Fourth ship in fleet offers new twists
Imagine your drawing dancing on a wall
A child's makeover fit for a princess
The 80-year-old man had not drawn a picture of himself since childhood. That’s what his son said.
Aboard the new Disney Fantasy cruise ship, instructions made it easy: Here’s a magic marker. Imagine how you look. On the paper placed at your table in the dining room, scribble in the white spaces, on the face, chest and tummy, shirt sleeves, trouser legs, and feet.
As his son tells the story, the old man sighed and acquiesced. He drew a simple line for a mouth, circles for eyes, some hair of which he had little, dots on the shirt, stripes on the pants. Finished quickly, he concentrated on his family in the Animator’s Palate dining room.
Then came the magic, and his eyes twinkled into a full grin.
To the music of a whimsical cartoon, the old man’s picture began to dance across the dining room walls, along with several dozen other characters from other tables.
Amateur scribblers, ranging in ages covering eight decades, were dazzled in childish wonder by their own work that had come alive for all to see – with a roll of credits at the end, naming each guest animator. My scribbly picture, above.
Safe to say, the dining room called Animator’s Palate is a hit on Disney Fantasy, which began cruising in March from Port Canaveral, Fla. It is the fourth ship in the Disney fleet.
The 4,000-passenger Disney Fantasy is a sister to the Disney Dream that debuted in 2011, and the new ship includes the Dream accouterments that cruise reviewers praised – AquaDuck, the first watercoaster at sea; enchanted art that comes alive; cabins with magical portholes; huge play areas for children, tweens and teens; adult-only entertainment, relaxation area and two top-rated restaurants, Palo (Northern Italian) and Remy (very French and named after the star of the movie “Ratatouille”), which charge substantial separate fees for dinner. I have eaten at both, and they are well worth the splurges.
Where adults hide from the kids
The Fantasy is a sister with some major differences and added attractions, focused on being Disney’s first ship that is designed for passengers to cruise for seven nights. On other Disney ships, cruises usually are three, four or five nights, and are part of a vacation at the Disney parks in California and Florida. Many of the Fantasy passengers may not have time to stop at Disney World before or after a one-week cruise.
The ship offers more entertainment choices; a bigger family water play area with pop jets and geysers; a more expansive adults-only relaxation area (pictured above) that includes an oasis surrounded by falling water; and two new Broadway-style stage shows called “Wishes” and “Disney’s Aladdin,” the latter with an improvising, wisecracking genie whom you will not soon forget.
If your daughter is 3-12 years old, she may need much of the week to persuade you to fork over the money for a makeover in the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, which makes its seagoing debut on Fantasy. It is patterned after a boutique in the Disney parks.
Big bucks at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
The full, Royal Sea package at $595.95 includes a Princess Royal Rolling Trunk, a Glass Slipper Ribbon Necklace, a Keepsake Glass Slipper, and three makeovers, the Castle (hairstyle, makeup, face gem, cinch sack, princess sash, nail polish, costume, wand, tiara and shoes, at $184.95 if bought separately), the Under the Sea (at $99.95 separately) and a Pirate package to prepare for the popular deck party “Mickey’s Pirates IN the Caribbean.”
The least expensive Bib/Bob/Bout package is $54.95, for a coiffed look to make a stunning, princessly entrance to dinner at the Royal Court Restaurant.
Changes from Dream to Fantasy
The upscale, ocean liner style remains, with design change from Art Deco to Art Nouveau patterns in vibrant blue, green, pink and gold. In the atrium lobby, where Minnie Mouse is cast in bronze with parasol, hangs a cascading chandelier in green and blue peacock hues.
The adult nightclub area, similar in size to that on the Dream, focuses on Europe, with clubs and lounges inspired by night spots of Italy, France, Ireland and London, including a bar of changing skylines, some altered slightly, as only Disney might do, to highlight the best of Europe’s city profiles.
Children are allocated nearly an entire deck for the Oceaneer Club and Lab for children 3-10, and It’s a Small World Nursery for children 3 months to 3 years. Teens (14-17) and Tweens (11-13) have their own club lounges, and Chill Spa for ages 13-17, with treatments designed for them.
The Muppets star in an interactive quest, as passengers move around the ship, uncovering clues to discover the culprit behind the disappearance of Kermit’s banjo, Fozzie’s squirting flower, Gonzo’s crash helmet, Animal’s drum sticks and the Swedish Chef’s cleaver. Clues are hidden in wall art that animates when people approach.
Because passengers on Disney ships rotate among three dining rooms, they will eat twice at Animator’s Palate on Fantasy, so the show rotates between two themes. One evening, passengers will create their own pictures to dance on the walls. On a second evening, the room has an undersea environment, and Crush, the sea turtle from the movie “Finding Nemo,” works the room, swimming about and engaging with diners about his life and the world.
Port Canaveral to the Caribbean
The Disney Fantasy sails out of Port Canaveral, Florida, about 90 minutes by highway from Disney World. Itineraries are seven nights, alternating between eastern Caribbean, with stops in St. Maarten and St. Thomas, and western Caribbean, with stops at Grand Cayman and Mexico. All include a day at Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay.
The Fantasy has 1,250 cabins. Its passenger capacity of 4,000 is based on an estimate for each cruise at 2,500 adults and 1,500 children. Rates begin at $959 per person for a standard inside cabin, based on two people in the cabin.
For information, contact a travel agent who specializes in cruises, visit www.disneycruise.com or call 888-325-2500.
David Molyneaux is editor of TheTravelMavens.com