DCL Fantasy Navigator s Finally Goes Hi-Tech
DCL Fantasy Navigator s Finally Goes Hi-Tech
On September 7, 2013 DCL made available its first ever DCL Fantasy Navigator for mobile devices. DCL Fantasy passengers can now access all the ship’s activities and information from the palm of their hand using their mobile devices.
A couple of things to note: At the time of this posting, the mobile version of DCL Fantasy Navigator was only available via the Disney Fantasy. The mobile version of DCL Fantasy Navigator was only accessed using iOS 6-based devices (iPhone 4S/5 and the iPad 4). I cannot recall if the mobile version of the DCL Fantasy Navigator was accessible via Android or Windows based devices. iOS 7 was release during my September 14 cruise and therefore I cannot comment on the capabilities, compatibilities, or differences with iOS 7; however my wife had several passenger’s comment the their iOS 7 devices didn’t work as expected or couldn’t connect consistently. In addition, the DCL Fantasy Navigator was designed for iPhone and not iPad. While I successfully accessed the app and content via my iPad 4, I had to use the X2 feature. I look forward to when Disney produces the HD version of this app and its use with tablet devices. Also, this mobile app DOES NOT replace the paper Navigators; nothing has changed. All passengers will be provided your daily Navigators each day. While I consider myself and family seasoned Disney cruisers and annual pass holders coupled with us living about 45-minutes from Magic Kingdom, I do not work for Disney and the comments and opinions are my own. This posting is meant to provide readers a first look at the new mobile version of DCL Fantasy Navigator technology from my point of view.
Supplemental Note: When I started to write this review, I still had access to all Navigator content via my mobile devices. However the day after the cruise ended at 12:00 (noon) EST the DCL Fantasy Navigator application automatically reset and the app deleted all the ship’s Navigator content. However, I did manage to take screenshots while on board so hopefully those images will suffice. In hindsight, I would have used my devices internal screenshot capability; that was what I was planning to do today before the app reset and deleted all the content. But at the time I was thinking that it would be beneficial to show swiping. If I had to do all over again, I would have stuck to the device’s internal screenshot capability.
“It’s about time!” I believe these were the words I used in response to the slip of paper handed to us by the Guest Services agent at check-in. The pamphlet provided general information about the new mobile DCL Fantasy Navigator and instructions on how to download the application and access the ship’s content. Hind-sight being 20/20; I regret not keeping that piece of paper. However in retrospect, here are the most important aspects to remember. To limit minor frustrations and confusions my biggest recommendation would be to read the pamphlet’s instructions carefully. For those of you who catch wind that the app is available on iTunes and rush to find it; (you know those guys that think instructions are for the remedial minded) may not find it on the first, second, or third attempts. The app is posted on iTunes under “Disney Fantasy Navigator.” Searching under “Disney,” “Navigator” or “Disney Navigator” will not display the app in the search results. Second, and I cannot stress this tip enough, download the app before the Fantasy leaves port. “Yes,” I believe you can download the app right now from iTunes\App Store; but until you access the Fantasy’s Wi-Fi network, the app is basically an empty shell. Last, make sure you follow the directions on how to access the ship’s content. In a nutshell, once you download the device and install it on your mobile device’s mobile data (internet access) or other method of accessing internet content; meaning iTunes; you must disable your mobile devices mobile data by placing your device in airplane mode and enable Wi-Fi access and connect to the Fantasy’s DCL-GUEST Wi-Fi. The Fantasy’s DCL-GUEST Wi-Fi is free to all passengers and available the entire cruise. Oh, and for those “guys” out there who are incapable of reading or following instructions; if you open the app before you connect to the Fantasy’s DCL-GUEST Wi-Fi, you most likely will need to “kill the app,” connect to the Fantasy’s DCL-GUEST Wi-Fi then start the app for the app to properly sync with the Fantasy’s Navigator content.
