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Old 11-11-2013, 07:29 AM   #1
Big Al
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Big Al's Disney Dream review 11/3-11-7

Dream a little dream of me…that’s the song by Mama Cass Elliott of the Mamas & Papas that I thought of when I was on our 4 night Disney Dream cruise recently. My wife & I went on the Disney Dream for my birthday 11/3-11/7. A little back round before I start my review & comments: my wife Teresa & I have now been on 29 cruises, this was our 2nd with DCL. We are new seniors, no kids because we got married late in life.. I am Diamond with Royal Caribbean ( 12 cruises), and also been all other major cruise lines except Costa..these include 6 on Carnival, 5 on Norwegian, and one each on Celebrity, HAL, Princess, and Celebration cruise lines. I will make some comparisons mostly to RCI, since that’s the line I’ve cruised the most. Please keep in mind that food, service & entertainment are all VERY subjective, and these are all my opinions, thoughts & observations only, so please don’t have a cow if you disagree with me. Also keep in mind that the Oasis/ Freedom ships are much bigger and carry more passengers than the Disney Dream, so generally the bigger the ship, the level of service seems to go down, along with the quality of the food, especially in the MDR. I welcome comments, but please remember that if you haven’t cruised various lines, you shouldn’t be making any comparisons, since you have nothing to compare cruises to….nothing bothers me more than people who say, “oh XX is the best cruise line, even though I’ve never cruised anything else”….ridiculous to say something so bias IMO…

Let me start by saying the cruise was fantastic - by far the best service, bedding, shower, buffet area , outside promenade deck area, brunch ( Palo ), private island ( Castaway Cay) ,main production shows, and standard balcony cabin we’ve ever seen/ been in…the ship itself is gorgeous, and relatively easy to navigate. One thing you should know: I was not cold, but the ship is very cold overall- my wife was freezing 90% of the time. I would recommend if you get cold easily, bring a sweater or light jacket. Some were overly dressed I admit…a few passengers looked like they were going to the Arctic Circle with coats, sweat shirts, heavy sweaters…sweaters on a Bahamian cruise? Not too macho guys, LOL….a hello to Disboards members Jackie & Monica, both whom I met at the Sail Away meeting in the Vista Cafe ..they gave us valuable information about the ship and we saw them 5-6 times throughout the cruise..Ladies, it was a pleasure!!

Lunch in Cabanas

We ate first in Cabanas, the buffet area on deck 11 when we first got on. Cabins are ready at 1:30 PM.. Food included shrimp cocktail, mussels, pizza, salads, beef, chicken, a wonderful chicken breast wrapped in prosciutto ( fabulous!!), terrific french fries ( best ever on a ship, crisp, not soggy steak fries) , rib-eye steaks, and more. Sodas are included in your fare, so if you drink a lot of soda, that’s a nice perq. I don’t drink much soda anymore, but they did have diet sprite on tap, the only one I ever drink occasionally- thumbs up for that DCL….desserts usually stink ( to me) on cruise ships because there only 6 things that tempt me: chocolate cake, coconut cake, coconut cream pie, key lime pie, brownies & chocolate chip cookies…all very rare to be found on ships…the latter 2 are usually hard & mediocre for me….the Dream did have a chocolate peanut butter brownie that was scrumptious , really yummy ( Big Al Tip: you can find them always in the Cove Café in the adult pool area, and the Vista Café on deck 4 midship..).I found the food here better than RCI’s Windjammer.

Cabin

We went to our cabin at exactly 1:30 and I was so impressed by it’s size ( 299 SF inc balcony, which was 45 SF, cabin 254)…the balcony was a tad small at 45 SF, a little smaller than RCI’s Oasis D class balcony’s which are 182 SF plus 53 SF for balcony…so the cabin itself is bigger, balcony slightly smaller. Freedom class at 199 SF and 65 SF balcony is bigger …this cabin was more like the Junior Suites on the Freedom class , which are 297 SF plus 94 SF balcony..so RCI wins for balcony size, but Disney wins in standard cabin size. Big difference was the bathroom set up. Disney gives you TWO bathrooms, one with a sink & toilet, the other with sink & shower/ bath. And here’s the goodie: the shower has a hand held shower AND a rain shower right above you! You can turn on either one with a handle …it was also bigger, not tiny like RCI’s. Water pressure was decent, not great, but OK…best ever water pressure was on the Celebrity Mercury- it was like Niagara Falls in there…bedding goes to DCL- most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept on. Pillows could’ve been better.. one thing was weird: the A/C was the quietist ( but efficient & cold) I’ve ever heard ( or not heard)..you could not hear a sound from that unit! Hard to believe it was even on ..TG I brought a sounds radio because I don’t like it when it’s too quiet. Flat screen TV was a tad small, and was 90% Disney channels. Only non- Disney was 3 ESPN’s, 3 CNN’s and an ABC channel. Selection was pretty terrible. I don’t cruise to watch TV, but when I go to bed I like to watch a little late night TV…RCI wins the TV battle…there were 3-4 outlets along the wall near the mirror to plug in cell phones, cameras, etc most cabins on other ships have only 1-2 outlets…also, there are 2 wave phones ( walkie-talkie’s) in the cabin and they are FREE ( unlike RCI that charges you).. ..overall, if you compare the 4B cabin to a D1 on RCI, Disney wins..if you compare it to a JS on RCI, it’s a tie..I like the walk-in closet in the JS’s and I like the bigger balconies and better TV…Disney has better beds & showers…also Disney’s fridge is COLD, while RCI’s was room temp, or barely cool at best.

