DINKS Cruise Disney – The Beginning
DINKS Cruise Disney – Pre Planning (Mickey and Minnie Called, Pirate Night Prep)
DINKS Cruise Disney – Time to Go
DINKS Cruise Disney – Onboard (Multiple Posts Throughout: Initial Thoughts, Around Disney Fantasy, Answering Reader Questions)
DINKS Cruise Disney – Parting Thoughts
Cruise Review – Parts One, Two, and Three
MrsMJ and I spent a week aboard the Disney Fantasy earlier this spring, sailing on the March 15, 2014, Western Caribbean itinerary. No, we don’t have any kids, although we did travel with friends of ours and their kids, and grandma too. It was spring break in Florida, and there were a lot of kids. It’s Disney Cruise Line, so no surprise there. But to answer the burning question of the day – Yes, DINKS can and do cruise Disney. Yes, DINKS can cruise Disney and have fun. In an administrative note, I have historically tried to keep general cruise reviews down to one post. The more I worked on this review, the lengthier it became. There’s just a lot to say about any cruise, especially this one, so I’m breaking it up into three parts. Part 1 will focus on booking the cruise, getting to and onboard the ship, and the stateroom. Part 2 will be ports of call and dining. Part 3 will focus on general out and about on the ship, and disembarkation. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get on with Part 3 of the review.
The photo above was taken at sail away from Port Canaveral, so the decks were full of people taking in the sail away party and the scenery as we set sail on our 7-day cruising adventure.
This is the point on every cruise I’ve taken where I put my phone in airplane mode, order a cocktail, and breathe a big sigh of relief as we transition from port to open ocean. YAY!
Around the Ship
Disney Fantasy is a big ship. At 1,115 feet long, and 125 feet wide, she’s not Oasis of the Seas, but is certainly a respectable vessel. There’s plenty of space to pack in things for cruisers to do. You’re welcomed aboard the ship in the grand foyer, which harkens back to the days of classic ocean liners.
Image courtesy of Disney Cruise Line
It’s a welcoming venue, and would serve as an activity center in the evenings before and between meals, and yes, there’s a bar and roving bar service.
Disney is about the kids, but as DINKS, I found that there was plenty of entertainment and various activities to keep MrsMJ and I occupied. We spent most of our time on board in the “Adults” area of the ship, but that did not stop my from riding this bad boy multiple times.
That tube with the water flowing through is the Aqua Duck, and it very well may have been my favorite thing about Disney Fantasy. OK, I’m exaggerating a tiny bit, but still. During peak times, there was a bit of a wait. MrsMJ and rode once early in the cruise, and several times while we were docked at Castaway Cay, before the masses returned to the ship.
Aqua Duck being cool or not, I spent the majority of my time in the adults only areas of the ship which occupy a surprisingly significant portion of the ship’s customer facing real estate. My days usually began at The Cove Cafe, a coffee bar.
Located just inside the adults area, think of it as a coffee shop with a liquor license. 🙂 No, I started my days with a Cafe Americano, but the atmosphere inside The Cove Cafe was perfect for morning coffee, pastries, conversation, and blogging. The wireless internet worked very well here, and the Cove Cafe was equipped something that most ships seem to lack in my opinion, power outlets. Yes!! Located nearby was the Quiet Cove Pool.
Image courtesy of Disney Cruise Line
Yes, the mouse really is everywhere….can you see him here? 🙂 One thing about the Cove, and the outdoor adults only areas in general, it’s very quiet. Of course, that’s probably the point, but I am accustomed to having some island vibes playing while I relax by the pool. Just my opinion, but I think Disney is really focused on creating a very quiet area away from the riff-raff for mom and dad to enjoy themselves in peace and tranquility. Completely understandable, and I believe they have succeeded. Just a difference in wants/expectations from my perspective as a frequent Royal Caribbean cruiser.
Another favorite spot of mine was Satellite Falls, deck 13 forward. Satellite Falls features a small pool with a rainshower feature built into….wait for it….. a satellite antenna. Pretty thoughtful use of real estate. The area features multiple lounge chairs as well, some shady areas if you’re looking for that, bar service, and more quiet only interrupted by the sound of the sea breeze.
