Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Update: All Disney Cruises Are Canceled Until April 30th, and Some Magic and Wonder Cruises in May Are Also Canceled

Earlier today, January 27th, on their website, Disney announced that all cruises on the Dream and the Fantasy are canceled through April.  Some cruises on the Magic and the Wonder in May have also been canceled.  Cruises on the Fantasy will resume on May 1st, cruises on the Dream will resume on May 3rd, cruises on the Wonder will resume on May 17th, and cruises on the Magic will resume on May 22nd.  

The last Magic cruise that was canceled actually wasn't from this announcement.  The cruise from May 9th to May 22nd would've been a 12-night transatlantic cruise, and it was canceled in a previous announcement from December.

This announcement increases the total length of the COVID-19 DCL suspension to around a year and two months.  Disney is continuing to refine their protocols for when cruises resume, so when cruises do resume, they're going to be much different than they were before the suspension.  I was thinking that this summer would be a good time to resume cruises, but now I'm not sure about that.

As usual, everybody affected by this suspension will have the choice of receiving a full refund or a 125% cruise credit, as long as they've paid their entire cruise price.  The Disney Cruise Line website gets updated before I update my blog, so be sure to check there for the most up-to-date news.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

The Dream Is a Decade Old!

Exactly ten years ago today, January 26th, the Disney Dream's maiden voyage started.  The Dream is the third ship in the DCL fleet, and is the first of its class, the second being the Fantasy.  Since it was the first in the Dream class, it introduced many new features that set it apart from the existing ships.  Since then, some of the features first seen on the Dream have been adopted on the Magic and Wonder, but the Dream still has features you can't find on any other ship.  Let's celebrate this special day and look back at what the Dream brought to the DCL fleet.

First, let's take a look at the features that the Dream introduced that were completely new.  Nothing like these features were on the Magic or Wonder when the Dream started cruising in 2011.

One of the Dream's most noticeable features is the AquaDuck, the 765-foot long water coaster.  The AquaDuck was the first ever water coaster on a cruise ship.  Ever since my first cruise in 2012, the AquaDuck has been one of my favorite DCL features.  Even though it's not very long, it's so much fun to ride, especially right before and during the 5:45 dinner seating.  During that window of time, there's usually almost no line, so it's the best time to ride the AquaDuck.  There's also an AquaDuck on the Fantasy, and the AquaDunk (not Duck) was added to the Magic in 2013.  The AquaDunk is a drop slide, where single riders stand on a platform that folds in.  They are propelled through the tube and reach the end of the slide in a few seconds.  It's much shorter than the AquaDuck, but it's a good use of the limited amount of space on the Magic.

The AquaDuck goes through the forward funnel, and the Dream was the first ship to have Outlook.  Outlook isn't well advertised (there isn't even a page on the DCL website for it), and when I was on the Fantasy in January 2020, its doors were closed whenever I went up to it.  I probably should've checked if the doors were unlocked, because I might've been able to go inside!

The Dream also introduced Goofy Golf, a 9-hole mini golf course on Deck 13.  It's not as crazy as some of the mini golf courses on land, but it is goofier.  The Imagineers made great use of the limited space.  Did you know that a running track was planned for Goofy's Sports Deck?  It must've gotten pretty far into the Dream's planning.  In Welcome Aboard!:  The Creation of the Disney Dream, there's concept art that shows a running track between Goofy Golf and the wall.  It even says, "The sports deck offers table tennis and foosball tables, and is encircled by a walking track."  This makes me think that it must've been removed late in the Dream's design process, since this official Disney book was published with that false information.  Anyway, take a look:

I'm glad this plan didn't happen, since it would've made Goofy's Sports Deck too crowded.  Where would they have put the foosball tables?

Goofy's Sports Deck on the Dream also added sports simulators, available at an extra charge.  I've never done one, but they're probably fun.

Enough about sports.  Another noticeable feature the Dream introduced was Enchanted Art.  Scattered around guest areas, these paintings look normal at first, until they start to move and play sound.  These paintings are actually screens with speakers in the frame.  Some of them change throughout the day, which would seem incredibly weird if you didn't know they weren't normal paintings.

