Monday 9 September 2013

DISNEY DREAM: a cruise ship where dreams are made and  found                 

When my grown-up daughters advised me that they wanted to go on a cruise on the Disney Dream cruise ship, I was just as excited as they were. I had heard from friends that it was a great cruise ship for people of all ages. Although it is designed for young children and teenagers, there are many activities that are available for adults also. If fact, I met seniors whose children have families of their own and these seniors were on board the ship without their children or their children’s families. There are places on the ship where only people over 18 can be found such as a pool area for adults only.

It is difficult to explain the food and the dining areas because even the word, ‘excellent’ wouldn’t do them justice. The Disney Dream features a buffet that offers fresh foods with an impressive variety. There were healthy options at each stop.  The buffet area is called the Cabana and it is shaped like a horseshoe so you can begin at one end of the horseshoe and work your way to the centre. Or you can work your way from the other end and finish at the centre. This way you don’t have to wait in one long line. There are three main dining rooms and on a four-night trip, we were assigned to eat at one of them the first night we were on board and the second night, we ate at the second one and the last two nights we ate at the third one. They are as fancy as any high-class dining room that can be seen in the finest restaurants you will find anywhere. 

The staterooms are great. Most of the staterooms are all the same size and have verandas. My wife and I had one such stateroom and my oldest daughter and her husband had the stateroom next to ours. There were two inside doors that connected our staterooms. Our verandah and their verandah were separated with a steel barrier but the barrier could be adjusted so that we could cross into each other’s veranda. In the staterooms, there is a small room for the toilet and a sink and another room for the bathtub/shower and sink. There is also a pull-out couch and an overhead bed that can be pulled down from the ceiling if there are more than two people in the stateroom.

Let me say that although we didn’t meet the entire crew of 1,500, those that we did meet and dealt with were superb. They treated every one of us as if we were all kings and queens. 

The ship has a feature I hadn’t seen in other cruise ships my wife and I sailed on. For every adult passenger and for older teenagers, we each had a hand-held phone that we could carry with us when we were in different parts of the ship. This way, each passenger can keep in touch with the members of their families or friends while on board the ship. Even when the ship spent a day at Castaway Cay, we could carry our phones with us so that we could still be in contact with the other members of our families whether or not they were on board the ship or on the island.

The Island is Disney's private port-of-call paradise and it is in the Gulf of Mexico. It is reserved exclusively for guests on Disney Cruise Line Bahamian and Caribbean cruise vacations. On this island, guests enjoy tropical leisure activities, such as snorkeling, boating, swimming and sunbathing. There are a number of beaches on the island and you can take a shuttle (which is free) to any of the beaches. And they have places on the island where you can eat all you want at any time of your choosing which of course is free.

The ship has a hot tub and pool for the children and the adults caring for them and a hot tub and pool specifically for adults and anyone over 18. The water isn’t cold in any of the pools.

There is a very interesting feature on board the ship that many passengers participated in. It is called the AquaDuck Water Slide.  This elevated water coaster is the first of its kind at sea. You lay back on a rubber raft, hold onto the hand grips and away you go being carried by water rushing at a high speed along the enclosed see-through acrylic tube as it swerves and dips along the length of its 765 feet to the end of the ride. It is a thrilling journey that takes you up, down, around and even off the side of the ship and through the forward funnel and down a span of 4 decks. It is a ride you will never ever forget—that is if you haven’t died from a heart attack during the ride.  

Needless to say, you don’t have to bring your cabin towels with you at the pools or at the beach at Castaway Cay as there are towels located in those areas. Further, in the pool areas on the ship, there are machines where you can get your soft drinks and pour them into a large paper cup and there is also ice cream and you can have all you want of either as they are free.

Each child is given a water-resistant electronic bracelet that lets counselors track their whereabouts. And when they are ready to be picked up, a counselor calls the parents on their mobile phone or on the phone in their stateroom.

There are specific areas for small children and other areas for teenagers and of course other areas only for adults and teenagers over 18. The Small World Nursery is for children three months to three years; Oceaneer’s Club & Oceaneer’s Lab is for children 4-11; Edge is for Tweens 11-13 and Vibe is for teens 14-17.  Andy's Room is a life-size recreation that brings Toy Story characters to life. Remember, this ship is geared for all ages and not just for kids. And as most people are well aware, there is a kid in all of us.

The kid’s favorite characters from Toy Story, princesses, Goofy, Donald Duck and the Mouse himself are seen greeting the kids a great deal of the time. The adults are treated to music and singers singing up-to-date songs in the main atrium night after night.   

The entertainment on board the ship is really a delight. On Pirate Night, there were fireworks exploding above us. Another cruise ship moved in closer to us so that their guests could see the fireworks. All of us were given patches and other piratical odds and ends to make us all appear as pirates.

If you are in the mood for singing and dancing, on Pirate Night, the kid’s pool turns into a dance floor and everyone on the floor and the decks swing and wiggle to the tunes blaring through the surrounding speakers.

There was one feature of the ship that really stood out. It is the décor. If you think a palace has superb décor, what you will see on the Disney Dream will make a palace look like an old run-down hotel.  Gold, glass, mirrors—WOW!

The Walt Disney Theatre is large enough to hold half of the passengers at each showing so they have two showings so that everyone gets to see the shows. The shows are incredibly created to dazzle everyone that sees them. The singing is fantastic which is accompanied by recorded music that must have been performed by a symphonic orchestra.

I am 80 years of age and I haven’t had this much fun since the day when the government ended prohibition back in the 1930s. My five grandchildren were so excited while on the ship, I haven’t seen in them such wide smiles on their faces since they were born. My two daughters were equally pleased as was my wife and our surviving son-in-law.                                    

As I said earlier on this piece, if you dream of wonderful things and you want to experience your dream also, then sail on the Disney Dream cruise ship and venture into your dream. Alas, when you finally leave the ship, your dream will end but not the memories of your experience you had on that incredibly fascinating ship. They will remain with you to your dying day and with luck, it will be the last thing in your brain to go.                         

NEXT ARTICLE Wednesday, September 11th

MEMORIES: Can we depend on them to be accurate? 



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