Disney Dream ship review : Disney Cruise

Jane Archer reviews Disney’s latest ship, Disney Dream and finds something for everyone, including an aquatic roller-coaster.

Only Disney would christen a ship by emptying on to it a giant bottle of dreams collected by Captain Mickey. OK, it was air to you and me, but Disney is all about suspending belief, accepting the magic. If you can’t do that, Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Dream, named last week in Port Canaveral, is not the ship for you.

It’s the first ship Disney has launched for more than a decade, and 50 per cent bigger than its other two vessels, so there has been room to expand the areas for children, for teenagers and for “adults only”.

Images from the best family cruise ships

The last seemed a strange feature on a family ship, but it was nice to have grown-up bars and lounges to escape to in the evenings. I just hope they are not wasted: the adult-only bars on the two older ships are pretty empty after 10pm because many parents go to bed soon after their children

The prices don’t encourage lingering: a bottle of Taittinger bubbly, named Pink after the champagne bar in the adult-only area, The District, costs $91 (£59). Champagne cocktails cost $10.50 (£6.75).

Several prices on the ship made me wince. The $75 (£48.15) per person charge to dine in Remy, the new fine-dining restaurant, is one thing; opt for one of the tasting menus served there and the wine will set you back another $99 (£64) per person. I couldn’t eat in Remy – despite the price it’s booked up for months – but I did sample a couple of dishes, including the smoked bison, and it was tasty and beautifully served.

Service was not so good in the dining room, where wine didn’t arrive until after the starter and waitresses seemed unable to depart from their script. I told mine I was ready to order, but she still recited the recommendations, saying that she “had to”.

Disney Dream is sailing three, four and five-night cruises from Port Canaveral, visiting Nassau in the Bahamas and Castaway Cay, the corporation’s private island in the Caribbean (private being relative given that you share it with up to 4,000 people).

  • Sample holiday: an 11-night cruise-and-stay holiday, combining seven nights’ room only at Disney’s Pop Century Resort in Walt Disney World with a four-night full-board Disney Dream cruise, costs from £1,249 per person including flights and transfers (0871 781 9893; www.virginholidayscruises.co.uk)


Disney Dream’s 150 inside cabins have virtual portholes, which, thanks to cameras on either side of the vessel, display a sea or land view. It’s a clever idea, with the added Disney touch of characters including Steamboat Mickey and dancing hippos appearing randomly. If you tire of the novelty, you can switch the picture off. If you like fresh air and the sound of the sea, stick with the balcony.

There are 91 ocean-view cabins with windows that don’t open; the rest of the accommodation, a mixture of deluxe rooms and suites, has a balcony.

The cabins are comfortable and surprisingly restrained in décor, with not a mouse to be seen. They are also of a generous size, but if you fill all the berths (all cabins have a sofa and pull-down bed to hold up to four people; some have a double sofa to squeeze in five) they will feel pretty cramped.

All cabins have Disney’s trademark split bathroom, separating the lavatory from the washbasin/shower. Many have a small tub for bathing babies and toddlers.


The dining system is traditional – with a twist. You are allocated a table, a time to dine, a waiter and dining companions for the duration of the cruise, but you rotate around three restaurants – Enchanted Garden, Royal Palace and Animator’s Palate.

In Animator’s Palate, diners can “talk” to Crush, the turtle from Finding Nemo. It’s clever stuff but makes for a noisy dinner – especially when he gets everyone shouting and waving their arms around.

For a family break from the dining routine, Cabanas, which is self-service for breakfast and lunch, offers waiter service in the evening. By day there’s an alfresco grill, serving the best chicken nuggets at sea, and a pizza bar.

The top restaurants are adult-only. Palo is an Italian place with a $15 (£9.60) per person cover charge (brunch is served on sea days for the same price); Remy, which charges $75 (£48.15) per person, offers two tasting menus – one created by a French chef, Arnaud Lallement, who has two Michelin stars, the other by an American chef, Scott Hunnel – or an à la carte selection.

Adults also get more than their fair share of bars and lounges – the Cove Café and Currents by the adult pool; Meridian, between Palo and Remy; and Pink, Skyline, Evolution and the District Lounge, all in The District.

A family sports bar, 687, is adult-only after 9pm. The D Lounge is a family nightclub with games in the day and karaoke at night.


Entertainment is naturally Disney-oriented, from cartoons on the cabin televisions to films in the cinema and live Disney-themed shows in the theatre – three a night, with seats pre-allocated to fit in with dining times.

I saw two shows and couldn’t fault the production, but the storylines were torturous – an excuse to parade as many Disney characters as possible.

The big new feature is the AquaDuck, the first water-coaster at sea, which circles the top of the ship and was great fun, but the queues will be ferocious when the ship is full.

There’s plenty more to occupy youngsters, including a nursery for toddlers, clubs for children and teenagers, Mickey’s Pool and slide for little children, Donald’s Pool for families and Nemo’s Reef for tots.

There are regular meet-and-greet sessions with Disney characters and around the ship are cartoon pictures that feature in two detective games – “The case of the stolen painting” and “The case of the missing puppies” – revealing clues when you hold up a “magic card” (available at no charge).

Teenagers can meet in Vibe to watch films or listen to music, tan on their private outside deck, or have a facial, massage or body wrap in the spa’s “Chill zone”. Young people will love it; with prices from $89 (£57), I’m not sure parents will be so keen.

The spa has massages, facials and wraps for adults, a small thermal suite, a fair-sized gym and two spa villas where couples can spoil themselves with champagne and strawberries before a his-and-hers massage or body wrap.

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