LMM's Disney Fantasy 7-Day Western Caribbean Cruise


#1

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…

  1. Too expensive!
  2. Disney Cruises are for children. / There will be too many children.
  3. 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.


Western Caribbean Itinerary C by vshingl, on Flickr

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.

[B]Pre-Cruise Planning[/B]

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.


#2

Yay…it’s a trip report from Victoria!!! :slight_smile: …more please…and congratulations on your graduation. I’m going to a “Clemson wedding” next week! …but they graduated a few years ago… :slight_smile:


#3

Wow, I can’t believe you have graduaed from college already. It just seemed like last year we were reading about all your high school activities! Congrats on such an accomplishment (and, maybe sneak in somewhere here what your future plans are…more school, looking for a job, landing a job, etc.)

So, on with the trip report. Looking forward to it, and thanks for bringing it back to Mousebuzz!!!


#4

[QUOTE=bethishooked;1141959]Wow, I can’t believe you have graduaed from college already. It just seemed like last year we were reading about all your high school activities! Congrats on such an accomplishment (and, maybe sneak in somewhere here what your future plans are…more school, looking for a job, landing a job, etc.)

So, on with the trip report. Looking forward to it, and thanks for bringing it back to Mousebuzz!!![/QUOTE]

I’ve been meaning to tell you guys… Next fall, I will begin my Masters of Architecture at UCLA! I have a pre-professional degree, a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture. So in order to become a licensed architect, I will need to earn my M.Arch degree. However, my future goal is a little different than becoming a licensed architect… I would still like to become a Disney Imagineer, and have chosen UCLA because several of their relationship with Disney Imagineering. At Open House, they had a recent alumni who is now a Disney Imagineer speak with us, and they have Disney Imagineers on faculty… they also do a student competition with Disney Imagineering. Who knows - I might decide that Disney Imagineering is not for me, but I am excited for the excellent graduate program and resources provided to me by UCLA. And I’ll be only an hour away from Disneyland (ehh… maybe more with LA traffic), so that’s always a plus!


#5

Awesome plans Victoria…I am sure you will be successful where ever you “land”.


#6

Congratulations on your graduation and the plans for the fall. I can’t wait to read your report!!


#7

My goodness! I can remember when you were still in high school! You are making us feel so old! Congratulations on your graduation!! What amazing things you have accomplished! Can I just take a minute to say that this is why MB is still so important to so many of us! We’ve followed Victoria through high school (did she like Max? did she not like Max?), through her first year at Clemson (remember the roommate!), her adventure to Italy and now on to California and UCLA! Plus the all the WDW trips and cruises, her Christmas decorations and Disney rooms! Her wonderful reports and fabulous photography. This is family stuff people - not just another Disney site! Through Rachel stories and stollen strollers, you’ve done us proud Victoria! :flowers:


#8

Welcome home and congrats.

Facebook will NEVER have the feel we used to have here! :laugh:


#9

Finally a reason for me to login and make a post! I still visit the site daily but just don’t login regularly.

Looking forward to this trip report. Congratulations on graduating and good luck at UCLA! Sounds like some smart planning to me.

Now bring on the pics!


#10

Thank you, Llama! I really do feel like I have rather grown up on Mousebuzz. You all helped me through (and put up with!) my teenage drama and continue to be a great support system - a true Disney family to me! I have so many great friendships here on MouseBuzz, and I really appreciate all of you for contributing to such a warm, welcoming online community.


#11

Fish Extender Gifts

I rather foolishly joined a Fish Extender group under the notion that I’m crafty. And by crafty, I don’t mean that I do arts and crafts… I’m an architecture major - it is my job to be creative and have good craft.

Along with my cruise group, I joined a group on Facebook about “All Things Fish Extender.” And I think that was a mistake. Because the Facebook group mainly consists of ambitious, do-it-all stay at home moms and grandmothers that appear to have a lot of time and money to spend on Fish Extender crafts. And these women are most certainly not procrastinators. Some post photos of the FE Gifts that they have completed for cruises that they have booked a year out. Some people make and post photos of FE Gifts, and they aren’t even booked on a cruise!! So rather than inspiring my FE Gifts, the updates from this Facebook group made me bitter… because there are two critical things that architecture students do not have and those are time and money. Don’t get me wrong - I think that these hardcore FE Gift Makers are very talented, and I am very appreciative that they choose to share their time and talents with others.

Architecture students are also major procrastinators and are known for taking on more than they can handle, and I definitely fit that stereotype. So about a month before the cruise, I realized that I was in over my head. After reading several threads titled, “Worst FE Gifts ever received,” I felt incredibly overwhelmed. Not to mention, I had read that FE Exchanges are really for kids, and some people even posted that it was silly or greedy for adults to participate. That’s when I came to my MB friends on Facebook and asked you all for advice. Finally, I decided to stick it out because even if it was terrible and photos of my FE Gifts were posted on Facebook and DISboards as “Worst FE Gifts Ever,” at least I would be able to blog about it!

Jennifer (Mickeysgirlz) has done several FE Gift Exchanges and was very helpful (thank you!!). She suggested that I print out magnets on large car magnet sheets from Vista Print and cut them out because it was an affordable option. I designed an “I (Mickey) Cruising” graphic using Adobe Illustrator. I had gotten the idea from Carnival, which actually sold some very cute “I (heart) Cruises” merchandise. The color palette of cyan and magenta is a fun twist and also fits in with my branding of my blog, Victoria on Vacation. The ears are dislocated from the body so that it would be an easier graphic to print. Most printing companies will not print anything Disney due to character licensing, so separating the ears makes it just three recognizable circles, rather than the distinct Mickey Mouse silhouette. I cut the magnets out of the large sheet using an exacto knife and metal straight edge.


Disney Cruise Magnets by vshingl, on Flickr

Architecture school provided me with several resources to use, and one of those was the laser cutter. I designed a Mickey Mouse silhouette keychain using Adobe Autocad and cut and etched the design onto basswood using a laser cutter. Also, Max sanded the burn marks from the laser cutter off the back of the keychains. He would want you to know that.


Disney Fantasy Keychains by vshingl, on Flickr


Disney Fantasy Keychains by vshingl, on Flickr

To package, I found 4x6" zip-seal bags in the craft section of Walmart. I designed labels on Adobe Illustrator and printed them out on cardstock. To get the packages to lie flat, I did not attach the key rings, but did include them in the bags, so hopefully no one minded ringing their own. Also, I ran out of key rings at the end, so someone didn’t get any key rings. Maybe that will inspire them to do something different, like maybe make a necklace.


FE Gifts by vshingl, on Flickr


FE Gifts by vshingl, on Flickr

Shameless blog promotion…


FE Gifts by vshingl, on Flickr


#12

Getting There…

So I think in order for you to truly understand my stress level when talking about FE Gifts and Door Magnets, you need to know my schedule in the weeks leading to the cruise…

The week April 28-May 2 was exam week. I had to finish up graphics for a curriculum research creative inquiry that I had been taking, make a book of my work for freehand drawing class, and make final adjustments and fabricate the prototype for our flat-pack greenhouse for another creative inquiry (check it out!). I spent Friday afternoon laser cutting the FE gift keychains, and then I had to pack…

Because Saturday, May 3, I drove to Destin, Florida for a beach trip that Rachel had planned with two of our friends. We returned Thursday evening (May 8).


Destin by vshingl, on Flickr

I stayed up almost all night Thursday evening working on finishing FE Gifts and designing, printing, and cutting out stateroom door magnets.

On Friday, May 9, I graduated from the College of Architecture, Arts, & Humanities at Clemson University.


Clemson Graduation by vshingl, on Flickr

Immediately after Graduation Commencement, I returned to my apartment to finish packing for the cruise! Max and I didn’t arrive at my house until around 8:00PM.

The reason for leaving the evening of May 9…

Story told by Rachel is that she, Mom, and Dad were trying to determine when to leave (because it is perfectly normal to not know what time or even what day you’re leaving the morning before your cruise… Max is still learning to deal with the chaotic, go-with-the-flow, don’t worry about time lifestyle of my family). Dad spoke up, “I have a proposition to make.” “And what’s that?” “Let’s leave after Victoria’s graduation so that we can get to Cape Canaveral in time for the satellite launch at 9:30 in the morning.” “Are you serious?” “Yeah, my buddy at work was telling me all about it.”

