March 8, 2011

The Disney Dream... extended version Part 1

Let me begin by saying that this is a beautiful new ship.  Sitting in port next to those old Carnival ships really makes you appreciate what you have on the Disney Dream.  I mean the ship is basically brand new and they continue to paint the thing everyday.  I kind of like the smell of fresh paint, there is definitely a newness factor to it.  Even parked next to The Allure of the Seas, you still had the idea that you had a pretty hot boat.  It's like The Allure, Royal Caribbean's newest megaship, knows its hot stuff.  Its like a supermodel.  But along comes the Disney Dream and she is equally hot although instead of being 6'2" she is 5'6".  Both you would be more than happy to take home to your mother.  Since this is essentially a new ship there is a lot to talk about.  I will break this review into different sections:
It's just too much to put into one post so I am going to split it up into multiple posts.  This is just one persons opinion, and since there are 4000 people on board you could get 4000 different opinions.  What I say here should in no way influence the way that you think, people like boats for different reasons.  It is as they say what makes the world go around, and thank God we have a boat like this to see it in.

The Boat

The boat itself as I stated before is beautifully done, definitely a more classic boat than a lot of other lines offered today and you can see that by the first thing that you see when you get on board, the atrium.  One thing I love about Disney is that they announce your arrival on the ship and you are greeted by a bunch of crew members all applauding looking to assist you in any way.  It really makes you feel at home, kind of like Disney Vacation Club properties where they are constantly welcoming you home.  The Atrium itself is kind of small, but big enough to serve its purpose.  It is classically decorated and only three stories, unlike a lot of other ships that have the Atrium go up 12 floors.   Its simple and understated, but beautiful, very classic.

Atrium Greeting

Another classic part of the boat that I love is the fourth level Promenade Deck.  Its wide, has beautiful wood deck chairs, definitely some place I would sit back with a cocktail had my kids not been crawling all over me the entire vacation.  Its quiet, except for when my youngest Carter was running through there.  This is where we also had our Muster Drill, thankfully they did away with having to bring our life vests there.  Some people I am sure never visited the Promenade Deck again and you definitely missed out.  There was no shuffleboard that I could see though.  In fact I don't know if I missed it but I didn't see it anywhere.

The pool area was a place that I think needed a little work.  It was very cramped especially on the three day cruise.  My family was fortunate enough to do back to back cruises, starting with the four day followed by the three day.  I don't know what it was but it just seemed like there was more people on the three day cruise than there were on the four day even though they were both booked solid.  The Mickey pool was larger than that of the Disney Magic thanks to the elimination of the little spray areas in Mickey's ears.  That has been replaced with a 2.5 foot deep pool all the way around, a definite improvement.  My youngest son loved the pool even though he wished it was a little less crowded.  He likes to practice his belly flops and it was making him frustrated not being able to do it.  The Mickey and Donald Pools are jammed into the same area underneath the giant Funnel Vision which might have added to the cramped feeling that I was getting.  These pictures were taken before it got crowded.  There is a water slide that my kids loved, and of course there is the Aquaduck.  The Aquaduck is one of the best at sea gimmicks and it looks a whole cooler than it really was.  I was fortunate to go on it on the four day cruise, but my oldest was not, as the height restriction was 48 inches (they changed it on the next trip to 42 inches where I assume it will stay.)  I waited less than 20 minutes to get on the ride and while it was cool its not something that I would get in line to do over and over again.  The lines on the three day cruise were much longer averaging easily 30 minutes or more.  One major drawback was the lack of hot tub space, they had one big tub, split in two, off to the side, underneath the upper deck.  My kids love the hot tub and apparently so do a lot of other kids, it was always packed.  They probably could have put another one on the other side of the ship to mirror the one that they had, I don't know why they didn't.

The biggest improvement on the whole pool level is the addition of Nemos Reef.  A dedicated spray area for kids who aren't potty trained up to kids who are 8 years of age.  The older ships only have that little area in Mickey's ear to play in like I had mentioned before and that is just not enough space for all the un-potty trained kids that are on board these boats.  It's definitely a step WAY up.  I just wish that overall there was some way to make the entire pool space a little less crowded.  I realize that this is a boat and you are kind of limited with space.  There was one area that I will get to that had plenty of space with nothing around it and perhaps something could have been done there, a little different planning maybe, but at least they got the Reef right. 

I honestly didn't know what to think about the adult area at first.  It seemed kind of in the way as I went to the forward elevators and the front of the ship.  Since there was nothing in the front of the boat though, which I will get to later, this was not a huge deal.  Now I didn't get to hang out in this area as much as I would have liked to get a true feel for it, as most of my time was spent in the Mickey Pool,  I got the idea that it worked.  It's three levels, the bottom one being the pool level, deck 11, the middle one being, a sun deck of sorts, deck 12, and the top level being the bar, deck 13.  The actual swimming part of the pool is quite small, but I don't know that adults are necessarily going into the pool to do canon balls, so it probably works.  There is a bar connected to the pool which makes it pretty convenient to get a drink.  The bar stools are actually in the water, but you can't swim up to them, which would have been really cool.

