Sailed on the Disney Fantasy 8/18/12, Western Caribbean Cruise. This was our second Disney Cruise (sailed on the Magic in 2007), and 7th cruise overall. We had a wonderful time. I read many reviews before our departure and found them quite helpful. I've outlined info below that may be helpful to future cruisers.
We are a family of 6, 4 kids ages 13, 11, twin 8 year olds. We enjoyed cruising on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas last summer and looked forward to sailing on the newest ship on the seas.
We flew into Orlando the same day as departure. We used a limo service for airport transfers and were very pleased. Disney offers airport transfers for $70/person, this was almost $150 cheaper. We were pleasantly surprised when we were told the passenger vans were sold out and we were upgraded to a stretch limo! Great way to start off the vacation.
Embarkation was smooth and seamless, as described by many other reviews. We boarded at 2 PM, and were in our rooms unpacking by 3:30 (after enjoying a great lunch at Cabanas on the pool deck).
Our Cabins were 10040 and 10038, adjoining veranda staterooms. We booked the cruise directly through Disney and purchased VGT rooms. The down side: We had to pay in full when we booked, no refunds/exchanges, and we had no say in where the rooms would be. The overall cost was almost 40% cheaper this way. We basically had to be willing to assume we would be on different decks on opposite ends of the ship. All of the agents told us the inventory management department does their best to keep families together. Our rooms weren't assigned until 48 hours before sailing. We were thrilled to be on the same floor with adjoining rooms! Rooms were spacious, and layouts have been described in many other reviews. One thing to note is that all balcony rooms on deck 10 have an OVERHANG. If I paid full price and ended up in one of these rooms, I would not have been happy. Seems deck 8 and 9 have the best balcony rooms on the ship.
1.) Food - was above average. We dined in the main dining rooms each evening. Can't comment on the adult only venues (Palo), but heard other passengers saying it was well worth it.
2.) Adult Quiet Cove Area - seems much improved compared to the Dream (from reviews I've read) Never too crowded, always plenty of lounge chairs available, great poolside music/entertainment. Not too loud (like we experienced on our one and only Carnival cruises.)
3.) Kids activities: Our 8 year old twins used the Oceaneers Club 3 times and had a good time, but weren't dying to go back... The facility was amazing and the staff seemed great.. my kids just usually don't do the kids clubs... Our 11 and 13 year olds did not like the "vibe" which is the tween area. It is located in the aft in of the ship and is in a fairly small space. I did see lots of kids going in and out throughout the week. (older kids can just come and go, smaller ones need to be signed in and wear a bracelet "Lojack" while in there. Pretty cool, when you pick up your child, they know exactly where they are.)
4.) Service -above average to excellent. CM always around, and the ship is very clean.
Ports of call:
Grand Caymen - This is a Tender port. There was a wild rush at 10:30 AM to get off the ship, many for booked excursions. They were handing out Tender Tickets unit about noonish. We had heard this from other cruisers, so relaxed and enjoyed the ship, had a great breakfast and lunch, then hopped on a tender at 12:30 with no line at all. We shopped and went to Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville for the afternoon. They have a rooftop pool with water slide,and great margaritas! Great time had by all (also free wi fii, so the tweens got to check email and go on line... )
Costa Maya - First time here and LOVED it. Took a taxi to the beach. We had contacted a local Boutique Hotel recommended on trip advisor. Taxi ride was $2/person. We arrived to find a gorgeous beach, not overcrowded. Beach volleyball, lounges reserved for us by hotel, hammocks, the works! We had a great lunch, Cold Coronas ($2/bottle!). Treated my older 2 girls to massages on the beach - one hour for $25! They were fantastic! I've been to many spas, and these massages rival even the best of the best... Message me if you want info on the hotel/contact info - she is an American from NY, living in Mexico for 20 years (this is my first time writing a review - thought I read somewhere I wasn't allowed to put the names in reviews... LMK if this is incorrect and I'd be happy to add details with links.. the whole day was $120 for a family of 6, including taxis and food! Can't beat it! )
Cozumel - Have been here several times, so we enjoyed some time on the ship then shopped for a bit. The Margaritaville here has a free water park, just a 3 block walk from the pier. Great place to spend the afternoon
Castaway Cay - so many reviews elsewhere, not much to add. Great beach day
Kids pools crowded on sea days, but that's expected on a family cruise. We took turns relaxing at the adult pool and it turned out great.
Deck 10, as mentioned above, has a huge overhang. If you are choosing rooms, I would stay away from it.
Disembarkation was easy as well. We had an evening flight, so got a day room a the hotel at Orlando airport. $89/day, great rooftop pool, kids swam/watched a movie, some napped.. well worth it!
In summary, we enjoyed the ship very much. The double baths are great, especially when 6 getting ready for dinner. Booking the VGT rooms (Veranda Guarantee rooms) definitely made it affordable. Price was 40% less than if we had chosen our rooms.. You just need to be willing to possibly end up on different decks if traveling with a family of our size. I would do it again, but probably not for the "full price"
Hope this review is helpful. I'd be happy to answer any questions for future cruisers out there!