|01-12-2013, 10:15 PM||#1|
Join Date: May 2008
Disney Dream In-Depth Review of Jan 6, 4-Night Cruise
We spent New Year's Eve and the next five days at Walt Disney World, and then went on a 4-Night Disney Dream cruise. I received so much help in the forums, I decided to post my review of our recent cruise. Pictures to follow (some time in the future), but here's my review. Feel free to ask any questions.
Preliminairies: I will first say that to enjoy this type of cruise, you do NOT need to have kids or be a devout Disney fan (although we do have kids, and are Disney enthusiasts). Second, this cruise is compared to the following previous cruises we've taken:
• We were concierge and so had first boarding. Our limo picked us up at the car rental counter at the airport at 9:50; we arrived at the port at 10:45, some guy took our luggage and that was all taken care of in about 2 minutes; checked in with Concierge at 10:50, and then were escorted to a reserved concierge seating area. We stepped out with everyone else for a moment and got a quick picture with Mickey at 11:00; at 11:20 we made our journey from the concierge seating area to the concierge lounge on the ship. Our great concierge staff (Ann Marie, Lynda, and Ashley) made us feel welcome and special, and took our carry-on luggage for us. Ashley went over all of our reservations/plans for us, verifying that we had what we wanted. We gave Ashley 2 picture matts that we wanted the charactesr to sign, we also provided colored sharpies (they turned out "awesome" and were delivered to our stateroom on the final night). We then went to Cabana’s for lunch, concierge held our luggage, and assured us that concierge staterooms would be ready at 12:30. After getting settled in our stateroom with carry-ons and luggage that had already arrived, we made it to the Aqua Duct by 1:00, and only had a 5-minute wait.
• Day 1—Cabana’s (lunch): at 11:50 we enjoyed a buffet lunch as soon as we boarded. Food was a 3 on a 5-point scale; atmosphere was … by the window; it was clean and a fun place to eat as we were moving in. No crowd, and easily got a table by the window.
• Night 1—Enchanted Garden (dinner): Leandro (server) and Archie (assistant server) were a 5 on a 5-point scale; food was a 4; atmosphere was a 4; first seating was a 5, and our prior concerns about loud crying children in the first seating(on cruise blogs) were unfounded. We loved being seated in a round booth, and contributed it to our concierge status.
• Night 2—Royal Palace (dinner): Leandro (server) and Archie (assistant server) were a 5 on a 5-point scale; food was a 3; atmosphere was a 4; first seating was a 5. We were seated on the outskirts of the center … I guess they forgot we were concierge.
• Night 3—Palo (dinner): our server, Jaime Lee, was a 5+++ on a 5-point scale; she called each of us by name, and used each of our names every time she came to the table; food was a 5; atmosphere was a 5 (right by the window); 5:45 seating was a 5.
• Day 4—Palo (brunch): our server, Jaime Lee, was a 5+++ on a 5-point scale; she called each of us by name again and treated us like old friends, and used each of our names every time she came to the table; food was a 5; atmosphere was a 5; 11:00 seating was a 5.
• Night 4—Animator’s Palate (dinner): Leandro (server) and Archie (assistant server) were a 5 on a 5-point scale; food was a 4; atmosphere was a 5; first seating was a 5. We were seated one table away from the screens … I guess they forgot we were concierge. I was disappointed that the concierge crew totally disregarded my early written requests for rotation and placement of seating. The rotation turned out to not be any big deal, but the area of seating (for what we paid in concierge) was what I would consider to be second-class in two of the dining rooms. And all of this after having written verification of our requests, months before the cruise, and after three follow-up phone calls. I might also mention that who you talk to in Concierge before the cruise is not who is on the cruise. So I guess the people I spoke with, and wrote, before the cruise were just tenured phone associates. I still have the e-mail acknowledgement of our requests if anyone would like to see it. That said, this did not put a damper on our experience ... just a slight irritation.
• Other Eateries: everything was clean, and we never received what we would rate as poor food quality. Other ships provide you with sanitary wipes/lotion at the entrances to dining facilities “if” you want them; however, Disney staff hands one to each guest and you’re rather forced to take it (we really liked that).
Shows and Entertainment:
• Welcome Party: a lot of fun with Mickey and the gang at the pool, getting everyone in the mood for Disney quality.
• The Golden Mickey’s: favorite show for 50, 50, and 21; but 19 liked it too. A “great” show for the first night.
• Villain’s Tonight: a fun show for us all, and the favorite show for 19. We liked the slap-stick comedy and current humor of the guy who played Pain; he also played Genie in Believe; and he was also the host for our Concierge special character greeting.
• Believe: a good show. We liked the humor of the guy who played Genie, and the special appearances of the characters was fun … Balou is a favorite … (spoiler alert) and the appearance of Mickey and Minnie at the end was a great ending. Both Villains and Believe would have been rather stale if it wasn’t for the comedy relief of Pain and Genie … keep that guy and don’t let him go.
• Magic Show: a good magic show with Kyle Knight and his wife, Mistie. They also did a good adult show the previous late-night. They’re keepers for Disney … don’t let them go.
