This trip had been a long time in the making, but we finally convinced Grandma Jean and Papa Don to take a Disney Cruise with the whole family. For those of you following along on Hayesvision you know that we absolutely love cruising. I owe this relatively new found love to Emily because if it wasn’t for her, I am not sure I would have ventured out on the high seas. A couple months prior to our embarkation date, we called my parents and sister to see what the likelihood of us all going on a fall cruise would be. After some consultation on their part, they agreed, and the planning was underway.
Fast forward a couple months and the gang was all arriving in Orlando. I was able to work from home so I could head over to the airport on Thursday, pick up the 15 passenger van, and chauffeur them to their hotel. Although they rented nearby hotel rooms, we spent the evening at our house enjoying pizza, swimming, and conversation. The kids had a blast running around the house and splashing in the hot tub. It was clear that everyone was excited for the three night Halloween on the High Seas cruise on the Disney Dream that departed the next day.
Disney Dream Halloween on the High Seas Cruise – Day One
We awoke on Friday and agreed to meet at our house prior to departure. With the luggage and people that we had, the 15 passenger van was not enough to get us all to the port, so Emily, Sara, Patrick, and I drove in our car, while Grandma and Papa took the kids in the van. After some breakfast cinnamon rolls and cereal, we were ready to hit the road for our 45 minute drive to the Port. After the quick drive and a spin through the luggage drop off area, we had finally arrived.
As is normally the case, we arrived at the port plenty early so that we could get checked in and get some fun photos around the Disney port. The kids were eager to get on the ship and Hunter was super excited to show his cousins all of his favorite spots. We did get a chance to meet Minnie Mouse and get a few pictures, so the timing worked out well. It was finally our turn to board as we wove our way through the stanchions and onto the ship. As we boarded they called out, “Please welcome the Hayes and Toney families!” We had truly arrived!
The ship was decked out for the Halloween season with a pumpkin tree in the atrium and pumpkin face stickers on all of the deck 3 port windows. We took some time to admire the atrium and then navigated to the aft of the ship to take the elevator up to deck 11 to enjoy our first Cabanas lunch. It is fun experiencing the cruise with people who have never been on it before because it reminds you of all of the things you love about the cruise. The lunch buffet was truly impressive with countless delicious options to choose from. It was safe to say that our new travelers were quite impressed with the offerings. We stuffed our faces and finished it off with a huge plate of chocolate chip cookies for the table to share.
After lunch we explored the ship as we worked our way down to the Oceaneer Club to check out the new offerings on the Disney Dream as well as get the kids signed up. This was our first cruise on the Disney Dream since it went through its recent dry dock updates so there were some new features to the ship since we last sailed. Two of the updates that we were most excited to check out were the Star Wars and Disney Infinity updates in the Oceaneer Club. Since it was still boarding time, the Oceaneer Club had an open house so that the adults could explore as well. The kids were beside themselves when we entered to see a complete Star Wars room with the cockpit from the Millennium Falcon (see the video at the beginning of the post for more highlights). There was also a full room dedicated to Disney Infinity with all of the characters you can imagine. We took the family through the rest of the club, got the kids signed up for their access for the remainder of the cruise, and then continued our exploration.
After our tour of the Oceaneer Club, the rooms had been cleared so we made our way to deck 9 to check out our rooms, drop off our carry on bags, and get settled in a bit. We were lucky to have four rooms right next to each other, each set of which had a door between them, which made visitation much easier. We unpacked a few things while the boys watched some Disney cartoons. Emily decided to bring some props for a stateroom selfie setup which we prepared and took some fun photos.
After getting settled it was time for the Hunter’s favorite (just kidding) part of the cruise, the boat drill. I think this dates back to his first cruise where he still harbors bad memories from the loud alarm and whistle sound that they play. He tends to be a bit of a stress case until the boat drill is officially completed. We crammed like sardines outside on the deck 4 aft, listening to instructions of what to do in the event the ship sinks. Comforting thought as you are about to set sail but a necessary one at that.
Once the drill was complete it was party time! The best way to kick off any Disney Cruise is to head up to deck 11 and enjoy the sail away party, which we gladly did. We danced along with Mickey and friends as we watched Port Canaveral glide past the ship until it was a distant memory. We were on our way to Nassau!