MDR food

On Disney, they have what is called “rotation dining”. They have 3 main dining rooms on board: the Enchanted Garden, The Royal Palace, and Animator’s Palate ( my fav). All 3 are distinctively different and all were IMO, very good. Our waiters were Kurt from Jamaica ( yah mon), and assistant Hendro from Indonesia . Both were very, very good..Kurt explained all the entrees and gave his two cents worth when asked. The idea is you go to each of the 3 venues and the waiters follow you to each one. We had a table for 2 ( table 23 ) and Kurt & Hendro were there each night with us…LOVED this concept..much better than going to the same dining room every night. It was so interesting dining in 3 different places in 3 nights, all with a different look, feel, and menu. You get a ticket that tells you where you are dining on what day. Only bad thing is our seating was at 5:45 PM, and that’s about an hour earlier than I like to eat on RCI..there is NO MTD, only early or late dining. I think it’s because of how many small children there are and I think it would cause quite a mess doing MTD. I ate Prime Rib first night, rack of lamb 2nd night and another terrific meat dish the 4th night ( 3rd night was Palo, which you will read next..)..all were very good..all had very good side dishes..DCL wins here for entrees..I had escargots one night, a personal fav, and it was delicious..RCI has been saying for a while now that there is an escargot shortage worldwide- not on the Disney Dream there isn’t….

Palo – specialty dinner & brunch

My wife & I ate at Palo’s on our other DCL cruise on the Wonder in ’06. It was only $10 pp then and it was fabulous then. This time we were in for a real treat. It’s $25 now ( we paid $20 and it went up recently)… More important, our waitress, Maria from Romania was THEE best server we ever had on any ship anywhere !! We met her on the private island ,Castaway Cay, at our lunch buffet area ( only for adults at adult beach- very nice!!)…she told us all about Palo’s dinner menu, and I asked if we could ask for her at dinner, and she said yes. When we got there, she had reserved a table for us in a corner with a water view. Maria explained the menu and that began about 5000 calories from hell for us…WOW, what a meal!!! For dinner, Maria brought us anti-pasto filled with prosciutto, braciole, cheeses, and other delights. For the main course my wife had rack of lamb and I had a chateaubriand ( on top of yummy wasabi mashed potatoes,uuummmm!!), both cooked perfectly. While I was eating my main course, Maria brought me like a 6 ounce lobster tail and said, “I thought you might like this”…like this??? That’s like telling the fox he might like going into the chicken house….Maria would keep bringing us little dishes to try on the side- sorbet, pasta, etc…I estimated the cost of all the food in a high end venue ( like a Ruth Chris or Morton’s..) to have been around $200-250 – so $46 plus tip seemed like a good deal..not to mention sitting at dinner without hundreds of screaming kids…

The brunch at Palo’s the next morning was simply over the top. Maria greeted us and gave us a tour of the brunch area..it was divided by kinds of foods..I had heard about the chicken parmagiana from many Disney cruisers..I thought, “chicken parm at a brunch? How pedestrian- what is this, the Olive Garden? I can get chicken parm anywhere ..” Boy, was I wrong- I ordered it along with eggs benedict, and then went to up to check out the brunch buffet. I had shrimp cocktail, crab legs, smoked salmon, anti- pasto, and the BEST hot sticky buns I’ve ever had..I told Maria to have a medic standing by after I tasted it…after regaining consciousness, I had the chicken parm & eggs benedict put in front of me. I took one bite of the chicken parm and I can tell you it was the best chicken parm I ever tasted…hot and crispy, not soggy or overly drenched in oil… In the two meals , barely 15 hours apart, we must’ve consumed 6000 calories alone…I felt sooooo full..I was afraid if I went to the pools, a lifeguard ( Disney has lifeguards now around main pools) , might throw a harpoon at me…it was by far the best 2 meals back-to-back I’ve ever eaten- on 29 cruises, that’s a lot. I love Chops, Portifinos and the 150 Park Café on RCI, but this better, IMHO…

