Captain Mickey greets guests onboard Disney Cruise Line.
Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

When Disney Cruise Line first began operating in 1998, it immediately set itself from the pack.  Building upon the little touches and attention to detail that made their theme parks so successful, Disney managed to combine the glory days of the transatlantic liners with a modern, family-friendly cruise vacation. 

As the lines’ first ships, Disney Magic and Disney Wonder set the bar high.  Designed with families in mind, the two vessels boast larger-than-average cabins with separated sitting areas, bathroom dividers, and more storage space than similar offerings on other lines.  Naturally, everything takes on a Disney-esque appearance, right down to the Mickey mouse lampshades.  Perhaps most impressive is that this sort of branding works: the interior design team has been careful to implement these touches in a classy, elegant way – so much so, that adults might not even notice the elevator banks have a white-gloved mouse hand pointing to the current floor a particular elevator is on.

The design of the ships alone would have been enough, but Disney took it one step further.  Realizing that Orlando International Airport, where most passengers would be arriving was a 90-minute drive from the pier in Port Canaveral, Disney bought its own busses – painted to resemble a 1940’s motorcoach – to transport guests to the pier.

And what a pier it is.  Based loosely on the former Ocean Terminal in Southampton, England, Disney’s exclusive pier ensures guests embarking on week-long Caribbean cruises start their cruise off in the unimitable style Disney is famous for.  Its proximity to nearby Walt Disney World also allows for cruise-and-stay options, where passengers can combine shorter 3-and-4-day cruises to the Bahamas with a land stay at the park.

In recent years, Disney has been testing the waters in other destinations like the Mexican Riviera, the Mediterranean, and Northern Europe.  These voyages have been wildly successful, despite their somewhat premium price point – so much so, that Disney Cruise Line felt the need to expand in order to take its guests, both young and old, to new destinations.

Disney Dream, due to launch early next year.
Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

Enter the brand-new Disney Dream.  When she embarks on her maiden voyage on January 26 of next year, she will be the largest ship ever constructed for the line, dwarfing her predecessors by 45,000 tonnes.  She will be 1,115 feet in length, 125 feet in breadth, and will carry a total of 4,000 passengers and 1,500 crew. 

Sporting an evolution of the classic ocean-liner profile and sleek black hull with gold accents that adorns Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, the Disney Dream was once again designed from the ground up with families in mind, and includes many of the kid-only and adult-only public rooms that have been so successful on the first ships.  In fact, the children’s programs on Disney are so well done that the line is a no-brainer decision for families looking for a vacation that everyone can enjoy.

Perhaps the most striking feature of the new ship is, like their previous vessels, the jaw-dropping interior design.  Combining that whimsical Disney style with the elegance and grace of the classic ocean liners, the line has once again raised the bar with the interiors for Disney Dream.  Here are a few of our favourite areas:

The Atrium Lobby.
Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

The Atrium Lobby
On the outset, the new Atrium Lobby looks very similar to the already-impressive ones on Disney Magic and Disney Wonder.  Look closer.  The staircase has been re-located, taking on a more sweeping, majestic presence, and a new chandellier adorns the ceiling.  The nautical feeling extends even to the carpeting, done in pleasant sea-tones.  As on the other Disney ship, a bronze statue stands at the foot of the staircase: on this ship, it’s a nearly five-foot tall statue of Admiral Donald Duck.  All of this creates an impressive welcome: the atrium is the first public room most passengers see upon embarkation.

Disney’s Oceaneer Lab.
Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

Disney’s Oceaneer Lab
The one room that makes me wish I was a kid again.  Looking like something out of Peter Pan (if Peter Pan sailed on the Normandie), the Oceaneer Lab is designed to take children on a great adventure on the high seas.  The room is adorned with nautical treasures like maps, maritime instruments, and other artifacts, and functions as a stage where kids can view movies and take part in performances and hear about tales of exploration.  Absolutely stunning.

The Animator’s Studio in Disney’s Oceaneer Lab.
Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

Disney’s Oceaneer Lab – Animator’s Studio
In the Animator’s Studio, children can learn how to draw their favorite Disney characters, or explore their own creativity to imagine new and fantastic characters and places.  With the help of Disney cast members, kids can even create their own animations.  The room is adorned with computers, light tables, and a variety of animation tools.  Design-wise, the room is more functional than pretty, but it makes the list because of the potential it presents to young passengers interested in this art.  It’s not a tough stretch to imagine ten or twenty years down the road, a new animator crediting his or her success to this very room.  As someone who has spent over six years in the animation industry, I am impressed.

The Royal Palace Restaurant.
Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

Royal Palace Restaurant
One of the onboard dining rooms, the Royal Palace Restaurant once again demonstrates Disney’s committment and attention to details.  Complete with a hand-blown glass chandelier made of glass slippers, the room retains the elegance of a bygone era, and contains elements from the films that inspired it: Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White.  Its white walls and dark wood and gold accents remind us of the first-class dining saloon on the RMS Lusitania.

The Enchanted Garden during ‘daylight’.
Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

The Enchanted Garden
Reminiscent of the Winter Garden onboard RMS Queen Mary 2, the Enchanted Garden is an alternative causual restaurant that transforms from day to night.  Adorned with glass ‘flower’ lights and an impressive terrace fountain of Mickey Mouse, this beautifully designed area is sure to delight diners with its relaxing atmostphere and soothing colors.  Expect this to be one of Disney Dream‘s most sought-after areas.

The champagne-themed Pink.
Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

An area just for the adults, Pink looks like it would be right at home on the Celebrity SolsticeDesigned as an elegant, upscale cocktail bar, Pink features backlit ‘bubbles’ which cover the walls to create the look and feel of cascading bubbly.  Serving fine wines, champagne and other assorted liquors, the clever design elements and upscale atmosphere ensure this will be a popular pre-dinner drinks spot with adults.

Those are just a few of our favorite public rooms.  Fact is, there are simply too many public rooms we’re enchanted with to list here.  We hope to be able to sail Disney Dream next year to give readers a first-hand report of her features. 

In the meantime, information about Disney Dream, its design and construction, as well as its first sailings can be found at the Disney Cruise Line website.


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