The new Disney Dream has a water ride, the AquaDuck, that propels guests through a clear tube that loops out over the edge of the ship. It has two interactive game floors that parents want to play on. too; a 3-D theater that screens Disney films; “virtual portholes” in windowless cabins that stream real-time views of the ocean; “enchanted art” that comes to life when someone walks by; a spa for teens; video screens where Crush from “Finding Nemo” has two-way conversations with kids over dinner, and a dance club where teens can be the deejay.
The creativity and high-tech gadgetry on Disney Cruise Line’s new ship make it clear that bringing a few characters on board – whether they’re Mickey and Donald (Disney), Shrek and Princess Fiona (Royal Caribbean), or SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer (Norwegian) – is only the beginning of creating a cruise for families with young children.
“This space is all about magic and pixie dust,” Lysa Migliorati, an Imagineer – a member of Disney’s creative team – said as she showed off the Oceaneer Club, one of the kid zones. But she could have been talking about the whole ship, which made its inaugural cruise a few weeks ago.
It’s not that other cruise lines aren’t providing increasingly creative entertainment for kids – they are. But they’re following Disney’s lead, and nowhere is the child-oriented creativity as deeply ingrained as it is on this new ship. If executives of other lines thought they were catching up, Disney has just sprinted way out in front again with its first new ship since 1998.
But with a Disney cruise ship, the question is never whether there’s enough fun for kids. It’s whether there’s enough for adults.
Dates for adults; fun for kids
With that in mind, the Disney Dream – which is 40 percent larger than its sister ships – devotes a substantial chunk of real estate to grown-up fun. While Disney’s two older ships have spaces that are off-limits to children, adults-only areas on the Dream are more expansive. They include a bar/nightclub complex, two extra-fee restaurants, spa, pool, sundecks and an Italian coffee bar.
The idea, said cruise line spokesman Jason Lasecki, is to give adults the opportunity for a date night (or several) while Disney entertains the youngsters.