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Disney Cruise Line: Disney Fantasy

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  • Disney Cruise Line
  • Disney Cruise Line
  • Disney Cruise Line
  • Disney Cruise Line
  • Disney Cruise Line
  • Disney Cruise Line

Disney Fantasy Review

Launched in 2012, Disney Fantasy is a sister ship to Disney Dream, but with a different décor and the addition of AquaLab, an 1,800-square-foot water play area that features pop jets, geysers, and bubblers, as well as other improvements. Disney Fantasy

offers weekly seven-night cruises from her Port Canaveral home port, which is within driving distance of Florida’s Orlando airport and theme parks, making it convenient to combine a Walt Disney World vacation with a Disney cruise. She is one of the few Disney ships that sails only weeklong itineraries.

Disney Cruise Line’s largest ships are also their most lavish vessels, distinguished for their classic early-20th-century design—which is reminiscent of the golden age of ocean travel—and their state-of-the-art technology. Playful design accents cleverly incorporate the images of Disney characters and themes without overpowering the stylish decor. Artwork showcases the creativity of Disney artists and animators. The atmosphere is never stuffy.

As on their earlier ships, vast areas are devoted to children's activity centers, outdoor activity areas, and swimming pools. The AquaDuck is a unique 765-foot-long water coaster that propels kids and adults alike on a thrill-filled ride up, down, and around four outside decks, over the side of the ship and through the forward funnel.

Theaters cater to family entertainment with large-scale production shows, movies, dances, lively game shows, and even 3-D movies. Adults-only hideaways include an avenue of bars and lounges tucked into deck four aft; Meridian Lounge, located between the specialty restaurants; and Cove Café, a quiet spot adjacent to the adult pool to relax with coffee or a cocktail.

With the launch of Disney Cruise Line in 1998, families were offered yet another reason to take a cruise. The magic of a Walt Disney resort vacation plus the romance of a sea voyage are a tempting combination, especially for adults who discovered Disney movies and the Mickey Mouse Club as children. Mixed with traditional shipboard activities, who can resist scheduled opportunities for the young and young-at-heart to interact with their favorite Disney characters?

Although Disney Cruise Line voyages stuck to tried-and-true Bahamas and Caribbean itineraries in their formative years, and sailed exclusively from Port Canaveral, Florida, where a terminal was designed especially for Disney ships, the line has branched out to other regions, including Europe.

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What You Should Know

Pros

  • Mickey's Pool (for young kids) and Donald's Pool (for families) have seating for parents
  • Adults-only Quiet Cove has loungers in the shallow section of the pool
  • A privacy curtain can be drawn between the sitting and sleeping areas in staterooms

Cons

  • The largest suites sleep a maximum of five
  • Youngsters who wear swim diapers are restricted to the Mickey's Pool splash play area
  • Disney cruises aren't all Disney all the time, but can get tiring for passengers who aren't into it
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 1,458
  • Entered Service 2012
  • Gross Tons 128,000
  • Length 1,115 feet
  • Number of Cabins 1,250
  • Passenger Capacity 2,500 (4,000 max)
  • Width 125 feet
  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

Feb 6, 2017

Great Family Trip

Came here with 2 small children and was impressed with the accommodations.

By Tim_CR

  • New

Dec 14, 2015

Eastern Caribbean

Having never cruised with Disney before we were not sure what to expect, but having cruised Alaska a few years ago in an aft cabin that is what we tried for. On Disney the aft cabins are classified as 5E. By the time we booked, the 5E cabins were in a GTY status, meaning we would get a 5E or better. But, the "better" may have been another upgraded cabin with a veranda. About two months before sailing our Disney on line account changed from unassigned

to cabin 6190, aft 5E that we wanted. As you enter the cabin you find the A/C controls as well as the light switches. Below these switches is a place to insert your room key card (known as your Key to the World card in Disney speak). If your card is not inserted in this slot none of the electrical items will work in the cabin, thus forcing all the lights and TV off when you leave. To be honest I brought an old KTTW card form a Walt Disney World trip and found that it worked. But, the cabin steward would pull it up any time he entered and left the cabin. For us (a couple) at least there was ample drawer and hanger space. In the closet is an electronic combination safe. The bed sits high enough that all your luggage should fit under it without a problem. This cabin is equipped with an actual queen bed rather than the two twins pushed together you find on some ships. It also has a couch past the bed, next to the sliding door to the veranda. This couch open to another bed and there is a sliding drape between the two areas. A table along the wall acts as a dresser and dressing table (mirror and hair drier are here). Below it there is a mini fridge and above is your TV. This cabin has a split bath configuration, meaning the bath is in two separate rooms. On room has the shower and a sink while the other has the toilet and a second sink allowing a couple to have ample room to get ready at the same time. Each cabin also comes with two “Wave Phones”, which are kind of like on ship cell phones. The problem is you only get one charger and if you loose one it's a $250 charge to your room. We never used them, what we really did use was the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app for our smart phones. This app keeps you up to date on everything happening on the ship. Maps show times and the best feature of all is the message function. We had 12 adults in our party and you can text back and forth among yourselves using the ship Wi-Fi (no charge to your minutes for the app). But, I will point out in my experience a problem with it. I downloaded the app to both my iPhone and iPad. For some reason text messages for me went to one or the other randomly, not both devices. As our vacations normally consist of trips to Sandals adult all-inclusive resorts we were concerned about a Disney cruise and a higher number of children on the ship over a "normal" cruise line. It's hard to describe, but this is not an issue. While there are lots of kids around there are also lots of kid’s activities. That, plus a quiet adult only area make it a great cruise. At this point I should add a shout out for our agent Amy at Dream Makers Vacation Services. She has always handled our Sandals trips with excellent so we used her again. The trip went off without a hitch and we were always informed of what was going on. My opinion is always have a professional in your corner as an advocate! Our shuttle dropped us off on the curb and a porter came over to take our checked bags. Remember to tip these guys as they are working hard to get your bags where they need to go. I was surprised to see multiple people just leave their bags on the curb and walk away. While the porters did pick them up I personally would be concerned that they wouldn't make the ship. I was meeting my sister who drove so we walked over to the parking garage. As a note, if you need to use the rest room before you go through security there is one in the parking garage, which is just across the driveway from the drop off curb. Security check as you enter the Disney Cruise building was quick and efficient. There are two magnetometer areas, one on the ground level where you would be dropped off by a shuttle and one on level three of the parking garage. Like the airport, remove all metal objects for a walk through mag and all carry on bags go through a belt mag. No questions asked about the four bottles in my carry on bag. With a port arrival time of 10:45 - 11:00 I think we got there at about 10:30. Remember to complete your on line check it as this will save time boarding the cruise. There are separate lines for those on their first Disney Cruise and for those who are members of the Disney Cruise Line's Castaway Club (you automatically join after your first cruise. As my sister is a member we were directed into a Castaway Club line with her party. The wait in line was about 10 minutes. They check your documents, passport, take a picture and provide you with your boarding group. We ended up in boarding group 6 and once our boarding group was called it was through the mouse ears and another 15 minute wait in line to board. Once on board its time to sign up for things you can't do or didn't do ahead of time. We signed up for the Castaway Cay 5K, the float/bike/snorkel package on Castaway cay and my Internet access. Don't wait in any lines to sign up for Internet. Just turn on your device (I used my iPad) and go to DCLguest.com. On that page you can sign up for access you can share on multiple devises. On the day of sailing only you can get 50 MB for free. There are also other choices; pay as you go 25 cents per MB, 100 MB for $29, 500 MB for $49 or $90 for 1,000 MB. I signed up for the free 50 and the 1,000 packages and used it all. The Internet is kind of like slow DSL, but it works for most things. We used it for e-mail, checking the newspaper a few times, streaming the audio for a football game and posting a few times on forums. Just note ““ turn off all things on your devices that automatically update. Your device downloading a bunch of podcasts or updating your apps will eat up your MB quickly. We left port on time at 5 to very windy conditions. The Captain announced that we would have high seas crossing the Gulf Steam. He was right. Probably 25% of folks missed dinner. They called it 12 - 15 foot seas. Day two became relaxing as the seas calmed down in the morning. Days two and three were at sea, so we got to check out all the ship has to offer. It has a lot. I know I'll never be able to list them all, so I'll just mention things we really liked or thought were neat. First, the spa. We signed up for the weeklong package in the “Rainforest”. I had a difficult time understanding this before we got to the ship because it just wasn't clear what his was. This is a quiet relaxing area. It has four open showers that have multiple “rain” programs. It sounded hokey to me, but they are great. There are also multiple dry/wet saunas at different temperatures and wonderful heated tile loungers. On the fantasy there is also an outer deck area in the Rainforest with two, two person hot tubs. We tend not to go to the stage shows on cruises so we found that during the first dinner service when many other folks were also at a show the Rainforest was deserted. You can see a YouTube of a Rainforest here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNL-inZJp4E On our second “port” day we chose to stay on the ship. The spa ran specials and we took advantage of one. A 50-minute full body massage and a 25-minute facial for $149. If you are staying on the ship, look for specials. As with most cruise lines, on a Disney ship you will be assigned an early or late dining rotation, meaning dinner will be 5:30 or 8:15. Disney uses a unique dining rotation of restaurants, but your server follows you. There are three restaurants in the rotation, so during a seven day cruise you will visit two of them twice and one of them three times. The three are: Animator's Palate, Royal Court and Enchanted Garden. Your KTTW card will have a code on it telling you where you need to be each night; like AERAERA. Just look at the letter and the first letter of the restaurant and you know where to go. By the end of night two our server and assistant really understood what we liked and anticipated what we might want. We have found the food spectacular, much better than the RCCL ships we have been on. By day five I was feeling the effects of over indulgence of food. Another tip here: Order all you want. Want two appetizers, order them. Want two main dishes, yes get them. It's all included. Plus, if there is something you find you like you can always order it the day before from your server. My wife loved the Sea bass on night one so she ordered it a couple of times more. If it's on the ship, you can have it by ordering ahead. Dietary restrictions, allergies? It seems they can take care of it. Just talk to your server. If you are going to miss a night at your assigned restaurant, don't let it be your last night at Animator's Palate. That night be on time/early, as before the appetizer course each member of your party will be asked to draw a character. Don't get nervous, I failed crayon as a kid and was still able to work it out with the supplies/directions given. Not to spoil the night for you, but what Disney can do with what you draw as you enjoy dinner is amazing. You are in for a treat this night. Bottle water and soda from a bar will cost you, but there is a soda fountain on deck 11 next to the pool that is open 24 hours where you can get water/soda. Heck there is even soft serve ice cream up there available all the time (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and banana were available during our cruise) . In addition to the three restaurants, two specialty restaurants are available at an up charge. Palo and Remy. We visited Palo $30 each plus gratuity) and found it was spectacular! Well worth the money. Oh, in case you want more there is a buffet serving breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Add to that 24 hour room service and you can not go hungry. Dress on the ship. During our 7 night cruise there was one "formal" night as well as one "dress up night" in addition to the "Pirate Night" talked about earlier. Now, with that being said I saw folks wearing everything from a tux on formal night to shorts & tee shirts almost every night. The only place where a dress code is enforced is Palo and Remy. Palo requires dress shoes (no open toe/sandals for men), slacks (no shorts) and a collared dress shirt. You may be able to get away with a polo shirt, but I didn't see anyone wearing one. All the men I saw were wearing long sleeve dress shirts with a couple in jackets. Remy ups the code to require the jacket. Disney's private island, Castaway Cay. We visited here the last full day of our cruise. They start the day with a 5K race for those who want to sign up. We did it and had a blast. You don't have to be a hard-core runner, heck you can walk it if you want. All who finish end up with a medal. On the island there are multiple beach areas with ample lounge chairs. There is even an adult only beach. You can rent bikes, rent mask fins & snorkel and even rent floats to lie on in the water. The cove is very well protected so not a lot of wave action is happening on the main beach. They have a package for all three that saves you a few dollars but you have to pre-book on the ship. Just like on the ship, food is included. They have plenty of food just behind the main beach as well as the adult beach. Also just like the ship, alcohol is always available for sale. Shows/movies: Each evening there is a major production show, which is done twice so each dinner seating can see the show. In addition to these there are multiple smaller shows with more "adult" entertainment later in the evening in the clubs/bars. There is also a movie theater showing moves most all day/night long. During the week we were able to catch Ant-Man, Bridge of Spies and The Good Dinosaur. Deck 11 and above is the place to be most of the time. The back third of deck 11 is Cabanas, the buffet restaurant. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner every day. As you move forward you find the pools. On each side of the pools you have coffee and soda 24 hours a day. There is also the ice cream station here, a bar and a quick service food station. Dogs, burgers, sandwiches, fried foods, fries and sides. Two pools, a large hot tub a little kids splash zone, lots of both lounge chairs as well as table & chairs and the neatest thing going - "Funnel Vision" Think of the big screen at an arena or stadium. Now, mount that on the ships funnel, play Disney movies all day and you have "Funnel Vision". A stage in front of the Funnel Vision allows them to host shows here also, including the Pirate Night show (see below). Continuing forward you will find the quiet "adults" area. This has another pool with swim up bar, hot tub and more seating. While kids can "pass through" this area they are not allowed to linger. Finally completing the trip forward on deck 11 you find the Senses Spa. Steps from deck 11 lead up to the "AquaDuck", a water coaster. You ride elongated inflated floats through a clear acrylic tube that completely circles the ship, even going out over the side in one section. It’s more than a water slide, almost like a roller coaster. Quick turns, drops and rises make for a fun ride. Adult and children riders must be at least 42" or taller. Single riders must be at least 54" or taller. Aft on Deck 13 is the sports area. An enclosed basketball court, Goofy mini golf, and ping-pong tables provide a fun atmosphere. Off this sports deck is a simulator room with golf, baseball and basketball simulators. Pirate Night - The night starts with a pirate theme dinner. it is followed by the “Pirates in the Caribbean” Deck Party which is a Captain Jack show followed by the only fireworks sow on a cruise ship. Disney places a pirate head bandanna in each stateroom, but let me tell you some folks go all out for pirate night. I saw some folks on my cruise that had to have spent hundreds, if not above a thousand for their costume. It was amazing! The amazing thing about this ship (I'm sure all of the DCL fleet) is the Disney touch that covers the entire ship. Everywhere you look is themed exactly as it should be. Think of the details as you walk down Main Street at the Magic Kingdom and that is what you find in every square inch of the ship. The employees - I was amazed at the quality and friendliness of every employee I met. The few I was able to talk to for a while truly loved their jobs. Our server in Palo has seven years with Disney, two in the Mexico pavilion at Epcot and five on the ships. Our serve in our dining rotation was the best I have ever had. As I said, by the end of night two she and her assistant had our likes and needs figured out and were not only able to anticipate things that we would want they paid attention to the details so that recommendations were individually based, not just pushing the special of the night. These folks earn their money, no doubt about it! Remember, they are on that ship for months at a time. Officers get a cabin to themselves but most employees are two to a room with bunk beds. Working 12 - 16 hours a day to make your day magical. Tips are automatically charged to your room account (about $80 per person, $160 for us as a couple), but before the end of the cruise you will get four envelopes and a breakdown of how much you have already "tipped" your cabin attendant, head server, server and assistant server. Of the four the head server is the one you will probably have the least amount of interaction with. But, ours was great. On the first night of the trip (remember, high seas) he noticed several of our party missing and asked how they were. In the conversation we mentioned one of our party was back in the cabin taking care of his sick girlfriend. In a flash he asked what he liked to eat, had a steak prepared and delivered to the room from the dining room we were in that night. I wish I could provide details about the kids areas and childcare, but being an adult couple we really did not deal with it. Let me just say, the kids that were traveling in our party really didn't want to come out of their “space”. I can tell you that the kids are protected. Unless written approval is given, no other adult can “check them out”. This is all controlled by authorization set up on your KTTW card. Plus, you need a secret word given at the start of the cruise by the parents before Disney cast members will let you take a child out.

