After cruising with NCL 7 times previously, including once with our 1 year old, my husband and I decided to give Disney a try since all of the cruise lines (including NCL) now charge for kids under 2. I need to write NCL a thank-you note for starting to charge because we would have never strayed away to try another cruise line.
We booked this cruise about 5 days out in a balcony guarantee category. Our son is just starting to get into Mickey and Minnie so we thought this would be a fun trip for the three of us.
When I completed the online check-in, we were assigned the 2pm arrival time slot. However, we drove to the port and arrived at noon and had no trouble getting on board. When we arrived at the port, we immediately knew that this cruise was going to be different than our previous NCL cruises. There was a Disney rep at the port entrance who gave us simple directions on what to do. He said that my husband could park the car while I took my son in to check-in. Very nice. NCL advised us on our cruises with them that we all had to be together before starting that process. Check-in was as easy as could be and finished in about 15 minutes. My husband walked up right as I was finishing so he was able to get his photo taken before we boarded.
We were pleasantly surprised at how subdued the Disney theme was on the ship. We read reviews and thought that would be the case but it really was. Everything Disney was done is great taste and as undertones.
Our stateroom was ready about 5 minutes after boarding. I must admit, we were completely shocked and in awe at the size of the cabin. Compared to NCL, it was easily an additional 50% larger. There were separate baths - one with a sink and toilet, another with a sink and tub/shower. The cabin was always perfect and clean. Dewi did a fantastic job. One benefit for us was that the couch turned into a full size twin bed so she converted it each night for our son and put up bed rails. There was a significant amount of storage space in the cabin. The bed is up high off the floor so we easily fit out suitcases underneath. There were also two closets as well as close to a dozen drawers/cabinets and a long desk/counter.
I think our only disappointment with Disney Cruise Line was the food. They certainly worked with me to make whatever I wanted from the menu as I have a severe allergy to alcohol. I appreciated that since NCL has never given me the option of ordering the same food from the menu but without being cooked in alcohol. However, Cabanas was not a cafeteria at night - it was a sit down full table-service restaurant. The only non dining room food was either pizza/burgers/etc or room service. We could not find a room service menu and many of the items that we asked for we were told were not offered. I missed not being able to go and get a salad for dinner or something plain instead of a restaurant or fast food. Also, our son doesn't care for "kid food" on a regular basis so dinners were always tricky with him. I ended up asking for an adult dinner most nights for him. Truly, that was our only complaint. They had 24 hour soft-serve ice-cream (vanilla, chocolate, mixed, banana, strawberry, mixed) which was nice.
Ports - Nassau is Nassau. It never gets better so we, like most of the people on the ship stayed on-board. Castaway Cay was great! After rarely getting to go to NCL's private island due to "wind" and "rough seas", we were amazed at the fact that Disney actually built a dock for their ships. We pulled right in as if it were any other regular port. For those who have small children or disabilities, there is a tram (like at their theme parks) that takes you from the ship to the beach/activities. The beach was pristine and the water was completely clear. The kids activities were great and our son loved to play in the water park area.
Shows - all of the shows were great although we did not care for the comedian. He seemed a bit boring and slightly a rip-off on Jeff Dunham. We missed the fireworks because our son was asleep. It sounded like a lot of fun though from what we heard on our balcony.
Disembarkation - a breeze! We opted for "express walk-off" and took our own bags to our car. A secret that they don't tell you - Cabanas is actually open for breakfast the last morning. We were told they were closed and we had to go to our main dining room from the previous evening, but the staff in Cabanas said they were open - they just don't tell people. It was the regular breakfast buffet minus a few items.
All in all, we cannot wait to go on our next Disney Cruise!