We booked a category 6A guaranteed stateroom on the September 8 sailing of the Disney Fantasy to the Eastern Caribbean. II have previously sailed Carnival and found the experience to be too loud and energetic for my personal tastes so this time around I was very interested in the new Disney ship and was not disappointed. My fiance is a Petty Officer in the US Navy and while he has been on many "cruises" this was the first one he didn't have to work on!
We flew into Orlando the day before and used Disney's transportation to their resorts where we stayed the night. We have been to Disney World previously but have never stayed on the property so we took this opportunity to give it a test run. Since it was just the two of us in the off season the cost was comparable to staying near the airport and a nice way to get us excited for the cruise. We also used Disneys transportation to and from the port. It removed a bit of extra planning and stress out of the equation for me and so I found it to be very enjoyable but would be unlikely to use it for a group larger than two or three as it becomes very expensive at that point.
When we arrived at the port around 2 there was no line and the longest wait was probably at the security checkpoint, about 15 minutes. We walked right on the ship and to our stateroom which had been upgraded to a category 4B on deck 8! It had the round tub, extra chair and more floor space. We were in between stairwells so there was a bit of noise from traffic but it wasn't enough to take away from the overall trip. We loved the views from our veranda on the port side.
After getting settled in our room we ventured out to Cabanas to get something to eat. It was very very crowded and we spent a large amount of time searching for an open table. I was already prepared for this though from my last trip and so we scouted the area BEFORE getting any food so that we could avoid walking around with plates piled with food while running into everybody. After the first day Cabanas was never that busy and we had no difficulty finding seating. The food was ok, pretty much your basic buffet fair, nothing really special to make note of. The dining at the restaurants was much much better.
My favorite restaurant would have to be Royal Court, it didn't feel very crowded and the food was excellent. My least favorite was Animators Pallet, but my fiance disagrees, it was his favorite. The shows in Animators were cute and definitely worth seeing, but being there with no kids I was glad to not be directly interacting when Crush came out, though the children that were there seemed to love it and we enjoyed watching him talk to them. One night we ate at Palo and I cant stress enough how much we loved it. The atmosphere is more upscale but not intimidating and our server Michael was one of my favorite crew members on board. He even took the liberty of ordering desert for us and brought out three for us to try. We walked out very full and very happy that night. I also have to recommend eating at Cabanas for dinner, there was almost no one else there and you get seated right next to the glass walls overlooking the ocean as the sun sets. The food was the same that they served in the other rotating restaurants so was very good.
I personally am more of a lounger when it comes to vacations, but even I was enticed out of my cozy room several times by the entertainment and attractions offered. The quizzes in the adult lounges were a lot of fun and we really enjoyed Aladdin. We only saw Wishes after that and it was ok but a little hokey if you are over 12. Amazing productions though, the sets and skill involved in each was very evident.
We had one excursion at St. Maarten where we kayaked to a beach at a resort and snorkeled. The group was nice and small so it didnt feel chaotic like some other excursions I've been on. Unfortunately I was unable to do the snorkeling bit as I had come down with a pretty bad ear infection and couldnt get my ear wet. I did however get to experience the ships health center and can say that I received excellent care and was given antibiotics and ear drops so that by the last few days of the trip I was feeling much better. The cost to see the doctor and get the medication was about $250 all together, which considering I couldn't use my insurance on board was not bad at all.
We stayed on the ship for St. Thomas and took advantage of the nearly empty ship to visit the spa. The spa hot tubs were our favorite with the open windows over looking the port. The themed open showers are also worth a try, we enjoyed tropic thunder the most.
Castaway Cay was wonderful and met all our expectations. Its a beautiful island and Disney has really designed it well. We spent most of our time at Serenity Bay which was very peaceful and serene. Next time though I really want to check out the family beach as well and maybe go down a slide or two!
Disembarkation was very painless if not a little sad, we had the earlier dinner seating so we were scheduled to have breakfast at 6:45. I don't recommend the eggs, it seems the other reviews I've read on here were correct, they are powdered and not very appetizing, stick to fruit and cereal. Once breakfast was over we took our carry on luggage out and breezed through customs where we picked up the rest of our luggage before being taken back to the airport.
Over all I'd have to say what impressed me most about this trip was not just the beauty and size of the ship, but all the little things you don't ever think of until it's there in front of you. I feel like Disney does this very well and there is no end to the little "wow" moments they provide. So if you are like us and are willing to pay a little more in exchange for a one of a kind experience, then Disney Cruise Line really delivers and we will be back again December 2013, this time with the rest of the family in tow!