Some of the Enchanted Art paintings around the ship have a magnifying glass icon on the floor in front of them.  These paintings are part of something else the Dream added to the DCL world, the Midship Detective Agency!  This is a game where players go around the the ship to these special paintings and use a badge card to interact with them.  Players do various tasks in order to solve a mystery.  It's a lot of fun, and I think the Wish will have an updated, improved version of it.

Another fun feature the Dream added was the Vibe sundeck.  This is in the very front of the ship, and it has a few small pools and water sprayers.  Playing Uno in the Vibe sundeck pools is hard, I don't recommend it.  The sundeck is one of the main features of Vibe on the Dream and Fantasy, and it was never added to the Magic and Wonder because it can't be.  Vibe on the older ships is on Deck 11 in the Forward funnel, so there can't be a private Vibe pool area there.

The Dream was the first ship to have Remy and Meridian.  Remy is a French restaurant named after Remy the rat from Ratatouille.  It's only open to adults who pay an additional fee for a reservation.  Meridian is a bar between Palo and Remy.  It's also an adults-only area.  I don't know much about either of them since I've never been able to go, but I do know that the bathrooms near Palo, Remy, and Meridian are really nice.

Speaking of restrooms, the Dream was the first Disney ship where every public restroom is wheelchair-accessible.  It's not something Disney would advertise, could you imagine an advertisement for the Dream with this as a selling point?

Nothing makes me want to go on a Disney cruise more than knowing that every public restroom is wheelchair accessible.

The Dream's atrium made a major change to what had been in the older DCL ships.  On the Dream, there's only one fancy grand staircase.  The Magic and Wonder originally had two grand staircases, but that has changed to one in their Reimaginings.  Would that be considered an upgrade or a downgrade?

Right next to the atrium is Bon Voyage, another bar.  It's only on the Dream and Fantasy, and I really like the mural behind it.  The Fantasy has a different mural, but the one at the Dream's Bon Voyage shows the Dream in the era that the DCL ships imitate.  It also goes really nicely with the gold and white color scheme of the Dream's atrium.

A less-noteworthy but still cool feature that debuted on the Dream were the Magical Portholes in inside staterooms.  These portholes are screens that receive live videos from outside of the ships.  There are two different video feeds, one for port and one for starboard.  The live video received by a Magical Porthole depends on the side of the ship it is on, which is a really nice touch.  Since it's a screen, Disney characters sometimes appear in the porthole.  On the Fantasy, during Star Wars Day at Sea, Star Wars ships like the Millennium Falcon can fly by.  Unlike normal portholes, these can be turned off!

The Dream's Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab introduced the Magic PlayFloor, a large grid of screens that respond to movement and pressure when stepped on.  Kids can play games by stomping on the floor, which is an interesting way to play.  It's a good thing there aren't any staterooms on Deck 4, because the stomping is probably pretty loud at times.  Sorry, D Lounge!

The Dream was the first Disney ship to let guests talk to Crush, the turtle from Finding Nemo, in Animator's Palate.  It's amazing how he can talk to guests as if he really exists.  If Crush was my teacher, he'd make online school so much more entertaining.  He's talked to my family twice, which is totally righteous, dude!

Finally, Enchanted Garden and Royal Palace were first seen on the Dream.  Enchanted Garden is really pretty when the lights change throughout the dinner to simulate a sunset.  It's also on the Fantasy, and they're practically identical.  Royal Palace is only on the Dream, and it looks like a fancy royal palace.  It's the least exciting of the Dream's rotational restaurants.  It's not bad, but I prefer the other two.  Royal Palace's counterpart on the Fantasy is Royal Court, which is very similar to Royal Palace, except for the name.  

Next, let's look at what the Dream added but something similar already been seen on the Magic and Wonder.  The similar features on the older ships have been converted to be more like what's on the Dream and Fantasy for continuity across the fleet.

The Dream introduced Cabanas, the tropical buffet restaurant.  It wasn't the first buffet restaurant on the Disney ships, that was Topsider Buffet on the Magic.  Cabanas is Finding Nemo-themed, with a massive, colorful mosaic of characters from the movie.  There are also seagulls from Finding Nemo scattered around the restaurant.  Cabanas was originally exclusively on the Dream, until the Fantasy started cruising in 2012.  It was added to the Magic in 2013 and to the Wonder in 2016.

