Introduction: Disney Fantasy Cruise Family Vacation
Hey Everyone, I'm Jeremy Hoffpauir.
Are you thinking about going on a Disney Cruise? Have you booked your Disney Cruise and looking for information to make the most out of your vacation? Are you searching for ideas for on where to take your next vacation? If you fall into any of these categories, the information in this blog post is for you!
My family and I went on a 7-day Disney Cruise on the Disney Fantasy cruise ship out of Port Canaveral from February 25, 2017 to March 4, 2017. Santa Claus was kind enough to give our kids Disney Cruise tickets. This was definitely a magical gift because Stacey and I each received a ticket from him as well. I bet it took Santa a while to pay for this cruise! We had such a fun-filled trip, I am sharing our experience on this vacation in order to help those who are planning to go in the near future or for those who are uncertain whether or not this cruise is right for them and worth the investment. The information in this article is not a detailed review of this cruise and I will not duplicate the information on the Disney website. Rather, my goal is to provide you with the information that would have been beneficial for me before we set sail.
I organized this Disney Cruise article into 4 sections to make it easier to read.
- Section 1 (Planning your Disney Cruise) covers the financial & planning aspects of the Disney Cruise.
- Section 2 (Disney Fantasy Amenities/Activities/Tips)I provide detail about the amenities & activities we experienced on the ship.
- Section 3 (Daily Review) contains a day-by-day summary of itineraries, port excursion details & advice.
- Section 4 the link to the full YouTube playlist.
Step 1: Planning Your Disney Cruise - Financial Aspect
Since Santa Claus purchased our Disney Fantasy Cruise tickets for our vacation in 2017, I had to do a bit of research on the financial portion of the trip to share with you. If we would have paid for the trip, the trip would have been $5,500 total (booked 1 year in advance, 20% down & the balance due 90 days before our sail date). We received $100.00 of onboard credit because we booked through a travel agent. The onboard credit is not available if booked through Disney directly. We used our Disney Visa card to pay for the trip and received 6 months no interest financing and an onboard credit of $50.00. I would definitely recommend obtaining a Disney Visa credit card if you don’t already have one. It not only provides discounts & perks when booking the trip, but it also provides 10% off of $50 or more on merchandise purchased while on the ship. To recap & consolidate the information above:
- Total Cost: $5,500.00 for 2 adults & 2 children for a Family Ocean View Stateroom (Cabin 5016).
- Booked trip through travel agency and received a $100.00 onboard credit.
- Booked trip 1 year in advance.
- Used Disney Credit card to finance trip interest free for 6 months with 20% down. Received a $50.00 onboard credit for using the Disney Visa.
- I highly recommend applying for the Disney Visa credit card.
My wife (Stacey) is an expert at planning vacations & she proved that once again for our Disney Cruise. The majority, if not all, of our vacation planning happened months in advance of our sail date. I highly recommend you read this section and spend the necessary time planning your Disney Cruise. I know, it is very overwhelming, which is why I am so glad Stacey spent the time doing it.. Hopefully, the information in this section will help streamline your planning activities.
The planning all starts with interacting with your fellow passengers at the following Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/452737938235942/ . This page has a wealth of information & it also contains groups to join for specific cruise dates. I encourage you to click on the link above and join this FB page. Even though the admins of this FB page refused my request to post a link to my blog on their Facebook page, I still highly recommend their page. They still refused it when I offered to remove all links to my website, etc..
Fish Extender Program & Stateroom Magnets
Stacey joined a FE (Fish Extender) program for our cruise along with many other families. The FE program is basically a gift exchange group with other passengers on your cruise.
I’m sure you are asking the same question I asked – What the hell is a Fish Extender? The program is referred to as the FE program because there is a bin the gifts are placed in & hung outside the door on the fish to each stateroom (view picture below). The gifts can be small, large, homemade or purchased, etc.. According to my wife, people enjoy gifts which are specific to where you live. For example, we live in Louisiana so our gifts were only things found in Louisiana. The gifts can be given out all at once or they can be given out over the course of the cruise. The actual Fish Extender can be homemade or purchased online and they can be as simple as a bag (ok, maybe not that simple) or as complex as you like. Most of them are made to fold/collapse for easy transportation on/off the ship.
Honestly, I thought Stacey lost her mind when she told me she is participating in the program. I didn’t think the program was a bad thing, I just thought it was an unnecessary action item to add to our growing Disney cruise ‘to do’ list. I certainly stand corrected because our kids absolutely LOVED the FE program. They loved arriving at our stateroom and checking the FE for goodies. It was definitely one of the highlights of the entire cruise and I encourage you to get to know your fellow passengers by joining the program.
To give the stateroom a decorative look and to make it easier for children to find their cabin easily, stateroom magnets are very popular. They can be purchased from many websites (view gear section below) or you can make the magnets. Stacey made our magnets and each member of our family had to paint their own magnet. She did a fantastic job making the magnets and it was also a great idea to involve the family. Either way you choose to go, it is nice to see the decorative door to your Disney Cruise cabin.
