Disney Cruise Report: The First Evening

Three Disney Cruises

The following is an excerpt from the eBook Three Disney Cruises:

The cruises have two different dinner seatings, which they call the main seating and the second seating. We were assigned to the second seating, which was fine with me. Some people apparently don’t like the second seating because it is somewhat late, starting at 8:15. But accounting for the time change, which would make it 7:15 back home, that is close to the time that we normally eat anyway, so I never have been bothered by that. And besides, it gives you more time to enjoy your day without feeling like you have to rush to get dressed for dinner. The only slight downside is that you are finished somewhat late, usually around 10:00 PM. But then there isn’t a big reason to get up extra early the next morning, so that really isn’t a problem, either. On top of all of that, we didn’t have to rush from the sailing away party to dinner. Not that I would have minded missing some of the party. But anyway, we had some time to pass before it was time to eat.

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] The view from our stateroom verandah[/caption]

The Disney cruises have live stage shows every night, and we decided that we would go to that. I haven’t been that big of a fan of the shows before. In fact, in our two previous cruises, we saw a grand total of one show, which was based on the movie Hercules on our first cruise. It was a good show, and Hades was particularly funny, but overall it didn’t do that much for us. But the Riedels are more show people, and they wanted to see the shows, so we decided to go along, too.

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] Laura and Brant check out the view[/caption]

The first night’s show was The Golden Mickeys. As you might guess from the name, the show is supposed to be an awards show, but that is just a plot device to be able to have several different characters and different songs in the show. It wasn’t bad by any means, and it was actually a fairly elaborate production, so I would rate it as pretty good. If I go on another cruise and they are still doing the same show (we had skipped this same show on our previous cruise), I would probably skip it, having seen it once. But it was worth it the one time. My main complaint about it was that they don’t allow photography of any kind. Not even non-flash photography. They have a couple of people stationed to watch for anyone with a camera, and they go over and ask the photographers to put their cameras away. Strange. They say it is for the safety of the performers, but I don’t see how non-flash photography can be a safety issue. I suppose it is easier to cut off all photography at all to stop those who don’t know how to turn their flashes off, but that hurts the rest of us who may know what we are doing. Oh well, no photos from the shows to share.

Also, before the show, the cruise director Christiaan (yes, that is how he spells it) made some announcements. And interestingly, he was also the cruise director on our last cruise, which was six years earlier. Yes, if I had his job, I wouldn’t give it up, either. Even better, the guy has a sense of humor that is very close to my own. Scary, I know. He came back at the end of the show to tell us about going to Nassau the next day, too. And he used one of my favorite lines: “Just don’t call me Julie from The Love Boat!” Of course, none of the kids knew what he was talking about.

After a quick change in our rooms, we were off to dinner. Some people grumble about dressing up for dinner on the Disney cruises, and some people just don’t dress up for dinner at all. I don’t go all out with a coat and tie, but I don’t mind dressing up with nice pants and a polo shirt at all. To me, it makes dinner seem a little more special. They apparently don’t throw you out of the restaurant if you don’t dress up for dinner, because we saw some people wearing clothes that I wouldn’t really call “dressy.” But at least no one was in their bathing suits looking like they had just gotten off the Aquaduck, so that was good.

Our assigned restaurant of the evening was Animator’s Palette, so we made our way there. There is a similar restaurant on the Disney Wonder, so we had eaten at something like this before, although I couldn’t begin to tell you what I had to eat way back then. And besides, this restaurant turned out to be quite different than the other similarly named establishment.

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] Karen, Zach, Katie, and Jaylin in Animator’s Palette[/caption]

We were shown to our seats at table 77, along with our traveling companions the Riedels. Thanks to our travel agent for making sure that we got to sit together. On Disney cruises, although you go to a different restaurant each night, you sit with the same people each night. That can be good or bad, depending on who you end up sitting with. We hadn’t had any real winners for dinner companions in the past, so we were quite happy to be able to sit with people we knew each night, people that we felt we would have something to talk about with.

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] Katie, Jaylin, and Laura in Animator’s Palette[/caption]

Just as you sit with the same people each night, you also have the same servers each night, too. That gives you and the servers a chance to get to know each other just a bit, which is nice. Soon after we sat down at our table, we met our servers for the cruise. Olena was to be our main server, while Dogan was our assistant server in charge of drinks and such. And Zan was the head server, although we didn’t see all that much of him; I wondered if he and Jayna had to go out and do their Wonder Twin thing sometimes, which would explain his absence. Actually, whenever we did see him, he was always busy doing something. And we weren’t the kind of guests to need “special attention,” meaning we never had anything to complain about, so that is probably why we didn’t see very much of him.

