As I sit in the Orlando International Airport, my mind is overflowing with the INCREDIBLE trip my wife and I have just been on. We were lucky enough to be on the EarMarked Travel Agent Preview Cruise March 23rd-26th.
As we left Coronado Springs on the 23rd, we along with all the other agents and guests felt the anticipation and excitement of the unknown. The morning started out with a very nice continental breakfast in the Coronado Springs courtyard where all of us agents were still buzzing about the beginning of the conference the previous day. The conference was opened by the gang from the Adventurer’s Club and they did roughly a 10 minute skit that had everyone wanting more and remembering the Club from the past… But back to the breakfast, after eating, everyone “patiently” waited for their departure time to Port Canaveral. Ours was 10:30a.m., with a check-in time of 20 minutes prior. The first bit of magic for us occurred while we waiting in line that was about 30 people deep. It happened to go by last name and NO ONE was in the A-E line, so we got to pass everyone and get on the bus that was getting ready to pull out, YES! Here we come Fantasy!!
The bus ride to the Port is nice, as the video keeps the kids entertained and the adults too. We can see the water on both sides of the bus and you could hear the small talk turning to the first sighting of the ship as we get closer. We start to go over a bridge and to the left we catch the most beautiful ship that has been created… the Disney Fantasy. I, of course, couldn’t get a good enough view of her. She seemed to be just sitting there saying….in the words of Disney’s Cars Luigi… “Look at me, here I am, love me.” As the bus turns into the terminal, everyone is getting their cameras out to take pictures of Dumbo and Timothy on the stern. I have been on a ship tour of the Disney Wonder and I can say that the Fantasy makes the Wonder seem like a little kid compared to an adult.
Once the bus stops and we get off, all heads look over at the Fantasy as she glistens in the sunlight. We pick-up the pace and get through security so we can get our boarding time. We get in line and find out our boarding group is now! We check-in and decide to get a picture with Captain Mickey in front of the model of the Disney Dream. I am dying to board, so we get in line and start walking the gangway and our smiles could light up the sky. We approach the entrance to the ship and scan in and a cruise director asks us our name and where we are from. She announces “Welcome the Angoff party from Pittsburgh.” We are informed that lunch is being served in the Enchanted Garden. After we get over the beauty of the lobby, we head down the steps and enter the Enchanted Garden. Lunch was buffet-style and the food was very good. The crew is very friendly everywhere we went! We head out to explore the ship until our room is ready. We go up to Deck 11 to check out the pool and the famous AquaDuck. I see it and am ready to go for a ride, even with my regular cloths on! We walk little past the pool and I spot a bar and get something refreshing as Monica spots the help yourself soft serve ice cream machines. We discover during the whole cruise, that these are the most popular machines on the ship. By now, our room should be ready so we proceed down to Deck 6 and find our room, 6664. It is on the starboard side aft and right near the steps and elevators which is very convenient. Our luggage isn’t there yet, but as we open our door we fall in love with the room. As we proceed in, I notice a Fantasy bag on the bed with a note saying welcome aboard. The bag is filled with some very unique Inaugural Fantasy swag and a note saying we have been given a wine package of 3 bottles of wine for dinner. We explore the room and hear Christiaan, our cruise director, inform us that the mandatory life boat drill will start in 5 minutes. We wait for the alarm and head to lifeboat station P. After the drill, we decided to go up to Deck 11 again to get a spot for the Sailing Away Party. As we get by the pool we are handed a glass of champagne in a Disney Fantasy Inaugural Sailings champagne flute.
