Muppets, anyone? Much of the buzz surrounding the ship's launch centered on the fact that Fantasy introduces the furry crowd-pleasers to the seven seas. Kermit and Co. are part of a multi-deck interactive game that has kids of all ages prowling around the ship looking for clues in "The Case of the Stolen Show." Passengers grab a map and a game card, then bounce from one piece of Enchanted Art (digital pictures that come to life) to the next. Our take: It's fun, but it takes patience and a lot of time, so you may find yourself breaking up the activity over several days. There are actually three Midship Detective Agency interactive mysteries, two of which are holdovers from Dream and feature Disney characters.
Still, the cruise line's kids clubs remain the big family draw on Fantasy. As they are on Dream, the Oceaneer's Club and Lab (ages 3 to 10) are connected on Fantasy, so kids can move freely between the two. The passageway from the Club to the Lab includes a pair of specialized areas where little ones can conduct science experiments or do art projects.
Highlights in the Oceaneer's Club include Andy's Room, featuring oversized "Toy Story" characters like Slinky Dog, and Monster's Academy, whose climbing structure mimics a scene from "Monsters, Inc." Pixie Hollow is home to Tinker Bell, her friends and a bunch of fairy costumes that will have little girls swooning, while the centerpiece of the "Finding Nemo"-themed Explorer Pod is a colorful submarine filled with interactive computer games.
The Lab has a maritime theme and includes the Animator's Studio, where kids can find their inner artist and bring their creations to life.
Both the Club and Lab have interactive Magic PlayFloors, which debuted on Disney Dream and have become instant icons. Each of the electronic marvels are 20 by 20 feet and are used for games and storytelling sessions.
Older kids are not forgotten on Fantasy, courtesy of two state-of-the-art clubs. 'Tweens (ages 11 to 13) find refuge in the Edge, located in the forward fake funnel on Deck 13. The space includes an 18-foot-wide video wall, lighted dance floor, video karaoke and computers on which the young'uns can leave one another messages and photos. All the way forward on Deck 5 (it's truly difficult to find -- just the way the kids like it), Vibe is a 9,000-square-foot club that caters to ages 14 to 17 and has an outdoor component. Expect modular furnishings, a media room, a fountain bar and a dance space, plus a sun deck with wading pools and games like Ping-Pong and foosball.
And for the tiniest tots, there is the It's a Small World Nursery on Deck 5 midship, reserved for those from 3 months to 3 years. The price is $9 per hour for the first child, $8 for the second; hours vary, though it's generally available the majority of the day and well into the night. Parents who want to check in on their children can peer through a one-way window into the nursery's play area.