|06-27-2012, 06:05 PM||#1|
Earning My Ears
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Heber Valley, UT
Trip Report - Disney Fantasy - June 16-23, 2012
In a word, WOW.
This was our first Disney cruise experience and I do not have enough exceptional words to describe how fantastic the trip was from start to finish. I travelled with my spouse and two children (7 and 3) and everyone agrees it was magical in every way. My parents were also onboard. Getting to Florida was a bit of a haul from Utah so we are booked for a repositioning cruise next year instead from Los Angeles to Vancouver in May. DH is not a fan of spending a lot of money on vacation but I believe this experience may have changed his mind forever.
We stayed in a Category 9B room on Deck 2 slightly forward on the starboard side with an ocean view. The location was simply perfect (one floor above the gangway and one floor below the main theatre with a dining room on the same deck - The Enchanted Garden). Our room host was out of this world - Tom... he was cheerful, friendly, and constantly caring. The room was well-designed with plenty of space under the bed to stow all of our luggage (I understand this is new) and every little detail was taken into account including an ottoman with a lid (perfect for dirty clothes) and a nightscape view with stars painted on the ceiling above the upper bunk when not hidden. I particularly liked the wave phones that were provided so other members in our party could stay connected.
The ship itself was beautiful and I enjoyed the ship tour which explained how they use color, music and decor to transform spaces from adults only to family.
It was a little difficult to find Palo but once we knew where it was, there was no problem getting to it at all. The best view for a sunset is in the Meridian bar between Remy and Palo. They intentionally tucked it away from the teens, I think. The peacock chandelier and carpet in the main lobby was a sight to behold.
Our itinerary was Sea, Sea, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Sea, Castaway Cay, Sea.
* St. Maarten - we did the French Riviera Beach Excursion and it was great. We were transported on a nice air-conditioned bus with a tour guide who shared information with us about the history of the island. They took us to a 1.5-mile stretch of private beach which was complete with very nice lounge chairs and umbrellas (the latter of which was $3 to keep). We were treated to a wonderful lunch and a choice of grouper (delicious and moist with a very mild coconut sauce), BBQ ribs, or grilled chicken. There was a nudist beach on one end that was easily avoided and there were about 5 topless women that walked past. I don't particularly care about that but it could have been confusing to my young daughter. Fortunately, she was too busy making sand castles and didn't even notice. Two members of the tour lost their wallets in the surf but were lucky enough to have them found. Overall, this tour was clean, informative, well-organized, and worthy the price we paid.
*St. Thomas - we took the Coral Reef Park and Butterfly Garden tour and it was a huge waste of time and money. The park was run-down and dirty, the ground transportation was not clearly marked and I wasn't sure who was doing what and if we were on the right bus coming back (no logos or names). The butterfly area was okay but within walking distance of the ship.
* Castaway Cay - while beautiful and serene, Pelican Point had a lot of families packed onto it. This didn't bother me in and of itself but some people seemed to be very tweaked about their personal space and it made me uncomfortable. When they tell you to leave the ship early for this experience, they mean it. There were men sprinting off the ship when the gangway opened and I'm still not sure where they were headed. In reality, it was too beautiful to only to be able to enjoy for such a short time. The glass-bottom boat tour was really not worth the money spent. It involved cloudy glass, small windows, and life jackets were not offered or visible.
The food selection was excellent and there were plenty of options ranging from heavy to light. On a nightly basis, there was a variety of protein options to include tofu and two nights offered lobster. Our server - Depesh from South Africa - was attentive; it would have been a better Disney experience if he would have referred to all of our party by name. Jessyca from Peru in Palo was outstanding. I enjoyed the rotating dining room experience (we were ERAERAE).
We got to see Brave at 12:01am on opening night which was really fun. The Disney shows were entertaining. Avengers was also playing. The fireworks on Pirate Night were not too elaborate but enjoyable nonetheless. The kids really liked the detective sleuth mystery onboard. In the evenings, a trio (piano, vocals, electric cello) was playing in the Main Lobby that were absolutely delightful - all types of music. The small children (including mine) onboard were regularly busting out in late-night impromptu dance parties when the opportunity presented itself.
The employees in the Oceaneers Club/Lab are nothing short of saints. This was a nice opportunity that the kids really enjoyed in small amounts. They would text on the wave phone if anyone was ready to leave and they always seem personally engaged with each child. There were science experiments, talent shows, singing games, towel shapes, marshmallow olympics, and more.
The upper decks reserved for adults was the perfect getaway. I did see a few teenagers (moving too fast) and infants (discreetly under the radar).
What I Wish I Would Have Known
* Washers ($2) and dryers ($2) and detergent ($1) are available on each deck.
* Deck 4 is a running track all the way around the ship.
* Take your home timezone into account when picking dinner seating.
* Dinner is much more casual (in terms of dress) than I anticipated.
* Stand in line for the pictures at the beginning of the cruise so you'll have enough pictures to create a photobook.
* Cabanas has a really delicious lunch but the hours seemed inconvenient for some reason - don't miss out.
* Adult late-night snacks are served in La Piazza 9:45pm-Midnight. We missed these.
* Take advantage of the availability of the Future Cruise Sales at the beginning of the cruise; they are swamped every second about midway through the week.
* Be aware of the closing times for the shops before you reach the end of your cruise - I wanted to get a Fantasy inaugural sailing year hoodie and barely missed getting it because I had the times wrong. I'm still crying - not really
* Avoid the $50 health assessment... bad idea given all of the food you're eating anyway and then the trainer wants to sell you $1000 in algae for 6 months (for two).
* Disney Vacation Club sounds great. We were really tempted but ended up passing for now. Disney admits that it is not really designed for "cruisers" which is what I think we'll be for at least the next decade or so. We will see where we are as our children get older. Everyone we met that was a DVC member was extremely friendly and informative. We appreciated them so much.
In case you can't tell, I'm hooked. This was the best vacation ever and worth every penny that we spent on it. I can't wait for the Wonder in May 2013!
|06-27-2012, 07:47 PM||#2|
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Sounds like you had a wonderful cruise!!! Perfect opportunity out on the west coast for you next year.
|06-27-2012, 09:33 PM||#3|
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: La Crosse, WI
|7-night cruise, bliss, eastern caribbean, fantasy, inaugural sailings|
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