It seems as if I can’t pick up a trade publication without seeing an article on the new Disney cruise ship, the Dream. This ship’s inaugural voyage was in January 2011. It joins 11- and 12-year-old Disney Wonder and Disney Magic, sailing the Caribbean, Alaska, Mexico and Europe. Unlike most other cruise lines, Disney ships were designed and built as family cruise lines; they do not have casinos or libraries. Cabins are larger, able to accommodate families of 4 to 5 people. Cabins feature a split bath with a tub for children.
Unique features of all Disney ships are fireworks at sea and the ships’ horns — the Wonder and Magic play the opening seven note Disney theme song, “When you wish upon a star” whenever they pass another ship at sea. All Disney ships were built to resemble ocean liners from the ’20s, with elongated hulls, twin red funnels, and elaborate gold insignias. The ships’ ambiance is casually elegant. Disney dining features a unique rotation through several dining venues, keeping the same waiter and tablemates.
Disney ships feature “adults only” areas including a coffee bar, pool, piano bar, sports pub, dance club and boutique restaurant. But by far, the main attraction is the children’s program, with daily Disney character visits. There is a toddler pool and a kids’ pool. The nursery for children under 3 years of age has shorter hours, but older children’s facilities are open from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Oceaneer Club, for children 3 to 7, is a supervised program split into two age groups. Oceaneer Lab, for 8- to 12-year-olds offers high-tech interactive programs ship-wide with treasure hunts and hands-on science experiments. Teens have their own area in one of the funnels, complete with video games, MP3 stations, board games, and a soda and smoothies bar. Of course there is the Walt Disney theater offering nightly shows, Disney films and Studio Sea, which offers G rated floor shows.
While most cruisers are families or multi-generational reunions, some honeymooners and couples without children sail because of the oversized staterooms and adults-only areas.
So you’re probably wondering what itineraries are available. Currently the Wonder does 3- and 4-day Bahamas sailings, which include a day at Castaway Bay, Disney’s private island. Here there are both family and adults-only beaches. These short cruises can be combined with a Disneyworld vacation. In the late spring, the Wonder will sail through the Panama Canal and remain on the West Coast alternating sailings to Alaska in summer and the Mexican Riviera in winter. The newest ship, Disney Dream, will take over the short Bahamian cruises. The Disney Magic will do 7-day Caribbean sailings alternating east and west, before heading to the Mediterranean for the summer. Another new ship, Disney Fantasy, is due to set sail in 2012.
While both the Wonder and Magic offer a 200-foot Mickey Mouse water slide, the new Disney Dream goes above and beyond, literally, with the “Aquaduck” watercoaster. An industry first, part roller coaster, part water slide, the “Aquaduck” consists of a clear acrylic tube that totals 2 and a half football fields in length. But it’s not straight; it winds around the top deck, up and down, through a stretch of river rapids and even extends over the side of the ship, 150 feet above the water. A two-person raft is pushed forward at 20 feet per second by water pressure. The ride is free, and if children do not meet the 48-inch tall requirement, there’s always the tamer kids-only water slide.
New stage shows are featured on the Dream, as well as a “Pirates IN the Caribbean” costume party and expanded fireworks set to music. The Dream’s horn plays the second line of the theme song, “makes no difference who you are.” So now if two Disney ships pass each other at sea, the Dream answers the first line of “When you wish upon a star.”
Disney’s rotational dining continues with three newly designed dining rooms, Animator’s Palate, Royal Palace, and Enchanted Garden. The Garden’s paintings and flowers magically transform day into night. This restaurant is also the site of the nightly grand chocolate buffet. In addition to the adults-only restaurant Palo, the Dream also features a specialty French adults-only restaurant named Remy, after the little chef in “Ratatouille.” Of course there’s the lido buffet, Cabanas, and a poolside snack option for burgers, pizza, wraps, and salads.
Public spaces feature “Enchanted Art” with framed screens that have guest-activated animation — for example a butterfly flying across a scene from “Bambi.” Another industry first is available for interior cabins only. Virtual portholes show actual footage from cameras fore and aft on the ship onto flat screen “portholes.” The seascapes can be turned off if you wish, but you might miss Mickey in a pirate ship or the starfish from “Finding Nemo” swim by.
In addition to the many children’s programs, the Dream offers a spa for teens ages 13 to 17. Adults have their own play area on deck 4, with bars and clubs, including a “Sky Bar” whose faux windows (actually seven 65-inch LCD screens) feature cityscapes from London to Tokyo. The locales change every day, and feature real time day to night transitioning. Of course, the main spa remains an adults-only area.
Cruise Port Travel is your local accredited travel agency in Payson. We can advise you on cruise or land vacations, independent or adventure travel. Visit our website, www.travelpayson.com and check under “blog spot” for past articles from The Rim Review. Call (928) 472-7878 for an appointment for a personal and professional consultation.