Sunday, December 5, 2021

The Confusing Wish Parade Float

A while ago, it was announced that a float based on the Disney Wish would be featured in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.  It's great advertising, as the parade is watched by people all over the United States.  DCL even created an original song, Together We Set Sail, and got a Broadway singer to perform it.

A while before the parade, DCL released this rendering of the float:

It looks nice, but there's something wrong with it.  Look at the funnels.  The Disney Cruise Line logo on the funnels is missing the Mickey Mouse ears!

I like the DCL logo, but without the Mickey Mouse ears, it just looks wrong.  It's less of a Disney Cruise Line logo and more of a generic cruise line logo.  Since it was just a rendering, I thought that the actual parade float could have the actual DCL logo.  I chose to wait until after Thanksgiving to see if the float's logo was right or not.

Unfortunately, the real float looked very similar to the rendering.  The Mickey Mouse ears were nonexistent on the float's funnels, but why?  It's not because the float's funnels were too small.  It's not because Disney wasn't involved with the float.  I think it's because of legal reasons.

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was broadcasted on NBC.  NBC is owned by Comcast, not Disney.  Maybe the Mickey Mouse ears weren't allowed to be on the parade float because of legal restrictions.

Could it have been a result of NBC's legal restrictions?  Possibly.  NBC might not allow other companies' logos to be featured in the parade.  If this was the case, Disney probably removed the Mickey ears to have an altered version of the DCL logo on the float.

I don't think this was the reason for the weird logo.  For example, there was a Cracker Barrel float in the parade.  This float had the full, unaltered Cracker Barrel logo.  Similarly, the Hallmark Channel float featured its full logo.  So, if it wasn't due to an NBC policy, it must have been due to a Disney policy.

Disney is typically very protective of their property (for example, I have a few pairs of Mickey Mouse socks that all say "© Disney" on them.  Socks!).  But if the Mickey Mouse ears couldn't be on the float's funnels due to Disney's legal restrictions, why were Mickey and Minnie, whose heads are in the same shape, allowed to be riding on the float?

It's not like Disney is against the Mickey Mouse ears appearing in media that isn't owned by the company.  For example, in the video game Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, (owned by Nintendo) Sora (from the Disney-owned Kingdom Hearts series) is a playable character.  Kingdom Hearts features Disney characters like Goofy and Donald Duck, and there is a keychain on Sora's weapon with the same Mickey Mouse ears that should've been on the parade float.
Of course, Mickey Mouse isn't in Super Smash Bros., so maybe Disney has a "one or the other" policy.  It's a stretch, but maybe in order to feature Mickey Mouse in something that isn't owned by Disney, companies can only use either the Mickey ears silhouette or Mickey himself.  Having both might be too much for DCL's legal restrictions.

As strange as the DCL logo on the parade float was, I don't know why it was like that.  Anyway, I'm thankful they put the Wish in the parade.  As for the altered logo, I guess we'll have to put it into the jar of DCL mysteries.  Hey, at least Pinocchio's Pool will have some company.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Oh No, the Wish Is Going Under the Sea

Back in April's Once Upon a Disney Wish presentation, it was announced that Aladdin:  A Musical Spectacular will be one of the Wish's at launch.  In addition to this, the presentation mentioned "two original shows that are currently being developed for the Disney Wish."  We hadn't heard anything about those "two original shows," but that changed yesterday.

Released yesterday, a Disney Parks Blog post revealed those two other original shows.  They are Seas the Adventure and The Little Mermaid.  Seas the Adventure, the show on the first night of every Wish cruise, looks like fun.  Goofy is the main character, and the show takes him "on a journey to discover his own inner captain."  Well, he won't have his own sports deck on the Wish, but at least he's the protagonist of a live show.  At the end of the show, the characters will lead the guests out into the Grand Hall, which is a cool way of allowing guests to interact with the characters while simultaneously getting them out of the Walt Disney Theatre.

The Wish's version of The Little Mermaid is likely going to be very popular.  At first glance, it sounds like a great idea.  It's a retelling of the movie of the same name, told by a group of storytellers who find a special treasure chest.  Since this is a musical on a cruise ship, this opens up so many possible jokes about the story taking place "under the sea."  This is great, but my biggest question is, "Why?"  Why is this on the Wish?  If only there was another DCL ship with many more references to The Little Mermaid than the Wish that would be a much better fit for this show.

Hey look, it's the Wonder!  The second DCL ship has a lot of The Little Mermaid theming, like the Ariel atrium statue and Triton's, one of the rotational restaurants.  Aside from these, the artwork behind Guest Services, the mural visible from the Midship elevators, and even some of the lights are themed after The Little Mermaid.  Wouldn't The Little Mermaid musical fit perfectly on the Wonder?

If it did come to the Wonder, The Little Mermaid would likely take the place of another live show.  I know the perfect one to get rid of:  Frozen:  A Musical Spectacular!  Time to let it go, Disney.  

Let it go to the WishFrozen would work much better on the Wish.  One of the Wish's rotational restaurants is Arendelle:  A Frozen Dining Adventure.  This restaurant is actually a "theatrical dining experience" that takes place after the events of Frozen II.  The restaurant's story will be completely different from Frozen:  A Musical Spectacular, so it's not like the Wish's guests will be overloaded with retellings of the first Frozen movie.

Disney's not going to abandon all plans of releasing The Little Mermaid on the Wish and instead release it on the Wonder, but could they bring it to the Wonder eventually?  Yes, but if that does happen, it wouldn't happen for a while.  Disney can't have a 22 year-old ship stealing a brand new ship's thunder!  

I'm interested in watching both of these live shows and seeing how well the Wish's new Walt Disney Theatre works for shows.  This may sound cold, but the theatre would be so much better with Frozen!

Sunday, November 14, 2021

The Indoor Hero Zone

I'm not a huge fan of sports, but I am a pretty big fan of DCL's sports decks.  The Wide World of Sports Deck on the Magic and Wonder and Goofy's Sports Deck on the Dream and Fantasy are among my favorite DCL features.  I love to play foosball and Goofy Golf in the warm breeze at the sports decks, and looking out and taking pictures of the ocean or whatever port the ship is stopped at is a lot of fun.  Recently, DCL announced more information about the Wish's sports deck, the Hero Zone.

The Hero Zone is a new area on the Wish that's in place of the traditional sports decks we've seen on Disney's other ships.  It'll have many of the same features as the existing sports decks, like a basketball court and foosball tables.  The biggest change is that the Hero Zone is an indoor area, not outdoor like the other sports decks.  

I was surprised to learn this.  The Hero Zone will be a 2-deck tall area on Deck 12 and Deck 13, and since those are some of the highest decks on the Wish, I assumed that it would be an outdoor area like the existing sports decks.  I was wrong, though, and I'm a little disappointed about this.  This sports deck is getting rid of one of my favorite parts of the other sports deck.  No warm breeze, no amazing views, and the Disney Parks Blog post doesn't say anything about mini golf!  Also, it doesn't look like the Hero Zone will have any sports simulators (these are at Goofy's Sports Deck on the Dream and Fantasy, but they cost extra to use, and I've never tried them out).  Since the Hero Zone won't have one of my favorite sports deck features, I don't see myself spending as much time there as I have at the other sports decks.

While I'd prefer it to be outside, being indoors enables the Hero Zone to have features that wouldn't work outside.  For example, it'll have air hockey tables and ping-pong tables (the outdoor sports decks used to have ping-pong tables, but they've been removed.  I think they were removed because it's really hard to play ping-pong in the wind and because the wind likely blew many of the small plastic balls into the water, which DCL doesn't want).  The Hero Zone will also have shuffleboard, but it looks like it'll be tabletop shuffleboard.  On the current DCL ships, the promenades have shuffleboard courts on the floor, so the Wish may have both versions.  However, as we've already learned, the Wish's promenade will be significantly different from what we've seen on the other DCL ships, so tabletop shuffleboard might be the only option.  Interestingly, the Hero Zone will have a giant screen, similar to Funnel Vision by the pools.  Instead of viewing the ocean, we'll be able to view movies.  Maybe the screen will also play live sports games.  

Another very important benefit of moving the sports deck inside is that bad weather won't impact games at the Hero Zone.  Wind and rain are no longer a problem, and "The sun was in my eyes" is no longer a valid excuse for losing a game.

While these additions and benefits are nice, the Hero Zone's biggest addition is the Incredi-Games, a competitive, excercise-based game show.  This event will feature six challenges, each based on a different super hero from The Incredibles.  All six challenges take place inside an inflatable obstacle course.  Live camera footage of the players will be broadcasted onto the Hero Zone's screen during the competition, which will increase the pressure and fun.  The obstacle course looks pretty condensed, so many families or groups should get to participate within the event window.  The Incredi-Games are geared toward families, so the obstacle course will probably be easy enough for young kids but still fun for teenagers and adults.  Maybe Edge, Vibe, and the Hideaway will hold their own Incredi-Games in the Hero Zone at night.  

The Incredi-Games obstacle course won't be running all the time that the Hero Zone is open, but I'm sure it'll draw a sizeable crowd.  It'll probably happen multiple times during each cruise so everyone who wants to participate can play.

Since it's inflatable, the Incredi-Games obstacle course can be changed.  Maybe it'll be expanded with the Wish's first dry dock renovation.  Or, maybe Disney will create a completely different obstacle course to replace it with in the distant future.  

In addition to being an indoor sports deck and the location of the new Incredi-Games, the Hero Zone is where Jack-Jack’s Incredible Diaper Dash will take place on the Wish.  On the other ships, this cute baby race has taken place in the atrium, but it'll fit in incredibly well with the Hero Zone.  

I have mixed feelings about the Hero Zone.  I'm disappointed that it's indoors, but I suppose what it adds makes up for it.  At least the other ships' sports decks aren't going anywhere.  I'm interested to check out the Hero Zone and to learn more about it.  We may get a bit more information about it before the Wish launches, and I'm hoping that DCL answers the question that Frozone fans have been asking since 2004.  "Where's my super suit?"

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The Magic is Back!

I'll take lots of pictures of the Magic on my next cruise so I won't have to use this one as much.

On October 28th, the Disney Magic started its first cruise from the United States since Disney suspended its cruise operations in March 2020!  Currently, the Magic is doing cruises out of Miami.  It was previously scheduled to be on a 5-night Bermuda cruise from New York City to San Juan, Puerto Rico right now (and my family was planning to go on that cruise), but DCL canceled that cruise and changed it to a less interesting Bahamian cruise from Miami.  Well, at least uninteresting itineraries are better than no cruises at all.  

While it's the last DCL ship to resume cruises from the US, the Magic was actually the first of the DCL ships to resume cruises.  Over the summer, the Magic went on many Magic at Sea cruises from the United Kingdom.  These cruises were unusual, as they didn't stop anywhere and only residents of the UK could sail on them.  They were ideal for people who don't like getting off at ports of call.  The Magic at Sea cruises stopped in early October, when the Magic sailed across the Atlantic Ocean (without guests) to Miami to prepare for its first non-Magic at Sea cruises since the shutdown.

With the Magic back, it looks like DCL's phased plan for resuming cruises worked!  Thankfully, none of Disney's ships had to shut down again after they resumed cruises.  The cruises happening now are different from how they were before the pandemic, but I'm hoping that as time goes on, the safety precautions and restrictions will gradually get removed.  Maybe they'll do it in phases like how they resumed cruises.  It would be great if cruises were back to pre-pandemic normal by the time the Wish launches in June 2022, but I don't know if that's going to happen.  It would be a step towards aft if the DCL ships have to suspend their operations again, so let's hope they keep moving forward!

Monday, October 18, 2021

The Wish's Youth Clubs!

In a pair of recent Disney Parks Blog posts, new information about the Disney Wish's youth clubs was announced.  One post focused on the Oceaneer Club, and the other focused on the clubs for older kids and teenagers.  In addition to these, a recent Disney Parks video highlights what's new with the youth clubs.  Take a look!

Similar to the previous announcements about the Wish's youth clubs, most of this video is focused on the Oceaneer Club.  That's okay, because there is a lot to talk about here.

Before this group of announcements, we already knew a bit about the Wish's Oceaneer Club.  Like the current Oceaneer Clubs fleetwide, the version on the Wish will be for ages 3-12.  However, the Wish doesn't have an Oceaneer Lab like the other ships.  Instead, the youth club for this age group is combined into a single club that takes up a pretty big portion of Deck 2.  This was likely done to make the club more straightforward.  Besides, the hallways between the Club and Lab are kind of awkward.  It's much simpler to have one club instead of two.  But since they combined the two together, shouldn't it be called the Oceaneer Clab?

Anyway, the Wish's Oceaneer Club appears to be similar to the current Oceaneer Clabs, just with more.  Fairytale Hall looks like some of the Disney Princess themed areas in the current Oceaneer Clubs like Pixie Hollow and Wandering Oaken's Trading Post.  Fairytale Hall on the Wish looks like these, but with more variety and more activities.  Similarly, the Wish's Marvel Super Hero Academy looks a lot like the other ships' Marvel Super Hero Academies, just with more activities and cooler technology.  Keeping with this trend, the Star Wars Cargo Bay looks like an expanded version of the previous Star Wars areas, the Millennium Falcon and the Command Post.  I'm really excited to interact with those creatures during the open houses.  Sure, these spaces are not entirely new, but they look like refined, definitive versions of the existing Oceaneer Club areas.  I had hours of fun in the existing Oceaneer Clabs when I was younger, and I'm happy that younger kids will get to have even more fun on the Wish with the more refined Oceaneer Club.  

In addition to those areas, the Wish's Oceaneer Club will have some completely new ones.  The Walt Disney Imagineering Lab looks like a lot of fun.  Is this what the Oceaneer Lab has become?  It might be where some of the activities held at the Oceaneer Lab will be held on the Wish.  I want to try out one of those ride simulation chairs, so I'm glad open houses exist.  The other entirely new area of the Wish's Oceaneer Club is Mickey and Minnie Captain’s Deck.  This area is geared toward kids at the younger end of the Oceaneer Club's age range.  It'll have special times reserved for the even younger kids at the it's a small world nursery.  This is probably possible because the nursery is adjacent to the Oceaneer Club.  I think the Captain's Deck will connect with the nursery to provide convenient access for the children and crew at the nursery during these special times.

The Oceaneer Club has taken up a lot of Disney's focus, but we can't forget about the other clubs!  

The next club up the age ladder is Edge, the club for ages 11-14.  Before this announcement, we knew almost nothing about Edge.  This iteration of Edge will be located on Deck 5 of the Wish, and it'll have a very colorful New York City loft theme.  It'll have some pretty cool-looking furniture and a soda bar.  This is really nice, as not having to leave the club to get a drink will be very convenient.  Will the soda bar serve specialty drinks?  That would be extra nice.  The rest of the Wish's Edge is similar to the existing Edges, with large screens for watching movies and playing video games, along with plenty of areas to socialize.  

A problem I've had with the current Edges is that they're too small, and I hope the Wish's Edge decreases this problem by increasing its size.  Edge appears to be pretty big on the Wish's deck plans, but I doubt we'll get a real judgment of its size until the Wish launches in June of next year.

Next, let's take a look at Vibe, the club for ages 14-17.  Disney says that the Wish's version of Vibe will be inspired by a "Parisian artists’ loft."  Similar to Edge, this version of Vibe is very colorful.  Also like Edge, it'll have some interesting-shaped furniture.  According to the artist rendering, it looks like Vibe will have at least one foosball table and a lot of TVs for movies and video games.  It will also have an interesting Mickey Mouse statue that's colorful like the rest of the space.

The Wish's Vibe is on Deck 12, right near the pools.  This means that it'll have huge floor to ceiling windows that provide views directly off the starboard side of the ship.  

