Last month, I experienced something that I never had before – the kind of vacation that I’d only read (and dreamed) about… My very first cruise. And it was an incredible experience from beginning to end. One that I am determined to repeat someday – and next time, I’m definitely bringing my family along with me.
Yes, I cruised alone. Why? Well, this wasn’t entirely a vacation – it was a working retreat for the Traveling Mom blogger network as well. This was a press event, so the guests were either media or travel agents (and their families), invited to try out the new ship in advance of its official maiden voyage. Being that this was my first cruise of any sort, I have to say that I think I’ve really been spoiled. Not that I have anything else to compare to, but Disney certainly does it right. And they do it in a way that nobody else can. It truly is… magic.
Twenty-seven travel bloggers (about half of the network) came on this cruise – and it was a wonderful chance to network, get to know each other, share ideas and learn. We balanced our own TMOM events with Disney’s opportunities to learn more about the Fantasy – and of course, we also had time to simply enjoy the ship, and all it has to offer. And that’s quite a bit.
Not having my family with me on such a kid-friendly experience was a bit strange – but it was easy to see what would appeal to my girls the most. Namely, the two pools – not to mention the water slide, splash park (appropriately Nemo-themed) and most of all, the Aquaduck water coaster that winds its way along the top of the ship, even extending out over the ocean for a portion. It’s the only ride of its kind on board a cruise ship (along with the one on the Fantasy’s sister ship, the Disney Dream). And it looked like a ton of fun, as you can see from the experience of one of my fellow TMOMs.
My girls would also have loved the fact that there are fun family activities on the Fantasy – a mini golf course, ping pong tables, an arcade, and a giant screen displaying Disney shows and content right above the pool deck. Not to mention the ice cream – the Fantasy is an all-inclusive experience so you simply help yourself. To meals, snacks, dessert and (non-alcoholic) drinks. Alcohol is available for extra cost, as are adult-only areas of the ship, so parents can have the chance to relax away from the kids if they want. One part of the ship that I really wanted to see, but didn’t make it to was the deck that hosts separate kids club areas for babies, young kids, tweens and teens. But from what I’ve seen online and read – these areas are as amazing as the rest of the ship.
Our cruise included a day spent at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. The weather was perfect, and it was a beautiful area to explore and enjoy. We were fed a delicious barbecue lunch and our TMOM group found a shady spot and held a brainstorming session right on the sand, before having some time to relax and enjoy the afternoon.
Dinner aboard the Fantasy is an experience in itself – there are several themed restaurants which provide exceptional service and amazing food options. I was also glad to see some simpler ‘light fare’ options since my family tends to be very non-adventurous when it comes to food. I was able to report back to my extremely picky husband that yes, even he would enjoy the meals. A lot. My favorite restaurant experience was at Animator’s Palate, where every diner has the chance to see his or her own drawing come to life onscreen. My kids would have loved it!
In just 3 short days, I went from being a complete cruise newbie to knowing my away around the ship and determined that somehow, someday, I will find a way to make a Disney cruise happen for my whole family. I can’t imagine a better way to experience a cruise, especially with kids. My kids are getting older, but there’s definitely no age limit to the joy of experiencing a little pixie dust and Disney magic.
And having your picture taken with Mickey Mouse.
You can see the rest of the (many!) photos that I took on Flickr, both with my own camera and also with the HTC Rhyme smartphone camera that I’ll be posting a review of here in the next day or two. This cruise was a press event and working retreat for the Traveling Mom blogger network, and I was hosted for free. All opinions stated here are 100% my own.