The 4000-passenger Disney Fantasy, christened in New York City on March 1, 2012, is the fourth ship in the Disney Cruise Line's fleet. She is a sister ship to the Disney Dream launched in January 2011. Those who have sailed on the Disney Dream will not be disappointed; the Disney Fantasy has a familiar feel and similar layout. However, the Disney Fantasy has several enhancements that the cruising public will love.
This article primarily focuses on the differences between the Disney Fantasy and the Disney Dream. Many of these differences are due to the planned itineraries for the new ship. Although both the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy sail from Port Canaveral year-round, the Disney Fantasy sails 7-day cruises to the eastern or the western Caribbean, while the Disney Dream sails 3- to 5-day cruises to the Bahamas. Longer cruises require more diversity on a ship such as more dining options, more production shows, and more onboard activities and entertainment for guests of all ages. The Disney Fantasy designers have thoughtfully addressed these requirements.
What hasn't changed on the Disney Fantasy? The cabin layouts and categories are the biggest areas that have remained unchanged. Both the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy have 1,250 cabins and suites, and the layouts and categories are about the same. Like her sister ship, the Disney Fantasy has 1,100 outside cabins, and over 900 of these have a private verandah. The new ship has 21 suites, the largest of which measures over 1,700 square feet. The 150 inside cabins feature a virtual porthole that provides a look at what's going on outside via video cameras on each side of the ship.
Since the Disney Fantasy is sailing 7-day cruises year-round, Disney Cruise Line has added new venues and onboard activities so that guests of all ages will have a wide selection of things to do while on the ship.
Family Activities on the Disney Fantasy
The Enchanted Art has been a big success on the Disney Dream, and the Disney Fantasy has 22 pieces of these fanciful pieces scattered throughout the ship. Fourteen of the enchanted "paintings" are incorporated into an interactive family adventure quest, "The Case of the Stolen Show". Guests move around the ship with special "keys" that unlock the enchanted art and provide clues to help the Muppets find their stolen items. The Disney Dream has similar detective games, but this one is new, and it will be interesting to see how the muppets and the Disney characters get along.
The D Lounge on deck 4 midship is a large family lounge with seating for 350 guests. The D Lounge has activities for the whole family or for specific ages and interests scheduled throughout the day and into the evening. It's really nice to have a lounge dedicated to family fun to offset the adults-only entertainment area Europa.
AquaLab is a new water play area outdoors on the upper deck near the entrance to the AquaDuck. This 1,800-square-foot area is filled with pop jets, geysers, bubblers, squirting water, and even a "Duck Boy" drenching bucket. Although kids will love the AquaLab, it looks fun to adults, too.
The AquaDuck water coaster debuted on the Disney Dream, and the Disney Fantasy has its own version. The 765-foot long tube is filled with 10,000 gallons of water and guests ride on floats while the AquaDuck completely laps the pool deck and drops four decks.
The open-air Sports Deck on deck 13 aft has a 9-hole miniature golf course, several virtual sports simulators, and a sports court for basketball or volleyball.
Kid's Activities on the Disney Fantasy
Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab
Like the three other ships in the Disney fleet, the Disney Fantasy has large facilities for kids, each with amazing technology and fascinating design. The Oceaneer Lab and Oceaneer Club on the Disney Fantasy are designed for ages 3 to 10. Located at deck 5 midship, the spacious area is open most days from 8 am to 12 midnight and has seven major sections:
- The Rotunda of the Oceaneer Club has a 103-inch plasma screen for watching movies or interacting with Crush, the sea turtle from "Finding Nemo" who also appears on the screens at Animator's Palate. The Oceaneer Lab features special visits from the animated alien Stitch using the same technology.
- The Magic PlayFloor reminds me of a giant Wii game. The interactive floor is used for group activities and games led by the youth counselors.
- Andy's Room comes straight out of the "Toy Story" movies, with all the toys giant-sized (from a kid's perspective).
