A Glimpse of the Disney Dream’s 2021 Restart Cruise

The Disney Dream returned to Port Canaveral this morning bringing to an end her first official passenger cruise since the industry shutdown in March 2020. Over the course of this week, a reader was kind enough to share insight and images with us. I’d like to thank Nick for taking the time to share. Please keep in mind, this is NOT a full overview of the overall cruise experience, this is a glimpse at some of the processes and procedures in place aboard the Disney Dream during her first passenger sailing in 2021.

There are a few variations of the port arrival experience depending on how guests arrive. TouringPlans.com tweeted about their experience driving to the port and the process in the parking garage. The important part is that port arrival times are strictly enforced if you are not arriving by Disney ground transportation. Anyone who arrives even 5 minutes early are being sent away until their designated arrival window.

Disney Dream Port Canaveral 20210809

As you near the port, you can see tents in the surface lot. These air conditioned tents are the testing center and waiting area. Upon arrival you need your Port Arrival form that has your party’s barcode for every step of the way. For guests needing to be tested, they are directed into tents where they undergo a quick nasal swab, and then sent to a waiting area. Everyone is glued to the tv that lets you know when you can head to the terminal (or not). Once you see your info, and your safe passage login tells you everyone is clear to sail, you head to terminal.

The terminal experience is a little different and not necessarily due to new safety procedures and physical distancing. Disney Cruise Line’s terminal underwent a significant remodel during the shutdown. The renovation project was previously planned to bring the terminal up to date ahead of the Disney Wish’s arrival. On the bright side, the shutdown allowed the contractors to work continuously without having to stop for on ship days, and Disney didn’t need to use Cruise Terminal 10 for some of the departures during the height of the renovation project.

There are mini check-in kiosks before heading into the security screening area. Your passports are scanned and once again you need your QR code.

Dream Embarkation Terminal CheckIn

During the first cruise, the cruise staff team welcomed guests by name and directed guests onto Mickey themed spots in the atrium to view a little welcome show.

Dream Atrium Welcome Show

Upon arrival to your stateroom, you will find your find your KTTW cards in your fish extender. Lanyards, and applicable Castaway Club stateroom gift. A Cast Member will lead you to your assembly area where you scan the sign to prove you went! And that’s it…

Dream Stateroom Gift Lanyards

The app is your friend, your only friend. There are no longer paper navigators available, and ALL menus are in the app via QR codes. Not sure what would happen for those rocking a flip phone or for those that prefer to unplug completely during a cruise… I’m sure natural progression will result in an app based Midship Detective agency like game on the Disney Wish. So, download the app before you leave home.

Attention gym rats, be sure to check the schedule posted for the fitness center as you may or may not be able to work out when you would normally. Face coverings are required during all guest times, but optional during the designated times for fully vaccinated guests.

Dream Gym Schedule

As for one of the more popular onboard activities, BINGO!, they are currently using paper bingo cards. Every other table can be used resulting in a spaced out, but limited activity.

Characters are out for photo ops, just behind a rope to ensure physical distance is maintained between the character and guest. You can see the princesses in court behind ropes and take photos from various spots around the atrium. The characters visited Enchanted Garden, but with the spaced out seating you may have a hard time seeing depending on your table location.

All of the quick service outside have paths to follow so there is no loitering. Eye Scream is served by being placed on a table and then you can pick it up.

Another change besides the distancing between tables which doesn’t pose too much of a problem as one report suggested there were less than 1500 passengers on this sailing. Anyways, dinner arrival times are staggered every ten minutes for 3 phases. For example, 5:35 / 5:45 / 5:55 for early dining.

Dream Royal Palace

In Cabanas, the buffet is still present with cast member serving your food, think school cafeteria, but with better food. Cast Members are stained at the drink stations and beverages are served to you on a nearby table.

There is currently no eating in The Walt Disney Theatre, as in no popcorn! However, you can enjoy a beverage. During the first show night, PPreludes was closed last night, but eventually opened later int he cruise serving only drinks.

Dream Preludes

The pool experience is going to take some adjusting for those that are carefree and enjoy pool spending the day lounging and watching movies with dips in the pool or for the little fish that will stay in the pool all day. The pools are roped off except at the ladders preventing guests from sitting on the edge. Swimmers were allowed in for 5-10 minute intervals based on line length.

