Fodor’s Expert Review
Disney Fantasy is the newest Disney ship – a sister to Dream. The differences are in decor and the adult venue themes.Read More
Best For People Who Want
More Disney! Bring it on, Goofy, Mickey, Tinkerbell; a family-oriented vacation with the focus on spoiling your kids to pieces with a lifetime experience they will never forget.
Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Adult oriented cruising including quiet time in the sun, a casino at night; a library; adult-oriented (rated PG-16 at least) entertainment and to be around as few children as possible.
Just like the older ships, Disney Fantasy abounds with Disney characters, and not just the ones walking around in character. There are subtle homages to everything Disney throughout the decor from the ship’s horn, which can play six different Disney tunes, to the chair fabrics and bannisters with subtle Mickey-ears in the patterns. Disney Dream has many of the same features as the smaller ships but they are bigger and more technically advanced. But the ship also has more – such as the AquaDuck water coaster and Remy’s French Restaurant. There are three swimming pools onboard – one for kids, one for adults and one for families (all ages).
The “rotational” dining program is identical to the earlier ships in concept; you dine with the same dining companions and servers each evening, but in a different restaurant.
Technology takes center stage on Fantasy – including “interactive artwork” which are wall hangings that come to life for passers by. You may spot a nice drawing of Bambi from 10 feet away and as you approach she a butterfly lands on her nose and Thumper appears to laugh. Birds take flight and continue flying through the adjacent wall hanging.
The kid’s area are a cornucopia of video-based games including two “Magic Floors” which are large squares of floor mounted video screens under durable glass. 16 people can stand in separate control areas around the square and control one game simultaneously. What appear to be windows are actually well disguised video screens where the view changes subtly over time. For example, the adult nightclub “Skylines” has a “Windows on the World” feel like a penthouse bar, but the scene outside the “windows” is a different major world city every night of the cruise.
The adult’s area is one where the two sister ships; Dream and Fantasy, differ the most.
The theme for this area is “Europa”. La Piazza is in the heart of the Europa district, inspired by the decorative plazas throughout Italian cities. Skyline Lounge, carried over from the Disney Dream, is rethemed a bit; adding European cities to its backdrop. The main nightclub is called The Tube with a theme based upon the London Underground, complete with white subway tile, subway map carpet, and handlebars at the booths.
Ooh La La is a champagne bar reminiscent of an elegant French boudoir. O’Gill’s Pub is an Irish themed pub representing the lively neighborhood pubs throughout Ireland. Satellite Falls is an adults-only pool deck added to the top deck of the Fantasy, for an added quiet retreat.
Another difference is the Bibbiti Bobbiti Boutique where girls can get made over into a princess. On special themed nights, such as the “Pirates IN the Caribbean” night, the Bibbiti Bobbiti Boutique gets transformed into the Pirates League. The Pirates League lets kids of all ages get transformed into a pirate. The boys and girls can purchase a makeover, and then have the option of purchasing the clothes and makeup used in the makeover.
The ship has an authentic but slightly less opulent than Dream Art Nuveau feel throughout – in homage to the grander day of ocean liners. The three deck tall main lobby has a very dignified statue which works as a focal point for character photo opportunities. Sumptuous fabrics, wood, and hand-woven carpets and furnishings – and the Disney logo – are ubiquitous. The cabins are decorated almost identically, combining modern design with nostalgic ocean-liner elements such as a steamer-trunk closet for kids, globe- and telescope-shaped lamps, map designs on the bedspreads, and a framed photograph of Mr. and Mrs. Walt Disney aboard the ocean liner Rex sometime in the 1930s.
Some of Disney’s vast archive of animation cels, production sketches, costume studies, and inspirational artwork is displayed around the ship.
When passengers first arrive and enter the majestic Disney Dream atrium what do they behold but a large bronze statue Daisy Duck as the ship’s ambassador, somewhat reminiscent of Lord Nelson in Trafalgar Square.” From there you can proceed to the beautiful Walt Disney movie theater which is one of the best modern representations of an Art Deco movie theater anywhere.
Disney’s cuisine has improved dramatically since the ship was introduced, to the point at which it can now be said to rival Princess’s, with All-American and Continental fare likely to please all but the most sophisticated palate. Hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, and pizza are available until 6 p.m., and late nights snacks are served in the adults-only lounges. Room service is available 24 hours. The exceptional adult-only Italian restaurant, Palo, has a refined and elegant atmosphere and levies only a $25 surcharge. Remy’s an even more exclusive adult’s only restaurant with a menu created by two renowned chef’s one of them with two Michelin stars. The surcharge is $75 per diner.
As you might expect, it could hardly be more upbeat, especially in children’s areas. There is a surprising numbers of Americans working onboard- especially in the children’s areas where communication is vital.
Entertainment on the Disney Fantasy is spectacular. We saw a new stage show called “Believe” where a young girl wants her father to learn how to believe in magic. Somehow, he conjures Aladdin’s Genie and his third wish, to believe in magic” is finally granted after much tribulation.
What makes Disney shows so special is that they are real theater – the kind that enchanted you as a child. They use real actors in speaking roles and there are story lines. These are not typical musical revues as you see on most cruise ships, they are actual stories that children will especially love. The Walt Disney Theater is the main showroom for live entertainment, and every show is a Disney production (they do not fly in comedians, for example).