Eye Scream and Frozone Treats were also first seen on the Dream.  Since then, they've been added to the other ships, except on the Wonder, Frozone Treats is Sulley's Sips.  I think Sulley's Sips goes better with Eye Scream, since both of them are Monsters, Inc. themed.

The Dream introduced a new layout of the poolside quick-service restaurants with Flo's Café.  On the Magic and Wonder, the three restaurants, Pinocchio's Pizza, Duck-in Diner/Pete's Boiler Bites, and Daisy's De-Lites, are spread across the pool deck.  However, on the Dream and Fantasy, all three of the restaurants, Luigi's Pizza, Tow Mater Grill, and Fillmore's Favorites, are grouped together.  Having them all in one place is convenient, but they can get crowded.  Which version is better?

The adults-only pool deck area was enlarged on the Dream.  On the Magic and Wonder, the only pool deck area reserved for adults is the Quiet Cove.  On the Dream, adults get most of Deck 13 Forward, except for the Concierge Sun Deck.

Also, Waves and Currents, two of the pool deck bars, originated on the Dream.  The Magic and Wonder had the Signals bar, but the Dream increased the pool deck adult-beverage options.  

The Dream is the only ship to have Pub 687, Pink, and Evolution.  Skyline first appeared on the Dream, but is also on the Fantasy.  Pub 687 is really cool since it's named after the Dream's hull number, assigned to it by Meyer Werft, the shipyard where it and the Fantasy were built.  It has photos and various items from the Dream's construction.  I wish the Fantasy had done something like this, it has O'Gills Pub instead, which isn't quite as cool.

Senses Spa & Salon debuted on the Dream.  It's larger than the Vista Spa that was on the Magic and Wonder, and it added new features, like the Chill Spa.  I remember going to Senses with my parents on the first day of a cruise once for a raffle, and I was so bored.  Even with the Chill Spa for teenagers, it's still mainly for adults.  Senses has replaced the Vista Spa on the Magic and Wonder.

The Arr-Cade was first seen on the Dream, but it was the equivalent to Quarter Masters Arcade on the Magic and Wonder.  The Arr-Cade has been removed from both the Dream and the Fantasy, replaced with specialty dessert shops Vanellope's (on the Dream) and Sweet on You (on the Fantasy).

The original it's a small world nursery (there aren't any capital letters in the title, but it's okay, most kids under age three can't read or know capitalization rules) is on the Dream.  Flounder's Reef was the nursery on the older ships, and it has been replaced by the it's a small world nursery.

The Dream was the first DCL ship to have the "modern" shops, Mickey's Mainsail, Sea Treasures, and White Caps.  On the Magic and Wonder, the shops were Treasure Ketch, Mickey's Mates, and Radar Trap.  I'm not sure on this, but having the word 'trap' in the name of a store probably isn't the best way to get customers.  These shops have been renamed with the newer names in the years since the Dream has been around.

The D Lounge has become a feature on all of the DCL ships, and it originated on the Dream, like many other features, as we've seen.  On the Magic and Wonder, the D Lounge was previously Studio Sea, which was similar to the D Lounge.

The Dream added a lot to the DCL ships, and I hope the Wish adds just as many new features or more than the Dream did.  For our first cruise in 2012, my family and I went on the Dream, and we had so much fun that we went on eight cruises after that.  Even though it's just been doing 3, 4, and 5-night cruises for the past decade minus most of 2020, it's introduced many to the world of DCL.  The Dream is lucky, it gets the day off!  It's spending the day off the coast of Port Canaveral with the Wonder and the Fantasy.  The Dream really is living the Dream today!

Congratulations on a decade of being in service, Disney Dream!

Monday, January 18, 2021

Which Funnel Is It?


Last week, the YouTube channel Ems -Dollart Media uploaded the above video, giving people a first look at of one of the Wish's funnels.  This was one of the most exciting construction updates we've had so far, but the rest of the Wish isn't ready for this to be installed yet.  Unfortunately, the video only gives us a look at one side of the funnel, so the information I can pull from it is limited.  Working with what we have, let's try to figure out which of the Wish's funnels this is.

