I went on the 3-night cruise to the Bahamas on the Dream on January 26. I traveled with a friend and our two sons, both age 10.
Overall, we loved the cruise, with a few exceptions.
First, what was good/great:
- Our room (10642) was extremely convenient to the Cabanas buffet restaurant and pool deck, which was open most of the time (except during seated dining hours), including the last day of the cruise. TIP: I highly recommend you just go there for breakfast on the last day of the cruise before leaving the ship - I couldn't understand why so many folks preferred to do the seated dining breakfast thing, especially when those who booked early seating had to be there at 6:45! The food at Cabanas was very good with a lot of options. My son really enjoyed the sushi on the second day.
- We loved the balcony in our room. It was very safe (with the plexiglass over the railing), and it was great to hang our wet suits over the chairs for drying at various times during the cruise. We also loved the bunk beds (although the two kids argued over who got the top bunk ;)), the curtain between the two sections of the room, and the dual bathrooms. The service in the rooms is excellent. It was always cleaned to spotlessness, and the turn-down service was always a treat.
- The Aqua Duck was a huge hit with everyone. My son must have ridden it 50 times. The best times to go as far as the lines are concerned are when it first opens in the morning on the Port days and in the evening between 6:00 and 10:00, when folks are at dinner. On the Castaway Cay day, we stayed on the ship until about 2:00 p.m., and the boys rode it continuously with no lines.
- We loved that we could bring our own alcohol on board (which you can do in a carry-on, and they don't care what kind/how much). We enjoyed having a drink or two in the evenings while getting ready for dinner - the refrigerator in the room is very helpful and convenient.
- Embarkation/Debarkation were a breeze. Our boarding time was 1:00 p.m., but we showed up at 12:00 p.m. and waltzed right through every station with next to no lines. It took about 30 minutes total to get from our car in the parking garage onto the ship. Debarkation was very organized and easy, as well. Disney really has this process down pat - I've been on two other cruises, both on Royal Carribean, and remember it being kind of nightmare to get through embarkation.
- We wore our swimsuits under our clothes onto the ship on the first day. This was a great plan, as we had the pools and Aqua Duck almost to ourselves for the first couple of hours we were onboard. At 1:30, we were able to go to our room and change, and we had lunch after that - worked out really well.
- We enjoyed the Seaworld Explorer Semi-Submarine boat ride in Nassau. The best part was the ferry boat ride out to meat the semi-submarine. We learned interesting stuff about the homes and other buildings we passed and the ride was very nice.
- We loved being able to watch Disney movies on deck while relaxing by the pool. Our sons would ride the Aqua Duck or go down the other smaller water slide we had, and we would relax on a lounge chair and watch the movies on the big screen. Lots of fun! My only complaint there is that the volume was sometimes too high and sometimes too low.
What was not so good:
- We were extremely disappointed with the Oceaneer Club/Lab. The boys were bored almost immediately, as all the stuff they have in both is really geared toward younger kids. Also, the counselors were not that friendly or helpful. The kids are pretty much left to their own devices there, unless they want to do a science experiment or arts and crafts (which older kids who are trying to get a break from school really don't want to do). There are no Wii or XBox or arcade type games they can do on their own there, which is what they had really been hoping for, and no organized activities for older kids like basketball games or ping pong tournaments or what-not. Our boys spent most of their time away from the pool and slide in the Arrr-Cade, which is very cool, but costs extra and is not supervised, so you really have to stay with your child there.
- The seated dining at night was just OK. We really liked the Animator's Palette, but the Enchanted Garden was not that great. We skipped the Royal Palace (you rotate between three restaurants - a different one each night - great idea, but we'd have been happy to eat in the Animator's Palette all three nights). I recommend getting the early seating if you have kids, by the way. We started out with the late one, but 8:15 is just too late for 10-year-olds to eat. Guest Services was very accommodating and let us switch to the early one after that, and that worked out much better. Then, the kids could eat early, then ride the Aqua Duck from 8:00 or so on with no lines.
- We never could figure out how to use the two-way phones in the room. I had to take one to Guest Services to ask them where the "Unlock" key on it is, which is not labeled and just has a "-" on it. It didn't end up being a problem for the most part, but they still could stand to be easier to use.
- The "Villains" show is terrible. Skip that one if you can. I hear the other two shows are very good, and I would have liked to have seen "Believe," but the boys hated "Villains" so much, it was hard to talk them into seeing any others.
- The water slide at Castaway Cay is a little weird. You get in a line, and then have to swim to the slide, go down it, swim back from the bottom of it to the beach, and get back in line again. Very awkward. Because of this, the boys only wanted to do it once and then were kind of over it. The port is very clean and nice overall, and it was nice to not have to be tendered by boat to it like you are on other cruises with their private beaches, and it's fun if you're a beach lover. We are from Florida and live near the beach, however, so it wasn't as much of a draw for us as it would be for more land-locked folks. If I had it to do again, I'd have just stayed on the ship all day while it was at this port, because the weather was fantastic and we had the ship practically to ourselves.