DCL Planning Thread: Dream Come True - First Try! - WDW, DCL & UOR All in One

We will be going on our first every cruise end of March on the Dream & after submitting the final payment there’s this actual real-life hope & excitement that we will really make it to our our first cruise! :partying_face: :desert_island: :dancer:t5:

Which is huge because ever since the start of a certain global event when we canceled the many travel plans we had for 2020, I’ve had this giant big emotional block around any big trip planning (a defensive mechanism for sure due to all the re-booking & still mourning some really fun things we had booked & planned for 2020 that I don’t know if we’ll ever truly get to make up but those aren’t this trip so we won’t dwell on them). So what better way to celebrate the fog lifting than a thought dump all the things about this most exciting trip on the forum with all the best Disney people on the internet.

Some Background to Explain HOW Really, Realy F’ingLONG We’ve Waited for this Moment

We first stumbled onto the idea of a cruise when fellow Disney fanatic DSIL was over with her kids to play with our kids & threw out the statement (in Dec 2018) “We should do one of Disney’s Halloween cruises to make up for not going to WDW this year” (At the end end of 2017 we’d penciled in WDW for Aug 2018 & then decided halfway through planning it that it was just financially not in cards for any us). Well, that night I began looking into cruising for the 1st time ever and a week later had spreadsheets of Halloween sailings that fit our 2019 Fall Break dates, the pro’s & con’s of each ship & itinerary for said dates, pricing for different levels of staterooms and a log of the best staterooms available in the categories I thought we’d want to book. So basically I had gone into obsessive planning, I mean ahem, full Liner mode. One hiccup though, I knew (but DSIL didn’t) that DH & I had just greenlighted Operation: Caboose Baby with a tentative Launch Date Sept. 2019. Luckily my bacon was saved by realizing we were already within a year so prices were already so much higher than if we’d planned to book 1yr+ out. So, phew, using the price argument alone (and not having to talk about the goings on in the bedroom I share with DSIL’s baby brother), I convinced DSIL we should try for the Halloween Cruises in 2020. (spoiler: our attempt to book a sailing for 2020 didn’t even take flight, because as we were getting ready to submit our bookings on the day they opened for the ship & dates we had sat down & planned for, DSIL double checked the school schedule & found out they had completely eliminated fall break in a recent redo of the future school calendar and as an educator she couldn’t just be gone for a whole week during the school year to pull off a Halloween cruise & WDW).

We did our first real booking (and at the time it felt like oh finally! we’ll get to go! Ha! How little we knew then) for April 2021 when those sailings opened up late 2019. It was going to be perfect. 4 night Caribbean on the Dream. Stop in Nassau (which I was actually excited about the total lack of pressure to go see anything & my only goal for that day was to wander, find somewhere to eat a conch and maybe walk to a fort), one sea day, then Easter Sunday on Castaway Cay. I don’t have to rehash what happened that killed that plan, but eventually, after a few more re-schedulings, we’ve landed with what we have now.

The Actual Real-Live Plan!
Please don’t scare it, we want it to stay this time

5 night Western Caribbean on the Dream from Miami March 2023
Stops: Castaway Cay (Day 2) & Cozumel (Day 4)
2 sea days (Days 3 & 5)
Staterooms: Because I have a bushel (4 is about a bushel, right?) of kids, we’ll be in 2 connecting staterooms, Deck 6 midship (I think it’s category 4D?) Deluxe Family Oceanview with Verandah’s. DSIL, DBIL and their 2 kids will be in the same category of stateroom next door and their room will connect to another stateroom of the same category that will be occupied by a relative that we are so excited will be coming too! DH’s & DSIL’s 2nd cousin, his wife & their two kids. DH & I did WDW with the cousins back in 2016 because they are basically our East coast equivalents & go to WDW about as often as we do DLR and we both have similar drives from our homes to h :european_castle:me.
That trip with them was the first time we met them in person (well DH & his 2nd cousin had seen each other growing up a time or two, but hadn’t hung out on account of living on opposite coasts & it was my first time meeting them and they me) and it was our 2 older kids first time to WDW & was nothing short of amazing, over far too soon! The cousins then came out west to DLR in 2017 (and DSIL at the last minute jumped on the trip with 1 of her kids as a surprise to them) and we had another amazing trip with the cousins of all generations that ended up there. The cousins pulled of a giant cross-country road trip summer 2019 and made a stop in our hometown between other great sites and so all the kids got to hang out (not in a Disney park but at least all together) for another awesomely fun, but not nearly long enough amount of time. We are SO excited to get all the kids together. In a Disney park. And on a Disney ship. For our DD3 (Operation Caboose Baby was successfully launched Dec 2019) it will be her first time seeing these wonderful cousins. Also, DS5 doesn’t really remember that 2019 trip on account of him being 2 then so it’ll be the first time he will remember hanging out with them.