As the sailing away party is getting ready to start, Karl Holtz is announced and he comes on stage and gives a very nice toast as we all raise our glasses and the sailing away party begins. As the party is underway, the ship begins to pull away and makes its way down the channel towards the Atlantic Ocean. And of course, the champagne is flowing freely. We have the second seating for dinner (8:15 p.m.), which means we have the 6:15 p.m. viewing of the shows. Of course, we have already targeted the shops which open at 5:30 p.m. and don’t want to miss our chance to get the souvenirs! It is 5:20 p.m. so we leave the room and head down to Deck 3 forward and wait for the shops to open. As it is with most of our Disney shopping experiences, we have a plan of attack. The shop doors open and roughly 25 of us walk into the shops and start purchasing inaugural sailings merchandise. After shopping for 25 minutes and 3 bags full, I take our prize possessions back to the room as Monica goes into the Walt Disney Theater to get seats for Disney’s Wishes. The show is exclusive to the Disney Fantasy. I grab us each a drink for the show and notice that we can also purchase popcorn and candy at Preludes on either side of the entrance to the theater. The show was terrific and very touching and I cried a little at the magic of Disney they brought to this show.
After the show, we head out to the lobby for pictures with Chip and Dale, Donald and Mickey. The atmosphere in the lobby is festive as the characters are out and a musical act is performing, The Dreamers. They are a male/female singing duo who sings popular hits. We head off to dinner at Animator’s Palate tonight. Our table assignment was 24 and we had a total of four couples. We were seated with Christine from Love the Mouse Travel and her boyfriend Joel, and Mike, Krista, Troy and Andrea. We made fast friends and had a great group! Our server was named Igor and his assistant was named Abraham. They were incredible and I would recommend them to everyone! The food was delicious as I had four lobster tails and a chicken parmesan dish. After the fabulous meal, Monica and I decide to head to The Tube in the Europa district. When we walked in we saw there was a show called Match Your Mate. Monica tells me that I better not volunteer us to play this game. Of course, because I listen so well, am biting at the bit to get in on the fun. Max, the host, needs one more couple to play… yep, you guessed it… we get on as couple #2 and end up winning the game! We win a bottle of champagne and a couple’s Rainforest Spa treatment at Senses Spa. We head out for the night and take the champagne with us after deciding to save it for dinner tomorrow and share it with our table.
Day 2 starts out with sleeping in, no kids this trip! We get ready and head to Cabanas for some breakfast. I have a seminar at 11a.m. called “Adventures in Animation” with Stacia martin, Disney Artist and Historian. All work and no play…lol. After the seminar, which was amazing, I met Monica on Deck 11 for some sun and fun time. AquaDuck here I come! What a ride… it is better when you ride with someone (we both agreed). We enjoyed the rest, relaxation, sun, and beverages (and ice cream). On the big screen Funnel Vision during the day was a poolside movie challenge and The Lion King movie. We had lunch at Cabanas and head down to the room to get ready for the evening. Tonight is Mickey’s Pirates of Caribbean Deck Show and Buccaneer Blast. The Aladdin show we saw in the Walt Disney Theater was the best show of the three, in my opinion. The genie, always my favorite, was incredible. After the show we had dinner in the Enchanted Garden. Dinner was very good again but I had a bet I needed to pay up. Our head waiter Igor was entertaining us with tricks and jokes the night before and I made a bet, and lost… so tonight I had to eat a scoop of ice cream without using my hands. I did it and did it in five bites! As we were headed to dinner earlier, we received the news that tonight’s fireworks were going to be special… the Disney Dream was going to stop beside us and also have its firework show. This was going to be a first, so the excitement was building all during dinner. We made our way up to Deck 11 and got a drink as the crowds began to grow. Everyone was on the port side, as the Dream was just sitting there, and flashes were going off from both ships. It was a slight I will never forget. Monica, Christine, Joel, Andrea, Troy, Krista, Michael, and I took a few pictures and then head over to the starboard side. By going to the starboard side, we were able to get along the rail and have a great view of the Buccaneer Blast Fireworks from the Dream and our fireworks were right over top us. After the show, Monica, Krista, Michael and I head back down to Deck 11 and joined the party and start dancing the night away. Good night Day 2!!!
