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Old 06-04-2012, 11:15 AM   #1
mamastrick
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First timer on the Fantasy - my review and tips!

We just finished our first Disney Cruise aboard the Fantasy - a seven night Western Caribbean cruise and we loved it! I wanted to share my thoughts and opinions as a first timer and hopefully help answer anyone's questions!

Boarding: We were assigned a 12-1230 boarding time but arrived early, around 11. The arrival process at the port was smooth and easy, we were guided to drop our bags and passengers then hubby parked the car. We chose to park on site, as the price difference for "park and cruise" with a room vs a discounted room and parking on site was very small. Avoiding the hassle of a shuttle was also very nice. As hubby parked we went through security and checked in upstairs in the terminal. We were finished and waiting within minutes and when hubby caught up he just had to go to the counter for his photo. It was very efficient. The terminal quickly filled up and we stayed out of the way as groups began to board. We were group 16 and it was about noon before we boarded. We chose to skip the boarding photo and get on the ship and start our adventure. I do not regret skipping the photo at all.

On board: Beautiful! I could have spent the entire cruise just looking around! Everything from the artwork, carpets, elevators, bathrooms, woodwork are lovely. We took some quick photos as the atrium was pretty empty. We then headed for lunch in Enchanted Garden. It was fairly empty. We were seated quickly and enjoyed the buffet for lunch. Afterward we headed up to deck 11 for pools and aquaduck time! We wore our swim suits under our clothes and were ready to go. The wait was about 20 min for aquaduck and the kids enjoyed it. I had read that this was the best time to ride as waits were short but we found that throughout the cruise wait times were generally only 20-30 min at most.
Our room was ready at 130 (you cannot get to them before this) and we dropped our bags, looked around and turned down the air. We brought a card to keep the lights and air on and left it in the slot the entire trip. Our room hostess never removed it. We did turn out lights when out of the room. The room was snug for 2 adults and 2 teens but very workable. The split bathroom is fantastic! I almost left the over-the-door shoe hanger at home because I heard there was lots of storage but threw it in at the last minute. Glad I did! Very handy, bring one along. There are 6 drawers, two closets and lots of cabinet space. We found that bringing the power strip was pointless - there is a plug on the desk as well as on one of the night stands and we never had need to charge more than one or two items at a time.
We did not use the on board laundry service but did our own. There is a laundry room on every stateroom floor (I am told). Wash was $2 and drying $2. I had several problems getting the washer to start but was helped by very nice crew members. I was charged multiple times for one wash but they credited the overcharge back to my room. The machines are small - don't try to jam a week's worth of clothes in! I have read and heard people complain about the dryer not working well but I had no problem. My suggestions: keep your load small, clean out the lint (on the door behind the round screen) and select the extra-dry setting. My clothes dried completely every time.

Food: We loved almost everything we ate on board! Cabanas was often the busiest place on the ship (breakfast and lunch) so we opted to eat at Royal Court or Enchanted Garden about half the time. Lots of choices at every location and you can get omlettes or made to order eggs at each of these places. Just ask your server or go to the omlette station at Cabanas. We had second dinner seating and grabbed a snack at Flo's every afternoon around 430 to hold the kids over. Dinners were wonderful and our servers were great! Get to know them and have fun! Ours were friendly, funny and very attentive. I know that's their job but I saw many families treating their servers like wait staff and not having nearly as much fun as us! I am not a "foodie" but I found the dinners delicious and my children tried many new dishes and loved them. We occasionally ordered an extra entree or dessert to share. The desserts were awesome! My husband and I ate at Palo on pirate night. The food was delicious but I found the whole experience to be too formal. I enjoyed my meals at the regular restaurants more.

Other stuff: I could go on forever! The shows were fun and very well done, the comedians were fantastic, the adult bars were beautiful and worth a stop in. The kids loved watching the movies in the theaters and on funnel vision outside. Decorate your door with magnets and join a meet and greet group for your trip. It was fun meeting people ahead of time. Participate in a fish extender group! We jumped in at the last minute and we loved it. Take a pillow case or photo mat and leave it at guest services for the characters to sign! This is one of my kids favorite souvenirs!
Disney photographers will not take photos with your camera! We took turns snapping pictures and other crew members will help you out. There are tons of opportunities to have photos made, don't schedule a shoot ahead of time. Of the dozens taken on board by Disney, we bought 4. Many of them were washed out and just not as good. We have thousands of our own!
Excursions were fun, but next time I will do less. We booked something at every port and it was too much. Time to look around and shop will be enough for next time...
Sorry to go on so long! The trip was amazing and we hope to go again someday. I will try to answer any questions you shoot my way!
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Old 06-04-2012, 11:52 AM   #2
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Great review! Thanks for sharing! We were on this cruise, too, and everything about it seemed like an adventure! Just curious, what category stateroom did you have, inside/porthole/balcony?
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Old 06-04-2012, 12:15 PM   #3
mamastrick
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stateroom

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Originally Posted by runskyhy View Post
Great review! Thanks for sharing! We were on this cruise, too, and everything about it seemed like an adventure! Just curious, what category stateroom did you have, inside/porthole/balcony?
We were category 5c with a veranda. We booked a 7a vgt and we loved the room we were assigned. We were on deck 7, between the mid and forward elevators. Great location, had an "obstructed view" (which was insignificant if you ask me) and very quiet and stable. Loved the veranda, felt like so much extra space
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Old 06-04-2012, 06:53 PM   #4
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Shore excursions

I really would like to know about the excursions that you took. We are booked on a Western Caribbean on the Fantasy for Halloween. So we are looking closely at excursions & really trying to decide what is important & interesting. I would love to hear more of your advice on that. My boys are 6 & 8 so they are still young for some things. Please do tell about your Port Adventures. I loved reading every work that you wrote so don't skimp on the details.

Other than that... How do you pay for the laundry? Cash or with your room key?

Also what did you mean by having an extra card to keep the air & lights on in the room. Sorry I don't know. I've only previously cruised on the Disney Wonder.

Thanks for such a nice trip report & any time that you have to give me advice on Port Adventures.
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Old 06-04-2012, 07:55 PM   #5
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Glad to hear you enjoyed your trip! I think the AC stays on whether the card is in the slot or not, as I kept an old KTTW in the slot but would pull it before I left the room and have it just sit there and the room was always comfortable.

Quote:
Also what did you mean by having an extra card to keep the air & lights on in the room. Sorry I don't know. I've only previously cruised on the Disney Wonder.
On the Fantasy and the Dream, there is a slot near the door that, if you don't have anything in it, you can't turn on the lights/tv. Anything credit-card sized (don't put a valid credit card there!) will keep the lights/tv on when you leave.
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Old 06-04-2012, 10:05 PM   #6
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Thanks for your trip report! I too would be interested in hearing about your excursions. I will be on the 8/4 sailing with my 3 DDs.
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Old 06-04-2012, 11:04 PM   #7
mamastrick
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DisneyOrBustColorado View Post
I really would like to know about the excursions that you took. We are booked on a Western Caribbean on the Fantasy for Halloween. So we are looking closely at excursions & really trying to decide what is important & interesting. I would love to hear more of your advice on that. My boys are 6 & 8 so they are still young for some things. Please do tell about your Port Adventures. I loved reading every work that you wrote so don't skimp on the details.

Other than that... How do you pay for the laundry? Cash or with your room key?

Also what did you mean by having an extra card to keep the air & lights on in the room. Sorry I don't know. I've only previously cruised on the Disney Wonder.

Thanks for such a nice trip report & any time that you have to give me advice on Port Adventures.
Yep, there is a slot inside your stateroom for your KTTW card to turn on lights (and I was told, outlets and ac but I've since learned otherwise!). We left a restaurant reward card in the slot instead of our KTTW card, mainly so the lights wouldn't go off if we left the room before someone else in the family!

Laundry (and everything else on the ship) is paid for on the KTTW card. You select your machine on a touch screen in the laundry room, swipe your card, load your machine and run it like a regular machine from there. The laundry rooms were busy later in the week, I did a load on day 2 since we had already been away from home for 4 days, and one on day 4 because we got caught in the rain! There are also free irons in the laundry room.

Excursions! My children are older (17 and 13) and wanted to do lots of water activities. We booked all of our port adventures through DCL as this was our first cruise and, being a worrier, I didn't want to get into a situation where we might miss getting back to the ship in time! We did the Catamaran, reef snorkel and sting rays in Grand Cayman. Our group started in the Buena Vista theater, rode a tender over to Grand Cayman together, boarded buses and drove to the other side of the island (about 15 min). We boarded the catamaran and motored/sailed out to the reef area. Because of the storms in the area, and the beginning of rainy season, the water was choppy and cloudy. We did our best to snorkel but the kids gave up quickly. We still saw lots of stingrays but it wasn't as fun as I hoped. Snorkels, fins, water and lemonade were all provided. We took our own snacks (goldfish crackers!). We were back to the ship around 430.

In Costa Maya, Cozumel and Castaway Cay you pull right up to the pier and can walk right on and off the ship. Adults must take a photo id when leaving the ship every time! Some people were surprised by this at Castaway Cay and really slowed down the process.

In Costa Maya we chose to do the Dolphin Swim. Since my kids are older they participated without my dh or myself. They loved the whole thing. They were given life vests and instruction on what would happen before entering the "pool". It is a series of large walled off tanks next to the shore. The pool was deep with a wide ledge around the edge for everyone to stand on while in the water. It was about 3 feet deep on the ledge. We got lots of pictures and bought the cd of photos from the company after the swim. They require biodegradable sunscreen for this excursion, which I bought, but no one ever asked or checked on this. After the dolphin swim we just swam in the salt water pool and visited the shops. I would have loved to get out to the ruins in Costa Maya but we didn't think we would have time. Our time in port changed and we had until midnight but the local tours wouldn't take us as everything was closed by 6 (according to the locals we talked to). Many people also rented golf carts to visit Mahahual, a nearby town/beach area. There are no beaches in the immediate port area here.

In Cozumel we did the Fury Catamaran and Beach party. This one my kids loved! We left early, around 815, walked to the catamaran and headed for a snorkeling site. The water was clear and much calmer, the fish and coral were beautiful. The crew was very careful and watchful of snorkelers and our safety. After the snorkel we sailed to the private beach and the kids loved the water toys! We had trampolines, slides, kayaks and surf boards as well as tons of beach chairs, hammocks and food was available for purchase. Soda, margaritas and beer were included. This was by far my kid's favorite excursion. After our time on the beach we sailed back to the ship, returning around 1230. The crew on Fury took photos which turned out great. There are many excursions from Cozumel to the mainland but we weren't interested in that kind of travel time and that many hours away from the ship.

On Castaway Cay we rented snorkeling gear (again!) and got in the water early. The kids loved finding the statues and "wreckage" in the water as well as the beautiful fish. After a few hours the water was murky from so many snorkelers and again a storm blew in so we scattered. We walked to the observation tower and looked around the island for a while before heading back to the ship. We took our own water and snacks on all excursions.
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Old 06-05-2012, 09:23 AM   #8
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Something else I forgot to mention but think is important! The deck flooring around the pools and stairs up to aquaduck and deck 12 get extremely slick when wet! My husband, both daughters and I slipped several times. We saw two women who broke their ankles on board and heard about another who fell and broke her wrist! Walk carefully - we went barefoot and got better traction in these areas.
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Old 06-05-2012, 02:58 PM   #9
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oh - thank you, thank you for all of your wonderful suggestions & tips. I really appreciate it! I think that we are considering the pirate adventure in Grand Cayman & then the Fury Catamaran & Beach Party in Cozumel. I'm glad to hear positive things about the Fury in Cozumel.
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Old 06-05-2012, 03:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
In Cozumel we did the Fury Catamaran and Beach party. This one my kids loved! We left early, around 815, walked to the catamaran and headed for a snorkeling site. The water was clear and much calmer, the fish and coral were beautiful. The crew was very careful and watchful of snorkelers and our safety. After the snorkel we sailed to the private beach and the kids loved the water toys! We had trampolines, slides, kayaks and surf boards as well as tons of beach chairs, hammocks and food was available for purchase. Soda, margaritas and beer were included. This was by far my kid's favorite excursion. After our time on the beach we sailed back to the ship, returning around 1230. The crew on Fury took photos which turned out great. There are many excursions from Cozumel to the mainland but we weren't interested in that kind of travel time and that many hours away from the ship.
I just thought of another question I had about the above beach break. Do they have life vests at the beach for small children like my 6 & 8 year old? I would like to take them with me out in the water but would feel much more comfortable if they had a life vest on. Thanks again.
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Old 06-05-2012, 05:25 PM   #11
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I just thought of another question I had about the above beach break. Do they have life vests at the beach for small children like my 6 & 8 year old? I would like to take them with me out in the water but would feel much more comfortable if they had a life vest on. Thanks again.
Yes, life vests were required for snorkeling and available on the beach! They can be inflated or deflated as needed. You can walk out pretty far but by the time you reach the water toys you are probably in 6 ft of water.
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Old 06-05-2012, 05:27 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DisneyOrBustColorado View Post
oh - thank you, thank you for all of your wonderful suggestions & tips. I really appreciate it! I think that we are considering the pirate adventure in Grand Cayman & then the Fury Catamaran & Beach Party in Cozumel. I'm glad to hear positive things about the Fury in Cozumel.
We saw the pirate boat in Grand Cayman - it looked so cool! If my kids were willing I would have liked trying that one. The Fury crew also blasts music and leads line dancing on the way back to port! It was fun


Last edited by mamastrick; 06-06-2012 at 09:53 AM.
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Old 06-05-2012, 09:41 PM   #13
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Oh thank you so much for all of your quick & awesome responses to my many questions. All of your information is so very helpful to me so that I am able to make good decisions for our excursions.
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Old 06-06-2012, 07:03 AM   #14
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Great to hear your review on the Fury Catamaran excursion. We are booked for this on our upcoming cruise this Sat. and aren't sure what to expect.

Did you bring your own towels? Were any lockers available at the beach?
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Old 06-06-2012, 09:50 AM   #15
mamastrick
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Great to hear your review on the Fury Catamaran excursion. We are booked for this on our upcoming cruise this Sat. and aren't sure what to expect.

Did you bring your own towels? Were any lockers available at the beach?
If you booked through DCL they will provide towels at your meeting place before the excursion (listed on your port adventure tickets you will find in your stateroom). If not through DCL you can always grab towels on deck 11 near the pool. There were no lockers that I know of but I felt very safe leaving our things on the boat while snorkeling and on the beach. I kept everything in a backpack. We only took our KTTW cards, id and cash for a tip.
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