In an effort to conserve energy, Disney requires a key card to be inserted into an interior slot near the stateroom door in order for the stateroom’s electricity to function. A stateroom card, credit card, or any standard sized card can be used; however, Stacey purchased a Disney Cruise stateroom light card. This was really cool because we did not need to use other important cards, which would have probably been misplaced. Additionally, the Disney Cruise light card is a great souvenir and can be used on future Disney Cruise vacations.
Disney Port Excursions & Events
Disney allows passengers to book port excursions and events on the cruise ship within 75 days of your sail date. For returning passengers (members of the castaway club), you can book sooner (exact length of time before depends on your Castaway Club status – silver, gold, platinum). We booked our port excursions 75 days in advance and I encourage you to do the same. Activities such as port excursions, bibbidi bobbidi boutique, character breakfast, spa service, restaurant (Palo & Remy) reservations fill up fast. You can also take care of things such as photo packages & pre-pay gratuities during this time as well.
Step 2: Disney Fantasy App, Internet Access, Video on Demand
There were many amenities on the Disney Fantasy we enjoyed and used frequently and I will review each of them before I go into day-by-day detail of our cruise experience.
Stacey and I used this app on our phones extensively throughout our Disney cruise. The app works by connecting to the WiFi network on the ship – I recommend putting your phone in ‘airplane’ mode, then turning on WiFi and connecting to the wireless network on the ship. This will prevent your phone from accidentally roaming. The app does not work until your cruise begins.
The app allows you to view the day’s activity schedule on the ship and streamlines the planning of your day. You can also set reminders for specific events. I really liked the texting feature in the app, which allows you to text other passengers on the ship.
For those of you who want Internet connectivity, you can purchase Internet plans through the app. The Internet plans (Connect@sea) allow you to pay $0.25 per mb of usage or you can purchase a package that can be shared by those in your party. The Internet usage can be tracked via a browser window on your device. I don’t remember the details of each package, but I do remember the price was reasonable compared to other cruise lines. I believe I remember 100mb was ~$20.00.
Video on Demand
I enjoy the idea of ‘unplugging’ from the real world when I go on a cruise, which includes the triple play – phone, Internet, and TV. We didn’t allow our kids to bring their iPads on our Disney cruise, but we do allow them to watch cartoons on TV. The VoD selection on the Disney Fantasy was outstanding as one would expect. Many of the classic and new Disney movies were easily accessible via the on-demand menu. Our kids loved watching Disney movies and cartoons in the morning and in the evening before bedtime. The selection of Disney movies/cartoons helped enhance the Disney atmosphere.
Step 3: Disney Cruise Dining - Overview
The dining accommodations on our Disney Cruise were outstanding. I will only review the dining that we visited often on the ship. There are 3 dining rooms (Animator’s Palate, Royal Court, Enchanted Garden) which are included in the assigned dining rotation for everyone and 2 adult (reservation only) dining rooms (Palo and Remy). Additonally, there are other casual dining locations not included in the dining room rotational assignments that we visited often such as Cabanas, Flo’s Café, Eye Scream treats & the water/soda station.
The Disney Fantasy uses rotational dining between three dining rooms – Animator’s Palate, Enchanted Garden, and Royal Court. Even though you will rotate between these 3 restaurants, the same servers stay with you throughout your cruise. It was really nice to have the same servers because you get to know them and they get to know you. For example, our servers knew my daughter likes Shirley Temples, so they had one waiting for her at our table before we arrived for dinner each night. The servers also cut food for the kids into bite size portions to give the parents a break. The servers make a concentrated effort to learn your behaviors and use that to better serve you each night. By the end of our cruise, our servers knew our portion sizes, drinks, etc. and they used this information to recommend dishes to us.
Dining room assignments are not provided until you get your ‘Key to the World’ card (room key). The first letter of the restaurant name is listed at the bottom of the card in sequential order. For example, ARAERE = Animator’s Palate for night 1, Royal Court night 2, Animator’s Palate night 3, Enchanted Garden night 4, and so on. There will be a restaurant on the list that you will dine at 3 nights and you will dine at the other 2 restaurants 2 times each. Each one of these restaurants have a very unique atmosphere with fantastic art and décor specific to the theme.
Step 4: Disney Cruise Dining - Animator's Palate
The Animator’s Palate was our favorite restaurant and it is based on being in an animator’s studio. We enjoyed the interactive Finding Nemo experience and the overall atmosphere just made us happy.
Step 5: Disney Cruise Dining - Enchanted Garden
The Enchanted Garden was a unique place to dine b/c it made us feel as though we were in a garden in the French countryside. The architectural detail in this room is unbelievable.
Step 6: Disney Cruise Dining - Royal Court
The Royal Court dining room’s theme is based on a combination of Cinderella, Snow White & Sleeping Beauty. Unfortunately, I don’t have good pictures from this restaurant except for the menu for a specific night.
Of the three restaurants, we liked this one the least. I found it to be very loud at dinner time and hard to converse with each other. Otherwise, it was a great restaurant.
My wife and I chose to make reservations at Palo one night and had a fantastic experience. The food was great and the service was fantastic. Palo is an Italian restaurant & our server was from Italy.
