Trip log, day eight. At Sea without cats.
8-Night Silver Anniversary at Sea Greek Isles Cruise from Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy
June 19, 2023
Personal Navigator – Day 8
I love when the last day of a cruise is spent at sea, especially on this itinerary which had us out and about the last four days exploring Greece. The morning started at Cabanas with not much else on our plate for the day. This was the first morning all cruise Emily found peanut butter out in Cabanas!
Today, was a day to relax and recharge for the upcoming journey home. After breakfast, we found some seats poolside and dove into our books. It was nice to see the pool attendants putting towels on every chair because when every chair has a towel, none are reserved!!!
Around 10:30, I took a walk to preview the lunch offerings on the pool deck over at Flo’s Cafe. Pool deck quick service is where the Disney Wish excels with Mickey & Friends Festival of Foods and really missed on this longer voyage.
Around 11:30AM, we left the pool and headed up to deck 13 to play some mini golf. Alaska who? There are whales in the Ionian Sea.
It was under our nose this entire time, a pearl golf ball. Clearly, in my mind, this was the inspiration for the new Castaway Club level.
Goofy’s Sports deck was not very busy on this lovely morning.
We headed in, and decided to go to Pub 687 for some lunch. However, for some reason, I had the NBC Sports Grill & Brew (Universal Orlando) pretzel in mind when I was thinking about the Pub Grub German pretzel. Allow me to set the stage, below is a look at the NBC pretzel which is bigger than it looks and a great sharable.
Well, that being said, I failed myself by mismanaging my expectations. Looking back, I can only surmise that it was the presentation from years ago such as this one from the Dream in 2017 that allowed the NBC pretzel to enter my conscience.
The food arrived covered with plastic wrap on a room service tray, the pretzel was rock hard as Isabelle showed us by knocking a piece of the pretzel on the table like a gavel. She left and went to get lunch in Cabanas. The wings were really no different aside from the ones offered in room service, and were in no way ‘Hades hot’ as advertised. The flatbread was edible, but frankly the bar at this point was not high. If this was complimentary room service, it would have passed. However, these are a la carte items, and all I can think is that we paid for mediocre food that we could have ordered from room service, or Cabanas for free (with the exception being the pretzel because it has been ages since they have been available from Flo’s Cafe). Ultimately, the point I am driving at here is that I have no issue paying extra for food onboard, but from my perspective, the up charge items should be elevated above the free offerings. These were very much not. At all.
After lunch, I went up to the upper deck to see the Strait of Messina with Sicily on the left and southern Italy on the right. Saw it, took a few pictures, and back to the regular scheduled afternoon programing.
It has not been a banner cruise when it comes to trivia, but we turned in an admirable scorecard for Disney Tunes Trivia which was held in the D Lounge. What made this trivia special was that it was one of the live sessions where a pianists plays small snippets from the songs. This also helps level the playing field with the piano as the sole instrument providing the clues. The live tunes trivia is significant enhancement to the onboard offerings and one I’d search out on future sailings.
For a sea day, the offerings were very limited in terms of activities. The navigator was filled mostly with character meet and greets and kids club activities. Hmmm….wouldn’t it have been great to see the new Pixar release, ‘Elemental?’ In any care, we ended up spending the afternoon packing with Avengers Endgame on in the stateroom and really not much else until it was it was time for dinner. Isabelle went to hang out with her Vibe friends, and we got ready for tomorrow’s adventure home.
Our dinner rotation brought us back to Enchanted Garden for our final dinner.
Tonight’s menu was the Prince & Princess menu.
This was our first cruise ever where we had the digital photo package because it was a free Castaway Club perk. Did this result in our family taking more photos? Yes, about 10-15 total which includes multiple shots at the same photo op. It was new to us and other than signing up for the package before the cruise, we were not sure how to access the photos. While we were browsing our photos at the Shutters kiosk, a cast member from the photography team helped us out by brining up the QR code for https://photos.disneycruise.com allowing us to view the pictures during the cruise. Then, after the cruise for up to 45 days you a view your cruise photos by visiting at https://disneycruise.disney.go.com/photos/. Even if you were to forget, Disney Cruise Line will email. I received multiple emails with the information including a few reminder emails letting me know I only had a few days remaining to visit and download our photos.
Rounding out our tour around The District, we stopped in Pink for a drink.
