Disney Cruise Line fans are a special breed. They are ride or die like no other. If you ask that 50 year old wearing Minnie ears to name one thing she does not like about this cruise, she will be incapable of doing so. Raise the prices? So what? Reduce placeholder benefits? Good! We don’t deserve discounts anyway.
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I encountered a lot of these die hard fans on social media while researching this trip. Some seemed normal enough, some not so much. There were people requesting specific servers for dinner, complaining about people bringing children to the Disney shows because it disturbed them (uhhh…..) and asking for dates cruises would be released in three years (OK, these are my people).
Our family recently went on a five night Disney Dream Bahamas sailing following a trip to Magic Kingdom. I had very high expectations, if for no other reason than the exorbitant price. I was genuinely concerned Disney cruises had been built up in my mind to such a level the experience would not be able to live up to the hype. There are ways to save money, but it was still a chunk of change. Was it worth it? After much reflection…
I believe it was.
The Disney Dream is one of Disney’s newer, larger ships. There are more coming, but as of now, there are four total. The Disney Dream is in the same class as the Disney Fantasy, while the Disney Wonder and Disney Magic are the smaller, original ships.
Disney Dream Bahamas Sailing Check In
This is a bit of a cattle call. We arrived at the port early. I read repeatedly they would not let you on before your assigned port arrival time, but did that stop me from dragging my family from a comfortable hotel room to sit in a crowded terminal for hours? Nope. It did not. Other than the woman waving at you with a giant white glove and a model ship, nothing to see here. Hang out elsewhere until it is your time to board.
Disney Dream Bahamas Sailing Embarkation
When you finally get on, they welcome you by announcing your family’s name. That definitely upped the kids’ level of excitement.
After that little bit of cuteness, the beginning of the cruise was not so hot. The staterooms are not ready when people begin embarking. This means everyone, and their carry ons filled with Mickey paraphernalia and home woven handicrafts, are crammed into common areas.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, heads to the buffet. My parents joined us on this cruise, and while my mom also enjoys her party pants, my dad and husband get annoyed by a crowd full of rabid Disney fans. To be fair, some of the crowd is a little Augustus Gloop-ish, but mainly, people just had nowhere to go. I was starting to think I made a mistake dragging the whole family on this trip, but that feeling dissipated as soon as the rooms opened up.
Heads up, there is a muster drill. Everyone meets in their designated area in the event of an emergency. That is all well and good, but they sound an alarm that I’m pretty sure my dog heard in Illinois. My then three year old was highly sensitive to loud noises at that time. Noise canceling headphones are a must if your kid has a similar issue.
We loved the Disney Dream. Everything was immaculate. People were always cleaning things. The lobby, and pretty much every common area, feels large and grand. It is heavily themed. Unlike the parks, it never really felt crowded once the ship sailed away. The staff was very friendly, more so than on other cruise lines. It truly was a beautiful ship.
This is the kids’ club for ages 3 through 12. It is included in the cruise fare. This alone made the inflated price of the cruise worth it. “Free” childcare! There are also clubs for older kids and a nursery that costs extra. I specifically waited until my youngest turned 3 to cruise Disney because of the Oceaneer Club. Adults are not allowed in other than during open houses.
Three to twelve sounded like a wide age range to me. I had a hard time imagining how they would all coexist. I didn’t get to see the inner workings of the place other than when I picked up the kids, but they seemed to clique up with kids their age and ignore the others. They had plenty of room to do that without being on top of each other. My younger son was hesitant to be dropped off at first. By the end of day one, he was so disappointed when I picked him that he cried, which was a real self esteem booster for me.
The club has several sections, most of which involve screens.
There is a giant interactive floor in the middle…
and a Toy Story play area.
I also saw some arts and crafts, which I am confident my kids never touched when something with a screen was available. There are organized activities throughout the day as well. My kids could not get enough of the Oceaneer Club. They were entertained the entire trip, and could have been entertained for another year. Granted, this was largely because of the unfettered screen time they do not enjoy at home, but I’ll take it.
The club was a huge benefit for my husband and me as well because it allowed us to have some much needed adult time after the first half of our trip at Disney World. Our sanity was hanging by a thread by that point. If you are doing both, I would recommend doing the parks first so you can chill out in the second half.