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Nov 9, 2015

Western Caribbean

This was an amazing trip that was perfect for our 3 year old daughter. We had the luxury of seeing all the characters and processes under one roof. The staff definitely catered to the children. Great first experience travelling with a toddler. The food was average. I have also been on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruiselines, and that food seemed better. Our servers Nelson and Daniel were amazing and very good with our daughter. They did

an incredible job. Our room was great. We had the deluxe family verandah room and it was the perfect size for our family of 3. Also, the split bathroom was nice. The tub was great since our daughter takes daily baths. Our room attendant was amazing. His name was Kaduk, and he always seemed to know what we needed before we asked. There was always something to do and with the on board app, I always knew where the characters were going to be. Definitely go ashore in Castaway Cay. That island is the Disney Island in the Bahamas. It is amazing. There is do much to do and it is so beautiful. I wish we could have stayed there multiple days. Dream Makers Vacation Services helped us plan our vacation. They are so nice, always answering our questions, and gave great advice on our trip. We will definitely use Mike McHugh again when planning our next trip!

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Dec 9, 2014

Carribean

This is my 8th overall cruise. In total I have been on cruises ranging from 50 passenger to 4000 passenger ships. I have cruised with 4 different cruise companies. Technically this is my 2nd Disney Cruise but my 1st aboard the Disney Cruise Line. Back in 1991 it was called The Big Red Boat. A much different experience. EMBARKATION AND PRE-CRUISE PLANS The cruise port is Port Canaveral, Florida. Disney is the most organized company