While all of this is great, this Vibe seems to be a massive downgrade from the huge Vibe on the Dream and Fantasy.  Instead of a sundeck with private pools, it'll have big windows and pools nearby that can be used by all of the Wish's guests.  I think this downgrade was made because the sundeck at Vibe on the Dream and Fantasy is actually pretty restricted.  The sundeck is only open when a counselor goes out to it, and the area closes in the later afternoon because it's a source of light.  This is because the light can make it difficult for the crew on the bridge to see out into the ocean.  I've enjoyed the time I've spent at the Vibe sundeck, but I'm not devastated that it's not on the Wish.  At least adults at Senses and people walking on the promenade can still enjoy that area of the ship.

Something else that I doubt will be included in the Wish's Vibe is a soda bar.  Edge will have one, so why won't Vibe?  The answer is next door.

In addition to Vibe and Edge, the Wish will have The Hideaway, a flexible tween-teen-young adult club.  The Hideaway will be adjacent to Vibe, and the two clubs connect.  This new club can be opened to the kids from Vibe, reserved to the younger kids from Edge, and even closed off to young adults between the ages of 18 and 20!  Keeping the colorful theming going, The Hideaway will feature a dance floor, a DJ booth, a smoothie bar (that's where the Vibe kids can get their drinks), and plenty of interesting furniture.  What is it with DCL youth clubs and cool furniture?  I'm not complaining, because could you imagine going to a DCL youth club and sitting on a normal plastic chair you'd find at a school?  Disney Cruise Line's Youth Clubs:  Where even sitting down is an special experience.  

I'm really happy for the minority of guests between age 18 and 20.  Previously, these guests could participate in activities in the 18-20 Society.  These activities were held in areas around the DCL ships, not in a private club, so it's awesome that the Wish's 18-20 Society will sometimes have a home in The Hideaway.  I'm guessing that the 18-20 Society will continue to have its normal events around the ship, but hopefully it takes advantage of The Hideaway.

The Hideaway appears to be a bit smaller than Vibe, but when the two connect, the area will be huge!

My least favorite feature of The Hideaway is its name.  'The Hideaway' is very similar to 'Teen Hideout,' an area that's essentially Vibe on Castaway Cay minus the TVs, video games, and air conditioning.  On days when the Wish visits Castaway Cay, guests could mix up the two locations.  I hope nobody shows up to Teen Hideout expecting an activity at The Hideaway.  This might not be a huge problem, but maybe The Hideaway's name will be altered in the future to prevent this confusion.  Can they rename it The Lair?  What about The Bolthole?  They could make that Lightning McQueen-themed!  Red is the color of the season.

Overall, the Wish's youth clubs are solid.  There's not too much new here, but there didn't need to be.  Hopefully the clubs are all refined versions of what kids have come to know and love on the current DCL ships.  Plus, The Hideaway is really exciting, and I'm looking forward to learning more about how its dynamic operation will work.

Finally, one of my favorite features of the Wish's youth clubs is the fact that their names are the same as on the other four DCL ships.  Many of the Wish's areas and features are similar to what we've seen on past ships but with different names.  For example, Marceline Market is replacing Cabanas, the Wonderland Cinema and Never Land Cinema are replacing the Buena Vista Theatre, Luna is replacing the D Lounge, and Sweet Minnie's Ice Cream is replacing Eye Scream.  I'm glad the Oceaneer Club, Edge, and Vibe are retaining their names.  This will make people who have been on the four current DCL ships familiar with the youth clubs without even having to visit them.  It probably means that the names Oceaneer Club, Edge, and Vibe aren't going anywhere as well.  Maybe the names, like the clubs, will become more refined in the future.  When are we getting the Oceaneer Club Steakhouse, Mickey?

Monday, October 11, 2021

If You're Still Giving Out the Cards, Why Remove the Dining Information?

One of the most useful things you can bring around with you on a Disney cruise is the Key to the World card that you receive at the beginning of your cruise.  You can use it to unlock your stateroom's door, see the start and end dates of your cruise, see the assembly station you are assigned to, make purchases, get on and off the ship, and see the dining rotations.  That last one is one of my favorite features of the card.  It's so convenient to quickly glance down at your card and check what restaurant you're scheduled to dine at.

Well, that was one of my favorite features of the card, because Disney is no longer printing the dining rotations on Key to the World cards.  Key to the World cards will still be distributed and used for everything they were used for in the past, they just won't have a dining rotation on them.  Don't worry, this doesn't mean that Disney's rotational dining system is gone.  It just means that the schedule of each night's restaurant won't be on the Key to the World cards anymore.

According to the Disney Cruise Line Blog post, a recent minor change to Disney cruises is that the Key to the World cards are printed onboard the ships, instead of at the terminal.  Because of this, the cards are distributed to the staterooms instead of directly to the guests.  That post says that the removal of the dining rotation cuts down time for the Guest Services cast members who are printing them.

So, if it's not on the Key to the World cards anymore, how can guests see where they are scheduled to go to dinner?  The DCL Navigator app, of course.  The app has all of the dining information that used to be on the card, like the restaurant order, the table number, and the seating time.  It also includes the menus.  So, if you want to check where you're going to dinner, you have to pull it up on the app.  Sure, many people carry their phones around with them on a cruise, but taking out a phone and opening up the app then navigating to where the dining information is located takes longer than just quickly looking down at a card on a lanyard.  

This change has many of the same issues as many of the other changes we've seen that place more emphasis on the app.  How do people without smart devices view their dining information?  Maybe they could go to Guest Services and get a copy of it printed out.  For these people, it's an inconvenience that wouldn't even have been an issue if Disney had kept the dining information on the Key to the World cards.

In addition to being problematic, the removal of the dining information doesn't make much sense.  The Key to the World cards are still distributed and they're still necessary for every guest, so why is the dining information gone?  How much time does not printing it on the Key to the World cards save?  Probably around a second or two per card.  Maybe there's another reason.  Was it changed to use less ink?  That's not really a good reason, because the dining information wasn't even that large on the card.

Since I can't come up with any benefits of removing the dining information, I think the most likely reason for making the change is that Disney wants guests to use the DCL Navigator app more.  When it works, the app is good.  However, it often doesn't work as well as Disney wants it to, thanks to poor connection on the ships.  Connection problems could make the dining information inaccessible at times, a problem that could be completely avoided if it was still printed on the cards.  

If it works well, I'm okay if Disney wants us to use the app more.  However, that doesn't mean that they have to remove a useful feature that's been around since before I went on my first Disney cruise.  It's a shame, I never fully realized how nice it was until DCL got rid of it.

Disney seems to like getting guests to use the DCL Navigator app more often.  If this trend continues, could phones be an alternative method to open stateroom doors or disembark the ship in the future?  It's possible, but if it happened, the Key to the World cards would still be used, as people without compatible devices would need a way to go into their staterooms or get off at a port of call.  Plus

If something like that happens, it won't be for quite some time.  For now, we can hope that Disney brings back the dining rotation on the Key to the World cards.  If that doesn't happen by the time you go on a cruise, I suggest writing your dinner schedule and your table number on a piece of paper and putting that into your lanyard's card holder, next to your Key to the World card.  Maybe fill out a comment card as well, as Disney actually reads them and listens to guests' feedback.  

What do you think about this change?  Should DCL put the dining information back onto Key to the World cards?

Sunday, October 3, 2021

The Wonder is Back!

Welcome to what I hope is the penultimate installment of the "The _____ is Back!"  On October 1st, the Disney Wonder started its first cruise since Disney suspended operations due to the pandemic in March 2020.  The Wonder's first few cruises will start and end in San Diego, California.  Since this is a very long way from Castaway Cay, these are the first Disney cruises since cruises have resumed to visit a port of call other than Castaway Cay.  Instead of visiting Castaway Cay, the Wonder will be visiting some Mexican ports like Cabo San Lucas (on 4-night cruises) and Ensenada (on 3-night cruises) for a while.

The Wonder's last cruise from San Diego will begin on November 5th.  This is an Eastbound Panama Canal cruise, and everyone on this cruise must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to sail, likely because it's so long.  This will be the Wonder's most interesting cruise of 2021, and I hope it goes well. After this, the Wonder will go on some Caribbean cruises from Galveston, Texas to finish up the year.

