The Mouse Strikes Back: our second Fantasy with SWDAS


Nov 19, 2015
This cruise was four months ago, and I have all my notes for a trip report, but haven't bothered to import them. Whoops!

This was our second Fantasy Western cruise with SWDAS -- what can I say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it / our spring break is when it is. Our first trip was a success (obviously) and feel free to read that trip report for more of my opinions about why not to take 2 year olds on a cruise.

I'm not going to post a ton of photos, as we are pretty stingy about sharing photos of our children (as they are too young to consent) online and we once again failed to take any food photos.

Pre-trip report and people:

We booked a placeholder on our last cruise, which was in March of 2016. We talked a lot at the time about when and whether we would do it again, and ultimately decided to wait until spring break 2018. While we didn't actively want to do the same itinerary again, we didn't really mind, and the dates lined up such that it was really our only option.

My husband and I are both in our late 30s, and we were with our two children:
P, age 6, who is very into Star Wars
J, age 4, who is very into princesses
So, you see, not at all like every other kid on the boat!!

Table of contents: (I'll make these links as the posts go up)
Day 0: Chicago to Orlando, overnight at MCO
Day 1: Embarkation Day!
Day 2: At Sea
Day 3: Cozumel / Pirate Night
Day 4: Grand Cayman
Day 5: Falmouth (on the boat)
Day 6: SWDAS
Day 7: Castaway Cay
Day 8: Orlando to Chicago
Day +1: Wrap up
Last edited:


Nov 19, 2015
Day 0: Chicago to Orlando

We had decided, as before, to fly in to Orlando the night before, air travel being what it is. We also decided to stay overnight at MCO again because, hey, it worked so well the first time.

The children had been waiting for this day for a LONG time. The excitement level was through the roof, and waiting until 10am to head to the airport might as well have been torture. That aside, everything went smoothly. The kids behaved well enough on the plane, and checked into our room at MCO in the early afternoon. I took the kids to the pool and left D (my husband) in the room working as he tried to finish some things up while still connected to normal wifi.

The kids were pretty into the pool. P was thrilled to realize that because it is so shallow, he could be totally independent of me. J is a little fish, happy in any amount of water. She did, however, decide that it was too cold and lay huddled under a towel for a while

At around 5:45 I took the kids back to the room to change for dinner, and we headed down to the (airport) hotel restaurant. Our food was fine, though nothing particularly fabulous, and the options for the kids were typically limited to bland food of dubious nutritional value, but hey! it's vacation. Back to the room for bath and bed.

We put one child in each bed, as we've found that's easier when all 4 of us are in the same room. I hid with my ipad in a corner while the kids went to sleep, and D went out to find a bar. You see, his alma mater, UVA, was playing in the NCAA tournament, and it was the first game. They were ranked #1, and, as we all know, a #1 seed has never been upset by a #16 seed...

I fell asleep pretty early, worn out by the travel day (and having been up late the night before with packing anxiety). At 1am I woke up because D's computer was making noises. He was still awake - his laptop was having some sort of glitch, and he was freaked out, ostensibly about that, but also because, well, about that whole #1 seed thing...

Not an auspicious beginning!
Last edited:


Nov 19, 2015
Day 1: Embarkation Day!

At last! The day we had been waiting for for months! By some miracle, the kids slept until 7, but they were READY TO GO GO GO GO. The adults were....less so. We don't need to dwell, but let's just say that we care about sports in our family, and being on the wrong side of one of the biggest upsets in sports history is not the kind of thing you can just forget on a dime.

We had signed up for transportation from MCO with bag transfer, so we knew we needed our bags ready at 8:30am. We were downstairs at 8:45 to checkout and head to the terminal, figuring we'd get on one of the first few buses. Unlike last time, we hadn't been able to sign up for a PAT, so we knew being on an earlier bus was important if we wanted to be on the boat before the kids were hangry for lunch. Unfortunately, we were signed up, somehow, for the wrong kind of bag transfer - our travel agent had signed us up as though we were flying in same-day, with transfers from the airport, not from the hotel. While it seems a bit beyond belief that this would be a big problem, it almost was. It certainly caused a delay, but ultimately the hotel made it right. They had a bellman go up to the room and get our luggage, and then he escorted us through to the terminal. Sometimes like this:

We were finally on a bus at 10am, much later than we had anticipated, but small potatoes in the long run.

My son spent the whole bus ride reminding his little sister of all the things he remembered from our last cruise, though easily half of them were things he saw on the bus video, which may or may not have had anything to do with his actual memories. He was also excited to be able to play along with some of the games, as he knew just enough Disney trivia to not be completely lost.

This was a very exciting sight as we pulled into port:

We were assigned boarding group 19, which was ... again, not exactly how we had hoped things would go. We got in line for Captain Mickey, found seats by a tv, and just hung out with bored and hungry kids for what felt like a very very long time, but was probably only a bit over an hour.

Finally we were on board! We headed straight to the quick serve stations for lunch. J didn't eat quite enough - she was too hungry to be compliant, so she whined, which meant she couldn't have ice cream, so then she whined more because her brother got some and ate it very ostentatiously right in front of her. Luckily, the kids were in their bathing suits and I was able to distract them with the pool. They both started out swimming in the Mickey pool, but then the boys went off to do the Aquaduck (J wasn't tall enough) and I guarded our bags and kept an eye on her while she did the Mickey Slide approximately 900 times. Much to my profound annoyance, many people had claimed chairs facing the pool or slide in the first 2 rows but never actually came and sat in the chairs. I honestly think there should be a rule - a certain number of chairs reserved for the adults actively supervising small kids who are in the pool or on the slide.

After they had done the Aquaduck a few times, P & D came back, and P got in the pool while D went to check out our room and take a short nap. The kids would have stayed in the pool forever.

A little after 3pm I took the kids to our stateroom to change and then to the Oceaneer's Club for the open house - we wanted to make sure J was comfortable and understood all the spaces, as she had been in the nursery last time, and we were (justifiably) worried about how she'd feel about being left in the club.

We had reminded the kids about the loud noise that would precede the muster drill. J, who doesn't like loud noises, was too scared in anticipation, and kept covering her ears. In the event, of course, everything was fine. Our muster station was the Buena Vista theater and it was essentially uneventful. After the drill, we walked up to deck 12, carrying J part of the way. We found a great spot right above the stage, and watched the Sail Away party. P loved the whole thing, and was dancing along - at the end we sent him down to Deck 11 alone while we watched from above as he wanted to join the deck dance party.

