I’m typing this month’s post from the Orlando airport having just gotten off my first ever Disney Cruise Line Very Merrytime Cruise! It was also the first Very Merrytime cruise of the season for the beautiful Disney Dream! We were on back to back cruises and our first cruise was not a Merrytime cruise, so we got to witness the transformation of the ship which happens in very short time!
We don’t typically take cruises shorter than 7 nights, however I was participating in the Wine and Dine Half Marathon this month, so a 7 night on the Fantasy didn’t work with our schedule since the race was on a Sunday and the Fantasy leaves on Saturdays. As I started looking into cruise options more, and saw that if we did back to back not only would we get 7 nights, but our final 3 nights would be a Christmas cruise – didn’t take much convincing to get mom on board!
When we boarded for our first cruise the only sign of Christmas was the atrium gingerbread house, construction was in process, the smell was heavenly, but it was blocked off so you could not really see it. When we disembarked at 9:15am Friday from our first cruise, the only change was the gingerbread house was complete and the barriers were down. We had to clear the ship, go through customs, and then wait about 20 minutes until we could check back in for our second cruise. About 10:20am we were allowed back onboard. What a sight! The cast members had on white and red striped hats and scarves, and there was pieces of evergreen all over the atrium floor! We figured out quickly it was the Christmas tree – the pole was up and just the topper was on, and the mess of evergreen on the floor was the additional pieces of the tree waiting to be installed. All around the railings on decks 4 and 5 in the atrium were big busy evergreen garland strings waiting to be hung.
We headed up to Cove Cafe, the only venue open for us back to back cruisers to enjoy some complimentary tea, coffee, and snacks. We noticed immediately 3 Christmas trees added to Cove cafe. Around noon we headed back to the atrium to check on the progress and wouldn’t you know, Christmas tree was done and garlands were hung! It was beautiful!
We noticed various holiday bushes, wreaths, and other arrangements hung all over the ship and assorted poinsettias set out. We were told a special crew comes on board to decorate to help get it done so quickly. We also noticed that the decorations, aside from the tree which needs assembling, are all ready to go and just be set into place – we saw a group of them on the dock waiting to be brought onboard during our turnaround.
Event wise, I was surprised by how few Christmas things were actually going on. We have previously done Halloween on the High Seas and there were many many events offered during that cruise. I wonder if the issue was our holiday cruise was only a 3 night cruise. We’ve never done a 3 night cruise before and were surprised at how few activities were organized in general.
As far as holiday activities a few things we were offered:
- Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony – Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Pluto came out to sing, dance, and help a selected family light the Christmas tree. This happened the first night between the two dinner seatings. Beautiful as the decorations were before the Lighting Ceremony, they were really spectacular once everything was in full swing.
- WinterWonderland Ball – Late the first night the characters came out in the atrium for a dance party.
- Meet and Greet with Santa Clause – we missed this one so didn’t see how crowded it was.
- Story time with Mrs Clause – I popped by to see Mrs Clause sitting by the three and children all over the atrium floor listening as she receited some Christmas stories.
- Deck the Deck party – Bascially Cruise staff playing some games like limbo on the Deck 11 stage with children from the cruise – games that seemed to drag on a long time. We didn’t stay very long.
- Gingerbread Making – the navigator this was available with a special sign up. We did not sign up so not sure if there was a fee or not, but we did spot one lonely gingerbread house sitting on the bar off the lobby as we were leaving so it appears you got to take your gingerbread house home. I suspected as much, which is why we didn’t look into it because no way would I be able to fly it home. No doubt this is why we saw the lonely house on its own.
- Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas and Muppet Christmas Carol played on Funnel Vision
As mentioned, this is really all we saw offered to differentiate this cruise from others. The Tree Lighting was cute, the assorted decorations all over the ship were a nice touch. However that was about as Very Merrytime as we got! Would we do it again? Of course, its a Disney Cruise! However we wouldn’t do another 3 night cruise. We found the guests troublesome, but adults and children alike. And the ship was full of first timers who were constantly lost and confused all cruise. I know many people like 3 nights to see how they like cruising, but comparing this cruise, and what was offered to our others, I just don’t think a 3 night is a good representation of a proper cruise experience!