With the Wonder finally cruising with passengers once again, all four of the DCL ships have now resumed cruises.  If nothing causes any of the ships to suspend operations, then I'll make the last post like this when the Magic returns to the United States and resumes normal, non-Magic at Sea cruises.  

The Wonder's cruise restart is wonderful news, but you may have heard some less wonderful DCL news recently about the Key to the World cards.  A post about that is coming in a few rotations, so I hope you're not too hungry for more information.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Magic is Coming Back (in the US)!

Earlier this month, Disney announced that the Disney Magic will resume cruises from Miami on October 28th!  While this is good news, Disney has canceled two cruises on the Magic before the 28th, one starting on October 21st and one starting on October 24th.  The Magic will be going on mostly 4-night and 5-night cruises from Miami, but it's starting with a 3-night Halloween on the High Seas Bahamian cruise.  This cruise goes to Nassau and Castaway Cay, so the Magic isn't resuming just with Castaway Cay like the Dream and Fantasy did.  

I'm glad they're doing cruises that are a bit longer on the Magic, and while most future cruises weren't canceled, changes were made to some of the Magic's cruises.  Some ports of call that the Magic would have visited, like Grand Cayman, currently aren't open to cruise ships.  So, for a while after the Magic resumes cruises, it'll stop in the Bahamas on 4-night cruises and in Mexico on some 5-night cruises.  

Something else you may notice when looking at the Magic's cruises for the rest of this year and all of next year is that none of them go to Key West.  The Magic used to go to Key West quite frequently (the photo above was even taken in Key West), but it's not going at all now.  This isn't because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's because of a vote that restricts the size of cruise ships coming to Key West and some other legal drama.  If you're interested, the Disney Cruise Line Blog has a lot of information about Key West's situation, so definitely check it out.

To avoid trouble in Key West, all of the cruises that were planned to visit Key West have been altered.  My family is planning on going on the January 31st to February 5th 5-night Bahamian cruise on the Magic, and it originally included a stop at Key West.  However, DCL sent us an email alerting us that the itinerary was changed:
The email didn't say how our specific itinerary was changed, but after we checked the DCL website, we learned that the day at Key West was replaced with a second day at Castaway Cay!  Key West is cool, but I'd choose a second day at Castaway Cay over a day at Key West any day.  Thanks, Mickey!

As you may know, the Magic has actually resumed cruises already.  It's currently going on Magic at Sea cruises from the United Kingdom.  These cruises only go out to sea and don't stop at any ports, which is pretty boring.  The Magic will do a few more Magic at Sea cruises, then it'll make its way back to the United States.  It'll be the last of the four DCL ships to resume cruises from the United States (as long as DCL's plans don't change).  Cruises have been canceled for so long, and I'm happy that all of the DCL ships are finally coming back, even if they're not totally the same as before the start of the pandemic.  Restricted cruises are better than no cruises at all!

Sunday, September 12, 2021

The Fantasy is Back!

Yesterday, September 11th, the Disney Fantasy started its first cruise with normal, paying passengers!  The Fantasy is the second DCL ship to resume cruises from the United States, following the Dream, which resumed cruises last month.  

The Fantasy is starting with a few 4-night Bahamian cruises, not 7-night Caribbean cruises like it would've done normally.  In addition to trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19, these cruises were likely shortened because many of the ports that the Fantasy would've visited on its 7-night cruises aren't currently open to cruise ships.  Well, at least all of the Fantasy's cruises in September (and some in October) will have two stops at Castaway Cay, which is awesome.  After the Fantasy returns from its current cruise, it will wait until Saturday, September 18th to start its next cruise.  It's doing this because the 4-night cruises that it's going on were originally 7-night cruises, and it was likely simplest to keep the Fantasy on the one-cruise-per-week schedule.

The Fantasy will begin cruises 7-nights or longer on October 9th.  However, as previously mentioned, not all of the ports it was scheduled to visit are open.  As a result, the itineraries have been altered and now include stops in Mexico and the Bahamas.

Yesterday's success means that half of the current DCL fleet has resumed cruises!  The Wonder is next.  It's planned to resume cruises from San Diego, California on October 1st.  The Magic is still doing Magic at Sea cruises from the UK, but it'll resume cruises that stop at places later in October.  Some interesting changes have been made, but that's a story for another post.  Keep your eye out for that!

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Welcome to!

For the entire time I've had this blog, the most reliable way to access it was to type in its URL, "".  I was never a huge fan of the '.blogspot' part of the URL, but since I was using a free Blogger (the website I use to make posts) domain, I didn't have a choice.

But the .blogspot days are over now!  I now have a completely custom link,!  To access this blog, all you need to do now is visit  This new link will make accessing my blog easier than before.  The old link,, still works, but it automatically redirects you to the new link.  Nothing else on my blog has changed, and everything should still be working.  I hope you enjoy using the new and improved link!

Saturday, September 4, 2021

The Wonder is Coming Back!

A couple of days ago, Disney announced that the Disney Wonder will finally resume cruises on October 1st, 2021!  This means that two Wonder cruises, starting on September 24th and September 26th, are now canceled.  To start, the Wonder will be going on 3-night and 4-night cruises from San Diego, California.  These 3-night cruises will stop at Ensenada, Mexico and spend one day at sea.  The 4-night itinerary will stop at Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and spend three days at sea.  

The Wonder in San Diego on September 2nd, 2021.  My mom happened to be in San Diego when the Wonder arrived, so she and my aunt went to see it!  Thanks for the photo!

Originally, the Wonder was planned to begin a 7-night cruise on October 1st.  It was also planned to start some 5-night cruises on October 26th and October 31st.  However, these have been changed to 4-night cruises.  Everyone booked on these longer cruises that got changed was automatically booked on the 4-night cruise that starts on the same date as their original cruise.  Because they're now booked on a shorter cruise, these guests will be refunded for the amount of the cruise they're not going on.  People who remain booked on these altered cruises will receive an onboard credit and a 25% discount on a future cruise.  The DCL website doesn't mention how much the onboard credit will be worth.  Disney is doing something like this for the Fantasy's planned restart, and guests on those altered cruises will receive a $400 credit per stateroom, so maybe guests on the Wonder will get the same amount.  Also like the Fantasy, after these longer cruises end, the Wonder won't start a cruise later on the same day.  It'll wait until the originally-scheduled date of the next cruise, and then it'll begin another cruise.  It's kind of strange, but it was probably easier than changing the start date of other cruises.

Like the other ships' cruises, there will be restrictions on the Wonder.  Guests age 12 and older will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to sail on the Wonder.  Also, all guests (regardless of vaccination status) will need to take a COVID-19 test at the cruise terminal before boarding the ship.  This is a new measure that will apply to the three DCL ships (Wonder, Dream, and Fantasy) sailing from the United States starting September 13th.  The Magic at Sea cruises are different, but once the Magic returns to the US, it'll likely have to follow this rule.

Another restriction is that people who are not fully vaccinated will only be able to get off the ship in Ensenada or Cabo San Lucas if they are on a DCL Port Adventure.  The only people who aren't required to be vaccinated are kids under age 12.  Fully vaccinated guests are free to get off without a Port Adventure.  As a result of this, if a family wants to explore the port without a Port Adventure or go on a non-DCL excursion, but they have a child who isn't fully vaccinated, they'd have to leave their kid on the Wonder.  This restriction could really mess with some families' plans, but I guess Disney thinks it's necessary.  Unlike Castaway Cay, Disney can't control everything that happens in Cabo San Lucas or Ensenada.  

The Wonder will be cruising out of San Diego until November 5th, when it begins a 14-night Eastbound Panama Canal cruise.  It seemed crazy that a cruise this long will be happening, but there's a major restriction.  On this cruise,  everyone on the ship must be fully vaccinated to sail.  This means that, if the vaccination eligibility age doesn't get lower, nobody under age 12 will be on that cruise.  That's likely not a huge deal, since I've heard there typically aren't very many kids on those cruises because they're so long.  It would be a very interesting cruise to go on, as it would be weird seeing no young kids.  Since the minimum age for that cruise is currently 12, will the Oceaneer Club and Lab even be open?  They're normally for ages 3 to 12, but when I was 12, I chose to only go to Edge.  Maybe the Club and Lab will be repurposed as activity spaces for Edge and Vibe.  Anyway, to get on that cruise, all guests will be required to take a COVID-19 test at the cruise terminal.