• Good Bye Party: the best kept secret. We luckily stumbled onto it, not even looking for it. It’s on the last night in the Atrium. With 4000 on the ship, I bet there were not more than 200 in the atrium to see this. It’s about 10:00ish on the last night, and all the classic characters meet in the atrium to sign autographs, and then do a song/dance routine as they go up the staircase.
• Pools: the water areas were croweded, but there was always room found in the adults area only. We really liked the whirlpools that hung over the edge of the ship, and had glass floors that you could see through—we also noticed from outside the ship that you could look up into the whirlpool … oops … make sure your swimsuit is tied tight; haha. We were always able to find an available chaise lounge; no worries, unless you wanted one directly in front of the kiddie stuff, which we didn’t. The Aqua Duck was a lot of fun; not a thrill ride by any means, but a lot of fun 150 feet above the water.
• Movies: we had every intention of watching several movies in the theater, but wound up not. In fact, the only one we watched was Wreck-it Ralph in 3D. We also wanted to watch Lincoln, but never quite made it. Our experience, combined with conversation with others, is that the theaters were never more than about one-third filled.
• Character Interaction: if you want it, it’s available. We got all we wanted—enjoying Donald, Mickey, Minnie, etc, but had a HUGE let-down with the Concierge Character interaction. They built it up, and we were really looking forward to it … but our family let out an audible sigh of disappointment (sorry) when it turned out to be … Stich. Stich … special? … lol. The only Disney character we would actually vote out of Disney would be Stitch. We cannot believe that Disney would disappoint concierge guests with … Stitch. That said, we got our picture, but all of our friends have laughed with us that we were “honored (lol)” with Stitch. A definite, HUGE, let down. We did get our picture, but in our memory book, on our blog the caption for that photo is … “Our only let-down on our Disney cruise … and it was a HUGE let down.” I cannot believe that Concierge would not use a classic Disney character for the “special” concierge character interaction. On the side, there was much talk among other concierge guests on the disappointment. I don’t like to complain, and I think this is the only complaint in my long review … but Stitch? Come on Disney, you can do better than that … what a disappointment! If I need to spell it out, please get a classic Disney character in there.
• Nassau: only got off the ship to get a picture with the ship in the background. We’ve been to Nassau before … been there, done that … not impressed.
• Castaway Cay: I surprised the family with a private Cabana (#7 on the Family Beach) on January 8th. I don’t know that it’s worth $599 (9:00 – 4:00 [seven hours]). It was a lot of fun and the highlight of our cruise; perfect weather with clear skies and 80 degrees—about 5 degrees warmer than usual for this time of year. The private beach was extremely nice, although we spent more “water” time in the public area, snorkeling and looking for the hidden Mickey; found it. Ashley, our concierge attendant welcomed us and made sure we had everything we needed. During the day, we spent 1 hour on bikes, 1 hour eating at Cookies Too, about 3 hours snorkeling, sliding, and swimming in the public areas , and about 3 hours talking/sleeping on the chaise lounges and hammock; and then we spent our last hour buying t-shirts and souvenirs. Again, I’m not sure it’s worth $599, but now that we’ve had it, I can’t imagine going back to Castaway Cay without it. On another note, all the Cabana’s were reserved; we were the first ones to arrive in our Cabana at 9:00 and no one else arrived at their Cabana until about 11:00. If you get there at 9:00 you will have your choice of lounges over on the public part … think of it like “Rope Drop” at the park.
Layout of Castaway Cay: as you approach the beach, the first part is roped off for watercraft, the second part is roped off for the slide/play area, the third part is roped off for snorkeling and swimming, and the fourth area is where it is reserved for Cabana guests. The beach area for the Cabana guests is nice, but the water (all the way out to the rocks) is no more than a couple of feet deep, at the deepest. The private beach and water area is much, much too shallow to swim, but it’s fun to splash around in and float in. But if you want to swim, you have to go over to the public areas.
Concierge 1-Bedroom Suite with Verandah (12520):
• We were a family of four and had plenty of room in our 622 square feet “condo.” The parents enjoyed the plush queen-sized bed. 19 enjoyed the pull down Murphy bed; firm but comfortable. 21 enjoyed the sofa-bed; high quality, no bar or sagging feel … comfortable mattress. In short, as in most cruise ships, there are no box springs. The queen plush mattress had drawers under it; Murphy and sofa were obviously one mattress. With three closets, including one walk-in closet, there was plenty of space. Two bathrooms with marble floors, walls, and sink areas was nice … as was the large whirlpool bath (which unfortunately was never used). The showers were large … never rubbed against the sides of it. The covered verandah (Deck 12) was 80 square feet (20x4) and had two large chairs and two smaller chairs. We all enjoyed sitting out there each night. We especially enjoyed watching the fireworks from the Pirate Party in the seclusion of our verandah. We generally spent a couple of hours in the afternoon in our stateroom or on the verandah. The kids “loved” having the “FULL” repertoire of Disney films On Demand, and always picked one to watch each night as they went to sleep. I’m sure that is was not worth what I paid for four nights, but it’s a Disney price and we did enjoy it.
I'll add more, as I think of it ... but this is all I can remember right now. Would I do it again ... ABSOLUTELY.
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