In the evenings, we liked to spend our time in Europa, the adults only nightclub area aboard Disney Fantasy, with Skyline being a particular favorite of ours. The lighting in the evenings was particularly low, so it was beyond my current photographic expertise to capture an image. This photo, courtesy of Disney Cruise Line does the job.
The surrounding scenery was the skyline of various capitals around the world, which rotated every 15 minutes or so. It was actually interesting to checkout the skylines as you sipped on a favorite beverage. Another personal favorite, Meridian, deck 12 aft. Classy cocktails with an outdoor area for smoking cigars.
Things I Did Not Try
Personally, I think it takes 2 weeks to fully immerse yourself in everything available aboard a cruise ship. We had to make choices for activities, dining, etc. In the end there were two big parts of the Disney cruising experience that I did not explore, the spa, and for obvious reasons, I am not able to comment on the children’s activities….well, other than Aqua Duck. 🙂 I’ll include a link to Disney’s summary of youth activities here, and also include a link to an interview with a happy Disney cruiser that I posted a couple years ago. She also happens to be the mom of the family we were cruising with.
Little Things I Really Liked
Every cabin is equipped with two phones usable for communication on board at no extra cost.
Another neat thing, the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App. With the app, which is available for iPhone and Android. With this app, you could connect to the ship’s wi-fi network free of charge and access menus as well as a schedule of each day’s activities.
Like all good things, our 7-day cruise eventually came to an end. In keeping with our cruising traditions, our bags were packed prior to dinner on the last evening of the cruise. That way we can set them out for pickup, then head out for a wonderful last evening on board without worrying about getting packed. I rarely “sleep in” on embarkation morning, but we were docked before I woke up. We collected our hand luggage, then went to Animator’s Palate for our disembarkation breakfast. We dined past our scheduled disembarkation time, and I was a bit concerned that our exit might be delayed by crowds.
In the end, getting off the ship was the easiest part of dealing with a crowd the entire week. We collected our luggage, and got in a rather ominous looking line for Immigration. The line moved very quickly, and within 15 minutes, we were outside waiting for our car to take us back to Orlando International and our flight home.
Parting Thoughts and Burning Questions
The bottom line – I rather enjoyed the cruise. Of course, some of that was time spent visiting with our friends, but the entire Disney cruising experience was one that I enjoyed sampling. DINKS can and do cruise Disney, and I hadn’t been on the ship more than 20 minutes when I ran into a couple in their 70s cruising Disney by themselves. Service was excellent, food was very good to excellent, accommodations were comfortable, and the ship was comfortable. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that you could not sense a large presence of children on board. It was a Disney cruise! But I did not personally witness anything I would consider “out of control” or overly annoying.
The burning question – no, it’s not can DINKS enjoy Disney, I think I’ve answered that. The real question is whether or not a Disney cruise is worth the price? My answer is that depends. I do not see a way to make the math work for MrsMJ and me. We have a certain amount of status with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, and in exchange for that, we get stuff…perks. Our perks have a real value attached to them, and I miss them when I don’t get them. It’s not likely that we will book a future Disney cruise just for us, but I think we would certainly sail Disney again under the right circumstances like cruising with friends or a family cruise with our nephew. For others, the answer to that question may be different.
For a family, I can see the point. Little things like those phones I mentioned, the slightly bigger cabins, the split bathroom setup, sodas included, etc, all add up, and they could all offer a compelling reason for families to focus on Disney cruises. Further, there is an absolutely tremendous list of activities and a staff dedicated to keeping kids entertained. Finally, if you’re a Disney nut, then knock yourself out…the mouse is everywhere…even at sea. 🙂
When it’s all said and done, I had a good time, I was at sea, and not at work. Life was good. I hope you’ll find the information presented here useful. If there’s something you’re curious about that I did not cover, by all means comment or email, and I’ll try to answer your question. Thanks for cruising Disney with MJ on Travel.
-MJ, May 9, 2014