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More, The Merrier On The Disney Fantasy
With our family, the mantra is “the more, the merrier at sea.”
Through the years, we have enjoyed more than a dozen
three-generational get-togethers afloat. Why? Because on a cruise
ship, no member of the party gets stuck with the cooking, cleaning
and other chores for a family gathering or reunion, and, just as
important, because on a ship there is something for all ages with
plenty of activities and entertainment for the whole family.
Our latest get-together was a three generational seven-day cruise in
early September aboard Disney Cruise Line’s new Disney Fantasy,
which debuted this spring as a sister to the popular Disney Dream
launched in 2011. In addition to my husband Humberto and me, our
daughter Veronica and grandsons Aidan, 11, and Julian, 8, came
along. We chose the Disney Fantasy because, as its name implies, the
ship has many experiences to enable guests of all ages to live out
their own fantasies.
From the moment we boarded the 130,000-gross ton/4,000-passenger
Disney Fantasy, we knew we were in a place we would all love. Like
previous Disney ships, the Fantasy is inspired in the grand ocean
liners of the 1920s and 1930s, and like her predecessors, has
scrollwork and Disney characters and Mickey Mouse colors on the
“Wow!” Julian exclaimed as we entered the three-deck atrium lobby,
which is so grand in dimensions and décor it takes even veteran
adult cruisers’ breath away the first time you see it. Like other
areas of the ship, the atrium is decorated in Art Nouveau style with
that gracious style’s details and patterns in hues of blue, green,
pink and gold. A spectacular chandelier, themed to peacock feathers
and 22-feet in diameter, hangs from the ceiling and descends 13 feet
in a cascade of blue and green crystal and stained glass beads. But
since this is a Disney ship, there is something visual here for
young sailors too: a bronze of Minnie Mouse with the beloved
character dressed in vintage clothing with a parasol and steamer
The atrium lobby’s other magical touches include meet-and-greet
sessions with Disney princesses and other characters, and pieces of
Enchanted Art (artwork that “comes to life” when a guest comes in
front of it, introduced with the Disney Dream).
On the Disney Fantasy our family used the Enchanted Art to get clues
to play, along with the Muppets in the pictures, the new game “The
Case of the Stolen Show.” Julian particularly enjoyed this activity,
moving about the ship at his own pace and discovering clues as to
who stole Kermit’s banjo, Fozzie’s squirting flower, Gonzo’s crash
helmet, Animal’s drum sticks and Swedish Chef’s cleaver.
The princess and pirate fantasies of young sailors can come true in
the first Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at sea and The Pirate League on
the Disney Fantasy. Here little girls can be transformed into
Cinderella or their favorite Disney princess with the perfect
makeover before dinner in the princess-themed Royal Court restaurant
onboard. And during the Mickey’s Pirates IN The Caribbean deck
party, Julian “became” a buccaneer – the “boney pirate” – with a
costume from the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. The rest of the family
joined in the festivities, donning the pirate bandanas supplied by
our cabin steward.
Besides the Royal Court, we enjoyed dinner at two other main
restaurants, Enchanted Gardens and Animator’s Palate – all part of
the Disney Cruise Line’s innovative “rotational dining” concept,
introduced with the Disney Magic in 1998, in which guests and their
servers go together from one restaurant to another on different
nights of the cruise.
We loved them all but our favorite was the Animator’s Palate, where
we enjoyed two different shows during dinnertime that charm
youngsters and the young at heart. At this restaurant, the décor is
highlighted by giant pencils and brushes, character sketches,
maquettes (three-dimensional character models) and filmstrips.
During one of the dinner shows called “Animation Magic,” Mickey
Mouse invites diners to draw their own character on a simple
template on their placemat awaiting them at the table and, through
the magic of technology, guests see their character come to life
along with Disney characters on monitors all around the room. When
they receive their drawing back after the show, it has a gold seal
that proclaims them to be official Disney animators. Menu
specialties for the “Animation Magic” dinner include popcorn soup,
beef Wellington and roasted red snapper.
The other dinner show at Animator’s Palate, “Undersea Magic,” is
themed to Crush, the turtle from the “Finding Nemo” movie. Guests
are immersed in an undersea world and Crush makes an appearance on
screens next to the tables and engages diners in impromptu live
conversations as they munch on such dishes as sesame-flavored rock
shrimp, Angus beef tenderloin and cookies-and-cream sundae.
The Royal Court, with a magical storybook palace setting, is
inspired in the Disney classics “Cinderella,” “Snow White and the
Seven Dwarfs,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “Beauty and the Beast.” The
ambiance includes such touches as glass slippers, roses, tiaras,
chair backs, chandeliers, sconces and columns with marble bases and
fluted tops adding details from the fairy tales. Handcrafted tile
mosaics depicting the princesses and their princes grace the far
wall. Palatial menu items here include lobster and jumbo shrimp,
escargot, beef tenderloin and Dijon-roasted rack of lamb. “I feel
like a duke –in a good way,” Julian commented as we left the Royal
Court after one of our sumptuous dinners.
The third of the main “rotational dining” restaurants, the Enchanted
Garden, is an enclave inspired in the gardens of Versailles and
elegant conservatories in France that transforms from day to night.
Adornments include white trellises, green arches and landscape
artwork, but what caught both youngsters’ and adults’ eyes most were
the “flower” light fixtures, light columns and a fountain with
cascading water rising seven feet tall and featuring a whimsical
touch: a cherub Mickey Mouse on top. At breakfast and lunch, the
Enchanted Garden is bright with the light of a blue-sky day; at
dinnertime the illuminated ceiling transforms into a constellation
of twinkling stars, the “flower” light fixtures “bloom” with color
and the fountain is bathed with light. The cuisine matches the
ambiance with a seasonal menu with market-fresh ingredients.
Alternative restaurants for adults only are Palo (Italian, fee is
$20) and Remy (French, fee is $75) both with ocean views and ideal
for a special occasion at sea. And Cabanas is the buffet-style
restaurant for convenient quick-out-the-door breakfasts and lunches
that we patronized often (there are 16 food stations) and
table-service casual dinners. Located on Deck 11 aft and inspired in
California beaches, tables are “sheltered” under trees, ocean views
are on three sides, and offerings include delicious stir-fry, pizza,
pasta, comfort foods and grilled specialties.
In between meals or for fast, light meals, there is plenty of
opportunity for snacking and munching at such venues as Flo’s Café
(pizza, salads, sandwiches), and Eye Scream Treats, Frozone Treats
(two quick service venues on Deck 11 featuring sweet treats such as
fruit smoothies and soft-serve ice cream that both Aidan and Julian
The magic of the Disney Fantasy overflows at the three-deck
1,340-seat Walt Disney Theatre with musical productions for the
whole family that bring Disney stories to life. “Disney Wishes” is
the ship’s signature show, a 45-minute journey by three friends who
visit Disneyland to celebrate their high school graduation and are
unsure as to what the future will hold. Along the way they discover
that the secret to being a happy adult is to keep in contact with
their inner child. The show presents a cavalcade of Disney
characters including Rapunzel, Hercules, Pinocchio, Lilo, Stitch and
others, as well as special effects including a Hawaiian sequence
during which the stage fills up with giant windsurfing sails, kites
and surfboards, and one of the youngsters gets on a surfboard to
“ride” a giant blue silk wave.
Another excellent show for all ages is “Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical
Spectacular.” The Broadway-style production presents Aladdin, his
wisecracking Genie, the Princess Jasmine, the evil Jafar and other
characters from the popular animated feature. A spectacular
highlight is the magic carpet ride as Aladdin and Jasmine soar to
the tune of “Whole New World.”
Other production shows presented in The Walt Disney Theatre include
“Disney’s Believe” (the story of a workaholic father who discovers
what is truly important in life) and “A Fantasy Come True” (the
first evening’s welcome show). Still other entertainment offerings
include first-run movies in the Buena Vista Theatre (some movies in
3-D), films on deck, and the “Mickey’s Pirates IN the Caribbean”
deck party with buccaneers rappelling from atop the ship’s funnel
and other swashbuckling fun and “Buccaneer Blast,” the only
regularly featured fireworks display at sea.
Families encounter daytime H2O fun at the new AquaLab water park, a
1,800-square-foot area on Deck 12 that has “water experiments” by
Donald Duck’s mischievous nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, with the
results being squirting walls, bubblers, geysers, falling water, pop
jets and more. The Ducky Dinghy, one of AquaLab’s features, is
popular with its many leaks and every so often a fish comes out from
a big bucket in the front of the dinghy and sprays water at you.
