Disney Dream Cruise Review by m2inus
- Sail Date: May 2017
- Destination: Bahamas
Check-in: We arrived at the port around 11 ish (our assigned check-in time was 12:30, but no one seemed to care). We quickly made our way through security and check-in, which took about 20-30 min from the time we arrived until we were issued a boarding number. While waiting in line, the first family was allowed to board, which was probably around 11:30. After that, they boarded by number (we were assigned #19) and had just enough time to wait in line to take a pic with Minnie Mouse before we could board. One new benefit, they gave us our wrist band for the kids club at check-in, which meant we didn’t have to wait in a second line to get the band and did not have to do anything once on board to get our girl registered. It definitely seemed that things ran very smooth.
Ship: We thought the ship was beautiful, it seemed very clean and well maintained. Also, with so many kids on board, they took great care to ensure hands were sanitized or washed at every turn. We chose to go in early May to avoid the chaos of summer travel, and it generally worked. While the boat seemed full, and there were tons of kids on board, it never felt overly crowded or over-run with children. One thing that I noticed traveling with my daughter was that there were bathrooms, virtually everywhere. It’s something that you don’t appreciate until you travel with someone who has a tiny bladder.
Cabin: We had a balcony (verandah) cabin near the aft elevators on Deck 7, port side. This was a pretty good location, as the pools and buffet are on Deck 11 and most activities were on Decks 3-5. The cabin was nice, the divided bathroom was a little clumsy, where you would have to go back and forth between them depending on what you were doing. Also, there were two closets with lots of storage. Our daughter slept on the couch that converted to a single bed, and there was a curtain to divide the sleeping areas. The balcony was a nice size, with two chairs and a small foot stool. Our cabin steward was awesome, and was in and out in what seemed like minutes.
Disney Cruise App: This App was amazing, and I strongly recommend using it for anyone with a smart phone. Not only can you text with anyone on the ship, but we got texts from the kids club when our daughter wanted to be picked-up. Which meant we didn’t have to carry around the larger cell phones provided in the rooms. Also, the App easily lists all deck plans, activities and character appearances, and it automatically shows what’s happening at that very moment. I used it many times throughout the cruise and it worked awesome.
Pools: The pools were nice and we visited several of them. The two main pools on deck 11 consist of a “kids pool” that’s about 2.5-3 ft. deep, and an adult pool about 5.6 ft. deep. This was great, as the kids could stand and play in the little pool, and adults could dip in the big pool. They were often crowded but the Disney lifeguards on duty did a good job of keeping the peace. On a side note, I witnessed a lifeguard jump into action at Castaway Cay when a little girl made it out too deep and was in obvious distress. Her mother got there right in time, but the life guard would have definitely made a save if it were a second longer. Kudos to Disney and the lifeguards for taking this job seriously, with so many kids around I think it is a real added value. My daughter also loved Nemos Reef, which is the splash area. The area was great and all kids seemed to have fun. One issue was that it was nice to be so shaded (it is located under the overhang of deck 12), but did not have a lot of ventilation and got pretty hot and humid in there. We also jumped into the adult pool and hot tub, which were nice and not too crowded. We did the aquaduck water slide, which was a lot of fun too.
Kids-Club: We only used the kids club on a few occasions, for about two hours each. When we were in Nassau, we dropped our daughter off so we could explore the port for a bit. The problem was once off the boat we had no communication with the staff and didn’t know our daughter wanted to get out until we were back in Wi-Fi range. So I would recommend you don’t have this be the first time your kid is in there. There were always a ton of counselors at the kids camp and they took security of checking kids in and out very serious. My one issue would be that once the kids were checked in, it was chaos inside. There are many different areas of the club, with different activities happening in each, so your kid essentially chooses what they want to do. This buffet option is probably great for older kids, but not knowing anyone and being a little shy, I think my daughter would have preferred a little more direction and structure to the camp. We met some people that used the nursery, and they seemed to be happy with it, but apparently you can only book 10 hours ahead of time and space is not guaranteed, plus it is an extra charge….so something to consider.
Shows/Entertainment: We went to the main show on the first night it was good. Disney definitely does high-quality entertainment. My issue would be with the Fireworks on Pirate night, the event didn’t start till 10:30. Also, the fireworks didn’t go off until after a 10-15 minute performance. With so many kids I am surprised that they don’t move this event up to earlier in the evening, I was even tired when it got done. We also enjoyed many movies on the Funnel Screen by the pool, but it seemed like there was a lot of down time where they had trivia etc. on. I think they could have shown many more movies.
Food: On embarkation day we had lunch at the enchanted garden where they had table service. It was not crowded and the food was good, I would highly recommend it. We had an early dinner seating and got teamed up with another family, our kids really got along so dinner was pretty enjoyable. The wait staff is great and the food was better than most other cruises we had been on. We did breakfast mainly at the buffet which had a huge selection. One note is that the food repeats itself throughout the buffet, so we found a lot of people waiting in line, and they only had to walk a couple feet to find the same food again with no wait. I tried the omelet station one morning, where they take your order and then bring it to your table. It seemed like it took 10-15 minutes for the omelet, and I was done with everything else when it arrived. So I would recommend you order the omelet first, then make your rounds to get the rest of your grub. The outdoor seating near the aft was also very nice, it was mostly covered and shady which was a plus. There is a “drink station” (fountain sodas, water and coffee/tea) located near the pool, just outside of the buffet. It is open 24/7 and seemed to get a lot of use. This is definitely a great idea, and also great if you bring a re-usable water bottle.
The food at castaway cay was a buffet of the usual (burgers, dogs, chicken, etc.) which was good. Since it was really hot with not a lot of shade, I would recommend getting the bottle water deal (they offer it up right when you get off the ship), where you get 6 bottles of water with ice in a cooler for about $20. It was worth it.
Character Appearances: There always seemed to be some kind of character appearance happening. They were all listed either in the app or in the day’s activities. My daughter was mostly interested in the princesses, but we stopped by to see Mickey and Minnie as well. The line for Mickey always seemed to be the longest, but we never had to wait more than 15-20 min. If you really want to catch a certain character, try and go later in the evening. Some characters were out after 10 PM, and it seemed like the lines were shortest around then. The one thing I don’t understand is the autographs. I know some people are into it, but having a guy in a costume with fake fluffy hands try to write out his name takes a long time and really slows down the process. The staff and characters were great though, they always took time to talk to each person and the encounters never felt rushed. The staff are also happy to use whatever camera you have to snap some pics, so you don’t have to worry about spending a fortune on a photo package.
Nassau: As others have said, Nassau is pretty much a useless stop. We got off the boat for only an hour or two to walk around the shops in town. A lot of people stayed on board, but the ship and pools were still relatively quiet. With such a short cruise, it pays to use this time to hang around.
Castaway Cay: The Island was very nice and we really enjoyed it. There’s a tram that takes you from the pier to different beach stops. I would recommend getting off at the first stop and finding a spot by the first section of beech. We initially went further down (by where the ocean waterslide was) and found it to be packed. Once we backtracked we found a ton of open spots, and most of the chairs have umbrellas already set up.
Disembarkation: We booked a 10:30 flight out of Orlando and knew it would be a tight trip. So we grabbed breakfast at 6:30 and were in line to do the self-walk off by 6:45. Around 7:05 they started the disembarkation process and we raced our way off. We were in a cab by 7:10 and at the airport by 8. On a side note, the TSA screening at Orlando is horrendous. It is always crowded and chaotic. It’s like they just realized that the largest children’s attraction in the world is located around the corner. There are much busier airports that move people through security much more efficiently, so make sure you leave plenty of time to make it through the fray.