Disney Fantasy Cruise Review by nzOdy: Disney Fantasy - Western Caribbean - Thoughts of a pragmatic cruiser
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Disney Fantasy - Western Caribbean - Thoughts of a pragmatic cruiser
This was my second cruise and we did it with a bang. We reserved a 1 bdrm concierge suite as a group of 4, crossing multiple generations of the family. We traveled to Florida from California early, it gave us time to visit Universal Orlando to see the Harry Potter World, which my 11 yo son just loved. After that, we traveled across to Port Canaveral because we had requested and received free tickets to Kennedy Space Center from our local congresswomen - I suggest you do the same if in the US! If you have not done it before, the Kennedy Space Center is well worth adding to a cruise leaving from Port Canaveral - we spent 5.5 hours there and really enjoyed the experience. It's a great family trip.The next morning it was time to board our ship. We traveled by hotel shuttle to the port, at which point our luggage was dumped at a collection point and we were left to stand in line with everyone else, we were in a line at ground level, which was in full sun and if I were to do it again, I More
would probably walk across to the parking structure and join the line that was up at 2nd level in the covered walkway. In this area, before the port opened, Concierge made no difference. Once inside the cruise terminal, as Concierge passengers we saw the benefits of paying for the upgraded experience. There was a Concierge only check-in, and a glass enclosed Concierge waiting lounge that had a rear entrance to the gangway, and we were allowed on the ship before everyone else.
Concierge had of course had it's benefits earlier, as we were able to book our excursions and cabanas on Castaway Cay 120 days prior to sailing. This allowed a much less stressful experience as we did not have to worry about being able to get the excursions or other bookings that we wanted.
Once on the ship, we went straight to the Concierge Lounge where we were greeted by PJ who ran over all our on-board bookings with us, we reserved several tasting experiences and confirmed Remy seatings and all of our excursions and etc. We loved being able to leave our carry on with the Concierge while we went off and explored more of the ship. When we returned to our room, still early, our carry on had been put in the cabin and a little while later our main luggage showed up. This was the beginning of an awesome relationship with the Concierge team.
The Fantasy is Disney's newest ship and it shows. The boat is clean, well layed-out and offers a great array of restaurants, bars, clubs and activities.I didn't include pools in that list as I feel like the size of the ship, 4000 passengers, is mis-matched to the pool capacity. The main pools on Deck 11 get overcrowded. The adults only pool on Deck 12 can also get rather full and Satellite Falls on 13 is a very shallow pool designed only for siting in. There are times were you definitely experience crowds and I personally do not like crowds. It's why I valued so highly the escape that the Concierge lounge and general space offered us.
We had second dining and generally enjoyed the dining experience, we were in a large group, so had a sitting of 12. I would not recommend dining with that many, if you are a large group like that I recommend that you split into smaller groups at separate tables - you will get through your meal quicker and you will not suffer any cooling due to the difficulties of timing 12 meals at one time. Animators Palace was our favorite, followed by Royal Court and then Enchanted Garden. We also did a Champagne Brunch and Dinner at Remy - the food is a class above the main dining rooms and I recommend you try it out if you enjoy good food!
The kids in our group spanned the tween and teen kids clubs. The tween kids had a better experience in their club than the teens did in their club. The teens wished there was more stuff hosted by staff to aid in making friends - you know how awkward teens can be! So they didn't actually use the club very much. Between the onboard movies, the aqua-duck, the tween club, the scavenger hunts and the hidden object searches the kids can do, we had a lot of adult time to ourselves. That is one thing Disney seems to do well, occupy your kids and give you lots of clubs and activities to appeal to the adults. There was more entertainment than we were able to take advantage of!