Step 7: Disney Cruise Dining - Casual Dining & Quick Serve
Of the Casual restaurants, we used Cabanas for lunch which has a large variety of food. The food was very good and it is served buffet style. I liked the style of Cabanas as it made us feel we were at a restaurant in Key West. The décor is very similar to a Tommy Bahamas restaurant. Cabanas has a few water/juice/soda stations for drinks and they also have a outside seating area in the back of the ship. We didn’t sit here, but it looked very nice.
We visited Flo’s café quite often for pizza, hamburgers and sandwiches. Honestly, I recommend just going to Cabanas if they are open instead of Flo’s café b/c it is just as easy and the variety of food is better. Flo’s café is definitely a good place to have lunch or a quick snack. The lines move very fast, so the wait time is minimal. You will have to use the water/soda station on the 2 sides of the pool if you are going to dine here.
Eye Scream Station
They Eye Scream station was a favorite for everyone on the ship including us. They have 2 ice cream machines that serve vanilla, chocolate, banana, and strawberry ice cream with ice cream cones. You can also fill up a paper cup with ice cream if you don’t like cones. The cups are near the water/soda stations a few paces away. They normally have vanilla and chocolate at one ice cream machine and banana and strawberry at the other. The 2 flavors can be combined into a swirl if they are on the same machine. I noticed a few times during the cruise the ice cream machines had a ‘not ready’ status message, which meant they were being used so much the ice cream didn’t have a chance to properly cool. You can still dispense ice cream, but it was a little watery. On a few occasions, unsupervised kids would dispense ice cream, lick their ice cream, and immediately get more. I would probably do the same thing if I were an unsupervised kid in front of a massive ice cream machine, so it didn’t bother me. It did bother others who were overly concerned about contracting an illness.
Our kids were so excited about the free Mickey Bars as this is their favorite treat at Walt Disney World theme parks. We sort of expected Mickey Bars to be readily available while on the ship, but this was not the case. Mickey Bars can only be obtained after dinner or by room service. Yes, they are definitely free but not as easily obtained as we originally thought.
The soda, water & coffee were free aboard the ship at the 2 soda fountain stations to the left & right of the pool and at the soda stations in Cabanas. However, you have to get them yourself in order for them to be free. If you order water, soda or coffee from a bar or from a server, there would be a charge. This didn’t bother us at all because we don’t mind getting our own drinks, but I can see this would irritate some folks who don’t want to serve themselves.
There is one formal night, one Pirate night and one theme night for dining. Our theme for this cruise was Star Wars.
Overall, I was very pleased with the dining facilities on our Disney Cruise; however, there is one way I think Disney can improve the dining experience and that is to allow Disney characters to roam from table to table during dinner.
Step 8: Disney Cruise Youth Clubs
Our kids spent their time in the Oceaneer Club (& Lab) & the Edge, which they both enjoyed very much.
Our 7-year-old daughter (Mattie) visited the Oceaneer Club for a few hours each day. She loved the arts and crafts activities the most. In order to get in and out of the Oceaneer Club, you must register your child at the beginning of the cruise and provide them with a password. After registering, the child can enter with a bracelet (tracking device) they provide, but a parent must retrieve them and provide the password verbally to the front desk in order for them to leave. You can choose to pre-register your child for a bracelet before your cruise or register them when you get there. The bracelets are yours to keep or you can return them at the end of your cruise and get a $12.95 refund per bracelet. I also liked the handwashing contraption which was 2 tubes for your hands that had rotating jets of water that sprayed all parts of your hand.
Our 11-year-old son (Shane) enjoyed the Edge, which is a pre-teen hangout. He loves video games, which they have plenty of in this room; however, he didn’t play them. Rather, he spent his time playing games with others his age and the cruise workers. You must also register your pre-teen with their Key to the World card. There is a private elevator that goes to this room on the 13th floor (in the smokestack of the ship) and a registered Key to the World card allows access to this floor in the elevator.
We didn’t visit the Nursery or Vibe (Teenager hangout), which is why I will not review them.
Step 9: Disney Cruise Lounges & Night Clubs
Although my wife and I didn’t spend much time in the night clubs aboard our Disney Cruise, we were very impressed with the amenities. Most of the bars on the ship are grouped into one location which essentially means you can walk into one lounge and get to the others by simply continuing to walk. Each bar has a very cool theme.
The D Lounge is a family friendly lounge that is not grouped with the other nightclubs where you can enjoy family games, bingo, karaoke, and dancing. Speaking of Karaoke, we saw the worst Karaoke performance EVER. We are not judgmental of folks who have the courage to get up there and sing, but this lady thought she was a good singer. Just view the video below and see for yourself – she starts singing at 3:13. If the lady in the video sees this post, I’m not sorry for posting this b/c I had to sit through it so everyone else should as well.
We walked through The Tube, O’Gills Pub and La Piazza which were grouped together and very cool. I won’t spend much time reviewing these nightclubs since we didn’t spend much time in these places.
Step 10: Disney Cruise Pool and Sports Area
We spent a significant amount of time in the pool & sports area during our Disney Cruise days at sea. The areas we enjoyed most are the AquaDuck, AquaLab, Goofy’s Sports Deck, and, of course, the pool/sun deck.
