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Old 03-13-2011, 01:04 PM   #1
Earning My Ears
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 2

Dream 02/27 - Perspective from a 1st time cruiser

I have waited a while to write this review because I wanted some time to gain a little perspective from the trip. First let me start by letting you know that we have never done a cruise before. We have a daughter who is 3 and a half and also traveled with another family with a daughter, age 2 (3 next month), and a son, 5.

To summarize, we had a number of negative experiences on the cruise. Would I recommend a Disney Cruise to a friend with children? Yes, with a few recommendations. 1) Do not sail on the Dream! Sail on one of the smaller ships. 2) Wait until the kids are between the ages of 6 and 10. 3) If you go to Nassau do not do any port adventures.

Airport Check-in – ARRIVE EARLY!!! My family stayed at the airport Renaissance the night before and checked in at the Disney Cruise Line desk at the airport at 8:30am and there was hardly any line. The other family we were traveling with stayed at the Hyatt in the airport, woke up later and had breakfast and went to the check in desk around 10am. They had to wait at least 45 min in line.

Terminal – Everything went smoothly. We received our card for boarding the boat at the airport and our number was called within 10 minutes of arriving at the terminal. At first we were planning on checking in the kids for the Oceaneer Club at the terminal but the lines were long and they called out our number to board while we were still waiting in line. This turned out to be a good thing. When we arrived on the boat we immediately went to the Oceaneer Club and got the kids their wristbands, NO WAIT, and we got to tour the club with the kids.

Oceaneer Club – We had a few major issues with the Oceaneer Club. The kids loved the idea of the club but it didn’t work well for the two youngest (3 year old girls) in our party.

The first issue happened on the 2nd night. We had feed the kids early and dropped them off before we went to dinner. Around 30 minutes after dropping the kids off, we received a text. The youngest went to the restroom and couldn’t figure out how to get out. Finally someone heard her crying in the stall and got her out. She would not go back after what was a traumatic experience for her.

The second issue I had came on the at sea day. While the first trip to the club had not been successful (for the reason above), my daughter (age 3 and a half) wanted to go to the club on the at sea day. We dropped her off around 1pm and my husband and I went to have lunch. Supposedly they were doing princess crafts in pixie hollow. When I dropped her off there was one counselor in Pixie Hollow who didn’t seem to have anything with the crafts organized. My daughter wanted to stay so we left her. We arrived back at 2:30. I walk in and see my daughter looking very sad standing in the doorway to the Pixie Hollow room looking at all the kids playing on the dance floor. It honestly broke my heart. My daughter is used to being left alone (she goes to preschool 5 days a week). However she is used to having an adult guide her play somewhat. She isn’t the personality that will go join a group without encouragement. My expectation was that the counselors wouldn’t let a small child of three sit alone watching from the outside. With some encouragement she would have joined in but none of that happened. I know this from talking to the counselors, they said they gave her a nap mat because she wasn’t playing. When I asked if they tried to help her join in they told me she seemed tired. THEN CALL ME!!! One thing I have thought about looking back on the experience is that maybe I should have talked with a counselor when I dropped her off and asked them to help guide her somewhat. My expectation was that they would be able to recognize the shy kids and have the skills to help them. NOT THE CASE!!!

Pools – I have to say this was one of my biggest disappointments on the cruise. The pools were so crowded it honestly didn’t look safe for the younger kids and I wonder if at peak times the pools exceeded occupancy. From talking to other people who had cruised on the smaller DCL ships they were disappointed with this as well. The dream has such a larger number of people yet the same number of pools.

Nassau – DO NOT LEAVE THE BOAT!!! We paid over $200 for the Atlantis Beach Day (our daughter is too young for any of the slides at Atlantis or the dolphins so we did the Beach Day). For the beach day, they don’t have you meet on the boat until 10:15, then, by the time we disembarked, walked to the shuttle and drove to Atlantis it was around 11:30. We then had a LONG walk to the beach we were allowed to go to. By the time we arrived at the beach it was after 12 and the kids were exhausted and cranky because they had basically been in line or walking since 10:15.

The family we traveled with had a huge issue with this port adventure. It started when they didn’t have a ticket for their youngest daughter in their stateroom. After waiting for 30min in the Guest Services Line, they were told to go to the Port Adventures desk. At the Port Adventures desk they were told that their daughter didn’t need a ticket because she was under three. When we arrived at Atlantis, they realized that they hadn’t received a meal ticket for their daughter because they didn’t have a ticket for her (which they were told they did not need). At this point, it was about 1:30 and we decided to cut our loses and head back to the boat. Lesson Learned.

