When Disney Dream
debuted in January 2011, it was a watershed moment for Disney Cruise Line (DCL), which had been on the new-build sideline for 12 years. While maintaining the line's distinctive ocean-liner silhouette, the ship was bigger, bolder and -- let's face it -- better than its older sisters (Disney Magic
and Disney Wonder
). Despite all of its innovations and sleek design touches, there were areas onboard deemed lacking by some, particularly the top deck.
Enter Dream's sibling, the 128,690-ton, 2,500-passenger Disney Fantasy (4,000 max occupancy), which debuted in March 2012. Substituting brighter art nouveau flourishes for art deco and homing in on Dream's shortcomings, DCL has delivered a ship that seems light-years improved over its predecessor -- though it's only modestly different.
Unlike Dream, which embarks on three- and four-night excursions out of Port Canaveral, Fantasy is geared toward seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries (including a stop at Castaway Cay, DCL's private island). So the ship comes equipped with new shows and activities to kill time at sea, though these things would surely be welcome additions to Dream.
Indeed, Fantasy has many of the features already found on Dream, including the AquaDuck "watercoaster"; "Magical Portholes" showing real-time sea views in inside cabins; the uber-deluxe Remy French restaurant; and sophisticated venues for kids, teens and adults. Public spaces remain a sea of polished wood and Disney artwork, and cabins are largely identical. So what's new?
is a Broadway-style musical focusing on three Disney-loving teenagers who are facing tough decisions about relationships, dreams and adulthood as they near high school graduation. Also, a musical based on the Disney animated film "Aladdin"
makes the leap from the Disney theme parks into repertory in the ship's Walt Disney Theatre.
make their at-sea debut as part of an interactive mystery game that takes passengers around the ship in search of clues.
On Fantasy, the adults-only "district" -- here called Europa
-- fills the same space as the one on Dream, but with different offerings and a reconfigured layout. Themed around European travel, all the bars and lounges have been tweaked, some dramatically.
is a new 1,800-square-foot water play area on Deck 12 (it replaces the under-peopled Waves bar). Expect pop jets, geysers, bubblers and all manner of watery mayhem.
The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
is a Disney parks transplant making its premiere on the seven seas. This pint-sized salon turns girls into their favorite princesses -- for a (hefty) price. On Pirate Night, budding buccaneers can go the eye patch-and-scabbard route.
A new top-deck adults-only area called the Satellite Sun Deck
is centered on a water feature called Satellite Falls, a circular splash pool with benches and a fountain that runs its circumference and drips water down on the overheated masses. In addition, the upper deck of the Quiet Cove Pool and Cove Bar, both line staples, have been reconfigured with protective canopies to provide shade and a small wading pool.
Disney's primary market, of course, is families, especially those with kids younger than 8; however, teen cruisers will find much to like in the venues geared toward them. Beyond that, Disney has strong appeal for multigenerational travelers, and its spa, bar district and alternate dining facilities mean that adults of any age will find their own spaces onboard. The passenger makeup is dominated by American and Canadian travelers.
Dress code is casual during the day and resort casual most evenings. (Think jackets for men, but no ties, and pants outfits or summer dresses for women.) Recently, though, the cruise line tweaked its definition of resort casual to include shorts, which means passengers may wear shorts in the main dining rooms in the evening. Dress-up is part of the Disney shtick, however -- be it princess gowns for young girls or tuxes for dads. Many passengers dress to the nines on Fantasy's sole semiformal evening, and you'll be shocked at how many people throw themselves into pirate night -- so pack your eye patch and fake parrot.
Gratuities -- which can be prepaid or added to your onboard account and are given to dining room servers and stateroom attendants -- are $12 per person, per day. There's an automatic 15 percent levy for service on cocktails and other beverages.