Thursday, October 8, 2015

Cruising on the Disney Dream: Inside Stateroom versus Oceanview

Sailing on the Disney Dream

When we decided to take our kids on their first cruise, we chose Disney and ended up setting the bar so high that any future non-Disney cruise will pale in comparison. Since our family has already visited Disney parks in Florida, California, Hong Kong, Japan and Paris, we were eager to explore how Disney handles the high seas.

Based on my experiences on other cruise lines, I was worried about space. It seems like other cruise lines have an abundance of two-person staterooms, and you have to pay a premium to get something that accommodates children, too. Since Disney is aimed squarely at families, they've designed all their rooms to fit at least 3 people if not more. Although all five of us could have squeezed into one stateroom, we decided to book two rooms on the Disney Dream just to give the kids and the parents a break from each other, have more space, and gain an extra bathroom. Connecting rooms are only available for inside staterooms. We chose to instead book one oceanview room and then an inside cabin across the hall from it since our kids are old enough to manage themselves in a room without constant supervision.

A stateroom with a view

Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom (Category 8C)

When I walked into this stateroom, I was amazed at how spacious it was compared to cabins on other cruise lines. If we had really wanted to, all five of us could have slept in here, although it would be a tight fit.

Disney Dream Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom

The bathroom and closet areas are nearest to the corridor, and then the stateroom opens up into a sleeping area. A curtain separates the very comfy queen bed from the sitting area but is kept pulled back during the day. A television on a swivel arm could point practically anywhere in the cabin, and the desk was a great place to lay out all the treasures the kids collected throughout the cruise. The coffee table had a storage compartment inside where we stashed backpacks, and there was actually enough seating for five people if you don't mind putting three on the couch. The best part was the padded porthole that invited us to just relax and gaze out the window.

Disney Dream Deluxe Family Stateroom viewed from the porthole towards the door

At night, the room steward converts the sofa into a bed and pulls down a berth from the ceiling. You can bet that there was much discussion over which kid got to sleep in the upper berth. There is also room between the sofa and the porthole for a rollaway bed where a fifth person could sleep. Blackout curtains across the porthole did a wonderful job blocking out the sun which my teen really appreciated when we let him sleep in during our day at sea.

Sitting area sleeps two people plus one more if there's a rollaway bed

Another great feature of the Deluxe Staterooms (inside, oceanview, or with verandah) is the split bathroom. One room contains a sink and toilet, and the other room contains a sink and a bath with shower. It really speeds up the getting-ready process and makes the going-to-bed routine much more relaxed. No more banging on the door and yelling, "I need the toilet," while another person takes a leisurely shower. I also liked that the extra sink wasn't out in the stateroom as I've seen at some hotels where using it might bother someone who was sleeping.

Split bath - one room with a tub/shower combo and one room with a toilet

Since the kids outnumbered the adults, we let the children have the this stateroom because it was the larger of the two we booked. Plus, I thought they probably spend some time simply hanging out in the room instead of going there just to sleep. They totally owe me.

Standard Inside Stateroom (Category 08C)

We parents took the Standard Inside Stateroom for ourselves. I really liked that Disney addressed the common problem of inside staterooms — no view. Their solution is a virtual porthole. It's basically a round television screen that displays the live feed from a camera on the outside of the ship. Getting to watch the ship sail into port from the comfort of one's own cabin is no longer reserved for those with an outside room. You can also turn it off at night if the glow bothers you. The only problem is that the image sometimes froze for hours, showing nothing but the sun gleaming on the water when we knew it was dark outside.

Disney Dream Standard Inside Stateroom

This cabin sleeps up to four people. Ours had a queen bed, but it could be converted into two twin beds, too. As with our other stateroom, a curtain separated the sleeping area from the sitting area, and the coffee table had storage space in side it. Since I like to stay up and read at night, I pulled the dividing curtain closed so I could enjoy a book on the couch while my husband slept. Our large luggage easily fit inside the closet, and the smaller carry-ons fit neatly under the bed. At night, this sofa also converts into a twin bed, and a pull-down upper berth appears out of the ceiling. Since we didn't have kids staying in this stateroom with us, the room steward happily put everything back to its daytime position so we'd have more space.

Sleeping arrangements in the Standard Inside Stateroom

One of the interesting parts of cruising is the towel animals the room stewards create in your cabin. You never know what you'll find. A swan (oceanview stateroom), a turtle (photo immediately above), or a monkey (photo below). What fun! You can bet that I went to the towel animal class the room stewards host during our day at sea.

We found a monkey hanging around the room.

The Standard Inside Staterooms have one bathroom with a sink, a toilet and a tub with shower. I really liked that it had a full-size tub, unlike other cruise lines where the cheapest room may have a bathroom so tiny that you can sit on the potty, brush your teeth at the sink, and wash your hair in the shower all at the same time. Note that people over 6 feet tall (2 meters) may have trouble standing up straight in the shower. 

Full bathroom in the Standard Inside Stateroom

Which room do I recommend?

This probably comes as no surprise, but I liked the bigger, oceanview stateroom better. If we had booked equal occupancy of 2 adults and 2 child in both these staterooms for comparison, the Standard Inside Stateroom is $94 cheaper than the Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom for a 4-day Bahamas cruise during Spring Break 2016. That's a savings of less than $25 per day. Admit it. By the time you've committed to taking the family on a Disney cruise, $25 is a mere drop in the bucket compared to the overall cost. If you have the money, I would opt for the Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom because the gorgeous view out a real porthole, the split bath, and the extra 72 square feet are worth the minimal extra cost.

What do you look for in a cruiseship stateroom?

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  1. I've never been on a cruise, hence have no idea about what I would expect in a Stateroom. Yours looks pretty amazing. I don't know about a Disney Cruises either Michele!

  2. Never tried Disney cruises, and must admit, I've yet to take my youngest to a Disney park. But those cruise cabins look fabulous for families. Something to think about :)

  3. Great review, Michele! We have sailed on the Disney Magic twice as well as several other cruise lines and I love the room set up that Disney has with the split bathroom. I was hoping you would post photos of the towel animals that you learned to make though! ;)

  4. My 11 year daughter is obsessed with the idea of a Disney cruise...and now that I've read your post, I'm feeling a bit more inclined to look into it! Those cabins look much more spacious that I imagined.

  5. We haven't been on a cruise before but to be quite honest, I am pleasantly surprised by the size of the rooms.

  6. I really like that they have thought to put a curtain across the room for privacy.
    As for my preference no revelations there - pay the extra for a little more space and comfort.

  7. I've never been on a disney cruise (or any cruise for that matter). These staterooms look remarkably comfy. I'd definitely pay more for space and comfort. It's not a holiday if we are miserable together.

  8. We recently went on our first cruise with on the Norwegian Dawn and we were so impressed with our stateroom. It looked fairly similar to yours actually, but we had a small balcony which I loved. Also the bathroom had separate toilet to the shower which does come in handy. We loved our cruise so much we have booked another one for next year on the Princess cruise line.

  9. This post came in great timing for me because I've never actually been on a cruise before but am going on my first cruise this December to the Caribbean. It's not with Disney and I know they're all very different in their own ways but getting a bit of an inside tour as to what I might expect of rooms etc on board a cruise ship in this post certainly gives me a better idea. Your room looks like it was pretty spacious!

  10. This is a very thorough comparison! For a cruise, I find we really are only in the room to sleep, so tight sleeping quarters isn't to bad. but sharing 1 bathroom 5 ways would be hard! I'm impressed the rooms have a bathtub, even a small one. super kid friendly!

  11. When I read your intro about setting the bar too high, my first thought was "That's because , you haven't sailed on . . . " but then I kept reading, and I think you are probably correct. We have taken many cruises with our kids on four different cruise lines - but none had accommodations quite like this Disney ship.

  12. I'm so glad I chose an oceanview room on my Caribbean cruise! Had amazing views. I never considered an inside room, but was thinking about doing a balcony room.

  13. Size does matter as far as cruise cabins go- as a family of 4 we really started paying attention! we never cruised Disney yet, but noticed that Carnival's ocean view are 220 sf while older Royal Caribbean's (not sure about the new ships) are mere 114sf!! now, I know you are not spending that much time in the room...but you know you actually, do! we like to take naps (I blog), and then we all gather at night time. 114sf for 4 really influenced our decision to book Carnival for our next cruise (and no, I am not being compensated for this comment in any way:)

  14. Hi there! I found your blog via Rachel's Ruminations!
    I've only been on week long river cruises in Egypt or on day cruises in Hungary, Finland or Germany but I've never been on a cruise across the sea proper or on a large ship. I'd say we were probably under a 100 people! I do however, love the description of the rooms. Very nice!


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