The Buena Vista Theater is the real movie cinema theater onboard. It is a full-fledge movie theater with state-of-the-art seating and even 3-D projection. All movies are 3-D and glasses are readily available inside. All movies are made by Disney, of course, and they even show first run movies onboard the same day they come out in movie theaters.
There are three pools, one adults-only, one kids-only and one for everyone. Kids especially love the AquaDuck – the longest water slide on any cruise ship in the world at 765-feet. The slide pushes a water raft for two people through a transparent plastic tube starting from one of the smokestacks (a faux one) – out over the side of the ship with nothing below but a 100-ft drop to the open sea, then back and completely around the pool area.
The Vista Spa and Salon, operated by Steiner’s of London, has hydrotherapy and all the usual massage and beauty treatments. -oriented passengers will love the gym, with sports activities including basketball, paddle tennis and volleyball. There is a quarter-mile separate track for jogging.
Disney Fantasy has the same “rotational dining” concept as the earlier ships, but let’s start with the two premier dining spots especially meant to appeal to adults.
The first is Palo’s, a similar restaurant as to what is presented aboard the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder. There will also be a Palo’s on Disney Dream, but it will be much larger to accommodate more patrons at once. The price will remain at $20 per person to serve up special steaks and seafood.
But brand new to Disney Fantasy – and a dining attraction many of the Disney designers are especially looking forward to is “Remy” based on the name of the culinary rodent from the recent Disney motion picture film hit, “Ratatouille.” This very small, French themed bistro will feature exclusive French dishes designed by two chefs, one American and one French, the latter with two Michelin stars. The room is tiny and will only hold about 80 total diners every night. The cover charge to dine there is a dear $75 per person, wine pairings are available for an additional $99 per person.
Those are two of the finest dining establishments onboard. Regular dining rooms, included in the cruise fare, are equally enticing although the focus may be just bit more on the fun rather than the food.
The first is “The Enchanted Garden.” In this room diners will feel as if the meal is starting as something like an outdoor picnic is one of the more exquisite portions of the gardens of Versailles, the royal palace once home to Marie Antoinette near Paris. But as the meal progresses this seemingly outdoor garden house magically transforms into nighttime as the twinkling stars come out all around, lamps suddenly open up, blossoming like flowers, and fireflies and tiny Tinkerbelle-like fairies start to dart through the night-time skies.
Next is an updated version of Animator’s Pallet. This restaurant is also on the first two Disney ships, but it has a significant twist on the Disney Dream. On the first two ships this room first appears to be a typical cartoonist’s studio where he might engage in sketching out a quick animation on a flip pad, or perhaps just sketch and color in a concept for a brand new character. As the meal progresses each of these basic sketches would come to life and soon the diners would be fully surrounded in a thriving animation studio with cartoon characters acting everywhere, in full color, doing and saying funny thing.
On Disney Dream this goes several dimensions further. Animator’s Pallet begins with a simple sketching studio, as we described, but this time there is an underwater theme to all the sketches. As dinner progresses these water creatures not only start to move, the come to life in a real sense, where they are looking at you, watching you and soon asking you questions about what you may be having for dinner.
Crush, the cool surfer-turtle dude from the movie “Finding Nemo” becomes the star of the show as he finds a way to swim up to every table in the room (each has a window nearby) so he can find someone to interact with. Surprisingly, he already knows someone at each table by name, so he is ready to have a full conversation when he arrives. How an animated movie character could ever get to be on first-name basis with anyone on the ship remains a mystery for the rest of the cruise.
Gratuities can be charged to your shipboard account. The recommended tipping guidelines per person (including children) are as follows: Dining Room Server $25.75 Dining Room Asst. Server $18.75 Dining Room Head Server $ 6.50 Stateroom Host/Hostess $25.25.
Dining Manager and Room Service tipping is at the passenger’s discretion on all cruises. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar, beverage, wine, and deck service tabs.
Most staterooms on Fantasy sleep at least one extra person, most will sleep two and some will sleep three extra people in addition to the two main berths.
One of the best features is the added “half-bath” allowing people to use a toilet and sink when needed in addition to the full bathroom. All staterooms also have water facilities to bath infants and toddlers; like small tubs or showers with extra high walls (to hold some water) and a movable shower head.
Inside staterooms have an LED-screen for a “window” that shows live pictures of what is right outside the ship – often with a few surprises like Captain Hook sailing by the ship (animated).
The ship has age-appropriate children’s programs that are the best at sea separated as follows:
6 to 36 months
3 to 11 years
12 to 14 years
15 to 17 years
Kids can stay with siblings upon request. Kids all get tracking bracelets that allow the “keepers” to keep track of their locations.
The days are filled with fun activities; movies, dress-up like pirates and princesses, massive video games for up to 16 simultaneous players, jungle gyms, etc.
With the exception of the Captain’s Dinner, at which formal attire (dress or gown for women and dark suit or tux for men) is recommended, evening attire for gentlemen is pants and shirt, skirts or pants for women.
Expect almost everyone onboard to bring their children, with the exception of some avid Disney lovers.
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 Aqua Duck 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 Alaska and Europe.
- 14 passenger decks
- 2 specialty restaurants, 3 dining rooms, buffet, café, ice cream parlor, pizzeria
- Wi-Fi, safe, refrigerator, DVD (some)
- 3 pools, children’s pool
- fitness classes, gym, hot tubs, sauna, spa
- 11 bars, dance club, showroom, video game room
- children’s programs
- dry cleaning, laundry facilities, laundry service
- Internet terminal
- no kids under 12 weeks
- no-smoking cabins