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A Review of the Disney Fantasy

When we started planning our family vacation, we spent a lot of time analyzing our options. Traveling with two teens and two elementary schoolers poses some issues. How do you entertain everyone? Not an easy feat.

The boys wanted warm weather and tropical seas. The girls wanted Disney. They always want Disney. I guess that’s par for the course for eight and nine year old girls.

What happens when you mix sun, sand and Disney? A Disney Cruise, of course. The perfect way to make everyone happy.

But as you know, a Disney Cruise is a premium cruise that calls for big bucks. So, in an effort to make it more affordable, we chose to cruise off season which is a little risky. Can you say hurricane season?

Usually cruising during hurricane season does not cause any serious disruptions. This time it did. We were due to fly in on a late night flight last Friday, but once we saw the hurricane’s path, we flew down earlier in the afternoon to Tampa.

The flight was bumpy, but after two glasses of wine (for me, not the kids), we arrived safely and made it to Port Canaveral as scheduled. The ship was delayed due to Sandy, and little did we know how rough those last cruisers had it.

High seas and high wind conditions put a serious damper on their vacation. Not to mention all of the damage to the ship. Lots of broken glass and other furnishings had to be replaced before we could board.

But board we did, and away we went…

It didn’t take long for the boys to slip into vacation mode. They are teenage boys after all and the two things they like to do are loaf around and…..

Eat. From slurping down coconut milk, to munching on peel and eat shrimp, the boys quickly got used to an existence they knew nothing about prior to boarding the ship.

Of course the girls were most excited about meeting the Disney characters. This is where the Disney cruise expense is justified….

From the moment you board the ship and right up to your departure, you are interacting with the characters.

There’s no waiting in long lines with sweaty tired children waiting to meet their favorite characters. Nope, the characters are constantly milling around the decks and you just never know who you are going to bump into.

Every where we went there was a character to hug. Straight up til midnight the characters were part of the action.

You could find them getting their groove on at the nightly dance parties, hanging out at the ever so popular kid’s clubs, or just strolling around the decks.

You just don’t get that opportunity to spend so much one on one time with the characters in the parks. This is a unique selling point of a Disney cruise.

Halloween fell during our trip. Instead of trick-or-treating, we took the girls to get glammed up at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.

Afterwards we took advantage of the professional photographers that were located all over the lobby. It was an excellent opportunity to catch the girls in all of their Bibbidi Bobbidi glory.

As awesome as the ship is, the ports were an adventure as well.

The boys were more jazzed about the ports than the girls because they were very excited to snorkel for the first time. None of the kids have been out of the country before, so they were filled with wonder over the sea life and all of the sights in Mexico.

Watching them experience something they’ve only dreamed about brought me to tears more than a few times on this cruise.

The one port adventure we scheduled for the girls was a dolphin experience in Cozumel. Both girls were wildly excited with the idea of seeing a dolphin up close….

Shannon embraced the experience and was nothing but smiles.

Leela? Let’s just say that she was convinced the dolphin was going to eat her. That’s why there are no pictures of her playing with the dolphin. She was terrified.

So, how about the food on the Fantasy? We were pretty pleased. My only goal was to not gain a bunch of weight, so I was delighted with all of the fish and fresh produce.

All four kids always found something that they liked and the restaurants themselves were fantastical and made you feel like you were dining in a Disney movie.

Did I mention the all you can eat smoked salmon? I think I ate the equivalent value of my cruise in smoked salmon.

And if you didn’t eat enough during your scheduled dining times, there were plenty of options to grab a quick snack. The self serve ice cream station was a ginormous hit with my little ones and big kids alike.

There were plenty of opportunities to make new friends and we did just that. Lots of silliness and giggles all around.

But there were quiet moments too. Time to reflect and appreciate what was given. Also time to reflect on what was not taken away.

Each one of us greatly appreciated that we had this chance to spend time together. We didn’t have to explain to the kids how special and rare this opportunity was. They just knew.

Pixie dust has a way of making things shine that much brighter. Don’t you think?

A Disney Cruise is a once in a lifetime experience. It isn’t inexpensive, but if you travel off season, you will save some serious cash.

Keep in mind that traveling during off season does have some risk to it if you go during the hurricane months. I would highly suggest buying trip insurance.

You will also need an attitude of flexibility because your ports of call can be changed due to sea conditions. That was the only negative of our trip. Our Grand Cayman port was cancelled which was a huge disappointment for my sons who very much wanted to swim with the sting rays.

If Disney happens to read this, I would urge them to add another port for situations such as this. Spending an additional day at sea is not an acceptable option when you are investing that type of money in your once of a lifetime family vacation. Ahem.

Other than that, I can’t say enough good about my time on the ship. The shows were spectacular, the ship beautifully crafted, tons of stuff to do for the entire family.

A wish upon a star dream come true.

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow! What a very special memory and experience for you and your family Melanie! I’ve only done one cruise in my life and it did not have any of the Disney extras and special moments. I am sure that Disney comes at a premium but your pix reveal a cruise much more memorable than what we did. Your family will cherish these memories for life. Thank you for sharing your adventure with us!

