Here are the highs and lows of our recent Disney Dream cruise. As background, we are frequent cruisers, and have also sailed Disney twice before, once on the Wonder, and once on the Magic. We are a family of 4 with adult children.
- The one bedroom suite was easily the nicest suite/accommodations I have had at sea. Very roomy, two bathrooms with two showers made this ideal for the 4 of us. They also had both a sofa bed and a Murphy bed which allowed everyone to sleep comfortably. The master bathroom is amazing (and the TV that shows through the mirror really cool).
- The concierge lounge and staff on in the lounge were great. Also nice to have a few drinks at different times of day (for free) and the espresso machine was the best coffee on the ship (captain got his coffee there each day).
- Palo, the alternative restaurant was very good, although our service was just so-so. It continues to definitely be worth the extra $20 and it is adults only.
- The other dining menus were just at the "good" level. Nothing to write home about. (Food is always subjective) We all agreed that Princess food was universally better (except for the chicken fingers throughout the ship; there are nothing like them on any ship. But how many of these could you eat?).
- Fireworks at sea; this is just over the top. Although it only lasted like 9 minutes. I thought it was much longer on past Disney ships, but I'm not certain.
- We are not big on buying the pictures on board, ever. But they had a good package that let us get ALL of the pictures they had taken of us (and our daughters took pictures with every character) AND the digital ones of same on a CD for a flat rate. I think it was like $300 which sounds pricey, and was, but this was for like 50-60+ pictures.
- The bar area (adults only) at night was great. Sports bar was fun (watched the Euro soccer matches) and another bar that has this changing landscape out the windows; they shot city pictures of key cities and they show up on the "windows" which runs the entire length of the bar, changing to a new city every 15 minutes. But these are like "movies" not pictures as cars are moving, lights go on and off, etc. Very, very cool. The other bars there like "Pink" that just sold champagne (and hi end at that) were also small and cozy. These all allowed a break from some of the chaos. And the drinks were wonderful there.
- The shows were all Broadway quality. The Golden Mickey's our favorite, the Villains next and least favorite was Dreams (or maybe it was called Believe). But even as our least favorite, they all were enjoyable. The Disney Imagineering group is incredible how they incorporate so many special effects into the show. Really not to be missed on board. We had to get to the theater to line up 40 min! in advance of the show to get a seat. Ugh.
- We saw a late night comedian in the adult area that was hilarious. And he didn't use one cuss word...
- We love any private island, but Castaway Cay, especially the adult side where we had rented a private cabana was sublime. We were there first (around 9am) and had the ENTIRE beach to ourselves for at least a good hour. Probably took others time to figure out how to get there! We hung out in the water, had an amazing lunch of rib eye steak (one of the best I've had in ages). Alright, it was SOO good I had three steaks over several hours, but hey, they were really thin. This day was the highlight of the trip. The Cabana was great to relax in, had free sunscreen, water, sodas, and they would pick you up in a golf cart to take you to lunch and wait to return you to the cabana to enjoy your lunch in your own space.
- Kids were overwhelming. I like kids (I have two daughters that are now grown), and I know this IS a Disney cruise so there will be plenty. But the behaviors of many of them were completely out of control. And the parents did nothing to watch over them. I'm seeing this more and more on various vacations. The parents basically let them run wild. One parent let his 1 year old crawl on the ground near the entrance to the theater and I nearly stepped right on him! WHO lets their kid crawl around like that when hundreds of people are about to enter the theater? We complained to officer personnel (no one else on staff would address it) on several occasions and they finally took care of the one-offs we were pointing out (i.e., parents inside eating a restaurant, kids out running up and down running into people, screaming and yelling. Crazy. I have read several reviews here about whether Disney cruises are good for adults. We really thought this wasn't going to be an issue and that with the adult restaurants, adult pool, adult bars, we would be fine. Alas, this was probably the deal breaker for us returning to Disney Cruise line.
- Aqua coaster was really fun, but alas, I was only able to ride it once as it was either broken down (it happened twice to us while we were in line), or too busy (waits of 45 min were common). The one time we were able to ride was right after the lifeboat drill.
- Wine selection was very poor at the mid-price range. There were some over $100 bottles that were nice, but you shouldn't have to pay that much for a nice bottle of wine. Other lines typically have 15 different good reds between $35-65 as an example.
- We had poor weather during the first two days. It rained in Nassau, and so they cancelled our excursion to Atlantis where we were going to hang out at their river pool. This made little sense as it was raining, and we were going to be wet all day in the water anyway. This was a huge disappointment. But we did catch probably the first part of the tropical depression, Debby, so that probably had a lot to do with it. When we were queuing up for the excursion onboard, there was a lot of confusion as to the trip being cancelled or not. I got fed up with the mixed messages and went back to the concierge lounge; while they were a bit confused initially, one of the staff there took it on and went and got the REAL answer in a matter of 5 minutes: due to potential lightening strikes, trip was cancelled. A lot of people took this out on the concierge staff, which was unfortunate. Disney does a lot, but they can't control the weather (yet).
- Our at sea day is where we really felt the impact of the numerous, uncontrolled kids. Again, thank goodness we had the retreat of the concierge lounge and separate sun deck to get away (and the bars).
- Food just wasn't up to the usual Disney standard anywhere. Again, good, but nothing was even "very good". And the noise at dinner was so unbearable with kids running around and yelling (and crying). There has to be a way for the Maitre'd to have a little more separation in the dining rooms. They know all the ages of the party and we did enough adult only parties that they could have put us to one side of the restaurant. Also, the seating in Animator's Palate is extremely tight; you are practically sitting with other parties.
- Dress code. Frankly there isn't any. They ask that you not wear shorts and/or t-shirts in the dining room at dinner time. Well they don't monitor or refuse anyone on what they wear. I asked them about this as I didn't care for what many others were wearing. They said they won't do anything to turn away a guest!
What that means is all of you worried about what to wear and what not to; throw it out the window- as they will let you wear practically ANYTHING in the dining room! It's a shame. The boat reminds me of the Cunard line ships with its color scheme, majestic, grand. And you would think that the dining room would reflect that grandeur. This is the first line I've been on that doesn't enforce regularly the simple dress code.
So the question is, would we do it again? We decided this would be our last Disney cruise, until we have grand kids, and none of them are on the horizon....