Everyone’s favorite mouse invited us on a preview cruise aboard the Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship.
Before our most recent two trips to Disney, my husband and I would not have pegged ourselves for the Disney demographic. Sure, we have three kids, five and under. Still, our pre-kid vacations were more focused on hiking through jungles, exploring historical ruins, and touring Gothic churches. So, could a Disney cruise deliver both for our kids and for us?
Where the Disney Cruise Line really delivers is allowing families to customize experiences for the children, the whole family, and the adults.
1. There is an on-board water coaster: the Aquaduck
Last year, I was too pregnant to experience the Aquaduck and my daughter was too short. So, this year was our chance to take this wild ride. Watching the rafts float by in the clear tubs high above the deck, I thought this would be a gentle float. While not too frightening, there are thrills to be had on the Aquaduck with its drops and turns right over the ocean. While my five year old eagerly rode the Aquaduck three times, teens and adults will also be lining up for more. You have to be 42″ to ride accompanied by another passenger, who must be at least 14 years old. Those 54″, and up, may ride unaccompanied.
2. You’ll remember you existed before you were “mommy” and “daddy”.
While “adults only” might sound out of tune with the classic Disney songbook, the grown-up experiences are the perfect accompaniment to this family vacation. There are adults-only spaces, including dining, clubs, pools, and a spa. As the parents of three very young children, my husband and I rarely have a moment alone to talk, let alone reconnect. We appreciated the sophisticated spaces of the adults-only Europa clubs and bars where we could spend some quality time.
3. The kids won’t even miss you.
Maybe if you have teens, this won’t be a surprise. As parents of young children, however, we were excited to find a welcoming place for our infant to nap and play in the Small World Nursery. And our two older children, and their friends from 3-12 enjoyed play, crafts, and other activities at the Oceaneers Club. With “wave phones”, counselors can contact you right away if your children need you. There are plenty of security measures in place to ensure your child’s safety. I was impressed that with a glance at their monitor they could even tell me what part of the club my son was in when I came to pick him up. I think I need a Mickey bracelet for home use. Pre-teens and teens also have their own Youth Clubs.
4. The food is world-class, even in the family restaurants.
While it should come as no surprise that the cuisine in the adult restaurants, Remy and Palo, is top-notch, I was delighted to discover a range of delicious possibilities in the family restaurants. When I think of cruise food, I think plentiful, but uninspired, buffet. Not aboard the Disney Fantasy! Three sit-down restaurants will accommodate the pickiest of kid palettes while allowing adults to enjoy fine dining. My husband is an adventurous diner and sampled game meats and fish cooked to perfection. As a vegetarian, I was pleased to find several scrumptious meat-free options at each meal beyond the usual “mixed salad and pasta primavera” afterthought.
5. There’s room for the whole family!
Disney packs a lot of sleeping space into their comfortable staterooms. This is the view from our Queen-sized bed of the pull-down bunk beds, Pack N’ Play, and Murphy bed. The top bunk enjoys a night-sky scene with your favorite Neverland characters. A storage ottoman, closet, bureau and desk, and under-bed storage meant that our family of five never felt cramped. If we brought along the grandparents, we could even have the divider on the verandahs of our adjoining staterooms removed.
6. You can do your laundry.
I was surprised by the amenities aboard the Fantasy. You will find everything you need to make for a comfortable family stay. If you need, there are even laundry facilities.
7. You might even get more privacy in the bathroom than you do at home.
With three kids and two cats, I cannot remember the last time I was able to close the bathroom door. Maybe it is just me but I find it exciting that there is a split bathroom. One family member can use the restroom while another family member is showering. Some rooms even have round tubs for bathing young children.
8. You might find yourself turning into a princess or a pirate.
Part of the fantasy of Disney is the opportunity to transform yourself beyond the ordinary. A highlight of a Disney Cruise is the pirate party on deck. Whether or not you avail yourself of the services of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (including exclusive Disney Cruise Line “looks”), you are welcome to dress the part aboard the Disney Fantasy.
9. You’ll find your talents as a detective and an animator.
Aboard the ship, we were able to solve a mystery as part of the Mid-ship Detective Agency and see our own drawings join in some of Disney’s classic animated films at the Animator’s Palette. Both were high points for our kids and, frankly, for me!
10. The ship itself is a work of art.
With the Dream and Fantasy, Disney aims to bring back the golden age of cruising. The atrium is a gorgeous and I especially love the peacock theme that carries throughout the ship. Peacocks are an art nouveau staple and are enjoying something of a moment again.
11. You’ll have a view of the ocean–even if you get an inside stateroom.
We enjoyed the fresh air on our verandah and 88% of the staterooms onboard are outside rooms. For those 12% of inside staterooms, a magic porthole provides a glimpse of the view outside the ship…plus visits from favorite Disney characters!
12. You can enjoy Broadway-quality entertainment.
In addition to shows on deck, fireworks, and a movie theater, the Disney Fantasy boasts three live theater performances, including the original shows “Wishes” and “Believe” plus a stage adaptation of Disney’s Aladdin.
13. You will meet some real characters.
Some of our Disney favorites were aboard the Fantasy! My middle son was so excited to be welcomed aboard by Mickey and my daughter loved meeting her favorite princess, Belle.
14. You’ll feel like royalty yourself.
Whatever you do aboard the Fantasy, it is the quality of the Disney cast that makes for a true luxury experience. From the towel animals in your stateroom, to the servers who remember all of your preferences and allergies, to every last smiling face you encounter, you will feel like your Disney Cruise vacation was custom tailored just for you and your family.
Disclosure: Disney flew me down to Florida and invited me on the Fantasy Disney Cruise. We paid for my family’s flight and other accommodations. The photos of the Aquaduck, Europa, the stateroom tub, Animator’s Palette, Atrium, and Mickey and Minnie with guests are courtesy of Disney Cruise Lines. All other photographs are mine and may not be used without written permission. As always, all words, opinions, and giddy excitement are my own.