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] The four Riedels at Animator’s Palette[/caption]

After looking over the menu, I decided on the sesame flavored rock shrimp and onion cheesecake as an appetizer, creamy butternut squash soup, and white shrimp penette pasta as my main course. I’m not really all that much into fancy food, so I never really know what to order at these things. As it turns out, I somewhat struck out with those choices. For me, the cheesecake wasn’t a good combination of onion and cheese, making it almost too sweet and yet too oniony, for lack of a better word. And the butternut squash soup was a little too sweet for me, too. But the pasta was pretty good, and the cookie and cream sundae was good as a dessert, too.

In the Disney Cruise Line restaurants, you don’t just show up and eat your meal. Instead, there is some sort of “show” to go along with the meal. And the Animator’s Palette show was based around Crush, the turtle from “Finding Nemo.” Overall, the show was very similar to “Turtle Talk with Crush” at Epcot’s The Seas with Nemo and Friends, where a computer-animated Crush on a big screen interacts in real time with guests. There were several large screens around the room, and Crush would appear in those to talk with the guests nearby. My main complaint was that our table was out in the middle of the room, and we didn’t get any interaction with Crush ourselves. Not that big of a deal, but it did feel like we were left out in some ways. Still, we were close enough to hear Crush talking to other people. When someone else said they were from Tennessee, Crush replied, “I have seen a lot of seas, but I have never heard of the Tenne-sea.” Pretty good.

Another observation about Animator’s Palette. The restaurant is set up to resemble an animator’s studio, and the motif includes large pencils and brushes. And the mural as you enter the restaurant has several classic Disney animated characters. But then once you get inside the restaurant itself, all the character sketches and maquettes that you see, as well as the actual characters in the “show,” are from Pixar movies. Computer animated characters. No pencils or paintbrushes. I know they use those traditional drawing and painting instruments in their concept sketches and development drawings, but computers are used for the final movie frames. Most everyone didn’t seem to mind this fact at all, and I suppose that is because Pixar movies are still animated movies. But it would seem better to me to either find a way to use hand-drawn characters or drop the animator theme and change instead to a Pixar theme, or maybe just an aquarium theme. Yes, that is a minor complaint overall. And it didn’t really ruin my evening in any way. But it was just an observation, in case anyone else cares.

Anyway, we had an enjoyable dinner eating extravagantly and talking to our friends. A great end to a fun day. As I mentioned before, the good thing about the second dinner seating is that you have more time to enjoy the day before going to dinner. But the slight downside is that you finish dinner around 10:00 PM. Which is typically past Jaylin’s bedtime, by the way. But we were on vacation, so we didn’t worry about strict bedtimes all that much. But it seemed silly to finish dinner and go right to bed. So instead we decided to walk around a bit.

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] Laura in a chair beside a mural similar to the ones found in Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World[/caption]

We hadn’t had an opportunity to visit the shops on board the ship earlier, because they are only open when the ship is out on the water. So our first after-dinner activity was to go shopping. Laura and I learned on our first cruise ten years earlier that it is best to drop by the shops each day, because they sometimes have different things out on different days. In this case, we found a few small items, but nothing big. Still, it never hurts to stop and shop. Especially when you just pay by giving them your room card and don’t worry about actually paying for it until later.

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] The ornate ceiling of the Atrium Lobby[/caption]

Next, we went out for an evening stroll on the Deck 4 Promenade, always one of our favorite places. It was a nice stroll. Except that the direction we chose to walk turned out to be the opposite direction that the runners take. So we met up with some of the same people a few times. We just made one lap, but of course the runners were running much faster than we were walking. You could see them smile as they thought, “There are those slow people again.”

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] Laura with Admiral Donald in the Atrium Lobby[/caption]

Even at our slow pace, we were feeling a slight bit thirsty, so we went up to the pool deck to get one last drink for the evening from the soda fountain. Always nice to have that there. I just wish they had larger cups. But then you can fill them up as much as you want, so unless you stray pretty far from the soda fountain with your cup, you can still have as much as you want. Which can be good or bad, I guess. But we kept the caffeine and sugar drinks to a minimum. Especially for the kids. Because we aren’t stupid, after all.

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] One of the funnels of the Disney Dream at night[/caption]

When we got back to the room, Oksana had been there to turn down our bed. Jaylin was excited to see that she had pulled down the bunk and put up the ladder for his bed. And he liked that there were stars on the ceiling above his head, arranged in constellations that looked like Peter Pan characters. I thought it was pretty cool, too. She had also created what looked like a lobster out of towels on our bed, keeping alive the towel animal tradition on the cruises. I spent a few more minutes out on our verandah while Laura and Jaylin were getting ready for bed before turning in myself. It was a good day.

[caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] A towel lobster on our bed[/caption]

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Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through Burnsland.com, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.