The Disney Fantasy – Our First Cruise Is On Board DCL’s Newest Ship
by Corinne McDermott – havebabywilltravel.com
You’re announced like royalty as you first board the Disney Fantasy. Although, if you were actual royalty, I doubt you’d be awed by the beautiful four-story lobby that takes you back to the art-nouveau days of luxury liners. We had never cruised before, but I sorta figured that all cruise ships don’t look like this – and many of my fellow passengers told me I was right. All cruise ships don’t have the wonderful Disney Cast Members either, and it’s fair to say that they’re the real reason the Disney Fantasy lives up to its name. Without the friendly and kind service, attention to detail, and crew that goes above and beyond time and time again, this would just be a big, pretty boat. But because Disney Cruise Line crafts vacations with families in mind, it’s a big, pretty boat that provides a great getaway for every member of your brood.
The staterooms on board the Disney Fantasy are laid out much the same as on her sister ship, the Disney Dream. Ours was a Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah on Deck 5, and we were lucky enough to have an oversized verandah – completely private and with loads of room to stretch out and relax on. The split washrooms are a great touch – with a sink and toilet in one and a sink and tub/shower in the other, our family of four was able to get ready to head out each morning without waiting for stragglers lingering too long in the loo! By utilizing the ample storage available in the two closets and plenty of drawers, the compact-but-well-laid-out room never felt cluttered. Our only issue was with the drop-down bunk that our stateroom host Carlos turned down for us each night. Of course both kids wanted to sleep in it, and taking turns might be an option for older siblings. At two, I deemed our son too young to sleep up there, much to his (and possibly our neighbour’s at bedtime) chagrin
You will never go hungry on the Disney Fantasy, and fortunately the size of the ship requires a good deal of walking – should help with what is bound to be a weight gain of at least a pound or two. On Deck 11, Cabanas is your easy choice for breakfast and most lunches and dinners – it’s beautiful, with a beachy theme and lovely mosaic tile, with the option of dining al fresco in the sea air. We had breakfast here each day, and the freshness and quality of the food was incredible. After eating here each morning, we really didn’t need to eat for the rest of the day. But of course, we did.
Flo’s V8 Grill, also on Deck 11 but by the pools, is a great option for a quick bite of comfort foods such as pizza or hot dogs, but also offers fresh fruit, salads and sandwiches for those with better restraint than I. Next to Flo’s is where the 24hr soda pop and coffee station is located – and you can also refill your water bottles there as well.
The Enchanted Garden and Royal Court restaurants are the same as on board the Disney Dream, but the Animator’s Palate on board the Fantasy has an added, most magical bonus. As soon as you are seated, you are given a placemat with instructions to draw a character within a certain shape. During dinner, the screens come to life with classic Disney animated films, that include your character! My daughter’s doodle of an angel was dancing with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, and all animators are given a special seal of approval on their sketches as the meal comes to an end. As with all the Disney Fantasy dining rooms, children are given their own menus, and the wonderful dining room staff even swooped in to cut my kids’ meat and got them to eat their veggies! All our meals were delicious, but I’d like to share a few quick recommendations: the tuna and avocado appetizer at The Enchanted Garden, and the Mushroom Ravioli at the Royal Court were real standouts.
Also as with the Disney Dream, there are two “Adult Exclusive” restaurants that require reservations, adhere to a strict dress code, and come at an additional expense. Palo serves Northern Italian fare, and Remy’s menu is designed by a Michelin rated chef. I had the pleasure of being invited to a fancypants champagne brunch at Palo, and I highly recommend the Prosecco and blue cheese, grape, and port wine pizza. Delicious.
The point for most to plan a family vacation is to spend quality time together. On this cruise I had a lot to compete with, namely the cruise! Once my daughter had a taste of the Oceaneer’s Club and Oceaneer’s Lab, and my son visited the It’s A Small World nursery, it was difficult to convince them to stay with us! The Oceaneer’s Club and Lab is included for guests aged 3-12 (must be potty-trained), and the children are grouped into age-appropriate activities and programs. The It’s A Small World nursery is available for babies as young as twelve weeks, and the doting cast members that work there take good care of their charges, even feeding, changing, and napping them as need be. The It’s A Small World nursery costs $6 USD per hour. Reservations are recommended, although they can usually accept drop-ins at slower times or if the ship is at lower capacity.
Our favourite day of our cruise is our port of call at Disney’s Castaway Cay. The lazy day spent playing in the soft white sand and splashing in the crystal-clear turquoise water was a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the ship. We squeezed a lot into our three days and nights on board, but barely scratched the surface of everything to see or do. The Disney Fantasy will sail seven-day itineraries to both the Eastern and Western Caribbean, and a longer cruise with more days at sea will offer guests more opportunities to enjoy and experience the ship’s activities and amenities. All sailings will include a stop at Castaway Cay.
Corinne McDermott is the mama of two and founder of http://havebabywilltravel.com – with a mission to inspire, motivate, and help families travel with babies, toddlers, and pre-schoolers. Connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook.