We sailed a Back-to-Back on the Disney Dream starting on November 27 (4 days followed by 3 days). This was our first experience with Disney, and we had an overall wonderful time. The embarkation process was great - it seems they have really improved this process over early reports and we were on the ship quickly. We arrived around 11 AM and received boarding # 5. I literally didn't have time to get through the Youth Program registration line before they were boarding our group and just registered the kids at the Oceaneer's Club onboard.
On our four-day cruise, the weather when we went to Castaway Cay was cool and overcast so the captain decided to turn our at-sea day into a second Castaway Cay day. Others are reporting the real reason was due to a stomach virus that was going around, and they wanted to clean the ship. Unfortunately, our son (DS7) eventually got this virus on the 3-day portion of our trip. We spent a day in the cabin with him (my husband came down with it the day we got off the ship), while trying to keep DS6 out of the cabin as much as possible. Our poor cabin steward had some cleaning up to do, but he was wonderful.
A lot of people stayed on the ship on the second CC day. I know a lot of people pay good money for double dip CC cruises, but the water was COLD (even for the kids) and we missed not having a sea day. We have generally cruised in April/May, and I think I will avoid November-February in the future -â€" we just did not enjoy going in the ocean when the water was so cold. We decided to stay on the ship on our 3-day leg of the B2B when we were at CC, when it was nice and quiet.
Our cabin was a Deluxe Inside stateroom - 10A (cabin 6673). The virtual porthole was great -â€" we loved to see which character was going to come up next. Tinkerbell/stars would show up on the screen before a new character came up. It was also nice to see what was going on outside the ship. We are used to balconies now, and booked this stateroom when the price differences between the inside and veranda staterooms were still significant. There was a lot of storage space for luggage, and the closet space was fine, but the shelf/drawer storage was minimal, especially for our 7-day cruise, and DH wound up keeping his clothes in his suitcase under the bed. We have never had a stateroom this far aft before and I really did not like it. The vibration was awful when we were pulling into port (which was every day of the 7), and I did not like being woken up early every day of my vacation. The kids slept through it.
The service on the ship was wonderful overall. We were able to keep our same table for both cruises, and the kids loved the magic tricks that our server did for them. We LOVED Animator's Palate because it was just so fun, and Palo was excellent. DH did not like the dinner selections in Royal Palace, but I enjoyed all of the restaurants. I thought Cabana's was the best buffet of any cruise line we have been on, as far as breakfast food quality goes (previously also sailed Royal Caribbean and Carnival). Quality of the food in the other restaurants was about on par with meals we have had on other ships. Flo's was a good fast food option and we had a snack or meal there pretty much every day. The only minor comments I have about the Deck 11 food areas were that napkins should be available at Flo's without having to ask for them, there should be another drink station on the Flo's side of the pool area, and they should not advertise toppings at Eye Scream (ice cream area) if they are not going to have them (you can check Cabanas for hard ice cream and chocolate/vanilla sauce at lunchtime).
The shows were great and we got to see the Muppets, which was very funny. I had a plan of action going in to see the shows during the 4-night leg, which turned out to be a very good plan because:
- We were able to see the very funny comedian/ventriloquist they had on the ship during the 4-night sailing (who was unfortunately not on the ship during the 3-night sailing). We did miss his adult shows because we just couldn't keep the kids up much past 10:30-11 PM and his adult shows were at 10:30 PM.
- We were able to relax more on the 3-night leg and do the things we had missed (golf and midship detective agency, which were big hits) and/or allow the kids to spend more time in Oceaneer's Club/Lab, which they loved.
- My son got sick, and you just never know when those things will happen.
My husband and I did get the Rainforest day pass, which was nice. We went for about an hour and a half on the first CC day.
The pools could be really crowded at times, but we found times to go when they were less crowded. Our kids also really liked the Nemo's Reef play area and of course the Aquaduck was a big hit (Note: 7 year olds do have to ride with another 7 year old or older. My 6 year old had to ride with someone at least 14 years old). We did the Aquaduck once at night -â€" very cold this time of year, but I highly recommend it -â€" it was pretty awesome. The water was warm, but you are immediately freezing when you get out.
Our kids are not really into characters in their regular life, but they got into them on the ship -â€" we were very surprised. It was a fun experience for them.
We only did the B2B because we really wanted to cruise Disney this year on a newer ship and 3 or 4 days is just not enough for us. There were benefits to being able to relax more during the second leg and hit whatever we missed the first time around, but the B2B process is not very efficient. Having to get off the ship, wait for an hour and a half before getting back on, redo the muster drill, etc. was a known annoyance ahead of time, but still was not very fun, and I would recommend to anyone pondering a Dream B2B versus the Fantasy to wait for the Fantasy.
Overall, we had a great time, and I hope we get to go on the Fantasy in the future.