You can dream with Disney
Date Posted: 01/03/2011
John Honeywell joined the inaugural celebrations in Florida to sample the new Disney Dream.
With its elegant profile, long raking bow, over-sized twin red funnels, and its lovingly-created art deco interiors, Disney Dream looks every inch a classic liner.
Look closely, though, and a few unique differences begin to show. The lifeboats are yellow, instead of the more traditional day-glo orange; Disney petitioned for a change in international law to allow them to comply with the colours of Mickey Mouse’s outfit.
And atop the ship is something that certainly would not have graced a ship of the line. It’s AquaDuck, a 765-foot thrill ride water coaster which will remain the only one at sea until Dream’s twin, the Disney Fantasy, launches next year.
While other ships emphasise their devotion to glamour, nightlife or adventure, the Dream’s theme is obviously its younger passengers, those who will fill the extra berths and pull-down bunk beds in the cabins. There are likely to be at least 1,500 children on board at any one time, all clamouring to have a picture taken with their favourite Disney character.
Almost one whole deck is devoted to the kids’ clubs, with the youngest taken care of in the It’s A Small World Nursery. For a fee of $6 (£4) an hour, tots up to three can be left here even while parents go ashore.
The Oceaneer Club, for three to ten-year-olds, has a unique play-floor for computer games controlled by the players’ feet, and a series of annexes themed on Disney movies such as Toy Story, Monsters Inc, Peter Pan and Finding Nemo.
The Tween Club for 11 to 13-year-olds occupies the forward funnel – it’s a dummy, effectively a three-storey building in the middle of the ship. Older teenagers have swipe card-controlled access to their own space, indoors and outside, in the ship’s bow. No adults allowed here, so they can play computer games, learn to become a DJ, or practise their chat-up lines in the splash pool and spa baths.
Adults have their own playground; The District houses the 687 sports bar – named after the hull’s shipyard reference number - the Pink champagne bar, complete with flying elephants, and the Evolution disco. They can relax in the 16,000 square foot Senses spa and salon, with a calming Rainforest area filled with steam rooms, saunas and hydrotherapy.
The 1,340-seat theatre, with four large private boxes, stages spectacular shows packed full of lively Disney characters and sing-along tunes. Feature films, many in 3D, are shown in the 399-seat Buena Vista cinema which has its own popcorn kiosk at the entrance. Bingo is among the family fun in the D-Lounge, but that’s as strong as the gambling gets; whereas many cruise ships devote acres of space to their lucrative casinos, there are no gaming tables or fruit machines on Disney’s ships.
The highlight of the entertainment and activities is the Aquaduck. Riders sitting in inflatable rafts are propelled by master blaster technology and 10,000 gallons of fresh water every minute, looping out over the side of the ship 160 feet above the sea and swirling round for a lazy river splashdown a minute later.
It’s a different experience at night, with the tube illuminated by thousands of coloured LEDs, and especially on Pirate Nights, when Captain Jack Sparrow abseils down from the funnel to do buccaneering battle, and the only fireworks display at sea blasts noisily into the starry sky.
Disney ships operate a rotational dining system, with three completely different main restaurants which passengers visit on successive nights, their waiters travelling with them
The Enchanted Garden is modelled on the gardens of Versailles, and the backlit ceiling changes from day to night. Royal Palace is packed with Disney princesses - Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty - and there are glass slippers, roses, and poisoned apples hidden throughout the decor.
Animator’s Palate, tops them all; this is where Crush the Turtle, from the Finding Nemo film, swims around on giant 103-inch TV screens and visits each table to greet and entertain his guests.
There’s also an a la carte Italian speciality restaurant, Palo, on Deck 11, and next door is Remy - modelled on the French restaurant from the film Ratatouille. Menus devised by top American chef Scott Hunnel and the Michelin two-star chef Arnaud Lallement from Reims justify the $75-a-head cover charge, the most expensive at sea. That’s just for the food, by the way; selected wines to match the tasting menu come for an extra $99.
Disney Cruise Line can offer the flexibility to work with groups to deliver special experiences.
The minimum stateroom count for a ‘group booking’ is 16 adult full-fare guests occupying eight staterooms.
The beauty of group travel on the Disney Dream and Disney’s other ships is in its flexibility. For social clubs, family reunions, affinity groups or multi-generational travel, there are a variety of experiences and amenities to make the holiday memorable.
Private group gatherings can be catered for with anything from a fresh fruit and champagne toast moments after boarding, or a reception in one of the many entertainment and dining venues, complete with Disney characters.
Big groups could have use of the Buena Vista cinema or the Walt Disney Theatre for presentations and groups in the 600-person range could even have a private dining rotation, allowing them to completely take over a whole restaurant each evening.
Groups booking all of the ship’s suites and concierge staterooms can privatise the concierge area to create an ultra-exclusive oasis in its own gated enclave. The restricted-access concierge level has a private lounge and sundeck, upgraded amenities and the services of a dedicated concierge staff.
Disney Dream sails three, four and five-night voyages from Port Canaveral to Nassau and Disney’s private resort island of Castaway Cay, where those stingrays are waiting to welcome snorkellers. Many passengers - especially those flying from the UK - combine a cruise with a hotel stay at the Orlando theme parks.
Sister ship Disney Fantasy, which will be launched in March 2012, will sail alternating seven-night itineraries to the east and west Caribbean islands.
Disney Cruise Line: