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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Disney Cruise Line Fleet Tops Condé Nast Traveler's List of Best Cruise Ships




The February 2012 Condé Nast Traveler announced the 100 Best Cruise Ships in the World and Disney ships take the 3 of the top 4 slots in the Large Cruise Ship category.  And with only 3 ships in the fleet as of right now, every Disney ship made the list!

Large Cruise Ships
Overall Score
Itineraries/ Schedules
Shore Excursions
Disney Magic
90.7
92.3
84.9
Celebrity Eclipse
88.8
83.2
68.3
Disney Dream
88.8
81.1
79.1
Disney Wonder
88.8
86.3
79.4

The Disney Magic had the highest Overall Score and the top score for Shore Excursions based on votes from cruisers.  A summer in Europe most likely helped to boost ratings in this category as well as Itineraries and Schedules. 

The Disney Dream did not fare so well in the Itineraries and Schedules category, most likely due to the limitations of the Bahamian 3, 4, and 5 night cruises with stops in Nassau and Castaway Cay.



Large Cruise Ships
Crew/Service
Cabins
Food/Dining
Disney Magic
96.0
90.4
84.7
Celebrity Eclipse
93.7
96.9
90.6
Disney Dream
90.7
92.6
88.9
Disney Wonder
95.6
90.4
84.1

The Magic topped out the charts for Crew and Service, especially compared to the Disney Dream.  A new and inexperienced crew on their first 6 month tour is most likely the reason.  We experienced this while sailing on the Dream in July.  Interestingly, most of the crew members we spoke with, from Entertainment to Wait Staff to Housekeeping, said that they were planning to jump ship to the Fantasy.  Most stated reasons such as more tips due to the longer itinerary and the Entertainment staff would have more time off;  instead of a show 4 out of 5 nights, it would be a show 4 out of 7 nights.  So, will the Dream eventually get a seasoned and experienced crew?

The Dream did come out ahead in the Cabins category.  Those inside virtual portholes are a guest favorite.  Demand for inside staterooms on the Dream has outweighed demand for outside staterooms, which is unusual in the cruise industry.  The newness of the staterooms most likely adds value to this category.

Disney had ho-hum scores for dining with the Dream edging out the other Disney ships.  The newly themed Animator’s Palate is most likely a contributor, but was not our favorite while on board—click here to read more.  The addition of Remy to the adults only restaurant selection of Palo on the Dream gives the Dream an edge in the dining category. 


Large Cruise Ships
Activities/ Facilities
Design/ Layout
Number of Passengers
Disney Magic
92.7
94.0
2,700
Celebrity Eclipse
89.7
95.3
2,850
Disney Dream
96.3
90.7
4,000
Disney Wonder
91.8
93.4
2,700


The Disney Dream sailed past the competition in Activities and Facilities.  The Aqua Duck, Goofy’s Sports Deck, Interactive play floors in the children’s areas, and an expanded character meet and greet list are most likely the reasons behind the Dream’s competitive edge.  The Disney Fantasy with even more water features will give the Dream a run for its money by next year in this category.

Where the Dream fell short was in Design and Layout.  I’m sensing the Dream’s awkward deck layout with the inability to traverse the ship fore to aft on any deck lowers the score in this category.  Our stateroom was on Deck 5 and we had great access to elevators and the ability to traverse the ship on our side.  Guests on the other side of the ship would have had to use our side or the stairs to get to the rest of Deck 5 or Deck 4.  With the addition of a main dining restaurant, Enchanted Garden, on Deck 2, guests had to use the midship elevators or staircase to get to the restaurant.  Only Decks 3 and 4, along with the top decks 6 through 11 provided guests adequate access to the entire ship without using the stairs.  Also, the aft elevators being located in the middle of Cabanas, a restaurant, may feel a bit strange.  Let’s see how the Disney Fantasy fares in this category.

As a Disney Cruise Line fan, it is no surprise to see the fleet make it to the top of the list for Best Large Cruise Ships.  Disney Cruise Line has a way of exceeding expectations and has one of the biggest return cruiser rates of any cruise line.

When the cruise industry is being looked at with a more critical eye due to the recent Costa Concordia tragedy, it is great to hear and read some good news about cruising.  Reports are that booking rates for the industry are down about 10% and cancelations are running about the same.  With 19 million cruisers sailing the high seas this past year, our family looks to be part of those numbers in 2012. 




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