We watched the boat push off and start to sail and then went to our room to get settled and unpack a bit - all of our luggage had arrived by then.

Daisy was in the atrium at 5:30, so she was our second (after captain Mickey) character greeting. Both kids were very into it, which was adorable.

Our first dinner was at Royal Court, and it was a bit challenging. Our head server was Nolan, from the Philippines, with Cesar assisting. They were kind, but things took too long, and there was a missed drink order and some other minor stuff. Nothing outrageous, but not the high level we'd remembered. We assumed it was first night glitches. We noticed that the family at the table next to us -- a couple with their baby and one grandmother -- arrived quite late and in spurts, requiring multiple orders and taking up a lot of time and attention. We were of course sympathetic to a point. J was also not her best self - she was hungry and tired, never a good combination. The food was all fine, with the exception of the fried brie which was amazing.

We went straight back to the room after dinner and put the kids to bed. They were both asleep by 8:15; I hung out in the room and D went out exploring.
Last edited:
  • debsters41

    DIS Veteran
    Jun 1, 2007
    I'm in! Hello and thanks for sharing your report! I am enjoying it so far and am quite amazed at the level of detail you are able to provide after so much time. I really look forward to your next installments.


    Nov 19, 2015
    I'm in! Hello and thanks for sharing your report! I am enjoying it so far and am quite amazed at the level of detail you are able to provide after so much time. I really look forward to your next installments.
    Thanks! I took notes, so I mostly just have to copy it into here.
    I was going to write up a bunch more now, but looks like I need to fix the photo links instead...


    Nov 19, 2015
    Ok, I think I fixed the images. Now they're too big, but at least they're there.

    Day 2: At Sea (Disney Jr Breakfast, Frozen meet and greet, characters, Princess Tea, Palo)

    The kids, as is typical, were up early. We went to Cabanas as soon as it opened for a quick sunrise snack for most of us, and breakfast for D.

    We had the Disney Jr. breakfast at 8:15am, so we wandered about - ducking into portholes, re-learning the ship, watching the waves - until it was time to head to Animator's for that. D, however, didn't come with us as Disney had invited him to be part of a focus group. It would meet for an hour starting at 8:30 and pay $100 (in the form of a gift card, natch).

    Given our experience last time, and our children's waning interest in Disney Jr properties, we had been hesitant to sign up for this, but since it was free and available...we figured why not. The breakfast was better this time - our orders were correct, the character spacing worked well - but the children were not yet inured to the screens everywhere and had a hard time looking away from the dozens of televisions broadcasting cartoons all around. They barely interacted with the characters, and getting them to eat took a while, but nobody complained about anything. We saw Sofia, Doc, Jake, and Mickey.

    After the breakfast we went to the pool. The kids were together on the Mickey slide for a bit, then D arrived and took P to the Aqua Duck...but we had a miscommunication and J didn't know P had left, so she was waiting at the top of the Mickey slide for him to come. I was standing at the bottom and couldn't figure out why kid after kid kept coming down and she didn't...finally a bigger kid said "there's a little girl crying at the top". I was able to calm her down and show her that Tarzan had just started playing on Funnel Vision. She spent the next 90 minutes like this:

    Meanwhile D & P did the Aquaduck several times. I swear this is they:

    After several trips on the Aquaduck, they came back as D had a massage scheduled. P wanted to go to the kids club. A very nice grandmother sunning herself agreed to keep half an eye on J so I could walk P to the club and get him checked in. J was transfixed by the movie, so I was glad to be able to leave her (having extracted a promise she wouldn't go in the water until I got back). P was indignant that he couldn't check himself in - he was confident he could get there himself - but as he was a few months shy of 7 it obviously wasn't an option.

    After Tarzan, J wanted to read books in the cabin and change into her Elsa dress. We hung out on the verandah until it was time to pick P up for lunch.

    D met us and we all had quick serve lunch and the kids had ice cream. We finished in time to go meet Princess Minnie on the balcony at 12:45 with perfect timing to then line up for our Frozen meet and greet. We were in line behind Trent the cruise director and his small son and wife -- not the last time we would see them on the ship. The Frozen meet and greet was in Animators, and having just been there for breakfast it was fun to see how quickly it was re-themed into Arandell. Anna and Elsa were both very nice, and had lovely conversation with the kids, while keeping the line moving. It was already clear at this point that J was VERY into the whole character experience and her brother was, well, onto it and a bit over it. He was super nice about how much his sister liked it, and didn't try to spoil anything, but for him it is no longer a major attraction. J, on the other hand, met every character on board multiple times and was well known by all the handlers (and presumably the characters as well) very soon.

    The Frozen meet and greet was the first time we interacted with Witt, a character handler CM who we got to know pretty well over the days. He was amazing with J, and remembered what she had been wearing from day to day (or hour to hour) and really helped make the lines for character greetings special -- all the CMs were great, of course, but he got to know us in a way that made him stand out (not to jump ahead, but we did specifically recognize him at the end, and got a nice email from Disney thanking us for our feedback about how good he was). Witt told us he was an actor, and had briefly lived in Chicago. I run a theater in Chicago, so we were able to make some chit-chat -- and, uncommonly, I never felt like he was angling for a job.

    After Frozen, we went back to the cabin briefly for some quiet time reading stories on the verandah. Juliet changed into her Cinderella dress. We went to a 230pm Tinker Bell meet up in the atrium, and then the boys went off to do the detective agency and to spend D's focus group gc. This was explicitly the tit-for-tat for what the girls had next...the Princess tea.

    We were given a tiara and met by Lady Chamomile and then escorted to our table.

    There were I think 8 of us at the table, 4 girls and 4 moms. J was the youngest, the oldest was a girl celebrating her 9th birthday on the cruise, and this was her 4th Princess tea (!!). Most of the other girls in the room had been to BBB to prepare for the event. I'm not sure J noticed - she was in her dress, and perhaps couldn't tell that the other girls were more done up than she was? She also did not yet know that BBB existed, which probably helped.

    Each girl had several presents waiting - a music box, a doll, autograph book, pen, and jewelry (eventually each princess delivered a charm for the necklace or bracelet). J was obsessed with the jewelry box and barely even noticed the doll at first.

