night. I saw many guests where were having some sea sickness issues. Luckily it did not really effect me, except making it tricky to get pictures since we were moving so much.
Pedometer Information for the day:
Walking Time 62
with the text.. onto the pictures