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Wet DREAM: MV DISNEY DREAM Float Out and Preview

Peter Knego reports from the Meyer Werft shipyard at Papenburg, Germany about the float out and an on board preview of Disney Cruise Lines’ ocean liner-like 128,000 gt MV DISNEY DREAM.

Disney Cruise Lines

Ralph Grizzle’s Avid Cruiser Website

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All photos (except those taken on board the DISNEY DREAM), unless otherwise noted, are by and copyright Peter Knego 2010. Please click on image to view an enlarged version.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Although I disembarked Hapag-Lloyd Cruises superb MV EUROPA in Trabzon, Turkey the day prior, another German-based adventure lay ahead. Fortunately, my flights from Turkey went without hitch and I arrived in Dusseldorf on schedule. I joined up for a long cab ride with fellow journalist Ralph Grizzle of avidcruiser.com and off we sped along the Autobahn through the pastoral countryside of northwest Germany to the relatively small town of Papenburg. Despite the misty grayness of the weather outside, the warm colors of the turning trees and the speedometer’s occasional hover at 220 plus KPH helped keep my eyes open.

Autobahn arrival.

Almost two hours later, our amiable driver, Peter, pointed at what looked like a typical, white painted metal warehouse shed with “Joseph L. Meyer Papenburg” stenciled to its side. As we got closer, it was clearly much bigger than any ordinary warehouse and just inside, we could make out the stern of the very un-ordinary new 128,000 gt Disney Cruise Lines ship, the MV DISNEY DREAM.

Umbrellas of Papenburg.

I thought Peter was joking when he said the trailers were all here to see the event but then realized it was no joke at all. Unlike America, where few people actually care about ships, old or new, in Germany (and in Holland, only a few kilometers to the west), ships are of huge interest. I couldn’t believe how much activity was going on just outside the yard and the river basin where the giant new vessel would soon be making her debut. It was the like the Woodstock of cruise events with a moving canvas of brightly colored umbrellas edging its way to vantage points along the river bank outside our cab’s rain-streaked windows. And, as we headed around the yard’s perimeter, there were the lots filled to the brim with, yes, trailers of all shapes and size.

Sadly, I had arrived a bit too late to take the press tour of Meyer Werft, my favorite of all the world’s great shipyards. It has built a procession of ships, superb not just for their outer lines and innovative features but for their solid and flawless construction. ORIANA, AURORA, CENTURY, GALAXY, MERCURY, SUPERSTAR LEO and Celebrity’s crack SOLSTICE class, among them. The union of Disney, with their unique penchant for aesthetics and Meyer Werft for its precision and quality is match made in modern cruise shipping heaven, although it must be quite an event when either side of the “dream team” disagrees.

Hotel Alte Werft, Papenburg.

We continued past the yard and dropped our luggage off at the historic Alte Werft Hotel (to whom I apologize for having taken my room key quite by accident — it is now safely on its way back to Germany).

Alte Werft Hotel dining room.

Built in 1870, it was originally Meyer Werft’s compressor manufacturing plant until a new facility was built in 1975. The former machine hall opened as an hotel in 1995 and is just across a narrow canal from Mr. Meyer’s family residence.

Witnesses to a DREAM.

Peter returned us to the embankment on the edge of the yard where fast food vendors had set up their wares and throngs of people (estimated at up to 15,000) mulled in the mud. Our lucky fellow media were still touring the yard when we arrived in the shelter of a specially-built pavilion.

An executive DREAM team: Bernard Meyer of Meyer Werft, Al Weiss (Disney Sr. VP of Worldwide Ops) and Karl Holz, President of Disney Cruise Line)

Disney Cruises top executives and Mayer Werft’s very own Mr. Bernard Meyer were already there.

A DREAM enclosed.

As the others eventually filtered in, I asked the very approachable Mr Mayer if he wouldn’t mind me taking a quick photo of him in front of his latest maritime achievement.

