Last year we sailed on the Disney Dream for a way-too-short 4 day cruise (actually 3 days), but it was enough for us to convince us that "hey, cruise ship holidays aren't that bad."
That said, this year we decided to skip our almost annual week-long trip to DisneyWorld and take a cruise with the kids instead.
As the date approached and after reading some less-than-favorable reviews on this site, we started worrying that maybe we had made a bad decision. Had we spoiled by the luxury, service and attention to detail on the almost new Disney Dream? In comparison, were we going to be disappointed? Was 7 days too long?
All our fears were totally unfounded.
Two words: Awesome vacation!
True, the ship is a little more worn than the Dream...perhaps, the service is slightly below the elevated Disney standard...but no matter...we had a great time.
The food was exceptionally good (almost surprisingly) and I would have to say that it's actually better than the fare served on the Dream.
Our 15 year old hung out with us for the cruise, but we couldn't keep our 7 year old away from the kid's club.
Excursions: I'm a pretty frugal guy and I like to make my own adventures in new places, but I figured it would be a safe bet to book a couple early in the cruise to see what they were all about. Of course, they're overpriced, but I'd have to say that the Pirate Schooner Cruise, Turtle Cove & Snorkel was worth every penny. Very cool boat, awesome snorkeling and we all had a blast. If you're planning on hanging out at the beaches DO NOT BOOK any excursions. Grab a cab in any of the ports, negotiate the price and ask him to take you where you want to go. All the drivers we had were eager to tell us about their island and had no problem stopping to let us take pictures.
St Thomas: Town is cab distance.
Tortola: Town is walking distance away. We had a roadside fruit smoothie and it was hands-down one of the best I've ever had.
Antigua: All the towns have these duty-free shops and coffee shops that start looking the same. We hopped on a cab and had an entertaining drive around the island.
Dominica: Clearly the jewel in the crown. Natural, almost untouched.
Barbados: Nice, I suppose. Walked to the beach from the port (long-ish walk, but doable). Obviously, this town has a major rat problem. Look out for all the traps everywhere. Hung out at the beach (the sand is fine and soft)...After about 20 minutes of being propositioned by all sorts of peddlers, we were able to relax and enjoy ourselves. They're tenacious but leave you alone if you say now...they may try to chat you up, but they're not too pushy.
Food: Had the sit-down dining 3 of the 4 nights. We had the late service but it was a bit too late for our youngest one who wanted nothing more than to return to the kids' club. The food at the buffet was often the same as the dining room so we decided not to be tied down to a specific time and ate at the buffet quite often. Food quality....excellent. Service was ok, but uneven (I'm not a very good reference since I've been fortunate enough to eat at quite a few Michelin-starred restaurants). I much prefer to eat from a buffet line than have someone pretend to offer good service. That said, the waiters were very nice, regardless.
Kids' club: Very well equipped and as evidenced by our son's refusal to spend any time with us, very fun for the kids.
Entertainment: was ok, I guess. We're jaded and cynical so we don't get turned on by cruise ship entertainment. But as long as the entertainers are making an honest effort to be entertaining, then it's all good.
Fitness Center: Excellent facilities. On par with some high end gyms. Great spinning classes.
Condition of boat: definitely not on par with the Dream, but that's almost impossible. However, it was evident that they were continually making efforts to make it look good. Carpet was changed in a few places, painting the hull almost daily...
Anyways, bottom-line: We had a great time and would have no problem recommending this cruise to any of our friends.