Mickey, Goofy, Minnie Mouse and all your favorite Disney characters are heading our way – on a cruise ship! Yes, the much-vaunted Disney Cruise Lines (DCL) is finally arriving in local waters in October 2023 and Stuff trip got a glimpse of what to expect at the Sydney Opera House last month.
Here’s what we learned: We’ll be disembarking Disney’s Wonder, a mid-sized ship that can accommodate 2,400 people and has undergone extensive renovations since its debut in 1999. Wonder cruisers note that the ship offers a more intimate atmosphere than some her newer sister ships. Design-wise, her interiors reflect Art Nouveau touches reminiscent of the great transatlantic liners of the past.
Thomas Mazloum, President of Disney’s New and Iconic Experiences, believes that on these limited-time crossings, “the ship is the destination…” – and the presence of a cast of Disney stars, along with their fellow Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars, has a huge selling point for families that other cruise lines can’t match.
Mazloum had come especially for the launch announcement and is a big fan of this part of the world. He describes DCL’s arrival in the country as “a match made in heaven” and says its expansion strategy has gained momentum compared to Covid. The enforced downtime DCL endured (along with all other cruise lines) Mazloum describes as “a moment of opportunity.”
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“We thought, ‘Hey, are there any other things we should be looking at now?’ We started thinking beyond the coasts where we’ve had a lot of success. We wanted to bring Disney, with its great culture of storytelling, where people live.
Mazloum also had numerous business connections that urged him to bring down DCL.
“We noticed that Australians and New Zealanders have a real affinity for Disney – and we thought it was the perfect time to bring DCL to this part of the world, especially after the difficult times that Covid has caused – the people need joy in their lives. ”
This means families who want a pinch of that Disney magic can now get it at a fraction of the cost of an extended theme park visit.
“So we thought, let’s make the ship the destination and immerse people in everything they love about Disney and the stories we tell. It’s really about tapping into people’s emotions, their hearts and their spirits.
Mazloum believes DCL – which currently has five ships with three more on the way – has “cracked the code” to family vacations with its unique blend of experiences that appeal to the whole family.
“On board we have created an environment for children, adults, groups and even singles which means everyone can have a great time.”
“Usually during the holidays, someone has to make a little compromise; what makes us unique is that we have created an environment where everyone is allowed to have a good time, whether in kids’ clubs, Broadway-style shows or adult-only venues; each person can go and enjoy these experiences and then meet for dinner. Each person decides how deeply they want to immerse themselves in our stories.
But why only short cruises?
“Because we wanted to bring this magic to as many people as possible and we wanted to make it as easy as possible for our guests. So two, three or four days, while the kids are out of school, is the perfect time for us on these inaugural cruises – and judging by the overwhelming response we’ve had so far, it looks like we got it right.
Mazloum points to imaginative meals (Mickey Mouse-shaped breakfast waffles), Broadway-style entertainment, and those unforgettable character interactions as key to DCL’s continued success.
There are also as many ice creams and sodas as the kids can eat! But Disney understands that keeping adults happy is what gets bookings back. Palo’s adult-only Italian restaurant comes highly recommended for a special night out and there’s also 24-hour room service on board.
In addition, part of the ship, called “after hours”, is reserved for adults only; Alternatively, the whole family can enjoy a poolside Pinocchio pizza or experience Tiana’s Place, a New Orleans-style supper club serving many Southern classics that’s inspired by the Disney film The Princess and the Lady. frog. There’s also Animator’s Palate, an interactive dining experience that celebrates Disney animation.
One thing to know is that Disney is implementing rotating meals on all of its cruises, even those short Australasian cruises. This means that all passengers experience each of the three themed restaurants on board. Each evening, your group and servers will rotate to a different restaurant.
As you turn, the same wait staff — who know your preferences — serve you each evening as you experience the unique atmosphere of each dining venue. Buffets and snacks are available for breakfast and lunch.
While Disney cruise prices are a little higher than other comparable lines, DCL fans say the quality of food, service and uniquely themed entertainment are well worth the extra expense. After all, who can resist the allure of Disney, the brand that appeals to the child in all of us?
As our interview time draws to a close, I ask Mazloum about her favorite moment on a DCL cruise.
“When you look at our ships, the classic design, the long funnels, the painted bow, everything is purpose-built. When you see the ship, the excitement begins, not just when you step on board. Then, on departure, the ship’s horn blares When You Wish Upon A Star – and on every cruise – and I mean this very sincerely – it’s my favorite time.
It will also be sweet music for the thousands of Kiwi cruisers who can’t wait to experience some of that Disney magic at sea.
Sailings aboard Disney Wonder range from two to six nights and will depart from four homeports: Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Australia in October 2023. Bookings are open now, from $3,233 for a cruise of three nights from Auckland. For two adults. See: disneycruise.disney.go.com
The writer was hosted in Sydney for DCL’s launch event.