Wow. I don’t even know where to start! What a trip!
Our cruise on Disney’s latest ship, the Fantasy, was definitely a vacation to remember. From meeting Mickey Mouse, to enjoying a couple’s massage, to watching our own animations come to life!
We woke very early in the morning last Monday, showered, got our bags in the van, and woke the boys to head to the airport. We somehow managed to get there, through security and on the plane without any major issues. Bug did incredibly well for his first flight and we made it to Orlando without a hitch. Once there, we signed in for our Disney Cruise and were bussed to our launch location at Port Canaveral – an incredibly smooth and easy process!
At Port Canaveral, we got off the bus and pretty much just walked right on to the ship – only really pausing for photos and a small information packet along the way. Our luggage had been picked up from the airport and would be transported to our stateroom on the ship for us.
As we stepped onto the ship, a crewmember announced our family name and we were welcomed by crewmembers lined up, leading into the ship’s main lobby. Once aboard, we headed to our stateroom. Lying on the bed when we got there was a gift package – a beach bag with the Disney Fantasy logo on it and a beach towel inside, along with a small glass figurine of Dumbo (seemingly the ship’s mascot), travel mug, and a Vinylmation Mickey (also with the ship’s logo).
In our first few hours on the ship we grabbed some lunch at Cabana’s – a buffet style restaurant on the same deck as the pool, where we also found drink stations that were open 24 hours, and soft-serve (self-serve!) ice cream stations that were also open 24 hours! This deck was pretty much the party deck – most events and parties generally happened here throughout the cruise. After a bit of exploration, we went back to our room to find our bags waiting there for us.
We did a bit of organizing and the ship’s practice alarm sounded. We headed for our safety station, where we were shown how to apply our life-vests and told what would happen in the event of an emergency on the ship. Afterward we headed for the party deck, where streamers and Champaign (sparkling apple juice for the kids) were handed out. We got the boys some dinner at Flo’s V8 Café – a window-stop food service, and enjoyed some conversation with another passenger while they ate.
We had a reservation at Palo that night, one of the ship’s classy table-service restaurants, and the boys had a daycare reservation at the “It’s a Small World Nursery”. We dropped the boys off, made our way to Palo, and proceeded to have a spectacular dinner at a table with a beautiful ocean view and a more-than-fantastic waiter.
When we woke the next day the ship had already docked at Castaway Cay, a Disney-owned island in the Caribbean. Never before have I seen such blue water! We grabbed breakfast at Cabana’s again, then dropped the kids off at daycare for the day and headed off the ship for some grown-up fun.
Our first stop was snorkeling at Pelican Point, a family friendly portion of the island. We rented snorkels, fins, and masks, then slathered up with some sunblock before taking a dip in the rather chilly waters. We swam out, and much to our delight found many schools of fish that were totally unafraid to swim right around us!
After snorkeling, we hopped the tram to go to another side of the island designated for adults only. We had some yummy lunch and did a bit of lounging on the beach. Crewmembers acted as waiters there, and shuttled cocktails back and forth for those relaxing on the beach.
As early afternoon rolled around, we made our way to a small cabana, where we had reserved a couple’s massage (which was divine). Having had the ultimate relaxation experience, we meandered our way back to the ship. After showering and picking up the boys (who had completed finger paint hand-print art projects for us while they were in the nursery), we decided to walk around some of the upper decks for a while. We explored the “party” deck, where we saw Donald Duck & Goofy doing some type of interview segment. When they were done, they happily came over and said “hi” to the boys, and let us take a photo with them before going off on some more business.
Heading back down a few decks, we decided to hang out for a bit in the main lobby of the ship and let the boys run (and crawl) around before dinner. It wasn’t long before Chip and Dale showed up! We got our pictures taken with them, and soon Mickey Mouse was there, followed by Minnie. We learned then that Monster has simply decided that he doesn’t really want to be cooperative when it comes to photo-taking. Our photogenic child has suddenly become camera shy.
After meeting some of our favorite characters, we headed in to dinner at the Royal Court dining room. At this point I’d had a headache for most of the afternoon and it began to get to me. I am quite susceptible to seasickness and had asked my doctor for a patch, which is applied behind the ear and good for three days. Apparently, the drug that is in that patch just did not agree with me. I ended up taking it off midway through dinner, and missing out a bit on the whole experience.
What I DO know about dinner is: it was delicious (of course), we each got a Pirates of the Caribbean Mickey bandana to celebrate the pirate party that evening (one of our waitresses showed us how to make hats for the boys from them), and our servers were extremely kind and helpful.
After dinner, we changed Bug into his PJs before taking him back to the nursery (the boys became pretty popular there) for the evening. Then we took Monster to one of the ship’s shows: Wishes. The show was great – highlighting some of the classic music and characters from many Disney movies right on stage. Monster was glued, and LOVED seeing some of his favorites on stage.
Our last day on the ship was a full day of cruising. We tooled around the ship for most of the day. At a Disney Junior dance party in the morning, we learned that Monster’s developing shyness makes him not want to dance in front of other people in addition to not liking photo ops. The boys had another stay in the nursery for a few hours while LT and I attended a short show called “Anyone Can Cook”, where we learned a few tricks to making a delicious Apple Strudel. We also did some shopping, and explored some of the upper, adults-only, decks.
Dinner that night was at the Animator’s Palate. This was easily the most impressive and cool experience we had on the ship. In this restaurant, you get to design your own character. Then dinner is served to you (scrumptiously delicious dinner, by the way), and within probably about a half an hour of the beginning of your dinner, you’re treated to a show – your own animated characters (and those of your fellow diners) animated, and added into some classic Disney movies! So cool. It’s a simple interface, clearly, but it is indeed an awesome experience to watch your five-minute sketch come to life on screen. I was excited, I can imagine the boys being ecstatic when they’re old enough to “get it”. (More on this later).
After dinner, Bug had one last stint in the nursery while we took Monster to watch Believe, another fantastic show featuring many of our favorite Disney characters. Again, he was glued, and again, so excited to see his favorites.
The next day was departure, the ship had docked over night, and the trip home was stressful (as most traveling with small children is), but uneventful.
So, needless to say we enjoyed the cruise. It impressed us so much that there wasn’t a single person working for the Disney Cruise Line that gave us the impression that they were at work the entire time. Everyone seemed to genuinely enjoy whatever it was they were doing, and we really got the impression that they were actually happy to be there. Combine that with a love of Disney (which you almost must have to really enjoy this cruise, because it’s delicately worked into every single tiny detail), and I can tell you that this was a spectacular experience.
We’ll definitely be doing it again. When the boys are old enough to really experience it all with us. (And maybe if mom and dad can afford to get away again before then!)
I believe I speak for the whole family when I say that our Disney Cruise was truly magical.