I hope this review doesnt get lost in the vast sea of reviews already posted because Im going to write the review that I would have liked to have read before stepping onto the Disney Dream. I was stressed out right from the time my wife suggested sailing with Disney as I had hoped to celebrate our 25 wedding anniversary without a few thousand screaming children around. After reading every review on line my worst fears were echoed as person after person complained about children misbehaving in elevators and hallways, children screaming throughout dinner and children invading the adult sections of the ship. Being the father of three I love children and remember the wonderful times we spent at Disney parks when they were young, but for me our 25th anniversary wasnt the time for bad behavior and temper tantrums.
Please know that our cruise was 100% full and just after schools were out for the summer.
My wife and I arrived in Florida a day early and stayed at a nearby Holiday Inn Express as they advertised shuttle service to Port Canaveral and then back to the airport following the cruise. The hotel was clean but the shuttle service was sketchy. The service was provided by an outside company who quickly jacked the price up from the amount quoted over the phone. Then for the trip back to the airport following the cruise the rather scary looking driver wasnt able to find the correct pick up spot for Disney passengers. After an extended wait he pulled up, grunted as we got in and shot off towards the airport. Im afraid I cant recommend using the service again.
Arriving at the port terminal we were immediately met outside by Disney staff checking passenger identification and directed to the main terminal, this was where Disney took over. Although our on-line check in time was for 3:00 PM, we were directed to a check-in desk and, of course, immediately checked in at 11:30. We waited on a comfortable couch for a very short time until they called our number and then just followed the others right on board. One picture and it was just that easy. Just a hint, this first picture is for passenger identification purposes and probably shouldnt be skipped. My wife and I decided to spend the time until our luggage arrived exploring the ship, this turned out to be a good choice as it gave us a general familiarity of the ships layout right away. Within just a few minutes of boarding we were offered tropical blender drinks as we walked on deck, this was a nice way to begin our cruise experience.
When the cabins were opened to passengers we found our luggage waiting, along with cruise information, a great towel animal and chocolates. We had an outside cabin without a veranda and the biggest port hole Ive ever seen, my wife actually climbed inside. The two closets had plenty of space and our suit cases slid under the bed with room to spare. Also in the room: end tables, dresser, cabinets with a small bar type area, a fold down couch with coffee table and a flat screen television. The two bathrooms made it easier for us to co-exist and the split lighting let me slip out to early without waking my wife. Our cabin attendant was very nice and took care of our room without fail. All cruise information was placed on the bed neatly each day and he never failed to leave me more chocolate.
The rotational dining seemed like a strange idea until we experienced our first meal. We were lucky and clicked with the other diners at our table, great people. The following night when we met again at the same table but in a different restaurant is was like seeing old friends again. When the same servers showed up it was great that we all knew their names. The food was very good with small portions per course. This worked out well as each meal left me enough room for desert. If you dont like what you see on the menu, ask your server what he can do for you. We ate at Cabanas off and on when we didnt feel like a big sit down breakfast or lunch. To say the least the food there was terrific and your choices are almost never ending. From salmon and swordfish to pizza and mac & cheese, everything was cooked well and there was always somewhere to sit. We enjoyed eating on deck in the sun, why waste a great view. The free ice cream and soft drink station was nice and I never saw the mess as described in other reviews. Room service was very fast, dont forget to tip. We dined at Palo for dinner the night of our anniversary and nothing I could write here would do it justice. If fine dining is for you, dont miss it.
The family pools were definitely full, but not to the point of craziness and Moms and Dads were able to sit in the water with their kids. The big outdoor television (Funnel Vision) played all day and deep into the night, would have loved to have been able to see a ball game on it. Clean towel stations seemed to be just about everywhere so you never had to take clean towels from your room. The family pool section also served as a party area for Disney staff to sing and dance with the kids. We could only imagine the fun our kids would have had if we had done this when they were young. Cabanas is conveniently located by the family pools so parents were able to spend the day on deck without having to drag wet children through the ship.
The restrooms always seemed to have just been cleaned no matter what time of day it was. I saw a large group of wet kids walk out of a restroom by the pools and a crew member immediately ducked in to check it out.
I believe I counted at least 18 elevators aboard ship, each one was as clean as the next. During the busiest of times the wait was only a few minutes and I never experienced a child pushing all the buttons as was noted in other reviews. The stairs worked just fine as well and were never on another floor when you needed them.
We took as many pictures with the characters as possible without getting in the way of families with excited children. The lines were very short and the escorts were always willing to take a second photo with your own camera.
Now onto the adult section of the ship as this is where so many of the reviews went wrong. The pool was a good size with both a sitting area to just hang out and a deeper section to get totally wet. It was clean and the water was always crystal clear. The pool bar was literally in the pool, something none of the other reviews I read mentioned. The bartenders and servers were quick to learn names and greeted passengers with smiles. They made a drink of the day that was cold, tropical and delicious every time. Next to the pool were the hot tubs, these hung over the side of the ship and had a window at the bottom that looked down at the ocean. People rotated in and out pretty quickly and we didnt have much of a problem finding space. Theres an air conditioned lounge next to the pool but we never used it, too much going on out on deck. Another section of the adult area is one deck up with stairs right next to the pool. The first thing you see is a decent size bar where they serve anything and everything, also with a smile. On either side are sitting areas where you can relax and enjoy all the views that deck 12 has to offer. These are also divided into smoking and non-smoking, yet another great idea. Behind this is the entire bow section of the ship, perfect for quiet times and a sunrise with my wife. And what of my expectations of children crashing this adult domain? Nope, not on this ship. On many occasions I watched as kids walked to the adult pool or ventured up the stairs to deck 12. Each time they were politely turned away and asked to leave. During the fireworks many parents brought their entire families to deck 12 for a better view, each were asked to return to family sections of the ship. All though the age limit is 18, there were a few 16 year olds who made it up, they sat and talked and never brought attention to themselves, worked for me.
Many reviews mentioned the annoyance of people saving deck lounge chairs with towels so that none ever seemed to be available. Well it looks like Disney reads these reviews and has taken care of the problem. Crew members roam the deck areas removing towels and stacking lounge chairs as they find them empty, because of this there were always places to sit up on deck whenever we wanted, even during the busiest of times.
Castaway Cay was one of the hits of the cruise and we didnt want to leave at boarding time. The water was crystal clear and everything else was purely Disney. I recommend getting off of the ship as soon as they open the doors and get the full Castaway Cay experience. We were told that Disney is in negotiation to buy and occupy the entire island, I can only imagine what else theyll possibly come up with to fill it.
Tipping while on a cruise can be confusing. Theyll tell you that gratuities are automatically taken out for dinner servers and the folks who maintain your cabin, but we found that we wanted to do a little more for the staff that treated us so well. I brought $50.00 in ones and fives and it worked out perfectly. Disney provides a print out of how much theyve charged you for each gratuity as well as individual envelopes. This perforated sheet of paper can be broken up and placed in the envelopes to present to each of the 4 crew members. We were very pleased to be able to put a little extra into the envelopes for all of the excellent service we enjoyed.
If travel plans allow, I recommend attending the sit down breakfast before disembarkation. It gave us time to say good bye to the friends wed made and exchange email addresses. Bring all your bags with you as you can leave them by the door while you eat.
Disembarkation was nothing more than walking off of the ship with your bags and that's what I recommend you do. We stepped into line for the customs check point that moved along at a good pace and then walked out right next to the shuttle pick-up area.
Negative comments: I have to dig really deep to think of anything. The beautifully carved wooden bar stools on deck were a bit uncomfortable, but we persevered. The mens restrooms on Castaway were a bit too rustic inside for the setting, reminded me of what Ive seen at camp grounds rather than at Disney.
I hope this review is helpful when making the decision where to spend that hard earned vacation time. Please remember that I was dreading taking this cruise after reading the comments on line, what I found was a cruise line that made every effort to ensure that we had the best time possible. Thank you Disney, well be seeing you again soon.