Disney unveils some entertainment offerings for new ship

Disney unveils some entertainment offerings for new ship

By Donna Tunney
A handful of new entertainment options will debut on the Disney Fantasy, a 4,000-passenger ship under construction at Germany’s Meyer Werft shipyard.Disney animation will expand into the ship’s dining room with a new show called “Animation Magic,” which “celebrates the magic of Disney animation and allows families to create and participate in a whole new way,” Disney Cruise Line said.

The Disney Dream, which entered service in January, introduced the Animators’ Palate restaurant, where video screens on the wall come alive with characters from Disney’s various underwater worlds, which “swim” from screen to screen to talk to diners.

The ship will have a nighttime entertainment district exclusively for guests 18 and older, with “sophisticated bars and trendy lounges inspired by the very best in European travel.”

Additionally, the Disney Fantasy will introduce new stage entertainment in its 1,340-seat theater with “Disney’s Aladdin — A Musical Spectacular.” The Broadway-style production will feature the wise-cracking Genie and the cast from the classic animated Disney film “Aladdin.”

The Disney Fantasy will operate week-long Caribbean cruises from Florida’s Port Canaveral following its maiden voyage on March 31, 2012.

Dispatch, QM2: View from the bridge

Dispatch, QM2: View from the bridge

By Donna Tunney
DonnaTunney-QUEENMARY2-200x115Travel Weekly’s Donna Tunney is aboard the Queen Mary 2 for a transatlantic cruise. Her fifth dispatch follows. Click to read her first,secondthird and fourth dispatches.You think you’ve got fuel-cost problems?

The Queen Mary 2 gets 29 feet to the gallon at full speed — about 39 mph. It’s one of the reasons why this 2,600-passenger ocean liner takes six days to cross the Atlantic — going slower saves some fuel, so the ship’s average speed is closer to 23 mph.

But the longer voyage also provides flexibility for the liner to maneuver away from bad weather when necessary, said Capt. Paul Wright.

During a tour of the bridge on the fourth day of our transatlantic sailing from New York, the amiable Wright described how the design of the ship is tailor-made for North Atlantic crossings.

“See the extended length of the bow,” he said, pointing from one of the bridge windows. “You won’t see that long bow on other ships. And this liner is deep — 10 meters of it is under the water, and with the reinforced steel hull, it sits much heavier in the water. This ship can battle through any kind of weather.”

Fog and the potential for heavy weather are his biggest challenges, he said, but it’s more a matter of “managing” the variables.

QueenMary2-Captain-DTSome passengers, said the captain, like to encounter bad weather while sailing aboard the Queen Mary 2 while others worry about icebergs.

“With our radar these days, there’s no cause to worry about that,” he said. “It’s funny that some ships, like the ones that sail Alaska, go looking for ice and we do all we can to avoid it.”

A map on the bridge shows the nearest iceberg locations — more than 300 miles north of the Queen Mary 2’s course to Southampton.

Wright has been sailing the seas for a long time, serving on container and cargo ships, ferries and hovercraft before joining Cunard Line in 1980. He was named captain of the Queen Victoria when it entered service in 2007 and was assigned to the Queen Mary 2 last fall.

He lives in a “sleepy” Cornwall village in southwest England when he’s not on the high seas.

Dispatch, QM2: The crossing begins

Dispatch, QM2: The crossing begins

By Donna Tunney
Donna Tunney QUEEN MARY 2Travel Weekly’s Donna Tunney is aboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 for a transatlantic cruise. Her first dispatch follows.

So long, Manhattan. Hello, North Atlantic.

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 pulled out of the cruise terminal in the late afternoon Tuesday under the first hint of blue sky that New York had seen in days.

QM2 passengersTwenty-six hundred passengers, the vast majority of them sporting British accents, began their seven-day voyage to Southampton, England. The onboard atmosphere was festive as Cunard’s flagship made its way past Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, and under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, but a tad reserved until the drinks started flowing on the outdoor decks. Folks started to loosen up.

An hour later, as the ocean liner made its way south, the sound of a howling wind broke the silence of empty corridors as passengers retreated to their staterooms to dress for dinner.

My dispatches from the Queen Mary 2 this week will showcase the ship’s design, amenities, activities, dining options and service.

Some questions come to mind.

What kind of traveler best fits this cruise product?

Is a transatlantic sailing still as glamorous as old movies make it out to be?

Who are my fellow passengers?

What is there to do all day?

The Queen Mary 2 entered service in 2004. It’s 1,132 feet long (imagine 41 double-decker London buses end to end) and 131 feet wide, and is 150,000 gross tons. Its whistle is audible for 10 miles, according to the Cunard fact sheet. Sounds impressive, but once we reach the open ocean, a 10-mile stretch is I guess what qualifies as a drop in the bucket.

There was, of course, an earlier Queen Mary, which was owned by Cunard-White Star Line and began sailing transatlantic cruises in 1936. Its final voyage came in 1967. After that it began a new life as a museum/hotel in Long Beach, Calif.

That ship’s fastest eastbound crossing was done in 1966, in four days and 10 hours. (The Queen Mary 2 moves more slowly these days to conserve fuel.)

So here I sit with my iPhone, iPad, Mac laptop, digital camera/video recorder and a slew of chargers and computer cords. It’s a computer bag full of electronic gizmos few could’ve imagined on the original Queen Mary back in the 1930s.

But my guess is that I’m not so different from the folks who sailed transatlantic cruises six decades ago. I’m keeping fingers crossed for calm seas, and I bet they did the same thing.