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?
"Wishes" 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.
The Muppets 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.
The AquaLab 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.