in the world. I never had a moment of worry. We left from a Disney resort in Orlando. Our bags were tagged and directly transported to the cruise. The check-in process was quick and easy. Like most other cruises, you are given a stateroom key, which acts as your on board credit card for all purchases during your trip. We boarded at 2:30pm, which is a late for cruise check-in. By boarding late, we avoided all lines, which is key when traveling with a toddler. FOOD AND SERVICE Food on a cruise ship is a tricky thing to evaluate. The question is what we are comparing it too? If this is your first cruise or you are accustomed to eating at Friendly's every night then I would say the food on this ship is way beyond exceptional. But if you are a cruise snob, which may describe me and my family, I would say the food was simply ok. It met our standards but did not surpass. In fairness, this cruise had to prepare 80,000 meals for a 1 week. It always surprises me how it all gets done so efficiently. There are really three kinds of meals I am evaluating. 1. The buffet breakfast and lunch. A majority of people ate at Cabanas or Flos Cafe, which is where the pool deck was located. Certainly there was a great variety of choices but the menu never changed day to day. I'd almost prefer to have less variety each day but a more imaginative menu. 2. The Main Dining was interesting. Disney has a unique dining philosophy called "Rotational Dining". Essentially, they have 3 general dining areas. The Enchanted Garden, the Royal Court and Animators Palate. Each had its own decor theme and vibe. It alleviates a stagnate cruise culture of eating in the same area each night. The other unique feature is that your wait staff follows your same rotation with you. Let me explain why the wait staff rotation is important for your dining experience. Let me begin by saying that it was probably the best thing Disney Fantasy does. Hands down it was the best service I got on any cruise I've ever been on. The wait staff was warm, friendly, engaging and extremely perceptive to our needs. They took our drink orders on the first night and each night to follow; they bought the same drinks without asking. The other reason why it's important to keep the same wait staff is because my daughter has a food allergy and they were EXTREMELY accommodating and patient with those needs. Although I felt the food was just ok, the service definitely filled in the gap nicely. As a side note, Animators Palate was everyone's favorite restaurant. It will be yours too because it offers some really cool interactive features. 3. One last note about food the ship has two signature restaurants. Essentially you can go from a 4 star dining experience that is included in your cruise price to a 5 star dining experience that you pay a little extra for. To dine at Palo you will need to pay an additional $25 per person. To dine at Remy, you will need to pay an additional $75 per person. Let me say this, my in-laws were gracious enough to treat my wife and I to dinner at Palo (we put my tot in the nursery). I'm not going to lie, the food was terrific and it felt nice to dress up and do something special but it felt out of place for me. I felt like we got off a Family Disney Cruise and hopped into the dining room of a private yacht. It was a little much for me. It's my opinion that when you pay a lot of money for a cruise and they offer you 4-star dining there is no purpose to pay anymore. My in-laws happen to be foodies and enjoy good meals and good wine. They decided to go one step further and dine at Remy. They thought that experience was really amazing $75 a person it should be amazing). If you are a foodie and enjoy those things, I say indulge but if you don't, you won't be missing too much. Trust me the ship has a lot of places to get your stomach full. STATEROOMS Like a majority of cruises, you have three basic choices (Interior, Ocean view and Balcony) but there is a twist. The Interior Room has a magical porthole. Allow me to explain as best as I can. With the magic of Disney, you can have an interior room with a simulated porthole. The porthole has a camera which is angled outside. So even though you are inside, you can still see what's happening outside. Follow? It doesn't end there. This porthole also has random animations. By random, I would say once an hour or so, you will see things like Winnie the Pooh on a sailboat or Goofy flying overseas with balloons or Donald Duck water skiing. Obviously these are not real but it adds to the experience for a child and adults alike. As you may have guess, we opted with the Interior Room with Magical Porthole. Paying more for a real ocean view made little sense to us. Normally the wife and I splurge for a balcony room but having a toddler in the room made me nervous. Plus we traveled over Thanksgiving, thus the rooms were more expensive. My In-Laws went for a balcony room. I would say their room was slightly larger than our room. They had 2 bathrooms (1 with a shower and sink and the other with a toilet and sink). Regardless of what room you select, they all have tubs, which is practical with young kids. The beds were also a nice size. The rooms had a television, which could be angled and extended to any part of the room. The television stations were mostly cross promotional channels of Disney for you to buy more Disney stuff. The stateroom beds were higher up to allow for suitcase storage underneath the beds. The bed area was also separated with a curtain so my wife and I could have some privacy while our tot was sleeping in her sofa converted bed. Disney also has WAVE phones in the room. More on this later but in general, Wave Phones are complimentary cellphones that work while at sea since your regular phones do not. It was a great feature that we often utilized to communicate while we were on the ship. The primary purpose was to stay in touch with the nursery while they watched our tot. ACTIVITIES / CRUISE DIRECTOR Our Cruise Director was Clayton. Here is what we liked about him. He was super friendly and really took the Disney service of excellence to new levels. It all came across as hokey but genuine. You could tell he really enjoyed his job. He also seemed to be everywhere. In most of my past cruises, I usually saw the cruise director up close when I boarded and left the ship. Clayton was everywhere on the ship. If I had 1 minor complaint, the man loved to talk. He would yap for 10-15 minutes before every mainstage show. Most of what he had to say was either general knowledge or repetitive. Plus we'd hear him in our stateroom when the tot was sleeping or napping. We came to know the Club Host on board. His name was Brett and he ran most of the late night programs. He almost seemed like the Assistant Cruise Director even though he wasn't. Brett was really entertaining and engaging too. I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up as a Cruise Director one day. The activities consisted of either mid-day alcohol lessons for adults or games geared for kids. A big feature of the ship was the state of the art movie theater. I will also say that the Funnel Vision (Arena-sized television) on the pool deck were the most popular attractions during the day. A steady flow of Disney movies were constantly shown. It was kind of a neat thing for the kids to relax in the pool and watch a movie on the Funnel Vision. The coolest feature of the ship was being able to see the upcoming activities on the ships online app (More on this a little later) EXCURSIONS Because we had our tot, we opted not to do any shore excursions. I can say that my in-laws did a Rum Factory tour in San Juan. They really enjoyed it and the cost was relatively reasonable. SHIP LAYOUT The ship had 13 primary decks. There was a 14th deck at midship, which not many people knew about. Deck 14 had a quiet lounge / observation room simply called the Overlook.. We took a family stroll there one night and it had a real nice view. Deck 13 housed the two signature dining restaurants on the ship (Palo and Remy). More on that later. Deck 13 also had Goofys Sports area with mini golf, basketball, etc. (Truth be told, I did not visit the Goofy Deck). Deck 12 also had an adult quiet pool area/ bar. Most days, I