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Archive for October, 2009

Disney’s new Dream boat is full of fun and innovation

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On October - 29 - 2009

A first-of-its kind water coaster that sends guests racing above the upper decks of the ship. An animated turtle that engages children in conversation about life in the ocean. A sophisticated lounge where the sun sets over the skyline of a different world-famous city each night. When the Disney Dream debuts in early 2011, the newest ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet will bring to life these innovations and more.

dclaquaduckThe Disney Dream will take family cruising to all-new heights, embracing the spirit of innovation, magical family entertainment and immersive experiences that have made Disney Cruise Line the preeminent cruise of choice for families since 1998.

Disney Cruise Line revolutionized the cruise industry with purpose-built ships designed just for families. With the Disney Dream setting sail on Jan. 26, 2011, preparations are underway to expand the one-of-a-kind family experience, utilizing technology to enhance the world-class entertainment and legendary guest services onboard. From stem to stern, the Disney Dream will offer a cruise experience that caters to the preferences of the whole family.

dclaquaduck2“For more than a decade, passengers have filled their passports with memories sailing around the world with Disney Cruise Line,” said Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo. “With the Disney Dream joining our fleet, we’ll be able to take families to even more places they never imagined they could visit – in true Disney style.”

The Disney Dream features a remarkable interior design which provides guests with a warm and welcoming feel throughout. The ship’s design offers guests a perfect blend of elegant Art Deco style and fun-filled Disney whimsy to create one of the most spectacular ships afloat. Distinctly Disney guest features aboard the Disney Dream include:

AquaDuck Water Coaster. . .
Disney Cruise Line debuts a cruise-industry first: a shipboard water coaster … AquaDuck! Guests aboard the Disney Dream will get swept away on an exhilarating high-speed flume ride featuring twists, turns, drops, uphill acceleration and river rapids – all while traversing the upper decks of the ship.

  • AquaDuck stretches 765 feet in length – more than two and a half times the length of a football field – and spans four decks in height.
  • Guests slide 13 feet over the side of the ship in a translucent “swing out” loop allowing them to look down on the ocean 150 feet below.
  • Guests experience coaster-like thrills as high-powered water jets push them upwards and forwards at 20 feet per second.
  • AquaDuck continues through the forward funnel, encounters a 335 foot stretch of river rapids and splashes down to an end on Deck 12.
  • A Virtual Porthole for Inside Staterooms. . .
    dcldreamcabinDisney Cruise Line introduces another stateroom innovation with all inside staterooms on the Disney Dream featuring a Virtual Porthole that provides guests with a real-time view outside the ship. High-definition cameras placed on the exterior of the ship feed live video to each Virtual Porthole.

    As guests observe the impressive outside views, they may glimpse a magical surprise: animated characters such as Peach the starfish from the Disney•Pixar hit film “Finding Nemo,” or Mickey Mouse may pop by the Virtual Porthole.

    A Magical Oasis for Children. . .

    Only on a Disney Cruise Line ship can children become immersed in their favorite Disney stories with the help of caring counselors, beloved Disney characters and a sprinkling of pixie dust. The celebration of children’s creativity rises to a new level on the Disney Dream with nearly an entire deck of youth spaces designed to inspire, entertain and unlock the imagination of children. There are two main spaces for children ages three to 10:
    At Disney’s Oceaneer Club, children can:

  • Play among larger-than-life characters from Disney•Pixar’s “Toy Story” in Andy’s Room
  • Explore the Laugh Floor with lovable monsters Mike and Sully from “Monsters, Inc.”
  • Dive under the sea with Nemo and friends or visit Tinker Bell’s fairy forest
  • At Disney’s Oceaneer Lab, children feel as though they are embarking on a great seafaring adventure in a room filled with maps, maritime instruments and swashbuckling artifacts. Here, children can try their hand at animation, become a pop star or navigate ships through digital seas.

    Both venues offer magical interactions with the animated characters such as Crush, the sea turtle from the Disney•Pixar motion picture “Finding Nemo” and Stitch, the mischievous alien from “Lilo and Stitch.” The characters chat, play and joke with children in live, unrehearsed conversations from their digital undersea and intergalactic environments via 103-inch plasma screens.

