Adventures at Sea – Sailing the Disney Fantasy
When our family received an invitation to join in on the inaugural sail of the brand new “Disney Fantasy” cruise ship our immediate reaction was one of pure excitement! Many of our friends have been on different cruise-lines, but cruising was new to all of us and we truthfully didn’t know what to expect. What we did know was we all shared the same love and adoration for Disney! We have had many wonderful experiences at the parks, meeting the characters and seeing the wonderful shows they have to offer, but this cruising thing was unchartered territory for us. I have to say from the moment the beautiful Disney Cruise line bus came to pick us up the excitement was bubbling over. When we arrived at the Disney port to check-in we could barely contain our giddiness. As expected, check-in was quick and easy, our first of many wonderful photos with Mickey was taken and The Howell’s were ready to board our very first cruise ship. I get goose bumps while writing this post. Every moment from this point on was truly more amazing than the last. Walking around the ship we were blown away not only by the magnitude of the ship, but of the incredible attention to detail that was on display in every nook and cranny of this immense cruising vessel…. how can they possibly fit so many restaurants, swimming pools, night clubs and movie theatres onto a ship and still make the entire atmosphere feel so spacious? The most common question that has been asked since our return has been if the whole cruise was solely focused on the kids, or if there were things for adults to enjoy as well. My fast and sure answer was ABSOLUTELY! There was truly something for every one of all ages to enjoy on this cruise, day or night. Our days consisted of a huge variety of amazing food, swimming, playing ping pong, basketball, and frequent visits to the AquaDuck (a super-fun tube ride that does a full lap of the entire ship!). Nights were enjoyed with fabulous dinners, followed by the most amazing Broadway shows, and then followed up with deck parties, pirate shows and spectacular displays of fireworks. Our kids have never before been interested in joining any kids clubs at other resorts, but once they stepped into this one they were hooked, and continuously asked us to drop them off for a while…. from there we went out to a pub or a dance club for some adult laughs.
Our day trip was spent at Castaway Cay, Disney’s very own private island. It is an oasis of white beaches and beautiful blue water. We snorkelled, swam, played in the sand and enjoyed a fabulous BBQ lunch, all of which were unhurried and perfectly serviced. For those so inclined there are secluded beaches with gorgeous cabanas available for the day (we had the pleasure of spending some time lounging in one and believe me it was no easy task to get us to head back to the ship!). I could happily have spent a whole week on Castaway Cay!
The kids clubs were well thought out and looked incredibly like sets from many popular Disney-Pixar movies. The environment was spectacular and entirely encouraging to all who entered. Even more impressive than the environment however, was the amazingly friendly and competent staff team that was at once engaging, energetic and responsible. Our son Dylan (5) and daughter Kailey (8) spent time in:
Disney’s Oceaneer Club and the Oceaneer Lab
This activity center is like a dream come true for children aged 3-10. There is group storytelling, computer games and visits from their favorite characters. The central rotunda features a large plasma screen for movies, and is also a portal into other ‘lands’ such as Andy’s Room where kids can meet their favorite Toy Story characters, the interactive computer game city of Monstropolis called Monster’s Academy, a world of fairies and glittering lights in Pixie Hollow, and finally the Explorer Pod where children can explore virtual environments from within a blue and yellow submarine! Both kids frequented the Lab where they played games, learned how to cook and enjoyed the fantastic light up dance floor. From the media centre to animator’s studio there is more entertainment than any child could imagine!
Big Kids Clubs
Those who think a Disney Cruise is all about the kids have clearly never been on a Disney Cruise! If working out is your thing the gym is fabulous made just perfect by floor to ceiling windows overlooking the ocean (made my 30 minutes on the treadmill just a bit easier) There is an adult spa, adult pool, hot tub and sun deck, even an adult beach on Castaway Cay! Two adult only restaurants and entertainment, night club, pub and bars just for us Moms and Dads! After dark there is an entire world of fun for the “big kids”.
This being our first cruise we were told to expect small rooms that might be tight for a family of four. Oh how wrong they were! We had a beautiful and spacious room and the kids LOVED their bunk beds. The veranda was absolutely gorgeous with lounge chairs and a table, the kids were able to sit outside and read or color in the few minutes that we would spend a day in our room! The decor and layout is beautiful and well organized and built for families.
Meals- oh the delicious meals!
Disney is known for its unique and creative restaurants and the Fantasy lives up to the hype. We enjoyed dinners at The Royal Court, Enchanted Garden and Animators Palate. The meals were all delicious, beautifully presented and always so accommodating for all the children. Our son is a vegetarian and a picky vegetarian at that. Our server always made sure to have his favourite plate of broccoli ready and lots of spaghetti to back up the awesome meal choices. Needless to say no one ever went home hungry! Our dinner at The Animators Palate was truly an experience: upon being seated we were all invited to draw a character of our choice on a placemat, which was then collected by the staff team. After dinner was over, the animated curtains were opened on the screens and Sorcerer Mickey returned for an amazing show! As only Disney can do, Mickey revealed all of our drawings – now fully animated and brought to life – into the onscreen production! I have to say it wasn’t just the kids who were blown away – adults were laughing in delight and amazement and just how incredible this show was. Disney yet again exceeded our every expectation. Every restaurant, pizza bar and ice cream post was yummier than the next. The kids loved that they could grab a drink whenever they needed, to say nothing of the unlimited ice cream! While it might be tough to maintain a strict diet on a cruise, we always found ourselves close to a healthy alternative while onboard.
If you have started researching a Disney cruise you have no doubt already heard about the infamous AquaDuck water slide. The truth of the matter is you have to see this in person to truly get the magnitude of its amazement. Hopefully this video will do it justice! I think we were aboard the ship for less than 30 minutes when both kids went to check it out. Throughout our trip they likely enjoyed the AquaDuck a good 10 times. On my experience I had the time of my life (as you can hear by my screeches in the video)! The beauty of this is it runs all day up until midnight! It instantly brings you back to being a kid again.
Memories that will last a lifetime….
The Disney Fantasy is absolutely perfectly named: Fantasy. Disney is known for its attention to detail, beautiful meals, wonderful children’s programs and lovely decor but for us it was so much more than that. It was an experience, an adventure and for a family that has enjoyed many adventures I was so delighted that all of us shared the same experience. We truly loved every moment aboard this ship and cannot wait to book another family adventure with Disney. If you are thinking about a cruise with your family but not sure if Disney is the ship for you, think again. There is something for everyone and each of your family members will love and share in the memories together. It is a memory that will last with our family for a lifetime. Ready to start planning your Disney Adventure? Get all the fabulous details by visiting Disney Cruise Line’s website!