Mr Meyer and his Werft.

Setting down his cup of coffee, he kindly acquiesced. I couldn’t resist asking him if he didn’t feel the striking new ship was inspired in part by NDL’s third EUROPA. “Well, she is certainly meant to look like a proper ocean liner used to look. Especially for her size, we took special care about her lines…” He was cut off as he reached in vain for his coffee — more photo ops and an interview were being urgently requested…

Early DREAM emergence.

The shelter and warmth (not to mention champagne and crudites) of the pavilion were tempting but the best vantages lay outside, so I tucked away the napkin I used for my satay skewer (it would periodically dry my lenses) and trudged out into the mud, climbing around outcrops of tripods and clusters of umbrellas to find various spots to prop my cameras and begin documenting the process of this huge ship entering an open watery element for the very first time.

More DREAM emerges.

Fanfare music, most or all of it from Disney’s catalogue, played over the next hour or so as the mighty ship emerged from the womb-like Werft. The term “ocean liner” was wagging on mostly Teutonic tongues as the ship’s form became more and more recognizeable. Her oversized black-topped red funnels had yet to be capped with the crowned grillwork they would soon sport. I actually liked their more severe, unadorned look, which really brought to mind the aforementioned EUROPA and her near twin BREMEN (with a bit of French line coloring).

Works over the Werft.

Once the DISNEY DREAM had been “born”, a series of fireworks shot into the skies above her. People in the crowd began to cheer. Despite the protests of my shoes and cameras, it was really quite the place to be.

DREAM-like silhouette.

No less than three tugs danced around the basin, gently nudging their charge along. A bit of smoke emanated from the “live” aft funnel, perhaps to show that the ship was “in charge” of her own destiny.

Ready to rotate.

I began to work my way back to the pavilion to join the group for the ride back to our hotel. Unfortunately, they were all gone and I had no idea where to find them in the rainy darkness.

Clogged, muddy artery.

As the DISNEY DREAM and her escorting tugs huffed and puffed to get the massive ship situated in the middle of the river where she would undergo some tests for the next 24 hours, I did my best to navigate through the exodus, stepping through puddles and gradually diminishing clusters of people as I got farther and farther away from the yard. After an hour of walking through the rainy streets of Papenburg, I found the hotel and settled in for a quick dinner with the press group, who actually arrived after me, thanks to the traffic.

Saturday, October 31, 2010

Bruce Vaughan and the early renderings.

After an early breakfast in the hotel, we were shuttled over to the yard for a morning of presentations headed by Bruce Vaughan, who is in charge of Disney’s creative operations, in the Glasplast Room.

Early DREAM concepts, ctd.

Unrealized DREAMS.

He explained that the 1930s ocean liner era was the inspiration for the exterior stylings and general decor on all of the Disney ships. There were a number of early concepts, from an angular, glassy vessel (that would fit in the RCI fleet) to a three funneled design and even a garishly painted two funneled ship that resembled the UNITED STATES with palm frond topped funnels. Ultimately, with Disney, it was worth sacrificing a bit of utility in the name of aesthetics. In the words of the late, great Italian marine architect, Nicolo Costanzi, “Functionality is no excuse for ugly things.”

DREAM Lobby rendering.

If the outside stylings make the first impression, the entrance lobby makes the second. Newly embarking guests will be wowed by the scale of the room, which is fitted out in real stone inlays, hand-carved plaster, a 1.5 deck high glass chandelier, plush carpeting specially manufactured for Disney (no “catalogue shopping”, according to Mr. Vaughan), ornate railings and hidden elements of Disney “whimsy” that would unfold “like an onion” over time.

Fall colors in the Werft.

From the Glasplast Room, we were led outside and then up through a series of walkways to a gallery where many photos and rendering of the newbuilding ship were on display.

Totally random Maritime Mat.

Disney on display at Papenburg.

Display duck tracks.

Bruce Vaughan elucidates the DISNEY DREAM's innovations.

