All the magic of Mickey and more

The ad­ven­ture never stops aboard this float­ing fun­house off the US coast, writes An­thony Keane

Sunday Mail - Travel/Escape - - CRUISE DISNEY -

AS CAP­TAIN Guus Ver­hulst in­tro­duces his three most se­nior of­fi­cers in the Dis­ney Dream’s crowded theatre some­where at sea near the Ber­muda Tri­an­gle, he as­sures pas­sen­gers that safe hands are still steer­ing his ship.

There are plenty of other cap­tains on­board, Cap­tain Guus says. Capt Hook, Cap­tain Jack Spar­row and, of course, Cap­tain Mickey, he says, as the crowd full of fam­i­lies cheer.

Life on a Dis­ney cruise ship is al­most too en­ter­tain­ing. In just three hours since leav­ing Port Canaveral in Florida, we have al­ready watched Goofy dance in a deck party, ex­plored gi­ant Toy Story and Mon­sters Inc play­rooms, en­joyed a four-course meal while an­i­mated char­ac­ters from Find­ing Nemo chat­ted to din­ers through port­holes, and are about to watch a Broad­way-style stage show cel­e­brat­ing clas­sic Dis­ney char­ac­ters.

In a four-night re­turn voy­age be­tween Port Canaveral and the Ba­hamas cap­i­tal Nas­sau, it feels as though our fam­ily of four only scratches the sur­face of en­ter­tain­ment op­tions on board this ship.

The Dis­ney Dream’s maiden voy­age sailed on Australia Day last year, and it is the third ves­sel in the Dis­ney Cruise Line fleet. It is one of the world’s long­est cruise ships at 340m and ac­com­mo­dates 4000 pas­sen­gers and al­most 1500 crew who, in­ci­den­tally, work seven-day-a-week con­tracts for months at a time and are paid mostly in tips.

Al­most 90 per cent of the cab­ins – ahem, state­rooms – have bal­conies or views.

Just like Dis­ney’s re­sorts and theme parks, ev­ery­thing on the ship runs like clock­work – such as the 20 min­utes it took us to dis­em­bark, col­lect our lug­gage and pass through cus­toms. Also like the theme parks, there can be long queues. Like the 50 min­utes we waited for pho­to­graphs with six Dis­ney princesses, although it was nice to knock them all off in one go.

De­spite Dis­ney’s fam­ily-fo­cused im­age, there’s plenty on board for peo­ple of all ages, and many re­tirees and other cou­ples sail with Dis­ney Cruise Lines for the qual­ity food, accommodation and en­ter­tain­ment.

There are the usual at­trac­tions, such as cine­mas, restau­rants, nightly bands and live shows, night­clubs, a walk­ing track and a health club.

Add to that some spe­cial Dis­ney touches, in­clud­ing pi­rates ab­seil­ing from fun­nels, fire­works at sea and the Aquaduck, a water coaster that pro­pels guests 230m through a glass tube that ex­tends over the side of the ship 12 storeys above the sea.

Water at­trac­tions cater for all ages, although the only real neg­a­tive on the Dis­ney Dream is its postage stamp­sized swim­ming pools.

Only two small pools are avail­able for fam­i­lies and these re­sem­ble over­stuffed wash­ing ma­chines. The sails three and four-night Ba­hamian cruises from Port Canaveral in Florida, all year-round. Room prices vary and the cheaper in­side state­rooms sell out quickly. A deluxe fam­ily ocean-view state­room with ve­randa costs about $900 or less for adults and $600 for chil­dren for the fournight cruise. See dis­n­ey­cruise .dis­ney.go.com

Apart from the pool prob­lem, the other op­tions for chil­dren are bril­liant. At the kids clubs they can get messy mak­ing vol­ca­noes with a mad sci­en­tist, have story time with a Dis­ney char­ac­ter, make pup­pets, learn to cook, and en­joy count­less crafts and com­puter games. There are sep­a­rate clubs for tweens and teens who have out­grown the buzz of Buzz Lightyear.

The Dis­ney Dream’s four-night cruise has two days in port. Our first visit is Nas­sau. It’s a place of con­trasts, from the lux­ury At­lantis re­sort area, where suites can cost thou­sands of dol­lars, to run-down back streets where lo­cals sell un­ap­peal­ing lob­sters from steamy road­side stalls.

Nas­sau’s 250,000 res­i­dents are about 70 per cent of the Ba­hamas’ pop­u­la­tion. It has a pi­rate past but to­day the Bri­tish in­flu­ence is clear in the ar­chi­tec­ture, although many build­ings are a bright pink like their

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