Very disappointed with the quality of the Senses Spa experience. We booked the couples choice with a couple hours of a massage and some time in the "couples villa", which is a veranda with a hot tub, shower area, and a couple of deck lounge chairs. Looked forward to this for 5 months! Started with a short but nice foot massage. One of the massage therapists was "earning her ears" and did a terrible job for my wife's massage. She had more neck tension after the experience. The information we received was not good. There is no privacy screen for the veranda area so basically they expected us to "get naked" and provide a show for the folks on the Carnival Sensation which was alongside. It was not relaxing in the least and it was like getting a view of a parking lot from a hotel balcony. Not worth the 500 we paid for this experience. Very loud noises from the adjacent cruise ship. Even if we were at sea, the hot tub was at 104 degrees --way too hot for the summer weather. Spa manager basically told me that they can't control what ship is along side the boat. I was stunned. Did she think I was a kindergartener? I was polite with her and told her that they should inform guests of this situation before booking and then let them decide. Anyway, if I did this cruise again I would stay away from the Senses Spa. Way overpriced. I found the spa on our recent NCL cruise to be far superior. Rainforest area just didn't have enough areas to relax like the NCL spa did. Consider yourself warned. Spend your hard earned dollars somewhere else. Way, way below Disney standards and ruined the cruise for us. It takes many people a long time to earn 500 bucks and they shouldn't let guests throw away their money like this.
Stateroom on deck 9 was clean and the bed was very comfortable. Room host was excellent and we way over-tipped him--he was so friendly and although we had zero special requests or problems in the room, he was always asking us if there was anything he could do to improve things. Fantastic, Kirk!
Dining experiences were ok. You really need to remember that this cruise ship is all about the kids, no matter what the cruise director or marketing information states. Simply having that many hundreds of children on a boat leads to sheer chaos. The Animator's Palate was a restaurant to behold, very interesting. However, it was as loud as a theme park and we had to yell to have a conversation. We ate at Cabana's for breakfast as well as lunch and they had a wide variety of food but we stuck to the standards. The pool side grill was very good.
Entertainment is one of Disney's core competencies and you won't be disappointed. Arrive early in the Theater to get a good seat. On the last night at sea Disney's Believe was very popular and we were only 10 minutes early and had to split up our party to find seats. Be on time. Bingo was fun and they let the kids play and win if they have an adult with them. One guest won $4000 on the last day.
Get to the deck early in the day on Sea Days to get a chair if you want one. We did that every day at sea so the kids enjoy the Aquaduck and the pools. Average wait time for the Aquaduck was about 30 minutes. It was open at midnight. Several people cut in line and I saw a few people upset. Their system to snap a picture of you on the aquaduck was apparently functional (you type in your stateroom number at the top of the stairs before you go) but I never saw the pictures available at the picture place, Shutters. Not sure what is up with that. They play mostly classic Disney movies on the large FunnelVision screen. We slathered our kids with sunscreen, had them wear sun shirts, hats and sunglasses and they were in heaven going in and out of the pools and watching the movies laying about like lizards on the hot pool deck. Be sure to bring flip flops as you will burn your feet on the deck if unprotected. No one got sunburned in our party but I saw plenty of people who looked miserably red later in the day. The pools are crowded as other reviewers have said but I was never concerned about safety. Great play areas of the little kids under the shade that looks like the Nemo movie.
Castaway Cay, Disney's island was must more developed than when we visited in 2008. There were stinging Jellyfish all over the place and some kids we know got stung. Our kids didn't want to get into the ocean because of the taste. The youth activities program stops on board and if you want to use the kids club you have to check them into Scuttle's Cove on the island. Our kids refused and so they spent the day on deck with the grandparents who weren't interested in getting off the ship the second day. It is way too hot and the kids do not have unfettered access to a freshwater play area. Why they do not connect Spring a Leak, the fun, freshwater play area, to the Scuttle's Cove I'll never know.
We rented snorkel gear for 50 bucks for two and went off the adult beach to look at the nurse sharks, rays and barracudas. Very cool but you have to get away from the beach to see much. Visibility was good.
We rented bikes on the second day as it was cooler and rode to the observation tower. It was a short ride with water stops along the way. Very fun, actually a highlight of the island experience. Also enjoyed riding past the cabanas. These are premium spaces you can rent. They are not conveniently located but are quiet. I don't think renting them would have given us any advantage unless our kids were adults and wanted to snorkel all day. There is always a risk that the kids will page you and you have to go get them out of the kids club. Keep that in mind before renting a cabana on the adult side. it is not clear from their maps but there is food and a bar at the adults only side of the island. Pelican plunge is their waterslide in the ocean. I went a couple times and had fun. Plenty of beach chairs and umbrellas. You get towels when you get off the ship and the food on the island was good. Kids like the ice cream machines. Hairbraiding was popular with the girls and it was fun talking to the women who live on the mainland in the Bahamas. Castaway Cay gets extremely HOT, so be prepared and stay well hydrated.
There are so many other great vacation options that I have to say my family is done with Disney for a while. Just too many people all in one place to be truly relaxed. The Dream is gorgeous but it is an awfully high price to pay for what you get. Most people were having a good time and you probably will too if your expectations are in line with reality. I basically do not enjoy theme parks in general because I don't like lines. There were a LOT of lines to do things during our 5 day cruise. Be prepared--it's all about the kids--it was never about me: Too much like being back home for this kind of money.