would nap my toddler mid-day and my wife and in-laws enjoyed the quiet tranquility in the adult-only area. There was a similar pool/bar/lounge area in the aft of deck 11. That is also where the spa and fitness area were located. Deck 12 Midship also had a wet play area called The Aqua Lab. They reserved this area for kids who are potty-trained. We didn't care because our tot loved this area and being that it consisted of sprinkler / spray apparatus (no pool), we let her play anyway. Deck 12 was also the entrance to the most popular feature on the ship, The Aqua Duck. The Aqua Duck is a tube water coaster, which is around 3 stories high. It's really a unique experience. Part of the ride allows you to casually overlook the pool deck and move slow enough to wave to friends below. The majority of the ride is insulated but part of it is exposed outdoors. It is important to know because during windy conditions, they occasionally close the slide. You should also know that you can ride as a single rider or as a tandem. Single riders need to be 54 inches or higher. Kids over 42 inches can ride if accompanied with an adult. We waited on average 30-40 minutes to ride the Aqua Duck. The best time to go with no wait is late at night. Deck 11 Midship has the main pool area. There is the Donald Pool, which I'd classify as the main family pool. There is also the Mickey Pool. Once again, the Mickey Pool requests that kids requiring swim diapers not to play but we ignored the rules. The reason being is that the pool was very shallow (no deeper then 2 feet) so it was essentially a baby pool. There were a ton of infants in there with parents. It was refreshing, calm and we felt entitled (we are rebels I know). My tot also enjoyed the only Toddler approved Water Area located adjacent to the Mickey Pool. It was called Nemos Reef. It featured soft-matted areas with wet play areas representative from NEMO and a slide designed like a stingray. It was also undercover. I admit that it was a really cool feature of the ship that parents of tots and infants alike really appreciated. Deck 11 also had Cabanas restaurant. This is the main buffet eating zone on the ship. Tons of food and beverage stations. There was also Flos Cafe on Deck 11, which had hamburgers, hot dogs, nuggets and pizza. Decks 10 through 6 were mostly staterooms. Much of the ships action was on decks 2,3,4,5, where you had the main dining areas, a movie theater, a proscenium style seating for mainstage shows, Kid Zone areas, shops, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, a majestic atrium, Adult nightlife area and information desks. It wasn't hard to find anything as attractions were clearly marked by elevators. The hardest thing to navigate were the staterooms. Although it was slightly confusing we all got the hang of it by day 7. SPA My wife and mother-in-law both had treatments. After cruising 8 times, I have decided to stay away from the spas as I view them as huge money traps. It's really obnoxious how much more you pay for the privilege of having someone rub your back and put cucumbers on eyes while you are at sea. I think my wife dropped $225 for a 75-minute treatment she could have gotten at home for less than a $100. With that being said, she said the staff was really friendly, respectful and made her feel really comfortable. BAR LOUNGES I thought this area of the ship was a bit under-rated, especially because Disney does not do casinos on their ships thus bars and lounges become way more important for the adult passengers. As an aside, I believe the no-casino decision on Disney has more to do with the necessity of needing space for youth programming. Certainly cruises are not in the business to turn down an opportunity for revenue streams but Disney Fantasy makes the exception to accommodate the young passengers. The reality is that roughly a quarter of the ship had teen lounges, play areas, etc. In regards to the under-rated bar area, Disney took on a Europa theme. There were 4-5 bars in one section of the ship, each representative of a European culture. The cornerstone was The Piazza, which was reminiscent of an Italian Cafe with a round bar and acoustic music. There was French bar called Oh-La-La, which was a bit glamorous and concentrated on champagne-inspired drinks. Also an Irish sports bar called O'Gill's Pub, which is where I watched my beloved Eagles thump the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. There is a bar called The Skyline, which was a Martini only bar, which featured decor of skyscrapers of all many European countries. Lastly was The Tube, which was the largest and most liveliest of the bars. It was obviously homage to England. It featured a cabaret style stage with some more intimate variety shows and game nights. In addition the ship had around 5-6 other scattered bars in mainly concentrated areas, the pool and by the signature dining restaurants. YOUTH AREAS Remember Disney Fantasy is a family ship so infusing innovative youth programming was paramount. I honestly can't recall all the different activities (too many to keep track). I know a ton of kids up to 18 were having fun in The Edge and Vibes lounge. Also dance parties, interactive detective games around the ship and the feel that I got was it was easy to make friends because there was so much to do. For the younger ones, there was the Oceaneers Club (Aged 3 to 10ish). All the kids activities for ages 3 and up were free. We chose to have our little tot in Nursery Care for some hours. Actually, we didn't have a choice, since she is not yet potty-trained. The Nursery Care, called It's a Small World Nursery cost $9 an hour. I thought that was pretty reasonable considering we were at sea. We usually did 1-3 hours of care most nights so that we can enjoy a drink or see a late show, etc. My overall impression was that the nursery staff was incredibly patient and prepared for the challenges of new kids meeting strangers for the first time. There is 1 minor thing we didn't like. We didn't like the drop-off process. I suppose for security purposes, parents were not permitted in the play area. Essentially we were asked to hand over our children and leave. This left my tot very upset. It all felt a bit insensitive. It would have been nice to get my tot into an activity, make her feel comfortable and then exit left. It also felt like the nursery was small with not too much happening. We used the nursery a total of 14 hours during the cruise. Each time we dropped her off it got easier and easier and it can't be said enough, these ladies do this week in and week out and really did a nice job keeping our tot active and distracted from being away from us. THEATER Like most cruises, there was an onstage show each night. They lasted anywhere between 45 minutes to 1 hour. NIGHT 1 The Welcome Show – This was a pretty good show that can best be described as a musical introduction of the ships activities. It was entertaining, featured some Disney Characters and sprinkled in some magic from a Guest Entertainer, Mike Super. NIGHT 2 This was perhaps the best show of the trip. It was a full-scale version of the show Aladdin. There is no other way to describe it other then to say it was extremely well done from start to finish. NIGHT 3 This night featured a full show from Guest Entertainer, Mike Super. I happened to see his show on television and I thought his performance on the ship was equally terrific. Unfortunately for me, I missed most of the show because my tot daughter was being fussy and needed to get out and walk around. NIGHT 4 Instead a Mainstage show, they offered a movie to show. I found this to be slightly disappointing. It felt like they just didn’t give a damn for 1 night. It felt like an unprepared substitute teacher during on a holiday week. Let’s just stick a movie in and show the class. NIGHT 5 Wishes: I liked this show. Once again it featured the ships featured singers and dancers. It was a nice show, which featured songs from the many unknown Disney favorites. Who knew there were songs in Hercules? NIGHT 6 This was another show featuring the dancers called Believe. I personally didn't see it but my wife said the show was just ok. She said it was too much plot and not enough singing and dancing. NIGHT 7 The Closing Show. By far it was the biggest dud of the trip, which is odd because you'd think they'd save the best for last. Most of it consisted of the Cruise Director blabbing away about final preparations. It also featured 20 minutes of a guest variety act, a ventriloquist named Kevin Johnson, who I thought had great technique but lacked charisma but weak material. The final show also consisted of 1 big number featuring all the Disney characters. Truth be told it's what we were looking for all trip long and we only got a small dose of it. Overall I say they talent was great on the ship. I just think the show ideas and themes lacked some creativity and variety. It also could have hammered in more Disney characters but that's one mans opinion. ON BOARD SHOPPING If you ever wanted to know what it was like to have 4-5 Disney stores all next door to each other, hop on the Disney Fantasy. Anything but everything Disney can be found. Surprisingly prices were pretty reasonable. You will pay more for toiletries and or sundries. If you are a forgetful parent, try purchasing 10 diapers for $10.Wow!! I will say that I had a worthy experience to note with the one purchase we made on the ship. The night before our stop at Castaway Cay, we wanted to buy my tot some swim floaties. I noticed that the store that sold them on Deck 11 was closed. When I went to the manager at the store on Deck 3, he said he will go up and personally get the swim floaties and bring them down to me. If it were a $300 bottle of whiskey, I can understand that extra effort but he marched up to the closed store to get me an item that cost $5.95. I was so impressed and appreciative. By the way, the other place on Disney Fantasy where you can shop is Shutters. Every ship has their version of the overbearing photographers. Certainly it's a big money maker and Disney Fantasy is no different. Here are the positive things I can say. The pictures are very organized in individual albums. Anytime your picture is taken during the cruise, the photographer asks for your room key so they know what folder to place the picture. Even if you don't have your key, the picture will magically appear as they do facial recognition matching. Every time your child is photographed with a character it ends up in that album. I can also say the qualities of the pictures are really terrific. There really is only 1 negative comment about Shutters: The price? I felt compelled to buy 3 pictures two 8 by 10s and a 6 by 8. Total cost $56. Ouch but the pictures were too good to pass up. TO THE PORTS It is my opinion that Caribbean cruises are meant for people wanting to escape to warm weather as opposed to a desire to see generic tropical islands. Whereas European cruises are more about the port destinations. With that being said I can say St. Martin and San Juan Puerto Rico are your standard run-of-the-mill cruise ports. Feel free to get off the ship and be compelled to buy cheap crappy souvenirs from locals. Of course you'll see a ton of generic jewelry stores telling you that there will never be a better deal, no doubt preying upon those tourists in a jovial mood to buy on impulse. Then you have your run- of-the mill eateries like Senor Frogs. Great for picture taking and cheap t-shirts. I will say that I enjoyed Castaway Cay the best. For me personally, I like the idea of exploring an island that only has around 50 residents (all of who work for Disney and take care of the property). It felt less like a tourist trap and more of a day to kick back and play on the beach. The water was pretty delightful and it was a pretty relaxing day. By the way, since Disney owns the island, only Disney ships are allowed to port. The day we were there, we were the only cruise ported. TIME TO GO HOME Getting off a cruise ship is often the most aggravating part of a trip. People are miserable because their vacation is over and trying to get 2500 people to exit a ship in a 3-hour span in an orderly fashion is always a logistical nightmare. With that being said, Disney once again kicks butt in that department. The night prior to the ship arriving home, all bags are collected by staterooms. For a small fee, we had our bags tagged and directly sent to the airport. Essentially we left our bags out by our stateroom at 10pm on a Friday and never saw them again till we arrived back in Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon. It took us 3 minutes to exit the ship. It took us 5 minutes to clear customs. Then 2 minutes later we were on a Disney shuttle bus headed to the airport. The entire debarkation took us 10 minutes. It was that easy. OVERALL THUMBS DOWN POINTS: Disney's Fantasy does a great job in kids programming and they also do a fine job in adult programming. It is my opinion that they didn't do a great job in balancing each other. More specifically the nursery hours closed either at 11pm or 11:30pm. The variety acts and adult entertainers often finished at 12am or 12:15am. They problem is easily rectified by keeping the nursery open an extra 15-30 minutes. They do have extended hours in the other kid/pre-teen programs. It seems minor but it really alters scheduling. I know its knit-picking but I think they really under utilize their onboard entertainers. Unlike most cruises, they have at least 3 dozen people we saw onstage. My guess is these entertainers double as Disney characters during the day. Where they missed the mark was, we didn't see enough Disney Characters in the onstage productions. Besides Aladdin, the shows had great technical effects but we a bit unimaginative (not enough song and dance). Don't get me wrong, the entertainers were top notch, just simply under-utilized. THUMBS UP POINTS I can't say this enough, the service aboard this ship was better then you can even imagine. The crew and service went out of their way to please and it came across in the most genuine fashion. It was unlike anything I have ever seen. The fact that they go through the same routine every week and still keep a positive attitude makes everyone feel incredibly special blows my mind. If the Aqua Duck was the most popular activity on the cruise, Pirate Night was a close 2nd. Apparently there were frequent Disney Cruisers onboard as they decked out in their pirate attire. In some cases, I had trouble deciphering cruisers and Disney Characters. During this evening there is a huge deck party by the pool, great pyrotechnic Jack Sparrow Show (about 15 minutes) and the fireworks. No really, they had a real life firework show. The Navigator Application. It should be noted that The Disney Fantasy has a cellphone application, which lists deck plans, operating times, activity schedules and special notes. It works on a free Wi-Fi supplied on the ship. This tool is used in compliment with the printed copy sent to the staterooms each night. I can not begin to state how innovative and essential this tool was. Everyone walked around the ship checking their apps for everything happening on the ship. This was particularly useful in locating and arriving to the character appearances. I should mention that NEARLY every Disney character makes an appearance. Including those chicks from the movie Frozen. These appearances happen very frequently throughout the day. I marveled on how easy and civilized the whole process was. We averaged about 3-4 character meet and greets each day. The lines ranged from 5 to 15 minutes. My tot absolutely adored having her picture taken and hugging all the characters. This is the first cruise I took that didn't charge for soft drinks. You could get a soda any day and anytime. No need to pay an obnoxious fee to enjoy a diet coke. This was also the cleanliest cruise I have ever taken bar-none. Everywhere you walked crew were handing out sanitizer wipes. I'm not much of a clean freak but the windows, floors and everything in between was immaculate. I am not exaggerating when I say there were times my daughter dropped food on the floor and I didn't wince when she picked it up and ate it. I feel the food actually got cleaner being on the floor than the table. By the last day, I walked bare footed everywhere. Not once did I worry about stepping on anything or falling. OVERALL, I GIVE THE DISNEY FANTASY A SCORE OF: 93 out of 100

