A Fantasy Vacation Sept 15-22 Western Caribbean
After months and months of waiting for our Disney Cruise, I can't believe that this morning we got off the ship after what was easily our best vacation ever. I'm currently in the Amtrak auto train station so what better way to waste some time then to start my trip report.
Our family of 4 includes me, DH, DD7 and DS4. We started with 3 nights at Disney's ASMu, attended MNSSHP and then sailed 7 nights on the Disney Fantasy.
We travelled to Florida via the Auto train and used Park N Cruise by the port. I have absolutely nothing negative to say about this vacation. Please post any questions you have. I won't be home until tomorrow evening at which point I'll start my day by day trip report.
We are from Ontario Canada and for the first time ever we decided not to fly. Since we were spending 3 days in Florida pre cruise we wanted the flexibility of having a vehicle with us. We drove from ON to Virginia and then boarded the auto train.
The review of the auto train; better than driving, but doesn't compare to flying. The food was edible, up side is that dinner comes with free wine. There was a family movie on board and while the kids slept well DH and I had a hard time finding a way to get comfortable. We would do it again if having a car was a must, but I definitely prefer flying.
Glad you had a great trip. Ready to hear all about it. Have a safe trip home.
Jill in CO
We didn't ride the aqua duck on sea days. We rode Day 1 and on Costa Maya day with no more than a 5 minute wait.
We had 6 hours in Grand Cayman, it was enough time to do an excursion, go shopping and we were still back on board 2 hours early.
can you tell me which night was the Aladdin show?
Hello fellow Canadian!
We just got back from the Eastern Fantasy Cruise and booked our next cruise before leaving the ship. We will do the Western Cruise next time. I'm looking forward to your day-by-day review! :)
I was there too! It was amazing, if not a little rough at some points, but that's just me whining. We met 3 amazing crew members, and I didn't think to ask for their last names to send them a thank you note or something. There was Sarah from England at the Oceaneer Club/Lab, Julian the bar tender from Jamaica, and Dylan from Tennessee, server at Palo. We were lucky enough to see Dylan at breakfast at Cabanas the last day, but with all the fuss I couldn't talk too much to him. Can anone tell me how can I get in touch with them? Like I said, I didn't ask for last names. Thanks!
The ship was absolutely beautiful. This was our first DCL cruise. We have previously travelled to WDW 4 times as a family and gone on 3 Carnival cruises, both were our basis for comparison.
I will do a quick comparison of this trip to both WDW and Carnival.
DCL vs WDW
We love WDW: the parks, hotels and restaurants are all part of the trip for us.
DCL was a wonderful racing vacation compared to our typical 8 day trips to WDW.
Due to early morning parks and ADRs we are usually up early. On our cruise there was only 1 day when we needed to set an alarm.
Characters were plentiful on the cruise and while there were lines they were nothing compared to the 60 min plus waits to see the princesses in Toontown on previous vacations.
The food which we always enjoy in WDW was equally good on the cruise and Palo and Remy provided even more culinary options.
Overall we felt the DCL was WDW without the rush. While there were no rides, the aqua duck and excursions at the different ports provided lots of activities. The shows were amazing and very Disney and the character interactions were terrific.
The only thing we preferred at WDW was the photography. $349 for the photo CD was much more than I was prepared to spend. I do wish that it was priced closer to the WDW photo pass CD which we usually buy on our trips.
We purchased 1 8x10 for 19.95 and a photo book for $149.95. The photo book allowed us to use most of the shots we loved in a memory book which we though would be more useful than a bunch of 8x10s.
DCL vs Carnival
Let's just say its all about the little things.
I have enjoyed all 3 of my 7 night Carnival cruises and I'm sure that if I was to sail with them again I would enjoy that cruise, however there was a long list of things that made this cruise better. Now we paid at least $1200 more for this cruise so the question to you is how much my list is worth to you.
The extras that made the DCL experience better.
1. The decor, it wasn't tacky or over the top. It was beautiful.
2. Pop/soda. It wasn't so much that it was included in the price, but more that it was available without having to go to a bar and available in the dining room. Even when we purchased a soda card on Carnival you had to find a server or bar to order a drink, they were often slow to get it for you as they were not tipped for a no cost soda, and if you ordered a soda at dinner it was often desert before you received it.
3.Dining room. I like DCL set up of a head server rather than maitre'd. We saw our head server every night and he was always helping the different dining teams. Also I prefer the drinks being managed by the ***'t server rather than a bar server as it led to drink orders being filled much quicker.
4. Cabins, they were beautiful, the bedding comfortable, we enjoyed the split bathroom and the size was terrific.
5. Kids clubs, there is just no comparison here. How do you compare Carnival's supervised kids room with a dance party with Pluto, cooking lessons or a science experiment to make flubber. We also like that the hours were continuous unlike Carnival and there was no charge for evening activities. (with 2 kids this was a bonus for us and saved a lot of money)
6.Shows. I was not a big fan of the Carnival shows, I found them to be cheesy. The DCL shows were amazing both for quality and content. We made sure to catch them all. I did miss Carnival's comedy club and while we enjoyed one of DCL's cabaret performers, the other 2 were just ok.
