Are we blushing? The Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice awards were announced today, and Disney ships received 29 awards, including 13 number one awards such as Best Overall, Best for Families, Best Service, Best Dining and Entertainment, Best Cabins and Public Rooms for the Disney Fantasy in the Large Ship category. These are the most awards we have ever received at a single time.
In addition, all four Disney ships were recently ranked among the top cruise ships in the world on the Condé Nast Traveler 2014 Readers’ Choice list, claiming four of the top five spots in the Best Large Cruise Ships category. The recently re-imagined Disney Magic was also awarded Porthole Cruise Magazine’s 2014 Editor-in-Chief Award for Best Makeover.
Everyone here at Disney Cruise Line is thrilled that families enjoy our crew, our ships and overall cruise experience so much. What’s your favorite “best thing” about a Disney cruise?
Children in Cocoa, Fla., have a great new place to play, thanks to the efforts of nearly 250 volunteers from Disney Cruise Line, KABOOM! and Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, who over the weekend joined forces to build a fully assembled playground in just six hours. The playground is open to the public and located on the site of a brand new Boys & Girls Clubs facility scheduled to open next month to serve the needs of children in the area.
All day Saturday, Disney VoluntEARS, which included crew members from the Disney Fantasy cruise ship in port for the day and shoreside cast members, took part in everything from bolting together and hoisting brightly colored play pieces to mixing cement and hauling mulch.
Planning for the playground began at a Design Day event held in August. Local children and community leaders met with organizers from Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, Disney and KaBOOM! to design their dream playground. The children’s drawings were then used to create the final playground design.
This is the second playground Disney Cruise Line has helped build near its homeport in Port Canaveral and one of the many ways we give back in our port communities around the world throughout the year.
Captain Tom Forberg has been with Disney Cruise Line since the very beginning. He is the first and longest-serving captain, oversaw the construction of all four Disney ships and served as the inaugural captain on each ship. So it is only fitting that he is named the first Commodore in the history of the company.
Yesterday, the officers and crew aboard the Disney Fantasy joined President Karl Holz (not pictured), Senior Vice President Anthony Connelly, Captain Mickey and Vice President Bert Swets in surprising Captain Tom with the honor and presenting him with his new hat.
Commodore is an honorary appointment bestowed upon accomplished and distinguished leaders of military, commercial and cruise fleets. With this honor, Commodore Tom will serve as the highest-ranking Disney captain and will continue to share the duty of commanding the ships rotationally along with the other captains. In the cruise industry, only one other cruise line is actively using the Commodore title.
Disney Cruise Line has been recognized by Condé Nast Traveler magazine as a finalist in the 2013 World Savers Awards, which honor travel companies for exceptional achievements in environmental and social responsibility in education, environmental and cultural preservation, health, poverty relief and wildlife conservation. Our cast and crew members are passionate about having a positive impact in our port communities around the world.
For the fifth consecutive year, Disney Cruise Line was named top cruise line for families in the World’s Best Awards. Winners were selected by Travel + Leisure readers, who participated in a survey and rated cruise lines on criteria including cabins, food, service, itineraries and destinations, activities and value.
What made your last Disney Cruise Line voyage so special for your family?
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Duckies, duckies everywhere! Thousands of ducks decorated by Disney Cruise Line guests and crew members on all four ships swirled through the ships’ pools and water coasters recently to take part in the first “AquaDucky Derby” rubber duck races to raise nearly $14,000 for Make-A-Wish International.
Aboard the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy, rubber ducks were placed at the top of the AquaDuck and with the crowd counting down and the sounds of “Wipe Out” playing over the sound system, 10,000 gallons of water rushed into the flume sending the ducks racing through the water coaster’s tunnel and around the ship’s upper decks before splashing down at the finish line.
Aboard the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, guests and crew voted using applause for the unofficial best decorated duck while One Direction’s song, “That’s What Makes You Beautiful,” played in the background. For the official race, guests and crew splashed and kicked a current to carry the critters to the opposite side of the Goofy pool.
All funds raised from the duck sales are being donated to a very worthy cause – Make-A-Wish International, an organization that grants wishes for children facing life-threatening medical conditions in 48 countries outside of the U.S. Since the first-ever official wish experience 32 years ago, Disney has helped grant more than 81,000 wishes globally and is involved in nearly 50 percent of the wishes granted each year.
