Two-View Cruise Review: Disney Dream's New Enhancements
PHOTO: Disney Dream at sea. (courtesy David Roark/Disney Cruise Line)
Editor's Note: Media members were recently invited on to the Disney Dream to see the results of a drydock that had construction workers busy 24 hours a day for three weeks adding new additions such as the Star Wars-themed, tech-filled Millenium Falcon play area, the Disney Infinity interactive play room in the ship’s Oceaneer Club, a new “Wreck-It-Ralph”-inspired candy store and the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for epic pirate and princess makeovers.
TravelPulse was lucky enough to have two writers aboard, Jason Leppert and Tim Wood.
Jason is soon-to-be-married with no kids, who had his fiancée, Heidi, with him onboard. Tim is soon celebrating his 20th wedding anniversary and had his wife and two boys, T.J. (age 12) and Jake (age 6) on board.
The unique circumstance gave us the chance to do a review of the new additions and the overall ship from two polar perspectives. Here’s what we’re calling our Two-View Review. Today, in the first of our three-part review of the ship, we cover the newest enhancements to the Dream.
DAYTIME ONBOARD ACTIVITIES
JASON: There is so much that can be done on the Dream. I kept wishing, on a star of course, that I was a kid again so I could enjoy the new "Star Wars" area of Disney's Oceaneer Club showcasing the Millennium Falcon in all its glory. While it didn't come true, I definitely took advantage of the “adult open house” hours to experience it all as any adult is allowed in during these select times.
PHOTO: On the Disney Dream, kids are transported to a far away galaxy to play on the Millenium Falcon, where they can "drive" the spaceship through various scenes of the "Star Wars" movies. (Kent Phillips/Disney Cruise Line)
I even got a bit of a workout trying not just my hand, but my whole body, at the life-sized Disney Infinity gaming base playing as Sam Flynn in the virtual world of TRON.
Another fun activity for all ages at any time during the day is the Midship Detective Agency ship-wide scavenger hunt. The Muppets have even joined the animated Enchanted Art from the Disney Fantasy to participate in the interactive game. Fans of Pepe will especially get a kick out of the romancing king prawn's involvement and onboard accommodations. Hint: you can even call his cabin number.
For just adults though, or teens in their own area, the Senses Spa is just lovely. The rainforest room is a great common area with relaxing aromatic showers, heated stone beds and scenic whirlpools cantilevered over the side of the ship. We enjoyed many hours of pampering here to unwind and relax our muscles after our snorkeling adventure.
TIM: The “Star Wars” room in the Oceaneer Club is worth the price of admission alone for Skywalker geeks young and old. The detail combined with the technology was just awe-inspiring, a moment where it’s clear Disney is taking full advantage of the Lucasfilm partnership.
PHOTO: Kids play exclusive Disney Infinity-themed games with only their body movements in the new Disney Infinity play area aboard the Disney Dream. (Kent Phillips/Disney Cruise Line)
The Disney Infinity room is just as strong. You can choose from any Infinity character on the market to play on a number of Xbox One consoles. Plus, once you get home, the kids’ interactive bracelet unlocks a special Disney Dream character in your Infinity system.
There are “Star Wars”-themed training sessions for kids throughout the day, some where Storm Troopers and other characters “invade” the activity ...
PHOTO: ... and you must use The Force to keep the Storm Troopers at bay. (Kent Phillips/Disney Cruise Line)
Tweeners and teenagers have more age-appropriate lounges on board, which was another highlight. And Disney has the 1820 Society, which gives 18- to -20-year-old socializing opps during the cruise.
So kudos to Disney for creating experiences for all age groups. I would have just liked to see more variety. I loved the golf pitching content in the atrium and we had fun doing the ESPN Fantasy Baseball draft as a family, a nice corporate tie-in where "The Talented Mr. Roto" Matthey Berry helps you pick the perfect all-time dream team while staying under a salary cap. I just personally would have liked to see more of these kind of options.
Agreed on Senses Spa and the rainforest room. The experience of exfoliating rain showers and a trio of sauna experiences, capped off by sunbathing on the exclusive deck with chiropractic, heated-stone chairs is a parents' ultimate oasis.
Overall, this is where my family and I were left wanting more. The itinerary is packed with opportunities to get pictures with Disney characters. But as a whole, I hold Carnival as the gold standard here. Their daily itinerary is consistently packed with trivia contests, sports, dance lessons, food tastings and more. There was not that consistent barrage of options onboard the Dream. That is not a bad thing for a lot of folks that get paralyzed by too many options.
That said, what Disney does have is spectacular.
JASON: The industry benchmark for entertainment is set high by Disney. Their production shows employ every theatrical technique in the book from expert singing and dancing to talented puppetry and dazzling pyrotechnics, but the main focus is always on story, as it should be.
"The Golden Mickeys," save for its contrived pre-show conceit, and "Disney's Believe" are gems that pull at the heartstrings with rousing numbers and appearances by none other than Mickey and the gang. Watch how Disney magic helps the mouse move his mouth and eyes now. To be sure, there are no flops on Disney.
All of their shows best the competition in overall production quality, but "Villains Tonight!" should be considered for replacement. The show is often just weird and unnecessarily condones bad behavior. But a "bromance" moment between Jafar and Iago soaring through the air together is absolutely hilarious.
The entertainment highlight onboard that delights adults as much as kids is the Pirates in the Caribbean fireworks spectacular at sea. Now that Norwegian Cruise Line has suspended its pyrotechnic displays, Disney once again regains the title of the only cruise line to offer such a show, and it is wonderful.
Seeing a volley of bright bursting shells soar between the smokestacks choreographed to the tune of Hans Zimmer's bombastic "Pirates of the Caribbean" score is just one of the grandest experiences that can be had on any cruise.
TIM: Again, this is an area where I would have liked to see more variety. I won't argue on production quality, as it was quite extraordinary visually. Still, my family and I were borderline bored by the shows and the lines to get into the nightly shows were quite a turnoff. It would have been good to have other options such as comics or variety shows like magicians or ventriloquists. But for a 3- to 4-night sailing, the scale is understandable.
There was karaoke available and the ship’s “District” area on deck 4 provides a great mix of adults-only nightclubs.
And as Jason said, the fireworks at sea were awesome. And the ship’s movie theater is impressive. All the current Disney favorites play in rotation, and we got to see “Bridge of Spies,” a stellar movie we had missed at home.
Pub 687 in The District was perfect for watching World Series games. The Pink bar had a dazzling array of unique cocktails. And the variety of interactive game shows, dance parties and family movies available made for a satisfying mix.
FRIDAY: Dining and Shore Excursions
More by Tim Wood
Get Travel Deals and Travel News
Recent Travel Opinions