We went on the Disney Dream with our extended family to celebrate my sister's birthday. Our group of 25 was diverse with ages 1 ½ to 60 and my wife and I are in our late 50's. MY wife and I cruise once or twice every year.
Embarkation: We stayed overnight at the Hyatt at Orlando airport and the Hyatt and Disney arranged to have our luggage moved from our room at the Hyatt to our stateroom on the ship. Check-in for the ship was in the lower area of the airport and was also very easy. We boarded our bus for Port Canaveral for a quick 40 minute drive. The wait for boarding the ship was about 1 ½ hours and we were not sure why because we had already checked in at then airport. The terminal was crowded, hot and busy with limited seating and not very comfortable.
Ship: The ship was brand new and nicely decorated. Our stateroom was excellent with two large hanging closets and a dresser for each of us. The toilet and bath were in separate rooms with a sink in each which made it very convenient and saved us a lot of time getting ready. Really lovely rooms. Our cabin steward worked alone and his name was Ronald. My wife always tips the cabin staff a little when we check in and it always assures us of top notch service. There were extra pillows, blankets, towels and a fresh bucket of ice every day for my afternoon scotch. Disney allows one bottle per passenger for personal use in our cabin so we did not have to sneak it aboard! Oh yes, I almost forgot, the ship provided personal communicators, two per room, so you could call friends and family anywhere on the ship. It took us two days to figure them out, you have to dial the room number and a 1 or 2 to call other phones. We didn't use them much but could see they would be a nice option to have on longer cruises. The rest of the ship, not so good. Was it too many passengers or too little public spaces? Either way there were crowds of kids everywhere all or the time and the promised "adult only" areas were limited and also packed. Most of the shows were Disney oriented, great if you like that sort of things but for me I don't care for it. I was kind of Disney'ed out in the first two days.
Dining: I thought the quality of the food in the buffet was good, but Disney arranged the majority of the buffet in one line against the inner walls. The problem with this of course, is that the majority of our fellow passengers believed you had to start at one end and stand in the whole line. Disney should take a lesson from NCL and use buffet islands where you can cut in wherever you want without getting dirty looks. The dining rooms were very nicely decorated but the service was very bad. I'm not sure whether they were under-staffed or having so many kids moving about all the time threw everyone off but it was very bad. We rotated with our wait staff to all of the three dining rooms and they apologized but the service remained poor all four nights. Portions were small but I like small portions and have never been afraid to ask for extra appetizers or desserts. I was pleasantly surprised that all of the entrEes I ordered were perfectly cooked; it seemed that each entrEe was cooked to order. I do have to mention every soup I ordered was served lukewarm or outright cold. My wife and I decided to try one of the pay-extra restaurants; usually a premium of $20 to $30 dollars on competing cruise lines and found out that the Remy wanted $75. per person and highly recommended an additional $99 per person for the wine pairings for the 7 course meal. With the mandatory gratuities that would have been over $400. for the two of us. Yipes!
Nassau, the Bahamas was a bust. We took a taxi to the Atlantis Resort. It was about $100. per person to tour the grounds and use their facilities, which included a very extensive aquarium and many pools and water slides, etc. Lunch was another $20 per person. The aquariums were very nice but not quite worth a day's entertainment. Castaway Cay on the other hand was lovely. We opted for a one hour snorkel on a local reef which was delightful and well worth the $35 or so. After our snorkel trip we had lunch at one of the free restaurants and enjoyed hamburger, baked chicken or ribs with a nice selection of sides. The soft serve ice cream machines on the island were also a nice touch. After lunch the beach was a nice spot to spend a relaxing afternoon. I only wish Disney would have let us stay another day on Castaway Cay instead of forcing us back on the crowded Dream for a very long day-at-sea with nothing to do and crowded conditions.
Over-all: Don't buy the Disney line that even adults without children will enjoy the Dream. The ship was designed for children and adults who want to watch children have fun. The whole adult only areas were a farce; kids were running through, babies in strollers were parked next to the 'quiet' pool while the adults enjoyed the water; the babies cried.
We will continue to cruise again but on more traditional lines that cater to adults.