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Dream Come TrueFebruary 15, 2011 By: Susan Young Travel Agent
|Ocean views are even available in Disney Dream’s inside staterooms, courtesy of virtual portholes.|
Disney’s newest ship strengthens the brand and increases fleet flexibility.
The new 130,000-ton Disney Dream certainly delivers the new “wow-factor” features guests seek in a new ship—from highly creative interior staterooms with a virtual porthole to the 765-foot-long AquaDuck water coaster that spans four decks and zooms around the top of the ship.
“Being able to talk ‘new features’ to our clients helps the agent stay top of mind when consumers are thinking about a vacation,” said Michelle Fee, co-founder and CEO, Cruise Planners. Fee, who stood in the atrium of Disney Dream, watching kids and adults alike pose enthusiastically with Minnie and Mickey, also acknowledged that nothing beats that classic “Disney magic.”
Travel Agent met Fee onboard the Disney Dream during its christening and a preview cruise last month; we were among 3,000 travel agents, VIPs and news media present. A few gleanings about the line and its newest ship:
Entertainment Core: Disney Dream, accommodating 4,000 passengers when third and fourth berths are included, is Disney’s first new ship in more than a decade and only the third ship in its history. Disney has moved slowly and methodically in building its cruise brand.
|The newest ship in Disney’s fleet has plenty of onboard entertainment options for teens.|
Randy Garfield, executive vice president of worldwide sales and travel operations, Disney Destinations, and president of the Walt Disney Travel Company, emphasized that Disney was founded as an entertainment company back in the 1920s. So agents may say this to clients: Disney isn’t just a cruise line that puts on entertainment but rather an entertainment company that has developed and is expanding a cruise vacation product. “Cruise lines are not all the same anymore, each has its own distinct personality,” said Fee. “It seems that Disney Cruise Line has cut out [its] space in the market.”
FLEET Expansion Broadens Itineraries: When Disney launched in 1998, it built Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, both 83,000-ton, 2,700-passenger (considering third and fourth berth) vessels. While those moderately sized ships are quite popular and often command higher price points than other premium products, a two-ship fleet has limited Disney’s ability to expand itineraries globally. But with Disney Dream, the line gains flexibility.
The new ship will operate three-, four- and five-day Bahamas voyages from Port Canaveral, FL. Those short voyages are often packaged with a pre- or post-cruise hotel stay at Walt Disney World Resort in central Florida. The new ship’s arrival in Port Canaveral also allows Disney Wonder to operate the line’s first Alaska cruises this summer as well as other West Coast sailings from Los Angeles. Disney Magic will sail Caribbean and European cruises this year. In addition, Disney Dream’s sister ship Disney Fantasy will launch in 2012.
Razzle-Dazzle Draws: Industry “firsts” always help draw new cruisers. In that context, Disney Dream’s AquaDuck water coaster is a winner. The coaster’s tubular water track is more than two football fields long. High-powered water jets push guests upward and forward at 20 feet per second, as they traverse 335 feet of river rapids and other thrills.
The tubing wraps around a large area—encompassing both sides of the ship on the top deck. Portions of the tubing are translucent so AquaDuck riders may peer outside, while others are enclosed. One thrilling section swings 13 feet out over the side of the ship with the ocean 150 feet below. This ride, with a height requirement of 48 inches, is a hoot—almost as much for the passive guests sitting on deck to watch as the riders. Smaller kids may head for the colorful Nemo’s Reef Splash Zone with pop jets, bubblers and fountains for whimsical water play.
Beyond the water venues, Disney Dream has children’s spaces that span nearly an entire deck. At Disney’s Oceaneer Club, kids can play among characters from Toy Story in Andy’s Room; dive under the sea with Nemo and friends; or visit Tinker Bell’s fairy forest. At Disney’s Oceaneer Lab, essentially a seafaring adventure, children play in a room filled with maps, maritime instruments and swashbuckling artifacts; kids may experiment with animation, pretend to be a pop star or navigate ships through digital seas. Both venues offer interactions with such animated characters as Crush from Finding Nemo.
While Disney has always been recognized for its exceptional children’s programming, Disney Dream excels with expansive spaces for teens (13-17) and “tweens” (11-12). Teens swipe their card to enter the 9,000-square-foot Vibe, an exclusive indoor/outdoor space for them with a massive video screen, dance floor and more. Separately, the new Chill Spa inside the Senses Spa is just for teens; it has two treatment rooms, showers and an eating area. For “tweens,” the loft-style Edge inside the forward funnel has plenty of diversions—from notebook computers to photo postcard production and from a dance floor to a massive video wall. Interestingly, the “tweens” may look out, but those outside cannot see in.
For adults, The District is a collection of smaller, intimate lounges. One new dazzling option is Skyline, a chic metropolitan sky lounge with signature martinis. The bar’s backdrop is seven 65-foot LCD screens that depict nighttime in such cities as Paris or New York.
Accommodations: Eighty-eight percent of the 1,250 staterooms on the Disney Dream are outside rooms, and of those, 90 percent have a private verandah. For larger families and groups traveling together, there are 500 connecting doors that adjoin staterooms.
Making inside cabins visually interesting without an ocean view isn’t easy, even on a new ship. But Disney Dream’s inside staterooms have an innovative virtual porthole on the wall behind the bed. This large porthole space shows real-time, high-definition video of what’s happening just outside the ship.
For upper-end clients, Disney has an enticing new option—a Concierge area for suite guests or those in adjoining concierge balcony staterooms. Here, your clients will discover an exclusive Concierge Lounge with large-screen TV, complimentary food and beverage items, and exclusive access to a private sun deck.
The largest suite onboard is the Concierge Royal Suite with Verandah (Category R) at 1,781 square feet. There are two such suites onboard; they have concierge service, a living room, media library, dining salon, pantry, wet bar, several walk-in closets and a private verandah with a whirlpool hot tub. A separate bedroom includes a queen-sized bed and the unit also has a pull-down double bed, a pull-down single bed, two bathrooms, a rain shower and whirlpool bath tubs.
The other suite type is the Concierge One-Bedroom Suite with Verandah (Category T) at 622 square feet. Agents have 19 of these suites to book; each sleeps up to five. This suite comes with a queen-size bed, living area with double convertible sofa, pull-down bed, walk-in closets, two bathrooms, rain shower, whirlpool tub, private verandah and concierge service. In addition, 20 Concierge Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah (Category V) at 306 square feet connect to the one-bedroom suites.
Dining Updates: Disney has always had an innovative dining concept, where guests rotate dining rooms—same waiter, same table mates but a different restaurant nightly. That keeps the kids interested and engaged. Yet it also delivers the fixed table experience with familiar waiters that many families want and need.
Rotational restaurants onboard Disney Dream include Animator’s Palate, Royal Palace inspired by such classic films as Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, and Enchanted Garden, a whimsical, casual restaurant inspired by the gardens of Versailles; the latter transforms from day to night as time progresses. In addition, Disney has an adults-only restaurant, Palo, and new for Disney Dream, a premier dining option called Remy.
With a stunning ocean-view setting, Remy has art nouveau decor and gourmet French cuisine. Clients who are foodies will love this place, given the menus created by Chef Arnaud Lallement from L’Assiette Champenoise, a Michelin two-star restaurant just outside Reims, France, and Chef Scott Hunnel from Victoria & Albert’s at Walt Disney World Resort.
|The AquaDuck water coaster is more than two football fieldslong and wraps around bothsides of the ship’s top deck.|