Restaurants, nightclubs, rides, excursions and games make for nonstop fun

By Paula Conway
Originally printed on NYDailyNews.com
Being no cruise aficionado, I approached the Disney Dream with tremendous skepticism. This was only my second cruise, and the sail to the Bahamas was only for three nights. Adding fuel to the fire, we were cruising without children.

No matter. On board, my husband and I were immediately swept away by the high-flying, high-speed water coaster, AquaDuck. Step inside and sit down in the oversized, inflatable raft and off you go at lightning speed, twisting and turning, down short descents as you increase acceleration, even at one point swinging out 13 feet over the ocean — woo-hoo! This cruise-industry first is enough to quicken the pulse of even the most jaded adult (who will only want to ride again come the splashdown on Deck 12). Confidential Tip: Queue up for AquaDuck immediately following cabin check-in (or else when the passenger load is on a shore excursion), as the line is long throughout the cruise.

Care to satisfy your taste for nostalgia? Step up to Eye Scream on Deck 11 for soft-serve ice cream, just like when you were a kid. Here’s the cherry on top: it’s serve yourself, and you can go back for a serving of banana, chocolate, strawberry and vanilla as often as you want. A jumbo LED screen on Deck 9 also allows you to enjoy those flavors while swimming, sunning or even watching some Disney classics like “Cinderella.”

The Quiet Cove Pool, within dashing distance to Eye Scream, is the adults-only pool. It is also mere steps away from the Cove Café, a peaceful retreat for sipping gourmet coffee, reading or hooking up to WiFi. Both the pool and Cove Café are rarely crowded, making this the perfect spot for peace and quiet. Also inside this restricted enclave: two large, adult-only hot tubs whose glass bottoms provide spectacular ocean views.

Our first dinner aboard the Dream, in the Animator’s Palette, proved great fun. If you enjoyed the movie “Finding Nemo,” you’ll love having the turtle Crush interact with you and the other guests. “Duuude, the big guy is from The Conn-ECT-icut,” Crush, with his stoner-surfer inflection, said to my husband — who also got a high-five from Crush with his front flipper (the turtle’s flipper; not my husband’s). The restaurant, which resembles a giant animation studio, also changes its wall backdrops throughout the meal, offering scenes and characters from Disney and Pixar hits.

After dinner, my husband and I opted for a little boot scootin’ at Evolution in The District on Deck 4, where the dance floor glows and pulsates to rock classics and pop artists. DJ Pete Down takes requests and mixes some fresh tunes of his own. Evolution also hosts some great games and karaoke.

The Dream pulled in to Nassau around 9 a.m. on our second day. Confidential Tip: Do not step off the boat without the Shopping Ashore Savings Book, which is handed out as you disembark. This booklet comes with at least half a dozen free offers and many other discounts, so shop owners expect you to walk in with your offer in hand. Sure, they want you to buy something, but even if you don’t, they will honor the offer.

On shore, I made out like a pirate with two half-carat gemstone pendants, a useful tote bag from Del-Sol that changes color in the sunlight, a tanzanite pendant and a watercolor lithograph of Nassau from Milano Diamond Gallery. We returned to the boat flush with free booty by 1 p.m. for lunch, and none the worse for wear without having spent a dime.

On day three we docked at the Disney private island, Castaway Cay. The sprawling family beach offers more than 700 feet of white sand kissing the crystal blue waters of the lagoon. Flippers & Floats rents out inner tubes, snorkels, masks and fins, while Pelican Plunge is a floating platform with water slides, water games and a giant bucket that dumps water on eager guests. We opted for Goofy’s Sandlot Bike Rentals so we could pedal over to Serenity Bay, the adults-only beach. We followed tropical winding paths around the island, ending up at one of the cabanas for a couples massage on the beach.

Lunch at Cookies Too may have undone the good exercise from biking. Barbecue spiced rotisserie chicken, burgers, grilled fish, salads, flatbreads, ice cream and other dishes are available just a few steps from the beach, in all-you-can-eat fashion.

Then came hammock time, though I kept spinning and landing on the sand with a big plop and sand up my nose, like something out of “I Love Lucy.” A Disney cast member from Jamaica named Paul saved me. “Every time, there’s always one, and I just wait for it,” he said with a belly laugh.

Having our share of sun and fun, we dragged ourselves back to our cabin, which came not only with luxurious bath products, but a much-needed tube of aloe. That’s Disney for you, always thinking full-circle.

Our final night on Dream we opted for a special dinner at Remy, the line’s first-ever premier dining option. Taking its cues from the fancy French restaurant in the movie “Ratatouille,” the softly lit space over the ocean is adorned in rich reds, gold and green chairs, glass and wall etchings and sweeping floral and leaf ornaments. The table was set with Frette linens, Riedel glassware and Christofle silverware. What a pleasant reminder that although I am a child at heart, it is very good to be an adult at Remy.

So much for being a grownup, though. Before bedtime, it was playtime, and we made our way to Deck 5’s Midship Detective Agency, where I waited in line with kids ages five to 50 to get my official detective’s badge and crime-scene map. First, I had to choose between stolen art or stolen puppies. I chose art. From decks 2-10, I searched the ship’s artwork for clues. Certain pieces of Enchanted Art magically come alive when you present your official detective’s badge, revealing clues to help you solve the crime.

Not to drop names, but Cruella de Vil was quickly crossed off my suspect list, as were Captain Hook and Yzma. I took notes and, finally, my criminal revealed herself: the Evil Queen and her sidekick, Black Raven. And as it turns out, I am the fairest of them all — because my Prince Charming said so.
WANNA GO?

The Disney Dream offers 3-, 4- and 5-night Bahamian cruises. For all information, visit www.disneycruise.disney.go.com, or call 800-951-3532.