Entering the Disney Fantasy ship was like a dream. It was so beautiful! Disney really knows how to do it! They definitely do quality work! My family is a family of little words, so we were basically speechless as my parents gave us the tour...but we were all smiles and filled with awe.
(picture stolen online)
We left the grandeur of the lobby area and headed straight for Deck 11...where all the action is. That is where the (basically) non-stop buffet is, called The Cabanas. That is also where the outdoor pools are and the jumbo-screen, splash pads, water slide, and hot tubs . When we arrived, there were already lots of people out in their swimsuits taking a dip and laying out. You could taste the excitement and anticipation as music was thumping through the speakers. You just wanted to dance your way around the deck. After taking a quick look around, we headed straight to the lunch buffet (but more on the awesome food in a later post).
(another stolen picture)
The ship had so much to offer as far as activities. Above the outdoor pool, there was a huge tube slide that circled around the ship. It is called the AquaDuck. It dips and rises for your riding pleasure. At one point, it even turns out beyond the end of the ship, so you feel like you are going to slide right out into the ocean! It was a blast! We probably rode it five or six times throughout the cruise, but always when the line was short. If you went when it was long, you could be waiting for 30-40 minutes. It was quite the popular attraction, as you can imagine.
Me and Jason riding the AquaDuck
A GoPro view of the AquaDuck
Dad riding the AquaDuck waving like a maniac
Our cruise itinerary included four port stops, so that meant only two full “sea days” on our seven day cruise. With only two sea days, it felt like we would never be able to do all of the things we wanted to do. But we took it one day at a time, and filled it with as many fun things as we could. Our first afternoon, after setting sail, we played some shuffleboard. That was fun, except we were playing it totally wrong. By the end of the cruise, we finally learned the rules and played it properly.
The first sea day was Sunday, so we tried to keep our activities somewhat mellow. We got up bright and early and went on the ship’s Art Tour. It was fun getting all sorts of insider information about the ship, its decor, and why things were the way they were. Everything you saw had a purpose, nothing was by chance or just randomly thrown together. There is so much symbolism and meaning behind every design, color, shape, and placement. It is amazing! They truly think of everything. Every detail is done with such quality! For example, at each set of stairs on every single floor, there are several art pieces that are from different Disney movies. Some are original sketches, some are paintings, and some are prints from the movie. But they work as transitional pieces from one floor to the next. As you head upstairs towards Deck 5, which is the floor designated for children, you see artwork depicting Neverland...as if the children are leaving their parents and any grown-up rules to go to Neverland where kids are king! They even made the ceiling lower on that level, so the children felt taller. How genius!! Another awesome thing was they colored the carpet differently depending on if you were at the aft or forward of the ship. They also used different creatures on the stateroom doors based on if you were on the port or the starboard side of the ship. The little clues were great in helping you figure out where you were on the ship. The art tour was definitely a fun way to kick off the cruise. We felt like we knew more about the ship than the average Joe.
Our great tour guide in one of the elite dining areas (you have to pay like $70 a plate to eat here)
Behind me is one of the many stunning mosaics on the ship
Another beautiful mosaic
After the tour, we enjoyed time relaxing, reading, and lounging in the sun. It was dang hot, though! Every time we laid out, I had to dip myself in the water every ten minutes or so. You would walk along the line of bodies laying in their beach chairs and you would just see shiny, sweating bodies. Their faces looking just miserable from the heat. I didn’t get too much reading done because the heat wouldn’t allow me to get comfortable enough to concentrate on the story. Only in the shade could I do some reading. But the crew was great, bringing around free face towels that were drenched in ice cold water. Since my sister was going to be leaving on her mission in about a month and a half, my parents asked each of us to prepare devotionals that we could share each day of the cruise. So part of Sunday was spent doing a family devotional. To be honest, I think we did devotionals three of the days...and that was it. It was hard to want to take a break from the excitement of the ship to go back to the rooms for devotional. But we were having quality family time, so that is just as good, right?
Due to the change of dates, from Christmas to summer, we couldn’t get rooms that were right next to each other. We had three rooms, and all of them were on different levels and different sides of the ship. The roomies were: Jason and I; Mom, Dad, and Camry; and then Tyson, Bryan, and Kimberly. All the rooms had large circular windows that looked out to the ocean, except for my parent’s room...that one had a walk-out balcony. The best part is, somehow Jason and I got put into a handicapped room!! That must have been all they had left...because we certainly didn’t request it. But now that we have stayed in one, we definitely will request one in the future! Cruise ship rooms are tiny! Skinny walkways and tiny bathrooms. That’s what we were expecting when we walked up to our room, but that is not what we found. The door was huge and wide (wide enough for a wheelchair to easily ride through). Once you unlocked it with your keycard, the door would open and close automatically for you. The room was so spacious! No skinny halls or meager floor room. The best part was the big bathroom! Tons of space and a nice size shower with a bench you could raise and lower. So great! That was an awesome surprise! My parents probably would have snagged that room from us if it hadn’t been for the balcony at their room. In hindsight, they probably would have taken our extra space over their balcony. It was also unique because our room was smack-dab in the front of the ship, overlooking the outdoor part of the teen area (which was great for spying). It was fun to get back to our rooms to change for dinner and have the next day's schedule of events laying out for us so to look over. That way we could discuss what we wanted to do at dinner and plan accordingly. And of course, each night our rooms were cleaned to perfection, and our beds were drawn and had fun towel creatures and chocolates on top. The man in charge of cleaning our room was so nice! He always looked like he was having the time of his life, even though he probably never saw the light of day! He knew us by name from the first day and always asked how we were doing, or if we slept okay. He wanted to make sure we were having a great vacation. It was really impressive!
The fun window seat in Tyson, Bryan, and Kim's room
The private balcony
Some of the fun towel creatures:
Loved that they incorporated my sunglasses!
Man, so much to tell about the ship! Ok, so going back to Deck 5...the kid’s level. I’m seriously jealous of the children areas on the ship. How I wish I could have been there as a child! I bet you a lot of those children were on that level from sun-up to sun-down. There are a few different rooms/venues that are children only...so the adults can’t even go in there except for a few, short designated times that are open for their open-house. In those venues, there is everything you can possibly imagine. Toys, dress-ups, computers, TVs, games, live entertainment, dancing...who even knows what! All I know is when I went through the open-house, I wanted more time to explore there. They give the children wrist bands that tracks them and their location, so their parents can always know where they are. Another way to communicate with the kids is through the cruise cell phones. Each stateroom is given two cell phones that work on the entire ship. You can call or text. It is great! At any time, you can communicate with your family and locate each other. That way, the parents can send their children to play and not worry about where they are or how they are going to meet up. So smart! Of course, that is not just great for children...it was great to have those as adults! We could go off in our various directions and meet up later.
Our quick tour of the Oceaners Lab
Another awesome part of Deck 5 was their Pretty Princess Parlor. I can’t quite remember the exact title of it, but you get the idea. Basically, little girls (or boys for that matter) can go in there, dress in a beautiful princess gown, and get whatever treatment they would like. Whether it is a manicure, pedicure, or an up-do with glitter, you can get pampered just as a princess should. They sit in these adorable salon chairs and are being waited on by two….maids by the looks of them. They really get the royal treatment. The girls would get all dolled up just in time to meet the real princesses at the grand staircase. I believe the princesses made their appearances three or four times throughout the cruise. And let me tell you, it was a grand and popular affair. As observers, it was one of our favorite activities: people watching as they met the princesses. My dad was shamelessly teased that this was his favorite part of the entire cruise. It was so precious and priceless to see these little girls “ooh and aah” at the princesses...and these princesses were legit! They had the poses and postures down to a tee. And it wasn’t just a quick hello and take a picture. Each princess would give each child their undivided attention for several minutes. It looked as if they were telling their life story and making each one feel loved. It was adorable...and quite amazing. With each child getting such personal attention, you can imagine the line that was assembled. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people waited at least an hour to finally get to the front of the princess line! (That is why they needed so many appearances throughout the cruise). Once at the front, you got to go from one princess to the next: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Princess Tiana, Ariel, Belle, and Snow White. They were all awesome, but I would have to say that Belle was my favorite. She was gorgeous and looked just like her! Funny story, one day we actually saw a boy taking turns with the princesses, and he was just as excited as the little girls. He had glitter in his spiked hair, wore a shield and a sword, and had the biggest grin on his face! Hilarious and so cute! Of course, there were endless Disney character appearances throughout the cruise, but the princesses were by far the popular favorite!
One of the princess appearances...I love the little girl in front of Sleeping Beauty..caught mid-jump!
The brave knight and princesses
He may be happier than some of the girls
Another smart thing that the ship offered was physical and digital copies of all of the pictures taken by their professional staff throughout the cruise. Using your key cards and their face-recognition systems, they are able to assign each room a separate “photo album” that you can visit if you want to see physical prints of your pictures and then purchase at that point if you would like. Or you could go down the hall to the Shutters room, and use your key card to access digital copies of your pictures. So just another fun way to view your photos and select the ones you want to take home with you. They make bank on those pictures, I’m telling you! Well, I guess I’m not totally sure on that once you take into account all of the wasted pictures that they print that you don’t end up buying. They take tons and TONS of pictures! But they charge a butt-load for them...so they make up for it somehow.
A really clever activity that they have on the ship is the Detective Agency game. It is an on-going game that you can play at any time, child or adult, solo or in a group, advanced or beginner, that takes you on a journey throughout the entire ship looking for clues in the “enchanted paintings”. There is a ton of artwork on the ship (as I have mentioned), and about a dozen of those paintings are actually digital. You wouldn’t be able to tell by taking a quick glance at them, but once you stand up to them with your Detective Badge, you unlock their mysteries and it plays a little clip with a clue for you. It is an interactive clip, too. One time you might have to pop balloons with your badge, or use your badge like a flashlight to search through the dark. So clever!
On the final sea day, we spent our afternoon on Deck 12. We played mini-golf, foosball, ping pong, and even a few games of Speed on the basketball court. I was delusional thinking my family was very athletic and coordinated! Okay, Tyson and Jason were pretty good, but beyond that it was a little embarrassing. I’m sure everyone thought themselves to be good (especially us girls), but honestly it wasn’t very impressive. But regardless, it was a ton of fun!
Way too many missed baskets!
At one point, a random kid joined us...but he didn't speak English, so he didn't quite understand all of the rules.
One of my favorite memories of the the ship was just taking in the magic of it all! I talked about the quality, beauty, and detail that was put into every inch of the ship, and just being able to enjoy it and take it all in was such a treat. As you walk through the halls and the different decks, you are surrounded by constant Disney music...new and old. You know that feeling you get when you walk down the streets of Disneyland? That magical, enchanted feeling of tremendous happiness and pure joy? You feel that constantly anywhere you are on the ship, all day long, every single day of the cruise. It is so amazing and so priceless!