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Oct 25, 2014

Western Caribbean

This was my 2nd cruise. Since I grew up as a Disney kid, I enjoyed it. On my first cruise (not Disney), I was unable to enjoy the nightly entertainment, but Disney serves up the right kind of cheese for my taste. This cruise also had a preview of ABC's Nashville in its entertainment line-up as well as The Avengers (which was still in theatres at the time). Didn't take advantage of either, but I caught the dinner show nightly and watched Brave

in the on-ship movie theatre. The service was friendly and casual. Our assistant dinner server was a hottie. Actually, a lot of the servers at dinner were young and "cute." I enjoyed it, but I'm not super picky. The last time I found a meal disgusting was at Buca de Beppo. Loved the entertainment at Animator's Palate. My group ate at both Remy's and Palo. The waiter at Remy's was super snotty. I think it added to the ambience...though I've been to France (Paris, Loire Valley, Normandy, Cannes) 5 times already and have yet to experience a snotty waiter. There was an after-dinner apertif at Palo than I still dream about. Decent size I suppose. It's a cruise ship not an all-suites hotel in Vegas. I attended the animation seminars but found them lacking. Went to one cooking seminar and wish it was more hands-on. Bingo was super fun. Especially since Donald Duck was there! Didn't play on the game deck but Pluto was there when I went to check it out. Went on the Mayan ruins excursion. It kind of bored me. Just went to the beach on both Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Hung out with Donald Duck again on Castaway Quay. (Don't tell Daisy.) Mickey Mouse stepped on my foot! But really, if you want eye candy at dinner...Disney is the way to go.

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