We sailed on the Disney Dream on April 29th, 2012 on a 4 day cruise to the Bahamas. We chose this because many said that the 3-day cruise to the Bahamas did not allow enough time to enjoy the boat. I quite agree. Here is the good, not-so good and tips to save you some money!
Transportation to Port Canaveral:
We flew to Orlando and decided to rent a car. Being a family of 5, Disney transportation was going to cost over $200! So that was out of the question. Tip: When you put the Disney tags on your luggage, Disney takes them straight from the airport to the boat. We didn't realize this when we didn't see them at baggage claim until we inquired. This allowed us to rent a smaller car because we had virtually no luggage. We used Thrifty one way, total cost for 5 people = $27.29. Thrifty has a shuttle that takes you straight to the port.
Be sure to register the kids club online first. Then you can save yourself time from filling out the form at the terminal. They give your kids wristbands with an electronic chip. Each stateroom has two cell phones. If your kid needs you or gets separated from you, they call this phone. Oceaneer's Club was a hit with my 7 and 4 year old. My 9 year old girl was a bit too old for it. They loved the instant hand washer, very cool. They listed set-times for activities but it was kind of a do-whatever-you-want kind of place. I wish they would have announced "super sloppy science is about to start" cause the older ones would have liked it. We didn't use the kids club very much but it was fun for the kids.
They really didn't build these pools big enough to accommodate this many families. It was wall-to-wall children. The pool in my backyard is bigger than these ones. Best advice, swim early in the morning (before noon) or in the evening (after 6pm). Evening was quite nice, water is warm and the outdoor movie screen is great! Nemo's reef is perfect for the little ones but again, small. The yellow water slide was also a big hit with the kids. Line up is fast and never that long of a wait.
A very very cool waterslide. The kids all loved it. Best advice, go to the mandatory emergency drill in your swimsuits and when it's done, boot it to the Aquaduck. There was no line, we got to go twice in a span of 15 minutes. In the daytime, the line up was 60 minutes. The other best time to go is in the evening (after 7pm), again wait time is less than 10 minutes. The hot tub can warm you up. A "must do".
The Disney shows are fantastic. My one son didn't like them but my daughter enjoys them so she went with me. I liked the "Golden Mickeys" which was the first night but could've done without the crew introduction. The "Villains" show I heard had a lot of older humour but my 9 year old thought it was funny. I missed the last show "Believe" as we went swimming but another tip: in your stateroom you can watch that evening's show on the television. So I did get to see it. Better in person but kids wanted to swim.
The Pirate Show on the last night was suppose to be wonderful but we only stayed up for the fireworks at 10:30 and then left right away. It was soooo crowded and my kids just couldn't stay up any longer. Too bad.
I thought the food was as good as I had on Holland America. I did Royal Caribbean last year and their food was terrible. I read bad reviews of the food on Disney but I thought it was very good. Service was great. Kids menus were good. Portion sizes for my older kids was small so I had to order them two entrees each night but all three restaurants were great. Animator's Palate was the most enjoyable for the kids as the one night "Crush" from Finding Nemo puts on a show.
The buffet for breakfast was stocked very nicely with lots of fresh fruit which I love to see and plenty of options for breakfast. On the pool deck there was a drink station with soft drinks and lemonade.
The "Eye Scream" self-serve ice cream was a big hit with the kids too.
We booked two inside connecting rooms being a family of 5. This gave us two bathrooms and two actual beds which was nice. My only criticism is that there weren't a lot of drawers to put clothes in. We had the virtual portholes which was great. Every now and then you would see Peter Pan fly by or the Sleeping Beauty fairies.
Nassau - Weather was awful. The ship cancelled many excursions. We booked a room directly with Atlantis (best option for family of 5) so we decided to go for it. The Dig aquarium is amazing. Weather managed to clear enough for us to use waterpark which was great. Best lazy river I've ever been on (it's like white water rafting). Kids water playground was their favourite. With the not ideal weather, there were no lineups and it wasn't too cold. When my 4-year-old did get cold, we brought him to the hot tub. Tip: Food is extremely expensive. We got 5 sandwiches and 5 drinks, it was $105. No joke. I recommend bringing a box of ziplock bags. It could have been much worse if i didn't bring some of my own snacks. I went to breakfast buffet (Cabanas) and grabbed 3 boxes of Fruit Loops, then loaded some muffins in one bag, croissants in another, pancakes in another and then grabbed two bananas and 3 apples. I couldn't bring drinks unfortunately but if you have drink boxes, do it. They don't check your bags when you come off.
Castaway Cay - Disney thinks of everything. I recommend taking a photo when you get off with the family with the Dream in the background. Strollers here aren't necessary unless you need to nap a little one. The tram comes every 6 minutes. I thought food was great. Beach was terrific. Fish are hard to see if you snorkel but they are there.
-Mickey's Midship Detective Agency: This is an interactive scavenger hunt that my kids loved! Highly recommended.
-Goofy's Mini-Golf: On deck 12, great for kids.
-Photos: They aren't taking your picture every 5 yards like some past cruises I've been on. And they are great at organizing all your pics via your stateroom card on a computer.
Ship is laid out strangely. There is no actual promenade deck where you can walk from one end to the other. I also found the photo area too small. They could have used some more photographers. Bathrooms outside the restaurants needed more stalls. In the women's they only had 3 toilets when there are 300 people in the restaurant.
Elevators are nothing short of a nightmare. Get the kids to learn to use the stairs. You'll be waiting a long time otherwise.
Transportation back to Airport:
I went with Budget because they didn't charge a "drop-off" fee for going one-way. The line-up was horrendous. Luckily our flight didn't leave until 1:30pm but we waited 30 minutes for the shuttle and another 35 minutes in line at the rental car agency. They ran out of full-size vehicle so we were upgraded which was nice. Again, for a family of 5, it cost $37.39. Remember the last gas station before the airport (exit 11) is at exit 9.