Disney Dream Review, July 7, 2013 sailing to Nassau and Castaway Cay.
My husband and I are 65 and 66. We have taken 26 cruises on Disney, Princess, NCL, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Carnival (1) and a now defunct line throughout the Mediterranean, the Baltic, Alaska, everywhere in the Caribbean multiple times, and Asia. So we are seasoned travelers. Traveling with us were our grandsons now aged 7.5 and almost 10. This was their second Disney cruise. They have also been on our one and only Carnival cruise.
We arrived at the port at 12:15, an hour later than we’d wanted to, held up for nearly an hour by an accident slowing traffic in Orlando. We were supposed to have boarded with group 14 and instead, went on with 23. Check in required perhaps a 20 minute standing in line. We were sent to that line as members of Castaway Cay. My husband pointed out that the line for non-members was zipping along and ours was not! We were given our lanyards and keys and sent off.
There was a second long line to register children for the clubs. I had registered my grandsons on line and asked if I really had to queue up. The girl told me I could get their wrist bands at the Oceaneers Club, so we went there later and did that, avoiding another long queue. There was no line there at all! We then lurched along with the crowd to have our boarding picture taken. This was done efficiently, but also felt slow. Likely that was because of the extreme heat and that yucky feeling of sweat rolling down my back. Nonetheless, we were on board about 12:45.
We were directed to eat at the buffet in Enchanted Garden, which, I think, is a lovely room. I was a little disappointed by the buffet. There didn’t seem to be many choices other than seafood, which I don’t like. Desserts were good though. All the food was warm on every buffet which I consider miraculous considering that is not true of any other line’s buffet!
We got into our cabin at 1:30. We had booked cabin 9152, obstructed balcony. For the money difference between that cabin and a regular balcony, I say, “Get it.” The obstruction did not bother us and having the balcony made the room feel larger. It also added light.
The Disney cabins provide a lot of hanging space. Could use more drawer space. I would not like to try to fit four people’s clothes into those drawers for a week. It was okay for 4 days, and I think this ship only sails on 4 and 3 day cruises. Actually, 3.5 and 2.5 day cruises. You don’t get 4 or 3 full days really. The bunk beds are so much more comfortable than pull out sofas for kids to sleep on. I wish other lines would copy that feature. Some do to a lesser extent. The desk is large. The single chair is comfortable. And, of course, for those who have small children, having the tub is great. The rooms are tight but doable for a family of 4.
Of course, Disney’s strong suit is its children’s clubs and its shows. Disney has a huge archive of wonderful characters and music to draw on in ways no other line can. That said, I have seen all 3 of their shows twice now, and as great as they are, I don’t think I will choose the line again until they change them, whenever that is. Been there, done that. Twice. Some people who sail every year have been them three times, no doubt. Having the movies on board and all the other things to do is amazing. But you don’t have time to do anywhere near it all on a four day cruise. We went on their five day cruise two years ago and couldn’t do it all then, much less in a shorter cruise.
Kids programs are head and shoulders above any other. Some lines are just plain pathetic. NCL comes to mind; others are so-so like Carnival’s. I have never understood why Carnival’s supposedly won an award unless it was for pitiful. Their idea of entertainment was to unroll a roll of toilet paper and have the kids throw wads of it around.
I did not care for the food in the dining rooms simply because I do not like seafood and because I like plain food. That is not to say the food was not good. I just didn’t eat any of it, which greatly worried my waiter. However, several of the desserts were excellent. The strawberry shortcake comes to mind.
Our cabin steward was excellent. She had our room cleaned by the time we came from breakfast and
made-up by the time we came back from dinner. I haven’t had that happen for decades. Every employee we encountered was excellent other than one server in Cabanas. My grandson spilled his drink. I pointed it out to her and asked her if she could get it cleaned up, as our napkins were not absorbent. She walked away and never came back! I was stunned and angry. I saw the manager and told him, and he immediately called her over. I forgot about it then until 10:30 when there was a knock on our door and a guy gave us a card apologizing for the “challenge” we had on the ship and also two packages with signed pillow cases and four puffles wrapped in cellophane. I was so surprised. I could not believe such a small incident warranted an apology card and the gifts. It impressed me. All week our servers and steward and others had been asking if their work were excellent and if they could do anything to make it excellent if it were not. This one bad apple probably won’t work there long. Disney obviously cares about that excellence.
Disembarkation was a paragon of ease compared with other lines. You simply go to breakfast with your carry-on luggage and then leave the ship. We were off at about 7:45, following our 6:45 breakfast. There is no advantage to going off on your own unless you just must be off at 7. If you want to get off early, take main seating. Second seating eats breakfast later than first.
I can’t fault Disney in anything. We have been Disney fans for 4 decades. We like the fact that they are creative, pay close attention to detail, think of everything, and go to the nth degree in everything they do. Yes, I wish the cruises were cheaper, but you don’t get diamonds for the price of zircons.
I did have an amusing thought as we stood in lines on deck during lifeboat drill. "Good grief! We're loaded as if we are boarding a ride at Disney World!" How apropos!
Only this is a ride I don't want to take.