Disney Dream Cruise Review – Does It Live Up To The Hype?
We had not been on a Disney Cruise in over 5 years. The nostalgic memories from taking our girls on the Magic and Wonder made us want to take our son, who just hit the 3 year mile mark. It brings tears to my eyes to see my girls so little in this Disney Cruise photo, which was on the Magic.
We had looked at the new Disney Cruise ships, the Dream and the Fantasy, over the course of the year and were quite frankly shocked at the cost of the cruise for a family of five (as much as $9,000 for a week cruise). I found a last minute special offer for Florida residents so we took the plunge and booked a 3 night cruise on the Disney Dream. We had pretty high expectations for two reasons: (1) the hype about the new ships and (2) the cost Disney normally charges for these cruises.
So did the Disney Dream live up to the hype or not ? The answer is Yes and No.
I will start with the ways it does live up to the hype in my Disney Dream Cruise review.
The reasons why the Disney Dream DOES live up to the hype :
1- The Disney service was phenomenal
I will make this one short and sweet. Everyone on the ship from the cabin stewards to the waiters to the guys who handing out food in the buffet line were nice and helpful.
2- The “Cruise Food” was amazingly delicious
We did not have high expectations in this department to be honest. On our last Disney Cruise, we literally lost weight because the food was so deplorable. Surprisingly, the food was really really good and we did not even eat at any of the adult-only up charge restaurants. I have a couple of favorites, but this truffle pasta comes to mind. I have desperately tried to find the recipe so if anyone knows it, please be a friend and pass it on!
3- The overall dining experience is one of the best parts of the Disney Dream Cruise (with one exception)
Disney did not disappoint in the rotational dining experience that we remembered and loved from the Magic and Wonder. We especially loved Animator’s Palate which is more of a theatric experience than dinner.
What we did not like, however, is the archaic cruise policy of seating families with other families on the cruise. Our first dinner at the Royale Palace was just odd and uncomfortable due to the fact that we had to sit with a family of 3 who had arrived to dinner earlier than us and were already eating their main course when we sat down. Furthermore, this family sat at the table in a way in which our family did not get to sit next to each other and could not talk amongst one another. We requested to be seated alone the next night, and this was no longer a problem. I would suggest that you make this request prior to the cruise if you don’t want to possibly be sitting with people you have nothing in common with for an entire week while on vacation.
4- The night time Disney Cruise shows and the pirate party are fabulous.
Again, Disney does a great job of putting on Broadway quality shows on the Disney Cruise. We saw “Believe” and the Pirate Deck show that features Jack Sparrow. I was over the moon when they did a rendition of the Michael Jackson video “thriller,” even though my kids had no idea what I was talking about!
Hint- Keep your kids up for the pirate show and firework show if at all possible. It is very late for small kids, but it is one of the best parts of the Disney Cruise experience!
5- The Disney Cruise kids club was pretty darn cool.
The Disney Dream has two kids clubs, the Oceaneer Club and the Oceaneer Lab. They are actually connected to one another so the kids can go from one to another. We liked the fact that regardless of age, kids could choose to be together in the Oceaneer Lab.
The Disney Dream kids club area really does have the “wow factor.” They have everything from a kids computer lab to an animated dance floor. We also liked that we could allow our kids over the age of 8 to check themselves in and out of the kids club on the Disney Dream. Which leads me to another accolade for the Disney Cruise line, we absolutely LOVED the “wave phones” that were provided on the Disney Dream ship. Basically, it is a telephone that you can take anywhere with you on the Disney Dream cruise ship to call another member of your family to check in. Brilliant!
The Disney Dream also has an area called the Edge for “tweens” ages 11-14, and an area dedicated to teenagers 15 and up. Evelyn visited Edge and really thought it was cool, but did not spend much time there due to our cruise being so short. She probably would have become more comfortable with it on a longer cruise. I think it is a great idea to give tweens an option of their own space. The Disney Dream also has an area just for teens which includes their own pool area. I wish we could have gone to their pool because it was probably A LOT less crowded than ours, which sadly leads me to why the Disney Dream does NOT live up to the hype.
