We went on the Disney Fantasy in late July. This was the first cruise for me and my son (3), this was not the first for my wife, step-son (16), and step-daughter (13). After hearing all their stories we decided to make it a family trip. I had very high expectations and the Fantasy delivered.
Travel: We flew into Orlando and utilized the Disney bus service to the port. The fee is a bit high ($70/pp) there are some benefits that make it worthwhile. We dropped our bags off at the airport and didn't see them again until our stateroom. Likewise at departure, we left them outside our stateroom the night before and didn't see them again baggage claim back home.
Food and Service: Overall, was very good. I have pretty simple tastes with a sweet tooth. Our server took note and ordered me an extra dessert when he thought I'd enjoy something. Similarly, my wife and step-son enjoy fancier food and the server brought a few extra dishes over the week that he thought they would enjoy. I didn't like one plate, when the server asked why I didn't eat it, I told him. He was quick to offer a replacement. The food at all the main restaurants was about equal in quality. I preferred the environment of Animator's Palate the most and Royal Court the least. Our server was quick with jokes, games, and trivia questions. We saw a few other servers cutting up food for younger kids (ours did not offer for the 3 year old) and some other servers performed some extra special touches like making ketchup on the plate in the form of Mickey, where ours just plopped some down. After the first day, our drinks were waiting for us when we sat down -- a nice touch with the 3 year old wanting his chocolate milk. We used room service twice and quite enjoyed it the flexibility with breakfast or late night hunger. Tips were appreciated by the staff. Cabanas was good, my wife loved the seafood for lunch, definitely fancier food than room service and Flo's Cafe, that I preferred -- hamburgers, chicken fingers, pizza, etc. The views from Cabanas are quite nice -- you're able to sit at the very back of the boat during lunch. We didn't go to any of the 'fee' restaurants. For breakfast, the mickey waffles were a family favorite.
Activities: So much to do. I loved getting the paper the night before. We would review it before bed and figure out our plan for the next day. The shows were generally good. I particularly liked Aladdin and the special performers we had on the ship. The rest of the shows were high quality and well performed, just not my thing, still worth an hour of my day. We saw Avengers and Brave in 3D. My step-son and I rented the golf simulator for an hour and enjoyed that, not sure I'd do it again (harder than real golf), but it was a fun experience. My son loved D-Lounge, especially all the dancing. We never knew he like to dance so much. There was a kid dance party in the middle of the room that he ignored and went straight on stage, all by himself. The performers there were great, instead of pushing him off the stage, a few joined him. The pirate show was fun; fireworks go off the middle of the ship on the starboard side -- so keep that in mind when you get your seats. My son spent a few hours in the Oceaneer Club and enjoyed his time there. Security was great and the staff was friendly. My step-kids weren't too eager to go to Edge or Vibe. We did visit them during the open house and looked quite fun. We did see quite a few groups of kids walking together around the boat that I assumed met there. There are a lot of people on the ship; however, if you pay attention you can begin to move opposite the migration. For example, the pool area is packed from morning till about 4. People grabbed a chain and never let go. We had to find little corners of the deck where we could drop our stuff. Not a huge deal, just slightly annoying. We would generally do other things during that time, like catch a show, putt-putt, play basketball, go off-ship, do character meet and greets, etc (make sure you bring your own camera -- we got 'free' pictures of our boy). From 4-dinner (we had second seating) the pool area was nearly empty. The wait to get on the AquaDuck is about 60-90 minutes in the afternoon, and about 5 minutes around 6:00 PM. We'd also go swimming after dinner and catch a movie as well. My wife and I only had one night to ourselves. We caught a comedian and went for a walk around the ship. The front of the ship near the adult section was empty and quite windy. Very cool to check out. There are two elevators that are especially fun to ride (at least for my 3 year old). The Muppets adventure was a little too old for my youngest and a little too young for the oldest. We did see kids playing it all the time and they appeared to be having a good time.
Room & Service: The rooms aren't huge, but they main beds were comfortable and they served their purpose. I thought they were well designed and took advantage of the space we did have. For example, a 3rd bed pops out of the ceiling (though I'm told it wasn't very comfortable). We had two connecting interior rooms on the second floor. Not a bad location overall -- very little rocking and we were close to Enchanted Garden and one flight of stairs to shows, main stair case, and excursion exists. It was a hike to get up to the top decks, but I usually took the steps to work off the extra desserts. The rooms are well laid out. Suitcases fit perfectly under the bed. Plenty of places to hang your cards, shove away books, and plenty of outlets for charging iPods and the like. There is a little box that my step-daughter claimed as her own -- though, in hindsight, I may have preferred to turn that into a hamper. Our room service was exquisite. She was very friendly and did a great job making our room magically transform from chaos to serine each day. Someone bumped into her cart and knocked a bunch of stuff to the ground. She insisted we didn't help, but my 3 year-old and I helped her anyway and she rewarded him with a handful of chocolates.
Excursions: We couldn't find an excursion that worked for all of us, so we walked around St. Marteen. The city wasn't very impressive. We did find "The Star Wars Guy" and that was interesting, definitely worth a look if you happen to be walking by. If given a choice, we wouldn't go back to St. Marteen -- but if we did, we would find some excursion. St. Thomas was beautiful. We went on the KON TIKI Beach excursion and it was great. Live music, complimentary punch, a quick boat tour of the area, saw a small ship wreck, and then hung out on a semi-private beach. The city was a lot nicer was well. Castaway Cay was beautiful and we had a great time for the first part of the day. It started to rain the second so we ran back to the boat and caught a show in the afternoon.
Technology: Love the wave phones. Great way to keep people in contact and I always knew that the Oceaneer Club could reach us if there was an issue with the 3 year old. We also enjoyed having so many Disney movies and shows available on demand in the room. Digital Shutters was very cool, it was nice to see your digital pictures and play the picture game, a giant LCD screen that uses pictures from your party. The 3 year old loved that too. Animator's Palate = awesome. The 'magic porthole' was very cool. I've never had a real porthole, but I liked how we were able to turn it on and see outside and we had random Disney characters appear. My son went crazy when the house from UP floated by.
People: This is a family-oriented ship and as such, everyone is there to make sure their kids are having a good time. People were genuinely friendly; we even met a lady with two kids around my son's age that hit it off. They ended up joining our table for dinner the last few nights. For some reason the cruise directory got on my nerves.
Overall: My expectations were met and we all had a great time (and have already booked our next Disney Cruise). I've never felt so relaxed during a vacation. There is so much to do, yet no pressure to do it. Nothing to worry about. There were a few things that weren't perfect, a few moments of frustration, but I chose to forget and move on. Like most things in life, it is what you make of it, though Disney gives you many reasons for it to be magical.