Over at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, there are mask requirements in certain areas. For example, you need to put your mask on to go into Cookies BBQ. Currently, the buffet bays are limited to one party at a time.

Pirate night fireworks are currently called Disney Ever After. Disney is offering two nights of fireworks based on dining times. Waiting for the fireworks, parties stand on little circles that are physically distanced. Even the dance party is distanced.

Tiffany who? Tiffany & Co. is no more not he Disney Dream. The venue has been rebranded as Carriage Jewels and is now operated by industry giant Diamond International. The Tiffany & Co. branding was removed, but the Tiffany blue remains as the entrance was not remodeled, just a sign change. I checked last night, and Tiffany & Co. remains on the Dream and Fantasy deck plan, but references to Tiffany & Co. have been removed from Disney Cruise Line’s website.

And that is it for the quick glimpse at the Disney Dream’s August 9, 2021 cruise.

68 Replies to “A Glimpse of the Disney Dream’s 2021 Restart Cruise”

  1. Wendy

    Love this thank you! Would love to hear more from Nick of anyone else on the ship? Specifically, what about family entertainment…Disney Tunes Trivia, Mickey Mania, Karaoke, etc? Were they offered? What about Adult evening entertainment…music in lounges, Variety/Magician evening acts, Match your Mate? Finally, any opinions on whether the “new cruise normal” still felt like a Disney Cruise to repeat cruisers? Did it have the same energy? We’re trying to make decisions on upcoming cruises and this is the information I’ve been dying to hear so thank you to all who are willing to share!

  2. Kate

    We are cruising in September. So glad to be going, but suspect this cruise will require more patience than typical. Fine, still excited! I wonder if room service is available and what Palo and Remy will be like.

  3. L

    “There are no longer paper navigators available, and ALL menus are in the app via QR codes.”

    not particularly friendly to seniors or anyone else who may not have smartphones. and i hope they are also getting rid of all the DVC and port sale papers that were much more of a waste than paper navigators. apps are good but don’t need to be used for everything. i hope post covid menus and paper navigators return.

  4. Shari DeMarco

    How did it work getting off at Castaway? I read you need a time but I’m only 20 days out for my cruise and I can’t find how to make those reservations. Thank you

  5. Walt

    There are YouTube videos of the first Disney Dream cruise online. It is not like it used to be. Check-in takes hours. Testing and waiting for the results are done in the garage. Masks are wore onboard inside throughout the ship, except for in staterooms, eating and drinking inside restaurants and bars. Still I understand the changes are necessary and we look forward to cruising next Fall. This is the new norm and we accept it.

  6. Abby B

    Everything about this is depressing. I just don’t understand how people can be so excited to sail under these conditions.

  7. Greg W

    This sounds terrible. My family and I have cruised 8 times, but if this horrible “hospital ship” is how Disney thinks we want to vacation, we’ve taken our last cruise.

  8. Jo

    @Abby, we completely agree with you. We do NOT understand how any one would be willing to cruise under these conditions especially with young children who seemed to be effected even more than the adults, AND pay full price! This is not meant as a criticism of DCL’s protocols. We understand that they are trying to do their best. We are grateful for all our DCL memories and hope some day to make new ones, but we have no desire to cruise under these conditions.

  9. Sarah

    Do they allow you to stay on castaway cay in the early evening? I thought it might be fun to just star gaze on the beach 🤩

  10. Elizabeth

    Agree. It looks very depressing, especially the pool deck. And no, I don’t want to carry my cell phone around everywhere & constantly be on the app. I’m glad we already sailed six Disney cruises. We might be finished for good.

  11. Tim

    I’m now convinced after reading all the new procedures that my scheduled feb cruise , I’m now changing it to January 2023

  12. Robbie W.

    I so agree with you. We’ve had this cruise scheduled for half of forever. If I knew then what it was going to be like, I never would have made this cruise reservation. I still have time to cancel so we’ll be discussing it as a family if we really want to go. It sure doesn’t sound like it’s going to be much fun.

  13. Justin

    And they just had the biggest outbreak since cruising resumed. We have to be careful resuming cruises or we will lose out on cruising again.

  14. Emily

    I’ve watched some of the videos on it, too. I’m dreading our sailing in November. Too much money for such a restricted cruise. I’d rather have good memories of old cruises than ruin the memory with this.

  15. Julie

    How did debarkation work? Did the unvaccinated need a test before being able to debark? Is it still everyone off by 9am?