    Chill-Out Zones for Tweens and Teens. . .
    Located inside the forward funnel is Edge – the lounge just for tweens (ages 11 to 13). This tween pad is filled with a multitude of hi-tech entertainment including the ability to create and star in photo postcards and video karaoke using green-screen technology.

    Teens have their own exclusive club aboard the Disney Dream with Vibe – a trendy and inviting indoor/outdoor space created especially for guests ages 14 to 17. A “teen-only” swipe card provides access to the nearly 9,000-square-foot club.

    Teens can create and edit videos, play computer games, access the onboard social media application or try their hand at spinning and mixing dance tracks. Teens have their own private outdoor deck area with chaise lounges for sunbathing, two wading pools, misters and pop jets for cooling off, and deck games such as ping-pong and foosball.

    Personal Touches with Rotational Dining. . .

    dclrestaurantDisney Cruise Line continues its innovative rotational dining concept onboard the Disney Dream with elaborately themed restaurants, distinctly Disney touches, and world-class cuisine to create a magical dining experience. Throughout the cruise, guests “rotate” through three different restaurants for dinner – with their servers accompanying them, providing guests with friendly, familiar, personalized service each night. The rotational dining restaurants include:

  • Animator’s Palate, a signature Disney Cruise Line restaurant that brings the magic of Disney animation into the dining room for a unique experience that will captivate the entire family.
  • Royal Palace, an elegant restaurant inspired by the classic Disney films “Cinderella,” “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Sleeping Beauty.”
  • Enchanted Garden, a whimsical, casual restaurant inspired by the gardens of Versailles and featuring a dining environment that magically transforms from day to night.
  • Just for Adults. . .
    On the Disney Dream, while children are having the time of their lives in the elaborately themed youth areas, adults can look forward to incomparable indulgences and relaxation with exclusive areas and offerings designed exclusively for them.

  • Adults can escape into The District, a nighttime entertainment area on the Disney Dream with five unique venues. This playground for grownups features sophisticated lounges, each with its own unique design, look, feel, and palate-pleasing delights.
  • Senses Spa & Salon offers adult tranquility with 17 private treatment rooms, lavish spa villas with indoor treatment rooms and private outdoor verandahs, and Rainforest, a special section of the spa offering the benefits of steam, heat and hydrotherapy to relax the mind and body.
  • At Palo, adult guests find epicurean excellence and an unforgettable dinner experience at sea. Every seat offers beautiful ocean vistas while a pianist softly serenades guests in an intimate restaurant setting.
  • The Disney Dream is scheduled to depart on its maiden voyage Jan. 26, 2011, and will sail alternating three- and four-night cruises to the Bahamas and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. During summer months, the ship will alternate four- and five-night itineraries with two stops at Castaway Cay. Guests can book their Disney Dream cruise beginning Nov. 9, 2009.

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    Royal Caribbean takes delivery of Oasis of the Seas

    Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On October - 28 - 2009

    She’s 1,184 feet long and weighs 225,000 gross tons and was delivered this morning in Turku, Finland to Royal Caribbean International. Not only is Oasis of the Seas the world’s biggest cruise ship, but it’s the most expensive costing around $1.9 billion.

    Even with the handover work continues on Oasis as hundreds of builders and cleaners are still putting the final touches on the ship, installing carpets along with cleaning and painting.

    Oasis is scheduled to leave Finland on Friday when it will set sail for its home port of Fort Lauderdale. The 6,360-passenger, 2,100 crew member ship will make its maiden voyage on December 1.

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    Disney’s cultured cruises for kids, in Europe

    Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On October - 27 - 2009

    For families with children, travel to Europe can be daunting. Packing and unpacking and deciding where to go and eat is more difficult with kids in tow. However, Disney Cruise Line is setting out to make it easy for families to visit Europe.

    In April, the Disney Magic will return to Europe, where it first sailed in 2007, only this time with a few new itineraries. The Magic will offer 10,11, and-12-day cruises to Scandinavia, Germany and Russia, in addition to a lineup of Mediterranean itineraries that include calls at three new ports. And in each port Disney will add its magic touch to enhance the touring experience.

    Keys to culture

    Each year cruise lines keep upping the ante on shore excursions, as passengers express more enthusiasm to spend money on experiences. Disney sees its return and expansion into the European market as an evolutionary step firmly based on a core Disney activity — storytelling.

    Unlike other cruise lines where the hotel department handles the shore excursions, Disney places their tours in the hands of the entertainment department. David Duffy, Disney Cruise Line’s creative director for entertainment and shore excursions, summed it up this way: “We’re using our storytelling expertise to tell the great and fascinating stories of the places we’re visiting at each destination.” He added that the true objective is to provide fact-based narrative rather than fairy tales.

    Indeed, the line’s return to Europe offers a treasure trove of culturally rich Italian ports such Naples, Civitavecchia (Rome) and La Spezia (Florence, Pisa, Lucca), as well as Barcelona, Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm. However, it’s the ones not normally considered children’s destinations, such as St. Petersburg, Russia and Tunis, Tunisia that are the most intriguing.

    Disney realizes that for a lot of passengers it will be their first time in Europe and well-designed shore excursions are the key to a great cruise vacation. “We make our shore excursions very kid-friendly,” said Jason Lasecki, Disney Cruise Line’s public relations director.

    “That’s what we do so well. If they know their children are well taken care of, parents have a good time.” Lasecki acknowledged the challenge for Disney is to keep the children engaged in the cultural significance of each port of call. “We’re looking for the sweet spot in each destination,” he added.

    Sweet spot or not one thing Disney insists upon for shore excursion participants is comfort. The line goes the extra mile with comfortable transportation along with adding little touches like plentiful bottled water and cool towels. They even make gelato stops during long tours to keep the kids happy. Another nice option that Disney provides at each stop is a “Port Adventure” where youth counselors from the ship whisk the kids off for an activity allowing parents and grandparents to explore a site in more detail.

    Onboard the Magic, there will be activities geared toward preparing kids for the ports, such as painting frescoes, mosaics, and Russian stacking dolls. There will also be a food tastings to familiarize the kids with what they’ll find in each port such as gelato for Italy or crepes for France.

    Tunisian mystique

    For the majority of passengers onboard the Magic, visiting Tunis, Tunisia will be the first time experiencing a Muslim country. Disney realizes this and will offer family-friendly lectures that will discuss Tunisian society and traditions.

    Once ashore, tours and activities are clearly aimed at experiencing Tunisian culture. For example, a “Treasure Hunt” shore excursion in the white-washed village of Sidi Bou Said allows families high-octane fun while at the same time discovering the ancient history of the village. Tour participants are given a map booklet with clues for a successful treasure hunt. Along the way guests visit former palaces, receive a temporary Arabic henna tattoo, fetch water from a famous communal fountain, haggle with shop owners using local currency to buy trinkets, take a pit stop in a café where the locals smoke their hookah pipes, and have their name written in Arabic by a Wiseman.

    Other tours of the area include tour of Tunis with a visit to a souk, and the Bardo Museum famous for its Roman mosaics. Also available is a visit to Carthage, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and a jaunt to a Berber village, which offers a similar atmosphere to Colonial Williamsburg except it has Arabic touches of snake charmers, camel rides, and belly dancing.

    Ciao Tuscany

    Florence is one of the most intriguing cultural centers in Western history, in which religion, philosophy, and politics played an important part in the development of the arts. So, how do you get an 8-year-old interested in all this?

    Disney developed a tour to take kids beyond just talking about history — they will actually experience it. The line is offering an exclusive “Disney Experience” at the 14th century palace — Palazzo Vecchio. “This tour is something no other cruise line has ever done in Florence,” says Duffy. The tour is actually part of a program developed for Italian school children, but Disney was able to work with the museum to come up with an English-speaking version. The tour will allow kids to enjoy works of art Michelangelo, wander through secret palace passageways, talk with actors portraying Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici or his Spanish wife Duchess Eleonora di Toledo, try on medieval clothing, and paint a fresco.

    Another exclusive tour that is only offered by Disney is a medieval parade experience in Lucca complete with drummers, troubadours, dancers, flag throwers, and a cross bow contest. For those that have always dreamed of going to cooking school in Tuscany you can do that as well. The line is offering the experience at the Torre A Cenaia winery just outside Pisa. While this excursion is more adult-oriented, kids are welcomed too. The best part about cooking school in Tuscany – eating what you’ve created and (for adults anyway) washing it down with the local vintages.

    Russian intrigue

    When the Magic heads north to the Baltics the grandeur of St. Petersburg, Russia will be the highlight for most onboard. For the first time in Disney Cruise Line history a ship will spend an overnight in port. With the added time guests will be able to delve deep into the city’s bloody 300-year history, admire the beautiful architecture of the Winter Palace and the Peterhof, or stroll along the rivers and canals.

    “The shore excursions in St. Petersburg have been two years in the making,” said Duffy. A tour of Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin is the highlight where Disney will offer an exclusive Prince and Princess Ball in the palace’s grand ballroom. Imagine all the little girls dressed up in their Belle, Cinderella, and Snow White costumes being driven to the palace’s doors in horse-drawn carriages and then dancing with Disney princess characters. “This is a very exciting time for us,” added Lasecki.

    Disney will also offer guests the opportunity to experience an evening performance of Swan Lake at the St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre. Another Disney exclusive tour will allow guests to experience a private performance at the Jacobsen Ballet School, where young dancers, ages 5 to 15, train for a career in the ballet.

    Also, no visit to St. Petersburg would be complete without a visit to one of the world’s greatest art museums- the Hermitage. The museum’s collection includes more than three million works of art and artifacts. Disney offers a chance for kids to visit and also create their own masterpieces in the museum’s Roman sculpture section giving parents more time to explore.

    The idea of heading on a family cruise often conjures up thoughts of sitting back on deck, soaking up the sunshine and splashing in the pool, but a European cruise offers something different. Cruising in this part of the world means seeing amazing sites and experiencing ancient cultures and customs. And for kids lucky enough to sail on the Disney Magic with all its family-friendly tours full of cultural enlightenment they’ll get to see that it’s a small world after all.

    If you go:

    In the Mediterranean, the Disney Magic will be based in Barcelona and offer four 10-day and four 11-day cruises in April, May, August and September 2010. Fares start at $1964 per person, based on double occupancy. Kids ages 17 and under traveling with 2 full-fare guests in the same cabin sail free on select Mediterranean sailings from April 24 through May 26, 2010 (taxes and fees not included).

    In June, July and part of August the Magic will be based out of Dover, England and offer 12-day cruises to the Baltics. Fares start at $3,649 per person, based on double occupancy. Visit Disney Cruise Line’s Web site for more details.

    Drive to your port? Carnival should be proud of itself

    Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On October - 18 - 2009

    I usually fly to a cruise vacation rather than driving. But my drive-to cruise phobia lifted the minute Carnival announced it was doing year-round cruises from Baltimore. I was truly looking forward to not having to go through the stressful security and baggage gauntlet at the airport.

    Why fly when you can drive?
    After a four-hour plus drive from Pittsburgh the family car pulled into the Cruise Maryland Terminal where within 15 minutes luggage was dropped off, the car was parked, and the family was in the terminal waiting to check-in for the cruise. A half-hour later we were onboard the Carnival Pride noshing on buffet fare. If all cruise embarkations could be this smooth!
    Read the rest of this entry »

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    Seabourn cancels Indian Ocean voyages over ongoing piracy issues

    Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On October - 8 - 2009

    Worried about the growing piracy issues in the Indian Ocean, the Yachts of Seabourn has decided not to operate a series of cruises in the Indian Ocean aboard Seabourn Legend in late 2010 and early 2011.

    Instead, the vessel will reposition back to North America and at the end of its Mediterranean season to cruise in the Caribbean over the winter. Seven-day itineraries will sail between Fort Lauderdale and St. Thomas, or round-trip from St. Thomas.

    Seabourn president and ceo Pamela Conover said the decision was “regrettable”, but noted that it was done for passenger safety.

    Seabourn had a brush with pirates in 2005 when the Seabourn Spirit fended off a hijacking attempt off the coast of Somalia firing guns and rocket launchers.

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