The stage shows are unlikely to disappoint (unless you love -- as we do -- DCL's "Golden Mickeys," which isn't in the Fantasy repertoire). The lavish Walt Disney Theatre is home to "Wishes," a 45-minute musical centering on three teens worrying about the ramifications of growing up. Before you know it, a steady stream of Disney characters is warbling to the trio. It's harmless, infectious, big-budget fun. Ditto "Disney's Believe," which focuses on the story of a workaholic single father who reconnects with his daughter. Another host of old-time favorites make song-and-dance appearances, including Cinderella and Peter Pan.
Our favorite show, however, is "Disney's Aladdin -- A Musical Spectacular," which lives up to its title. A Disney theme park favorite, the show is a don't-miss. The special effects are terrific, the jokes timely, the music lovely -- you'll recognize some old favorites mixed in with new tunes -- and the story familiar if you've seen the flick.
Speaking of movies, you can catch a wide variety for free on demand in your cabin or in the lovely Buena Vista Theatre, which features first-run films (some in 3D), as well as classics. Movies, sporting events and music videos are also shown on the poolside Funnel Vision movie screen.
Let's get right to the point: Character meet-and-greets are the heart of a Disney cruise, and you'll see Mickey and Co. everywhere onboard, from the sail-away party and shows in the D Lounge (a family-friendly gathering spot featuring karaoke and the like) to random sightings on Castaway Cay and in the atrium. As excited as kids can get at the theater productions and interactive events, nothing brings bigger smiles than snapping a one-on-one photo with Minnie.
In addition to scheduled and impromptu character appearances, passengers can also hear live music, participate in family arts and crafts, play bingo, go head-to-head with other onboard know-it-alls in trivia competitions or check out the Midship Detective Agency, a detective game featuring The Muppets that takes passengers around the ship in search of clues.
In addition to nightly production shows, movies and character experiences, cruisers will find family dance parties, trivia and karaoke.
One of the most popular nighttime activities is the "Pirates in the Caribbean" deck party. It's broken into separate parts on Fantasy, though darned if we didn't think the kids' portion was just as fun as the one for adults. A sing-along early in the evening for little ones called "Mickey's Pirates in the Caribbean" is followed by a live-action show that features Jack Sparrow rappelling off the funnel. The latter ends on an explosive high: Disney's now-iconic "Buccaneer Blast" fireworks. (Tip: For an unobstructed view, catch it from the Currents Bar on Deck 13 or from Deck 12 starboard, just beside the Funnel Vision screen.)
Afterward, the family-friendly Club Pirate has everyone shaking their (pirate's) booty. It ends, unfortunately, precisely at midnight -- just when things really start to rock.
Adults can check out the Europa adults-only area after hours for trivia and DJ-spun music until late.
Currents Bar (Deck 13 forward): Currents, the ship's top-deck outdoor bar, is one of the few spots onboard that allows smoking. (Other smoker-friendly hangouts are the Deck 4 promenade on port side, aft, between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., and the Deck 12 outdoor area that's accessible through Meridian.)
Waves Bar (Deck 12 aft): The Waves Bar, all but forgotten since it was largely taken over by the kids' AquaLab water play area, is tucked away in a remote outdoor corner of Deck 12 and offers a standard assortment of beverages at a walk-up window.
Meridian (Deck 12 aft): This cocktail bar, tucked between Palo and Remy, serves as the waiting area for both. Awash in dark woods with a navigational theme, this watering hole also offers an outdoor terrace that doubles as a cigar lounge.
Senses Juice Bar (Deck 11 forward): If you're feeling like a healthy drink after a spa treatment or day in the sauna and aromatherapy rooms, check out the Senses Juice Bar, located just inside the entrance to Senses Spa. Choose your poison -- freshly squeezed juices or one of several concoctions that combine berries, herbs and spices with spinach and avocado -- from an electronic menu for a fee ($3.95 to $4.95).
Cove Bar (Deck 11 forward): This bar serves the Quiet Cove adults-only area on Deck 11.
Buena Vista Theatre Snack Bar (Deck 5 forward): Found just outside the Buena Vista Theatre, this concession stand sells popcorn, candy soda and beer whenever movies are being shown in the theater (and often between showings, as well). Souvenir cups and popcorn buckets are available for an upcharge.
