Disney has some of the largest standard cabins at sea, and it's amazing how far a few extra square feet will go for four people sharing the typically tight space of a cruise ship stateroom. Ample closet space and plentiful drawers (including an ottoman with room for storage inside), the option to eat room service without bumping elbows on the couch and raised beds with room enough to store a pair of medium-sized suitcases underneath will please even those not traveling with kids. Cabins each have a 22-inch LCD TV, iPod docking station with alarm clock, mini-fridge, safe and a pair of rechargeable "Wave Phones" that can be used throughout the ship. (Instructions for the Wave Phones could be clearer, especially for those used to touch-screen smartphones.)
Most standard cabins can sleep three or four via a pull-down bunk and single convertible couch. Look for the hidden Peter Pan-themed celestial mural hidden above top bunks. In addition, heavy room-dividing curtains are a godsend to parents stuck in the cabin with sleeping children. (The only downside is that the TV and fridge are on the kids' side.) Five hundred connecting doors adjoin cabins; if you're cruising next to members of your travel party, you can request that balconies be opened up to connect, as well. Twenty-five cabins across categories are wheelchair-accessible, including two suites.
The split bath setup -- which provides one room with a shower, small tub and sink, and another with a toilet and sink -- is a simple but ingenious concept that Disney pioneered on Magic and Wonder. Having two vanities is important, but at times, having the toilet and shower separated is annoying. Also, while a bathtub is perfect for young children, the rounded tub bottom feels more slippery than the flat floors of typical cruise ship showers. Two in-shower retractable clotheslines provide amble space for drying the swimsuits of a family of four. Toiletries include bar soap, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion and burn relief gel.
Interior: Standard insides start at 169 square feet, and deluxe insides are 204 square feet. They're found on decks 2 and 5 through 10. Those opting for an inside cabin can check out a nifty industry first: Magical Portholes. They're flat screens designed to look like portholes above the beds; they project a real-time view outside the ship by means of high-def cameras and a live video feed. Stare at the screen for long enough, and you may catch a dancing hippo or two.
Porthole/Oceanview: Outside staterooms start at 204 square feet and are found on decks 2 and 5 through 8. They can also sleep up to four, but the porthole is a real round window, rather than simply a virtual one. The Deluxe Family Oceanview cabin, found on decks 6 through 9, is a bit roomier at 241 square feet and can sleep up to five people. The portholes are larger and come with built-in seating.
Balcony: Verandah cabins are a roomy 246 square feet, including balcony, located on decks 5 through 10. Cabins possessing a "navigator's verandah" will typically have a smaller balcony or one with an obstructed view. Verandah cabin balconies each feature two mesh-and-metal chairs and a small table, deck lights, railings covered in Plexiglas (or solid white walls) and childproof locks. If your family group books connecting balcony cabins, the partition can be opened to form one large balcony. Family balcony cabins measure 299 square feet (including verandah) and sleep up to five. Smoking is not permitted on balconies.
Suites: For those requiring more space, Disney has introduced Concierge Suites, as well as roomy Concierge Family Cabins, located on decks 11 and 12. The decor focuses more on earth tones (browns and muted sea blues), versus the bright red-and-blue nautical hues of the standard cabins. Both offer access to Dream's concierge facilities, which -- even though they're not particularly noteworthy, comprising only a small lounge and a private sun deck area with some chairs -- do offer easy access to free food and drinks and coveted extra space. The concierge is on hand before and during your cruise to help with reservations, activity planning and other needs.
Concierge cabins start at 306 square feet and can sleep up to five. One-bedroom suites start at 622 square feet; most have connecting doors. These have queen-sized beds in separate bedrooms, sitting areas with double convertible sofas and a small table and chairs, single wall pull-down beds in the living rooms, walk-in closets and two bathrooms (with a whirlpool in the master).
Really want to spoil yourself? The 1,781-square-foot Royal Suite has all that plus a wet bar, kitchenette, dining table for eight, media library and a hot tub, plus cushioned chairs and loungers on the verandah. It can also sleep five.