In less than a week I will be embarking on what could very well be one of the toughest assignments of my career. The hours will be long and the weather will be hot. There will be some who refuse to talk, likely responding with only a permanent smirk and a knowing wave. Others will welcome me with open arms, eager to spread their message with hopes that it will prompt thousands of dollar-waving tourists to wet their designer swimsuits with excitement.

I’m talking about the newest, largest Disney cruise ship “Dream!” Before it sets sail on its maiden voyage on January 26th Disney is taking a ship full of reporters and photographers on a three-day, two-night preview trip on the 19th. They ensure us this is not an attempt to leave us stranded on an island in retaliation for any past negative coverage. It will be the first time cameras will be allowed to capture the inner workings of Dream; unless you count all those video press releases they sent out over the past two years while it was being built.

You may wonder how I, among all the other talented and qualified reporters at the station, was the lucky one chosen for this exciting assignment. That’s because the others – having already experienced the excitement of covering Super Bowls, play-off games, Harry Potter, and NASA – have realized that excitement can sometimes turn to weary resignation at the end of an 18-hour work day after you’ve been live in every newscast and have to be up in three hours to do it all over again. With a smile, no less. So maybe photographer Marcus and I are gluttons for punishment, but we’ll be gluttons on a cruise!

Now, you may think this is merely Disney’s way of buttering up the media like the rolls from the ship’s award-winning chefs in their French-inspired restaurant Remy (featuring spectacular ocean views in a luxurious dining room softly lit and designed in a timeless Art Nouveau style), but I assure you I will be asking hard-hitting questions such as, “Can I bring my boyfriend?” And, “Since it’s a cruise ship isn’t every view an ocean view?” I will leave no dessert unfinished, dig as deep as a deep-tissue massage, and soak up tons of sunny information as I uncover the real story behind the scenes of the Disney Dream (a valiant vessel distinguished for its classic early 20th century design, combining sleek style and convenient facilities with splashes of magic and cruise-industry firsts)(it’s also really, really big!).

What I will NOT do is joke about taking out a second-mortgage on your home to pay for the tickets. I did not realize these jokes are not – and never will be – clever. My bad. I will simply stick to facts.

Fact: tickets for two people on a four-night cruise in March in a room with a balcony cost $2,169.76. If you want to upgrade to the supreme Concierge Royal Suite With Verandah: $8,254.34. Though I did find some tickets in February for around $372.

Unchecked fact: the Royal Suite comes with a paper shredder where you can dispose of your wrinkled hundred dollar bills.

When you think about it, these facts work in glorious favor for Central Florida. Any tourist who can afford to spend that kind of money is always welcome here, and I encourage them to come back again and again! Stay at our resorts, eat at our restaurants, and fill your luxury rental cars at our gas stations! You won’t be disappointed.

Photographer Marcus at the welcoming of the Disney Dream into Port Canaveral January 4th.

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