A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes – Stepping Aboard the Disney Dream
From the moment we stepped aboard the Disney Dream, we entered a fairy tale world. A deck party welcomed guests on board with streamers for all the kids and energetic performances by our favorite Disney characters.
There was a champagne toast and, this being Disney, they even thought of the children, the pregnant women, and the abstainers–trays were ready with sparkling cider topped with a cherry.
This is a lovely way to pass the time as luggage is brought to up to 4,000 guests in all of the 1,250 staterooms. On most voyages, guests will be able to bring a carry-on aboard with their essentials. Because this was a Christening Cruise, however, security was extra-tight and we were only permitted a small handbag.
We immediately were drawn into the narrative of adventure and discover and knew that anything was possible and wishes really do come true aboard the Disney Dream!
Wherever You Are – The Staterooms Aboard the Disney Dream
The first surprise was that our inside stateroom was actually an outside stateroom with a balcony! All the rooms we toured on the Disney Dream were spacious by cruise-ship standards (though some are slightly smaller than on other Disney vessels) but having the balcony was a real treat. The kids enjoyed the fresh sea air in the morning and my husband and I enjoyed a place to relax once the kids were in bed.
Almost 90 percent of the rooms have outside views and more than 70 percent of the Disney Dream’s 1,250 staterooms have a private verandah!
If you do have an inside stateroom, though, you will still be able to enjoy the ocean view and the first glimpse of your port of call–each inside stateroom is equipped with a magic porthole that shows what the view would be from your side of the ship. Disney animated characters will even make the occasional appearance in the magic porthole! You can compare the various classes of staterooms at the Disney Cruise Line website.
The key cards seem a little tricky at first if you are used to swiping your card across the sensor to access a room; instead, just one light tap opens the lock. Once inside, you need to use the key card to turn on the lights and remember your card is there (minutes before the lifeboat drill, we were frantically searching before we realized it was in the slot for the lights). If you prefer, you can use any card with a magnetic strip, such as a leftover hotel key card, to keep the lights on in your room and stash your stateroom key in your wallet so you won’t forget it and get locked out.
The rooms in general feel light and airy and traveling with a family, I appreciate the split bathrooms–someone can use the restroom while another person is showering in the other room. For larger families, you can have adjoining staterooms with a removable partition on the verandah. The entire ship is really designed for the family experience–however many people of whatever age you have in your family.
A Whole New World – The Disney Dream Art Deco Decor
As an art history buff, I was immediately taken with the Art Deco interior of the ship. The golden age of cruising stylish opulence of the design melded perfectly with the luxury of 21st century amenities.
The centerpiece is the grand chandelier in the lobby of the Disney Dream. I saw more than one person (not naming names) trip over her own feet staring up at the ceiling.
From the balcony above the staircase, you can see the details: note the little gold Mickey Mouse silhouettes at the top of the chandelier!
The stylized organic lines continued throughout the ship, providing unity while allowing each space its own distinct character!
Under the Sea – Water Slides, Pools, and Sprinklers on the Disney Dream
While my two and four year-old children were dazzled by the glitz of the decor, they were really wowed by the sprinklers at Nemo’s Reef.
This area is perfect for toddlers (and even kids up through 8) and it is filled with pop jets, bubblers and lovable underwater friends from “Finding Nemo.” My kids’ favorite was a super-fast (but suitably pint-sized) water slide shaped like Mr. Ray! I appreciate that it is shaded for sun-protection and that the parents can stay dry and watch the glassed-in area. For the record, the 1,500-square-foot Nemo’s Reef is almost twice the size of my first Manhattan apartment.
Speaking of water slides…the highlight for many of the ship’s passengers was the awesome AquaDuck, the first-ever shipboard water coaster! Alas, being almost six months’ pregnant, I did not have the opportunity to enjoy this wild ride…but I hear that it fulfills all expectations!
Those looking for something in between the tot-friendly sprinklers and the excitement of the AquaDuck water coaster will enjoy the three pools: the children’s Mickey’s Pool (with water slide), the family Donald’s Pool, and the adults-only Quiet Cove Pool (complete with pool bar and adjacent to a jetted hot tub).
Note that only potty-trained children may swim in the pools, including Mickey’s Pool, as per cruise ship regulations. Children in need of swim diapers can still cool off in Nemo’s Reef.
Be Our Guest – Family Dining Aboard the Disney Dream
No cruise write-up is complete without savoring the cuisine and ambiance of the dining rooms!
We enjoyed Disney’s hospitality at the four available family dining rooms. Each of the spaces we visited was so beautiful, the waitstaff so gracious, and the food so delicious, that we felt like royalty each time.
For me, the Enchanted Garden was the most delightful. With masterful use of lighting, the space transforms from a day to evening skyscape. During the daytime, the place was so verdant and green that we almost felt like we were outside. The gorgeous fountain transports you to a European garden of wonder.
The Royal Palace put me in mind of the one time I dined at the Ritz in London as a pre-teen–but the Royal Palace is a far more warm and welcoming space for children! The chandelier’s, artwork, and ornamentation (apples, glass slippers, and tiaras) all call to mind Disney’s famous princesses without crossing the line into treacle. Even the wire bread baskets were shaped like Cinderella’s magical pumpkin carriage!
