Anyone who’s a fan of the film "Titanic" or has any interest
in sea travel at all will recall the romantic and heady days of the ocean
liner. These immense ships, designed to swiftly sail primarily between Europe
and the United States before the days of air travel, were often opulent floating palaces and boasted the most advanced technology of the day.
So memorable were these ocean greyhounds that Michael Eisner, then president of The Walt Disney Company, insisted during the design phase of Disney’s first two
ships that they closely resemble the classic ocean liner in look and
Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved
Back in the day, as a passenger on the transatlantic ocean liner you
would enjoy the very finest furnishings, amenities, and cuisine during your
voyage. You would be pampered at every turn and no expense would be spared by
the crew to make sure your every need was met. Well, assuming, of course, that
you were a first-class passenger. See, the two-class and sometimes three-class
system was well entrenched on the ocean liners of the early 1900s, and only
those who ponied up for a first-class ticket enjoyed all the luxuries
Second and third class passengers, on the other hand, dined in separate dining
rooms, used separate entertainment facilities, were housed on separate decks,
and were for the most part excluded from the first-class areas of the ship.
Fortunately for all of us who enjoy cruising, the two-class
system quickly disappeared as the ocean liners were replaced by air travel and
the maritime industry transformed from basic transportation to pleasure
cruising. Cruise lines quickly learned that people did not enjoy being excluded
from activities or entertainment based upon the price of their ticket. While
first-class stateroom accommodations are certainly still available, all public
areas of modern cruise ships are accessible to every passenger, regardless of
the fare paid.
One might be led to wonder, however, if the classic shape that houses the
Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, and soon-to-arrive Disney Dream & Disney Fantasy
might also house a form of a return to the class-system of cruising. Anyone
remember that little announcement back in September about changes to the Disney
Cruise Line’s Castaway Club program?
Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved
For those of you unfamiliar with the Castaway Club, membership
is earned when you sail on your first Disney Cruise. Prior to September, Castaway
Club members received a priority boarding line at the cruise terminal, early
access to shipboard reservations, a special in-room gift upon boarding, and
several other small perks.
Now, however, Disney has divided the Castaway Club into
three levels, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. The Silver level retains all of the
features of the prior program and is obtained after sailing on your first
Disney cruise. The Gold level is attained after sailing on 5 cruises, and the
Platinum level is for those who have sailed with Disney 10 or more times. Additional
features available to Gold and Platinum members include things such as a
special reception with the ship’s crew, exclusive shopping opportunities,
priority boarding services, and complimentary meals at Palo, the upscale
restaurant on board.
While the extra perks are nice, the three-level Castaway
Club system sure seemed to me to be a little thin on substance when it was
first announced. However, the opportunity to substantially add to those
benefits as well as reinstate a little of the two-class cruising system from
the old days presents itself next year with the launch of the first of Disney’s
two new ships, the Disney Dream.
While at the D23 Expo last month, I took the time to carefully examine the
large model of the Disney Dream on display in the Parks & Resorts exhibit
area. Several notable features stood out that deserve a closer look. First,
take a look at the bow of the Dream.
Photo by dlfreak
Experienced Disney cruisers know that this area on the Disney Magic and Disney
Wonder houses a swimming pool reserved for Cast Members Only where they can
relax and recreate during their off hours. However, as this picture shows,
there appear to be a couple of hot tubs, canopies, and deck chairs – doesn’t
look like a cast pool to me.
Now take a look at this area on the top deck near the forward sail
Again we see some deck chairs, what appears to be a bar, lounge, or food
service area, and two big white features whose function is unclear.
Both of these areas are relatively small and would be incapable of
accommodating large numbers of guests. Now it may just be me, but I think we’re
looking at a couple of special areas that could potentially be accessible only
to upper-level Castaway Club members and/or guests sailing in the luxury suites
available aboard ship. And these are just the exterior areas that we can see.
Disney has been very tight-lipped about the interior details of the Dream and
has thus far been able to prevent any advance leaks as to what the inside of
the new ship will look like. It’s entirely possible that being a Gold or
Platinum Castaway Club member would become much more attractive when access to
these and other special areas of the ship are restricted to those upper-level
Fortunately, we don’t have long to wait to see if I’m completely off base.
Disney has scheduled a big press event event in New York City today. They will officially unveil the details of the Disney Dream, as well as
announce the itineraries for its inaugural 2011 season.
So what do you folks think? Is this possible return to exclusive members-only
areas a good thing for the Disney Cruise Line’s most dedicated guests, or is it
a not-so-welcome return to the two-class cruising system of old?
It may be a Disney ship, but if it doesn't have a complete Disney Haunted Mansion on board, including the facade, two stretching rooms, complete ride through exactly like the Disney parks, then I won't waste my time.
Your story was featured in DisMarks! Here is the link to vote it up and promote it: http://dismarks.com/OtherParksCruises/Scott_Liljenquist_What_sort_of_perks_are_in_the_works_for_the_Disney_Dream
I really think reward program perks are very non contreversial.........having been upgraded to the concierge lounge and floor many times because of "status" in the loyalty program, I sure couldn't argue against them!