Background info: I have done 7 previous cruises, but never a cruise with our two children (son 8 and Daughter 4). My wife and I in July did the NCL Pride of America for our 10 year wedding anniversary, and while that was wonderful for Hawaii, it made us miss "real" cruising. We booked our cruise back in August for Spring Break 2014. We went back and forth between Disney and RCCL. In the end we went with Disney. After only a few hours on the ship I knew we made a great choice for our family. I still believe RCCL is a great company, but for our family, Disney was the best choice due to age of our children.
The ship is amazing and many have mentioned the details of it so I won't go into all that. The one thing I will note is that while it's a big ship, you never feel it's too big. Yes the pool decks on sea days are crazy but you can find plenty of space where people are not there.(Tip if you want to ride the Aquaduck come back a little early from castaway Cay, there is no line!) Also on our second sea day we took advantage of the adults only section of the ship. It was like a ship inside a ship. Totally different atmosphere and it was great to have a break from all the little ones. The only thing I wish Disney would do is allow families to come up to deck 13 when the ship is setting sail. Unless you have a cabin facing forward, I couldn't find a way to bring my son up to the front. I respect that Disney does a good job of keeping the area clear of children, but just having a short period of time for them to view would be nice. In addition this was one of the cleanest ships I have been on and you always see people taking care of it. The crew seems to have great pride in their ship and it can clearly be seen.
I can't say enough about how great this service was the whole cruise. It took a few days for my kids to get use to the kids club, but once they were in there I couldn't get them out! I to didn't fully believe that people really had children crying when leaving the kids clubs until it happened to me. On our final night of the cruise I tried to pull my son out at 10pm since we had to get up early the next morning. After checking on him 3 times I finally pulled him out at 11:30(club is open till midnight). It was one of the saddest parts of the trips but a reality that we all must incur when we do any cruise. They also did a wonderful with my daughter who is 4. I was worried a little but she did fine. While children can be on both sides we found my daughter enjoyed the club side, while my son was way into the lab section. It was nice that they could be together but Disney does a good job of allowing children to chose what side of the kids club they want to be on. I know I was worried about how 3-12 year olds would interact but with the two sides to club it really works well and the kids basically separate themselves.
I enjoyed the main shows, but wouldn't say I loved them. We went to everyone of the main shows and also managed to stay up for the 10:30 show for Pirates in the Caribbean. Both shows on Pirate night are fun and of course watching the fireworks go off is just amazing. Yes the fireworks show is short but then again they are dealing with fireworks on a moving sea! We did see a few of the other acts they had on board and one night managed to see an adult comedy show. It was a great time and the whole audience was really into it. As for the cruise staff I can't say enough good things about them. Again they all seemed to really love what they do. They would interact and really seemed to be having fun. It's what I think must help them get through those long contracts at sea! For any of you heading out on the Fantasy, make sure to drop by and say "Whoot Whoot" to Anthony on the cruise staff. My kids spent the second half of the cruise looking for Anthony so they could do the "Whoot Whoot" to him. My 4 year old even had to find him on the last night to get her picture with him. So know we have all the Disney princesses and Anthony! Again all the cruise staff was great and if you let yourself go a little they will make sure you have a blast.
I thought the food at dinner was good to very good. Nothing really stood out and sometimes the meat temps were off a little, but overall I was very happy. I liked that fact that they would let kids try anything of the adults menu. It allowed my 8 year old to try some new things. One night he had a cheese burger and a lobster tail! The buffet was just okay, but most days we stuck to the dinning room or we would hit up the pizza and burgers later. It's basic food but it was great for quick snacks. I also really enjoyed the dinning rotation. We ended up in Royal Court for 3 nights and then 2 at the other two. Call me a traditionalist but I really liked the fact we kept our servers and we got to know them throughout the cruise.
We booked a 5E guarantee. Disney placed us in 10162. Location was great and the views from the back of the ship are amazing. The one negative to the back is the vibrations. To be honest it really was only the first night and then right when we pulled back into Port Canaveral.(thrusters used when docking give you quite a wake up call at 5:30am) Our neighbors for the cruise asked us the first night if we felt vibrations in the AM. We both knew that was the risk but both agreed that the view and the balcony space was worth it. Granted if it would have been bad the whole cruise maybe I wouldn't be so excited about trying to get back on the aft. In addition backing into Castaway Cay from your own balcony is wonderful!
Disney got it right. Was everything prefect? No, but for those that expect it to be I believe they will never have fun. Disney does a wonderful job of creating things for the whole family to do. While on this cruise we already booked another one for October of this year.. So while it was sad to leave, knowing in 6 months we would be back made it just a little bit easier to leave!