Disney Cruise Line’s New Ship Brings Cinderella’s Story to Sea
Stepping aboard Disney Cruise Line’s brand new Disney Wish, cast members still welcome families by enthusiastically announcing their surname in the triple-decker atrium, but the Grand Hall looks rather different this time around. Taking a detour from the Golden Age of Travel and the alternating art deco and art nouveau looks of Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, and Disney Fantasy before, Wish emphasizes its overall theme of “enchantment” with a more regal aesthetic in the form of a castle at sea.
The approach is actually very appropriate for Disney as the company’s parks have always featured a so-called “weenie” — Walt’s own term for the architectural icon that draws guests in. So, like Epcot’s Spaceship Earth geodesic sphere or Magic Kingdom’s Cinderella Castle, the Grand Hall serves as the ship’s social hub, anchored by a bronze statue of Cinderella herself.
New Faces in Familiar Places
From that Grand Hall, the ship’s flow is recognizable but also a departure. One of three rotational dining rooms — the fresh 1923, a handsome bistro-like homage to old Hollywood — is immediately astern of the atrium with the other two stacked above. Particularly convenient to both children and adults, though, is the close proximity, respectively, to Disney’s Oceaneer Club and the first of many bars, lounges, and shops (with logo items naturally, and more luxury brand names than ever before on Disney).
After checking in, kids can swiftly take a spiral slide from the Grand Hall down a deck to the newly located children’s club. The likes of “It’s a Small World” Nursery, Mickey & Minnie Captain’s Deck, Fairytale Hall, and Marvel Super Hero Academy will be familiar, but all-new is the Walt Disney Imagineering Lab, a hands-on space emphasizing creative projects combined with STEM-style experimentation. The craft and dining hall remains, with the addition of The Ride Studio, where budding designers can craft and video-test their own attractions just like Disney’s namesake creative team. And Star Wars: Cargo Bay is the latest take on the film franchise’s delightful grunge, complete with droid parts, living and “breathing” creatures, and fun meet-and-greet opportunities.
It just so happens that Cargo Bay is right below the highly anticipated Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge, set aside for adults in the evening (and all ages during the day) to enjoy the more refined side of the galaxy. As a successor to the Skyline bar on previous ships, animated “views” to the outside now show landscapes of Endor, Coruscant, and many more planets as Starspeeders cruise by and patrons imbibe. Rather than a single adult district, additional bars like The Bayou (themed to The Princess and the Frog) are more evenly spread around the ship, offering easier access and not hidden away.
For complimentary dining, Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure and Worlds of Marvel round out the trio of main restaurants. The former is the ship’s dinner theater concept celebrating the engagement of Princess Anna and Kristoff. An audio-animatronic Olaf is super impressive as he visits diners at their tables, but the ever-wandering Oaken hilariously singing a europop rendition of “Let It Go” instead of Queen Elsa might just take the cake.
Meanwhile, the expanded menu for Palo Steakhouse’s Italian cuisine plus premium cuts is superb for adult specialty dining. Also appetizing is Enchanté by Chef Arnaud Lallement — both elegantly inspired by the enchanted objects of Beauty and the Beast.
On the pool deck, the Marceline Market buffet has been dialed in as more of an urban food hall with individual stations, and Mickey and Friends Festival of Foods is a terrific expansion of the grill and pizzeria, adding excellent barbecue and cantina offerings. Included soft-serve is available here, but for premium ice creams, gelato, and other treats, Inside Out: Joyful Sweets is a worthwhile alternative.
Making a Splash
Speaking of the pool, two large family pools have been replaced by seven smaller ones — six centrally spread out over terraced levels and a final, more secluded ….