On the funnel, the Disney Cruise Line logo is easily identifiable.  Also, here are rectangular holes at the bottom of the funnel, so doors will probably go there.  The top round section, which is normally black, will be added to this funnel later.  On the front of the funnel, there's something.  At first, I thought this would be part of the deck and nobody would see it, but it won't.  Take a look at one of the Dream's funnels:
See the white horizontal bars?  They don't go all the way down to the deck, so the thing sticking out of the front of the Wish's funnel won't be part of the deck.  The front section also has rectangular gaps, which are probably for doors.  Since there are door frames, this area probably won't be for a water slide or a pool deck feature for guests.  I'm really interested to see what this weird section becomes, since there's nothing like it on any of the existing funnels.

Enough about strange areas with door frames.  If you look back at the photo of the Dream's Aft (functional) funnel, there is a staircase on the port side of the funnel that leads to the AquaDuck.  The artist's rendering of the Wish has an AquaDuck, and since it's so popular on the Dream and Fantasy, I'm sure there will be an upgraded version of it on the Wish.  If the funnel in the video is the Wish's Aft funnel, it's probably where the new AquaDuck will start from, so the staircase will be added eventually.  On the Dream and Fantasy, the staircase goes through the Disney Cruise Line logo on the port side, and the video is of the port side of one of the Wish's funnels, but there's no hole in the logo.  The Wish could have the AquaDuck entrance on the starboard side, so there may be a hole on the other side.  Or, the hole could be added in later.  Maybe the staircase will be completely inside the funnel so there won't even be a hole in the logo.  

Further evidence that this is the Aft funnel is inside the funnel.  Take a look at the top left corner of the video.  There's a platform inside!  This could be part of the staircase and line for the AquaDuck.

While there is a lot of proof that the funnel in the video is the Aft funnel, it could also be the Forward funnel.  The doors on the sides could lead to the Midship elevator lobby.  Assuming that the doors on the bottom are on Deck 12, it looks like there's enough room for two more decks, 13 and 14.  There probably won't be more than 14 guest decks because the Wish will only be a little larger than the Dream and Fantasy.  The platform inside that I mentioned earlier could be temporary and only there until the actual decks have been built.  If this is the Forward funnel, glass will be added when the real decks get built.  Also, on the Dream and Fantasy, the AquaDuck goes through the Forward funnel, but this funnel doesn't have any AquaDuck-shaped holes in it.  If the Wish's upgraded AquaDuck runs through the Forward funnel, holes will be added in the future.

On the four current ships, Funnel Vision is on the back of the Forward funnel.  On the Dream and Fantasy, it's toward the bottom of the funnel:
Since the video doesn't show the back of the funnel, it's impossible to tell if Funnel Vision can go there.  I think there'll be more videos of this funnel in the future, and hopefully they show it from other angles.  

As of now, I don't know which funnel it is.  It could be either one.  While writing this post, it was easier for me to find reasons why this funnel is the Aft funnel, so that seems more likely.  But again, this video only showed part of the funnel.  If I could just see the back and other side of the funnel, maybe I'd be able to figure out which one it is.  If you have any ideas on which funnel this is, feel free to leave a comment.  The DCL ships only have two funnels, so if you guess one randomly, you have a 50% chance of being correct!

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Update: All Disney Cruises Are Canceled Until March 31st

Yesterday, January 12th, on their website, Disney announced that all cruises are canceled until March 31st.  Cruises will resume on April 2nd on the Wonder and Dream, and they'll resume on April 3rd on the Magic and Fantasy.

Like the last four suspensions (not counting the one that canceled some cruises longer than seven nights), this group of cruises was canceled partially because Disney is still refining their protocols for cruising in a world with COVID-19.  Also, in March, I don't think the world will be ready for resuming cruises.  I think they'll resume at some point this year, but I don't know when.  Summer would be nice, but is it even a possibility?  We'll see what happens.

The first pandemic-related suspension canceled cruises in March 2020.  So, this announcement means that in March 2021, there will have been no cruises for an entire year.  Not only has the cruise suspension been bad for Disney and other cruise lines, it's disappointed so many people who were looking forward to going on a cruise.

Although that's unfortunate, at least people affected by the suspension can choose to receive either a full refund or a 125% cruise credit, as long as they've paid the full price of their cruise already.  If you'd like to learn more about this suspension, be sure to visit the Disney Cruise Line website.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Will the Wish Have a Midship Detective Agency?

The Midship Detective Agency is one of my favorite features of the Dream-class ships.  Although it's pretty easy if you've played it many times, it's still a lot of fun, especially for first-time cruisers.  It's really popular, and when I've been on the Dream and Fantasy, I've seen a lot of kids and families hurrying around the ship to find their next painting.  Since it's enjoyed by so many people on the Dream and Fantasy, the Wish will probably have its own Midship Detective Agency, or something similar to it.  

Although it's really fun, the original Midship Detective Agency is limited, thanks to its decade-old technology.  The designers could only do so much with the technology of the existing Midship Detective Agencies, which may be why there are only three cases.  If the Wish has a version of the game with new technology, the developers will have much more freedom when designing the game and new, more creative cases are almost guaranteed.

Speaking of new technology, how will the Wish's game differ from the Dream-class version?  I'm not sure.  Recently, Disney announced that the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game at Disney World is closing later in JanuaryThis game appears to be similar to the Midship Detective Agency, since players go around the park and hold up cards that probably have patterns on one side that the game's cameras can read.  Disney is shutting this game down because of changes in how Disney World guests use mobile devices and because of decreased demand for the game.  After removing Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, Disney may replace it with something similar, but with upgraded technology that allows players to use a mobile device to play.  

Could Disney do this with the Wish's Midship Detective Agency?  They could, which would be interesting.  Many DCL guests keep their mobile devices with them as they go around the ship to look at the DCL Navigator app and to take photos.  So, using a mobile app to play would be convenient, especially if the Midship Detective Agency was part of the regular DCL Navigator app.  In addition to not requiring a badge to play, using a phone would eliminate the need for the case booklet, since that would just be part of the app.  Also, modern smartphones have many features that could enhance the game.  For example, the game could incorporate augmented reality to make what's happening in-game appear in the real world.

The possibilities associated with using a smartphone to be a Midship Detective are exciting and would make the game distinct from its original Dream-class version.  However, many of the people I've seen playing the Midship Detective Agency on the Dream and Fantasy were kids, many of whom do not have their own phone or mobile device.  So, by using an app to play, people without a phone or other device to use wouldn't be able to play.  Another issue with using an app on the Wish would be connection.  If you've been on a Disney cruise, you probably know that the DCL Navigator app isn't very reliable because of poor Wi-Fi connection.  I'm hoping the Wish fixes this problem, but you never know, it still may leave something to be desired.  A poor connection would make a fun game significantly less fun.  Additionally, using a phone would take most of the action off of the Enchanted Art and onto a small phone screen, which isn't nearly as special.  Finally, after guests finish the game, the badge, the case booklet, and the mini pencil are fun, included souvenirs.  The main attraction of the Midship Detective Agency is being able to interact with paintings, and using a phone would take some of the magic out of it.

While the Wish's new version could let players use smartphones to play the game, having players use a badge and a case booklet is the better way to go.  Upgrading the technology used in the Enchanted Art and the badges is a must, as this would open up new gameplay possibilities.  Maybe when starting a new game, players will be able to choose between using a phone or a badge.  If this is the case, there should not be any difference in gameplay between the two control schemes so nobody feels like they're missing out.  If phones are a control option, I really hope they sell a Midship Detective Agency badge themed phone case in the shops.  It wouldn't be necessary to play the game, of course, but it would look cool.

This is unrelated to control options, but I hope the Wish adds a harder case.  The existing three are great, but they are over pretty quickly.  The current hardest case is The Case of the Stolen Show, and it's my favorite partially because it's a little more challenging and takes longer.  To make it longer, the game could make players visit every Enchanted Art location and backtrack to some they've already been to.  To make it harder, the map could be removed from the booklet so players wouldn't know where each painting is.  Or, if Mickey's feeling extremely harsh, there wouldn't even be a booklet for the difficult case.  Players would have to remember everything they've done and all of the suspects they've crossed off.  Another way to make it harder would be to not allow any mistakes.  If a player chooses the wrong suspect or does a task wrong, they'd lose.  These changes would add more variety to the game and make it more worth doing for experienced Midship Detectives.  The difficult case would encourage first-time detectives to play the game multiple times throughout their cruise to work their way up through the difficulty levels.  I'd probably start with the hardest one since it sounds like the most fun.

I really hope the Wish has an upgraded Midship Detective Agency.  The new technology would increase the gameplay possibilities and allow the developers to go all out when creating the new game.  It may also allow for new control options.  Hopefully they'll add that hard case and that phone case!