Some of us will also do 4 days at WDW before (Thur-Sun). The ones that are not doing the 4 days may come down to do just Sun in the parks. Then all of us will drive down to Miami where we embark on Monday. TBD if we start driving Sunday night (“just in case the 3 hour drive takes 6 hours” that’s a direct quote from DW of DCuz who lived in Florida for a time, has a sister that still does & whose wisdom we probably should heed). But alternatively, we could leave in the wee hours of Monday to arrive closer to when we could actually be let on the ship.

Finally after the cruise, we’ve earmarked debarkation day on Saturday to hang out with everyone as one big group before going all our own separate ways. Mine & DH’s crazy but not yet fully formed plan is to drive back to Orlando that evening with the goal doing Universal Sunday (maybe?), Monday (definitely but can we even do all the HP things let alone the other great things in just 1 single solitary day so we’ll be better off doing both?) before flying home Tuesday.

We feel really good about sticking with the Dream (maybe a little nervous about the change to Miami instead of Port Canaveral but we think it’s manageable). I am more nervous that one of us (mostly all first time cruisers) will end up not loving a cruise. We had originally thought 4 nights was a good plan to have enough time actually get to enjoy the ship if we were loving it but also short enough that if we weren’t feeling it, we wouldn’t be stuck. One day extra seems to tempt that fate. On the other side of the coin, all the kids are insanely bonkers excited about every detail we share with them and DH & I keep finding more reasons to ask ourselves “Why haven’t we done this yet?” So I think we’ll be ok. Just hopefully DSIL & BIL end up not totally regretting a cruise (DSIL is prone to motion sickness that’s probably my very biggest worry but lately she’s mentioned that DBIL is having a hard time getting excited to go on such a big trip and has asked her if they just can’t get their Disney fix on a 3-4 quick trip to the much closer, much more familiar DLR).

And I think that’s a good place to wrap it up for now, but up next I plan to grapple with the question “What in the world do we want to do in Cozumel?” and how do I shift from the no-stress-no-pressure-no visions I’d had of wandering Nassau to the stakes of planning something with a little (but feels like a lot) more pressure in Cozumel?


This sounds epic! So excited for you but I have no advice to share.


Thanks & that’s all ok! The most detailed advice I’ve come across looking for help about the question I’ve been stuck on (Cozumel) was here on the forum from liners that frequent the DCL section & I was able to see a couple of not too far-gone trip reports that included Cozumel, so it was a great starting point.


Liners know everything!

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It’s because Liners are the best collection of people to have existed on the internet ever. Seriously.


The Dream is wonderful and the port is absolutely fine. It’s funny to me to hear the hesitation people have about not sailing from PC. I’ve never been there but it’s just a place to get on the ship to me!

This looks like an awesome trip and I can’t wait to hear all about it!


Interesting set-up you have here! I can’t wait to read the report, and I hope you share more of your planning/thoughts in the time leading up to it.

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I loved your trip report for all the reasons but especially loved that it was on the Dream and had such good deets on throughout!

With the port my hesitation isn’t at all the actual place more with how we get there (from WDW). At first I thought it should be no big deal because it’s not a crazy distance away from WDW & was the one in my group convincing the other families that it wouldn’t be a big deal to change up.

But then looking into it more and compared to what the easy established transportation options from WDW to PC that were relatively easy add-ons to a WDW trip (well back in 2019 when k was planning for 2021), it seems like a lot more work for Miami.

The first advice we were told was to look into a late flight. For that distance it seemed like crazy talk. (We drive the 10 hours to DLR from home on the regular so 1/3-1/2 of that seems ridiculous to fly). Then with how flying is these days it was absolutely cemented that we rent a car & drive ourselves but I keep hearing things about the drive being bad & traffic so I am slightly nervous about that whole transition.

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Ah this makes more sense then. I flew right into Ft Lauderdale, and as much as I would have loved to have had a detour to WDW (the Great Liner Meet was in progress) it wasn’t a thing so that was not a concern for me.

Do check flights to/from FLL. I found the fares and the schedules to be far more palatable for my market and it’s literally just 15-20 mins ride away from the port

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I did not know that was such an option. I will check it but with 6x flights and then having to figure out how to manage carseats (DS5 will be almost 6 so I think I’m ok with him a bubble seat or mi-fold that we can just easily stow in luggage but DD3 will need 5 point harness so having a rental that sits in the port with the carseat not needing to be hauled back & forth seems much easier than flying a second time). But I will check in on it, in case it does save some of the transportation woes.


I love cruising out of Miami! So much prettier than Port Canaveral. A couple of questions…will you need to drop a rental car off in Miami? If so, I would drop family & luggage off at port & then go return car. Have you thought about staying in Miami for a night before or after your cruise? I would be careful about Miami traffic during the week. Most of the drive from Orlando is very easy, I would take the turnpike, but once you get into Miami it can get bad.

