My biggest (and only) complaint about my family's two-night cruise on Disney's new ship, Dream? There simply was not enough time to experience all this ship has to offer! Disney Dream is 40% larger than its predecessors, Wonder and Magic, offering the same outstanding customer service and delightful details plus some incredible new frills. My family thoroughly explored Dream's fabulous amenities for families during our preview cruise. Here's what to expect when sailing Disney Dream with babies, toddlers, and children.
One of the most spectacular features for babies and toddlers sailing on a Disney Cruise, is their splash areas for children who are not yet potty trained. On most cruises, parents must pack an inflatable baby pool if they want to allow tots to join in any water fun since non-potty-trained children are not allowed in cruise ship pools for sanitary reasons.
On Disney's other ships, Magic and Wonder, the splash area is simply one small round play area with a steady stream of shooting water. Don't get me wrong, my daughter adored this option on our 2007 Disney Mediterranean Cruise when she was a toddler, but Nemo's Reef on Dream blows that out of the water! This splash area, adjacent to the family pools, is resplendent with characters from Finding Nemo which spray, sprinkle, and mist water for giggling children. There is also a small stingray-shaped waterslide, perfect for the preschooler set.
My kindergartner, Karissa, had a grand ol' time swimming about in Donald’s Pool for families and Mickey’s Pool for smaller sailors. She was quite heartbroken to discover Dream’s AquaDuck water coaster has a 48-inch height requirement. Instead, younger kids can take a spin on a winding yellow waterslide and have almost as much fun.
It's a Small World Nursery
This darling nursery for infants and toddlers ages three months to three years is painted in the fanciful style of the Disney ride for which it is named. Toddlers enjoy crafts, toys, books, and games at tables just their size. The back of the nursery is a serene space for nap time filled with numerous cribs. They even have several strollers on-hand for babies and toddlers who need a little ride to induce sleep.
Plans are in the works to install a one-way window to allow parents to peek at little ones without disturbing their play. This was a handy tool on our first Disney Cruise on Magic when my husband and I would drop off a crying toddler and return five minutes later to find our daughter happily at play.
Trying to decide whether to place your newly potty-trained child in the nursery or the camps for older kids? While officially children should be at least three to participate in Oceaneer Club or Oceaneer Lab, younger children who are potty trained are welcomed on a case-by-case basis. Oceaneer children are expected to find and use the restrooms on their own, without reminders from counselors. While children are given freedom to explore these play areas on their own terms, it proved to be too much independence for our not-yet-three-year-old boy, Leo. After one accident, we placed our son in the more attentive care of the It's a Small World Nursery.
There is an additional $6 per hour charge for children in the nursery. Space may be limited, especially during peak times like spring break and summer. Reservations can be made online before cruising.
Oceaneer Club & Oceaneer Lab
You might have a hard time convincing your children to depart the Oceaneer camps, which are designed for children ages three to ten. The Oceaneer areas are joined, allowing kids to wander between the two choosing which space and activities appeal to them most. Both feature a Magic PlayFloor, where kids’ movements control the action. For example, children can step into the futuristic world of Tron for a team-based game or pretend to fly over the streets of London like Peter Pan.
Oceaneer Club is geared toward the younger children within this age group, with themed play areas like Andy's Room from Toy Story, Pixie Hollow from Tinkerbell, the Explorer Pod a la Finding Nemo, and Monster's Academy for fans of Monsters, Inc.
Play in the Oceaneer Lab is focused on exploration, where children can create their own computer-animated characters in the Animator's Studio or record pop songs in the Song Studio (with the help of a counselor).
For those traveling with older kids, there is also a club for tweens, Edge, and one for teens, Vibe.
As on the other Disney ships, evening meals are eaten in three rotation restaurants on Dream. Dining in rotation means you keep your same tablemates and waitstaff, but eat in a different restaurant each evening.
Animator's Palate differs on Dream from the restaurant of the same name on Disney's older ships. Dream's version features video screens with characters from Finding Nemo that come to life when the sea turtle, Crush talks to diners.
Enchanted Garden is a whimsical restaurant filled with colorful flowers and vine-shaped trellises at the center of which is sweet tiered fountain topped with a Cupid Mickey Mouse.
The Royal Palace is the most elegant of the rotation restaurants, designed to make guests feel like royalty as they are immersed in lavish surroundings inspired by Disney princess movies.
For a casual breakfast, lunch, and dinner option there is the beach-themed Cabanas food court, a buffet of sorts with an overwhelming variety of offerings to meet the needs of even the pickiest child (or adult). I love how they cater to cruisers from around the world with breakfasts of bagels and lox, miso soup, eggs and bacon, musli, and more.
Snackers will be satisfied with additional options available poolside like sandwich wraps, chicken tenders, fresh fruit, and frozen smoothies. And what kid doesn't love free-flowing soft-serve ice cream?
Disney Cruise Line staterooms are designed to be family-friendly with larger floorplans than most cruise lines, a privacy curtain between the children's area and the parents' bed, and two separated sinks to make getting ready for the day a breeze. Plus, bathtubs are featured in all rooms (a rarity on cruise ships), making it easy to bathe babies, toddlers, and other little ones while at sea.
My daughter gleefully climbed into her top bunk in our stateroom both nights. For you nervous mamas like me, her bed was secured with a safety railing and we received a removable safety railing for my son's lower bunk. Karissa adored sleeping beneath a painted nighttime sky dotted with stars – just another delightful Disney detail!
Inside staterooms on Dream are outfitted with Magic Portholes, which show live video views outside the ship. Plus, Disney characters like Dumbo or Nemo sometimes float past the portholes to surprise guests.
Other Special Disney Touches
Disney character meet-and-greets, Broadway-caliber live shows, first-run Disney movies in the ship's movie theatre, and fireworks at sea add to the magic of a Disney Cruise. But what really makes a Disney cruise special is over-the-top attention to detail and incredible customer service. Every effort is made to ensure that all guests are entertained and cared for, from babies and toddlers, to children, tweens, teens, and adults.
Disney Dream Itineraries & Beyond
Disney Dream offers three, four, and five night cruises to The Bahamas, with a day or two spent at Disney's private island, Castaway Cay. If you plan to sail on Dream (and you should!), I'd go for the longest cruise you can afford. I felt an incredible sense of “hurry up and have fun” on this two-night cruise.
This short taste has me absolutely pining for another Disney Cruise! As a West Coast Travel Mama, my latest dream is to sail on one of Disney's cruises on board Wonder departing from my part of the world. I'm imagining a tropical vacation on board a six to ten night cruise from Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera or a scenic seven-night voyage from Vancouver to Alaska! Find out more about Dream's Caribbean cruises and other Disney destinations on the Disney Cruise Line website.
Are you dreaming of a Disney Cruise too? Share your thoughts in the comments!
A Note from The Travel Mama: Disney provided my airfare, my family's two-night media cruise, and some other expenses related to the Disney Dream Christening Cruise. I was singing the praises of Disney Cruise Line long before I was a travel writer!
All photos by Colleen Lanin unless otherwise noted.