- Monster's Academy is another interactive space with an elaborate climbing structure and computer monitors for playing games.
- Pixie Hollow is dominated by a large tree with hundreds of twinkling lights. This magical forest setting is used for crafts.
- The Explorer Pod features a bright blue-and-yellow submarine in the center of the room. The submarine has 16 interactive computer stations inside, and the room has an additional 8 gaming stations outside. The submarine even has a usable periscope where kids can look outdoors.
- The Animator's Studio incorporates elements from both classic and modern animator's studios. Kids can use their imagination to create their own characters or sketch their favorite Disney character. Using an animation simulator, the computer-animated characters will come to life.
Two workshops connect the Oceaneer Club and the Oceaneer Lab. These are used for science experiments and have tables for meals. Disney has found that some kids don't want to leave even to eat, so they now can have food delivered! The area even has child-sized restrooms.
It's a Small World Nursery
Next door to the Oceaneer Club is the nursery for infants and toddlers ages 3 months to 3 years. The play area has tons of toys and interactive features. Parents who are nervous about leaving their child can observe or just drop in to check on them through a one-way mirror. The nursery also has a separate room with a calm, quiet atmosphere for naptime.
Teens and Tweens Areas
Tweens ages 11 to 13 have their own area called Edge inside the forward funnel on deck 13. This tween area is similar to the space on the Disney Dream--a loft-style space with a whole bunch of hi-tech entertainment, including notebook computers, video wall, lighted dance floor, and a photo area where the tweens can make their own photo postcards and video karaoke.
Since the Edge is inside the funnel, it offers great views of the pool decks. Tweens can see out, but no one can see inside. Since the AquaDuck winds through the forward funnel, tweens also get silhouetted views of the AquaDuck riders as they quickly zoom through the funnel.
Teens ages 14 to 17 have their own exclusive club called Vibe. It's found on deck 5 forward, far away from the tweens. This 9,000-square foot space has a fountain bar, media room with 103-inch LCD screen, computers with software for creating and editing videos, and a dance club area. The teens also have their own private outdoor deck area with lounge chairs, two wading pools, and pop jets and misters for cooling off. The outdoor deck area also has room for deck games like ping pong and foosball.
Guests ages 13 to 17 even have their own spa area on the Disney Fantasy--the Chill Spa. Located inside the Senses Spa & Salon, teens have two treatment rooms with showers and their own seating area.
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and The Pirates League
Those who have visited Disney theme parks may have seen the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutiques, where young girls ages 3 to 12 are transformed into Princesses. The young Princess gets to keep her dress with most packages and will look spectacular when dining at the elegant Royal Court. Packages range from $55 to $595, and include costumes, hair, tiara, minimal make-up, pixie dust, and a "royal reveal". The Disney Fantasy has Princess costumes for all the popular Disney Princesses, and girls on the ship even have costumes made exclusively for the Disney Fantasy, including Princess Minnie, Sailor Minnie, and Princess swimming attire.
On the day of the Pirates in the Caribbean deck party, the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is changed into The Pirates League, and the whole family can get pirate makeovers to wear to the party.
Adult Activities on the Disney Dream
Sometimes people think the Disney ships are just for families with children. However, couples or adults traveling without kids can have a memorable cruise experience. They can mix and mingle with the Disney characters, but also escape to the adults-only entertainment district called Europa. This district has five bars and lounges with a European theme.
- Skyline provides panoramic views of seven distinct European cities--London, Athens, St. Petersburg, Florence, Budapest, Paris, and Barcelona. These cityscape views are through large virtual windows and change about every 12 minutes. The bar has a penthouse feel, with lighted drink menus that match each city. It's fun to see the cityscapes by day and by night. The Skyline Bar on the Disney Fantasy is larger than the bar with the same name on the Disney Dream.