    Lady Chamomile brought out Chef Brule, and they did some singing and dancing. They were great, though Chef Brule's accent was not necessarily, ahem, consistent.

    J was worried about the "tea" and whether she could drink it. The kids got apple juice, which was described as an apple tea (but clearly juice). I had pulled aside a waiter to say that J doesn't drink juice -- oddly, and for no reason I can discern, she only drinks water. I'd been told "no problem" and that she could have water in her teacup. But then inevitably she was still served apple juice...and she burst into tears. She wanted to participate in the tea party. Thankfully, this being Disney, someone swapped her juice for water in approximately 3 seconds. There was also another rough moment with the cupcake - we'd been asked upon arrival who her favorite princess was from a short list (I think this was included in the formal invitation that was in our cabin the first night). She had said Cinderella, and we'd selected that. I knew this would dictate what cupcake she got. She had been VERY clear. All morning leading up to the event when I had walked her through what would happen - she's 4, one needs to preview a bit - I would say "and then you'll get a Cinderella cupcake, because you chose her" and J would laugh and say "Mommy! Don't joke me, I chose Belle". And I would remind her, no, you chose Cinderella...we were very sure, because it was WEIRD, Ariel is far and away her favorite, it was bizarre that she chose Cinderella. So I was worried about a scene.

    But then when a cupcake the size of her head arrived, it was fine.

    The princesses that came to tea were Cinderella (of course, she's the host), Belle, and Tiana. Each was introduced, and each came to visit the table and hug/talk to every little girl.

    Because I am a vegetarian, I had a totally separate plate of treats, while the table still had the standard number. So everyone got extra - I also didn't really eat mine, as I had Palo dinner scheduled, so Juliet got a LOT of treats and sweets (vacation rules!).

    Tea lasted about an hour and a half, and was really great. It is expensive, but they do give the girls a lot of attention and presents, and the performance parts were sweet and funny. Later in the week they sent up a framed photo of J with all the princesses - it was great. The ship photographers were only there at the end though, all the photos during tea were just on my phone.

    After tea we headed back to the room. J was pretty stoked to realize she could open the door all by herself

    (this photo is a little confusing - J is holding the cinderella doll by the feet in her left hand, but since she matches the doll, it's a little hard to tell where doll ends and girl begins!)

    The boys had also had a wonderful time. P had acquired some star wars toy (I don't even remember what) and they'd done one of the mysteries all the way through. We all got back to the room at approximately the same time. The kids played quietly (we may have turned on the tv, I don't remember) and the grownups did some planning for the next couple days. Donald was out, so we went and met him before taking the kids to the club. Our Palo reservation was pretty early -- I think 600 or 630? -- so we dropped the kids right before dinnertime in the club and had time to start, but not even finish, one drink in Meridian before it was our reservation.

    Palo was awesome, of course. Rob from Scotland was our server, and he was Awesome. His girlfriend works at the onboard Tiffany's, so we chatted about that and other life on board things. He was funny and personable and attentive. The food was delicious.

    After dinner we went to pick the kids up at the club and realized that it was in time - just barely - for the 830 Aladdin. The kids reported that the club was fun, dinner was fine, but both thought we had left them there too long. They said they played games and watched some of Lilo and Stitch, but of course we don't really know what they were up to. We asked the kids if they wanted to stay up late to see Aladdin (it ended at 930, bedtime should have been before 8), and they sure did. We barely found seats in the balcony (somewhat obstructed view, and not together, and J was sitting on my lap) as we were walking in right at 8:30. The kids loved it. P had seen the tour of the broadway show twice, but J had been too little. P loved pointing out all the ways they'd made the show smaller for the boat (it's obviously a completely different experience, however they want to brand it, they can't actually scale down a broadway show for the boat, and the performers-while excellent-are obviously not the same). Mid-show J declared "coming here was the right choice!" somewhat loudly, but luckily no one minded.

    We went back to our room right after the show, and found this

    Apparently Cinderella had looked tired. The next night she was in (one assumes intentionally) the wrong bed, and after that it became a game with the room steward.

    D put the kids to bed - not hard, they were exhausted - and I went to the last 20 minutes of Black Panther (worth it) in the buena vista theater and the first part of Guardians of the Galaxy on Funnel Vision and then to bed pretty early. It had been a busy day, for all it was a relaxing day at sea!
    Last edited:


    DIS Veteran
    Jun 1, 2007
    Thanks for the update! The pictures really make it more real, thanks for sharing. I will be doing the character breakfast also 'just because'. It is fun to read about J's discoveries ie. opening the door on her own. Such a wonderful age!
  • hnthomps

    Nov 19, 2015
    Day 3: Cozumel / Pirate night

    There was a time change overnight, unfortunately, so the kids were awake and raring to go at 5:45am. We kept them quiet as best we could, and headed to Cabanas right as it opened at 7am. We had signed up for the Chankanaab dolphin excursion through Disney. We knew there would be lots of things to do at the park, but only told the kids about the dolphins, as we didn't want to disappoint them if the timing didn't work out.

    Our excursion met at 8:45am in the Tube. We were, as is our habit, right on time, while many others straggled in a bit late. The process was very orderly: Get your Ariel sticker and a wristband, wait around, follow Rosy and her Ariel sign off the boat, through the pier, to the taxis, to the park, wait at the entrance for the other Fantasy taxis to arrive, walk to the dolphin area, change into bathing suits and store other belongings in lockers, get life jackets on, get sorted into new groups (based on level of dolphin interaction, I think), walk to the enclosures, take photos, wait ... There was a lot of constant motion, but it was 10:30am, almost 2 hours after we got to the Tube, before we were in the water. We hadn't given the kids a snack - we hadn't planned this well -- which was a clear mistake. They were both a little bit on edge, so first J freaked that the water was too cold, then P that his legs hurt (he has dry skin, and the salt water stung at first). We pushed through it, but both kids had some real low moments, which made it tense for us. We also had to hold J the whole time as she wasn't quite tall enough to stand in the water with her head comfortably above (I think it's probably a little over 3' deep over the bench you stand on? She was at the time just under 42 inches tall).