Kids must be potty trained to go to the club. There are lots of judgmental comments on social media from people who clearly have not had a kid this age in a long time. There was talk of kids getting banned the rest of the trip if they have an accident. I was worried this would be the fate of my three year old. I was dead on about the accident, but not the banning. As I walked to retrieve him, I mentally prepared a speech about how he never has accidents (wink wink) to pitch to the bouncer at the kids’ club, but no one batted an eye. They asked if I was going to change him and bring him back. They are more forgiving of accidents than people let on on the internet.
Disney Dream Bahamas Sailing Water Areas
I lied earlier when I said it didn’t feel crowded anywhere. The pools were basically like Times Square on New Year’s Eve. You know how at Gator World, alligators are all on top of each other, and some random guy stands among them tossing meat to appease them? In this setting, the alligators are the kids and the random guy throwing meat is a parent. It is so crowded, it is borderline impossible to move. We only went into an actual pool once, and it was brief.
We did, however, spend a ton of time in the splash area, Nemo’s Reef. This was very well themed, felt less crowded and entertained the kids for hours.
The Disney Dream also has the Aquaduck, a water slide that goes around the ship. My older son loved it. We rode it several times, some of those in the evening. There is zero chance that water is heated. Prepare yourself for a cold ride.
Goofy’s Sports Deck
This area has basketball courts, shuffleboard and a track. These were mainly dominated by older people. It has a cute miniature golf course we used several times.
Midship Detective Agency
This is a game with stations located throughout the ship on the Disney Dream. It has several mysteries to solve. You have to walk all over the ship to get the clues, but that is probably a good thing after all the crap we ate (more on that below). The kids really enjoyed it and were bummed we didn’t have time to solve all the mysteries.
Disney Dream Bahamas Sailing Stateroom
We booked a Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah on the Disney Dream. That sounds much fancier than it is. It was basically a room with a balcony.
The rooms were clearly made with families in mind. There is a curtain to divide the bed from the rest of the room. The bathroom is split, so two people can use the toilet and shower at the same time without weird things happening. There is a tub as opposed to just a shower. It has a queen bed, sleeper sofa and pull down berth. The ceiling is painted with a mural of the night sky above the top bunk, which was super cute. Housekeeping sets that up every evening and puts it away every morning, so the room feels more spacious during the day. The room is also equipped with a TV that plays Disney movies on demand.
I booked this category of room largely because I was concerned someone might feel sick and need fresh air. I also booked midship to minimize rocking and the potential for seasickness. No one in our family had any issues. I can honestly say we could barely feel the ship moving. I will spare you the details of what happened to our stateroom wall a few years ago when I cruised on another cruise line in bad weather while pregnant. Let’s just say, I have been sick before. I don’t know if it mattered, but I did take ginger supplements during the cruise to try to prevent nausea.
Disney Dream Bahamas Sailing Characters
You run into them in the halls randomly. There is also a schedule on Disney’s app with character meet and greets that run all day.
The lines to meet these characters are shorter than what we have experienced in the parks, but there are still lines. These lines would move faster if someone would just man up and tell the grownups wearing the Mickey ears that that isn’t a real mouse. On one occasion, we were held up by a woman showing Mickey her photo album of she and he together over the years. I wish I was clever enough to make this up.
We had a particularly adorable interaction with Peter Pan wherein he scolded the kids for giving Captain Hook a hug. We saw Peter Pan the next day working as a handler for another character. The kids spoke with him and did not notice it was the same guy. We found out shortly after this cruise that one of them needed glasses. Perhaps this should have been our first clue.
Disney Dream Bahamas Sailing Pirate Night
One night is a themed pirate night. I’m sure dressing up is optional, but it didn’t look like many people opted out. Some people were quite serious about their pirate attire. I now know what was in all those carry ons at the buffet.
At night, there is a show with, surprise, pirates, and fireworks. My husband and younger one stayed in the room because he couldn’t take the noise. Our older one got selected to be in the show. This was definitely one of the highlights of the trip and a very special memory for him.
There were two live shows in the theater when we were on the Disney Dream, Disney’s Believe and Beauty and the Beast. While kid centered (obviously), they were both very well done. These were higher quality productions than you would expect to see on a cruise ship.
There is also a theater that shows movies, including those currently in movie theaters. There are concessions for sale, but there is nothing stopping you from bringing “free” food from elsewhere on the ship into the theater.
