Hello, MouseBuzzers! Welcome to my 2014 Disney Fantasy Cruise Trip Report!
I haven’t spent a lot of time on MB lately due to the decrease of traffic here and move of many MBers to Facebook. However, I wanted to be sure and post my review here because this is where all of my Disney reviews go!! If you’ve moved to Facebook, I’m glad that you’ve returned to read my review. If you aren’t on Facebook… I’VE MISSED YOU!!!
As you might already know, in addition to Disney Parks, I really enjoy cruising. Since 2009, my family has made a tradition of cruising over Christmas. My first cruise ever was actually on the Disney Magic in April 2000. We then tried Royal Caribbean because we wanted to sail Alaska and Disney was only sailing the Caribbean at the time. As a family, we were really pleased with Royal and stuck with them for a while, also trying out Carnival twice. In 2012, it was time for change, and we sailed the Island Princess on a Panama Canal Partial Transit Cruise. We then sailed the Norwegian Epic in the Mediterranean and the Royal Princess this past Christmas.
Enjoy these embarrassing photos from our first cruise…
I really regained an interest in Disney Cruise Line with the introduction of the Disney Dream in 2011. I started researching Disney Cruises, but I found that they are actually significantly more expensive than our typical cruises - in some cases over double the fare in stateroom cost. The expensive cruise fare was no aid in convincing my Dad to return to Disney.
Dad had a few concerns…
- Too expensive!
- Disney Cruises are for children. / There will be too many children.
- Disney isn’t any better than our favorite cruise lines, and the extra cost won’t be worth it to us.
The only way to lock in a Disney Cruise… was to declare it as my college graduation present!
I wanted to sail on one of the new ships, and the longer the cruise, the better! So it was an easy selection of the Disney Fantasy Western Caribbean Cruise sailing May 10, 2014 - the day after my college graduation!
[B]The “Cast” Includes:[/B]
My dad, Boyd
My mom, Sharon
My sister, Rachel
And my boyfriend, Max
[B]Choosing the Cruise[/B]
Like I said earlier, I wanted to sail on Disney Cruise Line to celebrate my graduation from Clemson University. I chose the Disney Fantasy because it sails 7-day itineraries (as opposed to the Disney Dream which sails 3 and 5-day itineraries). Date was more important to me than Eastern or Western, as I’ve sailed both routes before. May 10 was the date after graduation and allowed Max and Rachel to get back in time for their summer co-op/internships.
Our cruise was the Western Caribbean Itinerary C which consisted of ports Cozumel, Mexico; Grand Cayman; Falmouth, Jamaica; and Castaway Cay. This was actually the first time that the Disney Fantasy sailed to Falmouth, Jamaica. We were told at embarkation that the Fantasy had been sailing to Costa Maya which past Disney Cruisers ranked 10th of ports of call, so they switched to Falmouth, Jamaica, which was ranked 3rd.
I learned that this sailing was AllEars.Net’s 15 Year Anniversary Cruise. I was really excited and looked into booking it… but unfortunately, booking through AllEars’ travel agent was more expensive than our typical online booking site for the same category rooms. It was about a $200 per person difference, and while I would have paid that for myself, I didn’t think it was worth it for everyone else in my family. Not to mention, this was a cruise to celebrate my graduation and spend time with family - not to spend time doing “Disney Nerd Things.”
[B]Choosing the Stateroom[/B]
I had a bit of difficulty choosing our category of stateroom. We booked two rooms - one for my parents and one for Rachel, Max, and myself. I wanted extra space so that it would be comfortable for three adults in one room, so I looked at family-size rooms. At first, I was set on booking a verandah stateroom, but after looking at room descriptions and deck plans, I realized that the family ocean view staterooms were in my preferred location (near the stairs), while the available family verandah staterooms were all mid-ship with long walks to the stairs. I decided to save the money (it was about $300 per person) and chose the family ocean view stateroom. My dad chose the magical porthole stateroom for himself and my mother.
This is the most pre-cruise planning that I have done in a long time. I read the message boards for tips and “secrets” on Disney Cruises. I purchased Passholder’s guide to Disney Cruises which I read twice. And I read many trip reports and photo reviews.
My Disney Cruise research led me to Fish Extenders, which are these (typically) fabric apparatuses with pockets that hang from the Fish (or Sea Horse) which is outside the stateroom for mail delivery. The idea is that these fabric pockets “extend” the fish. Disney people use these Fish Extenders for gift exchanges between passengers. People make or purchase gifts and pass them out to all of the staterooms in their exchange group.
So I joined a Fish Extender (FE) Group for my cruise. I’m not exactly sure what I was thinking and realized how overwhelming the whole thing was a month before the cruise. My group had 23 cabins and over 59 people… which meant at least 23 presents… which quickly became very expensive. I’m a recent college grad on a budget and kept a small budget of less than $60, which was doable thanks to the software and other resources which were available to me in the architecture school. I’ll add more information about the Fish Extender gifts I made in the next post.
As far as actual cruise preparation, I booked Palo, the adults-only restaurant for $25 per person. I chose Palo for dinner rather than the brunch because taking time out of the morning to eat a paid brunch didn’t sound too enticing to me. Part of my reasoning for booking Palo was more for the no-kids venue, rather than the food. I’m not a foodie.
My plan for the ports of call was to just go to the beach. We did end up booking a beach tour through the ship for Jamaica for $32 per person just because the last time we were in Jamaica (Ocho Rios), we were told not to take cabs anywhere, so we wanted the added safety of a cruise line-sponsored tour.