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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Monday, September 5, 2011

Which Disney Ship Do You Like The Best?

It was evident to both passengers and crew that our most recent Disney Cruise aboard the Disney Dream was not our first Disney Cruise.  Folks would ask how many Disney Cruises, and we would reply that this was our fourth Disney Cruise.  Then, the question that was asked of us most often came next, “Which ship do you like the best?” Or, “which one did you like the best?”  By “one”, I assume they mean either cruise or ship.

There is no easy, succinct, all encompassing answer to this question, except maybe, “it depends.”

So, let me take this opportunity to expand on that two word answer, “it depends.”

Itinerary:  Many cruise guests decide to cruise based on the itinerary.  Perhaps the ship is going to various ports of call that they would like to visit.  For us, the itinerary doesn’t matter as much as our dates of travel—when can we cruise, rather than where can we cruise.  Price and availability come next when selecting a cruise.  And, while the Disney Dream is taking guests on 3, 4, and 5 night cruises, the itinerary is virtually the same—Nassau and Castaway Cay.  So, in this instance, the Magic and the Wonder would be the top choices for “which one” with their varied itineraries—Europe, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Hawaii, and Alaska being some of the choices. 

Just a note:  We personally feel that a Disney Cruise isn’t quite complete without a stop at Castaway Cay, and do take that somewhat into consideration when selecting an itinerary.

Staterooms:  For us, the Disney Dream wins this category hands down.  Our stateroom 5022—click here to read more—was the best Disney Cruise Line stateroom we had ever experienced. 

Dining:  This category would have to go to the Magic and/or the Wonder.  The food was okay on the Dream, but I missed our steak and lobster tail evening—which is only on longer itineraries (7 night or longer).  The dining rooms on the Dream are big and noisy.  There are more “bigger” tables on the Dream that hold more people making the timing of the service that much more difficult.  Our serving crew worked their tails off and yet the timing wasn't quite there yet.  I trust the timing will come with more practice, but even that won’t solve the big and noisy issue in the dining rooms.  A plus in this category is Cabanas, which quickly became one of our favorites and offers much more in terms of selection and ambiance than its counterparts Topsiders/Beach Blanket on the other Disney ships.

Service—other than dining room service:  Our stateroom host did an excellent job at timing his visits to our stateroom.  Our luggage arrived promptly without issues, etc.  On other ships, we have had to ask for and follow up on certain things, such as tuxedos not being delivered, etc. 

Now, Room Service, was another issue.  On the Magic and Wonder, when you put your breakfast order on your door and indicate a time of delivery, Room Service will call your stateroom—sort of like a wake-up call—prior to coming for delivery.  This gives you a chance to get up, use the bathroom, and gather tip money.  Not on the Dream.  They just knock.  When I asked about them calling first, they said they don’t do that.  Hmmm. . . That would be a nice amenity to include.  Another time, I phoned room service by pushing the room service button on the stateroom phone and it rang for several minutes without an answer.  Could the 24 hour room service be closed?  I hung up and tried again.  This time, the phone was answered and I explained what happened.  They asked if I wanted their direct number.  No.  Why would I need it?  If a direct number is needed to get to room service, then there is no need for the button for room service to be on the phone if it isn’t going to reach room service!  During this call, I asked for “Uncrustables” sandwiches.  They said they didn’t have them.  I then asked for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in a package.  Yep, they had those.  I asked for 4 of those to be delivered at 4:30, unopened.  When they arrived, they were “Uncrustables.”  We used room service twice—once for breakfast and once for the sandwiches.  Room service was better on the Magic and the Wonder.

Shows/Entertainment:  I’ll begin with the Sail Away Party.  The Dream gets a lower score for this show.  Cast Members passed out streamers to wave—but only to children.  We all have received them on previous cruises aboard the other ships.  The Sail Away Party had an evident lack of excitement and enthusiasm.  And, we missed the camera panning the guests and showing it on the big screen above the party.  Please bring that back!