7. Private Island. I love both Half moon Cay and Castaway Cay. I do think that Carnival has priced their cabanas much more appropriately, however the DCL cabanas do come with a private beach area. I still think the DCL cabanas will remain out of my price range however I wouldn't hesitate to book one again on Carnival.
8. Shops, most of DCL shopping is Disney related and there is much less jewelry etc. there was also no cheap $20 watch sets being fought over like on Carnival, which to this day I still don't understand. We found the overall quality on DCL to be better.
9. Drinks, DCL allows you to carry on alcohol to consume in your stateroom or with a corking fee in the dining room. We found drinks in the lounges to be pricy, however a 10.50 martini in Skyline is worth it for the atmosphere. Elsewhere drinks were cheaper than on Carnival. A piña colada at the show was only 5.75.
10. Atmosphere. Yes there were more families, but the ship didn't appear over run by kids. What was noticeably different was there were fewer intoxicated adults (I will never forget the drunken fight we witnessed between a couple on our last Carnival cruise), less food hoarding, I did not see a single plate loaded with 5lbs of bacon which explains why DCL does not feel the need to police the bacon ( you'd have to have sailed on Carnival to get that reference) and overall it was much less of a roudy party atmosphere.
12. The really little things; cold wet towels when you return from port, not having to sign your life away to get a pool towel, no waiting around to disembark. There were lots of really little things that just made this cruise better.
For the first 3 days of our vacation we stayed at All Star Music in WDW. The purpose of these first 3 days was to relax and take some time before getting on the Fantasy. It was also a great way to extend our vacation.
Please no one flame me, but I'm not a big fan of the Value resorts. Overall the resort was clean, the pools were nice and the resort was not overly crowded. We would definitely stay again for a pre cruise stay, but for 7 nights at WDW we definitely prefer a moderate or deluxe resort.
On Thursday we drove to Cape Canaveral and had dinner at Fish Lips. We had the opportunity to watch the Dream pull out of port. Anyone staying on Cape Canaveral pre/post cruise - Fish lips has great Happy Hour drink and food specials from 3-6. We had 4 apps, 2 drinks and 2 kids meals for $30 and the food was really good.
Friday night we had tickets for MNSSHP. We were able to enter at 4pm with our tickets which is not advertised. Since the park was closing for the party at 7pm it had already started to clear out. We walked onto to pretty much every ride between 4-7pm.
The party was lots of fun. The kids (and grow ups) got lots of candy, the rides had minimal wait times. We enjoyed the special fireworks and parade.
The party was a great way to enjoys Magic Kingdom for about half the price of a 1 day ticket. This worked out great for us since we were not buying a multi day park ticket.
Saturday morning we drove from WDW to the Port.
We had pre booked with Park and Cruise. Parking for the week was under $60 and the drop off process took only a few minutes before we were off to the port.
This parking lot is very close to the port and also much closer than cruise parking of port Canaveral. They had multiple shuttles running and the process was very smooth.
We arrived at the port for 11am. There was no line to check in and check in was very quick and easy. The line up for a picture with Mickey was really big so we skipped that.
I did wait in line to check about a port upgrade. This line was slow moving and while upgrades were available they were not as discounted as I heard they could be. We were booked in a category 8B. We were interested in a category 4D which online was about $760 to upgrade, the cost at the port was $560 so we decided to stick with our original room.
We received boarding #5, we were called quickly and after our embarkation photo we were soon on board having lunch at Cabanas.
After lunch we immediately headed out to the pool and aqua duck which we enjoyed while the ship was still mostly empty.
My 4 year old son loved the Mickey Pool because he could touch the bottom in the entire pool.
Next up: Our cabin and review of the food
Our Cabin was a Category 8 which is a family ocean view with a large port hole.
We were located on Deck 9 close to the Aft Elevators. The room was terrific. There was lots of space. We packed 4 very large suitcases and we found space to put away everything.
The bed was super comfortable. The couch bed and bunk were not as comfortable as the regular bed, but my kids said they were fine.
I know that the blow dry is a major question for a lot of women. The blow dryer is full size and very powerful.
We received shampoo, conditioner and body lotion. My husband loves this product and was happy he got to take home about 4 of each.
The port hole was big, the kids enjoyed sitting in it and we really did not miss the balcony. A regular balcony room is smaller than our category 8 and I preferred the extra space to having a balcony.
So I will admit that I got a bit nervous about the food after reading a thread complaining about DCL's food.
We did not have a bad meal.
Our dining experience consisted of:
6 out of 7 nights in our rotational restaurant
Lunch in Royal Court
Cabanas breakfast and lunch
Pool side lunch
The dining room food was good and the service was great. No pressure about excellent ratings and the serving staff was very genuine. We saw the head server every night, he helped to clear plates, brought over ketchup for my son and was very present in the dining room.
Palo and Remy were amazing. I would highly recommend them both. DH and I are not the type to go out for a $200 meal, but we thoroughly enjoyed Remy Lunch with the champagne pairings, we thought of it as an excursion.
Our Palo server for lunch and dinner was Olivera. She was terrific and her recommendations were excellent. Palo is a definite must for our next cruise.
Hi. I saw Navigators from a recent Fantasy Western itinerary, and they'd stopped doing the Farewell Show in the Theatre on the last night and replaced it with Aladdin. Since we go next month, I'm wondering - was that also the case on your cruise? TIA. :)
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