Wow! What a great cruise! We are a newlywed couple who decided to spend half our honeymoon on a Disney cruise (both male, age 32 and 35), and what a great decision that turned out to be.
Coming into Orlando from New York, we decided to stay at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport Hotel, as the airport is included in the Disney transport to Port Canaveral. The hotel is a very convenient choice to do unless you really want to do the Disney hotels (our usual choices). The hotel is nice, well kept and provides adequate (expected) service. We didn't make much use of their amenities as we mostly used them for the lodging.
TRAVEL TO PORT OF EMBARKATION
The Disney's Magical Express to Port Canaveral magically sweeps you from the airport to the port, and all the friendly Disney cast members courteously guides you along the way. It is greatly hassle free, something we value and appreciate. I didn't find it an expensive add on.
The Disney Fantasy is at the time of this review the newest ship in the Disney fleet, and certainly looks the part, too! The crew keeps the ship impeccably clean at all times, and your stateroom is made neat and tidy twice a day. The only thing we can complain about here, is other guests either throwing garbage into the sea, or on deck in places where its hard for the crew to spot. The common areas are plentiful, spacious, and themed down to the tiniest details. You will wander around the ship in awe for a couple of days before its full glory actually starts to settle on you. In fact, the amazing service and familiarity started acting like our "safe spot" once we got into the different ports. If we ever ran into something less likeable ashore, a feeling of wanting to get back to the ship asap quickly emerged.
Our stateroom had a veranda, and we got it to "spoil ourselves" for the honeymoon. I was worried we wouldn't use it, but we did every day. It's quite nice to have your own outside area within your stateroom to enjoy the view and watch every different scene that floats past you outside the ship. Had it not been for the fact that staterooms with verandas are nearly double the price on the Mediterranean cruise we book for June 2014, we wouldn't have hesitated to get it again. Very little noise, only children and parents screaming at each other every now and then.
The Disney Cruise Line dining rotation is nice, and makes for a comfortable and easy "choice" each night. We opted out once for dinner at Remy, an experience you should try. It is VERY high class fine dining, so if you're uncomfortable being pampered, served by five-six different servers, every meal an artwork, and being surrounded in a quiet luxurious setting by other guests also wearing suits and nice dresses, then Remy is not for you. Probably the most exclusive dining experience I've ever had, and Gianluca (from Italy, yay!), our main server, deserved every bit of the 30% tip we gave him. Had it not been for the fact that we came straight from a mixology (drink mixing) class that same nice we would have also tried the wine pairing menu. Interestingly, the entire Remy crew was European, so we felt very much at home.
At Palo, where we had lunch, the environment is slightly less upscale than at Remy's, but that does not need it's any less incredible. Food is ridiculously good, and so plentiful and beautiful to look at. I've never seen an all you care to eat restaurant like it before. Amanda, our server from Mexico, may have been the most memorable Disney server I have ever had. Not only was she a theatrical delight, but she brought surprise plates of food and desserts to us, and made us laugh and enjoy the brunch even more. I hope they recognize her, and push her upwards in the company.
My only complaint with the dining, is that our table on the regular dining rotation consisting of only adults and no children, seemed to get far less attention than the tables that did have kids. I found this odd, having been a Disney server myself. I know that "happy parents" usually are good tippers, but I would never have left any table out of the extraordinary Disney service you are supposed to provide each and every guest. Oh well, it only meant I found the service adequate. I don't even remember the servers' names, and we had them for nearly a week!
The food elsewhere on the ship is bountiful and at every corner. You get as simple or as incredible food as you would like.
The ship has so many activities that you will find something you'll like no matter what your preferences are. We did minigolf, the spa, and participated in several adult quizzes that were a lot of fun! The days are so packed with fun things to do you just have to pick what you think sounds most fun, and do that. You can't do it all. Chocolate and wine tasting, and mixology class, is highly recommended.
Well, the Disney service standard is world renowned, and pretty much sets the standard for any other competing company. They all smile, and are always friendly, polite and helpful. I can't remember one single time I felt they didn't do well. The only place where it is a bit lackluster, is when reentering the ship from a port through security.
When booking, we were asked (DCL website) if we were celebrating anything. I do remember mentioning this was our honeymoon, and thought they might recognize this in some way. Well - they never did - not at dinner, either. I saw other tables get attention for birthdays and other occasions, but they never said a word to us about anything. Maybe they were just asking for statistical and marketing purposes, and you have to tell DCL again later while onboard.
Besides the first show which is an odd infomercial Disney mix about your cruise, and the tedious cruise director appearances ahead of any movie or show (I mean, he's funny, but does he have to be there every time?), the shows are Broadway worthy. They are that good. The actors are super good, and the entire theater is used on several occasions. Don't miss out on any of them. Also, they show all the latest Disney movies, and may even premiere one on the ship if they can. Often we basically ran back from a Port Adventure and straight into a show or movie starting up. Then you get a little break before heading to dinner. They also play live music in the atrium / lobby area, but I found that a bit cheesy and off. I did see some people dance though.
PORT & SHORE EXCURSIONS
I am very underwhelmed by the Mexican ports Costa Maya and Cozumel. Maybe we chose the wrong excursions, I don't know, but several of the experienced cruisers either just strolled a bit through the shopping areas or stayed on the ship. We probably will, too, next time. Snorkeling at Stingray City on Grand Cayman and hanging out at Castaway Cay were definitely the highlights! I have gone into a little more detailed in the port reviews. I do on the whole feel like they are less interested in catering to gay couples on these Caribbean destinations though, unfortunately.
Very easy, and we did the Express Walk Off. You get up EARLY, and drag your suitcase with you straight back onto mainland on Port Canaveral. The Disney bus brought us right back to the airport, and everything was a breeze. There was very little you had to do, except for customs which was very quick, too.
Did I mention we booked another Disney cruise in the Mediterranean next year? It was that good. All in all, the seamless experience Disney provides makes everything incredible easy - and you actually start to forget what time it is. Being without a steady cell phone service and internet, and in incredible surroundings with a line of top notch experiences lined up all the time, sucks you in. Reality is slightly more bleak after this cruise. We can't wait to go back.