Just returned from a 5 night Bahamas cruise aboard the Disney Dream with my two children, aged 11 and 5. All in all it was a wonderful cruise, and our sixth time sailing on a Disney ship. All our prior sailings were on the Disney Wonder, and we were pleased to find out that this time, we made it to "Gold" level Castaway Membership which came with some extra perks!
Embarkation was a bit more hectic then usual. The increased number of passengers was definitely noticeable in the cruise terminal, and the lines for character pictures were long. The embarkation process also took a bit longer than before, but again understandable considering the size of the ship. Once they called our number, all went smoothly.
Upon entering the ship the lobby with a beautiful and grand chandelier welcomes you aboard. Disney stayed true to it's classic design, and the ship itself offers much more of a timeless beauty then some of the other cruise lines. Rather than Neon and gaudy ornamental designs, you find a lot of brass and wood along with classical nautical features. After entering the ship we were directed to Cabanas on the 14th floor to enjoy a lunch buffet.
Cabanas is a completely enclosed buffet area on the Aft (rear) of the ship. The lunch buffet was good although I recall the Wonder buffet's (both breakfast and lunch) to have more offerings. One benefit of the enclosed area is that the buffet is not affected by rain as it was on the Wonder. I recall eating lunch as rain dripped onto our table. A drawback of this area however is that in order to access the pool from the rear (aft) elevators (our cabin was aft) you had to walk through the restaurant. This was a bit awkward, especially coming in wet after swimming.
Our cabin was nice and spacious. I loved the elavated bed which allowed for under the bed luggage storage. Our balcony room was at the very rear of the ship and was almost double in size. There was also no overhang which allowed you to sun bathe on your own private deck - with two kids on board however, I wasn't exposed to that privilege...
The food in general was ok - nothing special to write home about, but nothing horrible either. I did eat at Palo's and that as always was delicious. I found it difficult to justify the 75 dollar per person cost for Remy, so we passed.
Shows as always were wonderful - I especially enjoyed the new Disney "Believe" production which replaced "Dreams" - it was especially entertaining and great for the whole family. The Golden Mickey's were great also, but we had seen that 5 times before.
Kids clubs - my son had a blast in the new Tween club "Edge" - I was able to give him a bit of freedom and responsibility by allowing him to check in and out on his own, and he did great with this. The main focus of the club seems to be on video games (they have a HUGE Screen in there) although he did go out and play dodgeball a few times. He made some great friends and enjoyed it.
My five year old didn't like the camps so much - on the Dream the Oceaneer Club and Lab are combined, and there really are no specific age group activities. The size of the space is enormous and my daughter felt a bit overwhelmed. It seemed as though there were not as many youth activities counselors present as before but this may have been an illusion relative to size.
I used the fitness are in the spa on two different occassions. The area was nice and faced the front of the ship - here is the kicker though: The treadmills are placed directly in front of the window to offer ocean views. However, once you step on the treadmill a metal bar holding blinds is immediately blocking your view at eye level - definitely a design flaw and every one was talking about it.
Family pool area was too crowded. I pulled my daughter out of the pool at one point because it just was not safe for her to be in. I looked around and saw no bathing limits posted. If this is the case, Disney needs to place lifeguards at the pool, especially the deeper one. My daughter and son both enjoyed the slide and the Aquaduck was phenomenal. I was led to believe that my daughter would be too short to ride it ( the literature states 48 inches) but actually they can ride at 42 inches with an adult. She loved it, as did my son and I! The line was long though, even when in port.
I didn't have a chance to use the spa or the adult pool area, but did have an opportunity to visit the District, and adult only lounge area. I can assure you, there was not much going on - it was rather boring....As a singly parent however, I booked this cruise for my kids, and figured this would probably be the case which was fine.
Debarkation was an easy process as well. I would have preferred a third stop on a 3 night cruise rather than twice at Castaway Cay - although beautiful, for frequent cruisers like myself it would be nice to see something else once in a while.
One last comment I would like to make involves the navigators - I found them extremely annoying and difficult to read. The shows in the theater for example, were not listed at all and everthing is color coded which creates confusion.
Finally, Disney needs to bring back their Florida resident rates for families like mine. The current rates are much higher then some other cruise lines, and if they want to maintain frequent traveler's like myself, something needs to be done about the price structure.