Day 3 arrives and I know today is Castaway Cay day and the closing events of the EarMarked Conference. I grab a quick bite at Cabanas and head to my conference. Monica has a great time sitting on our verandah watching us come into port at Castaway Cay. I met up with her back at the room and we head to the island for a sun and fun filled day. As we are walking to the Swimming and Snorkeling Lagoon, we notice a ship off in the distance and it is coming towards us. Look, it is the Dream again! It was incredible seeing the sister ships facing each other and listening to a “horn” off. I can say that the crews love their horns. Lunch was a very good barbeque at Cookie’s BBQ and the conch cooler, the island’s signature adult beverage, hit the spot. The water was a little cool at first and Monica and I debated swimming out to Pelican Plunge. We looked at each other and said we are here and doing it. Well, the water was actually nice once you got used to it. As we started to swim out we noticed a school of white tropical fish that would come right up to you, what an incredible feeling. The speed slide on the right is the best!! While on the beach, I got my picture taking with Laura Marano (Ally) and Ross Lynch (Austin) of the Disney Channel’s “Austin & Ally” for my daughter. They were sitting right behind us on the beach and were very nice and outgoing. We left the beach early so we could go to Senses Spa and use our Rainforest Spa Treatment. I would suggest this experience to everyone. It was refreshing and very relaxing. We went back to the room and I was so relaxed I didn’t want to move, but show time was quickly approaching and dinner to follow. Tonight we saw Disney’s Believe. I have to agree with Monica that the first 10 minutes of the show was a little slow. The last 40 minutes were great. After the show we headed to Shutters to view our photos. We liked a couple and ended up purchasing three of them. One really nice thing was throughout the cruise, the crew members would take pictures with your personal camera after they’d taken the ‘professional’ ones. We also spent some time at La Piazza in the Europa District for a pre-dinner drink and ran into our new friends Krista and Michael. We had a drink with them while listening to a terrific jazz band, Fine Whines. Dinner time comes and off to the Royal Court, the fanciest of the three restaurants. This, by far, was my favorite meal aboard the ship. The escargot was terrific, as I had three servings. After dinner, we said goodbye to Krista and Michael as they were disembarking first thing to catch a flight home. The rest of us were meeting for 8:15 a.m. breakfast at the Royal Court. Monica and I took a final lap around the ship and looked out at the ocean and said see you again soon. Tonight you could feel the motion as our cruising speed was faster than previous nights and the sea was a little rougher. Oh and I almost forgot, as we were sailing back towards Port Canaveral we passed the Disney Dream for the final time. And yes, the crews had fun with the horns again.
Day 4 starts off with an early rise as we were in port and it was time to say goodbye. We are scheduled to disembark at 9 a.m. as that is when our bus back to Walt Disney World is leaving. Monica and I have one more night of fun as we are staying at Disney’s Bay Lake Tower for the night. Breakfast was not any different than the buffet we’d had at Cabanas and if I had to do it again, I would go up to Cabanas and have the buffet. It would have saved some time and the food offerings were very similar.
I can say from looking at the kids and family area that if you are worried about your kids having fun…..don’t! The Oceaneer Club and Lab are top notch and every child will love spending time here. Also families will enjoy all the activities and fun at D Lounge. You can also catch movies throughout the day in the Buena Vista Theatre. The movies that were playing during our cruise were War Horse, The Help, Tangled, John Carter in 3D, The Muppets, and Cars 2. For Adults, the Europa District is hours and hours of fun. My favorite was O’Gill’s which is a pub… make sure you stop in for a pint. There are also two fine dining, adult-only restaurants we didn’t have a chance to dine at, Palo and Remy on Deck 12. We heard the food was fantastic!
The Disney Fantasy is the cream of the cruise line crop and now Monica and I are planning another cruise on the Fantasy, yes this time with the kids, for next year. As a true Walt Disney World lover, I always thought WDW was all I wanted to do…well, Fantasy, you have changed my mind!!
If you’d like to see my pictures from the cruise, go over to Love the Mouse Travel’s Facebook page. Remember, if a Disney Cruise is in your future, email me for a quote as I am offering a special. Book your Disney Cruise with me and receive a $50 on-board credit and either a Love the Mouse Travel t-shirt or beach bag. You can also transfer your reservation to me, as long as it was booked with Disney Cruise Line.
My next article will be on Disney’s Bay Lake Tower and the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival, so stay tuned and have a lovely day.