Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 by Peter Knego
Of Mice and Men: More from Peter Knego aboard the mouse-infused DISNEY DREAM during the ship’s inaugural cruise.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
At dawn, the DISNEY DREAM was backing into her berth at Disney Cruise Line’s private Bahamian island, Castaway Cay.
Please click on image to see larger version. All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2011.
When making arrangements to attend the inaugural cruise, I was assured I could stay on the ship for a few hours after her return to Port Canaveral to complete documenting. It was soon evident that this was not going to happen.
New agenda for the day: photograph the ship and forget anything else…
Key Disney Cruise Line executives gathered at 10:30 for a question and answer session in the Buena Vista Theater, the DISNEY DREAM’s dedicated cinema. Unfortunately, the questions were pre-screened (covering many of the line’s familiar talking points) and asked by the ship’s charming and pretty Cruise Director, Rachel Quinn. As much as I enjoyed her soft touch and ability to keep the flow going, my questions (mainly about how the newbuilding DISNEY FANTASY will differ from the DREAM and will the prior DISNEY MAGIC and DISNEY WONDER be fitted with some of the newer ships’ innovations) would go unasked and unanswered.
The alluring beaches and myriad attractions of Castaway Cay were now definitely off the “to do” list but I did step ashore for some hurried shots of the DISNEY DREAM through the swaying Bahamian palms.
For the next five or so hours, a race was on. We began in the empty recesses of The District on aft Deck 4, working our way through some very elegant and sophisticated “adults only” public rooms, several of which are reminiscent of the spaces aboard Celebrity’s spectacular SOLSTICE class of ships. Not only was The District a child-free sanctuary, it was also a haven from the ubiquitous Disney soundtrack that played throughout the ship’s main public spaces — for more on this, please read USA Today’s Gene Sloan’s “Five Things On The New DISNEY DREAM That Will Drive You Nutty”.
Although fire doors shut it off from general access, I did manage to fully cover the spaces in the Oceaneer’s Club (submarines, dinosaurs, enchanted forests and green monsters among its prevailing themes). It also features the first sea-going interactive gaming floor.
In the adjacent Oceaneer’s Lab, a precocious child was followed by video cameras as she ran from station to station exclaiming, “There’s so much to do!”
Up in the Deck 14 level of the dummy forward funnel, I opened the door to the Outlook Bar to find it filled with equipment and a few weary technicians from ABC’s “Good Morning America”. “Come back Monday night when we clear all this out.”
At least the teen club on the Deck 13 level was open for a look.
Throughout our photo marathon, Disney music and mouse motifs permeated the senses. No speaker was spared the soundtrack loop and no soft fitting too sacred for the Mickey Mouse symbol, however subtle or cleverly implemented. “Cruella DeVille” — click. Mouse in carpet. “It’s A Small World” — click, click. Mouse in railing. “The Bear Necessities” — click, click, click! Mouse in upholstery…
On forward Deck 5 at the tip of the open fo’c’sle that is cleverly used to house the Vibe teen center, I was able to marvel, once more, at the beauty of this massive creation. From that dynamic, long bow, it was so nice to gaze up at such a powerfully-proportioned and sleek superstructure. Kudos on the hardware go to both the Disney Imagineers and the engineers and artisans of Meyer Werft.
By the time the ship’s sun-sated guests returned and the DISNEY DREAM slowly motored her way off the Cay, we were much in need of nourishment.
Since Cabanas buffet was closed, we settled for small sandwiches and a slice of pizza from V-8 on forward Deck 11. Although we were thankfully not told where to sit, it was difficult to maneuver between the crowded clusters of tables and chairs. Drinks were hundreds of feet away near the entrance to Cabanas and getting there involved navigating through swarms of young sugar junkees.
The press materials urged we attend the show, “Disney’s Believe” in the Walt Disney Theater. A technical tour-de-force, it was, but with so much of the ship left to photograph, we quietly slipped out after the first big production number and continued with the documenting.
AquaDuck, the DISNEY DREAM’s water coaster and one of her most sought-after attractions, was closed for yet another television media shoot. I just wanted a photo from the top of the platform. “Maybe if you come back in the evening,” the attendant advised us.
Our second night’s dinner was assigned in the 697 seat Royal Palace Restaurant, with decor inspired by the four Disney princesses (“Snow White”, “Cinderella”, “Sleeping Beauty” and “Belle”).
Its floors are a tour-de-force of thick, inlaid Italian marble and each chair sports a princess motif on its back (ie, a rose for “Snow White”, slipper for “Cinderella”,etc.). Even the grand chandelier in the room’s center is festooned with glass slippers. Our friendly waiters GianPiero and Gilbert were on hand to offer special recommendations, fill water and wine glasses and deliver the bread and ensuing courses.
Was it the Rosemount Syrah, or was our food starting to take on mouse-like characteristics?
Royal Palace starters included Iced Lobster and Jumbo Shrimp with white and green asparagus, garlic and lemon dill dressing and horseradish cream.
I had the Double Baked Spinach Soufflé with three cheese cream. The two other choices were a Pomegranate Glazed Duck Breast with gewurtzaminer gelée and pomegranate glazy and Escargots Gratinés with mushrooms and garlic butter.
Soups and Salads included Belle’s French Onion Soup with gruyere cheese croutons.
I had the Avocado Citrus salad with iceberg and radicchio leaves and orange vinaigrette. Two other options were the Royal Market Green Salad with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, peppered goat cheese and raspberry vinaigrette or the Comptess Du Barry’s Soup, a rich velvety cauliflower cream topped with salmon caviar croutons.
Main courses included Baked Farm-Raised Organic Chicken Breast filled with escarole, raisins and pine nuts on wild rice with a red wine reduction.
I was particularly impressed with the Pan-Seared Tofu, Roasted Zucchini, Eggplant and Red Peppers on Israeli couscous with a lime-cilantro drop. The others: Royal Palace Aged Angus Grilled Beef Tenderloin and Lobster Medallions; Oven-Baked Salmon Royale; Roasted Wild Boar Tenderloin; Double-Cut Rack Of Lamb With A Dijon Crust; Wild Mushroom-Filled Pasta In A Vegetable Broth.
After nearly two weeks of rich desserts, it was nice to just split one between the two of us. We shared the Sweet Temptations, a trio of peanut butter mousse, mango cheesecake and Tahitian vanilla creme brulée. The others: Grand Marnier Soufflé; Peanut Butter Mousse; Strawberry Short Cake Sundae; Tahitian Vanilla Creme Brulée; Sugar Free Chocolate Ganache and Sugar Free Mango Cheesecake.
After dinner, we found a nice spot with friends on the starboard terrace of Deck 13 to watch the fireworks at sea, another special, exclusive aspect of Disney cruising.
The massive crimson funnels provided a NORMANDIE-esque foreground for the rocketing Disney pyrotechnics. It would have been so much more electrifying without the “Pirates Of The Caribbean” dialogue blasting across the upper decks.
We enjoyed another walk around the upper decks of the ship before being drenched in a downpour.
Just as we were about to head back to the cabin, a fellow journalist urged us to join her on the AquaDuck…
This would probably be our only chance to try it, so we donned swim suits and headed to the AquaDuck entrance. I left my camera with another friend and we queued up in the reasonably short line. Although we could not see ourselves hurtle above the sea, the 765 foot-long ride was fun and well worth doing.
My avid cruising friend had proceeded with my camera to The District and since I wanted photos of Aquaduck before it closed, we hurriedly wrapped ourselves in towels and headed down to retrieve it, probably creating a few new dress code “dont’s” in the process.
Finally, with the ship’s wifi waves being diverted to the television media, any attempts at posting a story were futile, so we packed it up and called it a night.
Friday, January 21, 2011
After a very quick breakfast, we rolled our luggage off the DISNEY DREAM and into an unusually heavy downpour at Port Canaveral.
While waiting for the rental car shuttle, Mr. Bernard Meyer was escorted past us to a long Lincoln Town Car. Back to work for the maestro of modern cruise shipbuilding.
And soon, we were off as well, in a slightly less glamorous rental car shuttle, the DISNEY DREAM and the prior 36 hours a wet blur in the rear window.
End Of “No Time For Sleep On The DISNEY DREAM” Sea Treks.
Special thanks: Martin Cox, Rob Di Stefano, Teijo Niemela