Entertainment & shows

Until I went on the Oasis in early 2010, I thought the production shows on the Disney Wonder in 2006 were the best shows we’ve ever seen. Yes, they were Disney themed, but the singing, dancing & music were just…well…magical!! I’ve always have had issues with production shows , because I feel doing 45 minutes of an off Broadway play that NOBODY knows is usually boring…I once sat next to a man whom I struck up a conversation with, who decided to leave 20 minutes into the show. I asked why he was leaving, and he said, “I lived 40 years in NYC, saw perhaps 100-150 plays, and I never have heard of any of these songs or music- why can’t they chose better musicals?”. I have agreed with this statement for several years now, until I cruised the Oasis ships.The new shows on Oasis & Allure are much better because they are not doing unknown musicals anymore- they got smart and all 3 I’ve seen, “Hairspray” ( best IMO), “Saturday Night Fever” ( on Liberty OS) and “Chicago” are all outstanding.

Disney Dream had 4 shows- “The Golden Mickeys” was the first night, a timeless tribute to Disney & Mickey going back into history. I thought it was very good…grade- A-....2ND night was called “Villains Tonight”, a tribute to, naturally, all the Disney villains. I thought it was awesome- A+ all the way- great singing, great music ( even a little scary for very young kids..), and 3rd night was an illusionist & magic show, Kyle Night & Mistie, a husband/ wife act that were much better ( probably the best ) illusionists than any others I had seen..4th and final night was “Disney’s Believe”, a wonderful story about a father scientist who doesn’t believe in magic, and isolates himself from his teenage daughter, who believes in magic. Again, top notch effects, singing, dancing, a wonderful show for all. Grade- A even A+…some guests do not go to shows for whatever reason, but let me tell you if you saw these and didn’t like them, you ARE entitled to your own opinion, but I would send you to the nearest MRI center and check your head out. Big Al tip: seats are roomier on the lower floor, rather than in the balconies & all shows were PACKED, so get there 20-25 min early!!…

Other entertainment included a nice duo in the atrium that played all kinds of music. There are character appearances by Disney characters every day in the atrium and it was so cute to see all the children taking pictures with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, etc. There is an adult section called “The District” which consists of 7 bars/ lounges including a sports bar ( 687 Pub ), a champagne bar ( Pink ), a martini bar ( Skyline Lounge ) that it’s skyline on the wall of 10 cities or so, changes every 15 minutes- very cool place..The D Lounge has live music and had a British trio there..they were very good, except I didn’t like the songs they played…perhaps they could use another 2-3 more venues back there including a dedicated Karaoke Bar, instead of the family one they have. The have a Pirate show on the pool deck with terrific fireworks- tip: get there early as if really gets crowded..after the fireworks, there is a party & buffet at the pool. Capt Jack Sparrow is the lead character and he’s dead ringer for Johnny Depp…entertainment compared to RCI’s Oasis class is a tie, both super…. Big Al tip- on deck 12 aft, check out the Meridian Bar, go there at sunset for SPECTACULER views of the sunset..you can sit outside or inside..it is in between both specialty restaurants, Palo & Remy’s, great place for a drink- I had a B-52 ( Kahlua, Grand Marnier, and Bailey’s) shot and it was perfect- layered as asked, and maybe the best B-52 I’ve ever had…

Ports of Call

There were only 2 ports of call on this 4 night cruise, Nassau & Disney’s wonderful private island, Castaway Cay. It was windy & cloudy in Nassau, and the authorities put the red flag up, meaning “no swimming” so after some consideration, we went back to the ship after driving to the Sheraton Cable Beach. We’ve been to Nassau about 10 times, and I don’t need my hair braided (LOL), so no big deal…Castaway Cay I always believed was the nicest private island I ‘ve ever been to ( HAL’s Half Moon Cay 2nd, and I’ve been to all the P.I’s..). This 2nd trip confirmed that, as it is simply stunning. There are 3 main beaches , including Serenity Bay, an adult only area. The island is so big, they have trams taking you to each designated area. There is also a nice bicycle trail. The adult Serenity Bay is magnificent with crystal, clear water, hammocks, cabanas, umbrellas with lounge chairs AND smaller chairs you can place in the sand by the water’s edge ( I did that- wonderful!!)…there is an adult only buffet area that serves the standard fare: burgers, dogs, chicken, AND rib-eye steaks, salads, fruit, and soft ice-cream. It was better than all the other PI buffets I’ve eaten at…Castaway Cay gets my thumbs over all others, including Labadee & Coco Cay.

