A Western Caribbean Fantasy

Disney Fantasy Cruise Review to Caribbean - Western

Cruises: 2-3 cruises
Reviews: 5
Helpful Votes: 46

Overall rating:

4.8 out of 5
Disney Fantasy

7 Night Western Caribbean (Port Canaveral Roundtrip)

Sail date: April 28, 2018

Ship: Disney Fantasy

Cabin type: Balcony

Traveled as: Family (older children)

Reviewed: 1 year ago

Review summary

We always wondered if the "Disney difference" in cruising was true - and we found out, emphatically, that it is. What a wonderful cruise experience, from beginning to end. In cruising, you get what you pay for, and Disney is worth every penny. While not every cruise will be with Disney, I can see us regularly cruising Disney - with our daughters, one day with our grandchildren, and even just the two of us. Background. My wife and I are in our early 40s, we have two tween-age girls, aged 11 and 9 at the time of sailing (currently ages 12 and 10). This cruise was our fourth overall, and first with Disney Cruise Line. We are reasonably experienced cruisers, having taken (at the time of writing this review) five cruises on Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Disney, and MSC (and with five more booked on Norwegian and Disney). We travel as a family, and look for a mix of relaxation, family time (these two being my personal #1 priority), good food, entertainment, and fun in a cruise vacation. While I try to incorporate educational experiences, we do not usually seek out action/adventure experiences. For this cruise, we traveled with my parents, who are experienced cruisers but who had also never cruised with Disney. We booked (adjoining) staterooms 6104 and 6106, both a category 04D Deluxe Family Ocean View with Verandah, with no included promotions.

Embarkation

5 out of 5
Disney's check-in and embarkation process is flawless and smooth. We made no attempt to fight the early crowds, arrived at our assigned port arrival time, and waited practically no time to board the ship. Disney's family boarding welcome announcement is a wonderful touch of class.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

5 out of 5
Disney's rotational dining scheme provides a nice balance of continuity and variety. Servers stay with assigned passengers, who rotate among three main dining rooms throughout the cruise. The food was good - some excellent, most good. Animator's Palate is the highlight of the cruise for families with young children. The room itself transforms from monochrome white to full color through the course of the meal, which is visited often by an interactive, video Crush (from Finding Nemo). On the second night, passenger-drawn characters are animated as part of a video parade during the meal. All that said, we found the meals in Animator's Palate to be incredibly loud (the tables are extremely close together, with understandably excited children) and rushed (in order to allow time for the videos and other features. Royal Court (decorated for the several Disney princesses) and Enchanted Garden (a fanciful Versailles garden motif with teacup table-booths, color-changing ceiling, and blossoming-flower chandeliers and sconces) were more subdued. The bustle of Animator's Palate is offset by the peaceful indulgence that is brunch at Palo, the Italian-themed specialty restaurant, and to this day, the best meal we've had at sea. The Cabana's buffet is typical of buffets, with the exception of having shortened operating hours. It's a Disney cruise; expect the buffet to be full of families and children. Breakfast and lunch in the MDR are an excellent alternative - especially embarkation day lunch.

Cove Cafe

5 out of 5

Excellent coffee drinks for DW every morning.

Royal Court Restaurant

5 out of 5

A more traditional MDR decorated for the main Disney princesses.

Ooh La La Lounge

5 out of 5

Loved the evening musicians and entertainment.

La Piazza Lounge

5 out of 5

Loved the evening musicians and entertainment.

Cabanas

4 out of 5

Typical buffet experience, but with shortened operating hours.

Animator's Palate

4 out of 5

Animator's Palate is the highlight of the cruise for families with young children. The room itself transforms from monochrome white to full color through the course of the meal, which is visited often by an interactive, video Crush (from Finding Nemo). On the second night, passenger-drawn characters are animated as part of a video parade during the meal. All that said, we found the meals in Animator's Palate to be incredibly loud (the tables are extremely close together, with understandably excited children) and rushed (in order to allow time for the videos and other features.

D Lounge

5 out of 5

Very good venue for family activities.

The Tube Nightclub

5 out of 5

Loved the overall theme of the nightclub area.

O'Grill's Pub

5 out of 5

Great place for a cider. Slainte!

Enchanted Garden

5 out of 5

A fanciful Versailles garden motif with teacup table-booths, color-changing ceiling, and blossoming-flower chandeliers and sconces.

Onboard Activities

5 out of 5
Disney truly shines with the onboard activities. For the children, there is never a dull moment, from continual first-come, first-served character meet-and-greet schedules (our girls loved planning out whom to meet and when, and getting all the character autographs), to ticketed (free) character meet-and-greets (our girls wanted to do both the Princess and the Elsa/Anna meet and greet), to crafts and activities, and much more, there is always something exciting happening. Adults aren't left out, either. We enjoyed the trivia, and I also loved the mojito tasting. There are mixology classes, wine, beer, and other tastings, dance classes and other enrichment activities. And of course, best of all, there's nothing at all: the opportunity to relax, child-free, in the adults-only area and pool. We found the Midship Detective Agency to be a fun, family scavenger-hunt activity, making excellent use of the "magical" paintings and artwork throughout the ship.