D Lounge (Deck 4 mid): This family-focused lounge plays host to all-ages dance parties, arts and crafts, bingo and family karaoke.
Europa (Deck 4 aft): At night, adults can head to Deck 4's retooled "entertainment district," Europa, comprising a European-themed quintet of bars and lounges. The areas include La Piazza, an Italian fun zone with a giant bar in the shape of a carousel; O'Gill's, an Irish pub packed with sports fans; Ooh La La, a sumptuous French Champagne bar; The Tube, a late-night club awash in a London vibe, complete with phone booths you can boogie in, subway-like seating and an illuminated dance floor; and Skyline, which features large-scale photos of European capitals that change every 15 minutes.
Bon Voyage Bar (Deck 3 mid): Although this bar isn't technically in the atrium, it's located just past it, offering alcoholic beverages along the main thoroughfare opposite the guest services desk.
Preludes (Deck 3 forward): Stop at Preludes during show times to grab snacks (popcorn, candy) and drinks (soda, beer and mixed drinks) before heading into the Disney Theatre for a performance
Deck 11 is home to Donald's Pool, the ship's main pool. Further aft is Mickey's Pool, which is shaped like Mickey's head and bears a likeness to his face; it tends to draw only kids. Still farther aft is Nemo's Reef, a splash area for the youngest cruisers who aren't yet potty trained. (Swim diapers are OK.) It offers water features molded after the characters from "Finding Nemo."
A top-deck adults-only area called the Satellite Sun Deck (Deck 13) 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 adults-only Quiet Cove Pool and Cove Bar (Deck 11), both line staples, have been configured with protective canopies to provide shade and a small wading pool.
On Deck 4, there are shuffleboard courts and a jogging track (2.5 laps equal a 1 mile). A few floors up, on Deck 11, passengers can watch movies, concerts and sporting events on the Funnel Vision big screen, and the little ones can try out Mickey's Slide, a short corkscrew water slide. Up one deck is the entrance to the AquaDuck water coaster. Riders on rafts zip through a transparent tube that rings the pool area, at one point swinging out 13 feet off the side, 150 feet above the ocean. There is a 42-inch height requirement, so prepare younger siblings, and try to go in the early-evening pre-dinner hour, when the line dwindles to nothing. On the same deck is the AquaLab splash park, a 1,800-square-foot water play area. Expect pop jets, geysers, bubblers and all manner of watery mayhem.
Deck 13, Goofy's Sports Deck, is great for active cruisers, featuring a basketball court, Goofy's Mini-Golf (a nine-hole course), and golf and sports simulator machines.
Decks 11, 12 and 13 offer plenty of space and sun loungers for catching rays. Adults-only sun deck areas are found at the aforementioned Quiet Cove (Deck 11) and Satellite Falls (Deck 13).
The guest services desk, passengers' main onboard go-to for questions, resides on Deck 3 midship, along with the majority of the ship's retail stores: Mickey's Mainsail for Disney-branded toys, trinkets and apparel; Sea Treasures, which sells clothing, jewelry, sundries and duty-free alcohol and cigarettes; and Whitecaps for high-end jewelry, watches and purses.
For additional retail therapy, check out Tiffany & Co. (Deck 4) for high-end jewelry and the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (Deck 5), which makes over little boys and girls as princesses and pirates for an astronomical fee ($200 for a package that includes a princess costume, makeup and hairstyling). Meanwhile, Whozits & Whatzits (Deck 11) is the place to go for pool essentials like swimsuits and sunscreen.
For paintings, try the Vista Gallery on Deck 2, just outside the Enchanted Garden, and Shutters, the photo gallery on Deck 4, next to the portrait studio of the same name.
To plan your in-port adventures, visit the Port Adventures desk on Deck 5; to plan your next cruise adventure, check out the Disney Vacation Planning desk on Deck 4.
Like the other ships in the fleet, Disney Fantasy offers neither a library nor a casino. And while there is Wi-Fi throughout the ship, there is no dedicated internet cafe. The Cove Cafe, a Wi-Fi hot spot, does have laptops you can use for an additional fee. Disney Fantasy offers a Connect@Sea program in which you pay for the data you use instead of per minute. Sample rates start at 25 cents per megabyte and increase depending on what you do online. Examples include the small package at $19 for 100 megabytes, the medium package at $39 for 300 megabytes and the large package at $89 for 1,000 megabytes.