The events saluted the 30th anniversary of the Disney VoluntEARS program, which provides opportunities for Disney cast and crew members to donate their time to worthy causes around the world. Events like this are just a small part of Disney’s commitment to give back to local communities through in-kind donations and the efforts of Disney VoluntEARS. In 2012, Disney Cruise Line cast and crew members completed 75 community outreach projects and donated more than 4,500 hours of personal service to nonprofit organizations, working both onboard the ships and in communities across Central Florida, The Bahamas, the Caribbean, Mexico and Europe. Additionally, Disney Cruise Line provided more than $640,000 in charitable and in-kind donations to organizations supporting children, families and the environment.
Today, I am thrilled to show you the magic we shared over the weekend when Disney VoluntEARS, along with beloved Disney characters, assisted in delivering and hanging the mural at the Hospital General de Catalunya. The mural delivery and hospital visit showcases just one way Disney Cruise Line is committed to giving back to communities in ports of call around the world.
Scott Feight, executive director of the Foundation for Hospital Art, told us this was one of the largest murals they have ever created. “Seeing the reaction of the children here today showcases the true power of our mission of utilizing art to uplift the spirit and support healing in hospitals around the world,” he said.
Disney VoluntEARS also visited with the children in the hospital, which is one of many community outreach projects taking place to deliver toys and smiles to deserving children in the port communities along Disney’s Mediterranean itineraries this summer.
Nearly 300 Disney Cruise Line guests and crew members are able to showcase their artistic talents while volunteering for a great cause this week aboard the Disney Magic’stransatlantic crossing to Barcelona, Spain, in an event called PaintFest at Sea. Through a partnership with the Foundation for Hospital Art, the fun-spirited group is painting 72 canvases during that will be assembled into a 9-foot tall by 24-foot long mural.
The mural, featuring characters from “The Little Mermaid” and designed by Disney artist, Don “Ducky” Williams, will take more than 500 hours to complete, and will be a fitting salute to the 30th Anniversary of the Disney VoluntEARS program. When the ship arrives in Barcelona on Saturday, the mural will be presented to a local children’s hospital near the port.
See the podcast of the painting here. Look for coverage of the mural delivery and installation on my blog post next week.
Wow, I can’t believe it is already May! I hope everyone had a wonderful April and made time to get outside in honor of Earth Month. Throughout the month, Disney Cruise Line guests and crew took part in organized “Walk for Wildlife” events on-board our ships and at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, doing their part to raise awareness and inspire others to connect with nature.
More than 350 people participated in this annual event supporting marine conservation projects through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF). Disney Cruise Line also made a $5,000 donation to DWCF in honor of all guests and crew who sailed on-board for Earth Day. It’s a tradition we are proud to support every year.
Looking at the photos, I know everyone had a great time taking part in these special events that allowed both guests and crew to come together for a great cause. If you could “Walk for Wildlife” on-board one of the Disney Cruise Line ships or at Castaway Cay, which would you choose?
Some of my most cherished memories from when my children were young are quiet times spent together reading a good book. Reading aloud gave us a chance to bond over favorite stories, while instilling a love of reading that continues today.
Crew members from Disney Cruise Line ships recently made memories of their own, saluting National Literacy Month with special visits to schoolchildren in our ports of call. Taking place as part of the Disney Reading Together program, these visits brought Disney VoluntEARS to read with children in Grand Cayman, St. Thomas and Nassau. And while the efforts were designed to promote literacy and inspire children to enjoy reading, I really think that our crew most enjoyed getting to spend quality time sharing stories with young readers.
Since launching 10 years ago, our Reading Together program has taken crew members into schools to read aloud, inspired cast and crew members to make personal donations through book drives, and has helped to distribute more than 7,000 books to children in communities across the Caribbean and the Bahamas.
Taking time out to read together can make a big impact – both on the children and the adults that share the story.
I’m sure the crew can’t wait to return to read with the schoolchildren again. Do you have a favorite Disney story you enjoy sharing with your family?
To read more about other ways Disney VoluntEARS and Disney Cruise Line give back, see the posts below: