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Disney's New Dream

By: Erica I. Peña-Vest

I had never seen anything so impressive. At 1,115 feet long and standing 14 stories above the sea, I could have stood outside in awe for hours. Lucky for me, I didn't have to and was even more stunned by what waited for me inside.

I'm talking about Disney Cruise Lines' newest ship, the Disney Dream. I was fortunate enough to have sailed on her inaugural voyage and was overwhelmed by the opulence, comfort and relaxation I discovered on board. In all my years with the travel industry and as a travel writer, nothing I had ever seen before prepared me for the unique architecture, design, imagination, innovation and pixie dust of the Disney Dream.

Based at Cape Canaveral, Florida and offering 3-5 night Bahamian cruises, the Disney Dream holds up to 4,000 passengers in 1,250 staterooms, which was the first item on my list of things to see. Even with a ship of this size, in my mind, I imagined the staterooms had to be small and crowded, with a bathroom that would rival an airplane lavatory. Much to my relief, I was pleased to see the rooms were quite spacious (the smallest room is 204 square feet), well-lit and beautifully decorated with a tasteful, nautical theme. The bathrooms are more than adequate in size with the added bonus of the toilet and shower being separate to help families economize usage. Disney Cruise Lines also offers a unique and magical addition that makes them innovators in the future of staterooms. Rather than a blank wall or generic painting, each inside facing stateroom has a magic porthole that provides real-time views of the outside world. They are fed live video from cameras placed on the exterior of the ship and contain an element of surprise that only Disney can offer – magical glimpses of Disney characters ‘flying by'.

While sailing a Disney Cruise Line ship, passengers have the added benefit of visiting Castaway Cay, Disney's private island in the Bahamas. In an effort to offer fun in the sun to everyone, Disney has divided the beach into three separate areas for toddlers, families and adults (see sidebar.) My son, Sam, and I spent most of our time at Scuttle's Cove, which offers a unique family experience for those with young children. We opted to play together in the shallow lagoon and had the time of our lives splashing in the crystal clear water.

There is something for everyone on board the Disney Dream. Children, tweens, teens and adults will all find what they seek be it refuge, relaxation or non-stop fun. My son took a cooking class at Disney's Oceaneer Lab (play and adventure area for children 3-10). I had never ever seen him so excited. With pools, play areas, an arcade, teen only area, a sports deck, Disney's AquaDuck (see sidebar) and a world-class spa, your family will have more than enough to experience and enjoy.

There's an old travel adage that cruise ship food is always plentiful but hardly ever the first thing you write home about, but on the Dream, the food could compete as one of the main attractions. Hosting a rotational dining plan every night onboard, guests try a new restaurant every night, but with a novel touch of magic - your wait staff rotates restaurants with you. This concept adds a new dimension to quality service. By the second night on-board, our wait staff had our drinks waiting for us at our table when we arrived (knowing that I'm addicted to Diet Coke and that my son prefers his water with no ice). With superior food quality and freshness - and with three main dining rooms, two fine dining restaurants, a casual dining buffet, a quick service restaurant and two ice cream shops - you won't ever run out of places to eat.

As military families, our time with our family is extremely valuable. I'll admit that I am a parent that travels with a laptop, smart phone, work to do and phone calls to return. This was the first time since I had children that I put it all away (mostly because internet and cell service is spotty at best). Putting aside those things helped me realize how much they weigh me down and how much fun I could have when all my attention was reserved for my child. This environment, with the help of some Disney magic, created a memory for my son and me that I will cherish forever.

Though memorable, the welcoming colors, the art-deco interior design, the grandiose chandeliers and paintings that come to life (yes, come to life) are all backdrops for the Disney Dream's personal touches. The friendliness of the staff is unrivaled, the attention to detail flawless, and the staff's uncanny ability to add ‘magic' touches and make you feel at home is unsurpassed in the cruise line industry. The only sad part of our voyage on the Disney Dream was that eventually we had to wake up.

-------------- is proud to be featuring the travel articles of Erica I. Pena-Vest to our users. Erica is a travel industry veteran with over ten years of experience in public and media relations. Erica has worked with hundreds of travel writers before becoming one herself in 2004. As a Navy wife, Erica understands the needs of military families and focuses her research and articles to travel deals for those in the armed services. Erica's travel column is appropriated titled "Sweet Land of Liberty". works hard to bring a multitude of resources and information to our audience. This site has thousands of pages of resources and information. There is something for everyone. Users refer to, as the "the Go To Site" for the military and veteran communities. When the next tour is back home, it's on