The main attraction for us in the pool area was the AquaDuck and this water slide is so much fun. I have included a video of the AquaDuck below in case you want to have a virtual experience. The AquaDuck always had a line and the wait time ranged from 10 minutes to 20 minutes. We wanted to go on the AquaDuck at night because it is lined with multicolored lights, but it was a bit too cool outside to go. There are a few things to be aware of before you go on the AquaDuck: 1.) If you have a waterproof camera and want to take it with you on the AquaDuck, it must be strapped to your head or chest. 2.) Riders must be 42″ or taller and single riders must be 54″ or taller. Children under 7 must ride with someone 14 years of age or older. 3.) During windy days, they only allow double riders and most of our days at sea were very windy.
Mattie enjoyed the AquaLab area during our breaks between the AquaDuck. She is 7 years old and was able to go on the slide over and over again by herself.
Shane spent most of his time on Goofy’s Sports Deck playing Basketball, miniature golf, and ping-pong (table tennis) with other kids his age. During windy days, it is a bit difficult to play ping-pong b/c the wind gives the ball some slick dance moves. Miniature golf tends to always be crowded, but our kids were able to play a few rounds. Shane decided to play basketball with no shoes one day and ended up with a blister on the bottom of his foot, so I would recommend wearing shoes on the court.
Stacey and I relaxed on the pool deck when we were not enjoying the AquaDuck. The lower pool deck gets crowded very quickly and we decided to hang out on the upper deck. We were able to secure chairs without an issue that had a good view of the areas our kids spent the most time. There was always a movie or cartoon playing on the big screen during the day, which periodically grabbed the attention of the kids for a short time. The people who were on the lower deck in the pool had a better view of the big screen. The staff doesn’t allow you to reserve chairs on the pool deck, so keep that in mind before you decide to get up at 6am to put your towel on your favorite chair. Towels are provided to you at various locations on the deck and you can return them to the same location when you are done. Stacey and I sort of missed the cruise music & live bands on the pool deck commonly seen on other cruise ships, but we would rather sacrifice that to be on the Disney Fantasy.
Step 11: Disney Cruise Broadway Style Shows
The live shows on the Disney Cruise were fantastic as one would expect from Disney. Unlike other cruise lines, these shows were filled with professional actors & special effects. Each show is in the Walt Disney Theater and we had no trouble finding a good seat when we arrived approximately 15 to 20 minutes before the start of the show.
The live shows are performed at 2 times during the evening, which provides all passengers a chance to enjoy the show before or after their assigned dinner time. We watched the following shows: Disney’s Aladdin, Disney’s Believe, Disney’s Wishes, The Physical Comedy of Michael Holly, & the Ricky Kalmon Hypnosis Show. We enjoyed all the Disney shows with Disney’s Aladdin, Disney’s Believe, & Disney’s Wishes being our favorite. The Physical comedy of Michael Holly had some funny moments. The Ricky Kalmon Hypnosis show had some funny moments for the kids, but I didn’t like it very much. To put it in perspective, my least favorite show on this cruise was better than the best show on other cruise lines.
Step 12: Disney Cruise Photos
If you have ever been on a cruise before, you are well aware of how often the cruise staff wants to take your picture. This is one of their primary revenue streams. However, this was not the case on our Disney Cruise. This may be a good thing for some people, but we were a bit disappointed because we don’t get the opportunity to take family photos that often. They did not take photos of us at dinner or any special event. They only took photos at the character meet/greets & at the photo locations in the evening.
Stacey purchased the photo book before our cruise date for $139.00 (it is $149.00 if purchased on the ship) and we were somewhat disappointed with the quality of the photo book – view pictures below. We thought the book would be made better considering the price. It has a paper cover that will surely get damaged over time & we were not able to design the pages of the book when choosing our pictures on the ship. You can only choose pictures to go in the pre-built pages and the picture selection is not that good considering they don’t take a lot of photos.
I would recommend bringing a nice camera with you around the ship and ask Disney cruise cast members to take photos for you. Additionally, I recommend you purchase the photo book while onboard the ship if you plan to purchase the photo book. Yes, it is more expensive to purchase it on the ship but you can make sure you have a sufficient number of quality photos to fill the book before your purchase. If you don’t, you aren’t obligated to purchase the book.
Step 13: Disney Cruise - Day 1
We left our house in Pearl River, Louisiana on Friday afternoon, drove to Destin, Florida to spend the night, and woke up at 4:30am to drive to Port Canaveral, FL.. The ship board time we selected was between 2pm – 3pm, but we were notified around 9am in the morning the Disney Fantasy was late to dock because of fog; therefore, Disney advised passengers to delay their arrival time by one hour.
