After having taken a thoroughly enjoyable family cruise two years ago on the Disney Wonder without having a single complaint, we eagerly looked forward to our Feb. 17 cruise on the Disney Dream. While we had a wonderful time, there were lots of areas that still need improvement and that distracted in an annoying way from the experience. We experienced billing problems, dining problems, and service problems. As regards to dining, the food both in the buffet and in two of the regular dining rooms was excellent. The food in the Royal Palace aws not very good. In fact, the onion soup I was served there was returned uneaten because it ranked right up there with thw eorst I have ever been served - tasteless like soapy water. In all three of the restaurants, our service staff tried very hard , but the early seating was like sitting in a maelstorm of activity. Food for our group of nine was haphazard and served piecemeal. Every request (for ketchup for example) produced a disruption to their service and required long waits. The scene in the Royal Palce, in particular, was complete chaos. Do not sit in the center of the room - the noise level there makes for an extremely uncomfortable racket. In all three restaurants the service staff is so hard pressed to perform that we saw them continually breaking into line as families tried to move to their seating. We've rarely seen this on other cruises. I believe that dining room designs have a systemic problem that creates much of the chaos.
Overall service was very good, but we had to wait for 4 hrs one evening for the room steward to find a bed rail for one the the children, and reqests for information and , in particular, directions from many crew members was often met with either a shrug or the wrong info. Wake up calls were not received, and the card by the phone giving directions on how to set up a wake up call referred to a button that wasn't on the phone. Guest services was severely understaffed and long waits were common. For a ship this size, four guest service stations is not enough. In fact, disregard all those reviews you read about not feeling crowded. Almost everywhere we went on this ship, one feels extremely crowded. There are not enough elevators, and the ones they have are too narrow. Waits were extremely long.
Childrens services were wonderful. Castaway Cay is without comparison. The major shows were the best of any cruise line (although lots of crying little ones were carried out of the theater during the somewhat scary Villains revue. The poolside dining locations were outstanding (although a sugar free ice cream option would have been nice). The outdoor parties and shows were wonderfully done, up to the best that Disney has to offer. Embarkation and disembarkation far and away were easier and more professional done than any other line we've been on. It's a shame that the rest of the cruise experience was not up to the standards that we've come to expect from the Disney organization. I'm sure that with time and experience some of these annoyances will be corrected, but I'm afraid that some are inherently related to the design of the ship itself. Our preference after this cruise is to stick to the smaller Disney ships.