New guide helps you find hidden Mickeys at sea

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hms cover low resWhile Mickey Mouse has grown to be one of the twentieth century’s most recognizable icons, it is often forgotten that the first appearance of the character was at the helm of a riverboat in Steamboat Willie. So it’s not surprising that Mickey has stowed away on the Disney Cruise ships — in over one hundred places.

Steve Barrett, the author of the popular Hidden Mickeys series of books, has taken his quest for the mischievous mouse out to sea: Yes, it appears that Disney’s ships are nearly as packed with images of Mickey as Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts. Barrett’s newest book, “Hidden Mickeys Go to Sea: A Field Guide to the Disney Cruise Line’s Best Kept Secrets” (The Intrepid Traveler, $6.95), leads cruise passengers to the hiding places.

“I believe that most of the Hidden Mickeys on the Disney cruise ships were present from the initial ship construction,” said Barrett. “Some of these images are probably accidental, especially some of the classic, three-circle images, but others (such as the large classic Mickey on the bow of each ship) are purposeful. Disney often adds new images when ship areas are refurbished.”

“Hidden Mickeys Go to Sea” is Barrett’s third field guide to the phenomenon. The first, “Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World’s Best Kept Secrets,” came out in 2003. Barrett followed it with “Disneyland’s Hidden Mickeys” in 2007 and both guides have just come out in new editions.

The cruise ships are a different sort of experience from the theme parks, and this difference also applies to the experience of looking for Hidden Mickeys. Barrett notes, “One difference that’s helpful to the Hidden Mickey hunter is that the scavenger hunts on the ships and Castaway Cay can be accomplished leisurely. The cruise ship Hidden Mickeys can be located at the guest’s personal pace. Take as much time as you want on the ships and the island; there’s no rush to find Mickey! You’re not in line or on a ride.”

While Barrett may be the best known expert on Hidden Mickeys, he doesn’t do his work alone. The book, like the others in the series, acknowledges everyone who contributed their shipboard findings to his Web site, HiddenMickeysGuide.com.

“Hidden Mickeys Go to Sea” is available in bookstores nationwide, from online bookstores, or by visiting IntrepidTraveler.com. Disney is expected to also have them available for purchase in the cruise ship gift shops.

Marcia Gay Harden named Carnival Dream godmother – unveiled largest children’s book

Academy Award winning actress Marcia Gay Harden reads from "The Dream Plucker of Perrysport," which is claimed to be the world's largest children's book, to students from Brooklyn's PS23.

In celebration of the launch of its newest, largest and most family-friendly “Fun Ship” ever, Carnival Cruise Lines announced that Academy Award-winning actress Marcia Gay Harden will serve as godmother of the new Carnival Dream. She unveil the world’s largest children’s book in New York City on Friday, along with a major, multi-year partnership with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

New Yorker and mother of three, Harden will officially name the new ship when it makes its North American debut in New York on Nov. 12, 2009. In honor of Carnival Dream’s much-anticipated arrival, the Tony Award-winning actress unveiled Carnival’s Big Book of Dreams — measuring 15.5 feet high by 20 feet wide — in New York City’s Rockefeller Center and conducted a special reading of the larger-than-life story to dozens of schoolchildren. Inspired by the imaginative dreams of children who sailed on Carnival Cruise Lines this spring, “The Dream Plucker of Perrysport” tells the tale of a group of young friends who find themselves on a unique adventure after they encounter a furry orange monster in a quest to remember their dreams.

“As a mother and actress driven by the idea of dreaming big, I’m honored to take on this new role as godmother of Carnival’s largest-ever ship and to help bring the Big Book of Dreams to life for local children,” said Marcia Gay Harden. “I’m also inspired by Carnival’s dedication to support and encourage all kids to dream big through its partnership with St. Jude.”

During the three-year partnership with St. Jude, Carnival Cruise Lines’ goal is to raise $3 million to help achieve the hospital’s mission of finding cures and saving children with cancer and other catastrophic illnesses. To support the hospital, under the theme “Care to Play,” Carnival is creating a number of fun, interactive on-board fundraising activities that will involve guest participation. Carnival will also donate hundreds of kid-sized copies of “The Dream Plucker of Perrysport” to the hospital.

“We’re excited to have a dream-worthy lineup of activities to celebrate the launch of the Carnival Dream, including the talented Marcia Gay Harden as godmother, and to bring kid’s dreams to life in the biggest children’s book ever,” said Carnival President and CEO Gerry Cahill. “We are also very proud and honored to work with St. Jude to further support its wonderful work and inspire the children and families of St. Jude to never lose sight of their dreams.”

“We are so fortunate to work with compassionate companies like Carnival,” said Richard C. Shadyac Jr., Chief Executive Officer of ALSAC, the fundraising organization of St. Jude. “Every dollar donated by Carnival and its guests through the Care to Play fundraising activities will help St. Jude continue its efforts in finding the cures and providing the treatments that will save children’s lives. On behalf of everyone at St. Jude, thank you.”

The 130,000-ton Carnival Dream, is a new class of vessel for the lineg. On Sept. 21, the Dream began its inaugural voyages in Europe and will make its North American debut in New York on Thursday, Nov. 12. The 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream offers a host of innovations including more than 19,000 square feet of space dedicated to children and families, as well as an expansive WaterWorks aqua park featuring the longest water slide at sea. The ship also offers an indoor/outdoor café and entertainment venue called Ocean Plaza, a two-level Serenity adults-only retreat, a wrap-around promenade encircling the ship and a 23,750-square-foot health spa.

To learn more about Carnival Dream and the Carnival Book of Dreams, visit BigBookofDreams.com.

Book Costa and stay free at Planet Hollywood

Throughout March, guests who book a European cruise with Costa will automatically receive a two-night complimentary stay at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, based on availability from Sunday through Thursday. The offer is valid on all FIT sailings booked in March 2009 on seven- to 14-night Europe sailings that depart in 2009. Continue reading “Book Costa and stay free at Planet Hollywood”