A Review compiled and re-edited by “CruisewithMike”
Since the arrival (click here to see) and christening of the Brand New Disney “Dream” has taken place in a dockside early morning ceremony complete with a Disney Parade and fireworks in Mid January. She took her first passengers (mainly cruise line, media, and travel dignitaries) on a two-night preview cruise. Click here for a overview of her state of the art features
The 130,000-ton, 2,500-passenger cruise liner — the line’s first new ship in more than a decade — will launch on the vessel’s official maiden voyage for the first of her revenue paying passengers on January 26th.
Billed as the most high-tech cruise ship ever built, the Dream is chock full of such new-for-cruising wonders as inside cabins with “virtual portholes” offering a real-time view of the sea, “enchanted art” pieces in hallways that come alive for passers-by; and a restaurant where an animated Crush from Finding Nemo converses with diners.
Fans of Disney’s trademark entertainment also will find three Disney-themed, Broadway-style musicals on rotation in the Dream’s state-of-the-art, 1,340-seat Walt Disney Theatre; a Pirates of the Caribbean-themed deck-top pool party; as well as the largest fireworks display at sea.
What’s it like to be aboard the Dream? The Cruise Log (Gene Sloan of USA TODAY) plans expansive live coverage from the ship over the three days following the christening event, from a “Dream team” of reporters from USA TODAY and sister news outlet Florida Today as well as USA TODAY Travel Alliance members Ralph Grizzle of AvidCruiser.com, Anita Dunham-Potter of ExpertCruiser.com and Peter Knego of MaritimeMatters.com. So you may wish to check out their reports!
From the Outside:
Sporting her official Disney Colors of Black, White, Red, and Gold the Disney Dream is a feast for the eyes.
At first glance this ship boasts everything from the Dream’s much-ballyhooed “AquaDuck” see video (by clicking here) for a real time demonstration ride, water coaster(that actually extends outside and over the railings of the top deck) — a cruise ship first — to the “magical portholes” in inside cabins that offer a real-time view of the outside of the ship. The ship also features all of the modern day expected accoutrements, putt-putt, multiple swimming pools, as well as an outdoor Mega Screen Cinema venue under the stars!!!
Let’s take a tour of the inside of the ship:
Bedroom Talk: Got your attention didn’t I?
Does Disney have the best-designed cabins at sea? I think the answer has to be a resounding YES, to the question. While some luxury lines offer swankier rooms with higher-thread-count linens, higher-end toiletries and other trappings of the wealthy, but no other line delivers accommodations as perfectly tailored to its target market (in this case, families) as Disney. And kindly remember that you are not paying the prices that come with that of a luxury cruise either.
Rooms that can sleep more than four people are a rarity on many ships, but not on the “Dream”, as Disney understands that larger families often want to be together rather than split among multiple cabins. A wide range of the 1,250 rooms on the “Dream” can sleep up to five people, from pricey suites to more regular run-of-the-mill oceanview cabins. Why even the inside rooms have come with a view. Bet you didn’t know that. Yes, the interior rooms are equipped with what is called a “virtual pothole” click here to view. While at sea children (of all ages) are entertained by animated tug boats, starfishes, and other marine characters that enteract with the passengers as if they were getting a glimpse of the outside world (from the character’s viewpoint of course). And when arriving at ports or other points of interest the crew can turn on the ships equipped on board hi-def web cams that give the passengers an insight on what is actually happening outside. Cool Stuff Disney!!
Here’s the 299-square-foot “deluxe family oceanview stateroom”. It can sleep up to five. It has a queen-size bed, a sofa that pulls out into a bed and a hidden-in-the-ceiling-until-you-need-it pull-down bed (if you’re not looking, you won’t even know it’s there). Everything about the room is well thought-out: Lights are just where you want them and the perfect brightness; hanging closets are deep enough to hold a large man’s (like me) dinner jacket without bending it sideways (one of my biggest pet peeves on a number of newer ships); there’s plenty of storage space; and the beds aren’t truncated or rounded at the end to save a few inches (an unfortunate trend at many lines). These all seem like simple things, but you’d be surprised at how many lines are running aground lately when it comes to their room layouts and designs.
Well SHIVER ME TIMBERS!! The most brilliant design element of the Dream’s cabins is the presence of two bathrooms, a trademark of the Disney Cruise Line from its beginning. Nearly all of the Dream’s cabins have both a bathroom containing a sink and toilet, and a second bathroom with a sink and shower/tub combination, and each is a cleverly-designed, with an everything-in-its-place marvel of efficiency. As someone with three teen- and pre-teen girls who says they are always battling for bathroom mirror face time, the appeal of such a dual bathroom arrangement is immediately apparent. Also appreciated is the excellent above-sink bathroom lighting; large above-sink mirror (complete with built-in circular shaving/make-up mirror); uncluttered sink top, and well-placed glass shelving.
Here’s yet another new twist you’ll find on Disney “Dream” She features two Wave Phones in every cabin, along with one charger. Use of the phones is included in the cost of the Disney cruise.
It’s a really nice touch, whether you’re trying to coordinate a meeting with colleagues on a preview cruise or getting a big group to the same seats in the theater.
Bring the portable phone with you, and you can make onboard calls from anywhere on the ship. Wave Phones are also supposed to work on Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island, some passengers were unable to get service on the innaugural cruise stop there. Parents with kids in the youth clubs are required to carry the phones in case they need to be contacted. (“Little Billy won’t stop crying and calling for his blue blanket. Please come and collect him.”) You can also send text messages. (Stop crying little Billy, mommy’s coming.) You can even set alarms on the phone. (“It’s time to pick up little Billy.”) One small gripe: The phone feels very chintzy. Just don’t lose or damage it, as Mr. Mickey will add 250 clams to your on board account.
The Animator’s Palate includes a visit from Crush from the movie ‘Finding Nemo,’ who converses with passengers. I just have to applaud Disney yet again for this feature, which is really COOL! This restaurant on the Disney Dream that is as much about entertainment as it is about food. The eatery, notably, transforms during the course of a meal into an underwater wonderland in which an animated Crush from the Disney/Pixar movie Finding Nemo appears around the room (via a bit of high-tech Disney magic) and converses with diners. So much for no TV while eating diner. Remember, you are (and the kids too) supposed to be on vacation, so just keep it REAL, Moms and Dads.
Is Animator’s Palate a winner? The quick answer: Yes, with a caveat. Several prominent cruise writers on board already are complaining that Crush’s fun-loving banter is too loud and intrusive for diners, making it hard to hold a conversation with table mates or enjoy the meal. “We couldn’t hear ourselves speak,” one said. But, dude (as Crush would say), that’s missing the point. This isn’t a place you go to have a quiet meal with a date. This is a show, and one squarely aimed at the ship’s key demographic of families with little kids. The toddler to pre-teen set will delight at the site of Crush and other Finding Nemo characters not only popping up on the walls around them but talking back to them while they’re eating. No worries if the chicken nuggets get a bit cold.
Cuisine-wise, there have been no complaints with Animator’s Palate. Adults can order a mushroom risotto starter; salad and veal dish that, if anything, all seem to be a notch up in sophistication from what’s found in the main dining rooms of competing big ship lines such as Royal Caribbean. And check this out, the ships waitstaff servers get a Cruise Log gold medal, for calling each of the people at their tables by name when presenting each dish and engaging well with all of the diners. What a Novel Idea!!
The overall opinion of this ship is that it is quite amazing. Breath-taking appointments and decors throughout the ship. From the elegant chandeliers, to the awesome entryways, foyers, and mezzanines. It is best described as fine (or nicer) than many of the ships sailing today. Especially in those cruise lines considered as “Mass Market” such as Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival (to name but a few). The real over-the-top features in certain areas, venues, and services on board appear to be geared towards the younger (whether literally or “at heart”) seafarers.
If there is a flaw in the high-tech Crush performance, (as there has been one such criticism as stated earlier) it’s not that the animated turtle interacts too much with passengers, but too little. Tables situated towards the center of the room, are too far (away and) out of shouting distance, apparently, for Crush to be able to be engaged. While he can be seen talking to other diners near the edges of the room, those further away never catch his eye. So just when you think the show was really going to get going, it was over. I am sure that Disney will work to get this fixed.
So what’s next for the Disney Cruise Line design team now that it’s unveiled the Disney Dream? See what Disney president and CEO Bob Iger said during a one-on-one sit-down interview on the ship with Gene Sloan of USA Today http://usat.ly/gDAff9 . Meanwhile, just in case you missed it the first read, take a demonstration ride on the Aqua Duck water coaster in action. Here is a link for that. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gruXtH-4a8M
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THAT’S ALL (FOR NOW) FOLKS!!
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