About me: Frequent cruiser in my 40s, traveling with a group of 20, first time on Disney (RC and Carnival in past), love to dance. Not a Disney fan in general. Was worried about boredom on 12 day Transatlantic. Most of group in early 20s. 3 teens.
Before I give a general review, let me tell you about the end of our Disney cruise. Docked in Barcelona. One in party had quick flight to US. Rest of party going on excursion to Montserrat. Collected bags. All there except one giant bag belonging to person with flight out now. Searched with Disney help for about half an hour. Finally, excursion to Montserrat cannot wait any longer. Disney staff reassuring. We will take care of your friend. Go. Lost bag person and one companion stay to continue search. Rest of party leaves for excursion. Disney arranging cab for lost bag person to airport. At last minute, an older male passenger pulls up to debarkation area with bag. He thought it was his mother's and took it by mistake. Lost bag person whisked to airport at no charge by Disney. Makes flight.
But Disney goes that extra mile. Friend who chose to stay and help is now not with the excursion to Montserrat. Disney hires a cab who drives up the mountain, radioing to tour bus, to get traveler back with group. Cab ride almost 45 minutes one way. Charge on meter over 100 Euros one way - paid by Disney.
So now here is the review.
Best embarkation ever. Large group, so a couple of minor issues, but handled well and quickly. Port Canaveral Disney facility very nice.
Cabins: Use patch for seasickness so had oceanview midship in the bowels. Deck 2. Cabin lovely, plenty of room for four of us, noticeably larger than Carnival or Royal Caribbean, separate shower and bathroom great. Service from steward perfect. Bags arrived before we had completed tasty lunch in buffet topside. Not a buffet fan in general, but Disney does it well. Rest of party on Decks 6 (oceanview) and 7 (balcony). They also had no complaints over the 12 days about cabins or service. Ship is gorgeous.
Food: Dining rooms were visually pleasing. Food always good - new menu daily. Be sure to try the sole on the brunch menu. Generally ate in the dining room with large group assigned to two large tables for dinners. Brunch with small group, open seating. No singing or distractions during meals, except on last day. Free sodas were appreciated. One dinner in Palo's - worth the extra. Palo's was splurge. Wasn't necessary as food was always delicious in regular dining rooms. Had two party members with special dietary restrictions (no chocolate or meat for one; other gluten-free). Dining staff super-attentive to needs. Brought the menu for next day at end of each dinner to guests with restrictions to assure that guest had adequate choices. Wasn't necessary but nice touch. Generally had beverages there toot-sweet after seating.
Rarely ate at buffet. Others in group used it for all breakfasts and lunches. No complaints, except that fish was better at dining rooms. Huge buffet, tons of choices.
Activities: Plenty of activities for all three of our age groups (40s, 20s, and teens). Teens actually wanted to go to teen program. Rarely saw them except at dinner and excursions. Great dance instruction from Beverly and Curtis - multiple sessions daily. Movies and entertainments in evening more than sufficient for early 20s. Galley tour interesting. Plenty of Disney activities but easy to avoid if one lacked interest. Outside decks quiet after 11 or so. No casino. Less cigarette smell on ship than others.
Port excursions: East Madiera tour was incredible, as was Barcelona Montserrat. Highly recommend. Easy Malaga excursion was not up to expectations. Great place, but tour guide not interesting and seemed almost hungover. Complained to Disney and received reasonable partial refund. Castaway Cay was self-guided for us.
Summary: If this cruise was offered next year, I would go again and bring a large group. It was incredible. But ship going to Norway and we have no interest. Hope Disney does the same or similar route in future. We will be there.
Disney Montserrat with transfer to Barcelona hotel. Great. Bus from debarkation to rail stop. Railroad up to Montserrat. Excellent tour guide. Then time to explore. Went to art museum on own. (OK, not great. I am spoiled by Florence, Paris, Lima, etc. If I were not, the art museum would have been fine.) Church awesome. Hike to cross enjoyable. Tour included drink in cafeteria. Nice selection. Local market outside - be sure to try the local cheeses and honey. Excellent. Then to our hotel. Montserrat is worth the extra time and money.
Disney East Madiera tour. Perfect. Bus went over a large part of the island. Great tour guide. At least four microclimates with different flora. History, culture, scenery. Stopped for complimentary drink at nice little pub. Left plenty of time to explore Funchal on self-guided tour afterward.