What is Disney Cruise Line known for?
Attentive “Disney Channel” viewers should have noticed it long ago: For a few months now, TV spots and game shows in Germany have been promoting the ships of the Disney Cruise Line - and not without reason, as Disney Magic is currently on almost every year from May to September on European routes such as B. from Barcelona to the Mediterranean. Now is a perfect time to share a little more about Disney Cruise Line and my cruise experiences.
In the last part I told you about the typical clichés that pop into your head when you think of a "floating bed castle a.k.a cruise ship". A few weeks ago there was a report on cruise ships on the TV station VOX - and to be honest: Once you have seen these pictures, the principle of cruising can go by the wayside. Uninhibited Germans who indulge in Ballermann music on the party deck, hiss a beer with it, smack the plates at the buffet ... no, personally I wouldn't feel like doing that on vacation either. The Disney Cruise Line proves more than perfectly that cruising can be done differently.
The Disney Fantasy
This time I would like to introduce you to the ship Disney Fantasy, with which we were in 2012 for seven nights in the Western Caribbean. The Disney Fantasy is the "newest" ship among the four different cruise lines of the DCL. Built in the German Meyer shipyard in Papenburg near Bremen, the ship is 340 meters longer than the Paris Eiffel Tower and can hold up to 4,000 passengers.
You are already aware of these dimensions when boarding in the cruise terminal - and you suddenly feel really small next to such an ocean liner. The nice thing, however, is that you rarely notice this gigantic maximum number of 4,000 passengers on board, as the visitors are fortunately very well distributed among various restaurants, events and other entertainment options. It never feels more full than in a normal hotel resort on land.
The most outstanding feature of Disney Fantasy is the high quality that runs through all areas of the ship. The Disney brand in itself stands for a high quality standard where you know what you are getting. This standard is not given everywhere nowadays, especially when you think of one or the other grievance in Disneyland Paris in Europe. The Disney Cruise Line and in particular Disney Fantasy start here on a completely different level, which is on the same level and in some cases even higher than in the highly acclaimed American resorts such as Walt Disney World in Orlando.
In the cruise segment, the Disney Cruise Line is quite comparable to Cunard Cruise Line (including Queen Mary 2), Norwegian Cruise Lines and Celebrity Cruises. This year the American magazine Travel + Leisure named the Disney Cruise Line a top mega-ship cruise line. The Disney Fantasy has also proven since its maiden voyage that it is the absolute front runner among the large cruise ships worldwide and receives several awards from renowned American trade magazines every year - and more than deserves it.
Style & design
Stylistically, the cruise ship is a feast for the eyes: From the outside, the Disney Fantasy looks like a cruise liner from the 1930s. Inside, too, this is continued with an almost ubiquitous Art Deco style. The large, golden-colored lobby through which you first enter the ship is particularly impressive. Marble floors line the path to the restaurants.
"Elegance instead of kitsch" - this motto is capitalized here on all decks. The Disney theme is really very targeted, but mostly used discreetly, very stylishly and aesthetically in the form of high-quality paintings and decorations.
As on all other cruise ships, there are different cabin types on the Disney Fantasy: inside cabin, outside cabin, balcony cabin and concierge room, which have a separate area with extra service, mini buffet and lounge. The cabins are very stylishly designed in pleasant red and blue tones - the Disney theme is also used very discreetly here, for example with a great decorative cushion on which “When you wish upon a start” is embroidered in gold on the back. The beds are a big plus: I've never slept better than on mattresses on the Disney Cruise Line. The reason: The mattresses used belong to the premium brand Sealy, which also provides mattresses for hotel rooms from the luxury brands Ritz-Carlton or Four Seasons - another indication of the high quality of the Disney Cruise Line.
The special thing about the Disney Cruise Line: The cabins - also known as staterooms - are 25 percent larger than the usual cruise standard worldwide. Another exception are the separate bathrooms, in which the toilet and shower are separated. This is particularly useful if you want to straighten yourself in the bathroom at the same time and thus do away with the notorious waiting times. An inside cabin on the Disney Fantasy also has a nice surprise effect: Above the beds there is a so-called magical porthole - an LED screen that simulates a porthole with a live camera outside. This gimmick is also unique in the cruise industry.
