I had been on this site many times and was concerned about our Disney Cruise after reading some of the reviews. I have sailed on Royal and NCL previously and enjoyed both, however this was my first sailing with kids. My girls are 8 and 11 years old. We did 5 days at Disney World first then scheduled to have DCL pick us up from our hotel. We were given notice in our resort room the night before that we would be picked up at 12:45 the next day to travel to Port Canaveral. We were greeted in the front of the resort at around 12:15 by a DCL employee who confirmed that she had our luggage on the way to the ship and that the bus was on the way. The bus arrived on time and we were pulling out of the parking lot at about 12:50. We arrived at Port Canaveral at around 2:15 and went into the terminal. We waited about 10 minutes before we were checked in and then did not have to wait any time to board the ship.
Once on board we went directly to our room that was ready and left our day bags then headed to the kids club to check them out. We got the 5th floor and asked a cruise personnel where the club was. At that moment Daisy Duck appeared and motioned that she would take us to the kids clubs. She grabbed my kids hands and walked us down to the Oceaneer Lab! I had pre-registered my daughter online and they had all her info so they just gave her the kid bracelet she had to wear for the duration of the cruise and we went for a tour. She was so excited to see the amazing set up they had for the kids. And the hand washing station was super cool.
Next we headed upstairs to the tween club which was also very cool. We were hungry so we went to the pool deck and ate there. The food was good and there was plenty of it. There were several people already swimming and doing the Aquaduck. We then ran to our room and changed into our swimsuits and went for the safety drill on deck 4. As soon as it was over we took the stairs back to the pool deck and went down the Aquaduck twice with almost no lines. I really liked the water coaster, especially looking down over the ocean when it first starts out!
Pools: Yes the pools are small and Disney should have considered making them larger however we did not have a problem with them because my kids are older and can swim and we did not have a problem finding chairs to use on the upper pool deck. The kid splash area is very nice and my younger daughter enjoyed it a lot. The adult pool was very nice an quiet and had live music playing there several times which we enjoyed. The chairs in the adult pool area are very nice also. The hot tubs were big and had a glass bottom floor which was cool.
Food: My kids loved the never ending soft serve ice-cream by the pool. I thought all the meals were good, not out of this world but very good. There were good selections every night and we found out if we took the servers advice about a dish it was usually the best one. I loved Animators Palatte and I thought that Enchanted Garden was beautiful. The Royal Palace was nice too but I liked the other 2 the best. Cabana's had a great selection for breakfast and lunch and I thought it was easy to find options for all of us to enjoy. We ordered room service for breakfast a few times and as long as you put how many of the items you wanted they got it right and that food was good too. One thing we did that I recommend is bring your own cup. The cups on board are so small you will be at the drink station all day. We purchased cups at Disney world that had a lid and straw that we used the whole trip.
Service: Our stateroom attendant was Sheema and she was great. Always checking on us as we came and went from the room to make sure we had everything we needed. Our servers, Miki and Ozay were wonderful. They did fun games and tricks with the kids and were always on top of everything. They even did Mickey shaped ketchup on their plates, so cute.
Entertainment: Ron Pearson was a comedian on board who did one family show(first night) and then 2 adult shows. We thought he was the highlight of the trip! We liked the Believe show the best (great story) and then Villains Tonight. The Golden Mickey's were ok but the other 2 were better. My kids did the interactive detective agency game several times and loved it. It also showed you all parts of the ship which was nice. We also saw Cars 2 and Winnie the pooh in the theatre. Bring your own drink and snack to the theatre!
Excursions: The first time we went to Castaway Cay we rented the jet ski's. Had a blast but we used to own one. They lead you way out into the ocean and then let you do your own thing for awhile. Totally worth the money. The second time in Castaway we did the Extreme package. We did the Stingray encounter which was awesome, we did the hour bike ride which was one of our favorite things, we snorkeled which was nice if you swam out far enough to see it all then it also had float rentals. The tubes are very large and our kids liked the mat floats which worked better for us. In Nassau we did the dolphin interaction and water park at Atlantis. This was the highlight of our trip. Getting in the water with the dolphins was so much better here than other places we have done it at. However the water park is super crowded. My suggestion is to get to D lounge early so you are first off the ship. Then ask for a later in the day dolphin experience so you can enjoy the water park before the crowds get there. Make sure to visit the Dig inside the main Atlantis building before you head back to the ship, very cool.
Tips: We did bring some of our own liquor on the ship and that helped keep cost down. If you like island drinks buy one in the large cup the first day for about $13 each then have it refilled every other day of your trip for only $5.75, you just give them your cup! Get to the Golden Mickey's show early to be interviewed outside before the show starts.
Spa: We did the couple villa deal. They did a foot washing first then left us to enjoy the two person hot tub for about 30 minutes. We were parked at Castaway and had great views of the island. Then we had 75 minutes of spa treatments, I did 50 min full body massage and 25 min facial, my hubby did 75 min massage. Then we had fruit, chocolate dipped strawberries and tea on the deck. Finally we showered off in their over-sized shower. In all we were there about 3 hours! Very expensive but if you can swing it, we loved it!
Crowds: Yes there were 1,100 kids on board but it never seemed that crowded. We only stood in one line to see a character (Minnie) b/c my kids are older but the line moved very fast and I thought the characters were very good with the kids. My younger daughter loved seeing the characters in the kids clubs and they came often.
Pirate night was super fun and we loved the fireworks. We also enjoyed the mini-golf which we did around 4 pm on the Nassau day, no one was up there but us!
All in all a great trip. The rooms were much better than on other ships. I thought all the attention to detail was classic Disney. They will be sailing out of Galveston soon and we are already looking to book again.