Disclosure: This post is not sponsored by Disney or any affiliate with Disney. Disney doesn’t even know my name. I paid for this entire trip myself. I am also not personally affiliated with any of the people or links that are provided in this post.
Note: Don’t want to read all about my Disney trip? Just scroll to the bottom to grab the recipe. 🙂
Easy Pineapple Crumb Cake
This recipe is inspired by the snack-sized pineapple crumb cakes we had during our lunch at Disney’s Castaway Cay in the Bahamas. It was so light and moist and had the perfect tropical taste to match our location. This recipe isn’t exactly like those crumb cakes. In fact, I think it’s even better! 🙂
As I said it in part one of my first Disney cruise post…Disney overwhelms me. If you missed Part One of our Disney Cruise, click HERE. Going to Disney World overwhelms my senses and the Disney Cruise did the same at first. It’s not necessarily a bad thing – it can just feel like too much the first time you go. Too much to do. Too much to know. Whenever you plan a Disney vacation, it feels like you have to read the entire novel of War & Peace to understand how to navigate the terrain. You have to learn all the little hidden tips and tricks. You can’t just book the trip, show up and then play it by ear. I mean, you could, but then you’ll have FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) the entire time because you didn’t know you had to book fast passes in advance or that you needed reservations months ago if you want to eat at a particular restaurant that only takes reservations. But we go through the motions because Disney really does offer a unique experience and their service is top notch. It still doesn’t change my opinion on how overwhelming it all is. 😉
How’s the food?
The one question I was asked the most while on our Disney cruise was “How is the food?” I will say this – it wasn’t ‘knock your socks off’ amazing but it was good. Lots of options for adults and kids alike. I mean, it is Disney after all! I enjoyed the desserts more than anything. You can pay extra to dine at their fancier restaurants but I had already paid enough for this dang cruise, I wasn’t spending even MORE money to have a 9 course dinner. Definitely take the advice on what your servers recommend each night. Also, contrary to popular belief, the buffets are not open 24 hours. They do have certain times they are open. But if you really get a hankering for food at 2am, I am sure the staff can find you something! 🙂
Let’s talk GRATUITY
Speaking of paying more money. Let’s talk gratuity. I was not prepared for how much we would have to pay in tips. It was a lot, y’all. A. LOT. You will need to budget at least a few hundred dollars just to pay the staff. This was one area of this Disney cruise that disappointed me. Most of your serving staff and stateroom staff only make money when you tip them at the end of the cruise (or when they deliver food to your room or if you order food poolside to be brought to you.) This means you are paying their wages. I know this because I asked. None of the staff told me this voluntarily but I was genuinely curious how it all worked and although some were hesitant to explain it to me, (so I wouldn’t tip extra out of guilt) it was interesting to see how this stuff operates behind the curtains.
Room for improvement
I understand that this is how cruises work. I totally get it. I just expected better from Disney. If all of the cruise staff (including wait staff) were paid good, living wages then you wouldn’t feel the weight of responsibility for tipping them these huge amounts along with the huge amount you already paid just to book the cruise. Tips should just be extras for great service. These people are feeding their own families with this money that you are giving them. Almost all of our staff were from very poor countries with limited employment. Our assistant server was from the Dominican Republic and she’s the Mom of 3 young children and she has been gone most of their lives to be able to support them. Again, I asked – she didn’t volunteer. And here she was, entertaining the children at our table and bringing smiles to their faces. It made me think of her children and I hoped they knew how hard their Momma was working so they could have a good life.
Disney cruises are not cheap
I mean, you are already spending a ton just to go on the cruise. Let’s be honest. It ain’t cheap! You are even provided gratuity envelopes and suggested tip amounts in your staterooms on the last night of the cruise. Because I had really gotten to know these people and they treated us so well (and I knew I was pretty much paying their wages), I felt obligated to pay far above the suggested amount. I just wish Disney paid them a good wage and provided benefits, and we, as the paying cruisers, could just go and enjoy and not feel the weight of having to provide them with their living wages. Our tips should be the bonus. I know there is a lot of arguments against my opinion here. And it is just my opinion. But with what you pay for the cruise and for transportation to get to the port, the port adventures during your port stops and then also paying people’s wages – you have literally spent a small fortune. Our vacation was enough to pay for our son’s first year of college. Seriously. Anyhow, this was one area no one explained to me before our cruise. So I knew I needed to mention it for others. It needs to be in your budget, for sure.
