The 128,000-ton, 1,250 stateroom Disney Dream has officially launched. The Fantasy follows in 2012, as Disney Cruise Line more than doubles its capacity with the two newbuilds, joining the Magic and Wonder.
"The Dream is so full of new, innovative features, and a handful are industry firsts,” said Tom Wolber, chief operating officer and senior vice president of Disney Cruise Line.
“If you start and look at what we did with the Magic and Wonder, we have kept all of that and carried it over. What’s going to be really interesting after 10 years is what we’ve been able to introduce on the new ships.”
Wolber talked to Cruise Industry News about hardware, such as the AquaDuck water slide, and highlighted new technology.
“We have Enchanted Art, and it’s mixed in with the regular art on the ship. It’s clever, and passengers will never know it’s an LED screen. It looks like a painting and you don’t see a difference, but something will happen when you walk by or interact with it.”
Disney has also introduced virtual portholes in inside staterooms that are connected to cameras on the top decks, allowing passengers to see the same views as from the outside cabins on their respective side of the ship.
From an entertainment point of view the new theater is “full Broadway” and Disney will be able to take its shows to a new level, Wolber noted.
Disney will also introduce Skyline, a cocktail bar.
“I’m really proud of Skyline,” said Wolber.
“It’s an absolute, contemporary, elegant lounge. You walk in and you think you’re looking through windows to the outside, but its video from rooftop bars in major cities around the world. We’re introducing five cities, a different one each night. And the beverage offerings change to reflect the cities we visiting. During the day there is a daytime scene.”
Facilities for children and teenagers will be much improved as well.
“The kids’ places have new features too,” Wolber said. “They are bigger and we are taking advantage of technology. There’s an interactive floor, and kids will be able to interact with characters like in our theme parks.”
Disney’s hallmark onboard restaurant, Animator’s Palate, returns from the first generation of ships.
“After 10 years, it’s still extremely popular and really goes into the roots of the company. And now we have new technology.”
“We’re very proud of the fact, that despite these ships being 50 percent larger than the other ships, from a propulsion point of view, we use the same amount of fuel to get the same or slightly better performance than the existing ships,” Wolber stated.
He also said since the Magic and Wonder were launched in the late 1990s, their efficiency has been improved 10 percent.
Wolber explained it was combination of hull design on the new ships, along with the EcoSpeed hull coating.
“On the hotel side, energy consumption per guest will be 20 percent lower than the current ships,” Wolber said.
A new HVAC system will be on the Dream and Fantasy, and they will be the first ships in the industry to have it.
According to Wolber, it, like other systems, will turn off cabin ventilation when no one is present. However, on returning to the ship and checking in at the gangway, the ship’s computer system will turn the AC back on.
“If a family is gone the stateroom will shut down,” Wolber explained. “As they get back aboard it can kick in fast enough so when they get to the stateroom it’s at the desired temperature.”
Wolber stated that a full energy management system that detects occupant levels and adjusts the HVAC system as necessary is installed for public spaces and the ship features “an incredible use of LED lighting design.”
Wolber said money wasn’t the driving factor behind the new energy saving improvements, but instead, a commitment to protect the environment.
“I don’t think the money aspect is what drives us. What drives us is being a responsible user from an environmental point of view. The guest experience comes first and the commitment that we have to protect the environment.
“The pressure doesn’t come from anywhere but within,” he continued. “And when you have an opportunity to build a new product like this you’d be foolish not to take every opportunity to do the best you can from an efficiency and environmental point of view.”
The newbuilds will be prepared for cold ironing, and will be ready to go minus the plug.
“Once shore power becomes available the ships are plug and play,” Wolber said.
“There are always so many technologies available, but not all of them are proven. So you have to see how far on the cutting edge you want to be, while being responsible.
“There are challenges and issues through the design and building, but we have ongoing conversations daily at the yard.”
Disney’s Vice President of New Ship Development, Frank de Heer, oversees the yard operation, which includes 70 people from Disney Cruise Line and Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI).
“The great thing about building at Meyer Werft and the partners we have in WDI is that we put a team together of people that are solution focused,” Wolber said. “They aren’t worried about who should take the blame or where something stems from. We have a team together that has the project in mind and does the best for all parties involved. This has to be a win-win for everyone, and ultimately, you have to create that kind of atmosphere.”
Wolber noted it was important to keep everyone in the loop at the yard, even if it was telling them about Disney’s new itineraries.
Once the Dream launches, Meyer Werft will shift focus to the Fantasy, which is already under construction and slated for a 2012 delivery.
“As we are building the Dream we are keeping lists of what we can do differently on the Fantasy. Some of these things are easy and some are not,” Wolber added. “It’s a matter of prioritizing them. None of them are massive, and they will be sister ships, but there might be some small changes.”
Wolber said that while it was an enormous project and big undertaking, “it is one we’ve spent enough time planning so the plans are holding up well. We have just a phenomenal team that is doing the newbuilding at the yard.”
Besides looking after the newbuilds, Wolber said he was responsible for logistics, purchasing, staffing, and “then we have a current fleet.”
“We bring new ships into the existing itineraries and the current ships will go to new itineraries,” he said.
We’re always thinking of new guest experiences and how to raise the bar, whether it’s onboard or via shore excursions, and the future of guest experiences for the entire fleet. It keeps me busy.”
For a full report with exclusive pictures and interviews from the Disney Dream launch, read the 2011 Spring edition of the Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine, the most read publiction in the cruise industry. Click here to subscribe.