Well, one of us ordered wine at the wine bar, but I felt like trying the Pineapple Julep from the Outside the Bubbles section of the menu. The cocktail was enjoyable and I’d order it again, but julep is a bit of a misnomer without the crushed iced and collins glass and this was more of a pineapple screwdriver or Aloha Screwdriver.
We enjoyed the chocolates and French macaroons before headed across The District to Pub 687 for TV Tunes Trivia with our drinks. Like I said, if you want a drink during trivia, get one before the start of trivia.
We finished out evening in Evolution with another session of Silent DJ. It was great that this was offered multiple times during the cruise at time when the entire family could enjoy because I need all of the beauty sleep I can get.
Tomorrow as going to be a LONG day, so we called it a night, returning to the stateroom where we filled out the feedback form and wrote some additional notes.
Trip log, day nine. Debarkation day in Civitavecchia.
8-Night Silver Anniversary at Sea Greek Isles Cruise from Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy
June 19, 2023
Personal Navigator – Day 8
When I was taking pictures of the map, the screen changed to a setup interface where we could see someone making the necessary updates to the ports of call of the next cruise. This was cool to see a behind-the-scenes look at the program used to drive the map channel.
We left our stateroom and headed to Cabanas for breakfast where they brought out the good stuff, I love these breakfast wraps, and they even had breakfast croissants with ham and cheese. A lovely surprise for our final morning onboard.
Around 8:20 AM, we headed out as soon as our luggage tag section was called, as we had a private transfer booked for 8:30 AM to take us to the airport. One nice thing about this itinerary is not having to wait in a line for a customs and border check to leave the cruise terminal the final morning. It makes for a much quicker disembarkation process.
“Private” transfer in terms that it was a third party, Civitavecchia Shuttle Express (CSE). Technically, we booked a shared ride which they filled the balance of the van with another family. We booked and paid for the shuttle about a month before the cruise set sail to take us from the Port of Civitavecchia to Fiumicino Rome Airport. At first, we did not find anyone holding a sign with our name, but we did spot a gentlemen holding a board with the CSE logo who phoned our specific driver. Our driver quickly appeared and led us to the awaiting van right outside the cruise terminal and we were on the road by 8:40am.
The drive from the port to the airport was right around 40 minutes. I would absolutely book a shuttle with Civitavecchia Shuttle Express in the future. Although, the shuttle at €110 was considerably more than the train, it was the way to go to get to the airport on time since we did not have the luxury of time like we did when we arrived in Rome before the cruise.
There was some construction occurring at the terminal, which caused a bit of confusion on where we needed to go to check-in. The AirCanada check-in line was a mess and they were not as lenient as they are elsewhere when I came to carry on bags making everyone test fit bags even ones that were no where near questionable size. This was one of those days where arriving hours before your departure flight was absolutely necessary. Additionally, there were no bathrooms in the immediate area until after we passed through the security checkpoint. Basically, plan accordingly if you leaving the ship and driving directly over to the airport.
Hard work is over for the day, now time to sit back and enjoy an espresso from the airport café.
Rome’s airport cafe was awesome. We had an amazing lunch for €44! Let me put this into perspective, that is just under $50 USD – not only was the food fresh and amazing, but it was under HALF the price of what we paid for lunch at Orlando International Airport (MCO) on our way to Italy and both included alcoholic beverages.
Our first leg home was to Montreal, where thankfully I was able to pass through Global Entry even though it was technically expired a few days prior.
For those that have been following my renewal which I started in December 2022, 6-months before the expiration day and still in August 2023, it hasn’t been renewed. Emily’s was renewed in under 24hrs. Me and the kid are still waiting. Thankfully, Global Entry extended a grace period for anyone who is in the renewal process. The Global Entry line in Montreal was a walk up! We were the only 3 in people who utilized the line, and reaffirmed why it is worth the investment and effort to apply and renew. The non-Global Entry line was chaos. For $100, you get Global Entry and TSA PreCheck. TSA PreCheck alone is $78 so the extra $22 for a 5 year period is a no brainer if you travel out of the United States for cruises. You can learn more about these at The Department of Homeland Security’s Trusted Traveler Program website.
I made the
smart dumb decision to watch stuff on the transatlantic flight instead of taking nap. I vaguely recall walking around in the Montreal airport, my body was still operating on cruise time which was somewhere approaching Midnight in Rome. By the time we landed in Orlando, I was in a fog – not the good fog from Halloween Horror Nights, a mental fog. I crashed on the MCO carpet at the baggage claim. I was beyond grateful our friend was waiting right outside to drive us home where we arrived just around midnight (which was 7 AM in Greece). This did jump start my internal clock to adjust to Eastern time again, but seriously a note to self, take a nap next time.
