"You pay extra for the Disney brand and service", is what I heard for the 10 months before we sailed. Well I must say while the ship, shows and fireworks shows are impressive the service was not that much better than we receive on the Carnival or Royal Carribbean.
Embarkation: Very hectic and crowded in the terminal once you check in and wait for your number to be called. Disney needs to find a way to corral people with the same boarding numbers in an area with seating. There are very few seats, leaving hundreds of folks to stand/sit on the tile floor crowding the area around the Mickey entrance. Thankfully a cast member gave other members of our party boarding number two (scratched out number 8) and we only had to stand around for about an hour and a half after arriving at the port at 10:35.
Stateroom: We had a verandah on Deck six. Room was nice, but not overly large. The two-room bathroom concept was nice, beds very comfortable and flat screen tv very good. The biggest drawback was the view. The lifeboats stick out at least ten feet, waay too far as there is no way to look down into the water. Also the extended verhandahs on Deck five stick out quite far as well so you look down at folks below. One thing I thought for sure Disney would have would be bathrobes...no such luck. Really missed them from carnival. Nothing like showering, putting on a big fluffy robe and sit out on the balcony. On Disney, bring your own if you want one.
Service: Dining room staff was slow, but really went out of their way to try to make things right. They are all very genuine and personable, but very slow. Head server spent lots of time with us every night chatting and asking how things were going. Stateroom attendant was great. Couldn't ask for much better.
Food: All the food was very nicely presented and very tasty in the dining rooms. Nothing extremely memorable or "wow I would die to order that again."
Cabanas buffet had excellent selections for breakfast. Lots of fresh fruit, oatmeal bar, fresh lox, lots of egg choices, good bacon, sausage and even ribeye steaks! Stay away from pancakes though, very dry and gritty. Ice cream machines are nice, but no better than other cruise lines. Really like the "station" concept of popping in where there is something you want instead of waiting in one long buffet line. Everyone on the cruise seemed to get the concept very quickly and there were no problems. Soft drink/juice/coffee stations are very nice as well. Didn't do Palo or Remy.
Spa: Disney makes a big deal out of the rainforest room with four different showers. They were OK but weird. The sauna is very good as are the heated loungers and hottubs. 16.00 for a day pass will get you in there. Didn't try any treatments but other folks said they were good.
Castaway Cay: Very nice. Great beaches, good snorkeling, very good food. and beautiful to look at. Definitely get the two day package for snorkeling, bike rental and floats. 40 bucks for two stops. well worth it.
Nassau: Beautiful to sail into but no reason to get off the ship for very long other than some quick shopping in the port area.
Pirate Party: Excellent deck shows at 7:45 and 10:30. Fireworks at sea are extremely cool.
Aquaduck: Very impressive water coaster that doesn't go too fast. Ride it early or late day to avoid long lines.
Pools: Not alot of room, as with any other line, but with 1200 kids on the cruise what do you expect. Also adult pool stayed very crowded as well. WARNING: DECK 11 can badly burn your feet during the day: always make sure you and kids have some kind of shoes to wear, especially when going to ride the aquaduck, it's a long run and HOTTTTTTTTTTT.
Villains Tonight/Golden Mickey's/Beleive: Very good shows. Get there at least 20-30 minutes early to get a decent seat.
The District: Nice lounges, quaint places to hang out an have a cocktail. The biggest plus here is the no smoking policy.
Debark: It's leave at your leisure by 9:00 which worked well and quickly given 3200 passengers. There was no line in the atrium at 8:00. But the lines come in waves depending on when you want to leave. Definitely grab a porter.
Overall: The Dream is a very beautiful ship and very kid friendly. Parents have piece of mind to trust the little ones with staff if they so choose. Our 12 year old spent a little time in the Edge but got a bit bored and wanted to spend most of her time at the pool, (which was like a human stew at times).
I would tell everyone who wants to try the Disney Dream to do it! You will have a great time! Then see how you feel if it's worth the higher dollars. For you it may be, but we are just not in a rush to do it again for the prices they command.