The Disney Fantasy seemed to satisfy everyone, children and the inner child in adults, on a recent three-day preview cruise.
Passengers of all ages were riding the ship’s Aquaduck, water roller coaster, and greeting Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Chip and Dale, in addition to Snow White, Cinderella, and a host of other Disney characters, except Pluto and the Big Bad Wolf that were notably absent. The ship published a daily character appearance schedule.
According to Disney executives, the company’s legacy is built on story-telling, and that carries over into its cruise experience with a pirate celebration and a princess gathering (costumes available in the shops) to dining, first-run movies and production shows.
Three original and innovative theater productions also involved known characters and segments from Disney stories. Shows were performed twice nightly to packed houses.
Performances were energetic and youthful, and the Disney stories were adapted in modern versions, but with three different shows over as many days, the production formula became apparent and special effects were repeated. The challenge Disney has, and seems successful at, however, is to appeal to seven- and seventy-year olds, all at the same time.
While the ship is geared to families and children, there is a dedicated night-time area for adults called Europa with several lounges and bars. However, they seemed at times to be overwhelmed by the number of guests and bar service slowed to a snail’s pace.
There are also day-time sun deck and pool areas dedicated to adults (18 years and older).
The Fantasy continues Disney’s tradition of rotating dining rooms, with the Royal Court, Animator’s Palate and Enchanted Garden, whereby the dining staff follows the guests to the different venues. Alternative dining is offered in the more upscale Palo and Remy restaurants, while the Cabanas area offers casual dining. There is also pizza and grilled foods available, as well as room service.
As with many new ships, the service level throughout was mixed, ranging from our cabin stewardess, who was excellent, to very good service in Palo, and a main dining room staff that was trying, but not quite getting it. The food was good, but also inconsistent.
Staterooms were spacious with separate toilet and shower facilities like on the first two ships.
Rare to find these days, the Disney Fantasy has a Promenade Deck all the way around the ship, although modified to fit the bow and stern, but allowing for early morning jogs, all day walks (four laps equal one mile), or lingering the day away in an old-fashioned wooden deck chair (that was missing pillows, however, and thus not very comfortable).
The cruise line’s private island, Castaway Cay continues to be a BIG hit with large areas for families and adults only, and offering a variety of water sports and related activities.
One more little touch, several airlines allow passengers to check in aboard and receive boarding passes and luggage tags before leaving the ship, making their trip home a little more convenient. That cannot be said for the 40-minute bus rides between the airport and the ship with non-stop television programming, including sales pitches.
The Fantasy is a family-oriented ship, especially for those who have a relationship with the Disney characters and stories and probably has the most extensive offerings for children at sea. The Disney ships do not have casinos, but also no libraries.
At 130,000 tons, the Fantasy has 1,250 staterooms with a maximum capacity of 4,000-passengers. She sailed her maiden on March 31 and will be sailing alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries from Port Canaveral.