New Disney Fantasy has fun for all ages
There’s nothing quite like that “new ship” smell, and it was very much in evidence when I boarded the gleaming Disney Fantasy with my three sorority sisters for the vessel’s Preview Cruise, which took place March 26–29. The Disney Fantasy is the sister ship to the Disney Dream, which I took out for a spin last year aboard her festive Christening Cruise.
This time around I was accompanied by three of my sorors from Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. — my “line sister” Evelyn “Lynn” Bell, a registered nurse now living in Atlanta; Valerie Clayton, a superb operatic soprano and Branch Director at the Camden School of Musical Arts, and Karen Whitney, an accomplished church organist who also works as a librarian for the Free Library of Philadelphia.
With “the Deltas in the house,” we soon discovered that although Disney indeed has set the standard in family entertainment, there were plenty of activities and amenities on board the Fantasy to keep four female baby boomers from Philly occupied and entertained during a much-needed “girl trip.”
Christened on the Hudson River in New York City on March 1 by her “fairy godmother,” Mariah Carey, the Disney Fantasy, which sails out of Port Canaveral, Fla., was built by Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany. With a capacity of 4,000 passengers, she is 1,115 feet long, a towering 14 decks high, and weighs in at a massive 130,000 gross tons. Fitted with 1,250 luxurious staterooms and a myriad of diverse public spaces, the Fantasy is essentially a floating resort. Our three-night cruise included a day at the Disney-owned Bahamian island of Castaway Cay, and while we all came together every evening for dinner in one of the ship’s many inviting themed restaurants, we each pursued our own individual interests during the day.
While the ladies enjoyed the afternoon at Castaway Cay, I took advantage of the huge, empty ship and headed to Senses Spa & Salon for my very first Swedish massage. With a panoramic view of the island and the crystal blue harbor, Belle, who hails from the Phillippines, left me feeling relaxed and invigorated.
Actually, a bit of “me time” at Senses was a popular choice among the sorors. Karen visited the salon, and Valerie, who celebrated a birthday while on board, cited her time at the spa as the high point of her trip.
“I enjoyed going to the spa,” she said. “I thought it was just wonderful and relaxing, and I just loved the fact that they had heated beds in the Rainforest, and you could go in and scrub. It was like a Roman bath, and you could scrub yourself. That’s something I like to do on a vacation — time for myself and just relax and chill out. As a single woman, I happen to enjoy that.”
On what was probably their most adventurous outing of the cruise, Karen and Valerie, my “well-seasoned” sorors, literally took the plunge when they climbed into a tiny rubber boat and went screaming around the upper decks and out over the ocean in the AquaDuck, the Disney Fantasy’s highly popular extreme water slide.
“The AquaDuck! It was like a wet rollercoaster,” said Karen, who cited her slippery trip around the ship as the high point of the cruise. “I’ve never been to a water park, so it was a brand new experience for me. I saw it on the Disney Dream last year, and in hindsight was kind of sorry I didn’t do it, so I’m glad I did it this time. I kind of thought it was just for kids, and then last year, (former CBS “Early Show” anchor) Rene Syler did it.”
When seeking less extreme activities, there was always shopping, or relaxing with a tropical drink in specially designated “adults only” areas, and on one evening, dinner was followed by a spirited performance of “Wishes,” an entertaining Broadway-style show which, in the Disney tradition,” ended with a powerful message. Jim Urry, VP of Entertainment & Port Adventures, maintains that this type of variety is the primary allure of the Disney Fantasy.
“Honestly, it’s the fact that you can come on here as a group, and you can do as much as you want to do together as a family, but we make it easy for families to also have their own individual vacation,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to come with the family, have a family vacation, but to enjoy things your own way while your kids are taken care of — younger children, all the way to the teenagers, where they have their own spaces. So you can spend as much time together and separately as you like, and have a unique vacation while spending time with your family.”
Indeed, while we were well aware of the kids, who were actually quite entertaining, they were caught up in a whirlwind of supervised activities designed especially for them, while the adults were otherwise occupied.
Lynn, who sat in on a cooking demonstration and joined me in a wacky round of bingo before we had a chance encounter with the Disney canine character, Pluto, on the Promenade Deck, observed, “There was something for every age group. I think they made a really good effort to make sure that everyone was engaged in some kind of activity — adults and kids.” The possibilities were endless, and on the last day of the cruise, we took in a 3-D screening of the feature film “John Carter” in the Buena Vista Theatre.
While the onboard options were quite impressive, Lynn, whose last Disney cruise was 15 years ago aboard The Big Red Boat, gave her highest marks to the crew of the Disney Fantasy. “Probably the most profound with me was the customer service, and how all of the employees were engaged and making sure that you were taking part in everything,” she said. “If you walked around looking like you were lost, somebody was asking, ‘May I help you?’ — from the wait staff to housekeeping, anybody who saw you. They always greeted you in the morning and they always asked, ‘How was your day?’ How was your evening?’ It was more than I think I remembered experiencing on my last Disney cruise, so it was a good experience for me.”
The Disney Fantasy sails out of Port Canaveral on seven-night Caribbean itineraries — alternating eastern (St. Maarten and St. Thomas) and western (Grand Cayman, Coasta Maya, Cozumel). Special Eastern Caribbean sailings in November and December 2012 stop at St. Thomas and San Juan, Puerto Rico. All Disney Fantasy itineraries include a stop at Castaway Cay. To learn more about Disney Cruise Line or to book a vacation, guests can visit www.disneycruise.com, call Disney Cruise Line at 888-325-2500 or contact their travel agent.
Contact entertainment reporter Kimberly C. Roberts at (215) 893-5753 or email@example.com.
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