Embarkation: I had read some horror stories on here and other sites about the embarkation process with the Dream. As a result, I was really concerned with having a bad experience and trying to decide what time to arrive at the port. On past cruises, our goal has been to be among the first to board to maximize our time, and this was no different. Note that Disney now assigns you a check in time. Ours was approx. 1:30, which was much later than I wanted to be there. Well, for those of wondering, that time really doesn't mean anything. We arrived early, around 10:30 (expecting boarding to start around 12:00). Long story short, we had zero issues. Check in was very organized, and we were assigned boarding group #7 (out of 42 total). Boarding started at 11:45, and we were walking on the ship by 12:15. As some have mentioned previously, the terminal can get crowded and there is limited seating, but we didn't find it to be too bad. We immediately went up to Cabanas to eat, getting a table with no problems. However, by the time we finished, there was a wait. Complicating things was the fact that we had t-storms and rain, so no one could be out by the pools.
Ship: The ship itself is incredible. If you've been on the Magic or Wonder, then the theme will be familiar. However, the size will overwhelm you. Since the ship had only been sailing for two months, everything still looked brand new. We had a great time exploring on the first day before sailing. Frankly, that's really all we could do since the storms precluded use of the pools and there were no other activities going on. That's one of my only complaints, but it's minor. I assume that the lack of activities is because the crew is engaged in other duties. The Enchanted Art and Midship Detective Agency are must see's and do's for young and old. Take some time before sailing to learn the ship, as it will pay off later for you.
Cabins: We had deluxe oceanview rooms, meaning we had rooms with the GIANT portholes (9006 and 9008). The rooms are OUTSTANDING, and the porthole was great. The kids loved laying on the ledge and looking outside. As we were getting unpacked, they watched 4-5 dolphins swimming below us.
Food: As a rule, if you go on a cruise expecting 5 star dining in the main dining rooms, you're going to be disappointed. You can't produce that level of quality for 4000 people. The Dream was no different, but we were very happy with the food (better than the Magic). We ate at the rotation restaurants and had great experiences at all three. Some reviews have complained about small portion sizes, and they certainly were. But, it's a cruise! Order more! Our waiter, Florin, told us that on the first day and he took good care of us and we got everything we wanted and more. The only disappointment in the food area was with breakfast. We ate in the dining rooms each morning, and at best I can say that the food was ok. That area could use some improvement.
Service: Topping everything else on the Dream was the service. Our dining room staff (Florin, the waiter; Vladimir, asst waiter; and Nikolai, head waiter) were unbelievable. They were great guys, and we had a blast with them. They provided great service, as well as lots of laughs for all of us. Frankly, these guys made the cruise for us. Our cabin steward, Putu, was great as well and we had fun helping him further his English language skills. Everyone we encountered was great, and we had a lot of enjoyable conversations. I highly recommend taking some time to get to know the crew members, and learn a little about them and their countries.
Castaway Cay: Amazing! It is much improved over the last time we were there on the Magic. When we were there previously, it felt crowded and it was hard to find chairs on the beach. It's been expanded for the new ship, and never once did we feel crowded. We had chairs and hammocks in the shade, and it was absolutely perfect. My oldest son and I brought our own masks and snorkels, as we didn't want to pay $20 ea to rent. Disney requires a snorkel vest for everyone, but they have them available for no charge on the beach if you've brought your own equipment. Note that if you want to see fish, you need to swing out 200-300 yards. It's worth the effort, as we lots of variety and size. The BBQ was great...food was good, no crowds/wait since there are multiple serving locations. It was literally the perfect day!
Entertainment: It was great, as expected. We enjoyed all three shows immensely. Note to those of you with younger kids: For the Golden Mickeys, 7 kids are selected during each show to be a dwarf during the Snow White scene. If you are interested, get to the theater early to have the best chance. You might even want to ask the theater crew about it. They take the kids and one parent down to reserved seats in the front row, and just before the scene, they take them into a room next to the stage to get ready. It's a short scene, but the kids have a lot of fun and even get certificates to commemorate their performance. Also, I highly recommend taking part in the activities in the D lounge. They do a variety of family game shows each night, and they are a blast for all. They were sparsely attended, so you have a great chance of participating.
Debarkation: This is quite unlike any other cruises that we've been on. We were assigned a 6:45 breakfast time at the Royal Palace (where we had dinner the previous night). You have your regular wait staff so it's another opportunity to say goodbye. For us, we ate breakfast, finished up by 8:00, and literally walked off the ship with no hassles at all. We were in our cars by 8:15. It couldn't have been any easier. I have to think that by 9 am or so, it might be a different story.
Summary: We had a wonderful experience, with no complaints. Can some things be improved? Sure. However, I'd rank it up there as the best cruise that we've taken. Everyone in our family, parents, grandparents, kids, loved it and we were sad that we only took the 3 night cruise. We would certainly do it again!