First the good
Embarkation was a breeze. My wife and I were dropped off at the Disney facility at Port Canaveral at 12:30 and were on the ship easily by 1:00. We had a great lunch at the buffet restaurant aft on deck 11.
Our inside room was ready at 1:30 as promised and we were very pleased with the arrangement and the roominess. Loved the "porthole" and its view with Disney characters appearing every now and then.
Nassau was, well, Nassau. It never really changes. We love to go to Fish Fry via the number 10 bus for $1.25. The food (wife -- conch salad and fried snapper; me -- conch fritters, cracked conch and cold Kaliks) was fantastic as expected. We walked back to the ship.
Castaway Cay was wonderful. We always head to the adult beach, grab a couple of lounge chairs and umbrella and just relax, swim, and relax some more. Lunch was good. A few years back Disney offered clam shell type cabanas for the lounge chairs that were great for napping and privacy. They are, alas, no more. Heading back to the ship we found that drinks at the bars on Castaway offer 2 for 1 after 1:30. Nice!
The Meridian Bar on deck 12 aft is fantastic. Hard to get to located between Remy and Palo but without a doubt the best place on the ship to enjoy a cool drink and watch the world pass by.
Cabanas Restaurant on deck 11 aft besides having a buffet has table service in the evening and the food was the best we found on the ship. Unfortunately, Cabanas is closed on the last evening of the cruise. We suspect to force you to eat at your assigned restaurant, tips in hand.
Debarkation was simple and swift. We left our room with all our luggage at 7:00 and were through customs at 7:15. Leaving your luggage in front of your state room door at 10:30 just seems too early for us.
And the Bad
The food in the main dining rooms is average at best, terrible at worst. It seems Disney is more concerned with small portions and presentation than service, quality and taste. Our primary waiter could have cared less. He talked so fast and with such an accent we could hardly understand what he said. Even if he would have slowed down the excessive noise of the dining rooms would have drowned him out anyway. My wife and I had to shout across the table to carry on a conversation. I am not exaggerating. The menu listed items that were not what they actually were when they arrived at our table. Also, the waiter delivered the wrong order --"Here's your salmon ma'am". It was chicken. Disney dress code, "resort casual" was totally ignored and not enforced. Numerous diners were in swim suits, flip flops, and t-shirts. Unless you plan on dining in Palo or Remy ($75!!) do yourself a favor and leave the nice clothes at home. When I asked the Head waiter about the situation he merely wanted to argue with me. Try Cabanas. The food is much better and the selection is amazing.
The coffee shop on deck 4 was pleasant enough. We had at least two fancy coffees each day with small desserts. No forks or other utensils -- pure finger food, like it or not. Late in the afternoon of the last day on board we were presented a coffee card good for a free coffee after you purchased five servings. It would have been appreciated a bit more if we were given the card on our first visit.
Avoid the pool deck - total chaos. Two pools combined with the movie area and the pizza and burger bars and ice cream, every child on the ship, the water tube, well, you get the picture.
The daily list of events delivered to your state room, the "Navigator", is confusing, crowded with too much information and difficult to read. A simpler agenda would be greatly appreciated. You'll see.
The required Abandon Ship drill was quick and easy but not very informative. By the way, take your drink and arrive in a wet bathing suit -- you'll have plenty of company!
First time on the Dream, this was our 5th Disney cruise, The last one before this was aboard the Magic in 2007. Times have changed and so has Disney. Honestly, we mostly think the negative issues are due to the size of the ship and the sheer number of people on board. The Dream is beautiful, but we suspect it's a bit much for Disney. Our next Disney cruise we'll find a route that the Magic or Wonder sails. I'm sure it will be much better.