We traveled in December 2017. It was my wife’s 50th and she wanted to visit the parks, I wanted to go on a cruise so we combined them into one holiday.
On arrival at Orlando it was a 1 hour transfer to Port Canaveral ready to sail the following day.
On the day of departure we caught the cab down to the port and joined the throngs outside the Disney atrium, I am not particularly a Disney fan but the excitement of all those around us was palpable and infectious.
The boarding process was extremely efficient and entertaining, on entering the ship, you entered as a family group, announced as you cross the threshold with the crew dressed in their Christmas attire applauding and greeting you, what a welcome!
Sailing on the Disney Fantasy you get a huge open boarding area, this was dressed with a 30′ Christmas tree, some of the best Christmas decorations I have ever seen and a 20′ long gingerbread house which smelt divine.
Luggage wasn’t far behind us however we were taken to one of the restaurants and given a 5 course meal whilst the cases were taken to the cabin.
On leaving port you definitely get a sense you are embarking on a cruise that was special. DCL play when you wish upon a star with the fog horns, there is no mistaking when they are around.
The ship and facilities are immaculate, the service was spot on and nothing was too much trouble.
On boarding you get a rota of the themed restaurants where you dine, we had Enchanted garden with opening lights and booths , Animators palate where you can draw cartoons and these get animated and played on the walls around the restaurant, the supports are giant paint brushes and this was my favorite by far, after that was the Royal court with its huge chandelier and French decor.
There is an informal Cabanos restaurant open most of the day alongside Palo and Remy, both adult only dining.
The food was incredible, you can order as many courses as you want, if it isn’t on the menu then they will make it for you, table size is generally 4 – 6 persons.
Forward there is an adult only area with loungers, small pools and hot tubs, towards the rear is an aquaduck, a clear water slide which takes you around the ship and over the side,lit up at night, below that is the crazy golf, table tennis, basket/ football court and a large water play area.
There are two pools mid ships, plenty of loungers and funnel vision which is on during the day, this is an outdoor cinema at night.
Drinks, ice cream and the “takeaway” booths are on this deck and we loved going on deck, ordering pizza and chicken tenders and watching a movie at night when it was quiet on deck.
Movies and shows are on every day, as is the cabaret, the shows are all West end quality and polished performances. You normally get the latest release if one is due out before they are launched anywhere else.
There is a large area with different themes for younger children and teenagers so they can hang out away from parents, all small children are tagged and they will keep them there if they don’t want to go ashore,we did the Castaway Key 5K run and our youngest daughter wanted to stay on board, so she did. It was great, we had our run, she stayed and played until we got back, changed and went snorkeling, they provide you with a phone if there is a problem.
There is a running track around the deck and deck games available as well as a gym.
Character meet and greets such as breakfast with Micky can be arranged in advance and there are ample opportunities to get photographed along side your favorites, we went making gingerbread houses with Ailsa and Anna from Frozen on one. these are all in a schedule so you can get them all.
The cruise took us to Cozumel in Mexico which was fantastic, we visited Mayan ruins, chocolate factories and had a Mexican feast, Grand Cayman where we planted Mangroves, Costa Maya in Mexico, I didn’t like that, preferring the ship as it is rammed full of cruise line passengers from other ships and finally Disney’s own Castaway Key in the Bahamas, apart from the run it is mainly swimming, sunbathing and eating/ drinking there but it is nice and quiet as only Disney use this island.
The cabins are well laid out and spacious, these range from inside cabins with magic portholes which have camera footage from the bows and the occasional Disney character popping up, through to the large concierge apartments at the back for those with very deep pockets.
My view is, you are not in your cabin much, there is so much going on we only changed and slept there spending the rest of the day elsewhere on-board so consider that before hand.
The basic price includes all food apart from the Paulo and Remy restaurants, non alcoholic drinks and ice cream from the stations, (delivered to your cabin for the price of a tip) and all takeaway style food.
There is also a shopping mall area.
We traveled with our daughter so we joined the facebook page, each cruise date has one, there are different groups such as fish extenders and mixology you can join through these pages.
Door decorations are a big thing so don’t feel left out by not doing one, some are artwork!
We also paid $300 for the photo package, well worth it for the volume and quality of photos we had throughout the cruise, 300 official ones and twice as many of my own that week alone.
Each time you dock you can take 2 bottles of wine or 6 beers on-board for consumption in your cabin.
On a cruise you can pay a $250 retainer for your next, this gives you a discount on the next cruise as the price is frozen at the time plus $250 on-board spend, this lasts for 2 years, if you don’t use it, you just ask for the $250 back, this is a no brainer if you are considering it.
Disney can organise the transfer to the parks if you cruise first, this is cheap at $25 pp.
Food, lots of it, I lost the buttons off my waistcoat during the week on-board, there is something for everyone at all times of the day.
Apart from Mixology classes, drinks can be expensive, these are not booze cruises, they are for Disney fans and families, the focus is firmly on this too although there is a night club and comedy venue along with an Irish bar on board.
Ours was Christmas themed and families were having photos in Pyjamas in front of the Gingerbread house and Christmas tree. It even snowed inside the ship during the procession and singalong.
Disney is not the cheapest cruise line, it is however well worth the money. We enjoyed it so much the next one is already booked for May 2019 and I am already planning the 2020/21 cruise afterwards.