Other whimsical features of AquaLab include inventions by the ducks
that enable youngsters to spin wheels and pump handles to “control”
the water temperature, speed and cleanliness of AquaDuck, a water
coaster introduced with the Disney Dream that was Aidan’s and
Julian’s favorite feature onboard. AquaDuck on Deck 12 is a 765-foot
long (more than two and a half football fields), four-decks high,
flume ride that sends guests on a high-speed journey on inflatable
rafts through drops, twists, uphill climbs and turns. Most
exhilarating of all: a swing out loop sends passengers sliding 13
feet over the side of the ship in a transparent tube for a look at
the sea a whopping 150 feet below. Another breathtaking moment for
AquaDuck riders is a 335-foot stretch of “river rapids” before the
splash down to the end of the ride.
"Guests of all ages are raving about the ‘splashtacular’ fun in the
innovative AquaDuck water coaster and the AquaLab water play area,"
said Brent Davies, cruise director of the Disney Fantasy. "These wet
and wonderful experiences provide unique ways to cool off while
soaking up the sun in the upper decks of the ship."
“In a word,” Julian proclaimed, “it’s awesome!”
The ship also boasts the Goofy’s Sports Deck with a nine-hole
miniature golf, ping-pong, basketball court and other pastimes as
well as swimming pools for families and adults.
Continuing Disney’s tradition of clubs and entertainment for all
ages, the ship offers the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab including a
huge interactive floor filled with sights and sounds, for children
ages 3-10; and other clubs like Edge for tweens and Vibe for
teen-agers. Aidan thought Edge was “ very cool” and spent time there
every day, winning both a video game and chess competition.
For the little ones, there is the It’s A Small World Nursery. For
the whole family, D Lounge functions as a family club. Adults have
the Senses Spa & Salon (Veronica’s favorite adult area of the ship),
with a state of the art fitness center and separate treatment rooms,
plus an area catering to teens; the Cove Café with coffees and
snacks (Humberto’s and my favorite area to check our e-mail when the
boys were at their clubs), and an entire entertainment district,
Europa, themed to popular European destinations.
Clubs and lounges in Europa include La Piazza, inspired in Italian
squares; Skyline, a chic lounge that features changing vistas of
European cities; O’Gills Pub, a rollicking Irish bar; The Tube,
recalling London, and Ooh La La, an elegant French champagne lounge.
With all that was available onboard, we were tempted to stay on the
ship when we were in port (and did so while at Cozumel, where we had
all been before). We did enjoy wonderful adventures at the other
ports, starting with a visit to the Turtle Farm & Boatswain Beach on
Grand Cayman, an ideal attraction for families with its many turtles
and water fun. The next day, which in Costa Maya, Mexico, we visited
the Mayan ruins of Chacchoben, an adventurous and educational tour
featuring the first pyramids our grandsons had ever seen, including
the nine-level Pyramid of the Sun. At Disney’s private island,
Castaway Cay in the Bahamas, we splurged on a private cabana steps
away from the beach to live out our upscale Robinson Crusoe
fantasies. The cabanas are full of amenities including cold mineral
water and soft drinks, snacks, towels, hammock, chilled face towels,
and lounge chairs. Other perks that come with the cabanas include
bike rental to explore the island, snorkel equipment and floats.
Young and old wanted to just stay at our cabana forever.
After days filled with activities and entertainment, we retired to
comfortable and attractive staterooms with split bathrooms and
nautical accents on the Disney Fantasy. Interior cabins offer a bit
of techno-wizardry: a “magical” porthole that features real time
views of the sea and appearances by cartoon characters. We selected
two adjoining and connecting veranda cabins, which gave the boys
room to roam from one stateroom to the other and all of us a place
to sit and enjoy port departures and arrivals from our balconies.
The Disney Fantasy offers alternating 7-night itineraries to the
Caribbean year round from Port Canaveral, Florida. Eastern Caribbean
runs visit St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Castaway Cay. Western
Caribbean cruises call at Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico, Grand
Cayman and Castaway Cay. Special Eastern Caribbean itineraries in
November and December 2012 stop at St. Thomas and San Juan, Puerto
Rico, in addition to Castaway Cay.
Rates for the Disney Fantasy itineraries start at $959 per person,
double occupancy, for a standard inside stateroom (category 11C).
Government fees and taxes are not included. Visitdisneycruise.com.
Guide & Cruise
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