We are a family of four with two children, ages 6 & 12. We live in a small rural community in British Columbia, Canada.
Booked this cruise last minute (less than 30 days to sailing), on sale and as a surprise for the children. I had no idea that this was an inaugural sailing and was surprised to discover that many people had been booked for two years. We always sail NCL because we love Freesyle Dining but decided to give Disney a try.
Embarkation: C+ signing up for an embarkation time slot online prior to sailing means nothing. We arrived at our predetermined time along with everyone else on the ship. It is very nice that vehicles are able to drive right up to the front door for loading/unloading and that it is all under cover as Vancouver is very prone to rainy weather. Cab ride from a nearby hotel about 6 blocks away was $6 plus tip. It took about 90 minutes from start to finish for embarkation.
Kid's Club A+: signed the kids up for their age groups right in the terminal before we even got on the ship. Fabulous idea. Wish all cruise lines did this. They were able to meet a few of the counsellors. The 6 year old was fitted with a GPS bracelet which was a little bulky but I was impressed with Disney's security. She loved the Oceaneer club so much that she didn't want to leave and mostly didn't. She was there some days, from opening to closing (9am-midnight), including port days which meant we only saw her briefly for meals, shows & sleeping. They were very well entertained. The 12 year old was free to come and go to the tween club at will.
Food B: we are big fans of Freestyle dining and found the rotational, assigned dining quite confusing. The food and service was ok, on par with the other NCL ships we have been on. The menu was heavy on Alaskan fare; including elk, salmon, duck & red meat. There was usually only one vegetarian option & one chicken dish. If you like this, you are in luck, if not, there is always the buffet. Very disappointed with the hours of the restaurants & buffets. Seemed like the only thing available beyond the usual meal times were pizza & burgers.
We didn't use room service or eat at the buffet much. There were many times I saw unsupervised children at the buffet picking things up with bare hands or sniffing/licking things and putting them back- seriously gross.
Ports B: we live in rural B.C. not far from Alaska so all the shore activities offered are common-place for us. We wandered around each port but did not participate in any excursions. It was nice to have a semi-empty ship to ourselves for a few hours.
Entertainment A+: Disney sure knows how to put on a show. LOVED each and every musical. We watched many movies in the theater, including 3D & first run movies and Pirates of the Caribbean on the outside screen. The most fun of all was being on the look out to spot Disney characters roaming the ship dressed in various costumes. I took to wearing my camera around my neck because characters just popped up everywhere. It was fun to compare notes with other families on what characters they had seen and in what costumes. My favorite was Minnie Mouse in a fur-lined parka and mukluks.
Cabin B+: we had a deluxe inside cabin which was quite large. There was plenty of room for our many suitcases & carry-ons. Closet was a good size, along with a steamer trunk shelf. The mini-fridge came in very handy for drinks & snacks. The bathtub was nice but only used by the 6 year old. The bed was very comfortable. We were hoping for some Disney-themed towel animals but only got generic monkeys/lobsters/dogs/bunnies. The kids were disappointed. The room attendant was very pushy. She wasn't impressed when we were all in bed & seasick for 24 hours. We wanted to be left alone and she wanted to make the beds. Then she gave us trouble for not calling "someone else" to deal with a small spot of vomit drool on one of my children's pillows. No matter, I am a mother and I dealt with it myself.
Pools: the pools were all heated and since we are used to cold weather, getting out into the stiff breeze didn't bother us. There weren't many willing to brave the chill and we usually had the pool to ourselves. The water got quite rough at times and the pools were closed.
All in all, we had a fabulous time despite the surprise detour to the outside passage = seasickness for our family (detour due to maritime laws for inaugural sailings only). We received two lovely gifts, one a limited-edition Disney print by Don Williams & the other a set of Disney character cloth napkins & napkin rings. It made my Mother's Day that much more special.