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More than a Dream: Disney’s Newest Ship DebutsJanuary 21, 2011 By: Susan Young
Nobody does fantasy any better than Disney Cruise Line, as witnessed by 3,000 VIP guests, travel agents and news media who attended the christening ceremony for the new 130,000-ton Disney Dream at Port Canaveral, FL, on Wednesday.
Tinker Bell appeared and waved her magic wand to begin the festivities. Beauty danced with the Beast, as did Cinderella with her Prince. Mary Poppins dropped in for an appearance. Other Disney characters clapped, swayed, danced and entertained.
Captain Jack Sparrow and his band of pirates “marauded” onto the stage as their pirate ship prowled offshore waters. The marauders fired a pseudo cannon that sent sparklers sailing above the audience.
The U.S. Navy Band from Jacksonville, FL, marched and played patriotic songs and musical tributes. As an energetic local band took to the stage, Mickey Mouse showed he could move and groove to the latest vibes.
In a nice touch, Disney created a massive display of American flags and flags of other nations represented by the ship’s crew. At that unfolded dockside at the christening venue, cabin stewards, officers, dining room servers, maintenance workers, entertainers and cooks alike stood atop the ship and on its lower balconies – clapping and waving to those on shore.
Walt Disney was there in spirit via brief on-screen imagery and modern-day Disney executives delivered succinct speeches. “For over a decade, Disney Cruise Line has been making vacation dreams come true for millions of families and we continue that tradition today with the launch of the Disney Dream,” said Bob Iger, president and CEO, The Walt Disney Company.
Tom Staggs, chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, stressed that the addition of the Disney Dream – the third ship in its fleet -- will allow the cruise line “to extend our horizons and open up Disney cruising to more families.”
In a lighter moment that drew chuckles from the audience, Staggs warmly greeted “The Fairy Godmother” as she arrived on stage by quipping: “I haven’t seen you since I got this job.”
The highlight of the ceremony was the appearance of godmother Jennifer Hudson, an Academy Award and Grammy Award winning artist. Hudson is also a former American Idol finalist. At the beckoning of the Fairy Godmother, who was accompanied by Mickey Mouse and Staggs, Hudson was “elevated” to the stage.
In a unique historical twist, Hudson actually began her career in 2003 as a performer onboard the Disney Wonder. The audience cheered as she belted out a motivational song prior to her official christening duties.
Then, a helicopter hoisted a 16-foot-high bottle across the bow of the Disney Dream to help Hudson christen the ship in a unique fashion. The ship was officially blessed by Rev. Dr. Warren D. Langer, Jr. All in all, the christening ceremony was another classic Disney performance.
With a maximum capacity of 4,000 passengers including third and fourth berths, the Disney Dream will sail its maiden voyage from Port Canaveral on Jan. 26. This year, the ship will sail three-, four- and five-night itineraries to the Bahamas and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.
With Disney Dream handling cruises from Port Canaveral, the line will have many new itinerary options. For example, Disney is adding its first Alaska cruises this summer on Disney Wonder. In addition, Disney Fantasy, a sister ship to Disney Dream, will launch in 2012, opening up even more itinerary possibilities.
Disney Dream has 1,250 staterooms. Of those, 88 percent of those are outside accommodations. Inside staterooms have a large virtual porthole, which is a high-definition video feed of the outside sights. In Disney fashion, the live video is supplemented with brief animated appearances by such favorites as Peach the Starfish from “Finding Nemo” or even Mickey Mouse himself.
An industry first? Disney Dream has the industry’s first AquaDuck Water Coaster. It’s 765 feet in length and spans four decks. It utilizes high-powered water jets that gush 10,000 gallons of water per minute to push riders upward and forward. At one point, the water coaster sends guests 12 feet over the ship’s side in a translucent swing-out loop.
From the dining side, Remy debuts on Disney Dream. It’s for adults only and is the line’s first premier dining option with French-inspired gourmet cuisine.
Stay tuned for more updates on Disney Dream here and in the Travel Agent print edition.