This was my first inaugural cruise so it was a great experience to take part in. I received a special lithograph & special coasters to remember the "First sailing from Galveston" so this was a nice touch. I took my father and my daughter who is 17 (her first cruise). First nobody does it like Disney so you cannot compare them to the other cruise lines. My first cruise was on the Disney Wonder in June 2003 so I did kind of know what to expect. There were many pros and few cons on this cruise. The food was of great quality and every cast member that I came in contact with was very helpful, courteous and kind. I expected at least that much and was not disappointed. My daughter just LOVED this cruise; she met some great kids while in the teen club VIBE which is located in one of the smoke stacks & I hardly ever saw her unless she was stopping by to change clothes or shower. She loved all of the cast members too and she had so much to say each morning about what they all did the previous day. Their activities were decided daily by the kids so everyone showed up and participated. Disney also provided wave phones for me and my daughter to use so I could always contact her & she could also contact the other kids while on the ship. This is a great idea and it worked wonderfully! All of the shows were over-the-top great and the pirate party on deck was very fun and it was nice seeing fireworks while we were out at sea. The only shore excursion we set up was swimming with the Dolphins in Grand Cayman & it was great. Our Dolphin's name was Darwin and he did lots of tricks for us plus we had 2 swims with him. It was well worth the money and I highly recommend it.
My disappointment was with the cabin & the buffet hours/availability. The cabin was in dire need of updating. I very much look forward to fantastic beds & until this cruise, I was never disappointed. ALL of the beds were warn and very uncomfortable. The sofa was so tired that when you sat on it you got poked by springs & the fabric was torn in many places. When it was set up as a bed the mattress was uneven and was also very bumpy & hard. One night we tried the upper birth but it was worse so we didn't use it for the remainder of the cruise. We just had to make due with what we had. The split bathrooms were great because 2 people could get ready at the same time but the grout was dirty or missing and there was rust in the shower. I think that these things should be kept up because of the premium Disney charges for their cruises.
The Topsider buffet was great for breakfast but they were not open as much as I remember from other cruises I have taken. It would close at 2pm and then not open up again until 5 or 6 and sometimes it would be set up as a sit down restaurant where you order from a menu. When I am on vacation I eat when I am hungry not during typical lunch and dinner times so I was very upset to find out I had to eat at either Pinocchio's Pizzeria or Pluto's Doghouse (burgers, hot dogs, chicken fingers etc.) or room service (which served the same items) most of the time. Needless to say I was tired of pizza, chicken fingers and burgers by the time I left the ship. Animator's Palate was a fantastic experience for dinner & is definitely a must do. I also love the dinner rotation so you aren't in the same restaurant every night but you have the same wait staff each night, this is a nice touch. Another complaint is they do NOT provide complimentary popcorn. They always have movies showing whether you are in the Buena Vista Theater, in your room or out by the pool but you have to buy popcorn. I really think they need to supply that at no charge. They did have free ice cream from 11am to 11pm daily which was nice and they do not charge for soda fountain drinks. All in all; this cruise was enjoyable but it could be better and I don't think I would go on another Disney cruise unless I take kids with me.
One more note...make sure you take your pirate costumes and accessories with you so you don't have to buy them on board.