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Will the Virtual Porthole give Disney Cruise Line the inside track when it comes to booking inside staterooms?

Will the Virtual Porthole give Disney Cruise Line the inside track when it comes to booking inside staterooms?

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In my last article for JHM, we talked about the origins of the cruise ship and all of the changes that the cruise industry underwent as sea travel moved from a mode of transportation to a vacation experience.

One of the most significant changes the industry has experienced has been the explosion in demand for exterior staterooms with balconies. Just in the past decade or so most new cruise liners have been built so that the majority of their staterooms feature private balconies on which cruisers can relax, enjoy a book and/or a beverage & then watch the sea slip by.

The view of a cruise ship verandah

People discovered long ago that part of the fun of a cruise is being able to look out your stateroom window and see the activity at the ports or just watch the serene water move by while you’re at sea. This leaves the inside cabins – those located in the interior portion of the ship with no external window – as the least desirable accommodations afloat. As a direct result, Cruise lines have had no choice but to price the inside staterooms at significantly lower rates in order to keep them filled.

Inside statement on a cruise ship
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

But with the announcement of the Disney Dream earlier this year, Disney Cruise Line is looking to buck that trend. And – if possible -- turn what used to be the least desirable cabins on board their ships into some of the most sought-after.

An inside stateroom on the Disney Dream Cruise ship
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved 

“And how exactly is DCL going to do that?,” you ask. Well, for those of you who haven’t already heard, the inside staterooms aboard the Disney Dream will be equipped with a “Virtual Porthole.” Which will be a round LCD display mounted on the wall and framed to look like a real porthole.

Steamboat Willie's ship chugs across the virtual porthole on the Disney Dream Cruise Ship
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Video for this Virtual Porthole will be supplied by several real-time cameras located along the exterior of the ship. These cameras are synchronized with the portholes to which they feed video – the Virtual Portholes towards the front of the craft will display video from the forward cameras while those at the rear of the ship will show video from the aft cameras.

The virtual porthole on the Disney Dream cruiseship
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Which is pretty cool unto itself. But the big buzz associated with the Virtual Portholes comes from the extra-special feature that DCL has added. In addition to that live, location-specific video, at random intervals, various Disney characters will make appearances on your Virtual Porthole.

Interestingly enough, this effort by Disney Cruise Line to enhance the appeal of its inside staterooms appears to be working far better than anticipated. The majority of our Mouseketrips clients who have already booked cruises aboard the Disney Dream have done so in the inside stateroom category. Not only that, but the majority of the booking requests we have received for the Disney Dream have specifically mentioned and requested a room with the Virtual Porthole.

So what do you folks think? Is the Virtual Porthole something that would encourage you to book an inside stateroom when you would otherwise afford a room with a private balcony? Or would the availability of a Virtual Porthole in an inside entice you to try a DCL vacation that you otherwise might not think you could afford?

Your thoughts?

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  • I think they'd better start adding virtual portholes to the balcony staterooms, too!

  • It's an interesting idea. I did a non Disney cruise some years ago. The had video uplinks on the T.V. that provided front and rear views. We had an exterior cabin but no balcony. For me to want an interior room, I'd want two large high deff screens at both ends of the room providing the video, not just a port hole.

  • I have to admit, it's interesting - I love the outside cabins with verandas, but I might be tempted to book an inside cabin just to try it out.

    My only question is, will there be any way to turn the freakin' thing off? I could see a lot of kids not going to bed and a few adult passengers suffering from cases of insomnia if it doesn't.  

  • I can't say I like the idea. High def or not I think of it as another tv in the room.

    I find monitors are overused, besides I like to get away from that sort of thing when on vacation.

  • To me it sounds more like those electronic picture frames.  TV's are annoying when the picture jumps around and the volume changes drive you crazy when you're trying to relax.  Electronic picture frames with slow scene changes create a much more relaxing ambience in a room.

    I like the idea of the off button, though.  And if there's any audio, it'd better have a volume button!

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