The anticipation had been building in Kaitlyn (and in Amber and I) since Christmas. We had circled June 2 on the calendar and were counting down the days. Kaitlyn was more than prepared for the trip, and had pretty much our entire trip planned out months in advance.
We drove down to Port Canaveral on June 1 (Saturday) with the intention of eliminating as many variables as possible before embarking on our cruise. We probably could have gotten up early on June 2 and made the trek, but why take any chances when you don’t have to? For over 300 miles, Kaitlyn asked repeatedly how much longer until we were there, and when we finally crossed the bridge to where we could see the cruise terminals and the ships (Disney’s Fantasy ship was in port at the time), Kaitlyn was beside herself.
For all of the excitement we had, I still had some reservations about the cruise. My biggest concern was that Kaitlyn’s regular routine was about to be very disrupted. On top of that, we were on a ship with 3,774 other cruisers, and crowds are really not her thing (or mine). As it would turn out, the ship rarely seemed crowded at all.
We arrived at the cruise terminal around 10:30 Sunday morning, and got in line for security (think airport security but somewhat more friendly). That line was probably the longest one we ended up having to wait in the whole cruise, with the possible exception of the line heading into our restaurant for dinner the first night. Disney’s cruise terminal is spectacular, and checking in was a breeze. We intentionally chose an early arrival time in order to increase our time on the ship, and we were rewarded with boarding group number 5. We were on the Dream by 11:30 or so, and went to get Kaitlyn all squared-away at the kid’s club area, then we headed for lunch.
Kaitlyn seemed determined to cram everything in to the first few hours, and ate her lunch pretty quick (a first for her!). We changed into our bathing suits, and headed off to ride the AquaDuck, Disney’s roller-coaster type water ride that is 12 decks above the water and goes out over the side of the ship at one point. Kaitlyn chose me as her first riding companion, and we made our way up the steps and into the aft funnel, where the ride starts. We were about three pairs away from our turn when the girl who had just left the start area got stuck. Amazing! They had to stop the water and send someone up to rescue her (picture at right); the whole process took about 10 minutes before the ride started again.
The ride was pretty fun, and Kaitlyn could not wait to go back for more, so Amber got to take a turn. After their ride, all three of us went, and, just to make sure there were no rescues needed, I had Amber ride with Kaitlyn again.
From there, we went to check out our stateroom, and it was spectacular. Kaitlyn was not really that happy that we were interrupting her attempt to do everything on the ship before we left Port Canaveral, but she eventually got over it. We explored the ship a little before the mandatory safety drill, after which we headed back to our room as the ship pulled out of the port.
While the ship was pulling out, we were getting ready to head to the evenings first show, “The Golden Mickeys.” Kaitlyn was still not pleased that we were keeping her from doing everything she wanted, but she can be a little stubborn like that sometimes. The show was, in true Disney fashion, wonderful.
We had the second seating for dinner, which meant that our scheduled dinner every night was at 8:15. Amber and I were not too worried that Kaitlyn would not eat or would starve because there was an abundance of food choices on the ship to tide her over (she especially loved the unlimited ice cream she had access to and took full advantage of). Our first night, we ate at Animator’s Palate, which boasts very cool décor and showcases “Crush” from the Finding Nemo movie (he stopped by at one point to comment on my haircut and how it was a lot like his). In what would become her standard order, Kaitlyn had chicken fingers for dinner and a Mickey bar ice cream for dessert. For her entrée, Amber had white penne pasta with shrimp, and I doubled-up and had beef tenderloin and grilled grain-fed steak. We were both pleased with our choices.
Disney does what they call “rotational” dining, meaning that each night, in addition to eating with the same people (our tablemates were a family of three from Chicago, and the daughter turned 7 during our cruise, so Disney did a great job in pairing us with a family similar to ours), the serving staff follows you to each restaurant. Our server, Gidion, was amazing. We knew what dishes to order when he would tell us they were, “yummy, yummy.” Our assistant server, Keisha, was also very attentive. The head server, the person in charge of the servers in our area, was named Rexson, and he made sure our table was made to feel even more special. Our tablemates, while from Chicago, were of Indian descent, and so was Rexson, so he sent over a special dish every night (the first night was curry with chickpeas), and made sure to let Amber and I know that if we wanted anything special, all we had to do was ask. We were thrilled to share the curry dishes with our tablemates (and to think, I am known for not trying new foods).
It did not take Kaitlyn long to become friends with the little girl at our table, Karishma. Within 10 minutes, they were chatting like they had known each other for years. It was really a cool experience.
After dinner, Kaitlyn went to the kid’s area for a little bit, and Amber and I explored the ship a little more. We ended up at one of the bars, where Oscar took really good care of us.
We finally got settled back in our room around 11:30, and it did not take Kaitlyn long to be fast asleep. She must have slept great, because she was out like a light in the morning (check out the picture at left).