I was invited to cover the inauguration of the new “Disney Dream,” the third ship in Disney’s cruising fleet. I had many preconceptions about what the ship would be like (see Hello Disney Dream for details), but here’s what I found most surprising:
Disney Dream Cruise Review
Just how much my son loved it
My son kept saying, “This is the best vacation of my life!” Now, this kid has been all over France, Italy, England, Ireland, Caribbean, and the USA — this is the best vacation of his life. Wow! What exactly is it that won him over so much? Could it be how kid-centric everything is? Or, the fact that it was just he and I (his other 3 siblings were at home)? The novelty of the cruise? Certainly the food. Definitely the water slides and non-stop access to fun activities. My son is not even that into the Disney characters, but he was enthralled by the intricate design of the ship.
The quality of the entertainment
Broadway on the high seas, what can you say — it’s Disney! They revolutionized family entertainment and you get a big dose of it on the ship. With first run movies and Broadway-quality musicals, Disney really rocks the entertainment factor. I was pondering what the “ideal age” for Disney is and although it appeals to all ages for different reasons, I think the perfect window of time for kids to experience Disney entertainment magic is from ages 3 to 6. That way, they really get into all the characters and might even believe that they are real.
From the moment they announce your arrival on the ship, the staff makes you feel like their only customer. We were escorted to our destination and promptly greeted by our fantastic wait staff. The wait staff remains consistent for dinners, giving them an opportunity to get to know you. They remember your favorite drinks, what your kid likes to eat, and are happy to meet your every need.
My son has many allergies and this is where we saw Disney exceed all expectations to ensure that he had safe and delicious food wherever he was. Even the room stewards were outstanding, bringing ice and folding the towels in creative ways. I constantly felt like the staff was one step ahead of us. If you have forgetful kids, not to worry, the lost and found is very organized. My son lost his only pair of shoes, but guest relations just looked on their computerized list and retrieved them right away. These little items add up to truly outstanding service!
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I have to say, this is the feature I was most excited about. How cool is it to have a water roller coaster on a ship? And believe me, it lives up to it’s hype. We had so much fun riding this slide and loved the heated water given the cool weather conditions.
Inspired kids’ clubs
Who knows kids better than Disney? So, you go in expecting a lot. Even with that, I was blown away by the inspired design of the kid spaces. The baby center is pretty straight forward and ultra pristine, but the Oceaneer’s (3-10), Tween (11-13) and Teen (14-17) centers are amazing. The Oceaneer’s club has cooking, science, an interactive gaming floor, group gaming computers that are led by the counselor, DJ centers (my son’s favorite), movie screening centers, board games, and craft areas.
The Tween Center — called The Edge — has gaming stations, film making areas, DJ stations, a huge Rockband area and fun group activities, like pajama parties. Now, the Teen center, named Vibe, is simply “sick,” as my kids would say. From a design perspective, it’s over the top with sleek modern design, creating a perfect atmosphere or “Vibe”. Your teens who may be too cool to wear Mickey ears will love hanging out in private gaming pods, dance studios, screening area, smoothie bar and private deck area that include deck games, wading pools, and shaded chaises.
Plenty of adult spaces
With Disney, you think all kids all the time. But not to worry, the design of the boat allows for plenty of adult space to soak up the sun, take in some spa time, or even rest quietly on the deck. From fine dining to lively bars, the Dream has you covered.
Luxurious quality of the Disney Dream
The Disney Dream is striking! Gorgeous and well designed, it feels luxurious from the moment you step aboard. Disney brought in the best to design and build this HUGE ship (length of 4 football fields). Even with two full days on the ship, I still didn’t see everything. There are so many fun things for families to enjoy — pools, the Aquaduck, splash zones, arcades, ongoing family and kid club activities, sports courts, and miniature golf and shows. The details like the animated art work (think paintings that come alive when you walk by) and the art-deco inspired designs laced throughout the ship, give you a real sense of the exhaustive attention that Disney put into the ship.
The thoughtful design of the staterooms with extra storage, a split bathroom, a pull-down bunk, and a briliant curtain that can be drawn to split the adult and children section of the room with a TV that can swivel to either side — demonstrate how forward thinking Disney is. I really loved the “D lounge” which is a place for families to play together. There were a series of games and activities providing the opportunity for families to interact with one another. I also have to note the side railings were very high and often made of glass sheets, for those of you with kids who just might try to climb overboard.
One of my concerns with a cruise is cleanliness and onboard health. Disney takes this very seriously and I was instantly reassured as we were handed sterile wipes before each meal. Also, the kids have to put their hands into a cool sanitizing hand washing machine before entering the kids’ club. Even when a child pooped in the pool, they drained it, scrubbed it, rinsed it and then refilled it immediately.
Although well organized, bring your patience, because there are a lot of lines and waiting. Whether you are at the airport waiting for your bus transfer, or on the boat waiting for the Aquaduck, there is waiting. Just be prepared. One tip, pack a day bag with swimsuits when getting on the boat because the whole first day we waited for our luggage (aka, swimsuits) and we couldn’t do any water activities. Also, there’s the whole, “sign up quickly, there’s limited space” mentality that I found totally, non-relaxing. Better to be a good planner and book your activities and spa appointments ahead of time to avoid that first day pressure.
Going for the ship experience
My son and I had just 4 hours on the island in the Bahamas, that’s right, 4 hours! By the time we ate breakfast and got out, that was it. That’s when it became clear to me that it wasn’t about the destination, it’s about the on-boat experience. Otherwise, you’d fly to the Bahamas for 3 nights. So be prepared to soak up all that Disney, even the songs that play 24 hours a day.
Nancy recieved complimentary airfare and cruise accommodations from Disney Cruise Line. They did not ask her to express any particular point of view.
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What other bloggers are saying about the Disney Dream:
Child Mode – The Luxury Adult-Friendly Ship
Avid Cruiser – Meet Disney Dream
Family Travel Network – Magical Family Vacations Aboard the Disney Dream
The Vacation Gals – Video from Disney Dream’s AquaDuck
Mommy Musings – It’s a Small World Nursery
Inside the Magic – Castaway Cay
AllEars.Net – Dining Overview