Disney Fantasy Western Caribbean - A First Timers Experience & Tips
We just completed our first cruise with the Disney Cruise line as a family. When picking a Disney Cruise the first question I always see is what ship to cruise. I personally feel you should pick the itinerary and then the ship. For us this was the thought process: departure port, special cruise type (i.e. Star Wars day at Sea), date, ports of call, ship, room type, room number.
We ended up sailing out of Port Canaveral on the Disney Fantasy for the 7 day Western Caribbean Star Wars Day at Sea sailing. I have only been on one other cruise and that was our Norwegian Cruise to Alaska in 2016. That cruise taught me that I am partial to veranda rooms and and really LOVE having a balcony. The access to the view and the fresh air and natural light every morning is a big must for me. We sailed with 2 other staterooms in our party. We all booked veranda rooms so that we could have the dividers on the verandas opened up to create one long veranda. It worked out so nicely! Our room host told us that technically you can open the dividers up all the way down the side of the ship.
Once the cruise was booked I joined several Disney Cruise based Facebook pages. Through those pages I signed up for the Fish Extender group (click here if you don't know what about FE group's), a mixology class and started researching our ports of call. Each specific Disney sailing will end up having a Facebook group run by another passenger. Our sailings page was very well run. They offered sign-up for the mixology classes Disney offers as well. It is an adult only class where you get to play bartender and sample your concoctions. You can sign up directly with Disney as well. I HIGHLY recommend this activity. I believe it was $25 per person. EAT before you go!
One of the best decisions we made was to purchase the photo package ahead of time. All of the photos come with some sort of watermark. You get a discount if you purchase before you board, we did the digital package so we received a thumb-drive with all of our photos right before we disembarked. Have those paid for ahead of time took all of the stress out of that decision and made all of the photo opportunities much more enjoyable. In the end we received just over 200 photos. Note: you can link cabins once on board but only if a person under the age of 18 in the same immediate family is in that cabin.
I love cruising because it's easy BUT if you don't venture out of the ship on your own a little, and always stay within the "Disney Bubble" you don't get to experience anything natural about the places you visit. It is a give and take, some destination (like Jamaica) I wouldn't venture out on my own but other ports (Cozumel) are perfect for a little exploration minus your other 3,000 cruise ship passengers.
Our room was on the 6th floor. I found it to be an easy location but I really have nothing to compare. The quick dining was on the aft end on the 11th floor, that was a walk and you needed the elevator most of the time. We were in the middle-ish of the ship. The Disney Fantasy seemed to be a good size ship, not too small not too big.
The food... everyone raved about the food in the blogs I read but honestly the Norwegian Pearl had better food with one notable exception: Remy! My husband and I paid the additional fee to enjoy a celebratory dinner for our anniversary at the adults only restaurant Remy abord the Disney Fantasy. Every dollar extra was well spent, from the caviar to the Wagyu to the truffle it was all savory, unique and made for an enchanting meal. This experience can not be missed for those adventurous eaters out there who don't mind spending a little extra money on fine foods and wines.
Our cruise featured three themed nights: Pirate Night, Formal Night, Star Wars Day at sea. We are light packers and only do carry-on sized bags so we never part with our luggage. We stuck to that even though we also added several costumes to our packing. I packed a Pirate themed outfit, a Star Wars themed outfit and a formal for each person, plus several princess costumes for my daughter. We enjoyed dressing up for the photos but I'm not sure we will bring costumes next go around.
As far as other clothing, bring half of the clothing you think you need and plan to do laundry on board. It was so easy to do laundry on the Disney Fantasy, the machines take your key to the world card and there is a laundry area on every floor. (We were closer to the 5th floor laundry area than the 6th, even though are room was on the 6th floor so make sure you check which one is closest.) I did a load while the kids were asleep one night and I was the only one doing laundry. I found having less clothing to deal with made our room more organized and it made getting dressed less stressful.
The nursery left a little something to be desired. I wasn't impressed. My little boy was at the nursery for 4 hours one evening (while we dined at Remy) and when I went to pick him up the girl handing him to me kept telling me all of the things "she" did, referring to my son. It sounds like a little thing but when someone is watching your child for 4 hours and then doesn't once refer to him as a him but calls him a her continuously it's a little unnerving. The nursery will page you with a message if your baby has been upset for more than 15mins. I appreciate that message but you can't respond to the message with tips and tricks or just to tell them that you are coming but can't leave right that minute. They don't expect you to come get them if you don't want to but for a parent who doesn't want to leave their child upset it would be nice to be able to message the nursery back. One time we were messaged I was watching Graham do the Jedi training event and literally could't leave without blocking other parents view. I would have liked to be able to tell them, "I have the message and am coming as soon as possible. Try a snack..." By the time I got to him he was calm and playing but I was already there so I picked him up anyway. I do like that if you pick them up early because they are upset you aren't charged for the remaining time.
For older children there are 2 clubs on board. My son was hit and miss about it, my daughter just copied her brothers feelings on the matter. He said it was too big with too many kids, especially older children. In contrast he loved the club on board our Norwegian ship in 2016 (at just 3 yrs old.) I'm not exactly sure what was going on there but even with his cousin going to the club with him he passed going several times.
Character meet and greets are way more fun on the cruise than they are at the parks. The characters have time to really interact with the guests. Isla had her hair braided by Elsa, in a moment I am sure she isn't soon going to forget. Then, to top it off Elsa and Anna sent a note to our room telling Isla how much they enjoyed meeting her and braiding her hair.
Overall, we enjoyed our Disney Cruise aboard the Disney Fantasy and we did pay a $200 deposit, called a placeholder to secure a discount on another Disney cruise within the next 2 years.
Additional posts about our cruise: (coming soon!)
- Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
- Ports of Call
- Grand Cayman
- Castaway Cay