Food is an important topic on cruises and is very important on the Disney Cruise Line - as well as in Disney parks around the world. The nice thing about aboard the Disney Cruise Line is that you don't have to worry about the budget regarding food and drinks. Food in all main restaurants is included at all times of the day. The cruise cliché of “buffet meals” is also broken up here: During the entire cruise, you rotate in the evening in the three large themed restaurants, where three or four-course menus are served with table service.
In addition, you have a firmly reserved, assigned table every evening, which makes chaotic table search campaigns completely superfluous. In the so-called dining rotation, not only the guest, the restaurant, but the waiters change with them. So you have the same team of waiters every evening, who greet you by name and already know exactly, if you B. suffers from certain food allergies. The service is friendly, excellent and extremely attentive - in my opinion even e.g. Sometimes better than in the USA, and those are already service kings, and German companies can often only dream of it. Don't you like a dish? An alternative is already coming. Would you like to try two desserts from the menu (and you want to damn often)? No problem, then you get both desserts. Every wish is almost read from your lips - that is the first-class service that defines this world-famous “Disney Difference”.
The three restaurants also offer a lot of variety: The “Royal Court” with its elegant and royal ambience is practically the “chicest” restaurant at Disney Fantasy. In addition to elaborate mosaics, you will find a French-inspired menu for example. B. Escargots, duck breast and Grand Marnier soufflé.
In "Animator’s Palate" all Disney and animation fans get their money's worth: The Pacific-American cuisine is sometimes very unusual, but very tasty. Highly recommended: The "Black Truffle Pasta Purseittes" melt on the tongue and have a terrific truffle taste. A must!
The third restaurant in the group is the “Enchanted Gardens”: Due to the French garden theme that was taken up in the design here, French cuisine could be expected again. However, the menu is clearly American. A nice little effect are the flowers on the restaurant ceiling, which open and bloom in the course of the evening. If you'd like more insight into the menus here, you can browse the unofficial Disney Cruise Line blog.
A real buffet atmosphere is basically only available in the “Cabanas” - and even this buffet restaurant is extremely lovingly and attractively designed in the “Finding Nemo” or beach look. It is also surprising that the buffet quality differs very little from the dinner menu that you get in the evening in the à la carte restaurants.
Those who prefer something more exclusive can dine in the gourmet restaurants “Palo” and “Rémy” for a small surcharge of $ 25 or 75 US dollars. We didn't try either restaurant on Disney Fantasy. We made up for our visit to the “Palo” at Disney Magic this year and found it to be an absolute must. I haven't eaten better anywhere so far. But more about that in a report about Disney Magic.
Soft drinks, water, coffee (except coffee in the restaurants) and tea are also included in the price. This is also a big plus point of the Disney Cruise Line, since other shipping companies usually have to buy various beverage packages in advance. At the beverage stations on deck 11, you can get the most important drinks such as water, cola and coffee for free. Only alcoholic beverages are not included - the cocktails, however, were reasonably priced (between $ 5 and 10 US dollars).
Pools & water fun
A cruise in warm areas such as B. the Caribbean is not complete without a perfect cool down on board. Disney itself is an expert in water fun with its world-renowned water parks "Typhoon Lagoon" and "Blizzard Beach" in Orlando. So everyone gets their money's worth: Children can really splash around in the AquaLab and Nemo’s Reef water playgrounds, in the family pool in the middle of the ship you can swim in the pool and at the same time watch Disney films on a large jumbotron screen.
If you like it a little more relaxed and travel without children, you will love the pool and lounge areas, which are reserved for adults only. Experience has shown that the areas are much quieter and quieter - reading a book by the pool or enjoying an alcoholic cocktail at the pool bar is absolutely no problem here.
The absolute eye-catcher on board is the water coaster "Aquaduck". This top-class water slide is currently only available on the Disney Fantasy and its sister ship Disney Dream and should not be missed. With inflatable two-person boats it goes directly over the ship, meanders almost once around the entire ship over three decks and offers a breathtaking view of the ship and the sea. The Watercoaster is moderate in terms of the thrill factor and is therefore suitable for the whole family. Due to its popularity, waiting times of 30 minutes and longer can occur on days at sea. Tip: go straight to the opening in the morning or in the evening (great experience with light effects).