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the ship and getting our first game of Midship Detectives in. There were so many things we were excited to show them around the ship that we thought the Midship Detectives game would be a great way to have fun and check out the sights. The kids had fun exploring the massive resort on water.
Since we had the late dinner seating, we all agreed to get ready a little early so that we could head down to Deck 3 atrium to watch the Halloween show centered around the pumpkin tree. We really enjoyed the little Halloween touches we saw throughout the day as we explored the ship, and the show was just another touch to make this cruise unique. That said, the storyline was a bit slow and drawn out, sparking my curiosity if there was a way I might be able to hang myself from that very pumpkin tree. I guess that would have been bad show.
After the show we danced around a bit to the musicians that were playing in the atrium before it was time for us to head to our dinner seating at Enchanted Garden on Deck 2. Just before dinner, Hunter indicated that the windy conditions were causing him a bit of motion sickness, so I took Hunter back to the room and Emily and Sawyer went to dinner with the rest of the fam. I don’t have many details to share about the Enchanted Garden but the chicken tenders from deck 11 were mighty tasty.
After dinner Emily and Sawyer returned to the staterooms excited for a restful night’s sleep on the Atlantic. We continued with our nighttime cruise tradition of ordering a cheese plate, warm chocolate chip cookies and milk for the perfect before bedtime snack. Unfortunately for Hunter, as you can see in the photo above, he slept right through it.
Disney Dream Halloween on the High Seas Cruise – Day Two
We awoke to a windy, overcast morning as we pulled into the port of Nassau. After a rough evening at sea, everyone was excited that the ship would be tied up for the better part of the day. We took the kids up to Cabanas to get some breakfast, and a breakfast snack to hold Emily and I over until our next meal, Palo brunch! The kids were chomping at the bit to get to the Oceaneer Club so they could explore the Star Wars and Disney Infinity areas that we had briefly seen the prior day. The adults had reservations for Palo for brunch but because Patrick Toney wasn’t feeling well, Sara decided to stay back and have some one on one time with her oldest, Aidan, who was too old for the smaller kids’ club. This meant that it would just be my parents and Emily and I.
For as many cruises as we have been on, we have never partaken in the Palo brunch offering. We have eaten at Palo for dinner on a number of occasions, and swear by the experience, but we have never eaten there in daylight. A few of my coworkers mentioned that it was something that we had to try so we took the opportunity. Words cannot describe how amazing this dining experience was. A…may…zing. Not only did they have a buffet that was completely out of this world, they also had a good sized menu that they encouraged you to order off of as well. All of the food was delicious and the service was top notch.
After rolling ourselves out of Palo, we made our way down to deck 5 to peel the kids away from the Oceaneer Club so that we could get our suits on and head up to deck 11 for some outdoor fun. Although the conditions were a bit windy there were still plenty of things to do. We got the kids some food at the quick serve location on deck 11 and then they hit the pool and Mickey slide for a bit. After getting their fill of water, we headed up to deck 13 aft for a round of Goofy’s Mini Golf. Hard to complain when your mini golf backdrop is the Atlantis Resort at Nassau, Bahamas. We finished up our round of golf, played some basketball and foosball, then headed back to the pool for one more quick dip before returning to our staterooms. Since the rains came during the swim the kids had the pool to themselves because we were the only Guests desperate enough to swim in the rain!
We were excited for the nighttime festivities because they had trick-or-treating in the atrium on decks 3 and 4, and Emily was stoked to get the boys dressed up in their costumes. Because of their newfound love of Back to the Future, the decided to be Doc and Marty for Halloween! Props to Emily for putting together the perfect costumes for them! Their cousins Ryan and Abby dressed up as well, getting into the holiday spirit! The event was packed with Guests, many of them dressed up, as we made our way around to the different stations to fill up our candy bags. We captured a few fun photos of the boys in their getups before returning to the room to change for dinner.
Lucky for me, Hunter and I were both feeling well enough to attend the family dinner at Royal Palace on deck 3. This was my first chance to meet the wait staff who were absolutely brilliant! They were so great with the kids, keeping them occupied with magic tricks while the adults got to enjoy their meal. There were Halloween themed drinks (are those eyeballs?) and desserts which made the dinner even more fun and festive. After dinner we retired to our rooms, excited for Castaway Cay on our third and final day on the cruise.