The Fantasy’s DCL-GUEST Wi-Fi should not be confused with the other Wi-Fi networks that are used for DCL operations and passenger-paid-for-internet access.
Once the Disney Fantasy Navigator app (from this point forward will be referred to as “app”) is installed and assuming you followed all the instructions, the app will sync with the Fantasy’s Navigator content.
“Finally;” passengers, families and friends should no longer fight for; loose, borrow or accidently deface their Daily Fantasy Daily Navigator. All of the ships activities and general information are now accessible from your mobile device. This template based app; meaning that the apps framework for content is predesigned and offers a consistent look and feel. Navigation (how the app and content is accessed and displayed) is intuitive and fairly straight forward for anyone who is comfortable using a mobile device such as an iPhone or iPad. Each time the application is opened; the app is designed to sync with the Ship’s content server and download any updated information. There is also a menu item that will allow users the ability to manually sync updates.
The app displays the ship’s information, content and activities within 8 major content pages as well as navigation menu. Each of the main pages includes a consistent page header and footer viewable from all the main content pages. In the page header is a Navigation Menu (upper-left corner), the DCL logo (top center), the cruise day (below the DCL logo) and the Cruise Select a Day menu (Cruise Date Picker) right of the cruise day. I would like to stop and point out that the Cruise Select a Day (Cruise Date Picker) navigation is a very nice feature that has not been available with the paper-based Navigators. With the app, passengers can now peek into the future for future daily Navigator information; more on this a little later. Also depending on the main content page, there may be additional secondary navigation links either just above the main graphic, below in a dedicated link or a navigation link that expands the main content page article. The visual indicator for any secondary navigation link is the left pointing carat “>.” These secondary navigational links will take you to the detailed content of the app based on subject matter. Located in the page footer (bottom) are the main content page indicators. This indicator visually assists in main content page navigation; represented by a bolded bullet indicating which of the eight pages is being viewed.
The 8 main content pages are the following:
Ship’s Daily Itinerary \ Port of Call page is the Ship’s port-of-call or itinerary and includes the basic information such as embark disembark, meteorological data and dining attire. The information changes daily based on cruise itinerary and special events.
Featured Activity page is typically the main show held in the Walt Disney Theater and includes the feature activity location (by deck) and the activity start times. The information changes daily based on cruise itinerary and special events.
Featured Article page is typically an informative message of passenger interest based on the cruise date and itinerary. For cruise day 1, the feature article was information about your stateroom and luggage. Other feature articles during our cruise included articles about the Fantasy (typically on At Sea days) and articles based on the port-of-call visit. The information changes daily based on cruise itinerary and special events.
Character Appearances page is simply a place holder. Any information related to character appearances would be accessed in the secondary navigation link (lite blue section; bottom). You can also access Character Appearances in the Activities section.
Tonight’s Dinner Menu page features an article about the rotational dining experience and corresponding venue via a secondary navigational link as well as a navigational link to all the Dining locations which I will cover a little later. A very nice feature is the mobile access to the rotational dinner venue’s menu. Everything you would find on the Dinner menu is posted in the app. From appetizers to desserts…it’s in there!
Featured Merchandise page features specific information related to the shopping on board and any special shopping-related activity that may be available while on board. It may (depending on cruise date and events) may have additional information via a secondary navigational link as well as a navigational link to all Shopping Locations. The information can changes daily based on cruise itinerary and special events.
Featured Spa Service page features specific information related to Spa Services and daily specials offered. It may (depending on cruise date and events) may have additional information via a secondary navigational link as well as a navigational link to all Spa Services offered. The information changes daily based on cruise itinerary and special events.
Drink of the Day page provides passengers the Drink of the Day information. The information changes daily based on cruise itinerary and special events.
The Header provides two great navigation links; the Secondary Navigation Menu and the Cruise Select a Day (Cruise Date Picker).
The Secondary Navigation Menu page is access by touching the icon represented by three short horizontal lines in the upper right-hand corner. This page offers an alternate method to access content previously offered on some of the main content pages (Activities and Locations and Hours) as well as new areas of Ship-specific information such as Deck Plans, Debarkation Information, Privacy and Legal, and About pages. In addition, this is the location where you can manually refresh the apps content by executing the Refresh Content link.
The Select a Day menu page is a great new feature for those who want to see future who, what and where. When you open the Select a Day the ship’s itinerary is displayed. The check mark (right) indicates the app’s current day and associated information that displays all content related to that specific day. Whether dinner menus, character appearances, movie show times, spa and merchandise treatments etc., the Select a Day feature is like having all the paper Navigators for the entire cruise lying on your stateroom bed when you first arrive. However, it is important to note that future information can change and it is recommended that you sync your app at least once a day.
The Activities section page is the app’s version of the Navigator’s time table. You can access activates based on age group, character appearances and movies. Choosing an activity category will bring up the list of activities for the day. Activities will be displayed in chronological order and the time section will correspond to your mobile device’s clock by showing future activities. You are able to scroll up (past activities) and down (future activities). Future activities will be in black type; completed or past activities will be displayed in gray type and no longer available. Each activity in the list of activities is a link. By accessing the link, you can see further information (if available) about the specific activity. The All Activities category will display all activities for the day in chronological order. Each activity will have its designated category icon (left of the activity name). This is a nice quick view for activities with a short time span when passengers are unsure about what they want to do next.
When you access the link to a specific activity, the activity content page will appear. Information contained on the individual activity varies. Some activity content pages offer a lot of detail on the activity itself while others offer nothing more than a title, location and duration. In addition to the activity details there is a heart icon in the middle left of the activity page. This is favorite’s indicator. Touching the heart will change the icon blue and add it to your Favorite Activities listings (see above graphic on activities).
I personally found this feature to be somewhat confusing at first. If I chose a specific activity based on the particular date and time; but was offered multiple times across multiple days, all the activities would be listed in my favorites. I guess I could see the value of this favorites feature if I missed my originally planned activity.
Note: As I discuss other content feature pages, it’s important to note that the application follows this same basic look and feel for all content pages.
Among the many wonderful attributes that a Disney cruise offers, one of the most important for our family is the food. The DCL Fantasy Navigator now offers the ability to view the menus for a specific cruise day as well as future days. We would use the Select a Day feature then access the Restaurant Menu page. For my family this was helpful in making a final determination if we wanted to attend the rotational dinner. I would never recommend to a first-time cruiser that they miss a rotational dining experience. However for my family who has been on many Disney cruises, we used this feature to review the menu, and then weigh it against the evening activities. We skipped about half of our rotational dinners, took in the early show; which allowed us to enjoy other activities or family time. For us, this was a great feature of the tool.
To be cont...
Along with all the Dining options available, the app also provides information and locations of all the Entertainment, Lounges and Bars on the Fantasy.
Another nice feature of the Port Information is Castaway Cay. The app has a built in map that has zoom in and out capabilities; and can be used in a pinch; but is not practical for use with an iPhone screen. Perhaps the map will be better suited with the app is capable for iPad 4 and its Retina HD Display. Note: Sorry for the poor quality screenshot.
As mentioned earlier the Secondary Navigation Menu has a link to the Deck plans. Once you find the link to the deck of interest, the app will display a nice view of the deck. However, like the Castaway Cay map it is not practical for use with an iPhone screen. Perhaps the map will be better suited with the app is capable for iPad 4 and its Retina HD Display.
The last thing I am going to talk about is some menu items from the Secondary Navigation Menu. This is a nice feature for first-time cruisers. The Debarkation information provides a lot of detail that passengers should be aware of. Having this information ahead of time may also assist passengers with the debarkation day planning. The one example I provided was the article on luggage.
Hopefully I have been successful in providing the reader a good first look at DCLs new app. While I did not cover the Spa and Merchandise areas in great detail, the entire apps content and layout has the same look, feel and navigation characteristics.
This is great first attempt from Disney.
However I would like to provide some commentary on what I would like to see in future revisions of the app:
If anyone else had a spark of Imagineering; post or PM and I will add to this list
Nearly everyone (passengers) I spoke to about the app wanted to see calendar integration with the activities. Click on an activity and have it auto add to your devices calendar with alarms.
Provide SMS-like text messaging; meaning offer the same capabilities as the wave phones. (and since I work in IT as a professional, I realize the technical hurdles that would be needed for this to occur)
Provide the daily announcements from the Cruise Director and Ship Officers in transcribe text or audio file streaming
Capability to order room service
Make reservations (ship events like tastings and reservations, spa treatments, port excursions, appointments with future cruise sales desk)
Provide drink recipes for the Drink of the Day
Provide each Bar's menu and signature drinks (with recipes)
Offer the ship navigational data (the same screens that you can get in on your stateroom TV that shows the ships location on the map; to include ship speed, ocean depth, wind speed etc.)
Offer a stream of the video used to display the magic portals
Offer a main content page that provides the senior officer bios (same as the picture / plaque next to Bon Voyage Deck 3 mid).
Offer the comment card via the app.
Provide an Amazon-like on-line shopping for all the Feature Merchandise and stores on-board. (Don't know how that may affect Duty Free... but I could also see possibilities).
Provide real-time access to you On-Board Ship Account
Book a cruise (have the ability to bypass the Future Cruise Desk); lets face it, seasoned cruisers know the value this offers and can easily book a cruise using the Disney Web Site... we book on board for the discount so why not offer the ability to book using the app (proof were on board) with out the hassle of waiting...especially if we already know what we want when we book a cruise.
View Shutters Pictures
Offer ship Wi-Fi GPS tracking - Use in concert with the deck plans so you are never lost and could even include points of interest... heck you could even track how many calories one burns by tracking the mobility. (too over the top? Probably).
On that note (above) have nutrition content for meals. Yes, I realize we are all supposed to be on vacation, but heck, I might have made some different choices... I gained 6 pounds in 8 days. Yikes.
Provide self guided tours or offer points of interest via your mobile device with mapping and audio
Hidden Mickeys information
Be able to see who is assigned as your stateroom attendant, or servers (could tie it to the comment card); this would also be nice to put special requests (stateroom or meals) in as well as have the capability to tip without the need to carry cash...I realize It may seem as if we are taking away from the human interaction; but as our mobile technology matures, this is really the way future generations are valuing service (just my humble opinion).
More to come... well maybe...
Very nice post - thanks!!!
The app looks like it will be fun to play with on my next cruise. :sail:
wow! very in depth. thanks for taking the time. do you know if they are going to keep this going forward? i had heard it was a test for two sailings only.
Thank you. Very informative!
I don't think Disney would abandon the amount of tech investment that it took to develop this app. Plus mobile access for content and service is becoming the expected norm for progressive companies.
Thanks for posting!!!
I was on the 9/7/13 Fantasy and downloaded this app. Could not get it to work on my tablet (Nexus 7) at the time, but it worked well on my Android phone (HTC Droid DNA). I did not utilize it much because I already had most info saved to my phone, but I loved the concept and it seemed to function well. I hope they will continue to develop it. I much prefer to access the Navigators from my phone than from the paper versions with the tiny print schedules - lol. ;)
What are the little icons by each menu item? (Logo, chef mickey, etc?)
Those indicate "recommendations" (chef's, healthy, etc.). The one with the DCL logo is usually the favorite/most popular/highest recommended (by DCL).
I generally keep my phone off at cruise time. What happens if i turn it on doesn;t a data plan kick in and I have to pay verizon for that feature.
thanks for the help
You should be able to manually turn off Verizon mobile data (I have Verizon also) and put it in wi-fi only mode. You will only be accessing DCL's shipboard wif-fi. It will not give you outside Internet access (unless you sign up and pay for that).
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