(5 p.m. EDT) -- Just when you thought Disney couldn't get any more magical, Disney Fantasy emerged from dry dock with some new additions -- revamped kids spaces and a sweets shop -- as well as some old favorites. We're onboard to try them out. Check our list of the best activities below to see what not to miss on your next sailing.
1. Oceaneers Club
Disney Cruise Line's Oceaneers Club, for kids aged 3 to 12, varies from ship to ship, but Disney Fantasy is now home to two new spaces, including the Star Wars Command Post, which features flight training simulators, a hollow table for the computerized design of well-known aircrafts, visits from BB8 and an escape room activity that allows kids to join The Resistance. Meanwhile, the Marvel Super Hero Academy, modeled after Dr. Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum, offers super hero courses led by the likes of Dr. Strange, Thor and others. Participants get their very own ID badges and can collect stickers for the courses they've completed.
2. Sweet on You
Sweet on You, Disney Fantasy's new sweets shop, sells for-fee candy by the pound, prepackaged sweets, chocolates, bonbons and macarons. The shop, themed after vintage Disney shorts featuring Mickey and Minnie Mouse, is also the place to snag 20 flavors of gelato and 16 flavors of ice cream that can be mixed and matched to create a variety of sundaes and a "milkshake of the day." Flavors range from tried and true (vanilla, chocolate, cookies 'n' cream, pistachio) to more adventurous (red velvet, caramel popcorn, oatmeal cookie, and candy explosion featuring Nerds). This venue has taken up residence in the ship's former video arcade, located just outside of the Cabanas buffet on Deck 11.
3. Pirates in the Caribbean
Disney cruise ships host Pirate Night on nearly all sailings;, where passengers are encouraged to dress up like swashbucklers and take part in pirate-themed dance parties and games. The part you definitely won't want to miss is the nighttime Pirates in the Caribbean show on the pool deck. Starring Captain Jack Sparrow, who rescues the ship from a band of no-good buccaneers by rappelling down the funnel (weather permitting), the show concludes with an at-sea fireworks display. (Note: For the best views, head to Deck 12, starboard, just beside the Funnel Vision movie screen.)
4. AquaDuck Watercoaster
Water slide-loving cruisers can get their fix on the AquaDuck, a clear, inner tube-required water slide that circles high above the ship's pool deck. You'll find the entrance on Deck 12; be prepared to look down, as part of the run juts out over the side of the vessel, offering views of the ocean below.
5. Character Appearances
One of many great things about Disney cruises is that it's much easier to meet characters onboard than it is in the Disney parks. Surprise appearances are mixed in with rendezvous at scheduled times and places. (Check your Personal Navigator daily newsletter for details.) On our sailing, we encountered Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, Chip and Dale, Stitch, Peter Pan, Aladdin, Jack Sparrow and a squad of princesses, including Ariel, Tiana, Cinderella, Belle, Anna and Elsa. (These experiences are free, but due to demand, some princess meet-and-greets require passengers to obtain complimentary time-slotted tickets at the shore excursions desk.)
6. Movies, Movies, Movies
Because Disney owns the rights, many first-run Disney films that are still in theaters are also shown onboard -- for free. (We caught Guardians of the Galaxy II, Beauty and the Beast and Moana.) Movies like Tarzan, Lilo and Stitch, Tangled, Monsters Inc., The Lion King and others are also shown throughout the day on the pool deck's Funnel Vision movie screen. If you'd rather catch up on classic Disney films in your cabin, choose from a huge, complimentary library available on-demand on all stateroom TVs. (We refreshed our childhood memories of The Little Mermaid one evening before heading to the atrium to meet Ariel, and it was just the thing to put us in a princess-y mood.)
--By Ashley Kosciolek, Editor