Disney Dream Halloween on the High Seas Cruise – Day Three
Day three of the cruise blessed us with some beautiful weather as the ship pulled into the breathtaking Castaway Cay island. Because this was a three day cruise, and we enjoyed brunch at Palo the previous day, this was our first, and last, real opportunity to enjoy the splendor of the Cabanas breakfast buffet. We all savored the opportunity to devour the smorgasbord of goodness before heading onto the island.
Castaway Cay provide beautiful weather and picturesque backdrop for our final day of the cruise. We agreed to take the tram to the beach area near the Pelican Plunge, which was our first activity of the day. Although the water was a bit chilly, we braved the conditions and swam out to the water area and slide located about 200 feet off shore. Luckily they provide swim vests for those not comfortable swimming where your feet don’t touch (Emily included). They have two slides, a super fast one and a more chill one. The group was divided which worked out pretty well. We captured a few videos of our slides in the compilation video at the beginning of this post.
After we had our fill of the water slides we headed back to shore, acquired our buckets and shovels, and began sand castle construction. We had all hands on deck so we were able to make a tiny fortress. It was nice having family around to take turns watching the kids, which provided a perfect getaway to grab a beach cocktail to enjoy (Emily’s been wanting to hit the Heads Up bar for the last few cruises, to no avail). We soaked up the sun and sand for most of the morning until stomachs started rumbling, indicating that it was time to head over to Cookies Too for some barbecue lunch.
Lunch was your standard barbecue fare with burgers, chicken, and some assorted salads. The mountain of cookies and ice cream provided the perfect bow on lunch and our day at the beach. Most of the family was ready to head back to the ship to de-sand and enjoy some of the ship activities for the last time.
Back on the ship we agreed that we wanted to make the most out of our last afternoon/evening (captured in the video at the beginning of the post). Since we had yet to ride on the Aquaduck, most of the group suited up for an afternoon raft ride around deck 12. Because it was a three day cruise and the weather hadn’t been great the previous day, there was quite a line of people looking to do the exact same thing that we were. We waited about 45 minutes for the raft ride, but it was fun watching most of the group go for their very first time. After we had all ridden, the line appeared to be even longer than when we first arrived, so we decided we would leave it at one ride.
The kids had really been enjoying the Midship Detective Agency game so we decided to do one more before it was time to get ready for dinner and the shows. No surprise but our sleuths solved another mystery putting a stuffed critter behind bars.
Back at the room we got dressed and ready for dinner. We made our way down to deck three for some shopping and had the opportunity to meet with Captain Thord before we split up, as Dad, Sara and Abby went to the show and Mom, Emily, Pat, and I headed to the Palo bar for a pre-dinner drink. The kids of course wanted one last shot at the Oceaneer Club to experience their favorites before we all met up on deck 3 aft for dinner at Animators Palate. The meal was great as our servers, along with Crush from Finding Nemo, entertained us while we ate. The kids enjoyed sitting next to each other and being silly.
Dinner was a perfect end to a short but sweet cruise. We all retired to our rooms to get the final items packed in our bags so we could set them out to be delivered to the port for pickup in the morning.
Disney Dream Halloween Cruise – Disembarkation Day
Because we had the late dinner seating we got to sleep in a few extra minutes before needing to meet at Animator’s Palate for our final meal on the ship. The kids munched on their breakfast goodies and talked about their favorite experiences during the cruise. We got to spend one more meal with our amazing servers as we finished the last of what was on our plates.
After breakfast we made our way slowly through the ship, trying to take in every last moment before we were kicked off and the next group of lucky vacationers showed up. We got our bags loaded in our two cars and headed back to Orlando. We returned to our house to get everyone’s luggage worked out before loading the giant van that they were going to take back to the airport.
It was hard to believe but it was time to eat so we thought it we be fun to meet up with Emily’s parents at one of our favorite local restaurants, Nona Blue. We got a table for 14 and did our best to make conversation and enjoy the delicious eats. Everyone was still in a bit of a food coma having just eaten our weight in a food a few times over on the cruise.
We finished up our meals, said our goodbyes, and wished everyone safe travels on their way back to the airport and to their final destination, Wisconsin. Thank you again to Papa Don and Grandma Jean for the amazing vacation!
If you are looking for more cruise fun, check out our adventures on the seven day summer cruise on the Disney Fantasy! If you enjoy our content, please share it on your favorite social media channels or leave us a comment below. If you want to follow along with our adventures simply provide your email below to subscribe to our mailing list.
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