The Disney cruise not just for kids with adult-only pools & live fireworks
LOUNGING in my beachfront cabana, I reach for the service button to order another mojito.
It feels as if we have this small stretch of Caribbean beach to ourselves, bar the staff who are shaking up cocktails and grilling fish and hot dogs on a barbecue behind us.
The only giveaway that I’m on a Disney cruise is the colourful ship in the distance where I can just about spot Mickey and Goofy waving.
This is Disney’s own Castaway Cay, the first private island in the world exclusively for cruise passengers, and one of the port calls on my three-day cruise onboard Disney Dream.
The 1,000-acre paradise has it all – long stretches of white sandy beaches, cafes serving delicious BBQ food, and a fantastic choice of water activities including snorkelling, tubing and a dual waterslide.
I’d been exploring it all by bike (Disney Dream passengers can borrow one for free) and after a three-mile cycle along a tree-lined path, I’d discovered a quiet, crowd-free spot at the other end of the island.
Serenity Bay is reserved for guests aged 18 and it’s pure bliss for anyone on an adults-only trip.
Here you can rent a palm-tree-sheltered cabana with towels, snacks, drinks, inflatables and access to showers.
And, to make sure visitors barely need to lift a finger, each cabana features a service button for when the cocktails run dry or to book a beachside massage.
It’s less crowded than the family beaches, but the kid-friendly spots are where the high-energy fun is.
Those with children in tow should head to the Pelican Plunge, a floating play area with huge water slides or Olaf’s Summertime Freeze which sells frozen drinks — the perfect antidote to the Caribbean heat.
Castaway Cay isn’t the only island stop on our trip either, the cruise also cals at Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas.
Passengers can explore the capital at leisure if they wish, but I’d opted for a short boat excursion to the Blue Lagoon, a quieter island with an intimate beach where I whiled away the hours basking in the heat with yet another cocktail in hand.
Thankfully, my relaxing days on land meant I was raring to go when at sea on the 4,000-passenger Disney cruise liner — and soon Brits won’t need to venture as far as the Caribbean to experience all this action-packed ship has to offer.
Disney Dream will be heading for Europe for the first time next year, with voyages around the Mediterranean and British Isles.
I can’t say I wasn’t a little jealous of all the activities for kids, which included princess makeovers at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and Millennium Falcon driving at the Disney Oceaneer Club.
But even as a grown-up, I was still spoilt for choice with adult-only pools, bars and some of the best restaurants I’ve ever visited.
French restaurant Remy, inspired by the Ratatouille film, is by far the fanciest.
With only 16 tables, you have to book in advance, but those who get a seat are treated to impeccable service and a divine five-course menu that was so good, I’m still thinking about it.
Don’t worry if you don’t manage to get a reservation though, as there are three main-themed restaurants which offer a “rotational dining” experience.
Guests are given a restaurant schedule upon boarding. This means they can eat at a different restaurant each night, but keep the same waiter who’ll understand their tastes and dietary requirements.
There is the Royal Palace, fit for a king or queen, the Enchanted Garden, inspired by the gardens of Versailles, and the Animator’s Palate where guests can talk to the Finding Nemo characters mid-meal.
And if jet lag hits and you sleep through dinner and wake up at 3am, the 24-hour room service menu includes burgers, pizza and fried chicken from the snack stalls.
Over the three days, I cried at a live performance of the award-winning Beauty and the Beast, cheered watching the night-time fireworks show and laughed during a particularly raucous karaoke session which included a memorable rendition of High School Musical’s Breaking Free.
All this fun and I’d still barely scratched the surface of the endless entertainment on board Disney Dream.
There are dance parties on deck, themed quizzes, a shopping centre, an onboard spa and the thrilling AquaDuck waterslide that zips along the edge of the ship.
The short cruises are a great add-on for families planning a trip to Disney World and when the ship makes its way to the port of Southampton next summer, Brits won’t even need to hop on a plane to see it.
Disney World’s Epcot in Orlando may let you tour the world virtually, but on the Disney Dream you can see some of Europe’s most historic landmarks in real life — and get the rides and all the full-on Disney fun too. What could be better?
GO: DISNEY DREAM CRUISE
GETTING THERE: Virgin Atlantic flies from Heathrow to Miami from £346pp return. See virginatlantic.com.
SAILING THERE: A four-night cruise is from £1,339pp, calling at La Rochelle and departing Southampton on August 26, 2023.
Price based on family of four sharing.
Bahamas cruises start from £1,304pp for four nights, departing from Miami.
See disneyholidays.co.uk or call 0800 169 0742.
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