Anchors Aweigh, Mickey

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Posted by Cheryl-Anne Millsap on May 11, 2018, 6 a.m.

After weeks of snow and icy streets, tired of gray skies and a monochromatic view through the window, we were chasing some fun in the sun and a big dose of Disney magic.

Our schedule was tight; we had less than a week to get away before school started again, but we stepped off the plane in the warm Florida air – pale and winter weary – knowing a night at Disney World and four nights cruising the warm Caribbean on the Disney Dream was just the cure for our annual winter blues.

Disney Cruise

Our flight from Spokane to Orlando landed in the afternoon and after a short wait we boarded the shuttle bus to Disney World. We wouldn’t have a lot of time in the park before it closed, so we had been excited to find out the park was holding a special afterhours event that night, which meant we could purchase an extra ticket that would let us ride and play into the wee hours.

It was fantastic. With the crowds gone, short lines (sometimes no line at all) at the most popular rides and attractions and special free treats at vendors around the park, we enjoyed having the park to ourselves the night before our cruise began.

Tired but happy, we were back in our room at the Animal Kingdom Lodge by 2 a.m. and we slept a few hours before breakfast. Then we boarded the bus that would take us to the cruise terminal at Port Canaveral. By mid-afternoon, we were on board the Disney Dream and ready to take our vacation to a new level. For the next three days our time was spent soaking up the sun, relaxing and spending time together as a family.

Here are the highlights of our short winter Disney cruise getaway:

Aboard the Disney Dream

Since we were looking for complete rest and relaxation in the sunshine we were so desperately missing in the Northwest, we selected the cruise on the Disney Dream, which had only one port of call: Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island. After the ship’s departure we spent our first afternoon at sea exploring the decks (Job one: find the soft serve ice cream machine).

We ate at the Animator’s Palate that night, where all of the tools of an animator’s studio surround you and images of beloved Disney characters decorate the walls, giving diners an interactive peek at an illustrator’s work. After our meal we had our choice of entertainment and opted for a live show in the theater, followed by more ice cream and classic Disney movies in our stateroom.

The next morning the ship, pulled up at Castaway Cay and we grabbed our sunscreen, paperbacks and assorted beach gear for a day ashore.

With designated areas for both families and adults, Castaway Cay is perfectly designed for a day of fun with or without kids. In the morning, we lounged on beach chairs while our teenage daughter snorkeled near the shore. After lunch, we returned to our lounges and whiled away the afternoon reading as she kayaked.

Girl snorkeling with tropical fish

A Place for Everyone

Disney Cruise ships aren’t just built for kids. In addition to the child care centers and dedicated play places, there are plenty of places grownups can call their own.

From glasses of bubbly at Pink: Wine and Champagne Bar to after-hours fun at Pub 687 to the nautical-themed Meridian Bar, it’s easy to fi nd a place to make a special toast or a quiet conversation over drinks. Or indulge in a gourmet experience at Remy, the Disney Dream’s premium restaurant. The seasonally inspired tasting menu is one of the fi nest dining experiences at sea.

A Play Day at Sea

The third day of our cruise was spent making our way back to Port Canaveral. The weather was fi ne and we spent most of the day basking in warm sunlight. We took multiple rides through the water-fi lled Aqua Duck tubes that circle the upper deck. The waterslide is fun for all ages and is worth the queue to hitch a ride.

The next morning the departure was fl awless and once again we were on the bus back to the airport. We caught our mid-day fl ight and were back home not much later than the usual bedtime. We’d done exactly what we set out to do in the limited time available. We’d managed to work in a long evening at Walt Disney World and enjoyed three days on one of the most beautiful ships at sea.