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By PAUL MOTTER
Disney has the peculiar fascination with the word "dream." I think they would trademark if they could. No other company has gone so far in associating its corporate name with mystical and magical imagery like "wish upon a star" and "dreams come true."
This year, just in time for Christmas, they have come out with a new "Dream Catalogue" full of products money can't buy. But you can win them by entering a contest. To promote it, they turned a traffic island in Times Square, New York, into a tropical island where Mickie and Minnie spent the day building sand castles and lounging under beach umbrellas.
You have to give credit to the Disney for inventing appealing phrases for kids (whom the parents are dying to please). The Dream Catalog has such entries as "The Toys are Back in Town" to promote a new theme ride, and "The Obi-Wanna Bes" for training lessons in the Jedi way.
In these days of recalls of toys from China, perhaps relying on something as All-American as Disney is a pretty darn good idea. If it says "Disney" it is a quality product, and if it costs a little more, well arguably it is worth it.
In this case, one of the Dream Catalog prizes on offer is a day all to yourself, and your family and the castaway crew of course, on Castaway Cay - Disney's private Bahamian island which every Disney cruise visits for a day. Disney will allow the winner and up to three guests to lounge in the lap of tropical luxury with Disney amenities at their fingertips.
Winners indulge in gourmet dining, water recreation, beachfront cabana massages, entertainment and overnight accommodations on a private yacht. Access the entire catalog here:www.disneyparks.com/DreamCatalog.
Mickey and Minnie spent a day promoting this dream in New York City last week, turning the traffic median in Times Square into a mini Castaway Cay complete with deck chairs, umbrellas, sand castles and Disney Cruise waiters and sailors. Cruising has really gone mainstream when Castaway Cay takes the place of the Times Square subway station.
Dreams Dashed - Windjammer Cruises
Rumors are out in the press and online that Windjammer cruises is in deep financial trouble, cruises passengers are not allowed to board the ships, and many crewmembers, who have not been paid, are stuck living on ships with no power or air conditioning.
The situation has deteriorated to reports of passengers arriving to find ships left empty by the crew because the fuel had run out. Why something was not done sooner to protect the company, and to prevent the continued sales of tickets by the company when it was becoming obvious the cruises would not be taking place cannot be said. In any case, a survey of travel agents showed that many were well aware of the situation months ago and had stopped selling Windjammer cruises.
The largest travel insurance providers stopped writing policies for Windjammer cruises last summer.
Windjammer Cruises honestly never got much coverage by the mainstream cruise press, although the line had a core following of advocates who loved the extreme free-style nature of their cruises, of which one aspect became synonymous with their name - barefoot cruising.
With a fleet of four small sail-ships, they appealed to young singles with no singles supplement charges, and beer and wine included with the cruise fare. If you didn't like your assigned roommate you were welcome to grab a blanket and sleep out on the deck. The ships also never docked in the U.S. presumably because they weren't like to pass the Coast Guard and CDC inspections.
Still, if you go to the Windjammer devoted message board site jammerbabe.com, where you used to see free-spirited people planning future escapes, the messages today are all people seeking news, and wondering if they can get their money back. To their credit, they are also running a fundraising effort to buy air tickets for the stranded crewmembers they enjoyed so much on their cruises.
A visit to windjammer.com now leads you to a holding page by the web services provider NetworkSolutions. The second most visited page after a Google on Windjammer leads you to consumeraffairs.com - full of messages from people reporting they bought tickets but are being denied boarding because the crew is on strike for not having been paid.
Royal Caribbean and Celebrity One-day Sale Today! And somewhere between Disney dreams and Windjammer nightmares we find reality. This week, reality is looking pretty darn good with a scheduled one-day cruise sale for both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity ships - Today only, from iCruise.com
You must call 888-icruise (427-8473) to book these deals before midnight, Eastern Time. Here are some of the offers:
Century-10nt Europe 11/2/07 from $999
Century-10nt Europe 11/23/07 from $599
Galaxy-14nt Mediterranean 11/24/07 from $999
Millennium-14nt Med. 11/18/07 from $799
Century-11nt Europe 11/12/07 from $799
Summit-14nt Panama Canal from $999
Royal Caribbean Cruises
Freedom-7nt Eastern Caribbean 11/18/07 from $699
Liberty-7nt Western Caribbean 11/17/07 from $599
Brilliance-9nt Mediterranean 11/23/07 from $599
Explorer-9nt E. Caribbean 11/23/07 from $699
Enchantment-7nt W. Caribbean 11/19/07 from $499
Empress-11nt S. Caribbean 11/5/07 from $699
11/19/07 from $599