With this announcement, all four DCL ships will be cruising at the same time when October arrives (as long as nothing crazy happens or DCL's plans change).  This hasn't happened since March of 2020, so I'm looking forward to that!  Also, thanks again to my mom and aunt for taking some awesome pictures of the Wonder in San Diego!

Monday, August 30, 2021

It's Not the First Disney Attraction at Sea, but at Least It'll Have Two Cartoons

Back in April's Once Upon a Disney Wish presentation, Disney announced the AquaMouse, a new water coaster on the Disney Wish that's similar to the AquaDuck on the Dream and Fantasy (they also called it the first Disney attraction at sea, but that's another story).  The AquaMouse's biggest change from its predecessor is that on it, riders will watch a Mickey Mouse cartoon called Scuba Scramble.  This cartoon is being created exclusively for the AquaMouse, so I'm expecting its action to be synchronized with what's happening in the slide.  The slide looks like a lot of fun!

As fun as it seems, a concern I had about Scuba Scramble is that people who have rode the AquaMouse many times might get tired of watching it, unless it's the best cartoon ever.  Disney seems to have prepared for that, because the AquaMouse will have another exclusive Mickey Mouse cartoon, Swiss Meltdown!  Here's a quick look at it:
Apparently, Swiss Meltdown will be splashtacular.  If they're making up words to describe it, it's probably going to be good.  According to the Disney Parks Blog, Swiss Meltdown is inspired by Yodelberg, another Mickey Mouse cartoon.  
I like that Scuba Scramble and Swiss Meltdown have different themes.  Disney could've chosen to go with two tropical cartoons, but that theming would probably get boring.  Having two completely different cartoons should keep guests coming back to the AquaMouse.  These cartoons will also have many Disney references in them, and I'm hoping to see a few DCL references.

Each day of a cruise will only feature one AquaMouse of the cartoons.  I think the two cartoons will alternate between days.  If this happens, then on a 4-night cruise, each cartoon will be featured for two days.  However, on a 3-night cruise, one cartoon will be featured for two days but the other one will only be featured for a single day.  A poster near the entrance to the AquaMouse will announce which cartoon is being featured.  In addition to this, listing the day's cartoon in the DCL Navigator App or a paper Personal Navigator (if the Wish even has them) would be helpful.

The Wish will be launching with these two cartoons, but since they're played on screens inside the slide, more cartoons could be added after the Wish launches.  I don't think the AquaMouse needs more than four cartoons, since the Wish won't be doing any cruises longer than 4-nights for a while.  Maybe more cartoons will be added with the Wish's sister ships and come to the Wish after they launch.  Disney could even branch out and make a cartoon using non-Mickey Mouse characters.  Doing this would make the name AquaMouse a bit misleading, but it's possible.  Also, if Star Wars Day at Sea ever comes to the Wish or its sister ships, Disney needs to make a story for the AquaMouse involving Mouse Droids.  

The best way to learn more about the AquaMouse will be to ride it, but that'll have to wait until next summer.  The screens inside the ride will open up many possibilities, and I'm excited to see what Disney chooses to do with the ride after the Wish's launch.  The screens are the AquaMouse's largest difference from the AquaDuck, but will that make it a better ride?  I guess we'll see in summer 2022!

Thursday, August 26, 2021

It's a Phone Game

A while ago, I wrote about how a new version of the Midship Detective Agency from the Dream-class ships could work on the Wish.  In that post, I thought that if something similar does come to the Wish, Disney may decide to incorporate mobile devices like smartphones and tablets into the game, instead of the badge cards currently used.  While this would add more variety and more features to the game, it would limit the game's audience to people with these devices.  To avoid this issue, I suggested giving players the choice between using a mobile device or a traditional card, while keeping the game the same between control schemes.

While that would be great, it's not going to happen.  Last week, Disney announced Disney Uncharted Adventure, a new game on the Wish with a similar concept to the Midship Detective Agency.  However, unlike that game, Disney Uncharted Adventure uses mobile devices, not badges, as the only control option.  As I said, this will add a lot of functionality and features to the game, like augmented reality (AR).  Because it's using mobile devices, Disney Uncharted Adventure will probably be more immersive and engaging than the Midship Detective Agency.  Here's a video with some information about the creation of the game (it also gives a look at a rendering of an elevator lobby on the Wish, and wow, it's different).

The game will begin before your cruise starts, likely with some non-critical information about the game's story.  This will be great in getting people excited for their cruise, along with the DCL Navigator App's countdown.  Once on the ship, the goal of the game is to find all of the pieces of the wishing star, which recently fractured somehow, and put it back into the sky.  The game appears to be similar to the Midship Detective Agency, but with a lot more bells and whistles, as the technology behind it is much newer.  It sounds pretty cool, especially because the game lets players choose the order of the star pieces they want to find.  This freedom will probably allow for the game to be different every time for people who have played through it before.  Also, there will be a grand finale event physically on the Wish, where players will work together to defeat a villain who caused the star to break.  Not much has been revealed about this special event, but it seems like a really cool way to finish the cruise and meet other people who played through the game.  A nice feature is that players don't have to be completely finished with the game to participate in the finale.  Although, maybe this kind of event would be better at the start of the cruise so players can meet the people they may see while playing the game.  The Disney Parks Blog post says more information about Disney Uncharted Adventure is coming in the future.

All that is great, but I have some problems with Disney Uncharted Adventure.  First off, this game requires a phone or tablet to play.  In 2021, it may seem crazy that a family wouldn't have one of these devices, but there are some families out there without them.  These people would miss out on the game, and if it's a really enjoyable experience, they'd probably be disappointed.  The game will also probably need a stable and reliable internet connection.  I'm really hoping that the Wish is designed with Wi-Fi connectivity in mind, but if not, the game might not work in some parts of the ship, which could cause players to quit and not restore the wishing star.

I've seen a lot of younger kids playing the Midship Detective Agency game on the Dream and Fantasy, sometimes without their parents.  Many kids do not have their own smartphones or tablets, so in order to play Disney Uncharted Adventure on the Wish, they'd need to use a device belonging to a family member.  It's probably harder to trust a kid with an expensive phone or tablet than a card badge, a paper casebook, and a golf pencil.  It looks like Disney Uncharted Adventure is intended to be played by families together, so this shouldn't be a huge issue.  However, playing Midship Detective Agency alone or with a sibling (without our parents) was really fun, so some kids may miss out on this with Disney Uncharted Adventure.

Another concern I have about this game is that it may not be able to run on older or less-capable mobile devices.  The game's augmented reality features will likely require a decent device to work.  Even if it can run on some less-powerful devices, it might not run well, giving some players a subpar experience with the game.  If the game is really demanding on mobile devices, it could limit the game's audience even further.

Finally, Disney Uncharted Adventure won't even be a part of the DCL Navigator App.  To play, guests will have to download a separate app, Play Disney Parks.  This isn't a huge deal, but now, guests will need to have an additional app downloaded before their cruise (or pay extra to download it using onboard Wi-Fi) if they want to play the game.  It would've been much more convenient to have everything DCL-related in a single app.  This could change in the future, but hey, at least both apps are free.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about Disney Uncharted Adventure.  With more information coming in the future, we should have a better understanding of the game soon.  What do you think about Disney Uncharted Adventure?  Are you happy with it requiring mobile devices?  Would you have preferred the option between using a badge-like card or a device?  Are you going to play it if you go on the Wish?  Leave a comment if you'd like!

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

DCL Will Require Guests 12 and Older to be Fully Vaccinated on Cruises to the Bahamas Starting September 3rd

Today, August 24th, Disney announced that starting on September 3rd, all guests age 12 and older must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to sail on a cruise that visits the Bahamas.  This announcement was made because the Bahamian government recently announced that starting in September, everyone 12 and older is required to be fully vaccinated for a ship to be allowed to enter the country.  Even though the Dream is only currently visiting Castaway Cay, guests 12 and older are still required to be fully vaccinated.  Castaway Cay is Disney's private island, but it's still part of the Bahamas, so this requirement impacts it.  As of now, this mandate will remain in place until November 1st, 2021.  

The Bahamian government's announcement didn't leave Disney with much of a choice.  At the moment, all of their cruises from the US only visit the Bahamas.  So, if they want to keep going there, they need to comply with the Bahamian government's requirements.  If Disney chose not to mandate vaccinations, where could they go on a 3-night or 4-night cruise instead of the Bahamas?  They can't do Magic at Sea cruises from the United States (thanks, Passenger Vessel Services Act).  There also isn't any port of call other than Castaway Cay where they are in control of the entire experience.  Since DCL wants to keep going back to Castaway Cay, guests 12 and older will have to be fully vaccinated on the Dream, as well as the Fantasy when it resumes cruises on September 11th.

In addition to needing to be fully vaccinated, guests need to prove that they're fully vaccinated.  They can do this by using the Safe Passage website to upload their vaccination card.  This same website also must be used to upload results of a negative COVID-19 test for all guests under 12.  If you're going on a Disney cruise between September 3rd and November 1st, be sure to check the DCL website for more information.

Getting fully vaccinated isn't a quick process, since the United States CDC considers someone to be fully vaccinated two weeks after they receive the final dose.  Not being fully vaccinated will likely prevent some people from going on cruises they had planned, but conveniently, anyone booked on a cruise that visits the Bahamas from September 3rd to November 1st is able to change their reservation or cancel it without any negative effects like fees.  

I don't know if the Bahamas will continue to require cruise ship passengers 12 and older to be fully vaccinated after November 1st, but if so, Disney will have to require it on cruises that visit the Bahamas.  Be sure to visit the DCL website for the most detailed and up-to-date information.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Taking a Look at the Rest of the 2022 Itineraries on the Magic and Fantasy

Back in June, Disney Cruise Line announced their itineraries for the fall of 2022.  However, that announcement left out finsh later.  The rest of the 2022 itineraries on the Magic and Fantasy were recently announced, but Disney is still leaving everyone wondering about the Wonder.  While we're waiting to find out what the Wonder will be doing, let's look at what the Magic and Fantasy will be doing at the end of 2022.

Previously, the Magic had itineraries announced up to December 9th, when it'll be going on cruises from Galveston, Texas.  Starting on December 9th, the Magic will go on a 4-night Very Merrytime Western Caribbean cruise from Galveston that visits Cozumel, Mexico and spends two days at sea.  After that, the Magic will go on two 5-night Very Merrytime Western Caribbean cruises that visit two Mexican ports, Cozumel and Progreso, and spends two days at sea.  Following those two cruises, the Magic will begin a 4-night Very Merrytime Western Caribbean cruise on December 23rd.  It's the same itinerary as the 4-night cruise earlier in the month, but it's significantly more expensive because it goes over Christmas.  On the 27th, the Magic will begin a 6-night (not Very Merrytime) Western Caribbean cruise that visits Cozumel and George Town, Grand Cayman.  Additionally, it spends three days at sea.  This cruise is very expensive because it goes over New Year's Day.  Overall, the Magic won't be doing anything too interesting to finish 2022, but at least we now know what it'll be doing.  

Let's see what the Fantasy's going to do in December 2022.  Before the most recent announcement, it was revealed that the Fantasy would be doing a 7-night Very Merrytime Western Caribbean cruise (this itinerary spends two days at sea and visits Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Falmouth, Jamaica; and Castaway Cay) beginning on December 3rd, followed by a 7-night Very Merrytime Eastern Caribbean cruise (this itinerary spends three days at sea and visits Tortola, BVI; St. Thomas, USVI; and Castaway Cay) starting on December 10th.  Unsurprisingly, the rest of the month isn't too interesting.  It'll do another 7-night Very Merrytime Western Caribbean cruise and then a really expensive 7-night Very Merrytime Eastern Caribbean cruise that goes over Christmas.  After that is another expensive cruise, a 7-night (not Very Merrytime) Western Caribbean cruise that goes over New Year's Day.

We now know what every DCL ship but the Wonder will be doing up until the start of 2023.  The Wonder may not be doing any cruises at the end of 2022 because of a dry dock, but I doubt Disney would schedule one then, because as we saw, cruises can get expensive over holidays like Christmas and New Year's Day.  Maybe Disney just isn't sure what to do with the Wonder at the end of 2022 yet.  Or, maybe they're planning something big and don't want to announce it yet.  For example, they might move the Wonder to the West Coast of the US.  With the addition of the Wish, DCL will have more guests than ever before, so maybe they want to expand their offerings, which are mainly cruises from Florida at the moment.  This would be a major change, so Disney may be waiting for the perfect time to announce this.  Of course, the ship is called the Wonder, so maybe Disney wants us to keep wondering about the Wonder so we'll be more prepared to find out what it'll be doing at the end of 2022.  I don't know when they will make an announcement, so I'll keep wondering!

Monday, August 16, 2021

The Fantasy is Coming Back!

Today, August 16th, Disney announced their plan for resuming cruises on the Disney Fantasy on the DCL website.  It'll resume cruises on September 11th.  Before this announcement, the Fantasy's next cruise was scheduled to begin on September 4th, but that cruise is now canceled.  No other cruises on the Fantasy have been canceled, but the remaining cruises in September and the one starting on October 2nd have been altered.  

Instead of 7-night Caribbean cruises, these cruise are now 4-night Bahamian cruises that only go to Castaway Cay.   According to the Disney Cruise Line Blog, these cruises will have two days at Castaway Cay.  This will work because the Dream will stop visiting Castaway Cay twice per cruise (this is true as of me writing this, but Disney could make changes) before the Fantasy starts cruising again.  However, unlike the Dream, the Fantasy won't be doing any 3-night cruises.  It'll be cruising for four nights of the week, then doing nothing for the remaining three nights of the week.  This seems like a missed opportunity for Disney to make more money, but only having one cruise per week, like what the Fantasy would've been doing, makes things simpler.  Everyone booked on the 7-night cruises that got changed was automatically booked on the 4-night cruise that starts on the same date as their original cruise.  Because they're now booked on a shorter cruise, these guests will be refunded for the amount of the cruise they're not going on.  These guests will also receive a $400 onboard credit per stateroom, which is super nice.  To make things even better, these guests will receive a 25% discount on a future cruise as well (once their cruise is over)!  That's significantly better than the normal 10% discount for booking onboard.  If none of these benefits make guests want to remain on the shorter, restricted cruise, they can cancel their cruise and receive a full refund.

These shorter cruises on the Fantasy will be available to book starting on August 25th.

The restrictions on the Fantasy are probably going to be just like those on the Dream, and I wrote about those here.  Be sure to check the DCL website for the latest information about restrictions and safety precautions.

Cruises on the Fantasy coming back is good, but when will it be able to resume its normal 7-night Caribbean cruises?  There's no definite answer yet, but Disney is hoping to resume them in October.  Currently, the Fantasy's next 7-night cruise is scheduled to start on October 9th, so we'll see what happens with that.

The Fantasy will be the second of Disney's ships to resume cruises from the United States.  Cruises on the Dream started back up earlier this month.  As of now, plans for the other ships' restarts in the US haven't been announced.  Disney's taking little steps toward fully resumed operations, but hey, at least they're not taking steps back! 

Monday, August 9, 2021

The Dream is Back!

Later today, August 9th, the Disney Dream will begin its first cruise with regular paying guests since March of last year!  The Dream did go on a few test cruises recently, but they weren't real cruises, as they weren't available to the general public.  The cruise starting today, a 4-night Bahamian cruise, will be the first real Disney cruise from the United States after cruises were shut down.  It'll also be the first Disney cruise with normal guests to stop at a port of call since the shutdown.  On this cruise, the Dream will spend two days at Castaway Cay and one day at sea.  After this cruise, the Dream will alternate between 3-night and 4-night Bahamian cruises.  Both of these itineraries include two days at Castaway Cay.  

Since Castaway Cay is Disney's private island, everything guests experience there is controlled by Disney.  Nassau, the other port that Disney's Bahamian cruises typically visit, is not owned by Disney, and Disney has much less control over what guests do and who they come into contact with there.  Only visiting Castaway Cay will ensure that Disney's new restrictions and safety measures will remain enforced, so it makes sense why they're not visiting Nassau for now.  Speaking of which, there will be many of them in place on the Dream and on Castaway Cay, as I talked about in my last post.  Overall, it doesn't seem like they'd completely ruin the cruise experience, but it looks like these cruises won't be as much fun as normal (pre-shutdown) cruises.

As time goes on, Disney will likely start visiting Nassau again, but for now, guests get double the time on Castaway Cay.  That's way better than Nassau!  Can you please make this a permanent change, Disney?

Unfortunately, no.  The Dream is currently the only DCL ship going on cruises with guests from the US, so it's the only ship that's going to Castaway Cay at the moment.  However, when the other DCL ships resume, starting with the Fantasy on September 4th, the Dream won't be the only ship going to Castaway Cay, so the double Castaway Cay cruises won't always be possible.  Plus, Disney probably wants to keep the double Castaway Cay cruises limited so they can charge extra for them.

If you want to watch the Dream sail out of Port Canaveral, be sure to check out PTZtv's Port Canaveral Webcam in the later afternoon.  You won't see a deck party, but plenty of people should be up on Deck 11 and Deck 12.  I'm excited to see actual guests, not just crew, on the ship.  

Assuming the Dream's cruises go well, nothing terrible happens, and Disney doesn't change plans, the Fantasy will resume cruises on September 4th and the Wonder will resume cruises on September 24th.  Things will probably change, so be sure to check the DCL website for the latest information about cruises resuming.

Friday, July 23, 2021

The Dream is Coming Back!

Earlier today, on the Disney Cruise Line website, it was announced that Disney cruises from Florida will finally resume!  The Magic at Sea cruises recently started in the UK, but those cruises are only available to UK residents and they don't stop anywhere.  The cruises that'll leave from Florida are much closer to normal cruises, as they're available to anyone and will visit ports of call like Castaway Cay.  

The Dream will be the first DCL ship to resume cruises from the US.  It'll be doing 3-night and 4-night Bahamian cruises from Port Canaveral, like what it was doing before cruises were shut down.  However, all of its August itineraries and a few early September itineraries have been changed.  Previously, the Dream was scheduled to do standard Bahamian cruises with stops at Castaway Cay and Nassau (the 4-night has a day at sea as well).  Now, instead of stopping at Nassau, it'll spend two days at Castaway Cay!  This is an improvement.  On both 3-night and 4-night cruises, the days at Castaway Cay are consecutive.  Disney probably made this change to have more control over health and safety measures.  Disney can control what happens on Castaway Cay, but not at any other port.  If I was booked on one of those cruises, I'd be happy, since Castaway Cay is a lot more fun than Nassau.

Since the Dream wouldn't have to go anywhere between days at Castaway Cay, I'm guessing it'll just spend the night docked at Castaway Cay.  It would be awesome if guests were allowed to stay on the island until later in the evening.  Cookies and Cookies Too could serve dinner!  Unfortunately, it doesn't look like this is going to happen, as the aboard time on Castaway Cay is 4:45 PM on both days.  Maybe pirates come out at 4:46 and capture anyone who doesn't get back on the ship in time.

Later in September, the Dream has stops at Nassau scheduled, but those stops could change.  If you're interested in those cruises, check the DCL website for the latest information.

The Dream is cool, but what about the other ships?  The next cruise on the Fantasy is scheduled for early September and the next cruise on the Wonder is scheduled for late September.  The Magic won't be doing any cruises from the US until November.  Disney has only released specific information about resuming cruises on the Dream, so information about the other ships will probably come later.

As I'm sure you know, cruises this August won't be the same as cruises before the shutdown.  There will be restrictions, but these cruises have less restrictions than the Magic at Sea cruises.  Some of the restrictions are similar to those found on the Magic at Sea cruises.  Here's an informational video about some of what'll be different on the Dream in August:
The video does a better job explaining than I can, so I won't waste time restating what the video already explained.  It goes over most of what guests need to know, but it doesn't mention some notable changes.  Thankfully, the DCL website has more information.  Just so you know, this information is about the Dream only.  This gives a pretty good idea of what to expect on the other ships, but specific details about them will be released later.  Here's a big list of what I thought was important.

  • Guests can use the DCL Navigator app to talk with crew members from Guest Services, Port Adventures, and dining teams.  If it works well, it'll be very helpful.
  • Using the DCL Navigator app, guests can schedule an appointment to meet with a crew member in person.  This makes me think that the Guest Services and Port Adventures desks will have significantly less crew members at them to help guests.
  • Face coverings will be required inside, but not outside.  It's funny, in the past, guest were only allowed to wear masks when getting their picture taken.  Times have changed.
  • Deck parties won't be happening.
  • Fireworks will happen on two different nights, but guests will be assigned a fireworks show they can attend before their cruise starts.  Unfortunately, they're not pirate themed.  The fireworks will happen during a more generic "Disney Ever After" show.  This might cause a mutiny.
  • Up-close character experiences won't be happening, but they'll still interact with guests from a distance.
  • Less people will be allowed in the Walt Disney Theatre at a time.  There will only be one Broadway-style show in the Walt Disney Theatre per cruise.  It'll be shown many times during the cruise, so everyone who wants to see it gets a chance.
  • Guests will need to book sessions for their children in the Oceaneer Club and Lab before their cruise online or on the DCL Navigator app.  Each child can only have one session per day, which is unfortunate for kids that love the Club and Lab.  If a child does not have any sessions in the Oceaneer Club and Lab, they can be booked through Guest Services if there's availability.
  • Edge and Vibe will be open, and no reservations are necessary.  
  • Kids at youth clubs will likely be told to wash their hands more.  We were already encouraged to do this frequently, but it looks like that'll happen more now.
  • The 'it's a small world nursery!' will be closed.
  • The minimum age to use the Senses Fitness Center has been lowered to 14.  Guests under 18 need to have an adult or guardian with them to use the Fitness Center.
  • Some Senses treatments and features won't be available.
  • Pools and water slides will be open.  Unlike the Magic at Sea cruises, guests won't have to wait in a virtual line to go to the pools, which is nice.  Capacity will be limited in the pools, but that's a good thing, since the pools are often too crowded to have fun.
  • Guests can't play shuffleboard, ping pong, or basketball.  However, the website says nothing about mini golf or the sports simulators.  This is because Disney copied this section of text from the Magic at Sea information page.  The Magic doesn't have a mini golf course or sports simulators, so how could they be temporarily unavailable?  I'm pretty sure these two features will be unavailable.  They should temporarily rename Goofy's Sports Deck to Goofy's ______ Deck.  Also, did DCL forget that foosball exists?  If the other Sports Deck activities aren't available, foosball probably isn't available.
  • All food and drinks will be served by crew members, so guests can no longer serve themselves.  I don't think this will be a huge problem, but I probably wouldn't be able to make custom drink combinations or unrealistically tall ice cream cones.
  • Menus won't be given to guests at meals, so they'll have to use the DCL Navigator app to view the menus.  Alternatively, guests can ask to get a paper menu.
  • Hanging bags on stateroom doors to collect gifts from other guests (fish extenders) isn't allowed.
  • A new contactless payment system will be used.
  • Payment history and receipts will be visible in the DCL Navigator app.
  • When getting off the ship at Castaway Cay, guests will use the DCL Navigator app to join the virtual queue.  However, when less people are debarking the ship, the virtual queue won't be in use.
  • All Port Adventures are still happening, just at a lower capacity.
  • The Castaway Cay trams will still be running, but enhanced cleaning measures will be in use.  Also, to promote physical distancing, less people will be allowed on a tram at a time thanks to modified seating.  Face coverings are required when riding on trams.  To avoid this, walk.
  • Disney says that hammocks on Castaway Cay are temporarily suspended.  But aren't hammocks always suspended?
  • The line for Pelican Plunge will now be on land.
  • The Party Patrol exists.  The Party Patrol consists of characters that ride beach vehicles around the island.  This seems like the kind of thing that'll be a permanent feature.  Can I join?
  • Scuttle's Cove, the youth club for ages 3-12 on Castaway Cay, won't be operating.  It would probably be challenging to implement the Oceaneer Club and Lab reservation system to Scuttle's Cove.
  • Teen Hideout (essentially Vibe on Castaway Cay) will be open, and no reservations are necessary.  Also, In Da Shade will be open.  Both of these will have reduced capacity, but they'll offer "recreational activities, including basketball, foosball, table tennis and pool".  This doesn't make sense.  Why are basketball and ping pong/table tennis allowed on Castaway Cay but not on the ship?  Maybe it has something to do with Disney copying the text from the Magic at Sea page.  If it's allowed at Castaway Cay, it's probably allowed on the ship.  We'll see what happens.
To me, these restrictions and new practices probably won't ruin the cruise experience.  Sure, some things are a lot different than they were (it'll probably take me a while to get used to not getting my own food and drinks), but they could be worse.  The reservations required at the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab seem very annoying, but they won't affect my family.  We're glad that Vibe and Edge don't require reservations.  Also, I'm really happy there won't be a virtual queue to go to the pools like on the Magic at Sea cruises.  