Overall, the trip was amazing and the itinerary was great. Greece has been on our list of destinations to visit for a long time, and I am glad we were able to visit as a family. The majority of this trip report focused on the destinations, not the ship. For us on this cruise, the Disney Dream was a floating hotel room that transported us to a new destination each day. Our time in Greece was amazing, each day something different & we cannot wait to return. The European cruises are some of the more enjoyable port experiences. The ports are naturally conducive to self walking sightseeing tours with excellent public transportation to get to more distant areas of interest.
We didn’t go to any shows or variety acts in the Walt Disney Theatre, but we did enjoy the lounge singers and musicians playing live music around the ship. We would have gone to see Elemental, but there was an issue that prevented the film from making it on the ship. No big deal, it will eventually make it to Disney+.
The service from the cast and crew of the Disney Dream was excellent driving my overall satisfaction of the onboard experience. Luis from Honduras always had our stateroom in perfect shape and took time out of his day to ask how we were doing or how our day ashore went. Since Isabelle was off at Vibe a lot in the evenings, we gravitated to the District Lounge more often where we had lovely conversations with Leah (UK), Ines (Portugal), and Clifton. However, this excellent customer service can only make up so much for the subpar food we experienced this cruise. Admittedly, the Disney Wish elevated the quick service offerings setting the standard for the fleet, and there was a noticeable drop-off on the Disney Dream, especially with no options other than room service available after 6pm. This is not an industry standard, and on a port intensive cruise like this, with late port times, it should not be overlooked. And, to those that say, ‘well, just book late dining,’ we do not eat that late and do not want to finish dinner and go to bed. To each their own, but bottom line, no excuse not to have other things available if you miss your main dining time.
Food is subjective, which is why I opted not to harp on the dinner portion of the trip reports each day until we paid extra at Palo. Our serving team anchored by our server Glenda from South Africa was amazing, providing some of the best service we’ve ever had, quite possibly the best. One of our favorite things is to get in, eat, and leave and not linger, and Glenda was spot on. Glenda was joined by assistant server John from the Philippines, and Head Server Alwayne from Jamaica. Our Palo server, Leo from India, was also top notch. However, when it came down to the food, there were more misses than hits in the main dining room, and we wish we booked Remy over Palo. There is a catch-22 of sorts, if you complain about the food on the end of cruise feedback form, it impacts the serving team. In my opinion, the serving team is NOT responsible for the actual food, they are in charge of the service. Therefore, we fill out excellent on the feedback form. They work incredibly hard to make sure guests are happy, but I refuse to mark anything less than excellent as a result of the issues with the actual food because I know if we said something, they’d offer to get us something else or a replacement.
Early on in the cruise, we realized the best food were were going to find each day was going to be on our own in port, which is why we sought out a spot to eat lunch when ashore each day. We all choose to cruise with Disney for one reason or another, one of the things I look most forward to on a cruise is not cooking dinner. I love to cook, but I also love when others cook for me. I do NOT consider myself a foodie by any stretch of the definition, but I like to cook, eat, and appreciate the time and effort that is involved in preparing meals, especially on the cruise ship scale. One would think that with increasing cruise fares, dishes would taste as good, if not better than it looks. Sure, there is the concession they are making dishes for an entire restaurant at the same time, no land based restaurant could come close to handling a surge of guests at once like a cruise ship main dining restaurant can. If anything, it is amazing some of the food arrives at the table with life, where on land it would be considered dead and need to be remade. There is a level of excellence occurring as the dishes are artfully-prepared, but to say the food is scrumptious is a little much at times. If this is related to provisioning, find a different source or remove an item from the menu like any normal restaurant would do if they were out of an item or the delivery was less than desirable. If this is due to subpar ingredients, well there is no excuse when the line is charging the fares they charge these days.
We definitely noticed a difference on the Dream vs the Magic with amount of passengers as well. However, we do prefer the smaller Magic & Wonder, so we are of course biased, but there is a difference in the ports with tendering and just the amount of passengers.
Thanks for following along with our Greece cruise. I realize this 8-night sailing trip report was not even close to a real time posting, but I hope you can see this was done intentionally to provide a more detailed trip report for each day.