Disney Dream Cruise Ship Review

Disney Dream Christening
Disney Dream’s naming ceremony in January 2011

Launched in 2011, Disney Dream is the first of two much-anticipated sister ships that are modernizing the Disney fleet more than a decade after the debut of the line’s original ships, Disney Magic and Disney Wonder.

Carrying 2,500 guests at double occupancy and more than 4,000 with all her kids’ berths filled, Disney Dream is 50 percent bigger than her older fleetmates, and offers guests everything that they loved about those older ships while also adding a big helping of new attractions and entertainments, including more and larger kids’ facilities, more dining options, more adults-only retreats and more high-tech fun.

Disney On Deck

Like the older Magic and Wonder, Disney Dream is designed with classic art deco and art nouveau styles, and caters to three distinct but interconnected groups: kids, parents and families. Out on deck, the two-foot-deep Mickey’s Pool caters to kids. Shaped like Mickey Mouse’s face and with a giant Mickey hand holding up its two-story waterslide, it’s right next door to Nemo’s Reef, a water-play area with water jets, bubblers, and fountains for kids who aren’t yet toilet trained. Up above, a giant LED movie screen projects Disney favorites. For families, there’s Donald’s Pool, about five feet at its deepest and surrounded by deck chairs.

Both pools can be covered by a huge, sliding deck, which provides space for events like the “Adventures Away!” sail-away celebration and the big “Pirates IN the Caribbean” deck party, held once per cruise, with a big fireworks show at the end.

Beyond the ship’s forward funnel, walled off from the main pool deck, is the adults-only Quiet Cove Pool and Cove Bar. The pool itself has three interconnected sections: a five-foot deep plunge pool, a pool with submerged wooden seats, and a shallow sunbathing pool with mist-making machines. The Cove Bar sits right alongside, with six barstools rising right from the water. Deck chairs are arranged around the space, and the wonderful, indoor Cove Café sits right next door, offering specialty coffees, magazine racks, and the company of other adults, sans kids.

The highlight of the pool deck is the AquaDuck, a 765-foot water flume that propels riders in inflatable rafts all the way around the pool deck, in clear tubes that take you out over the side of the ship, with the ocean 16 decks below. It’s popular with both kids and adults, as is the nearby Goofy’s Sports Deck with its miniature golf course, virtual sports simulators, walking track, and sports courts for basketball and volleyball.

Disney For Kids

Disney Dream’s kids facilities are the biggest and best in the cruise business, taking up about half a deck and divided into multiple spaces for different age groups.

For kids 3 to 10, the Oceaneer Club offers multiple rooms opening off a central rotunda with a stage for kids’ productions and storytelling sessions, and a big screen for movies. Some of the surrounding rooms are themed on characters and sets from Disney movies like Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., and Finding Nemo. And at Tinker Bell’s Pixie Hollow, kids can dress in fairy costumes and do crafts under a twinkling pixie tree.

Just down the hall, the Oceaneer Lab, also for kids 3 to 10, offers a Sound Studio where kids can create their own tunes on computers; an Animator’s Studio where they can work on their own art and animation; labs for conducting science experiments; arts-and-crafts spaces; and an interactive “Magic Play Floor” that lights up based on kids’ movements. The Lab also hosts lunch and dinner — handy for when Mom and Dad want to get off on their own.

Tweens ages 11–13 get a lounge called the Edge, located within a fake funnel on the ship’s top deck. Teens have their own 9,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor club called Vibe, where they can play computer games, access an onboard social media intranet site, create and edit videos, spin their own dance tracks, or lounge on their own private sundeck. At the opposite end of the kid spectrum, the It’s a Small World Nursery caters to infants and toddlers aged 3 months to 3 years, with lots of interactive features, kid-sized tables and chairs for crafts and games, and a calming naptime room. It’s open at various times through the day, including after dinner, with charges of $6 per hour for the first child and $5 an hour for the second.

Dining On Disney Dream

Dinners on Disney Dream follow the same rotating format used on Disney Magic and Disney Wonder for the past decade: Rather than dining at a single restaurant throughout the cruise, or making reservations at specialty restaurants, guests shuttle automatically through three different themed restaurants, with their servers accompanying them.

On one night, families dine in the ship’s main dining room, the Royal Palace, whose storybook decor was inspired by films like Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella. On another night, families head to the Enchanted Garden, which serves a seasonal menu in a setting inspired by French conservatory gardens, full of white trellises, fountains and faux greenery. The next night, guests find themselves at Animator’s Palate, where huge, wall-size video monitors transport diners to the undersea world of Finding Nemo. The highlight is Crush, a surfer-dude turtle, who — through a complex interactive system — actually talks with guests, calls out kids by name, and comments on the action in the room.

Adults who want a night alone can dine at the romantic but casual Palo (surcharge $20 per person), serving Italian specialties, or the romantic and formal Remy (surcharge $75 per person), a high-end dining spot that goes for a sublime, Parisian feel, with an art nouveau decor, intimate seating and French-inspired cuisine.

For the ultimate dining experience, a private Chef’s Table room modeled on a set from the animated film Ratatouille offers a multi-course tasting menu. Between the two adult restaurants is Meridian, a travel-themed bar/lounge with an outdoor cigar bar.

Nightlife On Disney Dream

After dinner, adults get a whole district of bars and lounges to themselves, all set at the end of a long corridor, far from the kids’ facilities. Called The District, the space combines five bars/clubs that all open onto each other and offer completely different experiences.

At the mod, stylish District Lounge, guests can take in some small-combo piano music. At the 687 sports bar, you can order a pint of the bar’s custom-brewed red lager and watch the game. “Pink” is the place for champagne and cocktails; Evolution is for dancing, comedy shows, live music, and cabaret; and the chic, cozy Skyline Bar is the most urbane space on board, with illuminated walls behind the  bar showing panoramic images of the Paris, New York, Hong Kong, Rio, and Chicago skylines, with featured drinks to match.

For family entertainment, the 1,340-seat Walt Disney Theatre offers some of the best shows at sea: full-scale musicals inspired by Disney’s back catalogue of films and characters.

Guests can also take in the actual Disney films, new and old, at the smaller Buena Vista Theatre.

And in a particularly fun touch, family fun is scattered all around the ship in the form of “Enchanted Art” pieces, which look like movie posters and animation stills until you walk in front of them, at which point they come to life as miniature films. Cool all by themselves, they also figure in to an interactive detective game in which kids search for clues to help them solve mysteries and save the day.

Staterooms On Disney Dream

Like the older Disney ships, Disney Dream boasts the best standard family staterooms at sea, each of them extra-roomy and able to sleep at least three or four through fold-out couches and bunks that pull down from the ceiling.

The majority of staterooms come with two bathrooms — one with just a toilet and sink, the other with a bathtub and sink. There’s also a little fridge, lots of storage space, and subtle Disney themes worked into the classy decor. A full 70 percent of staterooms on the vessel have balconies. Outside cabins that don’t have balconies feature oversized portholes, and windowless inside cabins have some special magic in the form of “Magical Portholes”: porthole-shaped video monitors that are hooked up to high-definition cameras mounted outside the ship, broadcasting real-time images of the sea, plus some surprises.

Deluxe family staterooms and suites cater to families of five or more.

Cabin bathrooms are large and well designed, cabin decor is nautical and fun, and there are lots of little niceties, like iPod docks, 300-thread-count Egyptian cotton bed linens, and “Wave Phones” that you can use as onboard walkie-talkies. The magic even extends to the pull-down kids’ beds, which have scenes from Peter Pan painted on the ceilings above them.

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