Of course, the topic of "entertainment" is very important on a ship from the world's largest entertainment brand - like the food, the complete entertainment program is included with a few small exceptions. Before and after dinner, major musical productions such as "Disney’s Aladdin" take place in the large Walt Disney Theater. The almost 60-minute show productions, with their elaborate costumes and stage sets, are Broadway-level and some of them offer effects that you would never expect on a moving ship.
In the Buena Vista Theater you can look forward to the latest blockbusters from Disney Animation, Pixar and Marvel - even old classics, also from other film studios, are shown depending on the route. I have never been able to experience such perfectly coordinated Dolby sound in a cinema before. The cinema theater is also interesting for European cinema fans because many films can be seen in their original version before they even open in German. On my cruise it was z. B. Tim Burton's “Frankenweenie” or the 3D conversion of Pixar's “Finding Nemo” - both of which only came to German cinemas three to four months later.
Another show highlight is the big “Pirates IN the Caribbean” evening. For families and children there is a show on the outside deck with Captain Mickey and his friends. Then Captain Jack Sparrow serves the eh And as if Disney doesn't already offer enough superlatives, you put a big shovel on top and crown the evening with fireworks on the high seas to the sounds of Hans Zimmer's well-known "Pirates of the Caribbean" soundtrack . There is hardly a better way to round off a pirate party off the coast of Cuba. Disney Cruise Line was the first shipping company to regularly host fireworks on board and is still one of the few ships to have this permit.
Route: From Florida to the Caribbean
When you are on such a great ship with such a wide range of offers, you almost never want to leave the ship. But you should actually do that, after all, the whole point of a cruise is to experience many different destinations in a short period of time. The Disney Fantasy is currently stationed in Port Canaveral, Florida, from where it sails to both the Western and Eastern Caribbean every week. As part of our West Caribbean cruise, we visited - in addition to two days at sea - Grand Cayman on the famous tax haven of the Cayman Islands, the Mexican island of Cozumel and the extremely touristy Costa Maya on the Mexican mainland. In the meantime, the last Mexican travel destination has been replaced by a stop in Jamaica.
The big highlight of every Caribbean or Bahamas cruise with the Disney Cruise Line, however, is a very specific island that is visited at the end of the cruise: Disney's exclusive private island Castaway Cay. Many large shipping companies have bought up small islands in the Bahamas in order to make them exclusively available to their guests for a day. Disney has also bought the former smuggler island of Gorda Cay and made it suitable all around as a holiday island.
What may sound rude at first, but in the end it is heaven on earth. Whether sunbathing, snorkeling, bike tours, canoeing - the list of activities on Castaway Cay is actually long and varied. Since I want to dedicate my own blog post to the island later, I won't spoil that much about Disney's own island in the Bahamas at this point. For me, the day on Castaway Cay was one of the best vacation days ever.
Disney Cruise Line - where to book
In Germany, advertising for Disney Cruise Line is only slowly beginning. Unfortunately, German catalogs are currently not available, and other German-language information is also rather rare. If you speak English and have a credit card, I recommend booking directly on the Disney Cruise Line official website. Payment in EUR is possible without any problems and you pay the current price directly. However, those who prefer German booking portals are in good hands with e-hoi, Dertour and TUI.
You have probably already noticed how excited I am about Disney Cruise Line. Anyone who likes quality vacations, good food and great entertainment is more than in good hands on the Disney ships. Such a trip is an absolute must for Disney lovers. No matter how long you have to save: save on it! We were not only enthusiastic about the atmosphere and the unbelievably high quality, but also made us absolute fans. Perhaps the first impression of the total price of a Disney Cruise might make you swallow a bit - but when you consider everything that is included in the price on board - and that is 80-90 percent - the price actually seems justified.
This will certainly not be my last blog entry on the Disney Cruise Line - reports on the Disney Magic ship in the Mediterranean and the private island Castaway Cay are already being planned. Do you have any questions about a Disney Cruise that you would like to have answered? Have you ever taken a Disney cruise yourself? Let me know in the comments, I'm looking forward to it!
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