We sailed at the end of August and returned Labor Day. Flew in to Sanford airport which was a dream! Small airports rock. Rented a car and dropped headed to Disney Polynesian for 2 days before returning car to Enterprise Port Canaveral. Highly recommend the Polynesian.
Embarkation was easy. If you want your kids to get their wristbands and you have already signed them up on line DO NOT FILL OUT THE PAPERWORK GIVEN TO YOU IN LINE. The line was long, so unless you plan to put your kids in the kids club right away, you don't need to do this now.
Our cruise right before labor day was not filled to capacity. I think it still had room for about 1000 more people. We missed Isaac and had beautiful weather all week and it wasn't as hot as it normally is.
We were tired and hungry and had about a million carry on bags with us, but Disney insisted we stop and take a "happy" family picture so they could use it for face recognition. Shockingly this cruise line isn't up in your face with a camera like most. This cruise I actually wanted family photos, but usually you had to wait in line, so we skipped it and took out own.
Our first real impression of the ship was of the pools. UGH. This was really dangerous. There were kids jumping on top of each other in a pool the size of a postage stamp. We are "pool people" so we were disappointed. I've heard they are small on most every ship (which I've found to be true in the 3 I've taken), but next time I'm googling "biggest cruise ship pools" before I book. Nemos reef was great though, as was Aquaduck (which isn't scary at all). The adult pool was always packed, as well, but you could get a chair.
Headed to cabanas and YES! They had large prawns on the buffet along with chilled crab legs, salmon, and asparagus. There was no salad bar, which surprised me.
Got to the room around 1:00. We stayed in 8088, Deluxe Family Stateroom with a balcony. There was a storage ottoman with a wooden lid in the middle of the room. My 3 year old opened the lid and it slammed on his fingers. I'm shocked they didn't put padded stoppers on the corners! I'm sure we're not the first people this has happened to. We were pleased with the room for the most part. However, the kids beds (a pull out sofa and a trundle that pulled from the wall) were really uncomfortable (and as parents, you know you'll be sleeping there at some point).
My biggest complaint was the NOISE. It was everywhere, above, below, and outside and every time a toilet flushed. There were kids running down the halls until 11:00. We were also right above the shuffleboard game (ssswwwiishhhh!)
I finally asked them to bring us an air purifier and it did help some. NOTE: bring your noise maker (and I don't mean your kid).
The 8th floor was nice b/c you were 3 floors above the kids club and 3 floors below Cabanas (where we ate breakfast and lunch every day).
Also, our kids haven't seen a ton of Disney movies, and we thought the TV would be tuned to all Disney, all the time, so we were bummed that only one channel had Disney cartoons, and they were really, really old and played over and over. Also, my daughter bought an autograph book at Disney, but didn't get one autograph the whole trip. Why don't they have characters come around the dining rooms like they do at character dining at Disney World? You had to stand in line for 45 minutes just to get a shot with Minnie (at approved times) and they never walked around the ship either.
The Golden Mickey show was fantastic, even my 3 year old sat all the way through it. The other two were just ok. We also saw the Avengers in 3D, which was great.
The dinners were OK. I've noticed the larger the ship is, the more "cafeteria" the food gets. We were on a much smaller Carnival ship once and the food was better!
Formal night was our 10 year anniversary and I wore a full length white gown. I felt like SUCH a weirdo. No one dressed to nines! Not even to the fives! Some were in church dresses, but that was about it. Apparently I skimmed over the reviews of formal night on Cruise Critic!
Service was fantastic. My son had a meltdown the first night. Make SURE you read your dining ticket. I didn't realize they had switched us to first seating, so we showed up at 8:15 with a screaming kid, only to be told we were switched to the 5:15, which was right there on my ticket. Wish Disney would have emailed me. But, I was happy b/c 8:15 is a DEAL BREAKER for me with a toddler. My husband left and the manager came over and said he'd send him up something to the room right away. So nice.
Kids club was awesome, but beware if your 3 year old says he wants his mom 30 seconds after you leave, they will call you back. Even if he's not crying. Even the YMCA will give you 15 minutes before they page you! My kids loved it there, even though my 8 year old complained about going at first, you couldn't get her out of there by the end. The Oceaneer's Lab is for 7 and up, but the clubs are connected so she could run back and forth.
I did LOVE the free cell phones. That was really handy. We got to go out one night by ourselves and the lounges are beautiful and first class.
Stroller, bring your own. Disney has some old Peg Perego, and EVERY SINGLE ONE was broken. You had to pop a wheelie to make it move.
Castaway Cay: use the tram, it's a bit of walk. Don't bother with the floats, b/c you probably won't use them that much and it's a haul back to the drop off station (which they don't even check you out of, which doesn't make sense). Nice that lunch was free. Beautiful beach with clear water and plenty of places to sit. We sat beside the jungle gym out in the water. I noticed most people down by the slide and it was really crowded (the slide is a really long wait, so either be the first one there or do it at the end of they day).
The Missing Paintings (and Missing Puppies) games were so fun. Took a couple of hours to find them all. Genius!
Overall, my kids enjoyed it much better than Disney World (probably since they don't ride roller coasters). Not sure I'd book again since we could have done a whole week on Royal Caribbean for the same price, but I would wait until my son was older, since we kept having to stop for him to nap, etc. We headed back to Disney World after the cruise, which I think was a bit too much since the kids were exhausted (and the rooms at Animal Kingdom aren't worth the money, IMO.)
I hope this helps. Happy travels!