Our Very Merrytime Cruise was special for so many reasons. It was our first ever Disney cruise, my first ever visit to a tropical destination, and of course our first taste of Disney’s holiday magic on the high seas.
We’re seasoned pros at Christmas festivities in the parks – we’ve vacationed during the holidays at WDW five times in the last decade, traveled to Toyko Disney Resort for their seasonal offerings and are returning to Shanghai Disney Resort next week for our second Christmas adventure there.
My wife, Stephanie (director of operations for the magazine), cites spending Christmas at Disneyland as her favorite childhood family trip. We know that Disney tends to go all-out at this time of year, and we were delighted to find that Disney Cruise Line is no exception.
The Christmas magic starts as soon as you arrive at the cruise terminal with an amazing tree and Christmas decor throughout. I thought these giant Christmas baubles were just too cool. But this is just a taste of the holiday magic waiting aboard the ship so let’s dive into some of the holiday highlights on our Very Merrytime Cruise.
Christmas Decor Galore
The Disney Dream was fully decked out for the holidays and one of our favorite things was spotting all the beautiful and unique Christmas trees, wreaths, and garlands aboard the ship.
From the centerpiece tree in the main atrium to the smaller trees in the dining rooms, shops, and kids’ clubs, each tree had beautiful and personalized decorations. But it didn’t stop there – every time we looked up we spotted garlands adorning the walls, ceilings, and banisters too!
We adored finding details like the painter’s palette decoration at Animator’s Palate or how the trees were themed to match the different areas of the kids’ clubs.
Disney did a fabulous job giving each and every tree on the ship its own personality and charm. This added a lot to the festive feeling of the ship and made for a unique first-time experience on board.
Mickey’s Tree Lighting Magic Ceremony
Since we’re talking about the trees we have to mention the awesome tree lighting ceremony that happened on the first night of the cruise. This show happened in the main atrium and involved Mickey and his pals in their holiday getup, lots of Christmas carol singing, and one special family selected from the crowd to help sprinkle pixie dust!
One special touch we loved here was that in addition to Christmas, traditions from Chanukkah and Kwanzaa were shared by Crew Members.
After a final countdown and a shower of the pixie dust the tree, and the rest of the atrium decor, burst to life with a million twinkling lights. It was pure Disney magic!
Santa’s Winter Wonderland Ball
A Very Merrytime Cruise just wouldn’t be complete without a visit from the big guy himself and Santa, along with Mrs. Claus, arrived in real style to the Disney Dream.
Santa’s Winter Wonderland Ball was one of the highlights of the cruise! After their grand entrance, we were treated to an energetic song and dance show with carolers plus Mickey and the gang in their special holiday outfits.
Then, if all of that wasn’t enough, guests are treated to a visit from Anna and Elsa who decide to “plus” the whole evening and make it snow inside the main atrium. To say they transformed the lobby into a winter wonderland is an understatement, snow was EVERYWHERE!
This event was a really special moment and sure to be one of your fondest memories on a Very Merrytime Cruise.
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After the snowfall, the ball kicks into high gear and the atrium becomes a Christmas dance party where guests can mix and mingle and dance with Santa, Mrs. Claus, and all the Disney pals. It’s also where I got the chance to meet Stitch who was running around the upper decks being his usual, mischievous self.
One of the first things we noticed when boarding the Disney Dream was the delicious smell of gingerbread wafting through the air. This is because the Dream was home to a giant gingerbread house on our cruise!
While not quite as large as the gingerbread house you can see at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, it was every bit as impressive and takes a week to build, according to one crew member we spoke with.
Complete with lights, hidden Mickeys, character plushes peeking out of windows and a video fireplace … this gingerbread house was truly spectacular. Also during the tree lighting event, we noticed that Disney was handing out complimentary hot cocoa from a booth next to the gingerbread house – how perfect!
The gingerbread fun doesn’t stop there though, there was a festive gingerbread latte available at the Cove Cafe (my wife Steph’s favorite – and we had almost everything on the menu!) and a free gingerbread decorating activity too!
We had a blast visiting Animator’s Palate to decorate our gingerbread men. Disney provided the cookies, frosting, and candies plus some entertaining cast members telling jokes and asking Christmas themed trivia while we worked.
This was a great holiday activity for the whole family and the cookies were really delicious!
A Castaway Christmas
There’s something about a tropical Christmas that I just love, and Castaway Cay did not disappoint. As soon as you disembark the ship you’re greeted by an enormous Christmas tree on the dock, along with a Santa sleigh and SNOW! That’s right, Disney made it snow on Castaway Cay as we left the ship – it was so cool!
Beyond the dock, there were garlands and wreaths and Christmas decorations all over the island and lots of little details like bits of netting, or starfish and other tropical details incorporated.
Also if you listened closely you could hear Christmas music in the background: Songs you know and love played with an island twist, like steel drums and ukulele covers of classic Christmas hits. It was perfect!
So Much More!
There was so much more holiday magic aboard the Dream it’s hard to wrap it all up in just one blog.
Other holiday details included special cups and napkins throughout the ship (a small touch but super cute!), Storytime with Mrs. Claus, photo opportunities with Santa and Mrs. Claus, exclusive holiday merchandise, a Christmas overlay to the “Sea Ya Real Soon” farewell show, festive-themed foods at Flo’s Cafe…the list goes on and on.
Christmas may only come once a year but I feel like I need more than one Very Merrytime cruise to take in all the holiday magic!
Thanks to Disney for inviting us on a #DisneyCruise this month! We sailed on the Disney Dream from November 18th to 22nd, 2019 on a Very Merrytime Cruise. Opinions here are our own. #DisneyCruiseLife