Skip the spa
I tried the on-board spa services just for y’all. I know, right? The sacrifices I make for my people. 😉 Please note: Disney does not operate the spa. It is contracted out to a company. So the spa employees are not Disney employees (even though they wear the Disney Cruise Line name tag.) I tried acupuncture and a seaweed ocean wrap treatment. Regular cruisers will be aware of the ‘spa culture’ on cruises. It was an eye opener for me, for sure. Some folks go on cruises just to take advantage of specific spa treatments. Some of these treatments are for Botox, Coolsculpting and Thermage. You can look all that up but it’s basically treatment that can only be administered by a doctor or certified professional. Spa cruisers will get these treatments on the first day of their trip so any bruises, etc. will be healed by the time the cruise is over. Most of the spa services (including facials) are expensive because an 18% gratuity is automatically tagged on after your service. You have no option to decline the gratuity. It is mandatory.
There is a sales pitch
After your treatment is over (and this goes for every single treatment from a basic pedicure or facial), they will try to sell you products to ‘continue your spa experience at home.’ These folks are so well trained that it doesn’t seem ‘salesy.’ They do it in such a nice and helpful way that it almost doesn’t seem like they are selling things to you, but they are. And they will do it after every treatment.
How were the spa treatments?
So, as for my results, I haven’t seen any change after the acupuncture. I asked for treatment to help my digestive issues. It was interesting and an experience I will never forget. It was administered by a Japanese doctor of acupuncture who had a 10 year education in medicine and acupuncture. But, I was told that sometimes these treatments work and sometimes they don’t. Note: He also tried to sell me herbal products after the treatment. Apparently, this was not the time for me when it comes to acupuncture. The ocean wrap was crazy and enjoyable. There was lots of seaweed mud and I was wrapped in a warm cocoon-like bed. It smelled wonderful and was relaxing. Not sure I saw any benefit from it – but it was a nice, gentle spa experience.
Tips on packing
If you can, bring iron-free clothing where possible. There are no irons in the rooms. You will have to find one of the laundry rooms on board to iron your clothes. Or, you can pay additional to have your clothes ironed for you. It’s just not super convenient so if you can bring wrinkle-free clothing, you’ll save yourself some trouble. You won’t need any fancy clothing unless you plan to go to one of the paying restaurants on board or you are doing a photo shoot with Shutters (the on-board photography studio.)
The Disney Dream has fireworks on Pirate Night during the cruise. This is a must-watch. It’s crazy watching fireworks out in the middle of the ocean. Just get on deck early because it fills up very quickly and you don’t want to miss the pre-show.
As I said earlier, a stateroom host/hostess is assigned to your room (along with others along your hallway) and they can fetch you ice or any other necessary items. They will also be cleaning your room everyday and leaving you those fun towel creations. 😉 You can order room service for free (except for drinks) and you will be expected to pay a tip.
Don’t miss the shows
Where possible, try to make time to see the different and special shows they have every night. Depending on your dinner service time, you can either catch the 6:15 show or the 8:15 show. Note: both show times are the same show, just at two separate times each night. These shows are really well done and fun for your entire family.
Catch a movie
We never had a chance to see any of the onboard movies. Bummer! They were showing Black Panther but they were only showing it in 3D and no one in my family can handle 3D movies and the only non-3D show time was at 11pm. We were too exhausted to stay up that late. But, the Disney Dream has it’s own movie theater (called Buena Vista Theatre) and you can catch a few first-run or even early previews of new movies coming out!
So, this may be another unpopular opinion, but I would skip the Bahamas port of call (unless you really enjoy touristy, overpriced trinkets.) My friend agreed with me on this when she took a Disney Cruise to Jamaica. There are port adventures that you can schedule (and pay extra for) like dolphin petting/swimming and of course, you can just go hang out at the beach but many families we spoke with had said it wasn’t as exciting as the tour brochures had made it sound. It probably all depends on who your tour guide is, I suppose.
Think about staying on the ship
Personally, I wish we would have stayed on the ship that day in the Bahamas because we would’ve been able to enjoy activities on board the ship that we otherwise missed. Plus, there aren’t long lines to the AquaDuck (the on-deck water slide tube) and the ship isn’t as crowded. We made the best of our port stop and enjoyed the Bahamian beaches and took a tour and had a fantastic lunch.
But, at the end of they day, it is a tourist resort. I suggested they have food tours where they take tourists to all the local hangouts across the island (not just in the tourist trap Main Street by the port.) Not that they’ll take the advice of little ole me but it would be pretty awesome, don’t you think?
This is Disney’s private island in the Bahamas. It is beautiful. It really is. But it is nuts! You have thousands of people descending on the beaches at once. It’s like the storming of Normandy. Folks are walking around looking for available spots and chairs. My poor hubby walked up and down that darn island for nearly 30 minutes just to find us a couple of beach chairs. I was prepared to just sit on a blanket.