- The Tube is certainly aptly named. This dance club and bar are modeled after London's subway system. The mod furniture, carpet with subway map, subway car strap hangars, a large clock always set to 1:50 (ten minutes before closing), and Union Jack flag that adorns the dance floor are great reminders of The Tube.
- O'Gill's Pub is an Irish bar with dark woods and brass accents. Although the bar looks very traditional, it has modern flat screen televisions for watching sporting events. O'Gills features its own private label Irish Cream, which I sampled and deemed delicious.
- Ooh La La is very French and looks much like an elegant French boudoir with lots of crystal and velvet. The Ooh La La furnishings are chic and the private label Champagne by Tattinger is cold. Women will love this bar; I'm not so sure about men.
- La Piazza is right next to Ooh La La and is inspired by the picturesque plazas found in most Italian towns. The bar is modeled after a carousel, and Venetian masks and a classic Vespa look very Italian. The bar menu includes classic Italian drinks.
Be sure to visit the Barcelona themed bathrooms in Europa. The tile on the walls is marvelous.
Adults looking for pampering and relaxation should visit the Senses Spa & Salon. It offers all the standard spa treatments and has a rainforest-themed aromatherapy steam room and sauna.
Adults also have two specialty restaurants to dine at on the Disney Fantasy--Palo and Remy. Both of these provide exceptional service and cuisine. Palo offers Italian cuisine at dinner and has a marvelous brunch on sea days. Remy is an intimate French restaurant with gourmet cuisine. In addition to dinner, Remy has two must-do dining events--Disney Cruises' Pompidou's Patisseries Dessert Experience and Disney Cruises' Petites Assiettes de Remy.
As you can see, there will be plenty to do on the Disney Fantasy on your 7-day cruise. And, don't forget, you'll be visiting some delightful Caribbean and Bahamian ports of call.
Indoor Common Areas
Guests on the Disney Fantasy enter through the spectacular peacock-themed Atrium Lobby, with its cascading crystal chandelier that is 22 feet in diameter and 13 feet long. The chandelier is patterned in green and blue, and the atrium is three decks high. The decor of the Disney Fantasy is Art Nouveau, not to be confused with the Art Deco on the Disney Dream. The elegant lobby has a curving grand staircase, with a bronze statue of Minnie Mouse at a place of honor at the foot of the staircase. Minnie joins other Disney characters who have been honored with an atrium lobby statue -- Mickey Mouse (Disney Magic), Ariel (Disney Wonder), and Donald Duck (Disney Dream).
The other interior common areas also reflect the elegant Art Nouveau style.
Outdoor Deck Areas
The outdoor deck areas on the Disney Fantasy are similar to those on the Disney Dream. Deck 11 seems to be covered with swimming pools and deck chairs. Donald's pool is for families, and Mickey's pool is for younger children. A giant Funnel Vision LED screen overlooks Donald's pool. Nemo's Reef is a water play area for those too young to go into the pools.
Adults have their own pool area called Quiet Cove. It's found on deck 11 forward and features a swimming pool with swim-up bar. Quiet Cove also has quieter lounge chairs than the rest of deck 11 and its own lounge with specialty coffees and teas. Walkers will also enjoy the wrap-around Promenade on deck 4. New to the Disney Fantasy is the Satellite Sun Deck area on deck 13 forward, which uses the ship's satellite system as a base for a waterfall.
As noted earlier in this article, guests of all ages will enjoy playing on the Sports Deck, splashing in the water of the AquaLab, or zipping around the pool deck on the AquaDuck water coaster.
Since the Disney Fantasy will be cruising the Caribbean year-round, the numerous outdoor spaces will get lots of use.
The Disney Fantasy will feature five original live entertainment productions in the 1,340-seat Walt Disney Theatre:
- "A Fantasy Come True" -- Welcome aboard show
- "Wishes" -- A new 45-minute musical about three best friends who discover the secret to being grown up
- "Disney's Aladdin - A Musical Spectacular" -- Musical featuring the lovable, wise-cracking genie and other characters from Disney's film Aladdin
- "Disney's Believe" -- Musical featuring a cast of Disney characters and a workaholic father
- "An Unforgettable Journey" - Farewell show
The 399-seat Buena Vista Theatre will show first-run movies, including films in Disney Digital 3-D. These movies will be shown morning, afternoon, and night, so movie buffs will love this comfortable theatre.