Stage shows—Villians Tonight and Believe were excellent additions to the Disney Cruise Line entertainment repertoire.  We enjoyed both.  What I missed was the scene where they show the outside of the ship being brought to light by Tinker Bell and then the theater is lit simultaneously with the twinkling lights.  I waited for it when watching Believe.  There is even a scene at the end of Believe in which that segment could fit, but no.  It wasn’t there.  That gives me goose bumps every time.

Pirates IN the Caribbean—Pirate Night on the Dream is now broken into three parts.  The first being between the dinners with a 20-25 minute pirate themed character show with Mickey and the gang.  The entertainment staff dons pirate gear and does some interactive games with guests on Deck 11.  We were waiting for the interactive pirate game on the big screen, but nope, wasn’t there.  Then, a couple of hours later, it is time for the fireworks, followed by the dance party on Deck 11.  There was enough time in between for us to catch a movie.  I just think it’s hard to sustain the energy and excitement of the celebration when it is broken into chunks and extended over a longer period of time.  Guests come, find a place to watch the first show, then leave, then come back to watch the fireworks, etc.  Parts of Deck 12 are closed during the fireworks, making it even more difficult to find spot to watch everything.

So, far the Dream is not ahead in this category.  One thing that they did do, entertainment wise on the Dream that beats the other two ships, is to offer the character final farewell twice on the last day. . . once in the afternoon, and then again later—sometime after 10:00 pm.  For guest with young children, who are also trying to get their luggage placed outside their stateroom in time for pick-up, making it to the later character farewell can be difficult, but making it to the afternoon session would be much easier.  Disney Dream, you get a thumbs up for this one.

All in all, the Magic and the Wonder were our favorites for shows and entertainment.

Crew:  It is interesting for me to include this as a category, but I am going to because the husband and I both noticed the lack of interaction with the crew on the Dream.  We just didn’t see or hear very much of them.  On the Magic and the Wonder, ship’s officers would be found mingling in the Lobby Atrium between dining seatings to interact with guests.  We have pictures of the boy with cruise directors of previous sailings, but not this cruise.  We didn’t even see or hear the cruise director until our second night, when he introduced the show in the Walt Disney Theater.  (On previous ships, we saw the cruise director during the Sail Away Party!)

There was the traditional Captain’s Signing event held on our day at sea and we took advantage of that opportunity.  On the Magic, there was an opportunity to have your picture taken in the evening with the Captain.  We didn’t find that on the Dream, which may be attributed to a shorter itinerary. 

On other sailings, there have been crew Pin Trading events—there was only one on the last night of the cruise on the Dream, Question and Answer sessions offered with the crew---we didn’t see this offering in the Personal Navigators.

There was one crew member that went above and beyond for us and that was Ryan.  You see, on previous cruises a scrapbooking session could be found in the list of activities in the Personal Navigators.  I kept looking. . .  You see, I wanted items for scrapbooking—actually, images to scan and be a part of a digital scrapbook.  So, on the last night, when I was in line to settle our account at Guest Services, I spoke to Ryan and asked about a scrapbooking session.  He seemed surprised that one wasn’t offered.  I told him what I was looking for—extra Navigators, stationary, etc.  Well, Ryan found our table during dinner and presented me with a thick envelope of items he collected for me.  This was definitely Disney magic at work! 

Kids Clubs:  The Dream is the winner of this category with the interactive play floor, larger spaces, and cool themes.  The designated spot for tweens is also great, as they had the left over space on the Magic and the Wonder.

Ship:  This is the category that the Dream takes the cake.  With the design of the pools, the Aqua Duck, and other new features, the Dream offers a great guest experience.  While we didn’t use the Spa, we had heard other guests who weren’t as impressed with the Spa on the Dream—noisy and not relaxing—as they had been on other Disney ships.

So, what is the best one?  It still depends.  I can say with confidence though, a Disney Cruise is bound to please every guest in your traveling party.  There is something for everyone!

I can also say that Disney Cruise Line is very responsive to guest feedback and every cruiser is asked to complete a satisfaction survey at the end of the cruise.  The Dream is still sailing its Inaugural Voyages, and I’m sure more adjustments and changes are on the way to make a cruise aboard the Disney Dream even more satisfying.

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