Sunday, 23 June 2013

Our Disney Fantasy cruise in the Caribbean - practicalities with small children

This is the last of my posts about the recent Disney Fantasy cruise that we took as a family. Like most people that take a big holiday, we spent a lot of time researching it before booking and so I hope that these posts will be useful to anyone else that is considering a Disney cruise. This post has a few bits and pieces about the practicalities of cruising with young children and how the Disney Fantasy in particular catered for us as a young family.

Disney Fantasy cruise ship in the Caribbean

My parents joined us on our holiday and so we booked interconnecting staterooms (numbers 7604/7606). This was a Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah. The children slept in a converted sofabed and bunk bed which pulled down from the ceiling, separated from our double bed by a thick curtain. Because the double bed and bathroom were nearest to the door we could enter and exit the room without disturbing them while they slept, with my parents in their room and the interconnecting door left open. My son (4) slept in the top bunk bed which we were happy about, there was a railing and it was a wide enough bed that he felt safe up there.

The toilet and shower/bathroom were in separate rooms which was very handy. We very much appreciated having a small, circular bath as the children don't enjoy showers. There was plenty of storage space in the room with lots of cupboards, a high bed and a small table with hinged lid for storage inside. To our surprise many of the sockets in the room were of the European two pin variety, fortunately not a problem for us as I’d accidently packed the wrong ones for our holiday.

The balcony was enclosed by plexiglass to a good height, but a small table and two chairs meant that it didn't feel very safe to me as I was worried they might try to climb onto them. However there was no way that they could have opened the door from the room to the balcony themselves and so as long as they were closely supervised it was fine.

Each stateroom is provided with two wave phones which you can use all over the ship for calling and texting each other which was really useful.

Children's Activities

The It’s a Small World Nursery provides childcare for children under 3. We spent a fair bit of time here as a family during their Open House sessions, where we were often the only family there. We thought that there was an excellent selection of toys and activities. We only left our daughter for two separate one hour sessions as she’s not used to being left in childcare, and we were very happy with the care that she received. You need to provide your own nappies and we also left her own drink so that she had her familiar cup. On her second session she didn’t settle as well (having worked out that she had been left!) and we were kept updated through our wave phones, ending up collecting her a little early. If your child doesn’t settle at all then you can receive a partial refund.

Disney’s Oceaneer Club provides childcare and activities for children aged 3-12. It's a very imaginative space, with a rotunda in the centre surrounded by themed rooms - our favourites were Andy’s Room and Monster’s Academy. In the centre is a small stage with regular visits from Disney characters. We enjoyed a number of Open house sessions when our nearly 2 year old could join in and play, then we left our 4 year old for some of the closed sessions. You can check your child in and out through the day, we left our son for short sessions and when he was ready to come out he told one of the members of staff and they texted us to come and collect him. It was very handy to just be able to drop him off for a short period of time if he was bored. The Oceaneer Club is connected to the Oceaneer Lab which has space for more crafty and guided activities.

Children in the play area aboard the Disney Fantasy

Mealtimes and food

All the eating areas have plenty of high chairs and booster seats. There are three main restaurants and you rotate between them through the week for your evening meals. Animator's Palate was the best restaurant for young children with plenty going on and interactive television screens. Enchanted Garden and the Royal Court were beautifully themed, but appreciated more by adults. The dining staff tried very hard to entertain our rather overtired children, making origami from menus and napkins, bringing them the food that they liked and even making a special effort to rush us through our dinner so that we could leave early. My children are fussy so I can’t really comment on the range of food available as they mainly ate pizza, chips, fruit and ice-cream, but there were different options on the children’s menus every night. Children get crayons and a menu with little activities.

Lunchtime buffet on the Disney Fantasy


Swimming pools

We didn't spend as long on the pool deck as I had imagined, as we found it very busy, and also very hot during the day. There is a large television screen showing continuous Disney movies, which makes the whole area very noisy and rather intense. Nemo's Reef wet play area is suitable for children in swim nappies, although our toddler didn't enjoy the unpredictability of the squirting jets of water. Our pre-schooler however loved it. It was kept very clean (it was emptied out and cleaned overnight) and never too busy. Mickey's Pool was lovely and warm, but crowded. We didn't really feel that the pools on the ship were large enough to handle the number of people wanting to use them.

Entertainment

There is plenty of entertainment on board for families with children of all ages. We watched a show every night, three of which (Aladdin, Believe and Wishes) were spectacular. The only slight problem is that if you are in the earlier dinner seating then your show doesn't start until 8.30pm, which was too late for our toddler. Because the show is always on at the same time as dinner, on a couple of occasions the only way for both adults to watch the show was for one to miss dinner and watch it then, then stay in the room with the toddler while the others watched the late showing. On a couple of days there was a matinee performance which made things work much better

Probably the highlight for us was the Pirate Party, where we all dressed up, enjoyed a pirate themed dinner, show and fireworks. There were also lots of activities during the day that families could take part in, and we enjoyed a children's disco of some sort most evenings. Another bonus was that the children's entertainment started quite early in the mornings - great for those with early risers!

Summary

We had a brilliant time as a family on this cruise. It might be a daunting thought to consider a cruise when you have young children, but I would thoroughly recommend it.

You can read more about our experiences on this cruise in my other two posts:

Our Caribbean cruise on the Disney Fantasy with small children
Our Caribbean cruise on the Disney Fantasy - Ports and Excursions

I am very happy to answer any questions that you might have about this cruise, and you can find my contact details on my About page.

No disclosure necessary, we paid for this cruise ourselves.

4 comments:

  1. Great post, I've always fancied a Disney Cruise, especailly the entertainment that sounds brilliant!

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    1. Thank you, I would absolutely recommend it!

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  2. Not forgetting the adult only pool area which was just fabulous, largish round pool, spa pools and bar, and very quiet!

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    Replies
    1. I have been told that the adults only area was very nice ;) We did walk through it a few times and it seemed much more peaceful than the main pool deck.

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