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Disney’s new Dream a gigantic and adult-friendly kids’ ship with Help from White Water West

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A premium ship with premium entertainment — at a premium price

How do Disney’s people stay on top of the entertainment business?

They hire the best.

Building its first new ship in 12 years — Disney Dream — 50 per cent bigger than the other two ships, Wonder and Magic, Disney went to the shipbuilder known for quality and craftsmanship, Meyer Werft.

For the iconic water coaster AquaDuck, which goes around the top of the ship, Disney came to waterslide masters White Water West Industries of B.C.

The budget for the Dream’s christening was through the roof. How do you top a musical spectacular with all of the Disney characters, singers, dancers, even the Captain Jack Sparrow character sailing by on the Black Pearl? The whole show reached a climax with Disney alumnus diva Jennifer Hudson singing Who Knows Where a Dream Might Lead, followed by popping the cork of a 30-foot champagne bottle, followed by fireworks.

The spectacular was witnessed by a few thousand Disney friends and more than 300 reporters from TV and radio stations from all over the world. And that was just the first hour.

All that for a cruise line with a total capacity that would fit into Royal Caribbean’s two mega ships. That is the power that Disney has built since Uncle Walt founded Disneyland in Southern California.

For those of you who have sailed on the other Disney ships, you will be happy to know you won’t be lost on the new 4, 000-passenger Dream. Many of the ship’s features came from the Wonder and the Magic.

Embarking passengers are still announced by the crew and given a rousing welcome by the staff — your own mini-red-carpet moment.

Your meals and the same staff still rotate through three uniquely distinct restaurants. On the Dream, it’s the Animator’s Palate, Enchanted Garden and the Royal Palace.

For the most part, adults have it pretty good on this ship, considering a recent poll suggests that more than 70 per cent of kids decide on the family vacation. (Parents might want to dispute that!)

A nightclub neighbourhood called The District winds through several clubs without a child in sight. Evolution is the main nightclub with entertainment, and lots of room for dancing and letting your hair down. Others are Skyline, with changing cityscapes around the room, and Pink, the upscale bar with lots of choice in — of course — champagne.

There are two adult restaurants. Palo is familiar to Disney cruisers and, if you’re in a premier mood, $75 will get you an upscale dinner at Remy’s. Yes, it might be the highest-priced restaurant at sea. If you feel like just watching, between the two restaurants, you will find a luxurious, quiet bar, Meridian, destined to become a popular refuge.

Vastly improved on this ship is the buffet food court. Past Disney cruisers declare Cabanas a huge improvement, with lots of room, more choices, and an outdoor area on the stern if you don’t feel like making it to the dining room for dinner.

Castaway Cay is Disney’s private island. It has several upgrades, including private cabanas mostly in the family areas, but also at Serenity Bay, the adult-only beach. There’s a lot to do, or you can just enjoy the sand and surf.

Despite the family areas and way-out technology available for kids from babies to teens, I can tell this kids’ ship is also adult-friendly. When all the Disney characters are walking through the ship, even the adults stop to take a look.

When the AquaDuck water coaster is in action — this is not a coaster with hair-raising drops and G-grabbing turns– adults and kids alike ride it.

Online, kids are right up to date. However, the technology spills over to the kid in most of us.

Disney Imagineering hit the right notes with the Pirates of the Caribbean show at night, the Buccaneer Fireworks, and a Broadway-style production of Disney’s Dream in the Walt Disney Theatre.

This is a premium ship with premium entertainment. You just have to decide if it’s worth the premium price.

Visit portsandbows.com for daily updates on the latest cruise news, best deals and behind-the-scenes stories from the industry. You can also sign up for an email newsletter on the site for even more cruise information. Phil can be contacted directly at portsandbowsgmail.com. Sponsored by Cruise Connections.

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