Castaway Cay – I’ll just say one thing. CROWDED! If you sail on the smaller boats there are half the people on the island.
The one smart thing we did they day was not go on the island until 12. We had the pools to ourselves that morning and rode the Aquaduct a number of times with no line once it opened at 11!

Food – If you are a foodie, like myself, do not expect to be impressed. The food was good but nothing to rave about.

I had a few issues with our servers. On pirate night, they took my plate away with half of my entrée left when I left the table to take my 3 year old to the restroom.

The second issue came on the last night in the Royal Palace. I order the filet, medium rare, and it came out well done. When I pointed this out to our head waiter his comment was, “I wrote it down correctly, it wasn’t my fault” 15 minutes later, after the rest of the people at our table had finished eating I received a steak at the right temp. No apology. I’ve actually read on another review of this trip someone else whose steak was overcooked on that last night at RP.

The head waiter at our table honestly had a horrible attitude the entire trip. This was his last cruise before heading home for a vacation and it was obvious he was ready to get off the boat. I will admit that our table was a handful with three kids under five. Lots of trips to the restroom, which meant we probably took longer between courses. On a number of occasions, we received eye rolls from the waiter. I was not at all impressed with the service.
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Old 03-13-2011, 01:53 PM   #2
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How disappointing! This scares me, as our daughter will be 3 1/2 when we are on our cruise. What a horrible experience.
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Old 03-13-2011, 02:00 PM   #3
Earning My Ears
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 2

My advice to you would be to make sure you identify a counselor in the Oceaneer Club everytime you check in and ask them to help your daughter join in the activities. I wish I had done this. It may have helped. Also, if at any way possible, try to book the main dinner seating at 6:00pm. We had the 8:30 seating and since the club didn't work for us, dinner was not enjoyable for anyone.

Lastly, remember this trip is about your kids having fun. Even with everything my daughter had fun. She loved meeting the princesses and had a blast at the Mickey Pool on the Castaway Cay morning.
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Old 03-14-2011, 09:57 AM   #4
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Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: North Carolina
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So sorry you had a bad experience. Now I'm nervous. I am hoping since we are cruising in 2012 that some of these problems will be worked out by then.
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Old 03-14-2011, 10:17 AM   #5
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Location: Tampa Area
Posts: 586

So sorry your trip wasn't as 'magical' as should be!! From your experience, and from what I've read from others....the kids' clubs need improvements for the younger kids. It seems everything is fine for the older ones. Good luck with your future travels.
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Old 03-21-2011, 11:01 PM   #6
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Join Date: Sep 2005
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Thanks for your review. I appreciate your honesty.

FWIW - I thought that the Club on Magic was similar - It is a busy place, and honestly - a 3 yr old - esp a shy one - will have a hard time getting involved with the activities. Our kids liked the club less at ages 3 and 4 - but at ages 5 or so and up - they enjoyed it much more. Maybe it was just that their ability to communicate is better - not sure - but that was our experience.

I cannot imagine trying to do late seating with a 3 yr old - That alone must have been difficult - to say the least.

Since we began cruising with kids- I would only sail on trips that we could get early seating - It meant booking way in advance - but it was worth it for us - Something to consider if you decide to try again on the Magic or Wonder

It may be worth another try in a couple of years -
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Old 03-22-2011, 11:53 AM   #7
Earning My Ears
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 13

The Dream is working out some kinks. The service staff was not as good as those we experienced on the Wonder but the effort was there. The crowds at the pools are overwhelming from 10am to afternoon on the day at sea. We put our kids in the club and enjoyed the sanctuary of the front of the ship. I have a 4 and 3 year old and they really enjoyed the clubs. I will admit it can look like a free for all at times given the size but I also saw a number of counselors either overseeing a large group activity and others with smaller group.

My in-laws really press the cruise and it's nice to have them to help with the kids. Otherwise, I would wait until they are older - 7-10ish, maybe. Old enough to do some things on their own and check back. There are plenty of young kids on the ship but the parents of the older kids look so much more relaxed.

The food thing - my crew is more selective than I and they enjoyed the food for the most part. It wasn't perfect. From experience I generally avoid going with beef on the cruise. Just not a quality cut. OK, just not great. I thought the seafood was solid. I also think of how it's possible to provide a truly gourmet experience serving that many meals at one time. I'm sure that's why Remy and Palo are alternatives.

