My wife, daughter and I sailed on the Disney Dream on April 4, 2013 for a three day cruise to Nassau and Castaway Cay. We had cabin 75XX -- an inside stateroom. My wife's parents also sailed with us. We are DCV members and paid for our cruise with points. We took this cruise with the expectation that as it is a Disney Cruise, and we're going during Spring Break, that it would be loud and crowded -- and we were right. But we still had a really good time and will gladly return for another cruise.
Parking -- There is ample parking at the terminal in the parking deck next to the ship. Regardless of where you park in the deck, you are only a short distance to the elevators or stairs. The deck is clean and seemed secure. I was very comfortable leaving our car. Parking is $15 per day for the deck and there is the option to park in an uncovered "preferred lot" for $20 more. But why pay more to park in the open is it happens to be raining when you return? We had not trouble getting out of the parking deck when we left the ship.
Boarding Process -- Once you enter the terminal, you encounter security on the ground floor. Here you put your luggage through the x-ray machine and walk through a metal detector. This process took us a total of about 10 minutes -- including waiting in line and screening.
Ticketing/Keys -- Once through security you climb an escalator to the second floor of the terminal building and encounter Disney's embarkation process. You enter a line based on your past Disney cruising experience. This was our first Disney cruise so we joined the longest line ?. Even though the line was long, the wait was less than 10 minutes to get to a counter agent. Once all of our paperwork was reviewed, we received our "Keys." With keys in hand, we got in the line to board the ship. This line did take a few minutes because you're forced to take pictures before boarding the ship.
Once on Board -- When you reach the ship, you are asked for your family's name and they announce your arrival to everyone in the boarding area. Little kids seemed to be impressed, but most adults seemed to think it was a little hokie. The main boarding area is pure Disney -- well themed and beautiful. A large statue of Admiral Donald Duck is in the lobby and everyone is trying to get their pictures with Donald. The six elevators in the main area are all crowed! We went further forward on the ship and found another set of elevators that no one seemed to be using and got on one within 30 seconds of pushing the elevator button. Staterooms are not available until 1:30 so I took my daughter to the teen club, and my wife took her parents to the Enchanted Garden for the lunch buffet.
From the time we parked, got out of the car, and walked on board the ship, it was about 35 minutes. We got there right at noon, and my in-laws were there at 11:00a.m. My in-laws said it took them about an hour to board because of the hordes of people who tried to board at 11:00am.
Stateroom -- Our stateroom was on deck seven closer the bow (forward) of the ship. The signage in the halls is easy to follow and well positioned throughout the ship. Our cabin had a queen bed with a fold out sofa bed and a fold down ceiling bunk bed. We did not use the bunk bed as my daughter used the sofa bed. There is plenty of storage space under the bed and in the closets. The bathroom was large enough so as not to make you feel claustrophobic. The bathroom had a bathtub that was not quite full sized, but was large enough to take a bath in if needed. Towels were very thick and changed every day by our cabin steward.
Food -- The lunch buffet in the Enchanted Garden restaurant on Deck two was very good. The lamb chops were the best I've ever had!! There is rotational dinning on the Disney Dream -- meaning that you eat at a different restaurant every night, but keep the same serving staff. Our first night was in the Enchanted Garden, second night was in the Royal Palace, and our third night was in the Animators Palate. The food was good, not great. The only real complaint I had was the escargot in the Royal Palace was way over cooked and was very tough -- life chewing on a rubber ball. I could not eat any of the snails. So I asked for and received another appetizer. Service was excellent when we were at table #63, but when we changed to table #100, it was not as good. The last night, our server pressured us to provide only "excellent" ratings on the comment cards for her service.
Activities and Ports of Call -- We stopped in Nassau and at Disney's private island Castaway Cay. We went to the Pirates' Museum in Nassau, after it stopped raining! The museum is a short walk from the ship and is well worth the time. We all enjoyed the museum's exhibits --including the life sized pirate ship you get to walk through! Castaway Cay is a lovely beach island. Disney does a good job of providing enough beach chairs and floats for everyone. The only downer about Castaway Cay is the food -- it's bad. Way over cooked and bland - what I thought was a piece of chicken was actually a piece of over cooked fish. Even the hamburgers were over cooked and cold -- could not even begin to melt the cheese on the cheese burgers. If we ever go back, we'll come ashore after having our lunch on the ship. There are current movies shown in the movie theater. We saw "Oz the Great and Powerful" one afternoon. The Aquaduck water ride is not to be missed -- it's a complete blast for all ages. My wife and I rode it twice!! Lines can get long so go in the morning, or after 5:30pm.
Debarkation -- The ship docks around 5:30am. Everyone is expected to be out of their cabins by 8:00am, and be off the ship by 9:00am. You have the option of carrying your own luggage off the ship, or having the porters take it to the terminal for you to find later. We chose to carry our own luggage and were we off the ship by 8:00am and in line for customs by 8:10am. Customs took a while as the lines were rather long. We were at our car in the parking garage by 8:45. Parking was $15 per day.