Kids will be unsupervised. The lifeguards have their hands full – that’s for sure. It is the name of the game on Castaway Cay. Most parents will be oblivious to where their kids are. If you leave anything unattended by your chairs, be prepared for it to possibly be missing when you come back. We had rented tubes and I can’t tell you how many times kids would just walk by and grab them and walk away. I wouldn’t have minded it at all but we had paid money to rent them and had to turn them back in so as not to be charged. Kids (and some adults) will scoop up chairs and even snorkeling masks if they are laying around. So, my advice is to either rent a private cabana on Castaway Cay or take anything important with you if you are leaving your spot unattended. It’s every man for himself out there – ha!
Lunch is served
You will eat lunch, buffet style, on Castaway Cay. Pretty basic stuff like hamburgers, hot dogs and a vegetarian option along with fresh fruits, salads and easy-to-eat dessert items (like this Pineapple Crumb Cake!) They have specific serving times (between 11:30-2pm.) Chances are, you will see your dinner servers working there as well! They also have self-serve ice cream machines on the island. I think we enjoyed that the most. Get yourself some ice cream and walk on the beach!
Do the sandbar adventure!
If there is one port adventure we absolutely loved, it was the Sandbar Adventure at Castaway Cay. It costs $73 per person (at the time of our booking) and was worth every penny! It lasts for about 2 hours. A boat takes about 12 people out to a private sandbar (about a 30-minute boat ride) near Castaway Cay. The water is gorgeous so make sure to take your snorkeling gear. You can rent some or take your own (like we did.) It is absolute heaven. So peaceful. If you are of age, they will serve you a delicious rum punch. They also carry along some other drinks and snacks for the kids. There is no extra charge for the drinks, but like with everything else on the cruise, you will want to give your deckhands a tip before exiting the boat. On the sandbar, you truly feel like you are in the Bahamas. They even played a couple of games with us at the end and we were with a really friendly and fun group of people so it was really a fantastic experience. I highly recommend it!
It is impossible for me to cover every aspect of the cruise here. Obviously we could not do everything that was on offer. Everyone’s experience can be different and these are just my opinions. Overall, we really enjoyed this Disney Dream cruise. We will definitely do another Disney cruise. But next time, I hope we will be a little wiser and better understand the process.
I think we will also be better prepared. I also plan to build in more relax time and not feel the need to be doing something every minute of the day. You know what I mean? We must remember it is a vacation so we should take advantage of the limited Wifi and cell phone service and unplug while we chill out by the pool or just hang out on the deck and pretend like we actually know how to play shuffleboard 😉
for the crumb topping:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened to room temp.
1/2 cup chopped pecans
for the cake:
1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple (do not drain), divided use
1 box lemon cake mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350f degrees. Spray a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Prepare the crumble topping. In a small bowl, combine flour, brown sugar and butter using a fork. You want to end up with it fully mixed and you should have small crumbles.
In a large bowl, combine the crushed pineapple (with the rest of the juices), lemon cake mix, eggs and oil. Mix for about 2 minutes using an electric mixer. Pour cake mix into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over the top of the cake batter.
Bake for about 35-38 minutes (until it bounces back to the touch or an inserted toothpick comes out clean.) Note: As you can see below, some of my crumb topping sunk into the cake. This actually ended up being a really yummy and happy accident. It made it like a cinnamon roll cake. So don’t worry if this happens to yours. It tastes amazing! Allow the cake to cool completely.
This Easy Pineapple Crumb Cake recipe is easily made with a boxed lemon cake mix, crushed pineapple, pecans and a delicious brown sugar crumb topping.
- for the crumb topping:
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup butter softened to room temp.
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- for the cake:
- 1 20 oz can crushed pineapple (do not drain) divided use
- 1 box lemon cake mix
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- for the icing:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp. milk
- 4 tsp. reserved pineapple juice
- Preheat oven to 350f degrees. Spray a 9" x 13" baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Prepare the crumble topping. In a small bowl, combine flour, brown sugar and butter using a fork. You want to end up with it fully mixed and you should have small crumbles.
- Then, stir in chopped pecans. Set aside.
- Prepare the cake. First, open up the can of crushed pineapple and set aside 4 teaspoons of pineapple juice to use for the icing later.
- In a large bowl, combine the crushed pineapple (with the rest of the juices), lemon cake mix, eggs and oil. Mix for about 2 minutes using an electric mixer.
- Pour cake mix into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over the top of the cake batter.
Bake for about 35-38 minutes (until it bounces back to the touch or an inserted toothpick comes out clean.) Allow the cake to cool completely.
- Prepare the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk and pineapple juice. Whisk until smooth.
Drizzle the icing all over the cake. Slice and serve.