I full enjoyed a 7-night Preview Cruise this week to St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Disney's private Castaway Cay on board the brand new Disney Fantasy sailing from Port Canaveral FL.
The first two days at seas were spent exploring this beautiful new vessel, an expanded and technologically updated version of Disney's original ships, the Magic and the Wonder. Two additional stateroom decks and an added 150 feet in length accomodate 4000 passengers and over 1400 crew members very comfortably, and without making you feel as though you must take a five-mile hike to get to dinner. Disney creativity ("Imagineering") is evident everywhere: framed artwork comes to life when you approach, lighting and A-V systems in the staterooms are state-of-the-art, and the evening entertainment productions rival anything you might see on Broadway. Inside staterooms provide a "virtual porthole" showing real-time video images of the same view enjoyed through an actual porthole in an outside room. All staterooms include two on-board cell phones to easily keep in touch with your cabin mates and anyone else on the ship. Tyhe "Aqua-Duck" water slide is unique to this ship and was a big hit with both kids and adults.
This particular trip was heavily populated by Disney employees and VIPs, so I was not able to get dinner reservations at Palo's, the superb northern Italian restaurant which is very popular on Disney's other ships. It didn't matter. The food and service in all of the regular restaurants was excellent - and even better than expected - even off the ship at Castaway Cay.
Of course, there is a strong focus on children's activities and there was no disappointment. Well-loved Disney characters (and photo opportunities) were plentiful and, while I did not travel with children, it was obvious that there was a lot of catering to their interests and needs - including well-populated programs for tiny tots, teenagers, and everyone in between.
There were a surprisingly large number of areas and activities set aside for adults only. While the kids were well cared for, parents could enjoy quieter pool areas, lounges, cafes, dining, and entertainment.
More new production shows are in final rehearsals and, after one more week with with media and special guests, I think Disney is going to have another big "Hit" with the Fantasy.