Like nearly every other passenger on the new Disney Dream cruise ship, I rode the AquaDuck water coaster during a recent preview sailing.
You sit on a raft similar to an air mattress, with pockets for one or two riders, front and back.
The raft is propelled by jets of water through a tube that drops, twists, turns, and then, ingeniously, glides along a clear, enclosed path above the pool deck so you can wave to your friends and family below – and if they are quick, they can take your picture, above.
The AquaDuck is destined to be the signature activity on the 4,000-passenger Disney Dream, which begins cruising this week on a regular schedule out of Port Canaveral, Fla. The port is about an hour east of Disney World and Orlando.
A circling plunge, rapids like a river
Just about anyone can do this ride – if you are tall enough (48 inches) and able enough to get on and off the little raft, which I called a rubber Duckie. The ride is not scary and never gets totally dark like many waterslides. It is exhilarating.
The ride begins four decks above the pool area, as in the picture above. Once the raft in front of you is fully out of sight, your rubber Duckie springs forward.
After the circling plunge, the raft, propelled by water jets that gush 10,000 gallons per minute, is spit out into a clear tube that runs from the middle of the ship toward the aft end along the starboard (right) side.
Your friends and family on the pool deck below can watch as your raft zips along the tube at a good pace, like riding a rushing river. The raft plunges into rapids, then rises, before making a curve across the ship to the port (left) side to complete the circle above the deck.
Photo opportunity from the pool deck
The journey along the port side is the prime photo opportunity for those on the pool deck, as you glide along the final stretch in clear view before disappearing in the last curve that returns the raft to a station below the starting point. (Click on picture for a larger view.)
The Duck is the best ride you’ll find on any cruise ship. No other ship has managed to build such an amusement park ride. The closest might be the zip line on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis and Allure of the Seas, but that activity requires a bit more physical fitness than riding the Duck.
What became clear as I was cruising on the Disney Dream is that riding the Duck has become a right of passage for this ship.
If you are vacationing on the Disney Dream, be prepared for everyone to ask you: Have you done the Duck yet?