Disney Cruise Line Launches Dream

With the new Disney Dream, Disney Cruise Line leaps into the 21st century By: Kenneth Shapiro
The top deck of the Dream is ringed by the AquaDuck Water Coaster. // © 2011 Disney Cruise Line
The top deck of the Dream is ringed by the AquaDuck Water Coaster. // © 2011 Disney Cruise Line

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The Details

Disney Cruise Line
www.disneytravelagents.com

Disney Dream Facts

Passengers: 4,000
Crew: 1,458
Staterooms:      1,250
Staterooms inside:     150
Staterooms ocean view:      199
Staterooms verandah:      901
Suites:     21
Restaurants and lounges:  21
Itinerary: The Disney Dream will sail alternating three- and four-night cruises from Port Canaveral, Fla., to the Bahamas and Disney's private island, Castaway Cay. During the summer, the ship will sail four- and five-night itineraries with two stops at Castaway Cay.

In January, Disney Cruise Line inaugurated the Disney Dream, its first new ship in more than a decade. Naturally, the introduction of Disney's first ship of the 21st century -- especially from a brand with such loyal followers -- was accompanied by widespread interest and excitement. After experiencing the Dream firsthand, in this case at least, the hype is justified as the ship provides a major upgrade for Disney.

State-of-the-Art Attractions
In building the Dream, Disney Cruise Line made sure it delivered for its core audience of families in a big way. Passengers will be amazed by the sheer volume of possibilities and amenities available to kids -- let alone by the attention to detail.

As one might expect, the kids' clubs on the Dream are some of the most elaborate at sea, featuring dedicated space for a range of ages (3 months-3 years; ages 3-10; ages 11-13; and ages 14-17). Each space is equipped with the latest -- and coolest -- gadgets, innovations and play structures. In Disney's Oceaneer Club (ages 3 to 10), for example, the most popular feature was the Magic PlayFloor. A first in the cruise industry, this huge interactive floor allows children to engage in group activities where their movements determine what takes place on the floor around them. For instance, on one visit, a group of kids played a game where they "kicked" a virtual ball back and forth across the screen in the floor.

One of the most popular attractions on the Dream is the AquaDuck Water Coaster, which takes guests seated on an inflatable raft in a water-filled tube around the outside of the top deck -- and even over the edge of the ship -- for a truly unique ride. Other onboard options for kids on the Dream include two swimming pools (and a third for adults only); Nemo's Reef Splash Zone, a water-play area; a jumbo LED screen that shows classic Disney movies throughout the day; and Goofy's Sports Deck, with miniature golf, basketball, volleyball and two virtual sports simulators.

The entertainment options don't stop once passengers go indoors, either. The Dream's Buena Vista Theatre shows first-run movies -- including movies in 3D, a first at sea -- while an expanded 1,340-seat Walt Disney Theatre features live musicals. There is also the Midship Detective Agency, which is basically a very clever scavenger hunt utilizing clues hidden in digitally animated artwork throughout the ship set to a private-eye theme.

Even some of the dining venues feature special entertainment for kids. For instance, during dinner at the Animator's Palate (which is completely redesigned from similar venues on Disney's previous ships), the monitors in the restaurant are transformed into virtual "windows" that look out onto an animated underwater world while Crush, the laidback sea turtle from the film "Finding Nemo," swims from window to window, engaging guests in real-time interactive conversations.

For Adults Too
While the amenities and activities for kids are going to get the lion's share of attention, and rightly so, the Dream has plenty that will appeal to adults as well.

First, in addition to being very comfortable and modern, the staterooms all feature a separate (and by cruise standards roomy) commode and bath/shower, which is great for families traveling together. Also, the cabins feature wireless phone service that allows passengers to take their stateroom phone with them all over the ship -- making it easy to call and check in on little ones at the kids' clubs, for instance.

Disney took fine dining a step further on the Dream as well, with a variety of adults-only options. Remy is the line's first-ever premier dining option, where guests can sample French-inspired cuisine from two award-winning chefs, and Palo is a redesigned version of one of Disney's signature restaurants that features the cuisine of northern Italy. Nestled between Palo and Remy is Meridian, an adults-only lounge for pre- or post-dinner cocktails.

Finally, the Disney Dream features an adults-only (18 years and older) section of the ship called The District. This area
includes the District Lounge, with live piano music; 687, a modern pub; Pink, a stylish upscale cocktail lounge with an emphasis on champagne; Skyline, a "sky bar" with ever-changing virtual views of city skylines; and Evolution, a nightclub.
For those who are more concerned with wellness than well drinks, there is the Senses Spa & Salon, with 17 private treatment rooms and an extensive menu of services.

With so much to explore and experience on the Dream, the most difficult part for passengers on the ship's three- and four-night cruises from Port Canaveral, Fla., to the Bahamas, is going to be time management. Fortunately, the Disney Fantasy -- the Dream's sister ship -- joins the fleet in 2012, giving families yet another excuse to sail off to Neverland.

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