This was no random, cookie-cutter ship we were witnessing. Every detail, many of which will not be revealed in order to not spoil the on board fantasy experience, has been fussed out to the minutest detail.

Profiling the DREAM.

As Mr. Vaughan explained, Disney works freely with but never just turns over any project to its contractors.

Mock up bedding.

Ducky mascot.

As Donald Duck looked on, we passed through the various displays and then were guided out of the gallery for a “backstage view” of the stuff this DREAM is made of.

From the yard to the DREAM.

On the way, I stopped to take a few photos. It was like being in the backlot of a movie studio and getting a rare opportunity to witness a great production in progress.

Future parts.

Not sure if the lined up and primed steel parts in the open part of the yard were for the new Aida ship, the next Celebrity newbuild or the DREAM’s upcoming sister, DISNEY FANTASY.

Elements of a DREAM.

Up a series of steps and into what was like the backstage area of a large playhouse. Bits and pieces of the ship were stowed away in every nook and crannie.

Stone samples.

I couldn’t believe just how heavy and thick the stonework is. Mr. Vaughan did admit that the pillars had to be made of a lighter material, so Disney hired some of the best craftsmen to create a believable facsimile that would conform to the weight and ballast limitations of a ship..

More parts of the DREAM.

Bathrooms, plaster ceilings, podiums, so much to click away at in such a short time.

DREAM pieces.

Assorted DREAM elements.

More bits of a DREAM.

Textiles and fittings.

High quality fabrics were used for the soft fittings but Mr. Vaughan warned that curtains may not be “just curtains” on a Disney ship.

Slivers of DISNEYana.

Although it was tempting to stay a bit longer, the lights were being shut off and lunch awaited back in the Glaspalast Room.

Status Quo DREAM.

En route, there was time to stop and take a photo of what is a truly magnificent looking new ship. Amazingly, her forward funnel had already been capped in the short time since she emerged from the shed.

DREAM Analysis.

Monday, November 1, 2010

After coming so far and anticipating, like the rest of the press group, that I would have the chance to take my own images and video of the DISNEY DREAM in this historic phase of her construction, I was devastated when it was announced after dinner on the night before our scheduled visit to the ship that no photography or videography would be allowed.

The next morning, my spirits were about as damp as the weather in Papenburg as we all filed into our vans and headed off to Meyer Werft.

Under the nose.

Entering the yard, we literally drove under the bow, which is finely sculpted and so well dressed in Disney’s color scheme.

Bulbous DREAM.

I don’t tend to get overly excited about the exterior look of most new ships but I was taken in by the sheer fantasy of her scale and proportions. Props to the design team that worked so hard to do something a little special in a day and age where function tends to trump, versus go hand in hand with, aesthetics.

With i-Pad and Seatrade Insider's dreamy Anne Kalosh. Photo by Paul Motter.

Thankfully, no one told us we could not at least take a few shots in front of the ship. While some may criticize the DISNEY DREAM for trying to evoke the past, I find her lines pleasingly futuristic, despite their nod to the 1930s. And beyond the overall profile of the ship, the care and detail in the fine points and curves is remarkable. A lot of time and money were spent to make this ship look special.

Funnel fitted.

A huge blue crane moved busily alongside the ship, lowering bins full of construction debris. I would presume it is the same crane that must have fitted the ship’s second funnel crown, a remarkable feat in such a short time.

DREAM way.

I had to stow my camera before we passed through the security check where our passes were scanned and photos taken. An i-Pad was assigned to each of us, complete with a keynote presentation that we would use throughout the tour to help us visualize via renderings what things would look like when all the ladders, plastic and plywood covering, workers and tools were gone. Up a winding scaffold we clambered until crossing a gangway that landed us on the ship’s port promenade, the decks covered in protective sheets of ply as throngs of workers crisscrossed in all directions.