    All of that aside, the dolphin encounter was wonderful.

    view of the dolphin enclosure:

    "our" dolphin's headshot on the board

    P with dolphin:

    There were probably 10-12 people in our enclosure. We stood in the water (on a bench) along the edge and the trainer - who spoke excellent English - was in the water with us. A photographer was on the walkway above, taking constant photos. The trainer had the dolphin swim by several times, and then do tricks or interactions with each of us - so we touched flippers and got splashed and "danced" and so on. P was VERY into it, and has huge smiles in all the photos. J was a bit intimidated, and would only participate if I was holding her, and even then only in some of them. I think she might have been able to do more if we'd remembered a snack, but oh well.

    When everyone was done, we were told how and where to get the photos, and we went and reclaimed our bag and changed back into clothes. Lunch was included, so we headed to the restaurant near the dolphin enclosure. It was a somewhat mediocre buffet, especially for vegetarian me, but it did the trick for the kids! We finished in time for a bathroom break and some exploring (including buying the incredibly expensive, yet totally worth it, photo package - which we were able to negotiate a bit) before the next sea lion show, which was also a lot of fun.

    While there were other things we could have done after the sea lion show, J was clearly exhausted and as another taxi back to the fantasty would be arriving very soon (and the one after not for another hour) we decided to head back.

    J no longer naps regularly, but she does frequently fall asleep in cars. This taxi was no exception, and she was asleep within about two minutes. She fell asleep hard, and we couldn't even wake her up when we got back to the port. So D carried her.

    He carried her from the taxi to the pier entrance, up the escalator, the whole long walk from entrance to ship, and then all the way from gangway to our room on the 8th deck. She slept the entire time, a dead weight in his arms. He gently laid her on the big bed, and 5 seconds later she sat up happily and said "is it time to go on the Mickey slide now??"

    We decreed that the kids needed some downtime after the morning adventure, so we let them have some screen time (I think J watched Mickey Clubhouse on the cabin TV and P played on my ipad). We then gave them both baths ("you're washing off the dolphin kisses!" yes, yes we are) and changed into costumes for PIRATE NIGHT.

    What followed next was the first of a few absolute character extravaganzas. Many people were still on excursions, so the lines weren't long. We did:
    3:15 Hook & Smee on the balcony
    3:20 Stitch wandering around by the elevators (before his later assigned slot)
    3:25 Daisy in the atrium
    3:30 Chip & Dale in the atrium
    3:45 Donald in the atrium
    4:00 Goofy
    4:15 Peter Pan

    Witt was working about half of the greetings and kept up a delightful and extensive conversation with our Pirate Princess. By this point he knew her name, where she was from, and many of her favorite things.

    After Peter Pan, P had had enough of characters and asked to go to the kids club. J, on the other hand, had not. So I stayed with her while D dropped P off and went to the cabin to check email. We got in line for Minnie (4:30 scheduled) but Tinker Bell (who had started at 4) suddenly had no line, so we went over there, even though we saw her the day before (and her outfit doesn't change). Then we went back to Minnie, don't worry.

    After all that, J declared she needed a snack, so we went up to the deck and got some grapes, with a porthole stop first.

    We headed back to the steering wheel on deck 5, which was by now one of her favorite places on the ship.

    We then watched everything down in the atrium

    ....until she realized that Mickey was out (5:15, balcony), and we hadn't seen him yet in his pirate outfit. Witt was really amused that we were back for more.

    It was time to head to the cabin to join everyone else and head to dinner together, but first we ran into Pluto wandering around.

    We went back to the cabin where we found D about to leave to pick P up from the club, and we all headed to dinner in Enchanted Garden together. Dinner went well, with our kids on excellent behavior and delighted by all the passengers in pirate outfits. The people at the table next to us once again staggered in at odd intervals, and somewhat disrupted the service flow for our servers - it was remarkable to see how none of the servers said anything to them about it and tried to make it all work seamlessly anyway...but it was clearly very disruptive as they were out of sync with each other and the rest of the tables the whole evening.

    After dinner J was too exhausted to go to the show. We all went back to the room to admire the towel animal

    D&P went to the 7:45 Mickey's Pirate show, which P loved and D thought was very cute.

    After that, D brought P back to the cabin around 830, where I had been reading while J slept soundly. I put P to bed with his book and read to myself while D went back out -- I think he went to O'Gills, but I'm not sure - and then he got to go to the 10:15 show and fireworks

    The fireworks woke P up, so he and I watched through the verandah window for a while. J was still sound asleep, despite the noise of the fireworks and her brother climbing up and down the bunk - she must have been exhausted, despite the impromptu nap!
    Last edited:


    Nov 19, 2015
    Day 4: Grand Cayman

    We were really lucky with the weather on this cruise. It was beautiful every single day - sunny and not too hot. And this was the view:

    This was primary election day in Chicago, and we have some friends who were very involved with various candidates. It was both hard not to be connected to the internet much of the day and a complete relief to be cut off from the early speculation.

    We had an afternoon excursion planned in Grand Cayman, and we'd decided that a quiet morning on the boat would be more fun than trying to squeeze something in before our excursion -- if we'd really tried, we probably could have wrangled an hour or so of beach time before, but that just didn't seem worth the hassle.

    The kids woke up at their normal early hour. We headed to Cabanas for a large breakfast and then went to play shuffleboard for the first time on this trip. Both kids loved it, despite being, well, no good at all (even with special rules). Our Princess Gathering tickets were for 9:00 or 9:30, so we headed there after. Witt was one of the CMs, and he appreciated that J was in a different princess dress (this time Rapunzel). Tiana, Ariel, Belle, and Cinderella were out. J had seen three of them at the Princess Tea, of course, but that didn't in any way tamper her extreme interest. And since Ariel had, ahem, been visiting Flounder during the Princess Tea, she was VERY excited to meet her.

    After the princesses we naturally headed to the pool. Snow White started on funnel vision at 10:15. Neither of our kids had ever seen it, and I barely remembered it, so that was also fun. When the Aquaduck opened (I think 10:30?) there was no line, so the guys went on it three times in a row. J meanwhile was watching Snow White from the pool, with intermittent trips to the Mickey Slide. It was relatively quiet on the pool deck. As soon as the movie was over (11:40) we needed to eat lunch so that we wouldn't be rushed getting to shore to meet our excursion (at, I think, 1pm? maybe 1:30?). Cabanas wasn't yet open, so it was quick serve time again! We went back to the cabin to change and get our tickets, and headed to get the tender tickets...and naturally as soon as we had tickets in hand (after a long-ish wait in Enchanted Garden) open tenders was announced. hah.

