Yesterday morning we sadly packed our bags and headed home from Disney Dream. I say sadly because, after the "Believe" show 2 nights ago my 5 year old son broke down in tears because he didn't want to leave "Mickey's Boat". That pretty much says it all, doesn't it? We had a spectacular time on Dream and - although we didn't book another cruise while on board - we will probably sail Disney again in a few years. They have certainly ruined us for other cruise lines if nothing else! This is not going to be a full review (although i'll mention a few things that might be helpful) but I wanted to write to expand upon some of the complaints about Dream that we read on DisBoards... maybe give you another point of view. So here we go! Read on Disboard: 1. The pools are crowded: That depends. The entire pool deck / deck 11... is crowded. I don't personally believe that larger pools will solve the problem. What you have to do is be tactical about your pool usage. If you go to the pools on the day-at-sea (for example).... yup they're going to be jam packed full of people. There are 4000 guests on the ship and they all want a little pool time. So here's our tip. We were at the port at our 11:00am boarding time and onboard by 12:15 having lunch at Cabanas. By 1pm we were riding aquaduck, swimming, and little guy was on the Mickey Slide. By about 2:30pm, the pool started getting crowded so we went down, unpacked, and got ready for the muster drill. The next day while half the ship was in Nassau, we remained on the ship. It was still crowded but our longest wait at Aquaduck was about 20 or 25 minutes, and the pools - while crowded - were not SO crowded that little guy couldn't splash, jump, and play. On the day that we were at Castaway Cay we went to the Pirates-In-The-Caribbean party. At 8:30pm, half the ship was at dinner and many more were at the Hypnotist show (we weren't interested). So we went to ride Aquaduck at night and rode it 3 times with NO WAIT whatsoever. (riding Aquaduck at night is not to be missed. WOW!) On the day at sea we didn't even go near the pools. It was a madhouse up there, so we chose that day to see a movie, do Midship Detective Agency, shop, and take some classes (little guy was in the Oceaneers Club) 2. Cabanas Was Crowded - Inconsiderate People Yup, no question about it. Breakfast at Cabanas is a test of patience. Everyone wants breakfast and that's the restaurant of choice. They line up even though Cast Members tell them not to, and if you "cut" to get something they give you dirty looks. But, that said, there were always empty tables and plenty of staff to keep them clean. So by the second day of the trip we were accustomed to it and modifying our schedule slightly to avoid peak times. The cast members in Cabanas were always stopping by the table to do magic tricks, napkin folding, or to take pictures for us. The food was well above average for a buffet. They had foods of all types and everything was good (try the ham wrapped salmon for breakfast!). Sushi was adequate (again for a buffet) and YES, they had Mickey Waffles (and they were good!!! I'm not an egg-eater but my son is and he LOVED the eggs. They are NOT powdered eggs as is sometimes reported here but are actually pasteurized egg substitute. This is done for food safety. (Got this directly from a pastry chef) The deserts were delicious, especially the bread pudding and pumpkin pie! 3. Height Requirements for Aquaduck - They held firm to 42 inches. Our son was exactly 42 inches tall. If they can slide a finger between the bottom of the sign and the child's head, they will not ride. They put a red armband on him so we only had to measure once the whole trip. 48 inches is the minimum to ride alone and was also enforced. 4. Elevators are Jammed - The midship elevators were crowded most of the time and the aft elevators were crowded after breakfast and lunch when people were using Cabanas. We tended to use the aft elevators most often but just took the stairs during busy times. It didn't bother us as we were on Deck #5 so we just took the stairs most of the time. (The exercise did us good!) 5. Elevators poorly placed in Cabanas We didn't see any problem with elevators being in Cabanas. We actually found this to be VERY convenient and never an issue. We did feel awkward walking through cabanas with wet bathing suits (once) to get to our room, but that was just the one time that we felt out of place. 6. Formal Night We wore button down shirts and khaki slacks. My wife wore a black dress. We did this more because we wanted family pictures taken prior to dinner than because we cared what we wore. I did not see anyone in shorts in any of the dining rooms. I saw one guy in a tux. The vast majority of the men were in a jacket and tie (but I didn't feel out of place without one). If people were wearing jeans, (even "nice" jeans that are bedazzled on the rump) I didn't notice. 