Background: First time cruising couple with a 2 1/2 yr old daughter.
Travel to Port of Embarkation: We planned to fly into MCO airport on the morning of our cruise. Southwest Airlines sent me a text message 2 hours before our flight telling us that our flight had been cancelled. We were very worried that we would miss the cruise, but fortunately Southwest put us on a direct flight which got us into Orlando earlier than our original flight which contained a connection. None of this is the fault of Disney. If we had booked our airfare with the cruise, I think that any problems would have been rectified by Disney.
Stateroom: We were in a Deluxe Family Stateroom with Veranda. This was very nice - it reminded me of a 5* hotel in a European city. Everything was very new and very clean. There was lots of storage space, and the shower had a small bath tub that my daughter loved. The veranda was very nice, but would have been nicer on a higher floor (we were on 6) as the More
lifeboats obstructed some of the view directly down into the water. This was our first cruise so I have nothing to compare it to, but I believe that this room was top-notch at 299 Sq Ft.
Ship info: My impression was that the Disney Dream is a beautiful, new cruise ship. What I had read was true, that the ship was designed to look like a cruise ship from the "golden age" of cruising (1920's). Lots of wood (or nice looking laminate) and chrome. Big portals and nice public spaces. Public spaces were very nice - spacious and well designed with shaded areas and showers to cool off.
Dining: Sit-down dinners were very nice. Menu choices were good and service was prompt. Buffet breakfast and lunch at Cabanas was also very good. Most everything was fresh and tasty. I would have liked a few more choices of fruit, but all-in-all, Cabanas was good. Table availability was a little limited during peak times.
Activities: I wasn't thrilled with the pools - they were small and packed with people, but I guess that is to be expected on a cruise ship. Pirate day was very fun. Fireworks were a little of a let down - not much to see.
Children's Clubs: Activities for kids (Oceaneer Club and Lab) were great. Unfortunately my daughter was a little young for these activity centers and a little old for the nursery. We went there during open house and she had a great time. However, other activities, especially character appearances (Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, etc.) were great for her. We didn't partake in a lot of other activities because of her age.
Service: Service was excellent. Disney Crew members really take a personal interest in their customers. Our room was spotless, towels were changed several times each day, extra soap and shampoo were provided when requested. Room service (which is included on Disney Cruises - 24 hours a day) was prompt. Servers at the sit down meals were great. If my daughter didn't like something, a replacement was quickly brought. I almost felt like we were spoiling her too much. ;-)
Entertainment: Shows were fun and professional. We didn't go to all of them because of my daughter's age, but the ones we did see were very good. Movie showings were also good, and the theaters were beautiful.
Port & Shore Excursions: Castaway Cay is a very nice island for what it is: a private island for Disney Cruisers. It was a little crowded for my tastes, and I think that tubes and rafts should be included ($6 each per day). But the beach was clean, the sand was soft, and the lunch (included) was pretty good as beach food goes. The fruit stands were very nice - nicer than the fruit selection on board. Also nice were the open soft serve ice cream stands. We didn't enjoy Nassau very much, but again it may be my personal tastes. There is not much to see in town as far as local culture goes, and I understand that venturing outside the downtown shops can be dangerous. We did not do the Disney excursion to Atlantis; rather we took a water taxi there. We did not like Atlantis very much. Having grown up in NJ and NY, I have certainly had enough of what the Atlantis has to offer, but others may differ in opinion. We paid $40 each to see the Aquarium, which was nice, but we cold have paid less than half that at any aquarium in a US city.
Disembarkation: Very smooth. A little bit of a line but nothing too bad. Very organized.
Summary: In summary, a very nice 5 night cruise. It was not cheap, especially in comparison with other cruise lines (Carnival, RCCL, NCL), but I think that we got what we paid for. Disney really does a great job. I'm not sure that I would do it again - but not because I didn't enjoy the cruise line. This was our first cruise, and we were not thrilled about being packed into a ship with over 5,000 other people in such close proximity. It reminded me of a combination of a shopping mall on Christmas Eve , and the town pool on July 4th. Less
Very nice private island. Clean beaches and water, nice sand, fun activities (both free and paid), and decent food. The beach can get a little crowded, but there are other things to do, like biking, snorkeling, and playing in the water park.