I recently set sail on the Disney Dream cruise ship for a four-day cruise departing from Port Canaveral Florida to Nassau, Bahamas and Castaway Cay, Disney’s privately owned island.
While I don’t typically like to travel by cruise ship, I have always been curious about Disney Cruise Line, as I have a long history with Disney and have always been impressed with how they operate.
I wanted to break today’s post about Disney Cruise Line into a comprehensive “good, bad, and ugly” post to quickly share what I loved and didn’t love about being on the ship. Please keep in mind these are only my opinions and some of these may not even have any impact on your own vacation planning depending on what factors you consider important or not.
The food on the Disney Dream was great – especially for being an all-inclusive cruise. There are other restaurants onboard the ship in which you can dine at for an additional fee, but I found the included dining options well-exceeded expectations.
Along with the food, the dining service onboard the ship was unparalleled and nothing short of what you’d expect from Disney, who is renowned for going above and beyond. Guests choose their dining time when booking the cruise if they prefer the first seating around 5 pm or the second seating around 8 pm. When you arrive on board the ship your guest keys have a table number on them, with a restaurant schedule as guests have the opportunity to dine in a new restaurant every evening. What took the dining service to the next level was that the same waiters are always tending to your table, no matter what restaurant you’re dining in. This created a very personal experience and if any special requests were made one night, they were always remembered the following nights.
The housekeeping service was personalized similar to that of the dining service, in that you had the same stateroom attendant for the duration of the trip. We would often run into our lovely stateroom attendant when leaving in the morning or passing through the hallways. She was always friendly and remembered our names and always asked if we needed anything for our rooms.
On Board Activities
I was really impressed with the amount of onboard activities the ship offered for times we were at sea. I was worried there wasn’t going to be anything for adults to do on sea days, but the ship offered a ton of fitness activities, spa treatments, fun trivia activities, and a variety of other social events, including even a mixology event!
Adult Only Sections
Going back to my concern about being an adult aboard a Disney cruise ship, I was very pleased with the amount of “adult only” sections on the ship. There were two “adult only” pools onboard the ship, one of which had an entire deck to itself. These provided more quiet options for adults looking to take advantage of the sunshine and enjoy a drink without screaming children running around.
As is the case with any Disney theme park or resort, the lines to meet characters were excruciatingly long. Character meet up times were specified on the daily activities sheet, and if you wanted to avoid waiting in line, you had to arrive at the designated meeting point well before the scheduled character was to arrive.
Coffee Not Included
For some odd reason, coffee wasn’t included in the all-inclusive price of the cruise. Fountain pops, water, and juice were included, however, coffee and alcohol were not. The alcohol, of course, is usually not included in these types of all-inclusive cruise packages, but I thought it was odd, and rather inconvenient that coffee wasn’t included either.
Disney Cruise Lines is the only cruise company in the world that’s legally allowed to launch fireworks off of their ships. Of course, fireworks in the ocean have an enormous environmental impact as their waste will be dropped into the ocean for marine life to eat or get tangled up in. However, I’ve only put this in the “bad” category as opposed to the “ugly”, because I had some sources tell me the fireworks were biodegradable. I have not, however, been able to confirm this, but if they are in fact biodegradable, the environmental impact would be much smaller than if they were not.
Expensive Off-Shore Excursions
The majority of the off-shore excursions offered are incredibly overpriced and will put you out $100 just to go to a beach. If you’re planning on doing any sort of snorkeling and diving tours, you’re looking at even more; a two tank dive cost over $200 USD in Nassau, where there quite honestly isn’t even much life on the reefs.
Unethical Off-Shore Excursions
Along with being wildly overpriced, Disney offers unethical animal encounter excursions involving captive dolphins, sting rays, and sharks. It also offers trips to the popular animal prison of Atlantis, where guests can become “dolphin trainers for a day” and get to see what it’s like to be responsible for a kidnapped and tortured animal. Needless to say, I’m not a fan of companies supporting wild animals in captivity and am so incredibly disappointed that Disney would support such a cruel industry.
Captive Sting Rays on Castaway Cay
Along with the off-shore excursions in Nassau, Disney is also holding animal’s captive on their own private island. On Castaway Cay guests can pay for a “sting ray experience” where they have the opportunity to swim among dozens of sting rays that are held within a fenced off area of the beach.
Most people will not need Wifi when onboard the ship, but for anyone needing to work, or even check the occasional email, you’re going to be set back $89 per 1000gb of internet.