We arrived at the cruise terminal in Port Canaveral, Florida at around 1:30pm after a long journey. Unfortunately, we were unable to push back our arrival time b/c there is really is not a place to go hangout for an hour near the port, so we decided to just arrive at our normal time without any delay. Well, that was a MISTAKE! We took the exit for the Port Terminal and sat in line for at least an hour and it seemed much longer. Even though Disney Cruise Line has their own terminal at the port, the traffic was still really bad. The behavior of the drivers while in traffic was certainly not very Disney-like. Many of the drivers with smaller vehicles would pass everyone in line by driving on the shoulder of the road and then cut back into line at the last minute. There were even a few passengers who decided to take matters in their own hands and simply walk to the terminal with their luggage in hand. The passengers who did this were most likely riding on a bus.
We pulled into the parking lot and we were able to offload our luggage (except our carry-ons) before parking. We then drove to the parking station, payed $128.00 to park, and proceeded to the line to get through security. The security line went by really quick (maybe 10 minutes) and we proceeded up the escalator to finally check-in.
We waited in line to check-in roughly 10-15 minutes because this was our first Disney Cruise, so we were not part of the Castaway Club. Castaway Club members are redirected to a shorter check-in line. During check-in, we received our Key to the World card with our picture that was taken by the cast member who checked us in and we were given other miscellaneous documents.
After check-in, we proceeded to another checkpoint before boarding the ship. Our Key to the World card was scanned and we had a chance to take a family photo before boarding the ship, which we took advantage of. We walked up the tunnel to board the ship and a cast member of the Disney Cruise asked Shane our last name. The cast member announced, “Please welcome aboard the Hoffpauir Family.” Our Disney Cruise finally was underway. We snapped a quick picture of the kids near the entrance of the ship.
Stacey went to the front desk to ask a few questions and then we proceeded to our stateroom – 5016. I was very pleased with our stateroom. It had a large window, queen sized bed, a couch that converted to a bunk bed, a bunk bed tucked away in the ceiling (Murphy bed), plenty of storage for clothes/belongings, and 2 bathrooms. One bathroom contained a sink & tub/shower and the other bathroom had a sink/toilet. The 2 bathrooms made getting ready in the morning/evening very streamlined because we were able to take a shower & move to the next bathroom to get dressed and so the next person could start showering. It was also nice to be able to brush our teeth in a separate bathroom from the toilet – especially after someone takes a #2.
There was a questionnaire in our room about our favorite Star Wars characters/movies. I don’t remember the exact questions. I feel this is noteworthy to mention to make sure to fill them out and turn them in because your answers to these questions will determine the character meet/greet tickets you get for Star Wars Day at Sea later in the cruise.
Next, it was time for the safety drill. The safety drill took longer than other cruises I have been on – probably due to the fact there were many more kids on this one which causes people to move a bit slower. The safety crew aboard the Disney Fantasy demand your attention during the drill, so be sure to not be on your phone or playing on social media. I was fussed at by a safety crew member for turning my camera off – I guess he thought I was on my phone or something, but I was simply turning my camera off to conserve battery. I’m 6’7″ tall, so I’m an easy target to get fussed at when the safety crew decides to fuss at someone. I was in a good mood, so I didn’t fire any words back at him.
I don’t like crowded areas where people are touching me due to limited space. When I do get into a crowded areas, I count things to take my mind off of the present moment. The safety drill took exactly 19 minutes.
We proceeded to Deck 11 to watch the ‘Sail Away’ show. While on Deck 11, we ran across Mickey and a few of his friends as they were proceeding to the stage to start the show. We also visited the soda station, Flo’s Cafe to grab a slice of pizza (Stacey was very very hangry), and eye scream station.
After the sailing away party, we proceeded to Deck 5 to register Shane & Mattie for the Oceaneers Kids Club where they received their wrist bands to access the club.
It was finally time for dinner as our dinner time was 5:45pm. We were assigned to the Animator’s Palette for the first night and we were at a table with another family of 4. Dinner was awesome and we enjoyed the interactive Nemo experience. The family sitting at our table did not even look at us to start a conversation – they were not being very Disney-like. We were first time passengers and they were obviously Disney cruise veterans from the looks of their lanyard and medals, so that could have been the reason they didn’t speak to us. We were able to talk to their 10 year old son who was very nice. After dinner, we decided to request to be seated at a different table instead of feeling awkward the entire cruise during dinner. Disney happily honored our request and put us at our own table for the rest of the cruise, which was awesome.
We made our way to the Walt Disney Theater after dinner to watch the first show of the cruise – “A Magical, Musical Journey through the Wonderland of the Disney Fantasy”. This show started with an introduction from our cruise director (Natalie) and then it quickly turned into a Disney production, which was quite unique.
This Disney production was basically about a family just getting on the Disney Fantasy for their cruise vacation. As the family explored parts of the ship & learned about the different activities, they also realized it was important to leave the ‘real world’ at the dock and enjoy themselves. This production was Disney’s clever way of informing the passengers about the Disney Fantasy’s amenities, activities, & reminding everyone to have fun. Most cruise lines would just tell you about the ship and to please have fun, but Disney went above and beyond as they normally do to convey this simple, yet important message.
Step 14: DIsney Cruise - Day 2
Day 2 on the Disney Fantasy was a day at sea and a great opportunity for us to experience some of the ship’s amenities.
Our day started at a scheduled character breakfast in the Animator’s Palette. Stacey booked this character breakfast 75 days before our sail date & didn’t cost anything extra, but does need to be scheduled in advance. The service and the breakfast was really good and the kids were able to get pictures with Disney Junior characters and Mickey.