The reasons why the Disney Dream does NOT live up to the hype :
1- The Disney Dream Pools Are Too Small and EXTREMELY CROWDED.
Ok, so answer this question : Why do you go on a warm, sunny cruise vacation?
My guess is that you answered, ‘To be in the sun and enjoy the warm caribbean air by the pool and beach.’
Well, do not expect to enjoy the pool too much on the Disney Dream because you will feel like a herd of cattle staring at a shockingly small pools for a ship that sleeps 5,000 people.
I am not kidding when I say that most residential backyard pools are larger than the two main deck Disney Dream pools.
It was not relaxing or enjoyable to watch hundreds (probably thousands) of people smashed into a tiny pool, while you are three plus rows of chairs away trying to watch your kids swim.
I can remember thinking the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder pools were “crowded,” but they don’t have anything on the Disney Dream. The Disney Dream sleeps almost twice the amount of people and the pools are not any larger. Do the math people. It sucks.
2- The Aqua Duck is lame and TOO CROWDED.
The concept of the Aqua Duck is cool, but the reality is that it is pretty lame. Furthermore, you will wait in line for at least 45 minutes to ride the Aqua Duck water coaster on the Disney Dream unless you are perfect at your timing. The height requirement is 48 inches and it really should be 40-42 inches, because that is the the age this water “coaster” is catering too. I will say that the Aqua Duck is pretty cool when it is lit up at night, but the performance is an oversell. The Aqua Duck is slow and really not that exciting for kids that like a fast water slide. My kids got more excitement out of the water slide at the Universal Portofino hotel that had a height requirement of 36 inches. Enough said.
3- Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, is TOO CROWDED
Do you see a theme in my negative Disney Dream Cruise review ? We made the mistake of thinking that we would stay on the ship in Nassau (since we have been there a million times) and then get off the ship on Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. Apparently, everyone else on the Disney Dream cruise had the same idea 🙂
I did manage to go on a short 3 mile run while on Castaway Cay, and I discovered the Disney private cabanas. I was green with envy when I saw a serene beach with virtually no people. Reality set in when I made my way back to my family on the “public beach” which looked just like the Disney Dream cruise pool deck….crowded and uncomfortable. We left shortly afterwards. The good news is that almost no one was on the ship at the Castaway Cay day, so we got to enjoy the water slides and pool deck for the first time…at least for a few hours.
I will NOT set foot on Disney’s private island ever again unless I have a private cabana. I have no idea what they cost, but it has to be worth it.
My overall Disney Dream Cruise review is that you will love it if you are not going for the sun and pools. Also, I think the Disney cruises are overpriced for what they provide with one caveat. The Disney cruise line is one of the only mainstream cruise companies that allows you to BYOB and this will save you a ton of money if you like a nice glass of wine or cocktail. Disney is clearly building that into the price of its cruises, so keep that in mind.
No matter what, we always have a good time when we spend time as a family on a vacation. I guess we are just happy to have each other!
Daniel is quite a confidant man. He can sport “twinsy outfits” to amuse us girls with no problem!
This might be my best memory of the entire Disney Dream Cruise. We had driven 10 hours, and Murray was completely exhausted once we got to the Disney Cruise ship. We were a deck above Mickey, and he spotted him below. He started to scream threw the railings : ” MICKEY…MICKEY….It’s MEEEEE!” The girls almost peed on themselves, they laughed so hard. He was genuinely, pissed that Mickey, his buddy, had not seen him and given him attention! I mean….they see each other every day! What the heck Mickey ?
Much to Murray’s disappointment, we waited in line to get the Mickey photo opp. He thought that Mickey should have brought him to the front of the line because they are buds….me too Murray…me too.