I absolutely love Cozumel. It’s so much better than Nassau. Have you looked at excursions? We are beach people & have been to Nachi Cocom several times. https://cozumelnachicocom.com/ We are all adults though & the kids might like some of the other beaches better. There’s a whole stretch of beach clubs that are all inclusive. Some others have more water toys & things to do for kids. I would recommend looking on Cruise Critic on the Cozumel boards.

The Dream is a great ship. I have sailed on the Dream a few times. Once out of Miami in October & a few times out of Port Canaveral.


Oh, come on! I’m dying to know!!!



Yay! That’s nice.

We told our Travel Agent that we would either like a rental OR enough ground transfers to get us to & from all of the above, whichever was cheaper. She has quoted us two different options for rentals but both were for the entire trip so I’m thinking that we’ll just keep the rental & pay to park in the port. Also DH & I both like the idea of bringing our own stroller for the parks and at the very least DD3’s 5 point harness car seat (or at least one we know & trust vs. a rental car seat) and having both of those stay in the rental parking in the port seems a lot easier than dropping off a rental trying to wrangle all the kids, luggage, car seat & stroller and then do it all again to get the rental car after. But if the savings are significant to not have the car parked in the port, then I suppose we’d look into renting those things and/or how we would stow those in our staterooms.

We have thought about it & it’s still possible we do. We do want 4 days for 4 parks and due to the school schedule DSIL can’t leave any earlier than Wed (and even that is pushing it as she’ll miss 2.5 days and she only has 4 all year as a teacher). But we did slot AK as our last park day so that with the 7pm close we have time to start our drive to Miami sometime that night (and probably get a hotel room for Miami?) Unless we find somewhere within range of the port we can eat an early early bfast near a nice public space where we can chill until closer to when we’ll go the port.

My brain knows this. The very logical part anywho. And when I did look up excursions I did get excited about it. But somehow I feel like I lost out on a part of the original cruise plans by going from no stress for Nassau to now trying to figure out what to do in Cozumel and so I’m stressing about what we’ll eventually pick to do.

Was it you that recommended Nachi Cocom on other threads here? I definitely looked at it and if it were up to me I’d pick either there or Isla de Pasion if I wanted to lounge or a snorkel tour of El Cielo or Punta La Sur if I wanted to be more adventurous BUT our kids are only going to be this little now & we can always put Cozumel on the travel list to return to do those other things when they have outgrown the kid stuff. And when we looked at a bunch of resorts together last night, Playa Mia was the one that stuck out ot them. All the inflatable structures & pirate themed water slides, the aqua bikes & water slide. And DH heard all you can eat outdoor shaded buffet and needed nothing more to say, “whatever you & the kids want to do wifey.” And I am also plenty happy with the beach, ocean and endless margaritas. But we also have to consult the other two families going. The cousins went to Nassau on the one cruise they have been and they enjoyed wandering up to a fort & expressed the desire to do similar in Cozumel. If that’s at all possible in Cozumel too I would love that as well as some beach time. But I don’t get the sense that there’s the same walkability & wandering to forts in Cozumel as in Nassau. DSIL’s kids love water & the ocean so they’ll probably be on board with beach time.

Thanks for the advice all-around! I’m so excited to get on the Dream. There was just something about the ship that stuck out to me when researching it all and I am really happy we get her on our first cruise. And I’m most excited about the ship than any one port or beach or experience, so I am considering just not booking anything for ports & seeing what we feel like doing & what’s available once onboard. Is that crazy?


We don’t talk about Covid, no, no no.

BUT… It was March 14, 2020 and we had vacation plans for a big travel year. Covid walks in with a mysterious grin… CANCELLATIONS…

Ok but really I’m still not telling this story here, so we’ll just leave those that know with the earworm. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: You’re welcome!


Oh that’s awesome. And it’s two earworms at one time. :joy_cat:


:joy: :laughing: That’s true! :wink:

(Another reference by the same songwriter).


I’m so excited for you! It will be so much fun for you to see WDW and finally do a cruise! I feel much the same way regarding motion sickness, which is why we are doing a 3-night “trial” cruise out of San Diego this year before a bigger Wish cruise in 2025.

I’ve done the drive from West Palm Beach (north of Miami) to Orlando and it wasn’t bad, though it was on a weekend so traffic wasn’t a concern. With a proper buffer I’m sure it will be no sweat for veteran west-coast road trippers like us. :wink:

As far as Cozumel, I highly recommend watching a bunch of YouTube videos from people who have taken the exact same cruise as you. They often showcase the various excursions they take (especially influencers).

Here is one I found with a quick search (I haven’t watched it):


DH & I were talking today at lunch and he was musing that it really can’t be too much worse than LA country traffic we’ve gotten ourselves into between Hollywood/LA and Anaheim.


For sure!

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What a great itinerary on the Dream! Five nights are always better than four! Yay!