The rest of our day was spent near the pool enjoying the Aquaduck and other amenities nearby. We found a chair fairly easily on the level above the pool. We immediately decided to go on the Aquaduck, which was restricted to 2-riders only because of the strong winds. The line was rather long to get on the Aquaduck because it was the first day & everyone was on the ship trying to do the same thing. It was about a 30 minute wait.
We noticed the crowd thinned-out significantly around 1pm and this was consistent throughout the cruise, so keep this in mind when planning popular activities during days at sea. Stacey and I came to the conclusion this happened consistently because it was a popular nap time for the kids & it was about the time everyone realized they were getting sunburned. We decided to have lunch at Cabanas instead of Flo’s Cafe. The buffet line was very speedy and the food was great. We brought the food to our chair to eat outside instead of eating in the restaurant.
Dinner was at the Enchanted Garden and it was formal night, so we dressed in our best clothes. I took the opportunity to buy a tie on the ship because I liked the color and Mickey ears on the tie, but mostly because I haven’t purchased a tie in a very long time. We were given a private table per our request on the previous night. To be clear, we didn’t request a private table; rather, we requested to be moved to a different table. Disney decided to give us a private table, which was awesome. Since we changed tables, our servers changed as well which was not a big deal since this was our second night on the ship. Our new servers were AWESOME & the food/service was fantastic.
After dinner, we took the opportunity to take family pictures in our formal outfits. The photo lines were sort of long, but they went by quickly.
Aladdin was in the Walt Disney Theater and it was a great performance. I won’t go into details about the show itself, but you definitely want to try and make this one. We sat down about 30 minutes before the show and the server took our drink orders. Once the show starts, the servers do not come back so make sure to order what you need before the show.
We headed back to the room to our room, which was turned down with chocolates and a character on the bed.
We decided to go to the D Lounge because it was Karaoke night. It was fun, but stay away if you don’t like the ‘Let It Go’ song from the movie Frozen b/c you will hear it very often.
Shane and I wanted to go on the Aquaduck at night b/c the lights made it look like it would be a different experience than riding during the day. We put on our swimsuits and headed up to Deck 11, but realized the Aquaduck closes at 10pm. We were all tired so decided to turn in for the night.
Step 15: Disney Cruise - Day 3
Day 3 was also a Day at Sea aboard the Disney Fantasy and full of more of the same activities as Day 2.
The day started with breakfast at the Royal Court and the service & food was great. Keep in mind, you can have breakfast at Cabana’s if you prefer a buffet style breakfast. We spent the day in the same spot near the pool and enjoyed the basketball court, ping pong table, miniature golf, and the AquaDuck. Stacey and Mattie left the pool area after lunch to attend the Princess Greeting. The Princess Greeting is another event that must be scheduled in advance (75 days before sail date).
Step 16: Disney Cruise - Day 4
Day 4 was our first port of call stop at Tortola. We booked the Tour to Virgin Gorda from Disney 75 days before our sail date. The cost of the tour was 79.00 per adult and 59.00 per child. We went on the half day morning portion of this tour. Since we had to get up fairly early for our tour, we decided to get room service for breakfast. There are menus in the stateroom that we filled out & hung outside our stateroom for room service. They only serve cold food items (cereal, bagels, donuts, etc.) for breakfast room service.
We met in the Royal Court dining room 30 minutes before the tour and we were guided to the boat not far from the ship for our 30 minute ride to Virgin Gorda. The seas were a bit rough, so the boat ride was somewhat miserable because many people got sea sick. I saw at least 5 people get sick and I am thankful the boat was fully stocked with sickness bags. Mattie was very close to needing a bag, but she ended up not needing it. I highly recommend taking dramamine the night before you go on this tour & make sure to secure a seat outside on the upper deck of the boat to alleviate the sea sickness.
We arrived to Virgin Gorda after what seemed like an 8 hour boat ride even though it was only 30 minutes and realized we had to get on a van to bring us to the start of the tour. They tend to drive like maniacs in the Caribbean & the roads are not in the best condition, so I quickly realized the sea sickness would likely continue on the van. Luckily, the vans were not enclosed which helped those that were not feeling well from the boat ride; however, it didn’t make them feel any better. I didn’t see anyone get sick in the van, so I don’t believe it made them feel worse.
We arrived at our destination at the top of a hill overlooking the ocean – it was a beautiful view. We had a short instructional speech from one of the tour guides and we were set free to enjoy our tour.
Before I proceed I feel it is noteworthy to mention that you must be somewhat physically fit to go on this tour. The tour guide will tell you that as long as you don’t have significant injuries and can easily bend down, you will be fine. I don’t think this is necessarily true based on what we saw while on this tour. I believe you need to at least be able to walk about a half mile downhill/uphill, climb over rocks, and fit in tight spaces. My family and I are all very active and didn’t have any issues, but I witnessed many people struggling during this tour because they were either out of shape, overweight, or simply not physically capable to meet the demands of this tour. I saw 2 people fall and hurt themselves (I have one on video – view below) and many other people struggling while walking. I’m not trying to persuade anyone to not go on this tour by giving you this information; rather, I want to make sure you enjoy your day in Tortola and not waste money on a tour in which you won’t enjoy. Also, make sure to wear water shoes or a type of shoe with grip on the sole. Do not wear sandals because you can’t walk in the water well and you will increase your chances of slipping while climbing up and down the hill.
