It’s Day Two of my update from our fabulous Disney trip and our little jaunt just got better and better!
Travel can be stressful, especially when you’re on the road with other people. Luckily that was not the case with my little group, which consisted of Team GEM (Richard, my producer and Roger, our assistant/tech guy), my mother and myself – all in one stateroom. Along with bathing suits and skivvies, we needed to pack patience!
Just before 8am on Wednesday morning we hopped on the Disney Cruise line buses and headed over to Port Canaveral where we would get our first glimpse of the Disney Dream. We walked through the cruise terminal to our dockside seats, ready for the ship’s official christening. And there she was – all 130,000 tons of her glistening in the Florida sun.
The ceremony was spectacular! We were treated to a full-on Disney production in front of the world’s media! Everyone from Jessie, Woody and Buzz Lightyear to the original Disney characters (Mickey, Donald, Pluto) were there – and performers sang songs from High School Musical and famous Disney themes. I had a great time trying to see if I could name all the Disney princesses and it was fun to watch some of the young, fresh faces perform. Then there were these guys, who you would know if you have spent any time at all with your kids in a darkened movie theatre.
After Bob Iger (president and CEO of The Walt Disney Company) and Tom Staggs (chairman, Walt Disney parks and resorts) spoke, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother appeared to introduce The Disney Dream’s official godmother and it was a true homecoming.
Yep, that’s Jennifer Hudson, who long before American Idol, her Academy Award (for the movie Dreamgirls) and a slew of hit records, began her career singing on board The Disney Wonder. If the events of the night before were not enough to make even the most cynical among us believe, well seeing Jennifer Hudson just added rocket fuel to those dreams. You see I interviewed her years ago, when I worked that morning show gig. This was right after she was voted off American Idol and really didn’t know what was next for her. I’ll bet she had no idea it would shake out like this…
The ceremony was beautifully produced and really, really moving. Team GEM were all visibly moved by the power and spectacle of the performance and the idea of wishes coming true and sticking with your dreams. Powerful stuff. We truly felt touched by the Disney magic…
After the ceremony, we hung by the front of the cruise terminal for (lots of) champagne and yummy eats before making our way on board. We had a light lunch at Cabanas, which has something for every palate and more food than we could possibly consume – though trust me, we tried – and then it was time to explore. I’ve been on many cruise ships over the years but none quite like this. Fist of all, The Disney Dream is massive! But it is beautifully appointed and you can tell they have thought out and addressed most every guest concern. I’ll give you an example.
There are tons of activities for the toddlers and tweens and even for those my kids ages. But trying to get a hold of your kids is not always easy on a ship, unless of course, you don’t mind getting hammered over the head by obscene international cell phone charges. Well, Wave Phone to the rescue. Each room is equipped with two (for a nominal fee, you can rent more) and by dialing your stateroom number you can reach your party wherever they are on board. We used them a lot and they worked great.
Speaking of activities, the thing everyone is talking about and all my kids wanted to know was “How was AquaDuck?” Well, take a look and judge for yourself!
AquaDuck, as you can see, is The Disney Dream’s on board water ride. Actually it’s more of a hybrid roller coaster/water ride and it is FUN! Not too insane though – so the small set will like it as much my 77-year-old mother (crap she will KILL Me for telling her age) and me.
We finished the day with dinner at Animator’s Palate, one of six restaurants on the ship. If you have little kids this is a must! The brightly colored décor is eye popping and the walls are filled with artwork from all manner of Disney movies. But (spoiler alert!) the fun part of the dining experiences is when Crush, the turtle from Finding Nemo, comes to life. How they do this, was the subject of much debate at our table. You see, Crush swims from side to side, and TALKS to diners. Not some prerecorded thing, but an actual conversation, like “Hey, little girl in the blue dress. What’s your name? How are the French fries?” Crush’s mouth and body movements are seamless and we still have no idea how they did it!
We ended the evening with cocktails in the hot tub (and the amount of water that was displaced when we got in was embarrassing). That’s because we were stuffed like ticks, as there is NO shortage of food anywhere on the ship. We rolled down the hall to our stateroom headed for bed. We needed our rest because Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay would greet us in the morning; Our amazing journey continues!
Stay tuned.. Castaway Cay and a special message still to come!
Disclosure: Disney covered the costs for Team GEM to experience The Disney Dream but you can be assured that these are my honest opinions and recommendations about the trip. I always tell it like it is!