When my four-year-old-daughter Riley and I arrived at the Disney Dream’s home port in Port Canaveral, Fla., we knew we were in for the vacation of a lifetime. In fact, Riley was convinced we were setting sail for Never Land!

In reality, we were boarding the newest vessel in the Disney Cruise line collection and setting sail for a two-day adventure to Disney’s private island in the Bahamas; Castaway Cay.

The Disney Dream is the third ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet.

Once aboard, we understood quickly why they named this classic ocean liner the Disney Dream. The name says it all: a breathtaking Grand Atrium, elegance and luxury on each deck, silhouetted by Disney character detail at every turn. The staterooms, waterslides, restaurants, kids clubs and stage shows were classic Disney imagineering. We stayed in a spacious, Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with veranda. Roomy enough to sleep four, this stateroom boasted a queen-size bed with below-bed storage, convertible sofa, split bath and private balcony.

 

Cruising is all about great food and we dined like Disney Princesses, as Riley would say.

The rotational dining approach allowed us to enjoy a different restaurant every night. The restaurants are themed — which Riley loved. The Enchanted Garden boasts a garden-inspired decor with a menu that allows you to select choices from around the world including Riley’s favourite fish, pan-seared sea bass.

The Animator’s Palate, the main dining room, was like being inside a Disney animation studio. The walls were adorned with tools of the trade, the interior magically transformed into a live under-sea, interactive adventure with Crush the Turtle from Finding Nemo. And Crush got personal, dude. He would swim from tank to tank asking questions of the diners that generated some gnarly laughs. There were also many casual dining options on board.

Riley and I have so many Disney Dream memories including the spectacular Pirates of the Caribbean Show, a pirate-themed deck party that included pre-show games hosted by swashbuckling scallywags. The pirate show was so realistic that Riley was convinced we had entered Never Land and were captured by Captain Hook. Following the show, Buccaneer Blast, a musically synced fireworks show lit up the night sky. Another of Riley’s favourite memories? The Oceaneer’s Club, an activity centre for kids aged three to 10. This supervised play centre is home to Disney-style imaginative worlds. And while the little buccaneers are at play, there is a lot to do for the adults. The District is an adults-only entertainment area, complete with lounges and nightclubs.

Riley and I landed back home with a trunkful of memories. My most cherished? My little girl cuddling up to me midship in an oversized golden throne on our final day and whispering that her favourite part of this magical journey was spending time with me.

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