My husband and I have previously cruised on Carnival, Celebrity, and Royal Carribean, but had never cruised on Disney. Our children were first time cruisers. Our boys were 7 and 9 and very excited to see what cruising was about.We heard Disney was the best for kids and we were not disappointed.
We arrived at the terminal around 10:30. Having done our paperwork online, we quickly checked in and also completed the children's program registration, and we were able to board around 11.
As we boarded the ship, they called out our family name and a bunch of staff were there to give us high-fives or mickey hand waves. My children's first reaction was that they couldn't believe it was like a hotel. We were able to go straight to Cabanas which had a great selection to get food and then hop in the pool
We often visited the two main pools that were shaped like donald and mickey's heads. The pools were not huge, but were warm and never seemed to be too crowded. The movie screen in front was great, and all of us did get pulled into watching the movies or answering the trivia questions during the cruise. We actually ended up out there til midnight on 2 nights of our cruise. The Aquaduck has a great view, bua don't expect a fast water slide by any means. Try to do it early on your first day before it gets crowded on other days. it is also a nice ride at night.
All four of us shared an outside stateroom and it was extremely clean. The convertible beds for the kids were confortable and they loved sitting in the porthole. Having a separate commode was perfect for a family, and we definitely had space to store everything.
Wave phones - what a great idea for families. It took a little practice to work these perfectly and my battery had to be replaced at one point, but it's such a great and smart thing to provide for communicating with your party on the ship.
We loved the food onboard. The kids loved having breakfast at the cabanas, and enjoyed the food and selection there. I do also love that sodas and juices are included. Our first time in a main dining room was surprising, since I didn't expect to be at a table with just our family. Still, as we rotated restaurants we were always around the same families and of course had our hard-working waiters. The Animator's palette was the most fun, but it did take a while for Crush to talk to someone near us, and unfortunately didn't talk directly to us. We really enjoyed the food and did take advantage of ordering extra appetizers, etc so we could try everything of interest. We also did take advantage of the pool-side food and ice cream.
Oceaneers Club and Lab:
The system of having GPS devices on the kids and the extrememly large oceaneers areas were great. One son liked to watch the movies, and another enjoyed the video games and other games available. There was also organized activities and small play areas throughout. My youngest even loved the automated hand washers he was requierd to use on the way in and out. We did explore the lab and club with the kids on the first day, but we actually only left them there for one adults-only dinner, since the kids preferred hanging out with us.
The detective agency game that kids can participate in is a great at-your-own-pace game which takes the kids around the ship looking for paintings which have clues to their puzzle. It was also great how you can be assigned to different mysteries. The kids really enjoyed doing that game, and would have done it twice if it was a longer cruise.
Entertainment: Believe - We only did one show, since I thought my boys would not be interested in most productions. They did like the show Believe, especially the Genie, and the mix of characters from Disney was great.
We did get to catch a premiere showing of The Odd Life of Timothy Green. The theater was very large and it was neat to be able to watch a movie before it came out in the theaters for free. We also did watch a lot of movies in and around the outdoor pools.
Pirate Night - The staff really gets into dressing up for this, and they jokingly scared my son with their Arghs upon entering the main dining room that night. It was nice to have this type of theme night. My kids also enjoyed the pirate show and fireworks that evening on the pool deck.
My family was otherwise into the trivia games, bingo (loved dancing to B-11), ping pong, foosball, and miniature golf. My husband and son also tried the simulator, but while it was fun it was just too hot and stuffy in there.
I did wish there were a few more family activites besides character meetings and dancing though.
In Nassau, we did the Blue Lagoon Dolphin Swim. The kids really enjoyed that even though it took a while to cycle through our entire party with all of the different dolphin interactions and some kids who didn't listen within our group. Make sure you keep your head up during the dolphin foot push otherwise you just get a face full of water. We also spent a few hours at the blue lagoon beach afterwards which was great.
On Castaway Cay, we did the stingray adventure. The feeding part seemed to go very quickly and we snorked around the stingrays for the rest of the time, but people could leave whenever they wanted. We rented snorkel equipement for the rest of the day and went swimming in the snorkelling lagoon. For as far as my kids could swim, we couldn't see very many fish in the lagoon. My kids did enjoy swimming, looking at shells, and finding hermit crabs, so they enjoyed the beach area. Except for confusion over requirements of lifevests, the beach area was very comfortable. The food at lunch was also well-organized and accessible, but a simple meal.
Disembarkation: This was really well organized where they had everyone at their dining table eating breakfast while they cleaned the rooms. It seemed we were approved to leave during our meal, so just left when were finished. The only issue was how crowded it got in the dining rooms with everyone's carryons.
The one thing my husband missed from other cruises was the casino, and for him that was a big loss that will push us back to other cruise lines.
Overall, we really loved the Disney Dream cruise - Food, Bingo, Detective Agency, Pool, Bingo, and Movies. The staff is so friendly, and everything is kept really clean (they are constantly cleaning that pool deck - even at 11pm). As I look at other cruise lines, I see that Disney is more expensive, but including sodas and wave phones and oceanners kids club (if you use it) really are great bonuses. The only thing my kids wished was that the cruise was longer.