The secret of the enjoyable cruise experience is not unlike having a pleasant dream: It's all about the details – and nobody details like Disney.
Currently on its maiden voyage, the Dream was launched by Disney last week from Port Canaveral, Fla., where it will depart weekly for cruises into the Bahamas.
The 4,000-passenger vessel is nearly 50 per cent bigger than Disney's previous cruise ships, the Wonder and the Magic.
In aesthetic terms, the Dream simply looks different than the other Disney cruise ships, and the competition. The exterior is decidedly art deco and instantly mindful of 1930s-era vessels. The art deco theme extends into the ship's lavish interior, right down to the smartly appointed staterooms, the two on-board theatres (The Walt Disney Theatre would be the pride of any mid-sized Canadian city) and the enormous crystal chandelier adorning the sprawling atrium.
But there again, it's the little things. That trademark Disney attention paid to seemingly minor details is seen in small ways all over the ship.
On any cruise ship, the inside staterooms are less expensive, because they lack a view of the ocean. The inside staterooms are also less expensive on the Dream, but each cabin boasts a Magical Porthole providing a real-time view as captured from a high-definition camera located elsewhere on the ship. The view switches frequently to one of four camera feeds, and of course Disney characters – Mickey, Tinker Bell, Donald, et al. – pop in to say hello from time to time.
Equally impressive is the Enchanted Art, a series of 22 pictures hung in the Dream's stairways and hallways. At first, it looks to be a regular poster or painting of a Disney film or cartoon. Stare longer than a few seconds, and the picture springs to animated life.
In some instances, when paintings are hung side by side, the animation breezes easily from one picture to the next. Guaranteed to startle the kids.
Also on the tech front: talking turtles. In the Animator's Palette, one of three large restaurants on-board, there are screens throughout showing underwater scenes and fish swimming lazily along. Enter the animated characters from Finding Nemo, including Crush the Turtle, who swims up to interact with diners. "Where you from, little dude?" seems to be his most common greeting.
Because not everyone who books a Disney cruise has children, the Dream includes a specially designed entertainment area, called District, for adults only.
Because this is Disney, of course, this does not mean adult movies or seedy booze cans. Instead, District is a series of sophisticated bars and eateries, including the District Lounge, which has live piano music and fancy cocktails.
Moving through the area, there's also the Metro Pub, a modern take on the old-fashioned pub, where guests can watch live sports on a giant plasma screen. Next is Pink, a slick cocktail bar serving wine and liquor, with the pink elephants from the Disney film Dumbo dancing gaily amid bubbles in the backlit walls.
Next in the District succession is the Skyline bar, which features a large window showcasing famous skylines from cities around the world. The showpiece venue is Evolution, which has a lighted dance floor and a pervasive butterfly motif. While the kids and their parents are asleep in the staterooms, Evolution stages cabaret and comedy shows and live musical performances – you know, the stuff that adults go to before they have kids.
THE AQUADUCK, FLIES AND FROGS
Naturally the AquaDuck – the 233-metre-long "water coaster" on the ship's top deck is the big draw for the kids, but there are other attractions. The most notable innovation takes place on the Kids Club located on Deck Five, which has a large underlit and interactive dance floor with different games for younger passengers. The most popular game on last week's media cruise was inspired by the Disney film The Princess and the Frog. Players lined the edge of the dance floor and were encouraged to stomp the floor in order for their frogs to devour multiple bugs and flies within a set time period. If nothing else, it's a good way for kids to burn off the extra calories from those buffet meals.
For more, go to disneycruise.disney.go.com