We just came off the Dream May 15-19 and loved it. 10 out of 10 across the board. We will be back to DCL for sure. My constructive comments are just that and in no way were so overwhelmingly negative that it hurt the overall, just honest feedback.
Our pre-cruise nights were at the Hyatt - MCO. Nice hotel, good service, not too expensive. Bags are picked up in your room and delivered to your stateroom on board which was a nice touch.
Disney Ground Transfers - efficient, and in typical Disney fashion it starts the vacation experience right with up beat music, videos, trivia etc...while on the 45min ride to Port Canaveral
Cruise Terminal - quick check in process but the terminal is clearly undersized for the amount of pax the new ships bring. Our cruise on the Wonder 3 years ago wasn't nearly as chaotic during the time after check but before boarding.
Stateroom - Family ocean view with veranda, deck 8, starboard. The extra 50 sq ft or so of space More
doesn't seem like much but it sure does help. Split bathroom, ample closet space and bunks for the kids. Our queen size bed was the most comfortable bed I have ever slept on, no kidding, it was that good, thick duvet too. Storage space under the bed for empty suitcases is brilliant, unused cases are out of the way. Balcony was a nice size with a child lock up top taking away any worries of a kid being out on deck unsupervised. The TV swivels into the queen bed area once the privacy curtain is closed. Rain shower head is lovely and the amenities were nice too.
Dining - Palo was comparable to other 4 star dining rooms we have eaten in, very good. The rotational restaurants were acceptable but not wonderful. They met our expectation but nothing more. Its definitely Disney feeds the masses. Don't expect a 5 star filet mignon for dinner. Our kids had chicken fingers each night so no worries. Again, good food, great service, impeccably clean and great theming to the restaurants. I always get frustrated by folks who sail DCL and complain about the food, its good Disney food, nothing more and it works just fine for what they are trying to do. Cabana's is undersized for breakfast, even with the rotational restaurants helping out at peak times.
Entertainment - Amazing production value of all their shows, theatres are world class facilities.
Shore Excursions - Nassau, were there on the Wonder, so we spent the day on board. Castaway - what can I say, its Castaway you won't be disappointed
Ship - Stunning in every way, interactive artwork, fit and finish were fantastic. Pools are undersized for # of pax on board. Our day at sea was packed in the pools. I have not been on cruise yet (only 3 total) where the pools feel the right size, maybe that's a cruise thing, not sure. Mid ship elevators are undersized for the volumes, aft and forward sets were ok but mid ship was a 2 car wait every time. Kids loved the aqua duck, a much tamer version of the crushin' gusher at Typhoon Lagoon. At off peak times wait was less than 10 minutes. My kids rode it 20 times each at least.
Oceaneer's Lab - The cast of what looked like thousands taking great care of the kids. GPS wrist bands let you know where they are and also serve as a way for parents to sign kids in and out. Very secure areas, kids can't get in or out with out passing by a cast member who opens the very nice looking but clearly locked gates. It sounds cliche I know but they didn't want to leave 1 night so my wife and I watched the fireworks by ourselves, which was fine with us :-).
Disembarkation - much smoother than getting aboard, being non-US citizens we get the really short line for customs and all US citizens get the really really long line.
Post cruise nights were at Port Orleans French Quarter - decent, relatively inexpensive for 2 nights, we were never in the room really, arrived about 10am from the port and hit Blizzard beach for 1/2 day and then Magic Kingdom the next.
Overall - we're hooked, I work for a luxury hotel brand and have great rates around the world but my family wants to go back to DCL next year, on the Fantasy. Great family vacation, not relaxing as there is so much to see and do. There is always, no matter where you go at least 1 kid screaming about something beginning on the flight to MCO, the bus to the Port, on board, bus to post cruise hotel, at post cruise hotel, bus to airport and flight home. Our kids are out of that age range (they are 11, 8) but man some kids can really yell loud :-) Less
Get the deluxe family with balcony, well worth the $$ for the extra space. Cabin was mid ship, middle of hallway not near service areas or elevators. Connected to room next door and NO noise coming the connecting door whatsoever.