I think that should do it…any questions / comments, please give a shout…If you’ve never tried Disney cruises before, and always thought to yourself – 1) Disney cruises are too $$, and 2) I don’t have kids / my kids are too old, or 3) Is the service/ food/ shows really that good on Disney? Answer to all is YES, it’s worth it, and yes you don’t need kids to go, and yes, the service, food & shows are really that good!! Remember the Disney Fantasy, a sister to the Dream has a 98% approval rate on CC, and was voted recently as the best mainstream cruise ship in the world. The Dream is at 84%, similar to the Allure…Next up for us is the 2014 Halloween cruise on the Oasis, a special 5 nighter, which is a birthday cruise for my wife..….Have a magical day!!!!

Big Al
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Old 11-11-2013, 08:33 AM   #2
ready4mouse
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Great review- thanks! Reading this is getting me excited for my first ever cruise in April!
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:21 AM   #3
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I'm glad you had a great cruise. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and comparisons. We love DCL but have nothing to compare it to. We will branch out one day but right now we love DCL and don't mind spending the "extra" money for it.

I absolutely agree that adults can sail DCL without kids. My DH and I took a 3 night on the Dream earlier this year without our kids and had an absolute blast. I'm hoping we will get to do it again in the future but right now we have a family trip booked on the Magic next April.
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Old 11-11-2013, 12:36 PM   #4
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Great review! Nice to see the comparisons to other lines/ships.
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Old 11-11-2013, 12:46 PM   #5
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Great review!
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Old 11-12-2013, 07:05 AM   #6
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Great report!! Makes me even more excited for my upcoming trip!!
Could you tell me what night they did the pirate night?? I see on my activities listed they have it for Monday night and I am hoping it another night because I want to watch Monday night football also!!
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Old 11-12-2013, 08:59 AM   #7
Big Al
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Great report!! Makes me even more excited for my upcoming trip!!
Could you tell me what night they did the pirate night?? I see on my activities listed they have it for Monday night and I am hoping it another night because I want to watch Monday night football also!!

You're in luck...Pirate night is Tuesday night...also there's a buffet ( small, but good!) outside the 687 Sports bar during all sporting events in case the 6000 calories a day is not enough

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Old 11-12-2013, 10:48 AM   #8
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You're in luck...Pirate night is Tuesday night...also there's a buffet ( small, but good!) outside the 687 Sports bar during all sporting events in case the 6000 calories a day is not enough

Big Al
This makes me so happy!!!!!
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Old 11-12-2013, 11:25 AM   #9
NHshorty
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Awesome trip report!

Great information - thanks for sharing! Can't wait for our adults only Dream cruise on 12/26!!!
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Old 11-19-2013, 03:01 PM   #10
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Thanks for sharing your experiences! I especially enjoyed your comparisons to other cruise lines. Had to chuckle at your "I didn't need my hair braided" comment
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Old 11-19-2013, 03:23 PM   #11
Big Al
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Great information - thanks for sharing! Can't wait for our adults only Dream cruise on 12/26!!!
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Originally Posted by T1nkerBell View Post
Thanks for sharing your experiences! I especially enjoyed your comparisons to other cruise lines. Had to chuckle at your "I didn't need my hair braided" comment
Thanks NH & TinkerBell - Glad you liked the review...I have been to Nassau probably 12 times on cruises, and EACH time I'm asked if I want my hair braided ..they don't give up do they?? Hey, NH, adults only, that sounds great !!!

Alan
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Old 11-19-2013, 09:07 PM   #12
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Great report! Thanks
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Old 11-19-2013, 09:30 PM   #13
CharleySue
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Great report! Thanks for sharing!
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Old 11-21-2013, 07:01 AM   #14
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Thanks for the great info Big Al! We will be going on this cruise for our first ever cruise and your info was great.
Funny about the list of desserts you mentioned that you love. Looks my my list exactly! I saw some pics of the desserts in the "cove" somewhere and I saw chocolate chip cookies and got all excited. Are the desserts at the Cove complimentary I wonder or is there a charge?

Thanks again for the great tips!
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Old 11-21-2013, 09:47 AM   #15
Big Al
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Thanks for the great info Big Al! We will be going on this cruise for our first ever cruise and your info was great.
Funny about the list of desserts you mentioned that you love. Looks my my list exactly! I saw some pics of the desserts in the "cove" somewhere and I saw chocolate chip cookies and got all excited. Are the desserts at the Cove complimentary I wonder or is there a charge?

Thanks again for the great tips!
Thanks, FosterA for the nice comments...YES ,ALL desserts are free...don't miss those peanut butter fudgies I mentioned in my review- warning: the choc chip cookies are good, but a bit hard- I like them warm AND soft- tough to find on ships...if you do the Palo brunch ( VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!) desserts there will put you into a coma..for $20 pp, it's THEE best deal I've ever seen on my 29 cruises...you have been warned ....Have a great time!!!

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