Mickey's Pool

5 out of 5

Didn't do much swimming, but loved movies on the funnel vision.

AquaDuck

5 out of 5

So much fun! The steps up to the entrance can be hot.

Entertainment

5 out of 5
Broadway-quality shows (we loved Aladdin) in the Walt Disney Theater at night, first-run Disney movies in the theater by day, funnel-vision Disney classic movies by the pool day and night, and outstanding guitar, piano, and violin musicians (our guitar player, Selkii, was a finalist on The Voice this season). Music and entertainment everywhere, always.

Walt Disney Theatre

5 out of 5

Great venue for Broadway-style shows.

Children's Programs

5 out of 5
We could hardly keep our youngest out of the Oceaneer's Club/Lab. Our oldest also enjoyed it, but was close enough to aging up that it was not quite the attraction as it was to our youngest. To no one's surprise, Disney does children's programming perfectly.

Disney's Oceaneer Lab

5 out of 5

Fantastic, hands-on activities.

Disney's Oceaneer Club

5 out of 5

Excellent, detailed, immersive theming. Great activities and staff. Could barely get my youngest to leave.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
Monde, our room steward, was fabulous. She kept our room maintained perfectly, everything well-stocked, and always had a smile and a friendly word. Our dining room servers were just as friendly and attentive. Our youngest daughter booked a makeover at Bibbidi Bobbidi Botique, and enjoyed her royal treatment.

Ship Quality

5 out of 5
The crew clearly take pride in maintaining an immaculate ship. I don't think any mainstream cruise line keeps their ships looking more pristine than Disney does, and the Fantasy is no exception. Everything was perfect and looked brand new. The overall layout and logistics are done well. Adult areas are nicely separated from family/children areas, with the bar/nightclub area at the lower aft of the ship, and the spa and adult pool forward on the lido deck. Deck 5 midship to aft has most of the children's areas, including lower ceiling heights - a small, Disney touch to help little ones feel more at home. Dining rooms are spread out to avoid congestion (Animator's Palate Deck 3 Aft, Royal Court Deck 3 Mid, Enchanted Garden Deck 2 Mid). It did take a bit to figure out how to get to the specialty restaurants.

Cabin / Stateroom

5 out of 5
Since we were with my parents, we booked adjoining, connecting rooms, with us in 6104 and them in 6106. The stateroom steward opened the verandah partition between our rooms, which made an excellent, double-sized balcony for all of us. And since the girls prefer to have their beds kept turned down rather than put up/made back into a sofa during the day, having the extra sitting/sofa space in the adjoining room was helpful. The stateroom size difference on Disney is real and noticeable, I'm sure due partly to the intelligently designed use of space and storage in the staterooms. The split bathrooms, with toilet/sink in one and shower/sink in the other, make a huge difference. Disney's base toiletry amenities are the same quality as suite amenities on some other cruise lines. Being on deck 6, our verandah was immediately above the life boats; but we did not find our view to be all that obstructed.

Ship tip

The Walt Disney and Buena Vista Theaters allow food and drinks, but the popcorn and soda outside the theaters is not free. Snacks and soda are free in the buffet and at the lido deck quick serve shops, so head there first before going to the theater. If you must have popcorn, get the souvenir bucket for cheap refills.

Ports of call

Port Canaveral, Florida

5 out of 5
Port Canaveral is convenient from Orlando airport, and Cocoa Beach is a nice area to spend one or more days before or after your cruise. The cruise port is easy to navigate and not crowded.

Cozumel, Mexico

4 out of 5
We booked the Dolphin Discovery dolphin encounter excursion. The girls loved it. Good thing to do at least once.

George Town, Grand Cayman

4 out of 5
Thus far, this is our only tender port. Thankfully, the tender ride is short. Since we didn't book an excursion, we waited until the excursion rush was off the ship, and then tendered liesurely with no wait mid-morning. Nice, clean port town. We shared the port with the Disney Wonder (I think?), which was cool to see two Disney ships in port together. Note: the rumored Mickey horn battle never took place.

Falmouth, Jamaica

4 out of 5
We were pleasantly surprised by Falmouth: open, clean, well laid-out, and safe. We didn't book an excursion.

Castaway Cay (Disney Private Island)

5 out of 5
What's not to love? Castaway Cay is my idea of a perfect private island experience. There are shuttles to transport around several parts of the island, including a family beach and an adults-only beach. The family beach has a basic BBQ lunch, and the adult beach steps up the BBQ lunch with grilled ribeye steaks. I booked a mojito tasting that was a lot of fun, even though we had to dodge a bit of Caribbean afternoon liquid sunshine.

Disembarkation

5 out of 5
Very smooth disembarkation. We hit an empty Cabana's for breakfast shortly after it opened, then returned to our staterooms for luggage and walked off self-assisted.
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