    Witt was on the tender sitting right in front of us, and joked about how J had been a Queen (Elsa) a Pirate Princess, Rapunzel, and was now "captain princess" (she was wearing a Fantasy cruise t-shirt and a pink skirt). He was very funny and didn't seem to mind the kids intruding on his tender over to what was clearly an afternoon off work.

    We had about half an hour before our excursion, so we went to one of the nearby stores and bought souvenirs for the kids. They really wanted little glass dolphins, which miraculously did not break (at least not until we'd been home in chicago for a few months!!)

    Our excursion was the Nautilus semi-submersible. Some of us had done the Atlantis submarine before, so we hadn't wanted an exact repeat. The kids still felt like it was a submarine adventure, and it was a great fit for us - you sit two to a bench next to a big window and watch the fish and learn about the reef and the fish and what makes it all work. We saw shipwrecks and stingrays and fish of all kinds.

    (some day this child will let me take care of her hair)

    At one point a boat crew member gets in the water with scuba gear and attracts a whole lot of fish right up to the side.

    The kids were fascinated to learn about parrotfish, focusing (naturally) on the fact that they change sex and poop sand. We saw many, as well as several "Dory! It's dory!" fish.

    After the tour we took a hilariously short bus ride back to the pier (it seemed crazy that we weren't allowed to walk--when we googled later I think we saw it is less than 900 feet from port--because of one way streets it had seemed longer on the way over) and tendered back to the ship.

    J's photo from the Princess Tea was waiting when we got back, and P became very jealous. He hadn't been jealous of the music box / doll / jewelry (in part because he got a toy that same day) but the photo seemed to emphasize to him that his sister had gotten a REALLY special adventure. We reminded him that he was signed up for fishing at Castaway Cay, which she was too little to do.

    I decided it was time to do some laundry, and set about on that adventure. Everyone I encountered in a laundry room (and I had to go to several) was in a bad mood, annoyed about clothes having been removed from washers, and more. I think P went back to the kids club again, and I took J ... for more character greetings. Pluto would be out at 5:15, and J decided she "had" to show him her little glass dolphin. So I took her down to Preludes for that, and we found Witt again. The other CM was so delighted by J and her glass dolphin and her tales that he asked for her name and stateroom number (not for the photographer). I wondered why, but forgot about it. We realized that Mickey would be in the balcony at 5:30, so we figured we'd go line up for that, but the line was still Goofy (5pm). We ended up being last for Goofy and first for Mickey (not for the last time - we ended up doing this a few times when we were early for a line. Almost always since you've been waiting as long as the people who start the line for the next character, no one minds if you sneak in both). J was VERY excited by all of this.

    Goofy seemed to like her dolphin.

    We went back to the stateroom briefly so that I could claim our laundry, which was still damp, as people had pulled it out before it was done. Grrr, but also whatever, I hung it in the bathroom to dry on the line.

    Dinner was almost a disaster, as J had a mini-fit on the way because she was either too hungry or too tired, depending. She rallied, however, and calmed down enough to behave appropriately. At dinner, P declared that he wanted to go on the very next sailing of the Fantasy. We tried to figure out why, what made this different from previous vacations. He started by saying "because we're a whole family together all the time", but as that had been true on previous vacations we were a bit skeptical. He elaborated somewhat by saying "ok, being with family and the aquaduck". It was clear that both kids were having a wonderful time, in different ways, and both want and expect to come back. We were more split about whether to do an OBB - it's a great vacation, but we have limited vacation days and don't want to spend the time doing the same thing over and over again. That said, it has worked very well.

    After dinner the boys went to ride the aquaduck in the dark, which we'd been told not to miss. I think they went twice while I put J to bed. After they came back, I headed out to Currents with my book. D says he fell asleep by 9pm, showing how exhausting our relaxing family vacation was for everyone! I was out later than that enjoying the stars, the drinks, and the calm...but I was asleep before 11.
    Last edited:
  • MickeyD

    DIS Veteran
    Jul 9, 2005
    Hi, I am following along. I am really enjoying your trip report. We are on the same itinerary and a SWDAS in Feb 2019, so your report is fueling my excitement. :)


    Nov 19, 2015
    Work is super slow today, so I'm going to churn out another update. Thanks everyone for following along!!

    Day 5, Falmouth (on the boat)

    We had decided in advance that we would sit out one port day, as on our first cruise our Cozumel excursion was cancelled and we had a really amazing day on the ship with so few people. Between my research on these boards and our research into available excursions, it quickly became clear that even though Falmouth was the only port we hadn't been to before, it was the one we would sit out.

    The kids were up at 5:30am again (ughhh). They just are wired to be early risers - the slightest noise in the morning wakes them up. Keeping them up late doesn't fix this at all, it just makes them grumpy the next day. So we've learned to live with it. But I do keep thinking they'll outgrow far no luck.

    Anyway, while they woke us up at 5:30, we told them they couldn't get out of bed until 6:45. We weren't feeling it. They mostly kept it together (with occasional whispers and giggles) and then at 6:45 on the nose were out of bed and in our faces. We got up and headed to Cabanas, as usual among the first people there.

    The view of the port at Falmouth almost made us change our mind about getting off the boat - but I reminded D that the sanitized and tourist-ified port hid systemic injustice and poverty, and didn't really give an accurate picture of the environs. We weren't planning to support the economy, so admiring the false front seemed not worth it.

    We headed to the pool deck at 8:15 only to realize it wouldn't be open until 9am that day. I took the kids up to shuffleboard and left D claiming two chairs that had a view of the Mickey slide, Mickey pool, and funnel vision. We played shuffleboard for over half an hour, with modified rules and much silliness. Lion King had started on Funnel Vision at 830, so the kids happily jumped into the pool. I left them with D and headed off -- I had grand plans: a 9:15am massage and more laundry!

    My massage was, of course, excellent. I resent the hard upsell at the end--they really want you to book more treatments! --but didn't let that ruin the experience. I put the first load of laundry in with little incident, and headed back to the pool deck, where I found the kids playing happily - pool to slide and so forth while intermittently watching Lion King, Lilo and Stitch, and the Little Mermaid. We all hung out on the deck (except when I was doing laundry) for the rest of the morning. We divided and conquered for lunch so we wouldn't lose our excellent deck chairs. It was hard to convince J to get lunch at all until Little Mermaid was over, but she consented to eating at a table where she could, barely, see the screen.

    After lunch, J went right back into the pool, while P headed to the clubs -- he wanted to be there for the "Resistance Base Challenge" and some other things. Around 2:00 I tried to coerce her out of the pool, as she was looking a little red (despite constant reapplication of sunscreen - one bottle we had with us must have been expired). It took until 2:20 to actually get her to agree to head inside, and then only because I promised her a snack (she'd skimped on lunch because of Little Mermaid!). Of course, Cabanas had closed at 2:15, so we were SOL on deck. No matter - we headed back to the stateroom to order room service. Meanwhile, D headed to the Buena Vista for a 2:30pm showing of Black Panther. And then, at 3:30pm, little miss and I started another character parade. We started with Goofy & Max (3:30, Preludes)

    Then Stitch (345, balcony)

    Stitch was great -- he briefly stole J's autograph book and tried to eat it. As she had just watched his movie all the way through for the very first time, she was extremely excited about this.

    Next were Chip & Dale (4:00 Preludes), followed by Minnie (4:15, balcony) Cinderella (4:15, atrium). J and Cinderella had a long conversation. When I asked later what they were discussing, J said "I thanked her for the tea". I pretty much forgave her for all the fits and near fits of the preceding few days. Hah.

    We skipped Pinnochio (who was in Preludes) because we spent so much time with Cinderella. But we didn't miss Daisy (4:45, balcony) or Donald (5pm, Preludes). We once again had a fine time with several of the CMs, including Witt and the guy who had written down J's name and stateroom for still-mysterious reasons. We also got to know a few of the other passengers who were doing similar character back and forths - Warwick Davis was the Star Wars celebrity on our cruise, and a couple members of his family were also frequent character hoppers, as were Cruise Director Trent's wife and son. There was also a little boy with some physical and developmental disabilities who we had seen at several previous character meets and would see again.

    By the time we got to Daisy, the movie was over and D had picked P up from the club so they could do the final mystery detective game together before dinner. They were both in great moods (P loves those games) and amused by J's continued infatuation with the characters.

    J needed a bath before dinner, so I cut her off after Donald (next up was Stitch again, luckily, so it wasn't too hard, though I did duck around a line I knew was for Tiana that I didn't want her to see) and we went back to the room to get ready. It was show night in Animators, so we didn't want to be late!

    At dinner that night J was finally sick of the kids menu (or possibly sick of our encouraging her to look beyond the mac n cheese) so she ordered pork off the grown up menu with special order apple sauce. It was, as always, wonderful how willing and eager the servers were to help make things special for the kiddos. Neither kid liked the decorate-your-own-cupcake dessert, but as they'd been eating a LOT of ice cream, they hardly had grounds to complain.

    The Animator's show went really well -- all of our drawings made it in, and the kids were entranced. They both really understood it more than they had last time and were delighted to see their names in the credits.

    There was a 7:30pm character dance party in the atrium that we all wanted to go to. It was a little too loud and a little too late, but the kids had an awesome time...until they abruptly, and somewhat dramatically, both crashed a little before it was over. I put the kids to bed and D went to see the 830pm showing of Coco, which he had not yet seen. He came back after proclaiming "that was such a good movie!" which, yeah, yeah, it is.

    This was the last day I have really great notes for, so things may get a little sketchier going forward as I have to rely on my memory (jogged by photos and navigators of course!). But stay tuned, because next is...STAR WARS DAY.


    DIS Veteran
    Jun 1, 2007
    Great updates, thank you! I was wondering if the gentlemen thought the night time aquaduck was worth making time for?


    Nov 19, 2015
    Great updates, thank you! I was wondering if the gentlemen thought the night time aquaduck was worth making time for?
    Yes! Absolutely -- shorter lines, the stars are beautiful, and the lights on the aquaduck are cool.
    I'm not sure it would be worth missing something you were looking forward to, but it's definitely worth squeezing in if you have time.


    Nov 19, 2015
    Day 6: Star Wars Day at Sea

    We were pretty excited about some of the new enhancements to SWDAS compared to two years ago. We had loved the day, though felt that it wasn't something we would have to do again - it was fun, but not worth a mark up. But since we ended up having to go over spring break again, and the dates were the same, here we were. As three of us are fans (and J will be, I'm sure, she's just too little), it's not like we minded!

    The kids were, naturally, up early and very excited. We had a complicated and packed schedule for the day, and I'd been a little worried about how some of the timing would work out. It ended up fine, but it was a little tight in some moments.

    The morning, however, started in a familiar way - to Cabanas right about when it opened, and then to shuffleboard. We picked up the things we needed to do the "Porgs on Board" scavenger hunt, which we did throughout the day. Someone had told us this would be in the mystery detective game, but it was not -- there were pictures of porg nests "hidden" (usually pretty obviously) all over the boat, and you had to find them and mark it off on the back of a porg mask. It was fun, but not quite as sophisticated or involved as we would have hoped.

    at 9am D had his BBB makeover. He got the Poe shirt and look. It was...fine. I don't think they do nearly as good a job with the adults as the kids, and I don't think we'd do it again for a grownup. The kids were scheduled for 9:15, but we arrived only a little after D -- they had 10am Jedi Training, and I didn't want to be late for that, so I didn't want to be late to start at BBB. They let the kids pick out costumes (including trying them on to make sure they were the right size) with me, so they could be in the actual chairs at 9:15. This made the timing work out perfectly.

    P chose Kylo Ren:

    As you can sort of see, the BBB fairy godmothers were transformed into imperial officers for the day. The conceit of SWDAS (similar to pirate night) is that the Fantasy has been conscripted by the First Order (or possibly the Empire -- there was some timeline mixing up, obviously, as characters from all the movies and tv shows were out and about in ways that weren't really consistent with the day being in the timeline of the Last Jedi, but, um, I don't think anyone cared).

    You can't see it, of course, but under the mask our little Kylo has a great scar and some funky hair. I wish I could share more full photos -- he spent the whole day in character, making mean/angsty faces.

    J decided to be Princess Leia "because I already have a Rey costume" (it's too small, but no matter). She further insisted that she had to have the wig, even though the fairy godmothers were clear it was going to be way too big (and we saw several older Princess Leias with their own hair up in buns). She is, however, a very persuasive little thing, and with the careful application of about 700 bobby pins (in the wig, in her hair, between her wig and hair) it was made to work, and hilariously adorable.

    The children got little backpacks with some stateroom magnets, a name badge (with their name spelled in Star Wars letters) and a couple other things, I think. We ended up putting a bunch of stuff in those bags, so I can't totally remember what came from BBB. They also got certificates for having completed Jedi Training, later.

    We headed down to Jedi Training, passing some BB8 races in the lobby on the way.

    There was a large group of children, split into two groups, one on each side, led by CMs in costume as non-specific Jedi. All the kids were given robes and lightsabers and then brought on stage as a group. They first went through several exercises together, learning from the "Jedi" how to do certain moves.

    They put the whole combination together as a big group - ready position, cut left, cut right, duck, stand, cut to the head. Then Darth Vader and Kylo Ren showed up (together, so, as I said, what timeline are we even in). The grown up Jedi told the kids they would have to fight.

    The kids were led down off the stage while there was some grown up taunting, and then the kids went up one at a time, first to one side (Vader) then the other (Kylo). Vader and Kylo each had a few lines they would say to the kids "I will show you how to embrace your true power" "embrace the dark side" and the like. Both our kids had Kylo.

    J was the smallest kid on stage, and I thought she might be too scared to go up -- but then the child in front of her in line got scared and bailed out, so J stepped up in her place without really having time, I think, to get nervous. Of course it was very funny - she was being told to "duck" when she barely came up to Kylo's waist and hardly needed to duck.

    Jedi training was clearly a huge success. If I had to do it over, I think I'd want to do Jedi Training very first and BBB after, but I'm not sure that was an option when we signed up for activities -- we were silver, so we didn't have a problem getting all of the activities when we booked (midnight the day our window opened), but some times were already sold out.

    After Jedi training we went to "Pool Patrol" - -D remembered this as having involved some kind of show last time, but this year it was just storm troopers wandering around, and it was really hot (especially for those in costume).

    We next had a series of character meet ups, both scheduled and un. Boba Fett was mostly guarding the Han Solo in carbonite in the atrium (which had been roped off much of the week)

    Later in the day there were official photographers set up at the carbonite, as well as with the SWDAS backdrop, so we got official portraits.

    I can't remember the exact timing, but all the following happened between the end of Jedi Training and 2:30pm-

    Chewbacca meet up--this was GREAT. He was really in character - gave J-as-Leia huge hugs (making up for the end of TFA?) and wouldn't talk to P-as-Kylo--pushed him away, growled at him, etc. P thought it was HILARIOUS (which is good, it totally could have gone another way! though I suspect Chewie would have adapted).

    Darth Vader meet up -- also very good, though the line was really really long. The tickets are timed, but there's still a lot of waiting.

    Droid meet up - R2D2 and C3PO. Again, long lines, but they were really good droids, a great interaction.

    We had lunch as well- quick serve food and ice cream, per usual.

    We went to the costume celebration at 12:45 in the atrium (though we were up above, looking down), and were really impressed by many of the costumes. We ran into lots of people from Rebels and some gamorrean guards. We did not see any jawas, however, which was a big disappointment as we had brought plastic gems to trade with them (supposedly they will trade for anything small and shiny that isn't real money).

    We finished the porg hunt around 2, and J was starting to show signs of an imminent sensory overload meltdown. The Last Jedi was showing in the Buena Vista at 2:15 and P really wanted to see it again -- as did I. D had already seen it 3 times (with me on opening night, a week later with some guy friends, and then a third time with P) so it was definitely my turn. He took J back to the cabin for some quiet time and I got to go to the movie. We got good seats, despite arriving only a couple minutes before start time. It was even better the second time, and I had loved it the first.

    After the movie we met up with the others and decided to do one last search for characters, and stop at the gift store for souvenirs - there was still some money on D's $100 GC from the focus group, and we'd told each kid they could choose one thing. J got a stuffed animal Pua (the pig from Moana), which she insisted on bringing everywhere we went for the rest of the trip and, well, most everywhere for the months since. P got a SWDAS t-shirt (and now I remember what he got when J and I were doing the princess tea -- he got Ezra's lightsaber and some pins for his lanyard).

    P wanted to change into his Luke Skywalker costume for dinner, so that we could be a whole family of Jedi. D and I agreed and wore our Jedi robes (purchased for the first SWDAS-- they're pretty hilariously cheap, but do the trick) and J was still Leia, though she took the wig off. I ended up carrying P's robe most of the time, it was too hot.

    Dinner was in Animator's again, and there were some Star Wars stills up, which was cool, but there wasn't a show or anything at dinner. Dinner itself was uneventful, and fun. The family at the table next door once again showed up in waves, disrupting the flow of service. This time our server visibly rolled his eyes when it happened (which we found amusing, and they didn't see).

    Walking back from Animator's, with Pua:

    We went to the beginning of "Celebrate the Saga" (715 in the lobby) but the kids were too tired to stay up for the costume celebration and dance party. We didn't even make it to the Porg mask photo op at 7:30, despite having done the whole Porg scavenger hunt. We saw a few more wandering characters and headed up to put them to bed. It was my turn to go out, but I was completely exhausted from waking up at the crack of dawn every morning. I knew D really wanted to go to Summon the Force (10:15, deck 11), so while I went out for a bit, I was back by 930 so he could go get a good spot. It was also cold that evening, and I was glad not to be outside.

    I did a little pre-packing organizing, and was about to fall asleep when the fireworks started. P woke up again, so we watched them from the verandah again, and then both went right back to sleep.

    It was hard to believe, but the vacation was almost over!!
    Last edited:


    DIS Veteran
    May 14, 2015
    I am thoroughly enjoying your trip report.

    My son is in the same age range as your kids and we are booked on this same itinerary next year, so I can relate to much of what you posted. (Although hopefully my son won't insist on wearing any huge wigs on SWDAS. That had to be my favorite detail of your report). I look forward to reading more.


    Nov 19, 2015
    I am thoroughly enjoying your trip report.

    My son is in the same age range as your kids and we are booked on this same itinerary next year, so I can relate to much of what you posted. (Although hopefully my son won't insist on wearing any huge wigs on SWDAS. That had to be my favorite detail of your report). I look forward to reading more.
    Thanks! Luckily for you, the only wig is the Leia one, so as long as he doesn't choose that costume you are totally safe! They've dressed up in their costumes a few times post cruise, of course, and I'm still finding bobby pins randomly in the wig or our costume bin.

    I meant to add, however, that the costumes are high quality. Much nicer than what I would usually buy the kids. As is the wig!


    Nov 19, 2015
    Day 7: Castaway Cay

    And here, at last, we come to the final perfect day. It was so good. Just looking at the pictures makes me want to go back tomorrow, always, every weekend. The weather was beautiful, everything was amazing.

    We were up early as usual, before the ship had fully docked. We watched from our verandah as the island got closer and closer.

    The view from our verandah was just ridiculous:

    I don't remember exactly what time we went to breakfast, but probably soon after it opened, knowing us. We got off the boat right after breakfast (stopping only to pick up our things and put on sunscreen en route) and were among the first off the boat. We learned then that the afternoon fishing trip we'd planned to take P on (the final trade off for not getting to do the princess tea! J was too young for the excursion) was cancelled. And even though in the cold February of Chicago P had been really excited for fishing, when faced with the reality of the Castaway Cay beach, he didn't mind not having an afternoon plan.

    We headed to the family beach, admiring as always the Fantasy and the island's Disney details.

    We found a good spot and settled in. We claimed two lounge chairs and alternated which grownup was sitting on a chair with a fruity drink and which was down by the water on sandcastle duty.

    At one point J claimed she was "cold" and huddled under a towel in a chair. Whatever it was she got back into the swing of things relatively quickly and was back in the water and on the beach soon enough. Neither wanted to go to any character meets, they were having too much fun in the sand. We had brought collapsible buckets and a few small beach toys, which was plenty. it stayed pretty open and quiet where we were all morning.

    I think we were established on the beach by about 8:45, certainly before 9am. We didn't move until it was time for the character dance party (I think 12:15?) which the kids observed and participated in from afar. We then had lunch at Cookies Too and talked about what to do in the afternoon. The kids, oddly, decided they'd had enough beach time and wanted to do something different. They didn't want to go to Scuttle's Cove, even though P had loved his time there 2 years ago.

    We decided to rent bikes. J and I weren't in bike-appropriate clothing (the boys were also in bathing suits, but that didn't so much matter. I was in a bathing suit and cover up, which I did not think would be comfy for biking). So we decided that the girls would take all the beach things back to the room, change, and come back while the boys got a head start. J and I had a fun time heading back - we took the tram instead of walking, and met a few new people on the way. I let J have my phone for a bit, and she took hundreds (literally) of photos of sand and bugs and leaves. It was funny, but I deleted it all that evening!

    When we got back to the room I found an unexpected, and slightly mysterious, invitation. It said our family was invited to a "photo opportunity" at 4pm in d-lounge. I didn't know what that was, but decided we were going to be into it no matter what!

    We headed back to the bike rental place, and I had just figured out how to get on the bike with J in the child seat when P&D returned from their circuit! It was funny timing. I told them about the invitation, and we agreed to meet back in the room at 3:30. D told me about the lookout tower, and some great photos he'd gotten on the bike route, and they headed back toward the family beach. Their plan was to do some mini golf and other sporty things and then hit the aquaduck as much as possible until it was time to meet us.

    The bike route was awesome, as advertised. Completely worth it for everyone, I think. We saw people of varying biking abilities, and got to see parts of the island we wouldn't have otherwise (including a fun view of the Fantasy from the lookout tower). J enjoyed sitting in the kid seat and kept urging me to go faster. Hah - those bikes are not built for speed!

    We took our time on the bike route, and slowly meandered back to the boat after. When we got on board J wanted to spend a lot of time staring out portholes.

    She didn't want to have to leave, the island or the ship.

    At 3:30 we all met in the stateroom and took turns showering. We did a little sorting and packing, and arrived in D-lounge promptly at 4. We figured we'd go from there to "Mickey and Friends" in the atrium at 4:30. We still weren't sure what to expect.

    In d-lounge we found cruise director Trent and his wife and child, the child with developmental disabilities we'd seen a few times, two other families, and no one else. We were then joined by these guys:

    Each family got 5 minutes with the 8 characters. It was amazing. We were all overwhelmed. There were no photographers on hand, so we were glad to have brought the actual camera and not just our phones (d-lounge lighting isn't great) (this photo is from my phone, obviously). I don't know for sure how or why we were selected, but either it was Juliet's friendship with Witt or the other handler who was so taken with her and wrote down our name and room number for no apparent reason. We hadn't requested it, and didn't know it was possible.

    After that it felt a bit silly to still go to Mickey and Friends, but J wanted to say goodbye to the princesses. We told our kids they couldn't get in line for the 8 characters we'd just seen, as that wouldn't be fair. P didn't feel like meeting up with anyone, so he morosely sat in a porthole and stared out at the sea, occasionally asking when we'd come back. J, of course, went back and forth to everyone having lots of conversations and introducing them to Pua.

    We convinced P to join us for a family photo with Peter Pan, who hilariously kept telling us "I'm in the Christmas card! I'm in the Christmas card!" He was great. We also got a family photo with Witt.
    (again, no official photographers at this event - probably because it would be too late for them to get added to the account? though ours from the beach were there no problem)

    I can't remember what we did between this and dinner, but it can't have been much! We were back in Enchanted garden. We thought we were out of wine (actually, we know we were) as we had timed it pretty well to end with 1 glass each on the last night. The servers, however, thought we had another bottle. At some point during the week, almost certainly because of how hectic things were in our section with the neighboring table always arriving late, 1 bottle we'd been given didn't get counted. They told us it would be way easier for everyone if we just...let them serve the extra bottle. We didn't finish it, but brought it back to the room to enjoy while packing.

    We lingered a bit after dinner, and then D took the kids to all their favorite parts of the boat for goodbyes while I emptied everything on their side of the curtain for packing. Once the kids were in bed I finished packing. We left the checked bags in the hallway not to be seen again until Chicago, and then the adult took turns on deck. We didn't end up finishing the wine, though we came close. I went to See Ya Real Soon.

    (I must have packed more earlier in the week than I've indicated here - they pick bags up at something like 830pm, but I honestly don't remember. We also did a fair amount of packing as we went along, and had kept things very organized given the size of the room)

    it was a really really good day.
    Last edited:


    Disney News and Updates

    Daily Updates and News

    Book your Disney Cruise through Dreams Unlimited Travel and receive a Shipboard Credit and an Exclusive Gift Basket!