  16. Mary Ann

    Me too Walt. Our next cruise is in November, and while I know it will be different, I am looking forward to it. I am hoping that this virus gets under control, so we can have more normalcy. Hearing that Carnival is doing self service buffet and now has covid cases on the ship, makes me realize that DCL will continue to take extra precautions. I guess it’s one day at a time, and I hope everyone stays safe.

  17. Jo

    Emily, I feel so bad that you are dreading your cruise. Are you able to change the date. We pushed our December one into 2022 hoping things will be different by then. We have been blest with so many wonderful cruises and feel the same way you do about not wanting to ruin those memories. The situation regarding the pool deck is really sad to see. Can’t imagine telling a child that it is not their turn to get into the pool and once they are in that they only can stay in a short time and have to get out. Plus a parent can’t sit on the edge of the pool and watch their little one with the pool roped off. I enjoyed watching my child as they watched the funnel vision movie more than the movie on the screen 🙂 I understand that DCL is trying to work with the circumstances at hand, but how can DCL expect full price for this product. Right now Disney cruises are a mere shadow of what they were.

  18. Renee

    My family of 7 with 4 kids did our first Disney cruise, so we don’t have much to compare to what it was like. In response to all the negativity we had an amazing time! Remember the ship has ½ the capacity so the kids were able to use all the pools and aqua duck, ice scream, flos cafe, cabana, sodas, exiting or entering The ship at castaway key, Cookies with NO waiting! This was a blessing because I dread lines with kids! We were able to reschedule our sting ray time beachside we were late. There was no lack of chairs on the beach. When you are outside or eating you don’t wear your mask. So we only wore when getting the elevators or wAtching the shows. I can go on and on about how wonderful it was. Not to mention the staff. They were amazing !! And so accommodating!!!
    We dressed for pirate night even there was not the regular party. The staff still made it fun.
    For us older folks we did need some help to learn how to scan the QR code for our menu but it was not a big deal once we learned(I am teachable!) as far as carrying your phone around, I always had it anyways to take pics! I appreciate all Disney did to keep us safe and fun. Oh and yes there is room service.
    I think I would dread doing the cruise with full capacity

  19. Renee

    You may sit on the edge, join your littles in the pool or sit in a chair and watch(which are plentiful due to ½ capacity). The time limit in the pool is 20 minutes, depending on crowd, which my kids never complained about and experienced only twice, since had so many other things to do and there were no time limits at the beach!

  20. Renee

    I have done many cruises and due to the schudled times to board it was was very streamlined and took less time then other times I have cruised. It only took us an hour due to wait time for the pre boarding covid tests..

  21. Randy

    25 crew and 2 passengers ALL vaccinated. The headlines are misleading. Tested positive yes but none are more than mildly symptomatic. Most have no symptoms. If the testing was not done by the Belize military then nobody would know. If nobody is getting sick…………who cares!!

  22. Greg W

    Exactly!! Who knows how many people were “positive” but not actually sick with a cold, the flu, norovirus, etc on every cruise we’ve ever been on? If we’re waiting for ZERO illness on a cruise ship to get back to fun, this is going to be a very long wait.

  23. Jo

    Renee, so glad your family had a great cruise! If you have the time, could you please tell me: did the steward come in and make up the room, also were there certain times for the kids’ clubs and did the kids have to wear a mask while in club? Congrats on being a Castaway Club member now. Please try and understand those who have cruised many times are comparing it to our past experiences. Thank you for sharing all the info you did!

  24. Michael McDonald

    It was a different, at times weird, cruise experience for sure. Hopefully, they improve the activities and entertainment offerings soon. Otherwise, if word doesn’t get around that they have, there will be lots of cancellations.

  25. Tricia Petty

    I think I read that the self service Coke machines on the pool deck were being served by a Cast Member but are they there late at night? I thought those were open all night but can’t imagine a CM being there late at night. Thanks!

  26. Renee

    Hi Jo, I understand, we were disappointed to see activities disappear as we were planning the cruise. In our case, we did not have the past experience so the kids did not miss the old Disney.
    An area Disney could improve is communication on the app and with the crew. Our pre-paid activities did not show up on the app so we did not know what times we had scheduled. I suggest you put that info in your phones before leaving; the pirate party was cancelled, however, we did bring our costumes and planned to dress up anyway. The crew & Characters were dressed up & pirate music was being played on the second night, otherwise we would not have known which night to dress up (being newbies!). We rushed back to our cabin to get our costumes on! The app did not say anything and when I called customer service they said there was no pirate night. There was a limited party on the deck too.

