Let me just start by saying what I learned from reading reviews and participating in forums on Cruise Critic prior to the cruise was extremely helpful in our planning. Hopefully, something from this review will help others. My wife and I are DVC members and therefore love everything Disney.
Just returned yesterday from our Western Caribbean cruise aboard the Fantasy. Our party consisted of 7 people; my wife and I are the grandparents, our daughter and son-in-law, and three grandchildren, 15, 13 & 6.
We started our vacation with a two night stay at Saratoga Springs, then took the Disney transportation from the resort to the terminal. This is one of the very few complaints I have. Our pick-up time was not until 12:15pm at the Saratoga, then the motor coach had to make another stop at Caribbean Beach. This put our arrival on the ship about 3:00pm. Talking to others on the ship, we had already missed out on several activities. I think Disney would take better care of More
loyal Disney people.
In regards to our stay on the Fantasy, first the ship is beautiful, the decor, the detail, the amenities. It is impeccable. Extremely clean, with people constantly cleaning all public areas. The cast members are first class; every single one extremely courteous, attending to your every need. Even I, who has not been the biggest fan of cruising, was very comfortable with the stateroom. It was cabin 6166, a family oceanview stateroom without veranda. Only downside to location, it was in the back of the ship, and you felt vibration of the engines when at higher throttle, like the first night of cruise and the last. The downside to the ship is the size of the pools. People were packed in to the Mickey & Donald pools like sardines. Even in the adult pools, you could be elbow to elbow.
With a wide variety of ages in our group, we found something for everyone. Our 6 year old grandson wanted to spend his time at Oceaneer Club. Our teen age granddaughters wanted to spend their time at the tween and teen clubs. They all met new friends quickly. Leaving the adults to the adult only areas; great time for all.
The entertainment was wonderful. From the stage shows to the comedians, all members of our party enjoyed the shows. The characters were always available. Even for the grandparents, this is always fun entertainment.
Because we were on a budget, we did not book any shore excursions thru Disney. Just too expensive. Here, in particular, is where I learned a lot from Cruise Critic, taking the advise from people on this website. Our first stop was Cozumel. This turned out to be the least favorite. First thought had been to take a taxi to a local beach for a few hours, but all taxi drivers we met wanted to take us to all-inclusives, which for party of seven, was quite a few dollars. We opted instead to try and shop the main drag when exiting the ship. We could put up with this only a short time, with vendors from every location on street trying to lure you into their store. We then headed to Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. Had a few snacks, enjoyed their water park for free. Then headed back to ship to enjoy the Aquaduck while crowd on shore. At Grand cayman, we took the advise of others and took the public transportation, at $2.50 per person, and went to Public Beach on the 7 mile beach span. I would recommend this to others. Our last port was Falmouth, Jamaica. This turned out to be the best. First, the terminal area that has been recently built is very nice. A variety of stores and a safe environment. Again, here we took the advise of others on Cruise Critic, and booked an excursion ahead of time with Ricardo at Liberty Tours Jamaica. Our excursion included horseback riding for our daughter, son-in-law & two granddaughters; this included a ride in the ocean. Ricardo took the rest of us to a nearby beach to relax until they were done. From there we were off to the Blue Hole. This was truly remarkable. A series of waterfalls and swimming holes, off the beaten path, up a dirt road in the mountains. This was the best time had by all and the favorite of the entire trip. At the Blue Hole, our Ricardo, teamed us up with his favorite lifeguard, also named Ricardo, who did a most remarkable job of guiding us thru this natural wonder. He took pictures with our cameras, held our eyeglasses when we jumped into the swimming holes, and the most wonderful part was the way he took care of my wife, who has had three back surgeries and a recent hip replacement. He guided her the entire way, holding her hands as he told her where to step. This enabled her to enjoy the experience, even jumping into several of the water holes. I can't rave enough about this experience. The tour concluded with a stop at Scotties for some jerk chicken. Great food. Ricardo made several stops along the way to show us and explain in more detail the Jamaican culture. I would 100% recommend Ricardo and Liberty Tours Jamaica. Just google it when making your plans.
As the cruise concluded, passengers were told that breakfast would be served the final morning, before disembarking, in the dining room where you had dinner the night before. Not knowing that Cabanas, the buffet area, was open, we reported to the dining room. This was a disappointment. I ordered the belgian waffles; it was like two Eggo waffles; food was cold, coffee was barely warm. It was obvious at this point they just wanted you off the ship. I would recommend to other to go to Cabanas for breakfast the final morning.
Our room was on the level 6, near rear of ship. The layout of room makes it very comfortable, even for me, who is not crazy for ship cabins. Only complaint about this room is the vibration felt from the ship's engines at higher throttle, particularly the first night and last night.