Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Disney Fantasy Trip Report Part 2: Saturday on the Disney Fantasy

Disney Fantasy Trip Report So Far:
*  Vacation Video
*  Hotel Review: Disney's Polynesian Village Resort 
*  My Tween's Review of the Edge on the Disney Fantasy
*  DCL Port Adventure Review: Tour to Virgin Gorda (TT23)
*  DCL Port Adventure Review: The Legendary Kon Tiki Sightseeing and Beach Cruise (ST45) in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
*  Hotel Review: Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport--Diamond Benefits and Day Use Room 
Part 1: Getting There, and Pre-Cruise at Disney World

Disney Fantasy Trip Report Part 2: Saturday on the Disney Fantasy

Saturday, January 16, 2016

This was the day we embarked the Disney Fantasy for our 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise! We had a 9:15 a.m. shuttle pick-up from the Polynesian to Port Canaveral through Spaceport Transport (our 4th time using this company--very reliable!). We woke up around 7:00 a.m. due to last night's early bed time and our excitement. I had purchased breakfast for us the night before at the gift shop so that we didn't have to mess with it in the morning. A box of donuts, string cheese and juices to share...a $13 breakfast for a family of 5. Voila!

So our kids may have been a little too excited that morning. One of our kids was jumping from bed to bed. I told him many times to stop. Did he listen? No. Did he slam his forehead into the headboard and get a major bruise accompanied by major drama? Yes. Oy.

Waiting for our shuttle:

We decided to stop at CVS before the port to see if there was an ice pack we could get for my son's head. We didn't find what we needed, so we went on to the port. We arrived at 10:30 a.m., which was our pre-scheduled port arrival time. The security line took longer than usual, and the line for return cruisers (Castaway Club) was longer than the first-time cruiser line, which we had never experienced before. We got checked in and immediately headed over to get in line for a character photo in front of the ship's model.

After we snapped our photo, boarding began. It was almost 11:30 a.m. We crossed through the big Mickey ears in the terminal. Almost there:

If you have never boarded a Disney Cruise, you are in for a treat. As you enter the ship, they announce your family name and the officers clap for your arrival. It makes us feel like royalty every time! (On one of our cruises, there was a fog delay for a few hours and this part was skipped in order to expedite boarding--we missed it dearly!)

When we got on board, we took a few photos with the Minnie statue:

Then we headed up one level to pick up tickets for the Anna/Elsa meeting, the Princess Gathering and the character breakfast. We spent 20-30 minutes in line for these tickets, but I like having the pre-arranged time during the week to show up for these events without a wait. I still remember the first Princess Gathering we did with our daughter (then age 2), and my husband waited in line an hour for that to get us a good spot. No more of that!

While I waited for the tickets, Brian took the kids to the Oceaneer Club/Lab to get their Mickey bands. (There is no need to wait in the long line at the port terminal for these--there is no line once you get on the ship at the clubs).

The atrium is so beautiful...many hidden Mickeys and characters carved into the gold.

Our next order of business was lunch. Normally we eat at the buffet on the pool deck, and one time we ate at the fast food places near the pool, but this time we decided to have the buffet in the Enchanted Garden restaurant on deck 2.

The advantage to this restaurant is that the servers will assign you a table and get your drinks, so with kids it's a little easier than the Cabanas buffet near the pool.

And....let the unlimited desserts begin! I think my son had 4 bowls of ice cream here.

We were still carrying our backpacks since the staterooms aren't ready until 1:30 p.m. Next, we headed to the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab for the kids' club open house! This is a time for the kids to explore the area with their parents and get comfortable for secured drop-offs later.

The Mickey bathroom inside the club:

Soon, it was 1:30 p.m. and an announcement was made that we could go to our staterooms. Brian stayed at the club a few more minutes while I went to our room to put up our magnets and Fish Extender. I decided to order a Darth Vader magnet set from etsy this time and decorate with just a few other magnets.

We stayed in stateroom #8510, a Category 8C Family Oceanview on Deck 8, forward starboard. We stayed in the same stateroom on our first cruise on the Dream, and in the room next door our last time on the Fantasy.

It has a queen+ bed (it feels bigger than a queen to us), bunk beds and a murphy bed to sleep a total of 5 people.

Our favorite feature is the very large porthole window that you can sit in or lay in. The kids play in this porthole throughout our entire cruise.

We picked this stateroom again because it's far forward in a quiet location, with no staterooms across the hall. Since it's so far forward, there is not much traffic that walks past our room in the hallway. It's on the starboard side, which has a great view of Castaway Cay when the ship backs in to the port.

After we dropped our backpacks in our room, we headed to the Edge (the tween club) to check it out during the open house (see my son's review here).

We still had some time before our Facebook group meet-up, so we had ice cream on the pool deck. The first of many ice cream breaks for the week.

At 3:15 p.m., our cruise Facebook group had a meet-up in the Vista Cafe. We have attended some group meet-ups in the past, but I think this was the most well-attended meet-up. We met several other families we had been chatting with online prior to the cruise, and our kids met other kids their same age that they would see at the clubs later in the week.

We moved to the atrium staircase for a group photo:

Soon, it was 4:00 p.m. and time for the mandatory lifeboat drill. This is the worst part of embarkation day. The drill takes a long time and is boring, but it must be done. Tip: do not arrive early, as you will stand around and do nothing.

Right after the drill, it's time for the Sail Away Party on the pool deck! We took the stairs from deck 4 to deck 10 and made it there in record time. We normally watch the party from the deck above so that we can also turn around and see the ship sail out of the channel, but this time we decided to go front and center by the stage for a change. We were so close to the action! It was good to have a different perspective and experience at the Sail Away Party.

The ship started sailing away earlier than we expected, around 4:45 p.m. The stage show was still going on, so we didn't see us pass by the restaurants and people. But that's ok, we were pumped up from the show!

We had about 45 minutes between the party and our dinner time. We didn't want to go back to our room because we knew the kids would want to watch something fabulous on the On-Demand TV and we'd never get them out again. So we hung out in the atrium and on deck 4 for a bit:

The sun was starting to set. We played some shuffle board outside.

Right before dinner, Mickey came out for another photo. There was hardly anyone in line. (We noticed that on our last cruise--the first night is a great time for a photo with Mickey).
At 5:45 p.m., it was time for dinner in the Animator's Palate restaurant. Dinner on a Disney Cruise works like this: There are 3 main restaurants with different themes. You rotate through the restaurants according to the order listed on your key card, and your servers rotate with you so that you have the same serving staff for the duration of your cruise. We have always requested (and got) Animator's Palate for our first night. We do this because it's the most entertaining restaurant for our kids, and they may not dine with us later in the week. There are two different "shows" that happen in Animator's Palate on the Fantasy, and tonight was the Crush show. This is kinda like Turtle Talk with Crush at Epcot, where Crush interacts with the audience.

There is just something so relaxing on that first day on the ship when we sit down at dinner. We know we are going to be taken care of for the rest of the week. Ahhhh...

I didn't take many food photos this trip, but this is one of my favorite appetizers, the black truffle pasta purseittes.

The kids had Mickey bars for dessert:

I enjoyed this chocolate cake under the "no sugar added" desserts:

The kids were itching to go to the clubs after dinner. Nathan went off to the Edge, but before we took our younger ones to the clubs we stopped by to see Ariel. Ariel was really great with the kids and was so conversational and excited.

The kids were now happily at their respective kid clubs. We were kid-free! Wahoo!

We didn't get too wild and crazy. We stopped back at our stateroom to unpack. Boring, but absolutely necessary. Our towel animal awaited along with our nightly chocolates and the next day's navigator:

We skipped the show in the main theater. On the first night of a 7-night cruise, it's typically a variety show with a few characters and a short comedy act that highlights the rest of the cruise. Instead, we went to the gift shops to look around.

Before picking up the kids, we delivered our Fish Extender gifts. I wanted to deliver them the first night since we were giving out laundry bags (and Star Wars/Princess jelly bellies for the kids).

We picked up the kids from the clubs around 9:30 p.m. (bribed them with ice cream to leave the clubs). Our older son returned from the Edge at 11:00 p.m. Bed time!

Up next: A busy day at sea

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