This was our second sailing with Commodore Tom aboard the "Disney Fantasy" leaving Port Canaveral, Florida and making stops at St Maarten, St Thomas and Castaway Cay.
We are a family of dad (54), mom (48), daughter (17) and son (15). This is our second sailing on the "Fantasy" having taken the identical cruise in 2012. We have, over all been on 3 other Disney cruises having sailed the "Magic" twice, once on a 15 day cruise through the Panama Canal. My wife and I have sailed on over 20 cruises combined on "Carnival", "Norwegian" and "Royal Caribbean" cruise lines.
As we are from southern California we arrived a day before sailing to pick up liquids and supplies that we couldn't take on an airplane. We spent the night at "Comfort Inn" Cocoa Beach (Bleh!) and dropped our rental car at Hertz and took their shuttle to the cruise dock where they deposited us right on the curb outside the terminal at 10:00 am.
We did the pre-embarkation paper work on-line so we were ready to check in at 10:30 (our assigned time). Embarkation was pretty smooth as we all lined up in the covered parking garage and waited our turn through the check-in before entering the terminal. This wait was about 10 minutes.
One thing I absolutely love about Disney cruises is that they station crew members right inside every entry way to tell you exactly where to go before you can even ask a question. It is these little extras that is the Hallmark of Disney cruise line , they want you to relax and enjoy the cruise and they will take care of you.
So here we go with the review!
The "Fantasy" is still a pretty sharp woman having aged very little in the 2 years she has been sailing the high seas. The grand atrium entrance is a very nice touch. I have been on cruises where you enter gangways that are on the cabin decks and they deposit you into a crowded common area between elevators and stairs!
The "Fantasy" is very clean and fresh smelling, the ships interiors look as sharp as they did when we sailed 2 years ago. The ship is decorated in a "Art Nouveau" motif. As ship interiors go this is one of the most beautiful we have ever cruised on, quite a difference then say.....Carnival and their resin molded statues.
Our cabin was spacious and had an abundance of storage space. All our empty luggage fit under the bed. The shower/ bath tub and separate toilet room are absolutely essential when traveling with children or teens. In cabin movies on demand were very cool, as well as I was able to watch NBA and NHL finals in my cabin or take in the action in "O' Gill's" Irish Pub. Our cabin steward was very efficient and we actually never saw him. He must have timed our meal habits because every time we returned our cabin was made up.
The food was actually better then our last cruise on the "Fantasy". "Cabanas" the main restaurant had a very nice selection of food for breakfast and lunch. (We didn't eat dinner there) I liked the carving station where you could get meats or roast turkey. There was a full "raw bar" with crab, shrimp and other shell fish. I also liked the fact that the omelet station would make my vegetarian egg white omelets for me. There was always ample seating and get this...there were roving crew members just waiting to clear tables so seeing a messy table was almost impossible, they would clear your plates as soon as you finished and get you on your way. Anyone who has had to wait for a table in the morning will tell you that this one thing can make or break a cruise.
Hey "Flo's" carry out diner is a life saver. It's the go to place for burgers, chicken, hot dogs, brats, vege-burgers, wraps, and pizza! Open late on most nights the chicken tenders rule!
The pool was an organized frenzy of kids splashing and playing. We had very good weather so the pool was always crowded . My wife and I just took our 17 year old daughter on the upper deck above the adult pool and we could lay quietly. There were always deck chairs available on the upper deck but right next to the main pools, forget it. A strange thing (maybe to save space) is that the lower deck chairs next to the main pools aren't "lounge chairs" but reclining chairs. An added plus is that crew members are always on hand to squeegee off the excess water on the decks to keep them as safe as possible. Love the "Aqua Duck" we went in the evening and there was not much of a wait at all, here's some magic, they take your picture while on it and it some how found it's way into our photo folder!
I can not say enough about the service on this ship. Our server and assistant (Naya and Alla) were very efficient and kind. We were traveling with another family with younger kids and they always remembered what they drank and liked. The rotational dinning room dining for dinner is very nice. "Animator's Palate" is my most favorite dinning experience on ANY ship I have travelled on. So much better then the tacky "Baked Alaska" dance and such. A great example of the thoughtfulness of the service staff is that when arriving on deck 11 there is a crew member waiting there to direct you to the restaurant. You will not hit a dead end on the "Fantasy" there is always someone to guide you.
I like working out in the gym so I was there when it opened at 6:30 AM on sea days. Very cool to ride the elliptical trainer while watching the Bahamas slip by. Remember what I said about service? There was a crew member there who's sole job was to quietly "Swiffer" the gym floor of sweat or spills. The spa is beautiful and very nice. A negative was my wife was sold a facial and told she would receive a hand and scalp massage, which never happened, so be aware.
I love that there is no casino on these ships instead we get a movie theater (Buena Vista Theatre) that shows first run films! It is very nice but if you are over 5'6" be aware that the seats have very little leg room, I guess because it's a theater on a cruise ship.
As I stated before I watched lots of sports after dinner so I didn't go to a show! My wife and kids said that the shows were very entertaining and our cruise director "Clayton" was very clear and enthusiastic about the on board activities. I did go to the main show theater to watch "Maleficent" in full 3D that doesn't happen on any other cruise line. While I am on activities this was a very active ship. All kinds of games, shows and stuff going on all over the ship. The kid's clubs are UN-FREAKING BELIEVABLE! I toured them because my kids are teens and if I got to play as a kid in those wonderful clubs I would remember it for all my life. My wife and I did the "Mixology class" and learned some basic bar skills, it was a great time but the "Tequila Tasting" we did 2 years ago was a little better. Now my family would tell you I have an unnatural fondness for pirates (of the caribbean) so you think I'm going to miss a night of pirating? No says I, I dressed as a scallywag on "Pirate Night" and pillaged my black guts out! Arrrg!
We have booked another cruise next year aboard the "Fantasy" this is when our children will be 18 and 16, when mom asked if they wanted to go they immediately said yes! There is one more thing, I noticed this when we were in the terminal waiting to board. As i looked around I was shocked at how well behaved everyone seemed and the absence of what I call the "young adult, tattoo clad power/party drinker type". Disney cruises are more expensive then others and the people who cruise don't come on to binge drink and go spending the night in the casino. It's not that I don't like those kind of people I just don't want to be trapped on a ship full of them for 7 days. Disney has a unique alcohol policy. You can bring up to 6 bottles of whatever (I bring nice wines) per adult on the ship with you as a carry on. You can also buy alcohol when the ship is in port and bring it on to consume. If they had that policy on Carnival cruise lines the ship would look like the final fight scene between the English island defenders and the Skeleton pirates in "Pirates of the Caribbean".
All in all a fine cruise and one final note. We had dinner in "Palos" one of the "pay extra" restaurants on board (and TOTALLY worth the 25.00 a piece), there we saw our main dining room server from 2 years ago, Luciana she was so kind and said she remembered us (who cares if she didn't) but she was still working there (with her husband) 2 years later, our actual server in "Palos" brought the ship out on her maiden voyage and was still on board. The crew members actually seem to enjoy their jobs and buy into the fact that they are all part of something special. I will close with a quote from Walt Disney who said, "It is my aim to make people happy, especially children".