The tour started out with a hike down the hill to the beach (Devil’s Bay). This was a fairly long hike because there was a line of people walking down the narrow trail and stopping for pictures every 2 minutes. It took roughly 15 minutes to reach the bottom of the hill to the beach. The tour guide recommended to spend some time at the beach and then to proceed over to the Baths afterwards.
This tour was really crowded, so we decided to skip the first beach and walk through the caves to get to the Baths. The caves were really cool to walk through even though it took us about 20 minutes because of the line of people doing the same thing.
We finally reached the Baths and it was really a fantastic place to snorkel and swim. They also have a bar area where food/drinks are served and a souvenir booth. Make sure to swim out about 25 yards or so because the snorkeling is awesome. Be careful of sea urchins because I saw a few of them – you don’t want to step on one of those as that would definitely ruin your day and make for a long walk back to the bus. We brought our own snorkel gear and I would recommend you do the same if you own them because you can use them at each port.
The hike back up the hill did not take long b/c there was not a line of people. We did witness an older man fall while walking up the hill and land on a rock. We thought he was really hurt, but he was ok to walk the rest of the way. He definitely had a few bruises after that fall. We had a drink at the restaurant near the buses before it was time to leave. The restaurant had a great view of the ocean.
The van ride and boat ride was not nearly as bad as it was earlier. The seas were still rough, but sat at the top of the boat and the boat was going with the current. We decided to explore the shops near the boat and found an outside bar with good food. I can’t remember the name of the bar, but it is near the boats and to the right as you enter the shopping area. We were hungry after the long morning & thoroughly enjoyed lunch. This bar also has WiFi if you purchase something from them.
Mattie visited the Oceaneers Club and had dinner there while Shane spent the evening at the Edge. Stacey and I had dinner at Palo, which is one of the adult only restaurants and it was very good. Stacey booked this restaurant for us in advance and it was 30.00 per person plus drinks. It was well worth it!
We rounded up the kids after dinner and headed to Deck 11 for Pirate Night. They had a quick Pirate show, fireworks, and then a dance party. We enjoyed the evening very much and all slept very well that night!
Step 17: Disney Cruise - Day 5
Our port of call on Day 5 of our Disney cruise was St. Thomas. We booked the Castaway Catamaran Sail & Snorkel to Shipwreck Cove tour and this was $63.00 per adult and $36.00 per child.
Our tour did not start until 11:45am, so we had time to sleep in and have breakfast at the Royal Court before our tour started. The seas were a bit rough on the catamaran ride, but no one got sea sick. Stacey did get a bit nauseous, but not too bad. The ride was about 30 minutes to Shipwreck cove where an old cargo boat sank in the 1950s.
Once we arrived at Shipwreck Cove, everyone got in the water and began snorkeling. The water was very cold, but we got used to it after a few minutes. The Catamaran had staff members in the water to look after the group and guide them through the neat parts of the cove. I was very pleased with the friendly staff and service on the Catamaran. The life vests we were required to wear were very aggravating b/c they have a strap that goes between your legs and snaps to the bottom in the back. This strap constantly was in our way and crawled up our butts. I finally got aggravated and unbuckled mine and no one noticed.
Overall, the snorkeling was average at best. The shipwreck was smaller than I expected & the marine life was average as well. Additionally, it was very crowded (3 to 4 boats) there. The snorkeling was much better on our tour in Tortola. The best part of the snorkeling was to see those motorized snorkel vehicles from a different tour cruise below us. The view of the St. Thomas harbor & the cruise ship was the best part of the tour in my opinion.
We were looking forward to shopping in St. Thomas, but we did not have enough time. If you plan on shopping in St. Thomas, make sure to book your tours in the morning because you won’t have enough time to shop after your afternoon tour.
We had dinner at the Royal Court and played Bingo in the D Lounge after dinner. I realize some folks are Bingo veterans, but it was hard for me to keep up b/c they went through the numbers very quickly. It was a fun event even though we didn’t win. We attended about 15 minutes of the Hypnosis show and realized it wasn’t for us.
Shane wasn’t feeling well at dinner and told the servers he wanted ‘Nothing’ for dessert and that is just what he got.
Step 18: Disney Cruise - Day 6
I quickly realized today was the primary reason why many people chose this Disney cruise for their vacation. It was the Star Wars Day at Sea day where most people dressed as their favorite Star Wars character and took pictures with Star Wars characters roaming the ship as well as at the character meet/greets.
We had tickets in our stateroom for a few meet/greets around the ship based on our answers to the questionnaire we completed on Day 1 of our cruise. Stacey and Mattie took advantage of the beautiful day outside while Shane and I took pictures with characters roaming the ship, attended the meet/greets, and watched The Force Awakens in the movie theater on deck 5. We really liked the Movie Theater and we were both happy we had an opportunity to watch it there.
