This was our 2nd Disney cruise and the first time on the Dream. We are fairly experienced cruisers and don't have a million things that we expect on a cruise.
We are a family of 3, me, my husband, and my daughter who is 16. We started cruising in 2005 when she was 8. She has gone through most of the age groups of kids clubs and likes Disney the best. We flew into Orlando a day early, since we live in Arizona. We rented a car from the airport as a one-way rental, and dropped it off in Port Canaveral.
We flew in on Jan. 1, and although I wanted to stay on Disney property, the pricing was incredibly high for that night. We ended up staying in a Downtown Disney hotel, the Best Western. The next morning, we drove down to Port Canaveral and dropped off the car. The rental car company provided a shuttle for free to the ship. I had previously requested a registration time of 11-11:30AM. We arrived about 11:20.
We went through security quickly and right up to the line to check in. The people next to us received boarding group number 19, while we got number 4 due to pre-registering. They had already called our group number so after we checked in, we walked right to the entryway to the ship. My first impression when walking onto the ship was how pretty it was. They still had the Christmas decorations up so we were able to see them, and they were done beautifully. Our room wasn't going to be ready until 1:30, so we walked down toward Animator's Palate and took that elevator up to Cabanas for lunch, as the lobby elevator was pretty busy.
The lunch buffet was very impressive, with a lot of seafood, as well as just about anything else you could imagine. We had lunch and then went over to the main pool area to sit for a while and people watch. Aquaduck was running so we got a chance to watch the people on that. Once the time came, we went to our room.
We had one of the obstructed view cabins, number 7170, and while it did take up about 1/3 of the balcony it was actually pretty nice because I could sit outside in the shade and actually use the balcony the entire time without getting too hot. Muster drill was quick and painless, and then we went up for the sailaway party. After that was done, we went and signed up my daughter for Vibe, which is the older teen club.
It was very impressive in there, they have a pool just for this age group and an outdoor area with loungers that only this group can access. They also had the selection of video games and a DJ booth, as well as just about anything a teenager could want.
Enchanted Garden was our first night rotation (second seating) and I was very impressed with the food selection. It was much better than I remember it being from the last time we were on Disney. Our server team was amazing, and had our names memorized halfway through dinner. Our main waiter called us by name whenever we saw him anywhere on the ship the entire time - that hasn't happened for us in a long time, and it was such a nice touch.
Villains was the show the first night - I wasn't too impressed. I actually wanted to leave about halfway through but we stuck it out to see if it would get better (not so much).
The next day was a day at sea. A note - because my daughter pretty much just wants to hang out in the teen club, she doesn't do a lot of hanging with mom and dad during the day (dinner is required). So, we spent most of our days in the adult only area. The way this ship is set up, kids are CONSTANTLY walking through the area. The forward elevators are right outside and adult area and the main pool is after it, so the kids are always walking through. This is a definite design issue that Disney really should have thought of. Some parents didn't care about the sign that no one under 18 could be there (one child told her mother that she couldn't enter the area and the mother said she didn't care and to come with her). I didn't see any crew members keeping them out either. This was my main complaint and hopefully in the future Disney can design this better or station crew members to keep the kids out.
That night we saw an adult magician Cabaret act - I didn't see why it needed to be classified as 18+, but it was. Nassau was our 3rd day and we treated it as a sea day. We've been there a lot so we just stayed on the ship. This was pirate night and the first time we had experienced that, since the previous cruise we had eaten in Palo that night. I enjoyed the fireworks but the show part I could have done without.
I might just have gotten to the point that since we don't have little ones, we don't enjoy the shows that they invent to have a story go along with what's happening. I would have been happy just with fireworks, and I thought they were excellent, especially being set off on the ship.
Castaway Cay was our last day and again, we really enjoyed it there. They also had all the Christmas decorations still up which was nice. We walked from the dock to Serenity Bay and there the crew was actively keeping the kids out. It was a much longer walk than I remembered and we took the tram back. We had dinner in Palo that night and our server was wonderful and funny. We really enjoyed our time there. We did not do Remy. We didn't have the Palo brunch either, and that's something that I will make the effort to do if we go back on Disney again.
One other issue we had was the amount of kids that would run up and down the halls at night. We always choose a room that is above and below other cabins, not entertainment areas, so that we don't have a lot of noise. However, the running would happen every night for hours - and it wasn't teenagers, it was kids in the 5-8 range and parents were not stopping them from it. That didn't happen on our last Disney cruise, so I'm not sure if we just had a bunch of parents who didn't care this time around.
Debarkation morning was easy - we had an 8AM breakfast seating and then we could walk right off the ship as soon as we were done. Luggage was very easy to find in the terminal. We had breakfast at 8, and by 9AM, we were off the ship, luggage in hand, waiting for the shuttle for the rental car. Disney is fabulous for their service - no doubt about it.
Food this trip was good, but I think all cruise lines have gone down since we started cruising in the types of offerings they have. The adult entertainment was good - we spent most nights in Evolution for the 18+ shows. It's nice that you can choose how much Disney you want to experience :) I'm not sure if we will choose Disney again - pricewise, we can definitely get better on other lines. This may have been our last foray into DCL since our daughter is almost past the age of wanting to be there. It is a great cruiseline, but we're just entering a different phase in our lives now and don't really have the need to be on DCL anymore. It would still be a consideration in the future but I'm not sure that it'll be the one we go with.