Families may also dine at Animator’s Palate, which features interactive visits from Little Nemo cartoon characters on screens throughout the dining room, and Cabanas, a casual indoor/outdoor space.
And the food was scrumptious at each stop. My husband is a culinary-adventurer and he found plenty of exotic items from from the sea, as well as more traditional meat dishes, that were all expertly prepared. I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of vegetarian items on the menu, having difficulty deciding between several delicious items at ever course was a new challenge for me. While there were plenty of more familiar plates, there were also some more rare and absolutely delectable grains and vegetables available to try. My children wished for more days aboard just to sample more delights from the children’s menus.
The favorite item on the children’s menu was the Mickey Bar dessert (a chocolate-covered ice cream bar). Like the Mickey Waffle at our resort, this one will go down in family legend.
Can You Feel the Love Tonight? – Adults-Only Dining and Nightclubs on the Disney Cruise
Unfortunately, with very young children to hustle off to bed, my husband and I only caught a glimpse of the adults-only spaces on the ship. If you are sailing without children or your children who wish to dine with their friends at one of the children’s clubs (a fun option), you will have a lot of fun reconnecting with the adults in your party and making new friends.
Katja Presnal has a great post at Skimbaco Travel about all the fun and relaxation that awaits adults on the Disney Dream.
Take your pick from Remy (elegant French dining with ocean views), Palo (Northern Italian cuisine, also with ocean views), or Meridian (an indoor / outdoor lounge).
If the kids are having fun at their own clubs, why not head to one of the 11 lounges and nightclubs aboard the Disney Dream, ranging from a sports bar, to a dance club, to a charming champagne-themed lounge.
Of course, you can always get a workout at the Fitness Center or Goofy Sports Deck or relax at the Senses Spa…there’s even a Chill Spa for teens!
A Pirate’s Life for Me! – Entertainment on the Disney Dream
Classic Disney entertainment travels with you aboard the Disney Dream! A new show, Believe!, premiers aboard the Disney Dream. The flamboyant, lovable, and comic Genie from Aladdin leads over 20 favorite Disney characters in this tribute to the power of magic. Dr. Greenaway is a loving father who wants to provide the best for his daughter, Sophia, but is too caught up in his botany to cherish the magic of childhood. Can our favorite magical Disney characters teach him to believe before it is too late? Of course they can…but I still teared up watching this fun and touching show. Anyone who believes in fairies or loves someone who does will enjoy.
On deck, we were also treated to Mickey’s Pirates in the Caribbean, a fun interactive performance and party. Each guest received a bandanna–a fun dress-up item and souvenir. My kids really got into seeing their favorite classic characters, dressed-up as pirates and crossing swords with Captain Hook.
Can Your Friends Do This? – Nursery, Kids’ Clubs, and Teen Clubs
When not participating in one of the many scheduled activities for all passengers, my kids were able to enjoy the play spaces and youth clubs on the Disney Dream.
The Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab are just perfect–an entire amusement complex for children ages 3-10. I wish there were something like this in my neighborhood where I could drop-off my daughter for arts & crafts, games, cooking, art lessons, organized activities, dress-up fun, science experiments, and more. The schedule was jam-packed with activities that any kid would enjoy and there were plenty of spaces to just hang-out and play with new friends. The check-in system and the enthusiastic counselors left me feeling safe that my child was in good hands and she had a ton of fun exploring and making friends.
When we went to pick up my daughter, we weren’t sure where to look first–which would be her favorite spot? Was it the science lab? the craft room? the indoor playground? We found our little fairy playing happily in Pixie Hollow!
My younger son was able to play at the Oceaneer Club, too, as long as we were supervising–I wish we could have dropped him off here, too…maybe next time!
Instead, we brought him to the It’s a Small World Nursery. Unfortunately, while he loved playing in the soft, inviting and colorful baby and toddler-friendly space, he did not want to stay there without us. I think a few up-beat toddler activities and a different gate system (more like the Oceaneer Club) might have encouraged him–but then again, maybe not!
Tweens and teens will be in their element aboard the Disney Dream–I think cruises are perfect for this age group. Between Edge (ages 11-13), Vibe (14-17), the D Lounge (a family entertainment center), and the Arr-cade, you will not hear “I’m bored” a single time during this entire trip.
Hakuna Matata – Amenities and Service Aboard the Disney Dream
Disney excels at pretty much every aspect of the entertainment business but that extra Disney touch is especially noticeable in the service they provide…which means “no worries” aboard the Disney Dream.
If you need to pack light, there are laundry rooms aboard the ship. There are indoor and outdoor public spaces to relax and enjoy.
And it would not be Disney without your favorite characters!
We did not encounter a single person on this entire trip who was not cheerful and eager to assist. From maintenance to cast to counselors to waitstaff to concierge to every last employee on the ship, everyone is not only uber-competent and helpful but they all seem to enjoy children, as well, taking a moment to engage our kids and make our voyage exciting, safe, and magical.
From beginning to climactic end, the Disney Dream was a story of adventure, enchantment and magic!
Next up: Castaway Cay: Disney’s Private Island in the Bahamas!
Disney paid for my voyage on the Disney Dream. All opinions are my own.
All photos are the property of Candace Lindemann, unless otherwise credited. If you would like to use any of the photos, please contact me about their use.