On Fridays, I highlight products that I think are sweet, in every sense of the meaning–sometimes literally, but not always!
As mentioned, I just returned from one of the best vacations of my life in November. My mom, aunt, cousin and I took a week-long mother-daughter cruise on the Disney Fantasy, and I can’t recommend the experience enough! Every last detail was simply magical–just as Disney intended it to be.
Last week I shared some Downtown Disney favorites from my short visit pre-cruise, but today, without further ado…let’s get to the main attraction!
The Disney Fantasy was, in a word, fantastic. Just like its name implies.
We arrived in Cape Canaveral on Saturday afternoon via the Magical Express, which entertained us with videos of Disney trivia, classic animated shorts, and all kinds of Disney programming on the way there. The night before, we’d stayed at one of the value Disney resorts in order to take advantage of the transportation and save money by avoiding rental cars or parking fees all week. It was an extremely efficient way to travel–our luggage (all five suitcases…ahem) was picked up, dropped off, and transported smoothly to each place it needed to be at just the right time. From the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, to the Orlando airport, to the All-Star Music Resort, to our stateroom onboard the ship, our bags seamlessly appeared where we needed them to be without us having to carry them ourselves or worry about a thing.
Once we made it to the port, we waited in line for about an hour to get on the ship. The lines were long but steadily-moving, and it was the most we had to wait all week.
As we entered the atrium, which was grandly reminiscent of the ballroom in Beauty and the Beast and beautifully decorated for Christmas, cast members clapped, cheered and welcomed us by name. Quite a welcome!
We went straight to our stateroom to check everything out, and I was more than impressed. It was less like your typical cruise ship stateroom and more like a standard hotel room! We had an upgraded room with a verandah–totally worth it, by the way–a queen bed, a couch that folded into a second bed, and a third bunk that pulled down from the ceiling. Opposite the bunk bed, a long mirrored desk area offered tons of storage and adequate primping space, even for four females. :)
On the other end of our stateroom, there was a fairly large closet with various compartments for different items, and a split bathroom–one separate room containing a sink and shower, the other a sink and toilet. Both bathroom areas had mirrors and small shelving units. The shower was actually pretty sizable–it was bigger than the one I had in my college dorm, which was a pleasant surprise! It was circular, so it looked like a big pillar from outside, and I imagine it also works really well for families with small children.
Overall, the stateroom was amazing. It was perfectly clean (this coming from a total neat freak), spacious, and appropriately nautically-themed. Most impressively, we were able to fit all of the aforementioned five suitcases underneath the queen bed. Disney thinks of everything!
I, for one, was eager to check out the lunch spread, though. We took an elevator to Cabanas, the buffet-style restaurant that was open almost all the time. Automatic doors instantly swung open to reveal a cast member who eagerly thrust an antibacterial wipe in each of our hands before anyone could move a muscle. Disease control at its finest.
There were several stations in a semicircle offering pasta, poultry, burgers and fries, fresh seafood, a salad bar, high-quality cheeses (read: expensive blue cheese and brie), soup, bread, international cuisine, fresh fruit, desserts, and ice cream. Soft-serve beverages were complimentary and self-serve, but cast members dished out all the food (other than at the salad bar), cleared tables, and occasionally checked up on guests who were dining. I enjoyed an eclectic mix of fresh crab legs and oysters, Southwestern turkey tenderloin, thick asparagus, blue cheese, a spinach salad with chickpeas, and bacon-wrapped salmon in a pea puree. All of it was delicious and exceeded my expectations.
After a filling meal, we explored the beautiful Disney Fantasy. As with our stateroom itself, every inch of the ship was clean, tidy, and well-organized. There were certain kid-friendly areas with splash zones, poolside animated movies, and the Aquaduck watercoaster, but there were also special areas reserved for adults, offering a more peaceful, relaxing atmosphere. We had a quick safety orientation, and before long we were taking off for the Caribbean, watching Disney dancers do their thing in a “Sailing Away” party on deck.
The highlight of the afternoon was a place that became an instant favorite: EyeScream! The self-serve ice cream spot was close to the pool and quickly turned into the place I just “happened” to walk past at every opportunity. :) You could mix up your own flavors and swirl them into bowls or cones. The strawberry-banana was my favorite!
The yummy soft-serve flavors were perfect for holding me over till dinner each night, since my group had the late seating. That meant we went to see the nightly show in the Walt Disney Theatre first, and then proceeded onto our dinner reservation at 8:30. The shows were all wonderful–much better than I expected them to be! Each performance was filled with impressive costuming, sets, and musical numbers–many of them familiar Disney classics. I really enjoyed the shows each night.
But not as much as I enjoyed the dinners! :) Disney Cruise Line’s approach to dining is a bit unconventional. Guests rotate between three different restaurants, and one serving team follows you to each one so that they get to know you and your tastes really well. My servers, Oppie and Nelson, were personable and accommodating from the first night, telling jokes (They call themselves “Oppie and Dopey”), performing magic tricks, and teaching us napkin-folding tutorials while we waited for our meals.
Animator’s Palate was the first restaurant in our rotation, and it was full of character. Everything was decorated in primary colors, with sketch pads, paintbrushes, and movie reels scattered throughout the room.
Most importantly, the food…
Suffice it to say, we did not starve on this cruise. ;)
Each meal started off with bread, and on the first night, we were served garlic and herb foccacia with a roasted garlic dip.
Next we each got to select an appetizer, soup or salad, entrée, and dessert. I ordered the tomato tarte with goat cheese for my first course. I love me some goat cheese and it could have used a bit more, but it was a tasty way to start off the meal.
I chose the Creamy Butternut Squash Soup next, and it came with a sour cream swirl and a chive garnish. It didn’t have as much flavor as I expected it to, though it was very creamy and smooth.
For my main course, I had the lemon thyme chicken with roasted root vegetables and sour cream mashed potatoes. The chicken was nicely flavored, and the sour cream mashed potatoes were killer!
The best part was, naturally, dessert! I chose the Sweet Temptations, which included a trio of sweet selections: a lemon raspberry tart with a kiwi glaze, a white chocolate brownie cheesecake with raspberry sauce, and a sugar-free mango mousse.
Here’s a closer look at my mom’s full-size brownie cheesecake by itself.
All the dishes I was served, but especially the desserts, were expertly plated and almost too pretty to eat! Our first evening was a very enjoyable experience, and it ended with a handful of chocolates, the next day’s schedule, and a towel animal waiting in our stateroom.
My first day onboard was very magical, in true Disney form, and it only got better from there. Tune in again next week for Day Two! :)
Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way for this post. This was a vacation I took 100% by choice and I truly loved every minute of it!