  2. I’ve never been on a cruise, but have always thought about going. It looks like your family had a wonderful time and I really enjoyed seeing the pictures and reading about your adventure!

    • It was quite wonderful. So many fantastic photo opportunities! It was hard to narrow down the pictures I wanted to share with you.

  3. Love the review, we aren’t cruise folks but a Disney cruise is tempted. And I love your girls ruffled socks with their fancy dresses, I totally remember those from when I was a kid! :-)

    • I only have a year or two more that I can get those girls into ruffled socks. They are already starting to balk at it, lol.

  4. great review, great pictures – amazing selling (I’m sold) this is where we are going to go I have contemplated this for over 2 years now. However, I did have a friend go on this identical cruise last year and said that the teenages made the whole cruise a mess, they were up all hrs. of the night and people were unable to sleep because of it and were horrible during the day to guest(s). Did you find any problems (not with your teens), but per say the all around teens on board?

    • That’s interesting Angie! We had zero issues with that. Matter of fact, I was entirely surprised at the lack of teens on the ship. Also, there were lots of people cruising with no kids at all. Many of the kids that were sailing were in the kid’s clubs. The highest concentration of kids was by the family pool. There are pools dedicated just for adults and one just for teens, so there were options for all. Our rooms were pretty sound tight too. I slept like a rock!

  5. Beautiful pictures! My daughter did swim with the dolphins when we were in Mexico too. She actually got to ride on one. Her older brother wanted nothing to do with them :)

    • Isn’t it funny how siblings can be so different? I’m not sure if I could’ve gotten Shannon to ride one. A flipper shake and kiss was about enough for her. :)

  6. Wow! Sounds like you all had a memorable experience! I would love to have the opportunity to do that with my family…..maybe someday! I’ll be wishing upon a star….
    Thanks for sharing and I’m so glad that your trip wasn’t majorly impacted by the hurricane!

    • Thanks Sonya! This was our “someday” trip. We’ve been talking about it for many years. After the accident we decided to go for it. You never know how many somedays you have left.

  7. This sounds like a great option for when our kids are a little older. I’ve been hesitant to cruise, but bringing the kids and going Disney sounds like it’d be worth it. Were the cabins family-friendly? Big enough?

    • The cabins were the biggest I’ve seen on a cruise ship. Plenty of room to hold up to a family of 5. I was really impressed with the spaciousness of the cabins. I think this type of cruise is great for a family with toddlers on up. There are so many fantastic kid’s programs. My girls just loved going to their activities which was nice because it gave me a chance to relax!

  8. I love the pictures! Everything looks wonderful! This is something that I will have to invest in! I know your girls enjoyed all of the Disney characters! My son would love to experience something like this!

    • It certainly is an investment, but if Disney is your thing, you will not be disappointed. They go to infinity and beyond to make your vacation memorable!

  9. We did a similar Disney cruise when are kids were young. Now we are trying to save for the Alaskan Disney cruise before our older two kids graduate high school. It really is a once in a lifetime experience with all the extras.

  10. Stephanie says:

    Don’t you get to go to the special Disney Island when you do the cruise? I would love to hear about that if you got to go. I’m not really in to cruises but I think I would make an exception for a Disney Cruise. I love Disney, my little one is two and I want to take her soon – maybe next year. I know it is young and people say I am crazy but I just can’t help myself!

    • Stephanie- I don’t think two is too young for a Disney Cruise. Trust me, there were lots of toddlers and they were so cute to watch interact with the characters. Not to mention, you could get some alone time while she plays in the kid’s programs. And to assure you, they are on top of their stuff when it comes to security in those programs. Each kid wears an arm band with a computer chip and they aren’t going anywhere unless you go get them.

      As far as their island Castaway Cay goes, yes it’s very nice. The beaches are beautiful and there’s a nice place where they feed you a bbq lunch. For older kids there’s a small water park which my daughters loved. Unfortunately the snorkel lagoon and the sting ray encounter were closed due to damage from the storm. That certainly limited what my older kids could do on the island. Other than that, it was a nice place to visit!

  11. Looks like such a fun time!!

  12. What an amazing trip! Great pictures and a lot of fun to follow along with you!

  13. Thank you so much for your review!!! It looks like so much fun! Love the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and the girls are so cute! Do you know if the boutique is all the time or just at Halloween? I forwarded this to my hubby who has been talking about a Disneyland trip or Disney cruise since our babygirl was born 2 years ago. :) We’ve been on regular cruises before baby but we’re going to go ahead and start saving for a Disney cruise now so we can take her when she’s a little older. :)

    • Jenny,
      The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is new and exclusive to the Disney Fantasy, Disney’s newest cruise ship. Its a permanent feature. I was on the Disney Dream just about 2 years ago, you won’t be disappointed!

  14. So much fun ….. glad you family had this wonderful vacation full of memories. My husband and I took a disney cruise as part of our honeymoon and hit a hurricane at sea (not during the storm season) and I agree they need to add another port just is case. Your pictures are amazing!!!! So happy for all of you…. :)

  15. Melanie, is that you in the middle with the yellow gown?!! I could have SWORN it was you!

  16. All the pictures are great as usual…..but my favorite…..I love Shannon’s face looking at all that bacon. This is truly a Kodak moment captured.

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