Each deck has a laundromat with an iron to work out the creases before dinner. Disney Fantasy's medical facility is located on Deck 1.
The predictably serene Senses Spa offers the usual range of treatments, from facials ($145 for 50 minutes) and mani/pedis ($120) to more exotic fare like hot-stone massages ($149 for 50 minutes) and teeth whitening ($199 for 30 minutes). Men's treatments including facials ($109 for 50 minutes) and shaves ($95 for 55 minutes) are also offered.
Teens can be pampered on their parents' dime at Chill, a youth-oriented adjunct located within Senses. Teen treatments, which are nearly as expensive as the adult ones, include fruit facials ($94), full-body father/son and mother/daughter massages ($195 per person), hot chocolate wraps ($141), body bronzing ($92), and ice cream manicures ($45) and pedicures ($65).
Day passes for the spa's Rainforest enclave can be purchased for $16 per person. Passes provide access to sauna and steam room facilities, a pair of outdoor hot tubs, a series of tile loungers and a row of aromatherapy showers. (The area is capacity-controlled, so if you want to check it out, buy your passes early.)
Look for spa discounts on port days, or score extra savings by booking more than one treatment at a time (10 percent off the first, 20 percent off the second and 30 percent off the third).
The Fitness Center provides more than two dozen cardio machines, including treadmills, stationary cycles and ellipticals, as well as Life Fitness weight machines, and free weights up to 50 pounds. Free 45-minute classes in yoga, Pilates and Tour de Cycle are available; body sculpt boot camp ($33 per 30-minute session) and personal training ($89 per 60-minute session) are featured, too.
Disney Cruise Line's kids clubs are the big family draw on Fantasy. The Oceaneer Club and Lab (ages 3 to 12) are connected, 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 supervised science experiments or do art projects.
Note: Children as young as 8 years old can sign themselves in and out of the youth facilities with parental permission.
Older kids are not forgotten on Fantasy, courtesy of two state-of-the-art clubs. Tweens (ages 11 to 13) find refuge in Edge, located in the forward fake funnel on Deck 13. Meanwhile, Vibe, hidden on Deck 5, is the hangout for 14- to 17-year-olds.
All late-night activities are free of charge; there is no in-cabin babysitting available.
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. Reservations must be made in advance on a first-come, first-served basis.
Highlights in the Oceaneer Club -- open only to those 10 and younger except during special open-house hours on each sailing -- include Andy's Room, featuring oversized "Toy Story" characters like Slinky Dog and Rex the dinosaur; Pixie Hollow is home to Tinker Bell, her friends and a bunch of fairy costumes that will have little girls swooning. The two biggest hits, though, are the Star Wars Command Post and the Marvel Super Hero Academy, both added to the ship during its 2017 renovation.
The command post features three flight training simulators that allow players to choose a destination to which they'll fly their aircrafts while following instructions from command. They're scored based on how well they follow the directions. Meanwhile, a hollow table module lets kids work together to virtually design TIE fighters, AT-AT walkers and other Star Wars vehicles by reviewing specs, changing colors and more. Pepper in some iPad-based video games and visits from the lovable BB8 as he tries to recruit would-be Jedis to join The Resistance, and the kids won't want to leave.
In the Marvel Super Hero Academy, which is modeled after Dr. Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum, kids will find courses -- Intro to the Multiverse, Conjuring Portals, Navigating the Quantum Realm, Projecting Your Astral Form and Defense Against the Dark Dimension, to name a few -- taught by Dr. Strange, Thor and others. Kids receive their own academy ID badges and can collect stickers for every course they complete. Little touches -- like a display case of artifacts and a light-up Book of Vishanti -- make the space feel authentic, and an entire wall of iPads will keep children busy when "classes" aren't in session.
The Oceaneer 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; each of these electronic wonders is 20 by 20 feet and is used for games and storytelling sessions.
Daytime activities might include science experiments, scavenger hunts and Magic PlayFloor time. Nighttime activities, which are free for all kids, could be pajama parties and pirate-themed events.
Edge, for tweens, 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 teens 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. Daytime activities might include hangout time, video game competitions, and arts and crafts. At night, teens can look forward to dance parties and animation tutorials.