There are a lot of great reviews here with similar and helpful info about the Dream.
- huge and beautiful ship
- amazingly friendly and helpful staff
- Castaway Cay is beautiful, fun, and safe
- The shows are great, Broadway quality
- yes, the pools are crowded
Our party included myself, my wife, and 7-year old daughter.
We are not experienced cruisers and have only been on one Carnival Cruise which we called the NASCAR of the sea based on the amount of "white-trash" on-board.. We actually thought we wouldn't cruise again, but some friends had just sailed the Dream and we got a great deal...so off we went.
Parking at the Terminal was easy but $90. Thy don't take AMEX.
Getting on the ship was pretty easy too....no problems
Once on board we grabbed a snack and my daughter went swimming (pack a suit)
Villains show followed by dinner at Animators Palette. Animators is one of the few disappointments because the brochure and video make it look like your table will have a TV screen, but we were more towards the middle of the room. Daughter was a little disappointed.
Let me talk about the food now for the entire cruise. Overall, very good.
We like food and don't mind spending $$$ at nice restaurants.
We found the menus very inviting with lots of seafood and beef choices. Our daughter is an adventurous eater so she ate off the grown up menus.
Every request we had was accommodated. Several times we asked for 2 appetizers or 2 deserts and our servers were really happy to do so.. Our servers were fantastic. Only comment, not a complaint, is drink service is slower than some might expect.
I'm surprised how many negative reviews there were about the food. We like fine dining, and the meals on the Dream equalled most $150 restaurant meals we would eat while on vacation. I thought the food was especially impressive considering how many people they are cooking for.
We avoided the buffet except one day, just not our thing. In fact, I highly recommend the sit-down order from the menu breakfast if your schedule allows. Very nice. Very quiet. Very good food.
Castaway Key was amazing. We were bummed that our Catamaran snorkel adventure was cancelled, but the island has great beaches and the weather was great. We went to the kids beach and had a relaxing day. There are plenty of activities you can schedule impromptu too.
Evening show was the Golden Mickey's which was very good.
Dinner at Royal Palace was very nice.
By the end of dinner we were exhausted.
One thing I found odd was when we left Castaway we really weren't sailing....mostly stationary in the water. I think there is something fun and romantic about a ship moving, but the distance to Nassau is very short.
Nassau, Bahamas was what I was looking forward to the most....but what a dive compared to Castaway Key. We splurged for the Dolphin Encounter and Atlantis Aquapark excursion (~$800) and it was a fun day. The Aquapark was really nice....I'm not sure how much it costs just to go there, but you cold easily spend 5-6 hours. Atlantis was a little less spiffy than I thought it would be.
No show this night, they showed The Avengers movie which we had seen. I took a nap and my wife and daughter did the AquaDuck which is a cool water coaster / slide on the ship.
Dinner at The Enchanted Garden. Again, the picture in the brochure shows these cool looking booths...not for us, we had a regular table. My steak was way over cooked and this was my least favorite meal. I know if I had complained our server would have had a new steak brought for me, but I was already full from having 2 appetizers, soup, and several pieces of bread.
This was our day at sea. I expected the pool area to be way more crowded than it was.
Let me just say it now, a family cruise ship with 4,000 people is going to have crowded pools. I'm not sure what some of these other reviewers were expecting??? Newsflash: if the ship had bigger pools more people would get in and they'd still be too crowded. Fortunately this cruise spent 3 days docked at places with beautiful ocean beaches.....swim there!
My daughter and I did the Mid-Ship Detective Agency, a game where you go around the boat and find clues to solve mysteries. We both enjoyed it. She also spent some time at the Oceaneers Club and Lab....which she seemed to like too.
The show was 2 comedians, and while they were funny my daughter didn't understand 90% of the jokes. Disney missed the boat on this one and should have had a magician or someone more age appropriate. They also did an adult comedy show later that night so they could've adjusted their material. Oh well.
Dinner was back at the Royal Palace and to ensure I gained 5 pounds on the cruise I had 2 entrees.
This was pirates night and everyone was dressed up in pirate gear. Some families really go all out. If you want to fit in I suggest you bring some swash-buckling attire with you, otherwise be prepared to spend $200 on the ship for clothes and accessories you probably will never wear again.
We didn't go to the deck party, but did watch the fireworks from Deck 12. Nice show.
Back at Castaway Key and another great day. Something must've happened to "Marge's Barges" because several excursions were cancelled....but this time we didn't care because the beach and weather were so nice. We did the Sting Ray feeding followed by snorkeling. Was really fun. Recommended!
Back On the boat by 4pm, showered, and off to The AquaDuck for a few final rides. The average wait was 20 minutes.
Show was "Believe" which was great, my daughter's favorite. 1st class performances on this ship.
Dinner back at Animators Palette.
Back to the room to finish packing.
Breakfast and then we left. Clearing customs was smooth.
Here are some other random comments that I hope people find helpful:
- we liked having 2nd dinner seating at 8:15. It allowed us to see all of the shows at 6:00. Had we reversed it I guarantee our 7-year old would have been too tired after dinner.. We didn't pick 2nd dinner, it was assigned...and our first reaction was. "well, this sucks". But, it turned out great.
- The rooms are compact, but comfortable. Hopefully you aren't spending too much time in the room other than sleeping. The split- bathroom is genius!!! There is a fold-down bed and a bunk bed that comes out of the ceiling. The main bed was a queen size with a comfortable mattress.
Our room had a night light. The selection of TV shows and movies was great for bedtime. The air conditioning in the room worked like a champ.
- The photographers on-board are great. If your kids like characters be prepared to wait. Ever go to a Disney park??.....it works the same way here. You wait. We got some great family photos taken. The photos aren't cheap. We spent about $300 to get every photo of us printed and on CD, but they have cheaper packages too.
- We found our cruising companions great. Everyone we met was very nice, most had kids. I did not find people rude or pushy. The only funny thing, and I hope not to offend, I did notice that South Americans pretty much let their kids run anywhere at any time. They probably think Americans are too strict.....ok.
- I've seen some people complain about dress code. If you have some nice clothes, bring them. Shorts and jeans are not encouraged for dinner. Bring a sport coat. You're on an expensive cruise line. If you look like Larry the Cable Guy...Disney might not be the cruise for you. Just sayin'
Having said that, 95% of everyone we saw was appropriately dressed.
- bring a case of water with you on to the ship. You'll be glad you did. The room has a mini-fridge.
- bring a bunch of plastic bags and freezer sized ziplock baggies. The rooms are small and it will help you stay organized and reduce clutter
- everyday they give you an itinerary for all of the events the following day. For those of you who plan "everything" just relax....Disney's got your back.
- I used the Disney wi-fi Internet to check work emails from my iPad. $40 for 100 minutes. Speed was understandably slow, but bearable.
- Dream is great for kids 5-15. We heard from our table mates the youth activities for teens was great. I don't think a child under 3 years old will be easy to manage....simply too much waiting for dinners, shows, elevators, etc...
We will definitely return to Disney for another cruise.