This was our first cruise with Disney and we were SO excited. We've always cruised with Royal Caribbean and had very good experiences with them. So, when moving to Disney, the clear "premier" cruise line for families, we thought our experience would blow us away. Unfortunately, we were left a bit disappointed. Why?
1. Kids Programs
The facilities for kids on the Disney Dream are amazing. As a parent, looking at the facilities, you would think you would never see your kid again. However, it was quite the opposite. Our 7 year old daughter, who spent all of her time on our last RCI cruise in the kids club was so excited to spend time in the Disney club. But, after the first night when she had them page us to come get her, I knew something was wrong. After much discussion throughout the week and after the cruise, I've come to the conclusion that there are simply too many kids on the Disney cruise to provide the same personal attention that our kids received on RCI at their kids clubs. Our daughter complained that she was bored on Disney. She went to the club, tried to meet friends, and came home each night disappointed. On RCI, the staff knew her name and face on the second day, even greeting her outside of the kids club on other areas of the boat. Same thing with the nursery staff and our baby. On Disney, that just wasn't true. The nursery staff was much better than the Oceaneer staff, but there were much less babies than 3-12 year olds. Another thing that RCI does better than Disney is breaking up the age groups. Disney has four groups - babies, kids, tweens, and toddlers. That "kids" group ranges from 3 to 12 - which is huge. RCI breaks that age group up into at least two, if not three separate groups. That really helps focus the activities and attention.
2. Pool Facilities
Disney missed the boat in planning their pool space. There are five pools on the Disney Dream: 1. Nemo splash zone, 2. Mickey Pool, 3. Donald Pool, 4. Cove Pool, and 5. Vibe Pool. The Cove pool is in the adults only area and the Vibe pool is for teens. We did not experience either of those. The Nemo splash zone is very cool - lots of little water spouts coming from the floor and ceiling and lots of brightly colored fun characters. But Disney missed the boat in setting appropriate ages for this area. They allow kids from infants to 8 year olds in this area. My 16 mo. daughter LOVED the area, but after she got nearly run over by the older kids three times, I took her out and never went back. They really need to tighten the age group on this area so that the younger age group has an area that they can safely enjoy. The Mickey pool is about 1 foot deep and shaped like Mickey. I assume this is intended for kids that can't yet swim but want to play in the water. The concept is great, but it's a small pool, which makes for very crowded play. The Donald pool is equally as small. This is a much deeper hole where you can hang out and watch the "FunnelVision". Again though, Disney missed it on this one. The pool is too deep for most kids and mom's to touch the bottom. I did see some dad's that could touch. So what you end up with is a pool with people crowded shoulder to shoulder hanging onto the edge and an empty middle. It looks like Disney sacrificed pool space for deck space, which I personally think was a poor choice. One big pool with separate areas would have been much more effective and easier to enjoy. As an adult with kids, there was no pool space that I could enjoy.