We took our first family cruise on the Disney Fantasy on March 29, 2014 (7- Night Western Caribbean) Family of 5 - 16yo daughter 14 and 8 yo sons along with my wife We were fortunate enough to have a friend who works for DCL who was able to hook us up with the 'Friends and Family' program which saved us some money. I did quite a bit of research regarding Disney cruises before going so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect but we were still blown away by the overall experience. We were lucky enough to be chosen as the 'Family of The Day' shortly after arriving in the terminal. A Disney representative personally took us around to get the kids signed up for the clubs, etc. By being the family of the day we were given the privilege of being the first ones to board the ship. What an amazing experience for the kids and us as well.
Once on the ship, we just wanted to explore a bit since our cabins wouldn’t be ready for a couple of hours. We found Cabanas and had a great lunch buffet. My wife has Celiac and when she asked one of the servers about a dish on the buffet, he quickly grabbed one of the chefs who personally took my wife around to each station to show her which items did and did not have gluten in them. They couldn’t have done a better job regarding my wife’s allergy and she was blown away by the dining options she had. The castaway party, which is usually on deck, was rained out and held inside so we missed it due to the major crowds in the atrium area.
VIBE (14-17 yrs old)
My daughter (16) wasn’t really into the Vibe club but she’s not overly social with new people. My oldest son (14) had a great time at Vibe and I recommend the adults checking it out. During one of the open houses because it’s really cool. I’d have loved a place like when I was younger. The club even has its own pool area which was amazing.
Oceaneers Club / Lab
My youngest son (8) was a little hesitant at first but once he spent some time there, he kept wanting to go back. The staff there was so nice and they really treated him well and he made some new friends.
Dining / Food:
I’ve read some reviews where some people didn’t think the food was great but we thought it was VERY good. The staff was very accommodating to my wife’s Celiac and I didn’t have a bad meal at any of the venues. Animator’s Palete was amazing, especially on the animation night. Enchanted Garden and Royal Court were both very nice and the rotational dining made each night a new experience. The waiters really focused on the kids and made them feel special. Our wait staff was super nice and brought us whatever we wanted. I ordered two lobster tails on the night it was served and our waiter (Dwayne from Jamaica) gladly accommodated my request. Multiple appetizers were ordered more than once and it was never an issue.
Breakfast was usually at Cabanas (buffet) but we did eat a couple of times at the Enchanted Garden. All were very good. My wife and had dinner one night at Palo and it was exceptional. Much more quiet than the other restaurants and the service was first class. On the night we went to Palo, the kids still went to the regularly assigned seating and the kids said the staff made them feel very special and they didn’t feel uncomfortable at all. I can’t say enough nice things about our wait staff (Dwayne and Melody).
We were on the ship for 7 nights so I did not take in the show every night bit I did see Aladdin and Disney Wishes and the others I did see were very entertaining.. We saw several movies such as ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ , ‘Need for Speed’, ‘Frozen’ and even got to view the opening day showing of ‘Captain America’ at 12:01 am the first day it came out. The older kids really got a kick out of seeing that on it’s opening day (And in 3D too). Also, there were plenty of movies on the television in the room which the kids watched during down time such as getting ready for dinner.
Pirate night was lots of fun and I highly recommend taking simple pirate gear with you so you get in the mood. The ship also provided bandanas for you in your cabin the day of the big pirate event. The shows on the deck that evening were really entertaining and the fireworks were pretty impressive to see at sea.
Overall, we didn’t have enough time to do all of the activities we wanted to do since there were so many to choose from. Did a few character meetings and the lines were long at times but not unbearable.
We did take advantage of dropping off pillow cases (with sharpies) at guest services to be signed by the Disney characters. My son had the general Disney characters sign his while my daughter had the Princesses sign hers. They were delivered to our room the second to last night of the cruise but I’ve read that some people received theirs on the last night of the cruise.
We didn’t take advantage of any Disney excursions on this cruise but looking back, I wish we would have done so at least one of the ports.
Grand Cayman: We took a taxi to Tiki Beach for $5.00 per person where we did some snorkeling. We took our own snorkeling gear and were able to have a good time on our own. We snorkeled right from the beach and enjoyed ourselves very much. With only 5-6 hours available on shore, our time was pretty much used up with this event and it was time to get back to the ship which also cost $5 per person via local taxi. Getting a taxi to take you to al local beach was very easy and hassle free.
Costa Maya: We stayed on the ship in Costa Maya and took advantage of the pool deck not being crowded. We rode the Aqua Duck more times than I could count and everyone loved it.
Cozumel: My wife and daughter wanted to do some shopping so we spent about 3-4 hours wandering around the shops right there at the port and didn’t venture off. This is where I wish I would have looked into an excursion of some sort. (Lesson Learned : ) ) I was able to pick up a couple of bottle at the duty free shop and saved some good money. Speaking of liquor, Disney allows you to bring your own alcohol on the ship as long as you carry it on and don’t pack it in your luggage. This was really nice and also saved a bit of $$$.
Castaway Cay: My wife noticed in the Navigator that there was a 5K run on Castaway Cay shortly after the ship docks. I’d been working out in the fitness center every day, which is really nice by the way, so I decided to run the 5K race that morning. It was well organized and very well attended. I heard there were approximately 300 people who ran the race. It was fun and you got an official Castaway Cay number flag plus a Mickey Mouse medal for finishing which are nice souvenirs in themselves. After the race I met up with the family and we found a spot on the beach where we did some snorkeling and my daughter and I even saw a barracuda under one of the life guard stations. We saw other marine life as well and also saw some sunken Disney characters etc. Lunch on the island was barbecue and it was very well laid out. Easy to get food and find a place to sit.
OVERALL: Seven nights on a ship was perfect for us and although we were sad it ended, it was certainly time. Debarkation was smooth and we got off the ship and retrieved our luggage quickly. We decided to ease the pain of the vacation being over by spending the day at Disney Hollywood Studios. Nice experience there too and if you go, you must ride the Aerosmith Rockin’ Roller Coaster. It’s officially one of my favorite coasters and this is coming from a guy who lives near Cedar Point (Roller Coaster Capital).
We will definitely be cruising Disney again at some point!!!
I read a quote from some other blog out there and it couldn’t have been said any better.
“Don’t be sad that it’s over, be happy that it happened”