You may have noticed that I mentioned the DCL Navigator app a lot.  DCL is relying on the app more than they ever have in the past.  This is convenient for people with smartphones, since it's all available in one place.  But, there are some people that don't have smartphones who would be inconvenienced by the convenience.  Also, there's the other problem of the app not working.  My family has had many problems with the app malfunctioning, often due to a bad connection on the ship.  With more features that utilize the app and more people using the app, there's more that could go wrong.  Hopefully DCL anticipated the potential problems and upgraded the Wi-Fi technology on their fleet and Castaway Cay.  

As more cruises happen and the pandemic situation improves, many of these restrictions will probably be removed.  I don't think they'll be completely gone by January 2022, when my family is planning to go on the Magic, but I'm thinking there will be less of them by then.  The Dream's first cruise since the March 2020 shutdown will begin pretty soon, on August 9th.  The resumption of cruises on the Dream is an exciting next step toward cruises resuming fleetwide!  We'll get there, eventually.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Non-Gimmicky Restaurants are Important!

Like the four existing Disney Cruise Line ships, the Wish will have three rotational restaurants.  However, the Wish's three restaurants are all completely new.  There's Worlds of Marvel, a "Cinematic Dining Adventure".  I haven't seen most of the Marvel movies, but this restaurant looks interesting.  Also, it has small cupcakes that grow big?
I have no idea how that's going to work, but it looks cool.  Also, being able to interact with Marvel characters without waiting in a line to see them will be fun.  

The Wish will also have Arendelle:  A Frozen Dining Adventure.  There will be a large stage in the middle of this restaurant, where a new story, set after Frozen II, will take place right in front of the diners.  Since it's happening live, guests will probably be able to interact with the characters and impact on the story, so it may be different every time.  This restaurant seems to be taking the live performances featured in Tiana's Place on the Wonder and Rapunzel's Royal Table on the Magic to the next level.  If the story is something everyone can enjoy, this restaurant will be a lot of fun to eat at.

The Wish's other rotational restaurant is 1923, a restaurant with a cool 1920s theme.  From what we've seen of it, I think it's my favorite of the Wish's rotational restaurants.  Unlike the other two restaurants, it's pretty straightforward.  Here, there's no live show to watch or super heroes to help.  Without an innovative special dining experience, the fun at this restaurant is your family or travel party at your table.  

Disney wants families to spend time together on their ships.  The word "family" (or "families") was used thirteen times in this video, so its obvious that Disney designs their ships with families in mind.

So, two of the three rotational restaurants on the Wish will have a major gimmick.  Sure, participating in them probably won't be forced, but from what I've seen, they're the focuses of the restaurant.  During dinner at these two restaurants, guests will be encouraged to pay attention to what's going on in the restaurant, instead of paying attention to their families.

I'm not sure how I feel about this.  When I'm on a Disney cruise, I rarely see my family members.  I spend the days going all over the ship and having fun, mostly without them.  Dinner is often the one time of day that we all spend together on a cruise.  It's really fun to talk what we did that day, how much ice cream we ate, and what we're planning to do next.  At 1923, we'd have the entire meal to catch up and discuss what we did that day, since there's nothing to distract us.  My fear for Worlds of Marvel and Arendelle is that we won't be able to talk very much because of what's going on in the restaurant.  Sure, 1923 is less flashy and exciting than the other two restaurants, but this simplicity is actually beneficial for families!

Of course, Worlds of Marvel and Arendelle aren't the first DCL restaurants to have a feature that you wouldn't find at a normal restaurant.  On the four current ships, Animator's Palate has a variety of special features.  For example, there's the Animation Magic show, where guests draw characters that dance to Disney music on large screens on the walls later in the dinner.  I enjoy this show, and, since it's pretty short, it doesn't take much time away from our family conversations.  Same with Crush the sea turtle.  He swims around and talks to guests for a while, but he's a considerate turtle and gives families plenty of time to talk.

This is what the Wish's two restaurants need to do.  Disney is not going to change the rotational restaurants before the Wish launches (though they could change them in a future dry dock renovation), so let's think about how Arendelle and Worlds of Marvel could work.  They'll have their gimmicks and special experiences, but they can't take up too much time of the meal.  Family conversations are important! Wow, I sound like a parent. Even if 1923 is the only rotational restaurant where uninterrupted family conversations can happen, the other two restaurants must give families plenty of time together.

Disney hasn't said too much about the special experiences at Worlds of Marvel and Arendelle, and I doubt we'll know how much time these experiences will take up until the Wish launches.  

I don't think the other two future DCL ships will have the exact same rotational restaurants as the Wish, but Disney needs to include a non-gimmicky restaurant.  Sure, it would be more attractive to potential customers if every restaurant had a special experience, but it would weaken one of the most important parts of a family vacation:  Family!

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Disney Cruises Are Back!

In March of 2020, Disney Cruise Line and many other cruise lines suspended the operations of their entire fleets as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Initially, I thought this suspension would only last a few weeks, but here we are in July 2021, and that Disney Cruise Line Operational Update is still at the top of the DCL website.  While some cruise lines have resumed limited operations, Disney's four ships haven't had any guests on them in over a year.  However, that changed today!  

The first Disney Magic at Sea cruise started today, July 15th.  As you may know, these cruises depart from the United Kingdom, and only residents of the United Kingdom are able to go on them.  Also, they don't visit any ports of call.  The Magic is the only DCL ship doing these cruises (if all the ships were doing them, the cruises would be called Magic, Wonder, Dream, and Fantasy at Sea), so the three other ships haven't resumed cruises yet.  Although they're not regular cruises, the Magic at Sea cruises are a good starting point for Disney cruises to resume across the fleet.

It's great to finally have cruises going again.  However, after these Magic at Sea cruises are over, the Magic will stop cruising again.  It's like DCL is taking a step forward but then taking a step back.  Cruises on the other DCL ships would've been happening at the same time as those canceled cruises on the Magic, so it doesn't make a ton of sense.  Sure, the cruises after the Magic at Sea cruises were normal cruises that would've visited places, but the other cruises scheduled to happen then are normal as well.  Many of these canceled cruises would've departed from New York City, so maybe the reason that they were canceled was to completely avoid NYC and just resume cruises from Miami.  Does Disney have a problem with big apples?

I'm really excited for cruises to resume fleetwide, and today was a major step toward that happening.  As of now, the closest non-Magic at Sea cruise is scheduled for early August on the Dream.  I don't think it'll get canceled.  It's already mid-July, and if it was going to get canceled, I think Disney would've done it by now.  We'll see what happens, DCL could do what they did in March 2020 again.  
Until that cruise happens (if it doesn't get canceled), let's celebrate the Magic at Sea!