Disney Dream is more floating wonderland than cruise ship; a sea-going version of Disney’s famous theme parks filled to the funnels with enchanting touches. But while pixie dust has been liberally sprinkled throughout, Disney must be applauded for not going overboard. The nautical decor is surprisingly tasteful, and while this is the ultimate family-friendly cruise ship, adults are not forgotten with sophisticated child-free zones. Having set sail in 2011, Disney Dream and its virtually identical sister Disney Fantasy, launched in 2012, are the newest and largest of Disney Cruise Line’s four ships, carrying up to 4,000 guests.

Where to eat

Restaurant menus in the Cove Cafe on-board Disney Dream

The Cove Cafe

You don’t cruise with Disney for cuisine, but cheery waiters and colouring mats entertain youngsters at mealtimes and speedy service keeps cries of “I’m bored!” to a minimum. What the main restaurants lack in food finesse they make up for with fun as a novel rotational dining system has everyone swapping venues each evening, taking their waiters with them.

Animator’s Palate is the pick of the bunch, where techno-wizardry in giant plasma screens brings alive Finding Nemo’s animated sea turtle Crush, who chats to diners so spontaneously, adults are left wondering how he does it. The charming conservatory-like Enchanted Garden (inspired by Versailles) and Royal Palace restaurant, styled on Disney’s classic princess films, set the scene on other evenings. But real praise must be reserved for Disney Dream’s adult-only alternatives, which prove Disney can do grown-up dining if it needs to. Remy, named after the rat in Ratatouille, is a classy affair, serving French gourmet cuisine under the patronage of award-winning chefs. But at $95pp you’ll have to dig deep.

Where to sleep

A family-friendly Verandah stateroom on-board Disney Dream

Verandah stateroom

Cosy and comfortable in maritime style in nautical colours of red and navy, cabins are aimed at families with up to three youngsters in tow to enjoy sweet dreams in sofa-beds and bunks that drop down from the ceiling. It’s all rather snug, but there is handy storage space under the queen-size bed and a welcome curtain that parents can pull across the cabin for privacy.

Instead of the usual en-suite facilities, Disney Dream’s cabins have a separate bath/shower and toilet – a masterstroke that stops family squabbles in their tracks! Most cabins have balconies and many have interconnecting doors, but even the inside windowless cabins charm guests with ‘virtual portholes’ showing real-time footage of the world outside, spiced up with surprise appearances of Disney characters. Just think, you could wake up to see Dumbo swooping over the waves!

What to do

A passenger on a yellow waterslide on-board Disney DreamA mini golf course on a deck of the Disney Dream cruise ship

This is where the Disney brand of magic truly comes into its own. Being announced and greeted by a clapping guard of honour as you step aboard is somewhat surprising, but it’s impossible not to get swept up in this magical world of fairytales and fantasy. There are even ‘Enchanted Art’ pictures that magically come alive as you walk around the ship, while Mickey, Minnie and the gang pop up at various intervals, stopping for hugs and autographs. Nightly shows in the Walt Disney Theatre teem with villains and heroes and princes and princesses, with special effects, glittering costumes and extravagant stage sets; all produced with Disney’s customary polish.

If the excitement gets too much, parents can send the kids off to bed and take a nightcap in the impressive collection of adult-only nightspots.

Captain Mickey hanging out with a young guest on the Disney Dream cruise ship

There is family fun by the bucket-load and leading the attractions is AquaDuck, a shipboard water-coaster that’s fun for adults and will wow the children, if you can drag them out of the Oceaneer kids clubs! These are some of the best at sea, promising imagination overload as fantasy, fun and friendships combine to make the perfect mix for younger kids. Disdainful tweens and teens can act cool in the loft-style retreat, where they can play on hi-tech distractions to their heart’s content and hang loose on the private outdoor kids’ deck.

Families can play together as well, with game shows and cookery classes, but mums and dads looking for couples’ time can kick back and chill at the adult-only pool and deck, or indulge in some well-deserved pampering at the on-board spa, complete with couples’ spa villas if you really want to splash out.

What I loved

The Animator's Palate restaurant on-board the Disney Dream cruise ship

Animator’s Palate

  • The pirate-themed deck party held on each cruise is a real highlight with food, dancing and live music. Skulduggery rules the waves, but Captain Mickey saves the day in a firework-filled finale as he flies over the deck on a zipwire.
  • The range of adult-only spots. Each has a different ambience, from the chic bubble-themed Pink champagne bar to the backdrop of changing cityscapes in the Skyline bar.
  • Talking to Crush, the turtle from Finding Nemo, in the Animator’s Palate restaurant as he peers out of the huge surround video screens and sparks up conversation with diners, even posing for pictures too!

Top tip

Adults wanting to dine a deux without busting the bank should try Palo at $30 per head for elegant surroundings, Italian fine-dining and truly mouth-watering hot chocolate soufflés.

Would you like to experience the magic of a Disney cruise? Click the button below, or call our award-winning Cruise Concierge team on 0808 1234 118 to find out more about voyages on-board Disney Dream and book your perfect voyage.

Sara Macefield
Sara Macefield is an award-winning travel journalist of more than 20 years standing, and has spent the last decade writing about the cruise industry – exploring the world's oceans and rivers on ships of all sizes. Having notched up more than 100 cruises, her most memorable trips have been to Alaska with its superb wildlife, and sailing along Burma’s remote Chindwin River to villages far off the tourist track. She writes regularly for The Times and Daily Telegraph and has written for the Daily Mail, The Guardian, Daily Express and Woman & Home Magazine.

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