I preface my review by stating that I am an avid traveller who is accustomed to staying at 4 star hotels and do not like crowds. I am not an avid cruiser because because I prefer quality food to quantity, I hate being treated like cattle and I am a non-smoker.
I also note that I travelled with my 7 year old son who absolutely loved the ship and did not mind the noise, crowds or overall insanity of the ship.
1. The ship is BEAUTIFUL. The cabins are well appointed. The finish and design of the ship is amazing. Disney staff endeavor to keep it super clean. It is an axing ship.
2. Palo Restaurant. The food is excellent and well worth the extra cost. If you are going on the cruise spend the extra money to eat at either Palo or Remy-it will be the only good meal that you will have on the ship.
3. Deck 4. It is quiet. They pipe in music that you can listen to and relax. My favorite part of the ship. Definitely spend a couple hours there relaxing and really cruising.
4. Serenity Bay. The adult beach on Castaway Cay is absolutely gorgeous. The sand is soft. The water crystal clear. You can go out about 250 yards from shore to a sandbar. I have travelled extensively in the Caribbean and Pacific and this it one of the best beaches I have been too. Ditch the kids and treat yourself to the only thing at Castaway Cay worth experiencing.
5. Shows. The Believe Show is excellent. The Awards show is good. The Villains starts out great and fall apart. It is mediocre. The pirate show is terrible (my son dressed up as a pirate and even he thought it was just ok) but the fire works are great. Overall the shows are very good.
6. Aqua Duck: My son love the Aqua duck. He was too short to ride it alone so I went about 15 times and it is pretty good but way too short. Lines average 20 minutes.
7. Restaurant. All three restaurants are beautifully designed. There is a "screen" show at animators. Disney design has out done itself. I just wish they would enforce the dress codes. People coming to dinner in t-shirts and jeans really ruined the atmosphere of the restaurants.
8. Oceaneers Club for kids is great. My seven year old really enjoyed. The check in and check out procedure is a bit of a pain but the club is great. Note that at dinner counsellors will pick up the kids at the restaurant so that adult can enjoy there meals. You have to let the servers know that the kids will be going to the club!
1. Pools are terrible. One tiny adult pool and one tiny kid pool. 4000 people trying to swim in two little pools. The pools are way too over-crowded, dangerous and absolutely gross. I did not get in the pools. They were disgusting. The adult pool has a capacity for about 12 people and there seemed to be between 25-50 people crammed in it. Shame on Disney. The kids pool is not any better. My son swam in both pools. I watched like a hawk that he did not get hurt in the adult pool or accidentally run into a little kid in the child pool. In the adult pool he had one kid jump on top of him while he was swimming but he was able to get out of the pool. Please note that neither pools is supervised by Disney staff and there is not a capacity limitation for with either pool.
2. Food. Over all the food is very average. Disney is serving over 4000 people so expect banquet food. The breakfasts are terrible. Buffet at Cabana's was a wide variety and is pretty good for lunch. As I note above go to the adults only restaurants for a real dining experience.
3. Castaway Cay. I was disappointed in the kids section of Castaway Cay. With 4000 people is the most crowded beach I have ever been on in my life. We arrived at the beach around 9:30 am and found seat with an umbrella in the third row of seats from the beach. I think there were six rows of seat from the beach. Disney advertises this as your own private beach but it could not be further from the truth. There a variety of ropes defining where you can and cannot go. The "kids" swimming area is about chest deep. There are Disney staff every where telling the kids where they can and cannot go. To snorkel Disney Staff insists that you rent a yellow floatation device. Adult snorkel rental is $25 each and kids $10 each. In the snorkeling area there are fish is you go out far enough and Disney had placed some artificial ships to see. Note that because there are 4000 people kicking up the sand you have to go a ways out snorkeling to get clear water. I scuba dive so I thought the snorkeling was a joke but other people seemed to think it was pretty good.
4.People. Very few people dressed in attire that is suitable for the ship. At dinner way to many people wore jeans and t-shirt to really nice restaurants. Around the boat to many tank tops and stupid graphic tees. It is like cruising with the Simpsons. The ship is refined and elegant but by and large the customers dress like slobs. There are way too many people on board the ship and the people ruined the cruise for me. Too busy!
5. Elevators are insane. Way too many people trying to cram in to the elevators. You would think that people would understand that you should let the people in the elevator to get out before trying to get in. Way to over-crowded.
6. Smoking. In the morning and evenings I went out to enjoy my veranda and more often than not I was driven back into the cabin by people sitting outside there veranda's smoking. Disney should not have allowed smoking on the balcony's.
7. Tipping. On the last morning I tipped the staff. Approximately 2/3rds of the people who were at dinner did not attend breakfast. I know a small portion had to rush off to catch flights but most clearly stiffed the staff. It is really awkward. Our table that had 14 people the night prior had just 3 people.
8. Noise. Overall the ship is incredibly noisy. The pool are is insane. The restaurants are noisy. The show are noisy. The constant noise drove me nuts!
1. Pay for the port parking right next to the terminal. Your are spending $3000 for the cruise so pay the extra $50 and save the hassle of a shuttle!
2. Check in early. We had a boarding time of 1pm but were permitted to board 30 minutes early.
3.Bring the kids swimsuits so that when you board they can change and go straight to the aqua duck. If your child is less that 54inches tall a parent will have to ride with them.
4. Eat at the adult only restaurant. The food is exceptional and significantly better than the banquet fare.
5. Enjoy deck 4.
6. Go to to top of the front of the ship to enjoy the view.
7. Be on the left side of the ship on the top deck floor at the rail to enjoy the fireworks. Facing the front of the ship the fireworks are set off on the right side.
8.GO TO THE ADULT ONLY BEACH. IT IS THE BEST THING ON THIS CRUISE.
9. Make extensive use of the Oceaneers Club particularly the dinner pick up.
10 Disney's motto should be hurry and and wait. There is no point running around with crowd's trying to do everything.
I hope the lengthy review is helpful