The FANTASY got underway at approximately 4:45pm on 7/20/13. In mass we began the cruise with an on deck celebration, for those old schoolers it was kinda like watching the departure of the “Love Boat.” That celebration carried to the bowels of the ship. There were already 500 kids in the swimming pools, the soda fountains were working overtime, and some of the mothers were already looking close to being wigged out. Character where-abouts were being announced and the kids were off to the races. It was clearly organized chaos. And Stu and his trusty Personal Navigator were in the middle of it all. The FANTASY wasn’t to port again for 36 hours at Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands. Until then the 4000 passengers on board needed to be entertained. Movies were playing in 3 different places; they had mega bingo, family crafts, dance parties, and walking tours of the ship just to name a few of those 1st day activities. The kids had their motors jump started at breakfast, and continued at full speed all day. It was a wonderful sight to behold. And giving the children credit 95 pct. were extremely well-behaved and the other 5 percent, well they needed a timeout. Laughing my butt off and you could always tell when a child missed nap time. But still to their credit the kids hung in there and were great for the most part. Disney has clearly studied and restudied, and then studied some more, they knew kids, they knew how much stuff to cram in a day, they knew to constantly be changing locations, they knew how long to have each character be at each “sighting” location it was amazing to watch. That first evening it was kinda fun to see all the kids with their faces in their soup at dinner, they were completely tuckered out.
Our 1st stop was as I said was the Cayman Islands, Steph, Allison, Stu and Cari all when on a shore excursion to visit a turtle farm. It was an interactive farm, where the visitors got to touch and hold the turtles; in addition there was an education aspect that promoted the preservation of the Turtles and their breeding grounds. They took a ton of pictures, and at dinner it was the focal point of the conversation. After dinner we all raced to the Disney Theater to see “Aladdin.” This is where I 1st encountered how customer focused Disney is. As you may well know I use oxygen 24/7, when travelling I use a portable concentrator, it is battery-powered, but uses a lot of battery when you suffer SOB to the degree I do. This unit is chargeable when operating. Just plug it into an AC or DC source and it charges and operates at the same time. I explained to the usher that it would be greatly helpful to me to be able to sit close to an electrical outlet for the purposes as described. The young lady (Kelly) located 2 wonderful seats right at an outlet. She asked us if we intended to see the Disney show each night, and when we affirmed we were, she immediately got two reserved seat signs and put them on the seats. Telling my wife and I that these seats would be reserved for us each night for the 830pm show. And they were. One night we got to the show just before Showtime and someone was sitting in “our” seats, a different usher recognized me, and politely told the folks who took our seats that they were reserved and to please move, the usher was extremely polite and quite effective.
Heck I should become a Disney spoke person LOL LOL LOL LOL.
When the ship was underway there were activities galore. Movies were available in the theaters by 10:30 each morning. There were Bingo games, and trivia games ongoing, scavenger hunts, XBOX challenge (which I should’ve taken part but didn’t), rum tasting, tequila and margarita tasting, as well as, wine and beer tasting. Who said you needed water to float a Fantasy LOL. The activities were geared to all ages, from 2 to 102; every day you could find an activity that suited you. Each night there was dancing and dance parties, on the pool deck you could watch a movie as you played in the pool, at noon or midnight. Every night karaoke was available, and there was a separate karaoke for adults (who were consuming refreshments) in a different place than where the kids were hanging out. But for every loud event taking place there were quite places one could go to relax and enjoy a book and a cup of coffee. Sweets (cookies, little cakes, treats, and other goodies) were available at many locations. Just walk up and help yourself. No purchase required.
During our week onboard the FANTASY, Cari got autographs and had her picture taken with the following Disney Characters; Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Pluto, Buzz Lightyear, Chip and Dale, Max, Goofy, Peter Pan, Phineas & Ferb, and Stitch. She also met the following and got their autograph (and photo op as well); Captain Marco (the Captain of Fantasy), the Cruise Director, Ariel, Cinderella, Princess Aurora, Belle, Snow White and Princess Tiana. I am sure I have missed more than one character or Princess that Cari met, and collected an autograph. But I am also sure she missed a couple, but it wasn’t because of lack of effort. She and Stu were jumping from place to place, line to line, to get as many as they could and they did a wonderful job. Many a time when Cari and family were in line getting a picture of a character or an autograph, I was on an upper level watching. The joy in Cari’s eyes was incredible; she was in a constant state of bliss, meeting these characters. It was so neat to watch Cinderella or Snow White whisper in her ear, and hug and kiss Cari, the smiles always were genuine.
I also learned that if you got Cinderella’s autograph onboard the Fantasy or any other Disney ship, as well as, Disney World and Disney Land, her autograph would be identical each time, no matter where you got the autograph. Part of their training for these roles is to master the signature of the character they portray. If you come back 3 or 5 years down the road her autograph will still be the same. So be it, Mickey or Minnie, Pluto or Goofy, if you get their autograph more than once it will always be the same. I think that level of attention to detail is amazing.
The level of service was excellent beyond imagination. Disney is the purest form of customer focus, and the level of care for the customer is beyond anything I have ever encountered. Our stateroom steward Christopher managed to always have our stateroom spotless. There was no request they did not accommodate immediately. And each task was always dealt with the most sincere smiles. Our servers Pete and Amelia catered to our every wish and whim each night at dinner. Again always making it easy for Cari, treating her with a level of respect that I am sure she isn’t accustomed to. And I am not saying Cari’s folks don’t treat her with respect, it’s different because these were adults she never met. Shopping on Disney was unique as well. You could pick up an item at one shop and carry it to a completely different shop to pay for. No body followed you around, or kept a watchful eye, you were trusted to do the right thing (at least it appeared this way). Very impressive! Also, the staff keeping the ship clean and presentable at all times was remarkable. The FANTASY was by far the cleanest cruise ship I have ever been on. The crew responsible for that aspect took great pride in doing their job right.
I will try to wrap this up in part 3. There was so much going on, so much excitement, and such a great time, it is extremely difficult to pair it down.
As always your questions and comments are greatly appreciated. Please take care, Bill.