After several trips to Atlantis, the day pass through Disney is probably not worth it. I just don't think you get to spend enough time there for the money - and Atlantis is one of my fav places. I prefer to determine on the day of - weather, energy level, whatever - then walk down from the port and take the Paradise Island ferry for $3 per trip. Walk up to Atlantis through the Marina Village and purchase a cheaper day pass direct through the hotel. Disney says reservations guarantee you a spot. I just don't see Atlantis ever turning down a chance to pocket an extra $100. Maybe 10 years ago. Not now. We were going to do that last week but just decided to let the kids hang in the clubs and we just walked around Nassau for a couple of hours and then back to the ship to take advantage while others were off the ship.

I thought Disney managed the crowds fine at Castaway Cay. We never waited more than a few minutes for anything - food, drinks, ice cream, slides, etc. The island is a terrific place. There are going to be other people around. We ended up going past the initial beachfront to the area by Pelican Plunge. Plenty of chairs and we didn't go real early. If you roll out around lunch, then you might have issues finding a group of chairs but that goes for any mainstream family vacation spot.

The technology is biggest difference between the Dream and the other ships. Interactive pictures, midship detective agency. The cabins were altered to provide for more space. However, I actually asked my wife if she liked the Wonder experience better. It says something that I even asked. I think the Disney Cruise is one of the best vacations we have ever done.
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Old 03-22-2011, 11:59 AM   #8
Earning My Ears
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Location: Not close enough to the Magic..Texas...
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We just got off of the Dream last week. I have been on the Wonder as well. The kids club is definitely different. My daughter is extremely shy as well. She only spent a small time in the club on both boats. Maybe the Wonder a little bit more, but not much at all. I did make contact with a counselor on the very first night and talked to him about her being so introverted. I also inquired about why the clubs were now joined. He did a very good job interacting with her. Again, she only spent a limited amount of time there, she truly would have rather been doing the pools and shows and things like that. That is the one thing I LOVE about the Disney Cruise. If the kids don't want to go or won't go into the clubs, there is still plenty of stuff to do with them. We were not bored at all. Now regarding the combined club, which I personally am not a fan of..they did say that was by customer request. That was one of the larger complaints from families with multiple kids. They wanted to have them all together. Which I can understand the request, but when you mix a bunch of kids, I don't think it works out like the parents may have requested. There was a split that you could see, where the older ones stayed more the lab way, but on the first night, all the older kids were all over the kids toys in the club. It was pretty suprising to sit back and watch how all the older kids were running wild. They looked more like the 4 year olds in my opinion that the 8 and nine year olds. But, all in all, we had NO issues on our cruise. The pools were crowded on sea day, but they were crowded on the Wonder as well. The biggest difference is that they are back to back, which looks more crowded than the Wonder, but is was really about the same in my opinion. Our service was great, I can't say enough about how good everything was. We never had any issues with finding a chair to lounge in on the ship or Castaway Cay either. It was a very nice trip, just like our trip was on the Wonder..We are booked again for next June on the Dream for the 5 dayer!!
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Old 03-22-2011, 02:09 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by emedal View Post
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Old 03-26-2011, 01:20 AM   #10
Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes.
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Aspen
Posts: 4,756

I was on the 2/27 cruise too. It was sold out. I have to say the main pool area was NUTS!

This was the spa.

Here is the main pool area.

We didn't have any children with us so we headed to the adult area.

Every time we walked by the Nemo water play area the kids were having a great time. They were screaming and screaming. It was a crack-up. We would scream as we walked by and not one person looked at us funny.

Our stateroom host was Ok and our servers at dinner were really bad the first night but got better as the cruise went on.
This was my 3rd DCL cruise and my 9th overall cruise.

We arrived to the port early, around 10:30 and got boarding pass #4.

Over all we enjoyed ourselves. I have two more cruises booked for the Dream.

Backstage Magic Tour April 2010 Trip Report
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Old 03-26-2011, 02:51 PM   #11
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 108

Ditto the pool accounts. It was nuts and we felt the Donald pool was nearing unsafe. One of us had visions of a child bobbing down and not being able to surface because it was so crowded. Interestingly, the pool sign said cap. 22 people for a ship with about 4000 passengers. The one time we thought the pool was at a tolerable level, 25 people were in there; many, many fewer than was usual.
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Old 03-27-2011, 12:35 AM   #12
Earning My Ears
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 2

That stinks. We were on the same cruise with a 5 and 3 year old and couldn't have had a better time. Completely opposite experience.
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