This was our first cruise with Disney. We are long time Disney fans and Annual Pass holders at Walt Disney World so we thought it was about time to try out the cruise lines. We booked a three night Bahamas cruise out of Port Canaveral on the Dream. Our expectations were high but mixed based on the knowledge that this is a ship designed with young families in mind.
Embarkation: We stayed at the Country Inn and Suites the night before the cruise and used their shuttle to get to the terminal (they offer a park and cruise special). We have used them before and highly recommend that location and service. The Disney terminal is one of the nicest cruise facilities we have been in, and the check-in and boarding process was smooth and timely.
The Ship: Overall the Disney Dream is a beautiful ship. The Disney branding is everywhere but subtle. Our cabin was on deck 5 at the stern, directly on the center-line of the ship right above the "D" in Disney. We had never stayed so low or so far aft, so we expected more noise and motion than we were used to. We experienced neither. In the bargain we got a huge veranda. The cabin was clean, spacious, comfortable with lots of storage. The bed was great and we slept peacefully. Our steward was great and kept everything in order. All of the public areas are well maintained and comfortable.
What do adults do? We spent the majority of our days by the adults only Cove pool. A nice bar staffed by friendly folks kept us happy. We did ride the Aqua Duck on our day in port at Nassau where we remained on board. We highly recommend this for anyone who is young at heart! The District adults area offered a great retreat from the kids and we really didn't feel like we were at the Disney Parks all day and night.
Dining: We were underwhelmed by the dining rooms in both atmosphere and food quality. We had lunch in the Enchanted Garden after we boarded and found a buffet instead of table service. We could have gone upstairs to Cabanas and had the same meal. Dinner was at Animators Palette. Food was OK, effects were OK, lots of noise and lots of kids. We opted out of dinner at Royal Palace by booking Palo for the next night (more on that later). We had first breakfast on the veranda courtesy of Room Service.. Hard mess up a continental breakfast. I wandered up to Cabanas for second breakfast while my wife prepped for the day. Underwhelmed again, the buffet lines made no sense, it was crowded and the food was just average (for comparison NCL, does a great job in this arena). Lunch was poolside from Flo's V-* cafe average Disney Park quality burgers and sandwiches.
Dinner at Palo: This is one outstanding venue. The service (ask to have Safet as your server) was excellent, the food was outstanding thanks to Chef Andrew and the kitchen staff. Our experience at Palo kind of made the cruise for us. We booked again for the next night and were blown away by an even better evening of fine dining. It is worth the small up charge.
Castaway Cay: A lovely island. We spent a better part of the day at Serenity Beach (adults only), enjoying adult beverages, sitting in the surf on a pristine white sand beach. After a nice BBQ lunch, we retired to the chaise lounges under the shade of the beach umbrella and took a nap! It was great relaxation.
We chose to do the early walk-off with our own bags so we avoided the kind of structured disembarkation procedures that Disney offers guests that want to eat breakfast. We were off the ship and in our shuttle with 5 minutes of leaving the ship.
All in all I would say we would do this again but probably with our grandchildren. We would love to see them enjoy themselves the way so many of the children on board did.