As crowds gathered on the riverbank and climbed aboard parked RVs for better views, Disney songs played from loudspeakers, which turned out to be more fun than long speeches by executives. Captain Mickey (don't worry: he won't actually be captaining this ship) was the surprise guest at the ceremony, graciously posing for photos with guests rather than taking a first ride on his latest floating playground.
After a bit of a wait, Disney Dream finally emerged from a wet dock in leisurely fashion, pulled by its tugboat escort. (The floating-out ceremony at Meyer Werft is when the ship leaves the wet-dock construction area for the first time and is parked in the open.) Once the ship was completely out of doors, spectators were treated with a fireworks display -- a Disney hallmark that makes appearances on most cruises.
Earlier Saturday on a tour of the construction site, we were struck by the contrast of Disney Dream with its shipyard neighbor, Celebrity Silhouette. While Disney Dream looks completely finished from the outside -- Sorcerer Mickey and his magical brooms are even perched precariously on the aft of the ship -- Celebrity Silhouette is laid out in pieces in large steel blocks.
Disney Dream is themed around the romantic era of cruising with a classic ocean liner silhouette and lots of art deco accents. Yet it's not retro when it comes to onboard innovations, employing the latest interactive digital media technology and offering expanded and upgraded onboard facilities for kids and adults. Interesting concepts like virtual portholes in inside cabins (flat-screen monitors airing real-time video footage from outside) and an onboard "watercoaster" will be making their industry debuts.
The ship will launch on January 26, 2011, and will homeport in Florida's Port Canaveral. It will offer three-, four- and five-night cruises to the Bahamas and Disney's private island, Castaway Cay.
Stay tuned for more photos on Friday from our upcoming ship tour.
-- by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor