My husband and I are not “cruisers,” so this review is tainted by that. We will not likely take another cruise, but the children and grandchildren thoroughly enjoyed it (and will probably go again)!
Cabins were nicer than we expected. We really like the split bathroom, especially the families. The rooms are quiet and it is easy to sleep in late, if you wish.
We really liked the food. Always fresh and well presented.
Our stateroom attendant did an outstanding job.
The food court staff was excellent---always pleasant and helpful.
The dining room waitstaff at dinner was average and below average. Four of the six adults in my party have been waiters prior to graduate school, so we are aware of how much work is involved, especially when all your tables get seated at once. However, our servers were slow, especially the drink server. Most evenings, only one person in our group had wine or a cocktail. The rest of us were drinking water, iced tea, or milk. Each night we had to ask him to bring more water. The first night, he ran out of water before he got to me and never did come back. I finally asked the maître d' for water. One of the “signature” cocktails at every lounge on the ship is a Captain’s Mai Tai. When our one drinker asked for one, the waiter did not recognize the drink and asked us to spell it.
Every night but one, we were among the last people to leave the dining room. With 3 children (ages 6, 7, and 8) we would have preferred to finish sooner than 10:30 pm.
The Aqua Duck is wonderful. The lines were relatively short, usually about 15 minutes. We rode it many times.
The Atlantis Aquaventure was expensive, but very enjoyable. Buses labeled with “Disney” in the front window transport you from the cruise ship terminal to the front door of the hotel. A friendly guide shows you around the water park and points out restaurants where your Disney voucher is good for lunch. She also pointed out landmarks to make sure you found your way back to the pickup point for the buses back to the cruise ship. Other folks we met on the cruise said they were hounded by hucksters and aggressive beggars on the streets of Nassau. Many returned to the ship early from their shopping excursions because they felt unsafe. Nassau does not seem very compatible with the experience Disney is trying to sell.
Castaway Cay is a pleasure, probably our favorite day on the cruise. The children loved playing in the ocean and building sand castles. The slide (Pelican Plunge) was fun, but the line never got shorter than about a 15-minute wait. Maybe Disney could build another slide?
The “day at sea” was also very pleasant. The staff was excellent in keeping the chairs and chaise lounges open for all to use. If a personal item such as clothing, purse, or shoes was in a chair, they left it alone. If the “chair hogs” put their towels out on several chairs, the staff would simply remove the towels. We never had trouble finding an empty seat.
On the day at sea, lots of soot came spewing from one of the smokestacks for about 10 minutes, "raining" down on everybody and the pools. It covered the decks and got picked up on the soles of everybody's feet. The crew was slow to clean this up, initially just sweeping it with brooms. Eventually, some men came out and power-washed the deck, but it was too late. The soot was tracked onto the restaurant floors and public hallways.
The upper decks are loud. Music is constantly blasting from the speakers, especially around Donald’s and Mickey’s pools mid-ship. Some in my group enjoy reading or sketching, but it was so distracting to never get away from the thump and thrum of the music. Even far forward on deck 12 and 13, you hear the soundtrack from Pirates of the Caribbean or Hannah Montana singing her greatest hits. I’m not sure why loud music is supposed to equate with fun.
If you book a room with a verandah, you can escape the noise and enjoy some privacy.
The whole family enjoyed playing Goofy Golf on deck 13. Several rounds.
The children loved the kids clubs. Even after leaving dinner late, they usually begged to go back to the kids clubs. They made friends and the counselors were very good.
We did not attend any of the shows.
FL Tours did an outstanding job with private transfers to and from the airport, cruise, and WDW. The driver was always early for pickup (and we were usually ready and waiting!). They were courteous and pleasant. Our first driver (from the airport to the port) was a little too explicit about the tip and what was expected (20%). Having been a waiter, I understand the importance of tipping; I just don’t like it so explicit.
None of our paperwork indicated there would be a “Pirate Night” on board the ship. It didn’t matter, but the children might have brought special outfits for that night if they had known. We all loved the fireworks!
The itinerary on the Disney Cruise website states you are back in port at 7:30 am. What they didn’t tell us until the last evening was that we were assigned breakfast at 7:45 am. Our waiter asked us not to come early because the tables were assigned and reserved for specific times. Since our waitstaff was quite slow, we left breakfast at 8:45 am, collected our luggage, and passed through customs. Based on the information provided by Disney (in port at 7:30 am), we had asked our driver from FL Tours to meet us at 8:15 am which would allow plenty of time to pass through customs. Instead, the soonest we could meet him was 9:15 am. I was very apologetic that he had to wait an hour for us. Every person’s time is important, especially those who make their living one trip at a time.