So we drove through the night and finally arrived in Cape Canaveral at 4:00AM. Luckily, I slept most of the way - big thanks to Dad and Max for doing the driving!

Anyway, dad goes in to get a room at some Marriott-owned hotel for a discounted price of $97. He asks for more information about the satellite launch. “Oh, that was cancelled.” “CANCELLED???” “Yes, it’s been postponed a few weeks due to technical issues.” So we drove all the way to Cape Canaveral watch a satellite launch… that was cancelled.

We then had to figure out how to put five adults into two queen beds. But after that challenge was conquered, we all slept great!


#13

May 10, 2014 - Embarkation

We all woke up around 10AM and started getting ready. Rachel and I had gotten a lot of sleep (which maybe made up for my lack of sleep the night before?) since we slept well in the car. All I can say is THANK GOODNESS we did not do anything ridiculous and try to cram five adults into one stateroom, because that would have been absolutely miserable. It is quite a challenge for five adults to share one bathroom (sure, maybe the split bath would have helped, but it still would have been uncomfortably tight quarters).

We weren’t ready to go until after noon. Now, I had scheduled Max, Rachel, and I for a Port Arrival Time of 12:15 PM. However, by the time I told my dad to schedule his, the soonest available was 1:00 PM. So we figured that 1:00 PM for all of us wouldn’t be a problem.

But before we could board the cruise ship, we needed to make a run to the liquor store. I had read in Disney’s FAQs that you can take on alcohol in a carry-on size bag if you are 21 and older, which is unheard of on all other mass-market cruise lines (most now allow you to bring one bottle of wine or champagne per adult). I have no idea how many times my dad or Max asked, “So are you sure we can bring on alcohol?” YES! Yes, I’m sure!!!

Rachel asked Siri (on the iPhone) for the nearest liquor store… and she took us to an Aldi Market. Which didn’t sell alcohol. So we moved on… and luckily found a liquor store right past the port. We bought some vodka and rum for mixers and headed on to the port.


Disney Cruise Terminal by vshingl, on Flickr


Disney Cruise Terminal by vshingl, on Flickr

At the first security checkpoint, we showed all of our passports (and Rachel is still traveling with a driver’s license and birth certificate because her passport expired, and she hasn’t renewed it, yet). And then we drove forward fifteen feet and had to show the next security checkpoint all of our passports. There was another checkpoint in front of us, and we might have freaked out a little if we were required to show them, again. But, I must mention that even the security people were especially friendly and “Disney-like,” even wearing Disney uniforms. Normally the security guys outside of the port are grumps.


#14


Disney Cruise Terminal by vshingl, on Flickr

Disney’s Cruise Terminal is no basic, one-size-fits-all building. The terminal is full of custom Disney theming.

We drove on to the luggage drop-off, and there was no wait. We were told that we could go ahead and start checking in while Dad parked the car. Security was a breeze, and they did not confiscate our alcohol.

They split us up and sent us to two different check-in desks to make our check-in go faster. The CM asked me if I had filled out everything online, and I told her that I thought I had (shouldn’t she know if I had?). “Well, I can look it up here.” The only difficulty we had was putting Max on a different card. He has a student credit card (“UPromise” Mastercard) of some sort under his mom’s name… his mother’s name is actually on the card, rather than his own (I really don’t understand why - don’t ask me). Anyway, the CM had set up Max’s separate account and then saw the card and said she couldn’t use it because his mother wasn’t on the cruise. She called over her supervisor to see if there was anything that could be done. This was the same card that he had used on our Carnival Breeze cruise with no problems. I asked if his mother could fax them a signed document authorizing the use of the card, and they looked at one another and suggested that we go to Guest Services on the ship. They then tried to set him up on a cash account, but he didn’t want to be on a cash account because he had only allotted enough cash for port expenses. They then were unable to hook us back up to charge to my parents’ stateroom. I suggested that we put everyone on my credit card. So that was a bit of a waste of five minutes, but we still finished checking in before the family beside us with four children who were rolling around on the carpet.

So finally, we were set to move on. There was no wait, and we could board immediately. But we I had to take a few photos of the terminal first…

The Disney Magic!