Allow me to mention there was not a shortage of Star Wars fanatics on this cruise. I am a Star Wars fan, but I did not anticipate seeing grown adults have tears in their eyes when it was thier turn to take pictures with their favorite character. It was quite the site to see. The costume of each character was top notch and very realistic, so that may have been the reason a few adults were crying when they met the characters.
Here are a few pictures from our character meet/greets (without any tears).
We had dinner at the Enchanted Garden and the kids drank their drinks out of their BB8 cups, which were neat. We were able to purchase the cups from our servers. After dinner, we headed to the Walt Disney Theater to watch what we thought was going to be a Star Wars show. The show was actually a movie in 3D – Rouge One. We decided to leave and get a good seat on the deck for the Star Wars show, fireworks and dance party. It was an awesome event.
Step 19: Disney Cruise - Day 7
We couldn’t believe it was the last day of our Disney cruise. It all went by so quickly and we had so much fun and we still had one more day to enjoy at Castaway Cay (Disney’s Private Island). We were nervous (let me clarify: Stacey was nervous) because we read stories about Disney not being able to dock the ship at Castaway Cay during windy days. Everything was fine and we arrived early in the morning at the dock.
We got off the ship as soon as we could to get the most out of the day because rain was in the forecast. It is about a half mile walk to get to the beach area while passing the shops & other facilities on the island. The beach chairs do fill-up rather quickly, but we didn’t have an issue finding 4 beach chairs. The kids went directly to the waterslide (Pelican Plunge) while Stacey and I took the opportunity to relax for a while. I met the kids at the water slide area and took a turn with them. It was really fun, but the water was very cold.
We decided to go snorkeling as a family before lunch and we were required to put on as small life vest before entering the water. The snorkeling was average and we had fun being in the water. We heard a guy an hour before we went snorkeling say that he saw a sea turtle, but we didn’t see one. If you choose to to snorkeling, make sure you are mindful of how far you go out because you could get tired and have to swim back as there is no other way to get back. The kids were complaining of the swim back so I thought it would be good to mention it.
We ate lunch at 1 of the 2 locations where the Disney staff served BBQ. The food was great and they even had the same ice cream machines as on the ship. Shortly after lunch, it began to rain and most of the passengers went back on the ship. We decided to stay hoping the rain would pass and we would be able to go ride bikes. The rain did stop, but it was really windy and we decided it was too windy for the kids to ride bikes. We stopped at a few shops on our way back to the ship and we wished they had more places to shop. They had 2 Disney shops and 1 local shop with not much of a selection. If the weather was better, I probably would not have noticed the shopping on the island.
We headed back on the ship and to our stateroom. All of us showered and started to prepare to pack our luggage. We had dinner at the Royal Court and it was a great dinner. The restaurant was very loud because it was full of people, but we still enjoyed it. We took pictures with our 2 servers because we grew attached to them. They were so good to us each night with their personal service, advice on port/ship activities, & their magic tricks for the kids.
We ended the last night of our Disney cruise at the Walt Disney Theater to see their final production – Disney’s Believe. This was such a fantastic show! I won’t ruin it for you by writing about it – just don’t miss it.
We headed back to the room a bit early after the show and began to pack our things. Don’t forget to return your child’s Oceaneer’s Lab bracelet for a refund.
Step 20: Debarkation & Closing
There are two options when debarking the Disney cruise ship. The first option is to have your luggage outside your stateroom by 10:30pm the previous night with the proper tags so that they can be retrieved at baggage claim when you exit the ship. If this option is chosen, the only option for breakfast is at 6:30am. The second option is to carry your luggage off the ship yourself. If this option is chosen, you can eat breakfast whenever you want in Cabanas as long as you are off the ship by 9:30am. We were able to carry our own luggage so we chose the second option.
Few things to remember when you exit the ship: You need your photo ID, passport, and key to the world card to get off.
Stuff I used on this Cruise:
- Disney Official Merchandise
- Camera - http://amzn.to/2t83Tq3
- Camera Should Strap - http://amzn.to/2txzYab
- GoPro - http://amzn.to/2txzYab
- Head Strap for GoPro - http://amzn.to/2txzYab
- Chest Strap for GoPro - http://amzn.to/2txzYab
- Water Shoes - http://amzn.to/2txzYab
- Kid Full Face Snorkel Mask - http://amzn.to/2txzYab
- Waterproof Backpack - http://amzn.to/2txzYab
- Stateroom Magnets - http://amzn.to/2txzYab
- Fish Extender - http://amzn.to/2txzYab
This was one of the best vacations I’ve ever had and would highly encourage you to consider a Disney Cruise for your next vacation. As Stacey posted on Facebook when we arrived home, “Worth…..Every……Penny.
I enjoyed writing this post because it helped me experience the fun all over again and solidify the memories we made in my heart. I truly hope my family’s opinions and experience on our Disney Cruise provided you with value. Thank you so very much for reading this post!
I hope this project provided you with some value because this is, and always will be, my ultimate goal.
Until next time – Imagine…Create…Share