Sunday, March 29, 2015

Cruise Needs' Review: “Disney Dream Cruise with Food Network.”

Friday night, the Food Network aired “Disney Dream Cruise with Food Network.” In the special (sponsored by Disney Cruise Line), Food Network stars Jeff Mauro, Katie Lee, Amanda Freitag, and, Melissa d'Arabian, as well as their friends and families, sailed to the Bahamas aboard the Disney Dream. Being the Food Network, the special focused on dining, but also hit many of the highlights of the Disney offering. Based on our DCL experience, here are some of the things the special got right, some they got wrong and a few things we are surprised that weren’t featured.

What they got right

This was a food show, so they certainly showed off Disney’s great dining experiences. While the TV chefs toured the galleys and the storage facilities, the aspect that is relevant to a typical passenger was the rotational dining. DCL regulars know and love this feature -- where you rotate dining rooms with your wait staff -- while people who haven’t experienced it yet might not appreciate how well it works. Disney championed this experience in the industry and it highlights their service and unique experiences. It is the center of the dining experience and deserved its place on the special.

What they got wrong

The Food Network stars raved about the buffet service and food on Disney’s private island Castaway Cay. d'Arabian’s experience was very different from ours. We found the service, the crowd management, the taste and temperature of the food on Castaway Cay to be lacking -- well below Disney’s standards in their theme parks and certainly below the standards and food quality of the Disney Cruise Line’s food service on board. Obviously a Disney-sponsored special is not going to degrade their own quality or service, but be warned the meal at Castaway Cay was the worst meal of our DCL experience. Our recommendation is to enjoy the beach and water activities on the island but dine back on the ship.

What they left out

It wouldn’t be a DCL television special without the AquaDuck, but I really think the DCL does itself a bit of disservice by always featuring this one ride on every TV opportunity. The AquaDuck is great and fun, but is it that much better than many of the water and thrill experiences available on most cruise companies newer ships? Why not use some of the special time to highlight the Disney shows (which are outstanding) or some of the other unique to Disney offerings. Based on the lines alone, we would suspect that the character and princess interactions are more popular than the AquaDuck. Maybe DCL assumes people know the characters are on board or maybe that the characters only appeal to their youngest customers. However, there are other sports, entertainment and social offerings beyond the AquaDuck that might attract older kids, teens and cruise fans of all ages. Valuable TV time should highlight those attractions instead of the upteenth ride on a water slide.

"Disney Dream Cruise with the Food Network" airs again April 4. (Being the Food Network, the special will likely air again and again in the coming months.) If you’re a Disney fan, a DCL fan or just someone who likes cruise specials, the hour is well worth your is a cruise on the Disney Dream.

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