We just returned from our long awaited Disney Dream vacation. I must say Disney always puts on a good show.
We were on the 4 day Cruise. I sailed with my husband and 5 year old son. This is our 6th Disney Cruise. I have also recently sailed on Royal Caribbeans Allure of the Seas.
We spent 4 days before we sailed at the Park and turned in our rental car and took the shuttle from the rental car drop off (it is much cheaper to rent a car then it is to take a shuttle). We arrived around 10:30 in the morning, we picked up our room key and got our son's bracelet, FYI do all of the signing up before you come online. I have heard some complaint about the kids wearing the bracelet, we just told our son about it before we got there and he was pretty excited about it. We stood in line to have our picture with Captain Mickey and by the time we were done with all of this our boarding number was called. They took our picture of our family when we entered the ship and called out our name as we boarded the ship. So here is my first review: Disney did not increase the size of the terminal. So it is probably more crowded then most, but they have plenty of things to keep you busy (movies going, pictures with Mickey). So it would be less crowded if you went on the Disney Magic. Now comparing this to Allure of the Seas...no brainer...Allure of the Seas we were on from the taxi to the ship in less than 15 minutes...Allure of the Seas was much faster.
When we got on the Disney Dream we were immediately told where we could go eat. You can eat in the Enchanted Garden Dining Room or the Cabana Buffet Restaurant. Both were serving buffet style dining. We chose the Enchanted Garden, because we thought it would be less hectic, we had heard that the Cabana Restaurant was always overly crowded, which we actually did not find that to be true, yes it was crowded but we always found a place to eat. Now here is another review for you: Walking onto the Disney Dream I was expecting a better "Wow" factor, which I have to say was not quite there. Do not get me wrong the Ship is very beautiful, but you cannot even compare it to Allure of the Seas entrance, where you enter on the Promenade.
After eating lunch we headed up to the top deck where the Aqua Duck was, again we were assuming it was going to be busier than it was, but we were surprised how fast we were able to get onto the Aqua Duck, we actually rode it 4 times on the first day. We were able to get deck chairs and watch a movie while our son went down the kids slide and play in the kids pool area. I do have to let the readers know that we were on the cruise where our first day was a tropical storm, so the weather was threatening torrential downpour throughout the day, so that could have played a part on us getting on the Aqua Duck so often the first day. The Aqua Duck is a lot of fun, a nice added feature for the cruise ship. Review: Water Deck on the Disney Dream compared to Allure of the Seas...again Disney Dream just cannot compare to Allure of the Seas. Allure does have 2000 more passengers then the Dream, but you do feel much more crowded on the Dream then you do on the Allure. Where the Dream beats the Allure is the movie screen. I am a movie buff, I just love watching movies, it is very relaxing to me and the Allure does not show movies by the pool. Allures adult pool area is SO amazing and Dreams adult pool area is pretty pathetic, the Magic's Adult pool area I think is much better. I do think the Dream's kid and family pool area is nicer than the Magic though.
We were able to get into our room around 1:30. The rooms are super nice for a cruise. If you have never been on a cruise, you will be surprised how small they are, if you have cruised on other cruiselines, you will be amazed at how large they are. We were in a room with a veranda, which meant we had the 2 bathrooms (one with a toilet & a sink and the other one with a tub (yes tub)/shower & a sink). Each stateroom comes with 2 phones that you can carry around with you, so you can keep in contact with your family. Plus the kids club can locate you if they need to. Best thing ever, I hate going on cruises and always having to make plans on when we are going to meet up with each other. Also you put your key in a slot and your lights & TV will turn on, take the key out and they turn off. They did not have very many outlets, which was a little frustrating. They did have a clock, that you could dock your Ipod or Iphone in, which was another nice feature. Each room comes with a small fridge, which is very nice especially if you have young children. The TV offers a TON of movies (of course mostly Disney ones), of course you are never in your room so that actually becomes a frustration, but I loved the feature. We actually ended up in a room that had a connecting door & I was a little worried that we were going to hear the people next door. We did not hear them, unless we were on the veranda. Review: The Dream beats the Allure on the stateroom by far. I also think the Dream rooms are better than the Magic, but only because of the phones, which I think they could easily add to their ship (and possible have already done this).
We went on the mandatory life boat drill. I was thrilled to find out that we did not have to wear our life jackets. We did not have to wear our life jackets on the Allure either, so I think this must be a new thing on all Cruise Ships. It seemed busier than usual to get back to our room, Dream really did not think of their public areas like the Allure did.
Our son was very excited about the Kids Club and begged us to take him to the club as soon as it opened up. Our mistake, because we were not able to get him out of the club once we put him in. We actually wanted to spend some time with him, but he was having so much fun, that when we "forced" him to leave the club he was so grumpy that we would put him back into the club. The Kids Club on the Dream for 3-10 year olds is this HUGE room with alcove rooms off of it. They have areas where kids can dress up in Disney Costumes, they have light up dance floors, Andy's room and a TON of computer games. The club will feed your child if you ask them too. We thought our son would play the computer games the whole time, but we found him playing different games everytime we checked on him throughout the day. Hands down Disney Dream beats Allure of the Seas on their kids program. This is where the Dream sold me even over the Magic, the Dream's kids club is so much nicer than the Magic's kids club.
We had late dining, so that meant our shows were before dinner. The first night it was the "Golden Mickeys". I have seen this 5 times and I never get tired of seeing it. They have changed it from a year ago, so those of you Disney cruisers you will not be bored. On the second night it was "Villains", okay this one was actually painful to watch and probably I would not watch it again. The third night was the Pirate Party, so they had a guest performer that evening, who was a Ventriloquist, who was amazing and we laughed so hard. The 4th night, was the "Believe" show, which was a new show for us and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We also did their adult shows, which were much cleaner than Allure of the Seas adult shows. My husband and I are not into dancing so I cannot comment on this. We also went to several movies that were showing in their theater inside the ship and the one outside. So to say the least we were always busy going to one show or another. Again Disney Dream beats Allure of the Seas entertainment...this is where Disney has perfected their experience and you pay for it!