Disney Dream Bahamas Sailing Gluten Free Dining
Gluttony at its finest. You can eat as much as you want on the Disney Dream, and people definitely do. People on social media discuss challenging themselves to gain a certain amount of weight on the cruise and all the ways they can inadvertently annoy their servers with extra requests. I’m not judging (that much). I ate plenty myself, as did the rest of my family.
I am a bit of a control freak when it comes to my children and their diets, but all bets were off on vacation. My then three year old gained 3 pounds during that two week vacation, which was roughly 10 % of his body weight.
The self service ice cream at Eye Scream did not help matters.
In addition to Eye Scream, on the pool deck, there is a quick service that has gluten free pizza and some other fast food.
The Disney Dream has a buffet for breakfast and lunch at Cabanas. We used the breakfast buffet every day, but only saw the lunch on
apocalypse embarkation day. Both were good. There was a lot of variety. The food was decent for a buffet.
I have to eat gluten free, but am not that sensitive to cross contamination, so I usually do not bother asking for a chef to help me. I asked if one thing was gluten free, and it was like I sounded the fire alarm. The employee asked if I had an allergy, refused to serve me anything because she was not allowed and called a manager to hand me a cup of yogurt. This seemed like an overreaction, but it is good to know they take allergies seriously.
The Disney Dream has three restaurants on the ship that serve dinner included in the cruise fare. You rotate between them, but keep the same server each night. Animator’s Palate is animation themed. It has fun decor. I have read there is more of a show on a longer cruise, but we really didn’t have one. The other two are Enchanted Garden and Royal Palace. Those kind of ran together. The themes seemed to be princess fancy. The food at all three was good, but not great.
The menus had gluten free items marked. I just ordered off the menu each night, but have since learned you can order things to be made gluten free ahead of time that normally aren’t. I missed that memo, so my choices were pretty limited.
This is adults only and has an extra charge of $40 per person. It was worth it. We went there for our anniversary. There is a buffet, and you can also order off a menu. I definitely ate $40 worth of crab legs alone. They surprised us by placing this in front of us instead of making a scene singing, which was much appreciated.
Disney Dream Bahamas Sailing Castaway Cay
The Disney Dream Bahamas sailings stop at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island. Our cruise stopped here twice. This island is quite nice. I did not fully appreciate it until we went to Nassau. Castaway Cay is clean, the beach is beautiful and you can walk on and off the ship at your leisure. More characters.
There is a tram to take you around if you want it. The kids’ club will accept your kids on Castaway Cay. There are water slides and a splash pad. There is an adults only section. They offer excursions. They serve lunch on the island. It was pretty bad food, but super convenient. These were great days.
Then, there was Nassau. The Disney Dream Bahamas sailings also stop here. Sorry, Nassau, but you have some serious work to do. There were four other ships in port that day. To enter and leave the island, everyone from five ships is funneled through this bottleneck to have passports checked with no clear line in place. Some people who really needed to get back to their ship for that sixth meal were not shy about pushing their weight around. If you do not have a specific purpose, stay on the ship. You are not missing anything.
Blue Lagoon Island
We got off the ship in Nassau to go to Blue Lagoon Island to swim with dolphins. I booked this independently online. It was substantially cheaper than booking through Disney. Yes, I know the dolphins may not want to be there. I felt the same hint of guilt I feel at any park with animals. I hope they are treated well. They seemed happy enough.
To get there, we had to get in a van that would have been violating all kinds of laws in the US. This ride fell squarely within the category of questionable parenting, and I have some experience in this department. Putting that aside, we loved it. My younger son had big plans to be a dolphin trainer for awhile after that.
Disney Dream Bahamas Sailing Debarkation
This is the same kind of cattle call as embarkation with a walk of shame element mixed in. You either have to get up at an ungodly hour to eat breakfast in the main dining room or visit the buffet, which has a very limited selection by that point. They are sending a not so subtle message that you need to get off the ship. Like now.
After you’re off, you have to pass through customs. This is time consuming as well. As if the travel day wasn’t going to be long enough, our airline pushed our flight way back, so we had a bunch of time to kill.
Pro tip: The Hyatt in the airport rents rooms by the day (as opposed to motels that rent rooms by the hour). We swam and watched TV in the room until it was time for our flight.
Overall, the Disney Dream Bahamas sailing was amazing. We already have another cruise planned, booked with a placeholder from this cruise. It was very expensive, but I do think it was worth it. The kids will remember this one for a long time to come.