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My daughter and I just returned from a 4-night cruise on the Disney Dream. It had been almost two years since we had taken a cruise, thanks to the pandemic. We had a cruise scheduled for March 2021 that was canceled.
I’ll cut to the chase: we loved the cruise! It was blissful, pampering and beautiful. While it wasn’t perfect and many things were not like they used to be pre-Covid, overall the good far outweighed the bad.
What We Loved
Covid Protocols: With all adults vaccinated and tested prior to sailing and with unvaccinated kids testing twice before sailing, we felt safe from Covid on board. In addition, masks were required indoors. In the theatre, every other row was blocked off and each group had three empty seats on both sides. All of these protocols combined made it very unlikely that Covid could spread to a large group of passengers.
Low Crowds: Our sailing had only 1300 passengers instead of the usual 4000. There were plenty of pool loungers on deck. Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island) felt deserted. Woohoo!
Main Dining Rooms: The food and service were top notch, as always. Two of the restaurants added character walk-throughs, which were a hit with everyone.
Character Interactions: We snapped selfies with so many characters but without the long lines. While we couldn’t stand arm-in-arm with the characters, we could stand a few feet away. This more relaxed setting helped speed up the process, resulting in more character photos in less time.
Virtual Muster Drill: Instead of standing outside on a hot deck or crowding into a lounge to sit through the muster drill, we simply scrolled through some instructions on the app and checked in at our muster location. It was so painless!
Theatre Seating Policy: Cast members escorted every party to seats in the theatre, and your whole party had to be present. I know this was for spacing reasons, but I hope that DCL continues this policy. I can’t even tell you how many times we’ve gone to the theatre in the past where people have entire rows “reserved”.
What We Didn’t Love
Reserved Times for Kids Clubs: Due to protocols, we had to make reservations to play in the kids clubs. Time slots were 90 minutes long. Kids were grouped together at each start time and rotated around the clubs as a small group. This hindered flexibility greatly. If I was a parent of younger children, these restrictions would have been a major bummer.
Inconsistencies with Mask Policies around Characters: At some of the character locations on board, cast members allowed us to take off our masks very quickly for the photo. At other locations, we couldn’t take off our masks. It was very confusing. Someone in my Facebook cruise group pointed out that the locations where we could take our masks off had professional photographers taking photos (that they try to sell, of course).
Lack of Adult Entertainment: Even on a 4-night cruise, DCL usually has one variety act (a comedian, magician, ventriloquist, etc.). For this cruise, there was none. Two theatre productions were repeated twice. The entertainment in the adult spaces consisted of live music and trivia. Since I was traveling alone with my daughter who frequented the tween club, I really missed some good adult entertainment.
I’m glad everything worked out for us to go on this cruise. We hit this magic point in time where Covid cases are dropping while cruising numbers haven’t quite picked up yet. I’m afraid we will never experience a cruise this empty again. I would love to cruise again during this special time, but I’m afraid my schedule and budget won’t allow it.
My family has a cruise planned on Royal Caribbean for early 2021. My daughter should be vaccinated by then. I’m looking forward to cruising again!
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.