Recently, my family went on a 3-night Very Merrytime cruise on the Disney Dream. This was our first Very Merrytime cruise as well as the shortest cruise we’ve ever taken. How did this cruise measure up to past cruises? Note: This review focuses on the holiday aspect of the cruise. For more details on DCL’s rooms, kids’ clubs, etc., see my previous detailed trip report.
Boarding the Disney Dream
When I did online check-in a few months ago, I selected the 10:30 a.m. port arrival time. Due to our late night at MVMCP the night before, we were running a bit late and didn’t arrive at the port until 11:15 a.m. Upon check-in, we were still given boarding group #2. I’m fairly certain that your boarding group assignment coincides more with your assigned arrival time than your actual arrival time.
After checking in, we got in line for a photo with Mickey in his winter sweater. Shortly after, our boarding group was called to board. The line for Mickey was moving very slowly. I asked the kids if they would rather wait now for a photo with Mickey, or board now and get a photo with him later on the ship. They both wanted to get on the ship ASAP, so we exited the photo line.
Before long, our names were announced on the microphone and the crew members (dressed in holiday gear) were applauding our arrival.
Decorations on the Very Merrytime Cruise
We were all excited to see the ship decked out for the holidays. We had sailed on a Halloween on the High Seas Cruise before, but I didn’t care for the decorations. It was strange seeing orange banners and a Halloween tree in an otherwise elegant atrium.
However, the Christmas decorations were lovely and really complemented the existing décor. The atrium had a large tree and garland on the railings.
On the side, there was a very large gingerbread house. It smelled delicious!
Before the cruise, I pre-ordered a Christmas package for a surprisingly reasonable price. Our stateroom was decorated with Christmas blankets, pillows and magnets. The kids were surprised, and they loved their fluffy Christmas blankets they got to take home.
Christmas trees were scattered around the entire ship, including inside the kids’ clubs.
Even on Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island, there were Christmas decorations.
There was a snow machine set up near the decorations. Snow in The Bahamas!
Very Merrytime Activities
Since we had been on several DCL cruises before, we prioritized the Very Merrytime activities. On the first night, there were two Christmas events before and after the main Broadway show.
The tree lighting ceremony was first. Mickey and Minnie lit the big tree with the help of a few pals.
Later, there was a Winter Wonderland Ball in the atrium. Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived, and the characters mingled in their winter outfits during a dance party.
Elsa even made it snow inside!
Over the next two days, there were a few more low-key Very Merrytime activities. My daughter visited with Santa:
Belle was in her Christmas dress for meet and greets:
The ship also offered a few Christmas craft opportunities and story time with Mrs. Claus, but we did not participate.
Strategies to Avoid Crowds
For the tree lighting and Winter Wonderland Ball, we arrived 30 minutes early and got front row views. We saw Santa during his first appearance in the morning, and there were only two families in front of us.
On the third day of the cruise, we spent the morning at the beach on Castaway Cay.
We left the island shortly after lunch to return to the ship to enjoy the pools and Aqua Duck. They were empty since most people were still on the island.
I know most people wouldn’t dream of returning to the ship so soon on Castaway Cay day, but it really is the best day to ride the Aqua Duck and enjoy the pools without crowds.
3-Night vs. 7-Night Cruise
I was nervous about sailing on a 3-night cruise. So many people told us that 3-night cruises are so rushed. Plus, our last four cruises were 7 nights.
While I would never recommend a 3-night cruise on another cruise line (booze cruise!), in our situation the 3-night Very Merrytime cruise was perfect. Since we had already been on DCL, we didn’t feel the need to rush around and do everything. We mainly focused on the holiday activities. While the kids went to the clubs each afternoon, I had plenty of time to relax on my verandah with a book.
Our dinner servers were very attentive and interactive with my kids. Our stateroom attendant still made us great towel animals. I noticed that the character photo lines were open longer to accommodate more people.
Overall, the 3-night cruise was still very relaxing for us and a great experience. We probably would have felt differently if it was our first Disney cruise. But, I would absolutely consider a 3-night cruise in the future. With the way DCL prices are rising, a 3-nighter might be all we can afford in the future.
I’ve been wanting to sail on a Very Merrytime cruise for a while now, and this cruise met our expectations. I definitely liked the decorations and activities better than the Halloween cruise. It was the perfect way to kick off our holiday season.
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.