My favorite bar on the boat was Currents.  Its one of two bars, not including the adult pool bar, which is covered by an upper deck, that was actually outside.  The other though is Waves which is kind of shoved behind one of the smoke stacks underneath the Aquaduck.  A really bizarre location if you ask me.  You really didn't get much of a view from there, and when you are outside you at least want to have a view of the ocean, not something that this location lent itself to.  As for Currents, it had all that.  Beautiful location with the scenery to boot.  Lets be honest though the wife will get cold sitting out there, so she is going to want to go inside to get a drink.  I seem to think that there was a lot of drinking on the boat.  We were on vacation after all and someone else was driving so I guess it was OK.  I will get into the inside bars in a later post as most people that are on vacation want to spend it outside, in the beautiful weather.  A little tip, this is a great place to watch the fireworks on Pirate Night, we actually watched from Deck 12, its a lot less crowded than midship where everyone is jostling for position.

I will tell you that there was an area of this boat that I had a huge
problem with.  It had to do with the front of the boat on the 13th level, there was just nothing there.  It was a huge waste of space that was just screaming for something to be done with it.  Now I am sure that there will be people that will say that they loved the serenity of this space, but since there were not a whole lot of outdoor activities there should have been something here.  I bring up the issue with shuffleboard again, because this would probably have been a great place for it.  Again maybe I missed it somewhere else but I never saw anyone playing the game.  I don't play it, but its one of those cruise line staples that they should have thought about.  I am sure that there was a riot at Guest Relations at some point over this.  Anyway back to this space, there is huge portion of this area that is blocked off by a glass wall, behind which sits the members of the Concierge Level.  Now I don't know about you but this seemed like the worst area to sit, with the frosted glass there was absolutely no view whatsoever, it almost seemed like an upscale prison yard.  Disney really should think about this space and make something out of it.  There are a bunch of chairs up here, but I never really saw them full.

Also on the 13th level, albeit in the rear of the ship was Goofys Sports deck.  It has a little basketball court, which I guess is quite fun, a mini golf course, and some ping pong tables.  I have never played mini golf on a cruise so I just thought that, again, this was another waste of space.  The setup of it just seemed like such an afterthought and to give the best view of the boat, overlooking the rear of the ship, to mini golf seemed a little crazy.  Thats just my opinion, again I am sure that others will think that this was a great addition.  Another thing that I didn't like was access to the inside from here.  To get to the Sports Deck there was one staircase coming up from deck 12 on the port side of the ship.  There is no door on 12 to go inside so to get to our dinner at Palo's my wife had to go up to 13, all the way around the mini golf course and through the one door on the starboard side and back down a level.  Just a little too odd for me.  In retrospect I guess she could have gone to 11 and walked through what looked like a closed Cabanas, the buffet restaurant, to use the stairs there.

This was another confusing thing to me, having a main stairwell and elevator in the middle of a restaurant just seems like a dumb thought.  And since this was the elevator closest to the Mickey Pool, I don't think a lot of people would like the fact that people with swimsuits and no tops on are walking through their breakfast and lunch.  Lets face it, after seven days of non stop eating, we are not the prettiest bunch to look at.  Of course at night it just seems weird to be walking through this space to get to the elevator.  It almost seems as if Mickey Mouse designed this himself.  They must have done it this way for a reason, a reason I will never know.

Overall, the spaces on this ship are quite beautiful.  There are many issues with the layout of the ship that just don't make sense to me.  There was a lack of signage telling people where to go, hallways that just kind of ended and the access to the stairs and elevators were quite confusing.  More than once I thought I would be able to get to somewhere I wanted to go, only to have to climb back up two flights of stairs to walk down a giant hall to go back down two flights, it really was quite maddening at times.  I don't want to have to look at a map all the time to figure out where I need to go.  Luckily we were on this boat for seven nights so we were able to figure things out.  I don't know how people on just a three day cruise felt, but I would have been completely lost.

This is just the first part of my review, and obviously this is just one mans opinion.  Like I said there are going to be people that love it and people that are going to hate it.  There are things on this ship that far outweigh a little confusion like food, service, kids clubs, and shows, all of which I will get to in a later post.  Thanks for reading, comments are welcome.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?



  1. Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I look forward to your next posts as planning a 4 night trip on December 2012

  2. Thanks for sharing! I hope we don't get lost while onboard!

  3. Nice start to your review overall. A bit of constructive criticism, though. You mentioned the few open spaces with nothing in them as a detriment, then mentioned the Goofy Sports Deck area as a waste of space, just because you didn't want to play those games. And as you mentioned, some people like areas with nothing to do but sit and relax when they're on vacation. To each their own! :)

    Looking forward to sailing on this beauty in September!

  4. I am all for spaces to sit and do nothing in... I wish I had the time to do that in all honesty. I should have been more clear, the goofy sports deck is not a waste of space. The spot where the golf course was could have been used differently, I don't think that they should have gotten rid of the golf course itself., just have it somewhere else. Thanks for the input!