August 2021 Disney Dream Cruise | Embarkation Day Trip Report

by Shannon

I just got back from cruising on the Disney Dream after 18 long months of the Disney Cruise Line closures and I am happy to report that I had an absolutely AMAZING time onboard!

Yes, things are different. But I can honestly say that Disney is doing a wonderful job at keeping the magic of cruising with Disney alive while also ensuring their guests are safe onboard.

Let’s take a look at my Embarkation Day aboard the Disney Dream!

Day 1 | Embarkation Day

Arriving to the Port

When completing your online check-in prior to sailing, you’ll be able to select a Port Arrival Time. The earliest arrival time right now is 1pm. Our arrival time was 1:30-1:45.

A security guard will check your Port Arrival Form as you arrive to ensure you’re not showing up to the port too early. They are very strict with Port Arrival Times right now to ensure social distancing so make sure you don’t arrive early.

If you are early to the port, there is a Starbucks and a Dunkin’ just down the road!

Luggage Drop & Health Screening

Once we arrived, we were directed to the luggage drop-off. There are still people ready to assist you with grabbing your luggage from the car. Make sure you put the luggage tags that you received in the mail onto your bags.

Once your luggage has been collected, you’ll be directed to the parking garage where you can pay for your parking and then start the required Health Screening process.

As you pull into the parking garage, an employee will can your Safe Passage QR code — the Safe Passage website is the tool that Disney is using to collect either your pre-trip COVID tests or your COVID vaccination card (you can voluntarily provide your vaccine card and skip the testing requirements).

We had chosen to upload our COVID vaccine cards into the Safe Passage website so we did not have to complete any further health screenings. The employee put a special paper under our windshield wiper and we were able to bypass the in-car testing and head directly to park in the garage.

If you did need to test (remember, kids under 12 cannot be vaccinated so they must complete the testing requirements), you would self-test in the car and then park and continue to a set of health screening tents they have set-up next to the parking garage.

Once your test results returned, as long as your COVID test was negative, you’d be able to enter the cruise terminal.

Check-In

Checking in was SUPER simple and very expedited! Especially compared to how this was in the past.

Before security, you’ll have you passport checked and then your carry-on bags will be screened.

Once completed, you head right up to the terminal and THAT IS LITERALLY IT!

So much of the check-in process is completed online now before you sail (you even upload a selfie at home) and room keys are waiting for you at your door so there is no need to wait in long lines at the terminal anymore.

The terminal now also has more seating available which is a very nice addition. When you complete your online check-in you’ll be assigned a boarding group. Once your boarding group is called you’re all set to board the ship!

We were assigned boarding group 7 and it was called right around 2:30pm — we waited about 20 minutes in the terminal.

Note that Captain Mickey and/or Captain Minnie do not take photos in the terminal at this time.

Boarding the Disney Dream

Boarding the ship was just as it was before (with more distancing). There are social distancing markers on the floor and of course, masks are required when you’re indoors so everyone has masks on as well.

When it’s your turn to board, the crew member will still ask for your family’s name so they can welcome you onboard!

And here’s where things are a little different (but I was a big fan!) Captain Mickey and Captain Minnie are waiting for you on the stairs of the atrium as you enter!

A crew member will direct you to a circle on the atrium floor where your party can stand. You’re then welcomed with a very cute song and dance by Mickey and Minnie and you most definitely could take a distanced selfie (with mask on).

Muster Drill

After the little show, a crew member will direct you to your muster drill station. If you’ve ever cruised in the past, you’ll remember the muster drill and how that most definitely is not a great environment for physical distancing.

The muster drill now is completely virtually. You head to your assigned muster drill to check-in with the cast member stationed there (or via the app — the app was down when we did this so the crew member just checked us in).

And that was it! No crowds gathering for the muster drill. Right before we sailed away later that day, we did still hear the muster drill announcement but we did not have to go to our muster drill station.

I LOVED THIS CHANGE! I hope it stays around permanently.

Stateroom

At this point, we headed to our stateroom because it was already ready for us! Staterooms are ready by 2:30pm.

We dropped our carry-on bags, checked out the room, hung our door magnets and then were off!

We stayed in a Deluxe Verandah Stateroom on the 6th floor at the back of the ship and it was great! I’ll share a full room tour and video later!

Virtual Guest Services

We wanted to attempt to secure a Palo Brunch spot on the cruise (spoiler alert: we didn’t get one, but that’s okay!) so we messaged with guest services via the Disney Cruise Line app and they added us to the waitlist.

Disney implemented their new chat function within the app and I really liked it! It saved the trip and the wait in line at the Guest Services desk unless a face-to-face interaction was required (and if so, you could schedule an appointment within the app).

Lunch

It was time for lunch! We had unfortunately missed the lunch window at Animator’s Palate (that’s what happens when you’re a blogger and you spend 20 minutes taking 200 pictures and videos of your stateroom LOL woopsie) so we had lunch at Cabanas instead.

I will say one thing I definitely noticed on this cruise was that the offerings at Cabanas were very limited compared to past cruises. I assume this is because the amount of guests onboard was also very limited and offering a full spread would have resulted in a lot of food waste.

Just something to keep in mind if you choose to cruise anytime soon. Cabanas will not be fully stocked like it typically is.

Another Cabanas change is that the crew members will serve you from the buffet. You just let them know what you want (and how much) and they’ll get your plate all set for you.

Characters

We saw quite a few characters on the first day/night of the cruise!

  • Captain Mickey and Captain Minnie greeted us as we boarded.
  • Goofy was greeting in the Buena Vista Theatre.
  • The Green Army Men were marching around outside on Deck 12.
  • The Princesses were greeting in the atrium outside of the Royal Palace.
  • Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Pluto surprised us at our Enchanted Garden dinner and danced around the restaurant.

Dinner

As I mentioned above, we dined at Enchanted Garden for the first night of the cruise and it was great! The characters dancing through the restaurant was a really nice surprise — they don’t typically have any characters at meals during the short 3 night cruises!

The food was great and our service team was a lot of fun.

Tables are distanced and not every table was even being used. You are seated with only your party at the table as well. Disney is also using QR codes for digital menus now as well.

After dinner, we returned to our stateroom and everything was prepped for bedtime! Our stateroom host was wonderful!

Overall Day 1 of my cruise on the Disney Dream was great! I love so many of the new changes that make check-in and getting onboard easier.

I will say that I did miss the Sail Away Party. That was always such a fun way to kick start your vacation. I think Disney did their best to make up for that by offering a lot of character opportunities and surprising everyone with the Fab 5 at dinner.

Day 2 was a Castaway Cay day — however we decided to treat it like a Day at Sea since we had 2 days at Castaway Cay! Check back for that post soon! ๐Ÿ™‚

Follow along on all of our Walt Disney World fun on Instagram @brbgoingtodisney! I share tips and tricks LIVE from the parks each week on Stories! See you there!

Donโ€™t forget to pin this post for later!

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2 comments

Emily Coughlan August 26, 2021 - 10:41 am

Thank you so much for this! We leave for our first Disney cruise tomorrow and I’m so excited! Honestly, I’ve been a bit nervous about everything with all of the changes, but you’ve helped to ease my anxiety!

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Amanda August 28, 2021 - 6:45 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this! We are planning our first ever cruise next summer and Iโ€™m a little anxious due to covid. It makes me feel so much better being able to see your photos and hear about your experience. You always do a great job of sharing the important details while also keeping your posts simple and to the point. Definitely looking forward to reading about the other days!

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