On Disney Cruise Ships you rotate between 3 of their Dining Rooms. The 1st night we were in Animator Palate, where it is actually much different than the Magic. Here it is focused around Nemo and Crush is talking to you throughout the dinner, which is very entertaining. The 2nd night we were in the Enchanted Gardens, where I agree with reviews, this is not as enchanting and it is very crowded. The last 2 nights we were in the Royal Palace, which is very nice restaurant and we did not feel as crowded. For those who care on the 4 night cruise. The 2nd night is the "dress" up night, which is not very dressy and the 3rd night is the Pirate night, where everyone seems to have some Pirate garb on. Disney dining is very casual. You do not need to worry about dressing up at all, in fact I felt very comfortable in shorts and a nice shirt. People mentioned the food portions were small, but you can order multiple dishes, so if you want 2 main courses, then order 2. Something that most people do not know is that you can order from the kids menu too, which is actually pretty good, especially their Mickey Ice Cream bars. We did dine at Remy's, which cost us $75/person. It was fun to do it once, but I probably would not do it again. Remy's you must dress up for, men must wear a jacket and women must wear a dress. It was a multi course meal that was SO fancy, but not necessarily memorable. The portions were very small, but I was full by the end of the evening. We also did Palo's brunch, which I LOVE and we do it every time we cruise on Disney. This is a $20/person fee. It is buffet style, but the food is amazing and you definitely will remember it! The only problem is men have to wear long pants and women have to be somewhat dressed up. We only ate at the Cabana's Buffet for breakfast & lunch and we thought the food was good for buffet food and we never had a problem finding a place to eat. Disney has food everywhere, but all cruise ships have this, so this is not unusual. Disney does have all of the soft drinks you want, which is a nice feature to just go get a drink and not have to find a bar to get one. Review on food: I think the Dream and the Allure are neck and neck on this...if I had to chose I would chose the Dream.
On our 3rd day we were at Nassau. We have been to Nassau a lot and did not even feel inclined to leave the ship. Neither did anyone else. I was surprised to see how busy the ship was. In fact it seemed busier on this day then our day at sea. FYI the Dream normally goes to Nassau on the 2nd day, but due to the storm we were at sea on the 2nd day.
On the 4th day we were on Disney's Private Island, Castaway Cay. Now this day the ship was empty. If you have been on Castaway Cay before, my suggestion is stay on the ship in the morning and ride the Aqua Duck and then go to Castaway Cay later, when everyone else is coming back to the ship and get their beach chairs. For those of you who have never been on Castaway Cay it is amazing. When you get off the ship you will need to pick up your towels right off the ship. You have to walk about a block and you can then pick up a tram that will take you to the beaches. I recommend you get off the Pelican stop. This is their Water slide area. Most people do not know where this is, since it is new to Castaway Cay. We had a blast going down the slide. You do need to know how to swim or wear their lifejackets they provide to do this slide. We then went back over to the family beach area and snorkled out, you have to go WAY out to see anything, which our 5 year old was not comfortable doing. Disney provides lunch at the beach so you do not need to go back onto the ship. We fed our son and checked him into the kids club, where he again had a blast and then we went to the adult beach, where they have a much nicer lunch buffet spread. We did the Stringway encounter, which was really fun, our son was so excited about this. Review: We felt that Disney has a nicer private island than Royal Caribbean, but we liked going to Castaway Cay better with the Magic, then the Dream, because they had 2000 less passengers so you are not as crowded.
The Pirate Party is their big night on the ship. They have games for the kids to play and if your kid would dance, which ours would not, then you can dance with the characters who of course are dressed up in Pirate outfits. Later in the evening they have a Disney Firework show, which of course is amazing and then a spread of food you know you should not eat since you just finished eating, but eat anyway because it is too good to pass up. They finish the evening with showing one of the Pirate of the Caribbean movies. Of course again Allure cannot beat Disney on this, Allure tries to do something with Dreamworks, but it just cannot compete with Disney.
The Spa and the workout area on the Dream seemed small. I have to say the relaxing room on the Dream is much nicer than the Allure, but the workout room on the Allure was much nicer than the Dream. It was funny the workout room was much smaller on the Dream, than the Allure, but I never saw anyone in the gym on the Dream, but on the Allure I had a hard time getting on a machine.
When we arrived back to Port Caniveral, we got up early in the morning around 6:30 and ate breakfast at Cabana's where again we had no problem finding a place to eat. We then went back to our cabin and picked up our luggage and walked off the ship at 7:30. We were on a 10:00 flight and we had no problem doing this, but we did take a taxi from the cruise terminal to the airport, which is around $100. You can choose to put your luggage out the night before and then pick up your luggage when you get off the ship, which is recommended. They have a ton of porters waiting for you to get your luggage for you and they will stay with you until you put it in your transportation. Getting off the ship was very painless...I have to say Disney did better than Allure on this.
My final thoughts on the comparison...I would probably chose the Magic over the Dream, especially if we were going without kids. I would probably chose the Allure of the Seas over the Dream without kids. BUT, with kids the Disney Dream really was nice and I would not hesitate to recommend it to someone to take their kids on it, but would not recommend someone who was not taking kids, the Magic or the Allure is much better for Adults. The public spaces were MUCH nicer on the Allure of the Seas, especially if you are going to hang out by the pools. The Entertainment was MUCH better on the Disney ships...so you have to choose whether you are going to go for Sun or Entertainment.