I’ve sailed a lot in my lifetime, but there’s something about a Disney cruise that is extra special. Maybe it’s that pixie dust they scatter in the air.

Last summer, my father-in-law took the whole Bloom family for a Bahamas cruise on the Disney Dream. Lucy loved exploring the ship with her cousins Matthew and Alex, having sword fights on pirate night, splashing around in Nemo’s Reef, and lounging on Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.

For its horn signals, the ship uses the first seven notes of “When You Wish Upon a Star.” I was humming the tune for months afterward. Lucy got a book on the making of the ship called Welcome Aboard! The Creation of the Disney Dream, and it became one of her favorite bedtime stories.

Lucy and her cousins Alex and Matthew with Captain Mickey on our summer trip. (Photo: Jonathan Bloom)

After that trip, the Disney Dream went into dry dock and was overhauled. I wanted to go back and check out all the new features, from a serious Star Wars installation in Disney’s Oceaneer Club to an outpost of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.

This time around, Lucy and I went with the Begley side — including my niece Virginia, my brother Tom and his wife Kathleen, and Grandma and Grandpa.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes peek at what makes the Disney Dream so extraordinary.

Lucy goes warp speed on the Millennium Falcon. (Photo: Laura Begley Bloom)

For Star Wars fans, this ship is truly intergalactic, with a host of innovations that would make Luke Skywalker proud. You can get behind the controls on the Millennium Falcon, learn to operate a lightsaber in the Jedi Training Academy, or just battle good versus evil.

The Star Wars Millennium Falcon room is loaded with secrets, according to Walt Disney Creative Entertainment Producer Tony Giordano. “There are a lot of buttons, and if the kids push them in a certain way, they’ll cause the room to do something,” says Giordano. “You can hear Darth Vader’s breathing, and the whole room will turn red.”

It’s great for all ages, as Grandpa discovered when he visited during an open house and played Star Wars with Lucy.

Dreams come true in the new Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique — whether you want to become a princess or a pirate. Virginia chose a classic Cinderella look, while Lucy went punk-rock princess. Their fairy godmothers entertained them throughout the makeover process. I loved that Lucy’s fairy godmother, Carolyn, made everything sound so regal: she nicknamed Grandpa the “royal photographer” and told Lucy she was from the “far-off kingdom of Brooklyn.”

Two little princesses, after a visit to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. (Photo: Laura Begley Bloom)

You’ll find special features everywhere you look on the Disney Dream. “It’s Imagineers. They think of everything, from hidden Mickeys around the ship to enchanted artwork that comes to life,” say cruise director Jimmy Lynett.

Virtual reality comes aboard the ship in a way you’ve never seen. In the Oceaneer Club, there’s a high-tech space based on the Disney Infinity video game, where you can literally become one of the characters. Lucy and I took a turn at the controls — I became Maleficent, and Lucy became Joy from Inside Out, blue hair and all!

The Disney Dream, with its signature Mickey-themed color scheme and yellow lifeboats. (Photo: Disney Cruise Line)

The new Vanellope’s Sweets and Treats is a dream for a candy lover — there’s homemade gelato, handmade candies, and plenty of sweets from your youth.

Creating a candy store like this is no small feat. “It took us over a year to create Vanellope’s Sweets and Treats, over a hundred castmembers, Imagineers, our partners, Disney Cruise Line, and also Walt Disney Animation Studios to craft together this amazing space,” says David Handke, with Walt Disney Imagineering.

The staff on the Disney Dream goes above and beyond, too, whether that means doing magic tricks at your table or creating little origami gifts for the kids. The crew even goes ashore to help create magical moments for children in need in various ports of calls.

The family that sails together, stays together. (Photo: Disney Dream)

We checked out some of the shows, and I have to say that the performers are Broadway caliber. “The process to become a member that will be on our stage is just like going out for a Broadway show,” says Lynett, who is quite the star himself. He introduces all the shows in front of 1,340 passengers in the Walt Disney Theatre and makes regular announcements over the PA system.

There are also the simple pleasures of being out at sea, like playing ping-pong or putt-putt golf or just exploring the ship.

Princess putt-putt golf. (Photo: Laura Begley Bloom)

Another fabulous feature for families: the cabins. My parents, Lucy, and I stayed in a Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom together and were totally comfortable. In fact, there was so much room that Virginia almost had a slumber party with us one night. There’s a queen-size bed, a single sleeper sofa, a bunk bed that magically pulls out of the ceiling, and another twin-size bed hidden in the wall. The bath is split into two rooms — one for the toilet, another for the shower/tub — with a sink in each. It’s perfect for a family traveling together.

And what would a Disney cruise be without characters? You’ll see your favorite friends everywhere you look: Jake the Pirate, Minnie, Pluto, Daisy. And of course, there’s Captain Mickey. Ahoy Captain Mickey!

Best of all, there’s something for everyone on this amazing ship.

By Laura Begley Bloom