In addition to the live entertainment and movies, guests sailing on the Disney Fantasy will have family-friendly parties on their cruise. The ship will have a sail away party as the Disney Fantasy leaves Port Canaveral. All the Disney characters will be dancing and singing along with the excited passengers. Once each cruise is a fun pirate night called, "Mickey's Pirates IN the Caribbean". Everyone dresses up like a pirate and Mickey saves the day. The pirate party is capped off with the industry's only fireworks display at sea. There's also a "Disney Channel at Sea Pool Party", where the cruise staff hosts a deck party full of games and contests in between Disney Channel shows.
With all the onboard activities, entertainment, and ports of call, guests can be as busy or as lazy as they choose!
Disney Cruise Line uses rotational dining at its three main restaurants in the evening. Each restaurant has two fixed seatings and its own ambiance and menu. Guests move each evening to a different restaurant, taking their servers with them. It's a great concept, and everyone gets to eat at each of the restaurants at least twice. The three dining rooms are the same as on the Disney Dream:
- Royal Court -- This elegant dining room features French cuisine, and the room looks like it belongs in a palace. In fact, much of the decor was lifted straight from a Disney animated movie set. The columns are similar to those in "Beauty and the Beast", and the wall sconces and floor plan are from "Cinderella". Many of the other ornate furnishings and fixtures remind me of scenes from the other Disney classics that feature Princesses like "Sleeping Beauty" and "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". The attention to detail is particularly impressive. Diners will see many Disney icons like glass slippers, apples, roses, and tiaras incorporated into the decor. The bread baskets are even shaped like Cinderella's coach! The walls feature hand-crafted mosaic murals of the Princesses--Cinderella, Snow White, Belle, and Sleeping Beauty (Aurora), while their Princes are seen on another wall.
- Animator's Palate -- The decor and the two shows are the stars of Animator's Palate. The dining experience is described in detail in this article. The menu varies with the show. For "Animation Magic", the cuisine is as creative as the guest's drawings, with sampling plates to start, followed by fish, beef Wellington, or lamb. Dessert is also a trio of small tastes. For the "Undersea Magic" show, the menu includes several seafood items, along with Asian-inspired dishes.
- Enchanted Garden -- This casual restaurant looks like the gardens of Versailles. This restaurant is also open for buffet breakfast and lunch, and the dining environment changes from day to night. In the evening, the meal is full-service, with prime rib, sea bass, and salmon among the main course dishes. The desserts include gelato during the day, along with a Grand Marnier souffle, creme brulee, and cheesecake in the evening.
In addition to the three main restaurants, the Disney Fantasy also has several casual venues. Cabanas is the indoor/outdoor casual buffet on deck 11 near the pool. In the evening, Cabanas transforms into a table-service casual dining experience. Other casual restaurants include Flo's Cafe, which is a fast food venue near Donald's Pool, and the two frozen sweet treat stations nearby.
The Disney Fantasy also features a room service menu.
Adults have two marvelous extra-fee specialty restaurants if they want to experience a memorable meal. Palo specializes in Northern Italian cuisine and also has an amazing brunch on sea days. Remy is an upscale and romantic dining venue with French cuisine. In addition to dinner, Remy has two amazing sampling experiences--Pompidou's Patisseries Dessert Experience, which is a sampling of six desserts designed and presented by the Remy chefs, and Petites Assiettes de Remy, which is a sampling of six of the dinner dishes served at Remy, presented in the early evening like a progressive dinner in the restaurant.
Both of these adult restaurants offer great views of the sea and are more formal than the other restaurants.