Disney Cruise Terminal by vshingl, on Flickr

Max - “How do you know it’s the Magic?”
Me - “Because it says the name on the side of the ship.”

Had to archi-nerd out over this section model…


Disney Cruise Terminal by vshingl, on Flickr


Disney Cruise Terminal by vshingl, on Flickr


Disney Cruise Terminal by vshingl, on Flickr


#15

Disney Fantasy, here we come!


Disney Cruise Terminal by vshingl, on Flickr


Embarkation Photo by vshingl, on Flickr

They announce your name when you board the ship which Rachel and Max thought was creepy and weird. Max looked at the bar and said, “They’re waiting for these guys to shut up already.” I, however, thought it was cute. They asked us our name, and Rachel said, “Shingleton.” “Shinleton?” (strong accent) “Yes.” “Please welcome aboard the Shilton Family!” Ehh… close enough. Really, the gorgeous atrium provides more of a grand welcome than the guys on the microphones do.

We split up immediately and went off to find our staterooms.


Family Porthole Stateroom by vshingl, on Flickr


Family Porthole Stateroom by vshingl, on Flickr

They thanked us for returning… fourteen years later.


Family Porthole Stateroom by vshingl, on Flickr

I’ll go ahead and say it - we LOVED our room! Not only are the furnishings beautiful with a nicely done nautical theme (and Mickey touches), but the extended size of the family stateroom was really nice for us. We had plenty of storage - an entire cabinet by Max went unused (though he did tend to pile his clothing up on the counter under the cabinet…), as did our steamtrunk. The room was very bright, thanks to our porthole window seat. Speaking of the porthole… Max and Rachel LOVED IT! They said over and over how they really loved the window. It’s huge - almost floor to ceiling - so you can see outside while sitting on the bed. You can also sit in the window (well, Rachel and I could curl up in the window comfortably).

I am so glad that I decided to go with the ocean view room rather than verandah. I’ve had balcony rooms in the past (our first Disney Cruise was in a balcony stateroom), but I really didn’t miss it at all with this room. It is without a doubt the best ocean view stateroom I have ever stayed in.


Family Porthole Stateroom by vshingl, on Flickr

Getting Max and Rachel to stay out of the photos proved to be a bit of a challenge…


Family Porthole Stateroom by vshingl, on Flickr


#16

Can’t wait to read more.


#17

Awesome …More wonderful pics from Victoria !!! Can’t wait to see all of your photos.
… And WOW !!! Time has flown by !!! Congrats little lady!!!


#18

Noooo, your not done? I have to wait? If I must. I Also have to say how much I’ve enjoyed watching you grow up over the years. I wanted to like Llamas post, too.


#19

[QUOTE=WALL;1141979]Awesome …More wonderful pics from Victoria !!! Can’t wait to see all of your photos.
… And WOW !!! Time has flown by !!! Congrats little lady!!![/QUOTE]

Thank you! Excited to see you back on Mousebuzz, too!

Don’t worry - you won’t have to wait too long…


#20

Disney Cruise ships have a split-bath concept in all rooms except Cat 11 inside staterooms.


Family Porthole Stateroom by vshingl, on Flickr

The bath in the family staterooms on the Dream and Fantasy-class ships have a round tub which is smaller than a standard bathtub. However, these tubs are much larger than the typical cruise ship shower. Not to mention… it is a RAINFALL SHOWER!!!


Family Porthole Stateroom by vshingl, on Flickr

I should also note that there are two retractable wash lines in the shower.


Rainfall Shower by vshingl, on Flickr

It was by far the nicest shower I have ever had on a cruise ship (and that’s including a Grand Suite and Junior Suite on Royal Caribbean). Rachel actually had a shower in the spa after her massage later in the week and said that our shower was better.

The other bath had a toilet and sink. We really only used this bathroom for the toilet and did not rely on it for the vanity at all, as we used the large mirror at the vanity in the cabin for applying make-up and fixing hair.


Family Porthole Stateroom by vshingl, on Flickr

The pillow flips over to say “A dream is a wish your heart makes, when you’re fast asleep…” on the backside, and the cabin steward turns the pillow over when they make down the bed.


Family Porthole Stateroom by vshingl, on Flickr


Family Porthole Stateroom by vshingl, on Flickr