    To answer your questions, like every other cruise I have been on (so don’t think anything is different), the stewards come in every am & pm to set up the room and leave the towel animals.
    Kids club is open, however, the disappointment is that you have to pre-schedule times in 1.5-2.5 hour blocks, without knowing what other activities you would miss out on if you do this before the cruise to ensure you get a time. We scheduled the 8-10 y/o for 2.5 hour blocks during the 2 y/o nap time. BTW the nursery is not open at all. Yes, the kids wear masks & they are very strict about this, however, unlike adults, kids don’t seem to mind much!

    Another warning and improvement Disney can make: if you are taking the Disney Bus from the airport or the Hyatt, the Hyatt staff could not give us accurate information. The Hyatt does NOT take your bags down anymore, we were told NOT to go down before 1130, however, getting on the bus is a first come first serve and not coordinated with your port check-in time ( a suggestion for Disney). In actuality it was not a big deal that we were late, however, it did mean less time to get acquainted with the boat and play in the pool since we sat in the airport for an hour instead and, of course, Disney is not going to stop you from getting on boat if you are late for check-in.

    By the way, we were in Tent D waiting for our COVID test results and there was not a TV in the tent with our status nor did anyone tell us how to know if we were cleared. Luckily my daughter was in C tent and told me to log onto the SafePassage web site to find our status. I may have just missed something because other families in the tent were logged into their phones.

  27. Walt

    Wow Renee. That is a big change. If you are newbies, you would not recognize the big difference in the changes. I did not know it was that bad. Still I am hoping that things will improve by next year. We are 20 plus platinums. Never done any other cruise but DCL.

  28. Josh

    All that family entertainment was still offered. They didn’t have variety events in the adult lounge at 1030 except for match your mate 2 nights and karaoke the other night(s). I loved the smaller crowds. Wait times were almost non existent. The pools were rarely full and the beach truly seemed like your own private island.

  29. Pam

    Wonder how the adults only night areas are changed? We enjoy going to the adults only bar that has all the different cities that change….can not remember the name….Skyline maybe? Would love a list of what will be open and what will not be open. We are scheduled in December for a cruise. This will be our 5th Disney cruise.

  30. Michael McDonald

    Skyline was strictly used for mixology and tasting seminars. It was not open for people to just walk in and have a drink.

  31. Dan

    How did the Kids club work? I heard you now have to reserve a set block of time ahead of time? Did you use the kids club for your kiddos?

  32. Renee

    Yes you have to reserve in blocks of 1.5-2.5 hours. However the staff said there were plenty of openings and you can always take kids out earlier or skip a day if you find something else you’d like to do, as we did

  33. Trini

    This will be me and children’s first Disney Cruise ever, sailing August 27th, so I’m hoping that we still have a great time. we were originally supposed to sail in 2020 but of course pushed it out because of COVID. I’ve expected some adjustments to be made but I will be very disappointed if this experience turns into a bad one.

  34. Rebecca Hren

    But Carnival has so many restrictions that I will be canceling my November Cruise. My Son is 8 years old and cannot be vaccinated. To punish him is extremely inhuman. No Excursions and we are locked on the ship? Separated for any non-vaccinated. Yep lots of words I just gave them. I went on this Disney Cruise and It was good and if Carnival would have done the same thing, I would be fine. Horrible Carnival.

  35. Caroline

    Hi! Has anyone collected any screenshots of navigators from the Dream sailings since the re-start? Looking to get an idea of what to expect as I am on the re-start cruise for the Fantasy sailing 9/11.

  36. April K

    Hi Scott!

    My family and I just got home from our 4 day 3 night Disney dream sailing today. Should you have any further questions, I’d be happy to assist. Other than that, you nailed it with this blog post!

    1. Chimere

      I am being told that the 3 night does not have a Pirate night. Is that true and is it no fireworks. We were going for my son’s birthday and I was looking forward to that part.

  37. Tara

    Heading on halloween on the high sea in October any update on kids club session times available? Can they go more than once a day or how does it work? Too soon for me to book online yet but hoping they can at least go a little during day and again at evening for a nice dinner and adult time


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