Our first scheduled port was Grand Cayman. The kid and I did the SeaTrek Helmet excursion. It was very easy and we had a great time, my son especially enjoyed walking around the ocean floor at 28ft depth. You depart the ship and take a short walk to another pier, here you are given an explanation of how the helmets work and use of hand signals and the like. Then a tender arrives to take you to the main excursion boat. Once on the main boat, you get a little more instruction on how to put the helmet on and descend the ladder to the ocean floor. Then they ask for a volunteer to go first, and one by one you descend to the sea floor. A line is formed and you will be led around the sea floor in this line. Therefore I recommend you be among the first to descend, you will get the most out of the guide that way. After we were done with that excursion, we walked around town a bit and the kid enjoyed shopping at the Del Sol store, where they sell clothing and articles that change color in the sun.
Our next stop was supposed to be Costa Maya, where I was scheduled to go on a Mayan ruins tour, but weather and sea conditions turned out to be too rough to allow for safe docking. The captain announced this while I was in the staging room for the excursion, so it was a bit of a bummer. They decided to sail on to Cozumel to spend the night there and give folks the option of getting off for some night activities. This is where Concierge helped us out, given my day trip had just been cancelled, I returned to Concierge and was able to join a booked tasting event with my wife after they made a call.
In Cozumel the next day I joined some friends on the Dune Buggy and Snorkel experience. I would give this a 3 out of 5 rating - the buggies are run down, you drive entirely on paved streets and the snorkeling is from a beach and wasn't very good. They took us to a place for some free time on the beach where we also had lunch, the food was good and the beach was nice and interesting. Then on our drive back we stopped at a Mayan village mock up - it was a little interesting, especially seeing Mayan chocolate made and getting to try it, but it was also a stop where they were trying to sell you a bunch of stuff. We then drove through some rougher parts of town back to the terminal parking we had originally departed from.
Our last stop was Castaway Cay where we had rented a cabana on the adult only Serenity Bay side. This day was awesome. The Cabana experience is great - you get drinks and snacks and fresh fruit included, towels and sun products, as well as inner tubes and floaties for use in the water. It was the most relaxing time of our trip and we would have loved to spend another day there. Serenity Bay is awesome the water all the way out to the sand bar never gets much deeper than 5.5ft and it's just a great spot! We were sad to leave. My mother in law had a cabana over on the family beach side, where the rest of our large party spent the day - they also had a great time and really enjoyed the cabana.
Disembarkation was organised chaos. Our experience was made a lot easier by deciding to opt in to the airport checkin, again we allowed Concierge staff to set this all up for us. Not having to deal with the bulk of our luggage through disembarkation was a big stress reliever!
All in all, I enjoyed the cruise a great deal, the Concierge experience was awesome - food and cocktails in the lounge every night - made our purchase of a dinner wine package redundant. If I were to cruise on the Fantasy again, I would have to do Concierge - it was just too much of a help on the trip to think about dealing with Guest Services. Sorry if I sound snobbish - but it really was a factor in being on such a large ship with so many people. Less
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Cabin review: 12006
I can't find the words to say how pleased we were with this cabin! The layout is very good, and this particular cabin is on the 'bump out' and so gets about 50% more balcony/deck space. The 1 bdrm suite is awesome. Large tvs - two of them, 3 if you count the one in the bathroom mirror that we never used. Being in the 1bdrm has another advantage in that you can order room service from the restaurant menus, they only allow that for rooms with a full size dining table. The bathroom is great, with a large shower and separate jetted tub, dual vanities. The queen bed can be shut off from the rest of the room using sliding doors - just make sure you click them into closing position, otherwise they can move about in rougher waters. One of the best features of this room is that it gives you access to the Concierge lounge and sundeck - sun products are supplied free of charge on the Concierge sundeck. In the lounge you can get cocktails nightly along with gourmet hors d'oeuvres. Water, soda, milk and coffee drinks are available daily. The Concierge staff are great - they will help you with any problem you could possibly imagine - including AA batteries for my Garmin GPS! I cannot say enough how much I appreciated the services of the lounge staff - you made our trip!