Booked First Disney Cruise and having doubts

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Forum' started by Jessica0312, Mar 9, 2019.

  1. Jessica0312

    Jessica0312 Earning My Ears

    Mar 21, 2018
    Hello! I have been dreaming and waiting to book a Disney cruise and I finally did it! I've only ever been on one cruise, 11 years ago on Carnival and I had a terrible cold the entire time so it wasn't the best experience. My DD has never been on a cruise, she'll be 8 when we go next summer.

    I booked a 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Fantasy for Summer 2020.

    I was so torn over itineraries but I am limited when I can travel because of work (School admin, I can travel the month of July, two weeks in December, one week for Spring Break...during the school year, I cannot take more than two days off in a row). I also looked at the Western Caribbean and Bahamas (all on the Fantasy).

    I started reading reviews and blog posts and now I'm having doubts. One blog, in particular, mentioned multiple times how crowded the Fantasy is compared to the Magic and Wonder, to the point where they skipped deck parties and swimming. I have some crowd-induced anxiety. At Disney World, I have been during peak times (Christmas, Spring Break/Easter, Summer/4th of July, etc...) but I feel like I know how to manage Disney World. I know all the tips and tricks and have been so many times that I don't mind missing some things.

    I don't want to say that this cruise is a one and done but it is easily double what I am spending to stay at Disney World for 8 nights this summer with dining.

    Any advice, tips, tricks, etc?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. DWillowBay

    DWillowBay DIS Veteran

    Sep 19, 2010
    My best advice is 'don't believe everything you read'. We were just on the Fantasy in January and it was wonderful. We did a Star Wars Cruise, so lots of opportunity to experience 'crowds', but it was fine. The ship is magnificent and the CMs are amazing! The food was more than wonderful. The activities were great fun. I can only tell you my opinion, but I couldn't tell you one bad thing about our experience. I hope you and your daughter have an amazing time!
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  4. Jessica0312

    Jessica0312 Earning My Ears

    Mar 21, 2018
    Thank you! I definitely realize that people tend to post the bad rather than the good but I let it creep into my head a bit.
  5. daedelus

    daedelus This will be my greatest performance!

    Dec 23, 2017
    Hi Jessica,

    We've exclusively sailed on Wonder and Magic, but I can tell you that summer is peak season and that Dream and Fantasy only do Caribbean routes for a reason. They're super popular and lots of people travel on them. Will there be a lot of people on your cruise? Yes. Will you get a tad grumpy with some of the people and lines? Probably. Just being honest with you.

    Now, that said, will you have a great time? Well, that depends. On you. And how much you're willing to let yourself have a good time! DCL knows how to handle large quantities of ocean-bound people and plan for capacities. That doesn't mean you'll get a great table in Cabanas every time or an awesome seat right next to the pool, but you can plan around that. Be creative, do your homework and most importantly, use your Personal Navigator (and the app onboard) to plan, plan, plan. We would take 15 minutes at the start of each day to look at the Navigator and figure out what we wanted to do.

    DCL does a very good job of limiting excursions so that they're not too crowded. So have fun with those. If you're stopping at CC, be ready for lots of people, but also don't let that rain on your parade.

    Give it a chance and you'll probably end up coming back for more!

    tink1970 and i18mulan like this.
  6. MotherKnowsBest

    MotherKnowsBest Mouseketeer

    Nov 9, 2011
    One of the nice things, "crowd wise", about being on a cruise ship is that the number of people is capped. Even having been on a sold out Fantasy cruise, it was nothing like Disney during Christmas, spring break, etc. Some events are busy but not insane or anything.
    ljmiii, darnheather, tink1970 and 6 others like this.
  7. Jillian757

    Jillian757 Earning My Ears

    Mar 9, 2019
    Hi! We JUST returned from our eastern Caribbean cruise on the Fantasy ( 1st time Disney Cruise) and it was AMAZING! It never felt overly crowded. The pools are crowded but nothing else was. It was the BEST vacation ever! From activities to food to CM. Go and enjoy!!
  8. Jessica0312

    Jessica0312 Earning My Ears

    Mar 21, 2018
    Thank you! I am definitely a planner, so I have that on my side for sure! I think I'm just so comfortable at Disney World (and even Disneyland to some extent) and feel a bit out of my element with the cruise!
  9. Dug720

    Dug720 DIS Veteran

    Feb 16, 2012
    The nice thing is there is not nearly the planning needed for a cruise - no ADRs, no FP+...just deciding if you want to do any excursions or things for your kid like Bibbiti Bobbiti Boutique and booking those at 75 days out.

    Ship-wise, I love the Fantasy. Not as big a fan of the shows other than Believe (I've never liked Aladdin), but I love almost all the rest of her. :) I understand about letting reviews (which do tend to be negative as people are far more likely to broadcast the negative - and sometimes some people look for the littlest thing to nitpick about even if they really like it) creep in and make you second-guess. I have to monitor my cruise critic use when I'm preparing for a non-Disney cruise as a lot of people over there take "critic" VERY seriously.
    squirk, NancyIL, Fruto76 and 2 others like this.
  10. dad of 3 addicted to DCL

    dad of 3 addicted to DCL Waiting for July

    Aug 14, 2017
    As mentioned above, the pools quickly become 'kid soup' :), but one thing DW and I continually marvel at is that, for the most part, the ships don't seem crowded. Yes, after the Walt Disney theater lets out it's like leaving a ballgame or when the muster is complete it's more than a bit of a madhouse. However, I wouldn't really worry about the crowds. Really. We've cruised 6 times on Dream/Fantasy and are departing on an 11 nighter this summer.

    Best advice we got up front: You can't do everything so don't try.

    My continual warning: cruising DCL is addictive. Like the potato chip, you can't have just one. :)

    Enjoy your cruise!!
  11. AgentMama

    AgentMama Mouseketeer

    Apr 5, 2016
    I think it's also important to remember you're comparing apples to oranges when you compare Dream/Fantasy to Magic/Wonder. They're different class ships with different passenger capacities. I think the bigger ships do a good job of absorbing the bigger passenger load. On both class ships, the pools are small, so during peak times, all 4 ships will seem crowded in those areas. I hope you enjoy your trip!
    tink1970 and Sepo like this.
  12. aliceinvunderland

    aliceinvunderland Mouseketeer

    Dec 11, 2015
    We’ve cruised twice on the Wonder and have a Merrytime cruise booked for late this year on the Fantasy, and I’m a little nervous about the change. We LOVE the Wonder, but wanted a longer cruise to different ports and more activities (Aquaduck, mini golf, MDA, etc.), so we’re going with the bigger ship. While I can’t help but be slightly worried about the jump in crowd size, I figure any day on a Disney Cruise is better than a day on land!
  13. Lisa F

    Lisa F is a very wise woman

    Feb 22, 2000
    We did a Dream cruise February 2018 and before that I had been on the magic/wonder 5 times prior to 2005 so a very long time ago. I heard some not so great things about the Dream also about crowds. Our cruise was pretty much sold out but it was an absolutely amazing experience for myself and my son - so much that he sobbed on the last night and we are rebooked for Fantasy in 2020.

    There are certain points where it is crowded - my son is on the spectrum and we ran into this a bit but honestly it did not impact our cruise experience negatively as we were able to shift and get away from the crowds.

    The sail away party was crowded, loud, chaotic and he wanted no part of it so we went to our starboard verandah room and waved at the port as we left. I truly don't feel like we missed anything and we'll be sailing away from our room again.

    The pool does get crowded and aquaduck lines can get long - our solution for this was to go to breakfast in swimsuit and coverup and enjoy the aquaduck during that time of the day. We did go to the pool at later times but just plan on hanging out near the edge in a crowded pool - he didn't seem to mind because they always had a movie going and there was ice cream to be had etc.

    The theaters do fill up for shows, we ended up just coming early, which is what the OCD planner in me would do anyway. I found that the views are as good from centerish back which is higher up than fighting the crowds down to the front of the theater - the theater is more sloped so not as many people in your way - and typically I am a front is better girl. You are closer to the exit and get out without the long pushing your way through the crowd thing.

    I read that Cabanas is very crowded during embarkation buffet so we skipped it and did the table service meal at Enchanted Garden... my dad is a big old grump and does NOT like buffets and does NOT like crowds so I thought it would really be horrible to do this. We had a nice restaurant meal and were waited on and pushed through no crowds. I think next time since I am just with the kiddo we might try Cabanas. I did not find Cabanas unbearably crowded for breakfast or lunch any of the other days. Note that it's set up like pods with repeating stations so if you go there and it seems crowded, don't get on the back of a huge line - just go deeper into the restaurant to find the same exact stuff with no line. Never had issues finding a table.

    For the deck parties there are locations you can go out of the crowds to watch the fireworks - we ended up watching from our starboard verandah but there are other places up higher - I researched before hand.

    I was really worried castaway cay would be crowded figuring it had been designed for the smaller ships, but it did NOT at all. No trouble getting shady loungers, hammocks, whatever. It was AWESOME and a true highlight of our cruise. I did not try to do water slide or anything so I don't know how it is.

    The rest of the time I did not experience any crowds really and it was truly an amazing trip. Everyone says the 7 day fantasy is even better. I can't wait!
    tink1970 and wehrengrizz like this.
  14. fredandkell

    fredandkell DIS Veteran

    Apr 4, 2013
    I think the main thing to remember is that a "pool" on the cruise ship is nothing like a pool at a hotel. They are basically kid soup wading pools. So don't expect to do any real swimming. I didn't feel crowded on Dream (twin to Fantasy) at all, even on Castaway Cay.
  15. JimGA

    JimGA DIS Veteran

    Oct 25, 2012
    My last Disney cruise was a sold out Star Wars spring break cruise deck parties and fireworks night is crowded, but not packed. Sometimes during the cruise I felt like we had the ship to ourselves. Don't worry about the crowds, in my opinion it's a non issue, if it is, find a less crowded area on the deck.

    You and your daughter will love it and have a blast !!
    tink1970 and Sepo like this.
  16. pixiedustedme

    pixiedustedme Planning is half the fun

    Mar 4, 2019
    Crowds on a cruise are nothing like crowds at the parks. If you can handle the latter, the former will be no problem at all. We've sailed on all four ships, only during school holidays (I'm a teacher), and while there are always people around, crowding was never problematic.
    tink1970 likes this.
  17. FastPasser.

    FastPasser. THE PARTY'S OVER.

    May 13, 2017
    We were just on the Fantasy for the 4th time last Dec and as my ticker shows, will be again in 20 days. We have also been on all four ships and whatever the crowd level was on the Fantasy, it was not an issue. Having said that, the next cruise will be the only cruise with kids and we're not restricted to sailing only during certain times.
  18. MomOTwins

    MomOTwins The Mommy Fairy

    Mar 5, 2018
    Have you considered splitting between a 3 or 4 day cruise on the Dream and the rest of the week at Disney World? This is what we have done. It was less expensive than a full week on the cruise in the peak summer rates, allowed us to try out cruising and see if it worked for us, and also gave us a chance to enjoy the Disney parks while we were going to Orlando anyway.
    NancyIL likes this.
  19. GoBlue99

    GoBlue99 Earning My Ears

    Nov 6, 2018
    We were just on the 2/23 Fantasy sailing. I would say the only time the ship felt crowded to me was in regards to the pools. I was surprised at how small the pools were, and they were insanely packed the entire time. We ended up not swimming at all.
    But in terms of everything else (dining, shows, just walking around the ship), it didn't feel crowded at all.
  20. Dizney73

    Dizney73 DIS Veteran

    Dec 2, 2007
    The pools can get crazy! They are just too tiny. We always go to the pool deck right at opening in the morning for a few hours, grab lunch and then head back to the room to change and go do activities around the ship, or catch a movie!
    We also choose 1 night to skip our show (and sometimes dinner) and use the Aquaduck and enjoy some pizza and a movie on deck. We love the ambiance up there at night!
    In general the ship doesn't feel overly crowded unless you are trying to find a seat in the theater 5 minutes before the show starts or in Cabanas at meal times! We are early morning people so we are always at Cabanas when it opens (sometimes before). You can always visit main dining rooms for a sit down breakfast or lunch as well... they have such a relaxed feeling!
  21. kiford

    kiford DIS Veteran

    Nov 9, 2012
    A crowded ship is a far cry from a crowded park. There's a limited number of people on a ship and they're often distributed throughout it. People eat at different times, play mini-golf/midship detective game at a different time, go to movies at different times, etc. Dining in MDR is no issue since you know when and where you'll be seated. We don't go at peak times but the only times I've really noticed the larger numbers of people on Dream/Fantasy is disembarkation and customs at the end of the cruise. I've never felt the kind of frustration with numbers of people on the cruise ship that I have in the parks, even when I've been in parks at low season times. More people on Fantasy/Dream than Magic/Wonder, but larger ship and more areas. Plus the atrium is larger and more open so even lots of people there feels no more crowded than on the smaller ships. Very busy pools are probably the biggest issue although we spend our time in the adult only pool which is generally less busy. But this is actually true of the smaller ships too just because of the limited space for pools in general no matter the size of the ship.
    tink1970 likes this.

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