We began in the three deck Atrium, greeted at the foot of the grand staircase by Disney Cruise Line’s president, Karl Holz. The odors of primer and fixative hovered in a fine dust of plaster, plastic and stone cuttings. Our soundtrack was one of hammers, saws and drills punctuated by the occasional blast of the ship’s whistle, which was being calibrated outside.

An overview of the Atrium from above.

For me, it was nice to see a ship under construction as opposed to being deconstructed, although the sensory experience is rather similar. With a team of project managers, VPs and PR reps by his side, Holz welcomed us on board. “We set the blueprint for family cruising in 1998 (with the introduction of the DISNEY MAGIC and DISNEY WONDER). Imagine entering the ship with a pianist playing and a princess descending these stairs. Enjoy your tour and take it all in…”

One of the completed accommodation passageways.

Over the next five hours, we headed up and down passageways and stair towers, stepped over wiring and red tape, passed through fire doors and rooms in a frenzy of construction, some already recognizable and others mere shells of what they will soon become. A huge amount of information on the materials, artists, designers and artisans was freely provided us. Disney’s photographer, Kenton E. Philips was on hand to snap away at carefully framed pastiches of the incomplete ship’s innards. There were so many interesting potential photos that I wanted to take but that was not going to happen. My right forefinger “twitched” in despair for the entire day.

I hope to return to the complete ship in January and provide my own full Decked! photo tour. For now, we have Disney’s carefully selected images, all of which are by Kenton E. Phillips and copyrighted by Disney. In the captions, you will find some of my own observations.

Entrance to the 697 seat Royal Palace Restaurant, one of three "rotational" dining venues. Note the hand carved Italian and Greek marble decking.

Royal Palace Restaurant, whose decor and cuisine is inspired by Disney's four pricesses: Snow White, Belle ("Beauty and the Beast"), Aurora ("Sleeping Beauty") and "Cinderella"

Center of Royal Palace Restaurant, prior to installation of tables and highback chairs.

"Rose" marble detail from the Royal Palace Restaurant.

One of the "Enchanted Artworks", one of 22 framed still images that when triggerd by motion sensors detecting passers-by, "comes to life".

Enchanted Garden Restaurant, another 697 seat "rotational dining" venue, inspired by the gardens of Versailles. Note inlaid stone decking and fiber optic ceiling that will transform from day to night during the course of dinner.

Lazy Susan seating booths in the Enchanted Garden can be adjusted to face in different directions.

Water fountain in the Enchanted Garden.

Fiber optic fittings in the Animator's Palate, the third 697 seat "rotational" dining venue.

Monarch butterfly wing patterned ceiling in Evolution, the adult's only nightclub.

Entrance to adults only District Lounge.

The 399 seat Buena Vista Theater features AMC Cinema style seating and is the first seagoing movie house featuring Dolby 3D.

Passageway adjacent to the Walt Disney Theater fusing elements of Deco and "Mouse".

Walt Disney Theater seats 1,340 and will offer three nightly production shows.

"Monster's Inc." section of Oceaneer's Club.

"Nemo's" explorer pod in Oceaneer's Club.

Pixie Hollow in Oceaneer's Club.

Section of Senses Spa atop ship.

Rainforest showers in Senses Spa.

Giant LED screen in back of forward funnel

Pool area underneath acrylic AquaDuck water coaster.

Hand inlaid mosaics in Cabanas buffet terrace.

Palo, the extra tariff ($20) Italian dining option atop the stern.

Remy, the extra tariff ($75) French dining option inspired by the film "Ratatouile".

Stateroom awaiting bedding.

Four berth family stateroom with verandah.

Suite bedroom.

Hammered metal lobby frieze detail.

I look forward to utilizing the eighteen pages of detailed notes I took when I have my own images to illustrate them.

End of “Wet DREAM: MV DISNEY DREAM Float Out and Preview” Sea Treks

Special thanks: Martin Cox, Katie Dantuono, Johanna Jainchill, Jason Lasecki

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