7. Bathing Suits in the Theater?? - Ok, this one is mine. Bathing suits in the theater? Really? Come on folks, sure it's vacation but we would at least like the illusion of doing something special. Why would you not at least throw on a shirt to go see an hour long musical in an elegant theater? Oh well, to each their own I guess... 8. Oceaneer's Club / Lab We had boarded fully intending to give iTunes gift cards to our son's "favorite" counselor at the kids program. What we found was that there were SO MANY counselors and virtually no individualized attention that we were not able to identify one counselor that really made a difference in his experience. There were activities but he didn't participate much and, instead, did a lot of free play. The only thing that bothered me about Oceaneers Club was the noise. At least on the first day there was extremely loud music playing...exacerbating what is already arguably sensory overload. Still, he loved it and still talks about it! 9. Castaway Cay No cat sightings. The island looks like new. You really even have to hunt for browning of vegetation. I don't know how they clean it up so well because by the time we left the place was TRASHED (I was embarrassed) Our son wears a boys size 10 shoe and, therefore, we tried a boys 9-11 flipper (swim-fin...whatever) for the snorkeling lagoon. It was too big! (They did not have smaller sizes) So we ended up really not getting our money's worth for the snorkel, raft, etc rental that we had paid for in advance. Food at Cookies was good and, ok, you heard it here first. Are you ready?: KONK COOLER IS THE NEW DOLE WHIP! That was the most amazing thing i've ever put in my mouth... adult beverage made in an ice-cream maker? Soft serve hard liquor? That said, my "appreciation" for that particular beverage also resulted in my spending dinner that night in the cabin vs. at dinner with my family. lol Lesson learned. Still, YUM! 10. DebarkationDebarkation was organized and easy. We did onboard airline check-in and didn't see our bags again until we got home! Worked flawlessly! We were in the early dinner seating so they wanted us at breakfast at 6:30. We asked Raul, the head waiter if we could have breakfast later. He gave us 8am. By 9:30 we were on a bus headed to MCO. At MCO by 10:30 for a 2pm flight. Had time for a leisurely lunch and no stress. 11. Cabin - We were in Cabin 5156 on the Port (left) side. There were 6 or 8 cabins on deck 5 AFT that had "extended" balconies and ours was one. The balcony was about 2.5 times the size of the ordinary balcony!! It sat further out. Sadly we spent so little time in our room that we didn't really get much use of it until the last night... but it was incredible. Wish we had used it more. Just don't do anything naughty on the outer-part... because everyone in balconies above will see... unless that's your thing I guess. The bed was the most comfortable I have ever slept in. If anybody knows where I can get those pillows hook me up!!! 12. Port Vs. Starboard Cabin - The only thing I kind of regretted was that all of the "cool" stuff happened on the right side of the ship. Waving as you embark, seeing Castaway Cay from your room, and seeing the fireworks on Pirates in the Caribbean night... all happened on the right side of the ship. So, for the fireworks for example, it would have been great to have little guy in his jammies and just take him outside on the balcony to see fireworks rather than keep him up on deck until 10:45pm to watch them. He's only 5 and was falling asleep in our arms. On the morning of Castaway Cay we had to go up to deck 4 or 11 to take pictures from "above" rather than just walking out to our balcony. If I had to do it again i'd choose a cabin on the right side. 13. Improvements Needed? There were a few things I wish Disney would improve upon. First, I thought the room-service menu was inadequate. Would have liked to see some more options there. And for a ship that was only 10 months old some things aren't holding up well. Furniture in the D-lounge was stained and some chairs ripped (foam). The carpeting appeared worn on the stairs and some other high-traffic area. Armrests in the Walt Disney theater were faded from use. "Project Mainstreet" should apply to the ships as well. They should look as good for the 10,000th family as it did for the 1st. Still, 99% of the ship was clean and looked like new. There was staff cleaning ALL the time! That's about it! Questions? That's about all we have. We didn't decorate our door (but we saw a handful) and we didn't participate in fish-extenders. If you have any questions fire away! We had a great time on a beautiful ship and wish we could go back tomorrow. Oh... one last thing. We spent about $700 on souvenirs, photographs (over $200 there), drinks, etc. So budget accordingly! Have a magical time!